Ranting about Bellevue, Washington

I had thought that literally nobody cared in the city of Bellevue. It’s a super dystopian vertical suburbia that is super creepy from anything other than the wheel of a car. Even then however, it’s pretty myopic in it’s worldview. I was super surprised at this twitter thread however and the great new material to sleuth through!

What transpired from that included a few gems from @theboobla. Then a bit later, after I was frustrated by needing to weed through stopped auto traffic through inclement environments I ranted again while I waited in some cartopian dystopian crossing.

…which led to…

Then the sleuth work actually got underway! Here’s some starter material on what looks like prospectively amazing infrastructure heading for Bellevue. This city could absolutely turn around it’s car-dependency dystopian myopic worldview with this and open the place up to a better future!

Which leads me to two of the leading blogs on all things transit & bicycle transpo ->

http://www.seattlebikeblog.com and https://www.seattletransitblog.com ! Both excellent sources of great information and news for the area.


Redmond Routes 545, 542, 248, and 221 (Seattle, Greenlake, Kirkland, and Eastgate)

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.

Schedule: http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/ST-Express-Bus/545
Map: http://www.soundtransit.org/schedules/ST-Express-Bus/545/map68809A8E-D505-43BD-96C9-D3B7060A63CB.png

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.

Schedule: http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/ST-Express-Bus/542
Map: http://www.soundtransit.org/schedules/ST-Express-Bus/542/map140221E3-3405-42D4-9158-78432B4E3768.png

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.

Schedule: http://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/248.aspx

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.

Schedule: http://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/221.aspx

Back to Seattle

Hello dear readers! I’ve moved back to Seattle, or more specifically the Seattle area. The specific location will be in Redmond Town Center. I’ll have a lot more on that in the near future, as I fully intend to get blogging again. There’s a LOT of activity happening in relation to biking, transit, and transportation work in Seattle. Additionally, I’ve got some projects that involve code, apps, and more – that may be interesting to more than merely the techies out there.

As for now, here’s my routes of use at this point. Thanks to Sound Transit for providing a great service (albeit my dilemma with the bike racks that require steroid usage, which I’m slowly figuring out the appropriate dosage!)

  • 545 – This is the backbone of my trips so far. Traveling from Redmond to Seattle, near the King Street Station area, it’s easily the most common trip I take in addition to being the most useful trip. It also connects at Montlake Interstate (freeway they call em, such a stupid name) Stop that enables me to jump off and ride over the waterway and onto the Burke Gilman Trail without any serious motorist interaction at all.
  • LINK Light Rail – Even though the LINK Light Rail generally goes places south of the city I never need to travel to, it has been extremely useful with it’s new northern segment to University District. This makes it easy to also exit the Burke Gilman Trail, or the 542 or 541 and ride the LINK to Capital Hill or downtown Seattle. Considering how much easier it is to rack a bike or just carry a bike on light rail, this is actually huge. I’ve used it multiple times even though I’ve barely been back in the area for a full 2 weeks yet. The LINK in Seattle is also, for much of the day so frequent I don’t even really need to look at a tracker or schedule. This is something rare in the US, which I’ve only ever found myself doing in New York City.
  • 541 & 542 – I haven’t taken these yet, but they follow an almost identical route across the 520 Bridge that connects to the Burke Gilman on the west side. Both buses go through the U District area which makes that connection also motorist free. One of the routes, the 542, also starts in Redmond, providing additional service if needed between Redmond and the University District. It’s always nice to have some routes that are redundant for various segments of the trip. The planning is always easier that way.
  • B-line – This is one of the faux BRT routes that was put in about 5 years ago (not sure specific opening date) and it has been super useful. I write faux, as with most BRT implementations in the US it doesn’t follow actual known good design practice, it’s a half ass implementation. But it does get some priority, dedicated stops, and overall higher quality of service than other routes. So far, it’s been useful during the time of using the interim housing in the Redmond & Bellevue Suburbs (which are dehumanizing and horrible). More on all this suburban nonsense and the B-line later.

Everything else besides these core routes has been and continues to a bike trip everywhere. I still haven’t actually been able to use the streetcar in South Lake Union (Local moniker being SLUT – South Lake Union Trolley) or the Cap/First Hill Streetcar because they’re both either not frequent enough, completely packed at rush hour, or slower than me walking. American streetcars are such absurdist nonsense, but I digress. They do however act as an effective catalyst, and provide useful transportation for many people, so I really can’t complain much.

More biking, streetcars, light rail, buses, and related things in the future. Cheers!

Hawthorne Bus Island Fix

Where a bus island needs to be on Hawthorne, desperately.

@ Fremont,Williams, & Vancouver Intersection

This intersection needs a little help in the AM. It only continues to get worse too. Motorists beware.

Portland’s Better Blocks Broadway

Here’s a short review I did of the redesign. The bus island was something that really shows in this city how these should be implemented. Well designed and well built, we should have these as standard on almost all major roads with bus stops so there isn’t the existing conflict.

Hop Fastpass, Getting to the Party

Even though Trimet is seriously late to the party (by almost a decade or more in some ways) with the Hop Fastness, let’s talk about why this is actually a good thing for the area. First, the issues with this form of payment.

Almost every major city in on the west coast has had a card payment system of this type for years now. They however didn’t just magically turn their payment systems on and install things to swipe them on and have them work. Oh no, there are long and storied tales of corruption, delay, and massive failure before they all became successful.

Here’s a few things to read up on ORCA, that’ll give you the lowdown on the many issues the Seattle area transit services fought through.

…and for some serious stories, a little searching and you’ll find a whole host of catastrophe associated with Clipper Card implementation in the Seattle area.

Even Yelp has threads on the matter of Clipper Cards!!!

Here’s the Wikipedia article on Clipper Card.

Los Angeles also has a card, but that’s enough of that. You get the idea, simply put there has been massive issues implementing and getting these interagency cards enabled. Fortunately they’ve done all the research and fought the battles. So hopefully when the Hop Fastpass is put into service Trimet will have a well oiled service offering come online. If Trimet does run into a few minor bumps, just keep in mind the colossal issues the other agencies on the west coast have had!

When I read the recent post on the Trimet Blog I do get excited about the simplified approach to paying fare. In all seriousness, this is the ideal way to handle payments. The card just keeps a certain amount on it, there’s a daily limit, and it just automatically rings up some more funds if it runs low. That way you don’t have to ever fiddle with transfers, reloading cards, fiddling with a phone that has a dying battery, or carrying around a paper ticket that expires! This can really save everybody a ton of time.

There are many other things that this card will enable, and I am looking forward to it. May my sleuthing become even easier and everybody’s fare paying become seamless! 😉