I’ve been exploring a number of routes and locations. The core focus of my explorations centers around several different criteria.
- Cohacking Establishments: Finding places that are good for meetings, where others work, cohacking (kind of like coworking, but actually writing code or working on a project with others), or related activities related to my technology and software development occupation and interests.
- Scenic routes and ends points that resolve in parks or other locations that I’d want to frequent.
- Routes that connect me to other key routes or geographic locations (i.e. Connectors)
- Just figuring it all out, i.e. Exploring the area to see what is in the area.
From Redmond there is the 542, 545, 248, and 221 routes that I have found myself using with various levels of frequency. The 545 and 542 I use on an almost daily basis, where as the 248 and 221 I have used at least a weekly basis.
Route 545 – I’ve previously, and will probably again, write about this route. It’s the core backbone transit service from Redmon, to Microsoft (at Overlake TC), and downtown Seattle. It connects a number of specific other areas too. Along the east side it also makes 520 Highway stops at Evergreen and at Yarrow. Both of these have gone from merely being little dirty stops on the side of the highway with steps up to the respective neighborhoods to elaborately planned, well constructed, middle of the highway stops protected from traffic and rain with overhead overpasses that have park like paths to enter and exit the stops. I’m planning to write more about these later. They’ve gone from what I considered completely nutty ideas that perpetuated a low standard of transit quality to what I’d now consider a somewhat innovative approach to making use of a primarily auto-dependent infrastructure element – highways.
Route 542 – The 542 is almost the same route as the 545 on the east side, starting in Redmond core vs. the Park & Ride like the 545 does. It travels from Redmond TC along the same path to Overlake TC, Evergreen & Yarrow Point and the other stops the 545 makes. It differs as it exist from the 520 Bridge on the west side in Seattle and turns north from Montlake onward to University District and then to the Greenlake Neighborhood area (and Greenlake itself). I’ve used it primarily to get off at University District stop, transfer to the Light Rail, and travel onward to Capital Hill. It’s much faster to do this than it is to actually take the 545 downtown and then bike, walk, take the bus, drive, or use a car share to get to Capital Hill. The light rail connection here is awesome.
Route 248 – The 248 is basically a connector between town centers. It connects Redmond to Kirkland (More on Kirkland also coming up soon). I’ve had a couple of meetings, that over the last few weeks has led me to board the 248 up over the spine of the hill between Redmond and Kirkland. Biking is almost out of the question as it has two giant issues: One is the higher speed and reckless traffic along the actual routes between Redmond and Kirkland, with little to no decent bicycle infrastructure between the two towns. Second is the fact there’s a giant hill that would require biking up going either direction. This leads to a less than appealing bike route between the two towns, but the 248 perfectly bridges the gap perfectly and quickly. The trip time, at least in my experience, has been between 13-18 minutes depending on traffic. Bringing the bike, that leads me to connect with any point on either side within just a mere 2-3 more minutes within the town center areas.
Route 221 – The 221 is an odd route, at least from where I am. It leaves Redmond and returns to Redmond in the morning and then a somewhat circuitous route across the east side to Eastgate Park & Ride. More notably however the bus stops at Bellevue College where a large percentage of riders disembark to attend school there. I’ve taken this route riding with my wife to Microsoft but also to get over to Bellevue to bike into that city.
There are bike routes between Redmond and Kirkland that avoid the nutty traffic on Redmond way/85th St, though it makes for a longer ride. The bus is the more direct route for sure. I live on the top of the hill between Kirkland and Redmond and bike to both. Anyway, you would take the 520 trail to 60th St and ride past Ben Rush Elementary to Old Redmond Rd, which has bike lanes. At 130th Ave, go north into the neighborhood, and work your way over to the ped/bike bridge over 405 at 80th St. Both 116th Ave and 80th St have bike lanes; you can get to the bridge from either. From there, drop down the hill into Kirkland, crossing the CKC along the way. If I’m going to the north side of downtown Kirkland, I’ll take the CKC to 7th Ave and come in that way, so I can cross 6th St where it’s calmer, and avoid crossing Central.
Sadly, there’s no avoiding the giant hill, aside from electric assist.
I’ve been looking into that electric assist option.
I commute from Woodinville to downtown Seattle (my office is at Westlake Park).
When I bike commute to work, I ride from Wilmot Gateway park in Woodinville to the UW light rail station, then take the light rail to Westlake. The train knocks about 30 minutes off my bike commute and eliminates a few hills (and thus the need to shower at work). My commute back home is all bike.
On days I don’t ride my bike, I take the bus (I absolutely HATE driving in Seattle, so I avoid it at all costs). I take the 545 from the Redmond Transit Center to the first downtown stop (Stewart & Yale, near REI) then walk the rest of the way. It usually takes about an hour.
The return bus trip can be nightmarish. Unless I leave work early — before 3:30-ish — it’s next to impossible to get a 545 at Westlake, so I generally walk SE along 4th to James so I can get an “earlier” and less full bus. Still, the number of busses that go “MIA” is super annoying. The ride home can often take two hours. A shocking percentage of that time is just getting out of downtown.
After reading this article I started trying something new on my commute home: I take the light rail back to the UW, walk to the bus stop, then take the 542 back to the Redmond TC. This is fantastic! It easily knocks an hour off my commute home.
Thanks for the tip!
Glad I could help you out with that commute Keith! I know a lot of the 545s go MIA on the way out of town because they’re literally at no available standing room left. So they just go drop off only and leave town. I was on a bus that got so packed recently that I literally pulled away from the Westlake and moved around skipped the last few bus stops and didn’t stop (nobody pulled the cord) until we got across the lake! It was quick, but I can only imagine all the frustrated commuters looking at their One Bus Away Apps thinking, “this damn thing doesn’t work!” 🙂
I have also started just skipping the 545 and riding the 542 and biking in to wherever, just because it’s dramatically less packed and they don’t ghost out and go MIA going or leaving University of Washington area. I’m curious how my commute will change in the coming days when I start working from downtown. It’ll be a lot of 545 from the south end of downtown! I could get rough.