Wednesdays Videos & Photos

Here’s a few video passes from Wednesday. As yesterday’s, this one has a few blank seconds between each clip.

Here’s a few photos from the day.

Ballard, Sound Transit Sounder, and Recovery Day

Monday was a whirlwind of an adventure. Tuesday then needed to be a recovery day. I’d planned to start out and pick up the other bike (Pop Rocket I rode to Kent, this was Blue that needs picked up). But I didn’t even get around to that. It really did turn into a mostly chill day of relaxation.

A little bit of logistical fun playing the game Transport Fever. But then later in the day I did get down to some of the tracks where the Sound Transit Sounder route comes through Ballard. Here’s a few shots of the 5:35pm departure from Seattle heading to Edmonds on its way to Everett.

Here’s some of the video. There are three segments, so hold on when the screen goes black for a few seconds in between.

That’s it for the moment. Off to more explorations today.

Cap n’ Hominy, Bike, LINK, NOLA Bowl, Walkin’, Biking, Green River Trail, Interurban Trail, Sound Transit Sounder

I wrote this absurdly title, but really it’s just a Monday like any other where I don’t have any predefined thing I’m supposed to go do. So the day went like this.

Today started off with a good breakfast. Cajun egg, hominy, and a cappuccino. It’s good to know how to cook the things one likes, otherwise, the food would be boring. The egg and hominy I had some Cajun seasoning, mixed in with some butter, and a touch of salt and pepper. This combination just creates an egg with expansive explosive taste. Not that it’s hot and spicy, just a flavorful combination for something that generally tastes like bland air paste.

Once I wrapped up breakfast I jumped on my pop tart bike and headed to my office maker space. There I tidied up my backpack to just the items I’d want for today’s adventure. With laptop, camera, and related items all packed I rolled down Ballard Avenue and on toward the Burke Gilman Trail.

The weather out today is about as perfect as it gets for cycling. It’s slightly cool out and the sky is clear with the sun at an angle that doesn’t leave one burnt. The air has that crispness to that just makes it easier to breath, keeping the muscles fueled appropriately. I had my water canister with me, as this time with this amazing weather I wasn’t going to let myself get dehydrated and end up feeling lousy the next day! After all, tomorrow I’m planning for another transit and bike combo adventure!

Brunch and The Hills!

I rolled onward toward the University District LINK Light Rail Station. My plan was to bike over this direction, which takes approximately 25 to 30 minutes and then board the LINK, which depending on waiting time of less than ~10 minutes will get me to Capital Hill with a mere 6 minute ride. Thus, maximum trip with wait would be 16 minutes and minimum would be about 7.

I boarded the elevator into the bowels of the station, and exited to board the train on the eastern side of the platform. I racked the bike in the appropriate place and sat down to wait for departure. In just 3 minutes we left, which meant my trip and wait time would make it 9 minutes. With my combined ride, which I now knew the travel time of 28 minutes and 45 seconds, I was looking at total trip from Ballard to Capital Hill of about ~37 minutes. Not that bad considering I wasn’t really trying nor taking the fatest route, just the most convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable route.

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My Strava Capture of the ride to University District to catch the LINK

The Lost Lake of Capital Hill

Once I arrived at Capital Hill I exited the LINK station and rode down along 11th toward 10th between Pine & Pike. You see, there’s a lost lake there. Ok, it isn’t really a lost lake, it’s a nifty open 24 hours a day joint that has this kitschy feel to it like a mix between a diner, rustic lodge, and a lounge on the flip side of the space. Brunch and good conversation was had with my friend I’d planned to meet there. Once we were done eating at this lost lake, we opted to take a walk considering that absolutely stellar weather outside.

An aside: Before I go on, I made a mental note and am going to put this in my calendars for the rest of my life. Remember, diligently remember not to schedule any travel whatsoever during the months of October, November, and December, unless of course it is to the northern lands of Europe into Scandinavia or the Netherlands. Those are the only two places that get a pass from me. Otherwise it isn’t worth leaving Cascadia to visit other places as this is the premier perfect weather time of year. At least, in my personal preferences of weather. Slightly cold and growing colder is my perfect cup of tea.

Alright, back to the adventures that laid before me. Upon deciding to walk through Seattle a bit, specifically Capital Hill, First Hill, and on toward Yesler Terrace on down into Chinatown. Well, maybe it isn’t chinatown now and instead it’s International District, considering how few Chinese people actually live there it actually makes more sense. It isn’t just a politically correct rename, but actually a more factual identifier to those that live in this part of the city.

Here’s a few pictures from the walk, as we strolled through Seattle University.

At some point, it was time to start riding. I headed south out of the city. I rode along 6th down onto the trail that runs beside the LINK route out of the city. It’s a nice trail, albeit it ends abruptly with nowhere to really travel once one gets further into the heart of SODO. There I scouted for and rode along a few disappearing sidewalks. This area of Seattle, simply put, it no place for pedestrians or anybody that isn’t basically in some type of motor vehicle. It’s a pretty wretched area. One could argue, “oh but it’s an industrial area!” But that’s just nonsense, just because trucks drive around doesn’t make it a necessity to make it so inhospitable to human activity. People still need to eat, there’s still places to eat, and there’s even some park space and parkway space in the area. So the idea that it’s dirty because it’s an industrial area is just kind of stupid.

I continued onward into a region with no sidewalks, no clearly marked or clearly safe areas to ride. I just followed the premise that if the route was minimal or no traffic, I was going to travel along that route. At some point, and I’m not really sure what area delineated where SODO ends and Georgetown starts, but I passed over a bridge which smelled like human waste and then I was clearly in Georgetown. From there I crossed the oddball intersection that leads into the area, went along the main street of the breweries, breakfast joints, and coffee shops, and onward down the wrong road.

I had to backtrack, as I wanted to be on the road that divided the Boeing Airfield from Georgetown. Found it, and traveled along there until I found a bike rack in from of Brothers Sisters and locked up. Here I got a few pictures of planes and other transit moving through the area. Namely, I saw a whole slew of King County Metro Route 60 buses plying along as if a herd of buses.

Beware, Rant Arrivin’ Soon

After Georgetown I traveled along that absolutely shitty road, debris and all, that runs parallel to the Boeing Field airport. This road is honestly an insult to anything remotely humane. It’s just a sewer of cars, a trash pit of poor design, and turn outs that threaten the lives of anyone that has to work along the route. It is simply a trash fire pit of shit. I hated this one part of the trip with the hate of a thousand suns. Seattle, Boeing, clean this trash pit you call a road up. It’s a goddamn disgrace to the city! I mean, this is a road that visitors to our fair city travel down to see the high tech, futuristic development of aircraft from Boeing and related entities. As they travel to arrive at this awesome museum, they have to travel through the travesty that is SODO, and worse, that is this wretched road.

Alright, I digress. Obviously Seattle will get to it when Seattle gets to it. Ugh. Here check out some photos of planes and buses I got while I was on the edge of Georgetown near the airfield!

I turned on 16th, traveled through a cute little commercial neighborhood strip of South Park. Then along another entirely unsafe road leaving that little commercial area. Finally, after riding through this unsafe and disgusting area that is and ought to be considered blighted and an insult to all people of this city, I arrived at the Green River Trail.

Green River Trail

The Green River Trail basically interlines along with the Duwamish River. It starts at the area where the Duwamish River is allowed it’s natural flow instead of the straightened stretch that exist into the Puget Sound. The area is beautiful, and the winding nature of the river has a calming effect to it all. It’s not really traveled much during the day, so as I rode along I saw very few people actually on the trail.

What The Ever Living Hell ya Negligent Motorist!

As I approached the segment of the Green River Trail that I would exit and then merge onto the Interurban Trail I rode upon this car wreck. I could see clearly what had happened, the driver, who I assume inattentively came barreling off of I-405 to the off ramp area, missed things, side swiped a van, and hit the separator that sent the vehicle with such force airborne, over the fence and into the blackberry bushes. Honestly, this type of wreck shouldn’t just be a ding on the insurance, but the driver should have to serve some type of “I’m a negligent asshole who can’t act appropriately when utilizing a 2-ton (or more) death cage.” I mean, seriously, the motorist got the vehicle over the fence and trail into the bushes. The motorist could have easily, as so many motorists do more than 35,000 times a year, killed somebody through this negligent inability to maintain their vehicle!

Interurban Trail (South)

At this time I cut under the I-405 on the trail that diverges and sends one to the Tukwila Train Station. I was pondering catching the Sounder there if it were coming soon, but since I had plenty of time between now and when the next Sounder Train arrived I could easily make it to Kent. At least, I assumed I could. So off I went down the Interurban Trail.

The Interurban Trail is basically a trail, broken into the north and south segments, built on the old interurban line that used to run north and south out of Seattle to Tacoma in the south and Everett in the north. It’s always such a shame to think about the hugely beneficial connectivity we’d have if the respective leadership at the time hadn’t tore up the line. It was basically straight, could easily have run 79mph FRA commuter rail into and out of the city in a vastly superior alignment than today’s Sounder configuration.

But, poor myopic leadership is gonna be poor myopic leadership. Grumble.

But again, I must digress, the trail that now has replaced much of the Interurban line is gorgeous, so at least we get some amazing use out of it in that regard. It’s absolutely superb for biking. On that note I trekked down from Tukwila Station all the way to Kent. Along the way there are numerous Union Pacific rail stubs that are still used today to collect various businesses cargo. It’s something that is pretty interesting to see from the sleuth’s perspective.

Finally I arrived in Kent and swung into Johnny Rockets for a burger and shake. After a ride like that it was supremely tasty.

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Kent… sort of. But WTF is Kent?

Here you can see in the photo above where Johnny Rockets is compared to the Kent Station Parking, BECJ Credit Union, more parking, some more parking, some other… oh gawd the disgusting myopia of suburban design with a wannabe town center mall thingy in the center.

Whatever I’ll move on. The train station is over there in the upper right here in the map 3d photo. It’s cool that the train station also has a pedestrian overpass from the station over to the… oh, the damned parking lot.

This is another example of extremely shameful design on so many levels. 50’s era myopia and the perverse irony is I go eat at the retro 50’s era burger joint. The more I look at the photo the more I’m sicked by the absurdity of Kent’s layout and design and I’m not even sure why they have a Sounder station when the area is clearly anti-pedestrian, anti-active transportation, and just about as auto-focused as one could get without pulling a sidewalk-less 50s’ era suburb out of the actual 50’s.

As I sat there and ate I looked into Kent’s history and related things more. The first thing I did was pull up a map that explained a lot of things about how Kent is laid out. Look at this city border.

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A generally unmanageable, non-urban, tax sucking sprawl zone. What is it with those squares of Kent over there acting like islands even? What. the. … wow. Just wow, so much bad about this.

Alright, whew, I had to stop looking into Kent’s history and layout. Kent’s basically a living example of why city Government is burning this country to the ground right now in myopic, dystopian suburbanite hell while the feds are burning it up from every other direction. But enough of all those happy thoughts, onward to the trip home. I got some nice shots of the Sounder, coming south bound and north bound.

In the photos above, if you look closely you’ll notice that it’s actually two different train sets. On the departure of both it becomes obvious, as one set as the cab car without the facade of a crew cab that looks like an engine front. The other has the standard cab car that looks just like a regular passenger car.

After the two trains, which were train bunched (using the bus bunch term there for trains, generally I suppose the train is just “delayed”). The first of the two had a medical emergency, which I believed equated to someone getting sick and puking, so they got off at Tukwila after a quick clean up. Only about 16 minutes late – err, I mean delayed – whatever the wording is. So after that train, and the next just a mere 3 or 4 minutes later arrived and departed the north bound train, now delayed about 2 minutes, pulled into the station here. It was operating in push mode, which means the engine is pushing it from the rear.

I boarded and off we went. That’s when I started this somewhat long blog entry about the day. After a pleasantly uneventful ride of about ~30 minutes we pulled into King Street Station and I grabbed my bike and headed for the stop where I’d catch either the 40, or if I was timing it good enough, one of the 17x or 18x express buses. As I arrived at the bus stop, an 18x pulled up and I didn’t even have to stand and wait any. I just walked right up, after confirming with the driver of course, and mounted my bike. Jumped aboard, paid, and got one of the ideal front facing seats on the bus.

With the express it’s about a ~28 minute ride to downtown Ballard. Which is where I was heading. We left, and the trip went seamlessly along the bus dedicated lanes, and then off off 15th and under the bridge onto Leary. Minutes later I arrived in Ballard and wrapped up this adventure. It was a good trip overall, learned a few dozen things about Kent, didn’t get killed by a negligently errant motorist, enjoyed a lot of fresh air and a bit of exercise to boot. All that and the burger, train ride, and related items where a pleasant icing on the cake!

Until next trip, happy transiting!

What Infrastructure Would you Want To See in Oregon and Portland?

I’ve been pondering what ideal wins the infrastructure czars (you know, the Governor of the state, mayor of Portland, Bend, Eugene, Salem and all the other leaders of Oregon) could and should push for these days. With the recent and still ongoing absurdity of the I-5 Bridge to the epic nature of the new bridge in Portland that is Bike, Ped, Bus, Light Rail and Streetcar only bridge, it begs the question. What infrastructure would be awesome to have added to Oregon, and specifically Portland, Eugene, Salem and other such cities and towns? What is reasonable and what would actually be a good return on the effort and investment for the state? What is a good investment to direct a good and effective future path for the state? That’s just the beginning of the questions though, one could write a thick book of endless questions.

But with that in mind, here’s a few I’ve been thinking of just recently.

  1. Rail service enhancement into Vancouver from Portland. Rail service that could be used for, but doesn’t necessarily mean passenger service initially. The bottleneck on either side of the Columbia River is a problem space, however with some solid double tracking, or even triple tracking from Portland north through Vancouver to the Battle Ground area and even out toward Camas we could get some serious benefit from this. Freight could be handled by rail into the city and out of the city more easily, putting intermodal points at locations that better serve Portland and Vancouver instead of so many trucks driving into and out of the cities via interstate. The other notion would be, at some point, with appropriate access real commuter rail service could be offered easily from points north like Battle Ground, Camas, and other locations and have them funnel through Vancouver’s station and into Portland. We’re talking about 15-30 minute commutes. Light rail will never accomplish this, bus service won’t accomplish this, only passenger rail could accomplish this. As the current service, albeit not effective as commuter rail, already serves the corridor from Vancouver to Portland in about13-16 minutes, pending they get a slow order or not. Regardless, for bang for the buck, subsidizing a rail infrastructure expansion here would go far beyond any other motorized infrastructure investment in the area.
  2. Cycle track system, not just a few cycle tracks. Not faux bike infrastructure but real bike infrastructure. Let’s put 20-30 million into it every year for the next decade, then let’s see where we get an truly reevaluate that. For the $200-300 million it would cost to get Portland true bicycle infrastructure on a world class scale similar to Amsterdam, it would easily give us the ability to hit the 25% mark for cycling. This in road bike infrastructure however is a joke to most people, and seriously, it still just exacerbates the more neanderthal drivers to freak out the less assertive cyclists. Very frustrating to see such an opportunity go down the drain. As for that investment, we already know the more cycle oriented parts of town are doing crazy good business, have healthier, happier and more effective citizens then the auto oriented areas – so seriously, we need to get our ass in gear in this regard.
  3. BRT – Bus Rapid Transit needs to be put into play in a number of areas from Eugene to Salem to Portland. BRT would be highly effective in acting as core arterials feeding the existing light rail systems, and as systems feeding directly into the city cores. BRT should be implemented as true BRT, not the faux junk implemented in Seattle, but as dedicated – possible to upgrade to LRT or even heavy rail in the future – with regular 5-7 minute service for more than 10 hours a day. Ideal points to connect in Portland would be Gresham down Powell to downtown Portland, 39th street north and south as a feeder from St Johns out and down to Hollywood and into Milwaukee, and another possible great route would be to setup a core run somehow on Barbur and put some traffic calming into place so motorists stop killing pedestrians and other motorists on that arterial. BRT could play a huge part in future build outs, especially since we need to bulk up ridership with frequency more than “luxury light rail”. Light rail is still needed, but with the completion of the Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail, we’re good for the next 10-20 years for rail infrastructure as our corridor backbone. Let’s get to feeding it as we should to make it easier and faster to use.
  4. My last thought is actually a huge way to spend a little money and over time save millions upon millions. There are untold miles of roads in Portland that we can’t afford to maintain, along with roads in Salem, Eugene and every major city and even more road miles in rural parts of the state. We should designate some of these roads as either toll roads, no longer maintained roads (i.e. close them unless a private entity wants to take responsibility for them) and especially in the city let’s figure out which roads we can cut out, stop maintaining, turn into parks, do turn outs or cut offs to improve neighborhoods and decrease costs or one of another zillion options. Simply, we have too much road infrastructure for a limited budget at the national, state and city and county levels. Let’s scale back appropriately. If motorists want to pay more to have more infrastructure, let’s actually foot the bill instead of continually pawning it off to bonds of various sorts that often end up in foreign hands. Our current road funding models are just insane, let’s budget what we can afford instead of living so far past our means. This would economically, environmentally and socially be logical as well as getting people to face the reality that we’re overbuilt on debt and poorly run infrastructure – we can do better.

That’s my top 4 that ought to have something done sooner than later. I’d love to see what your top choices would be. Leave a comment or three with your thoughts, I’ll put them into a larger write up that might even be put forth to implement. Cheers and happy riding!

Nothing Like a Commute from Olympia to Seattle, Washington

I boarded the train this morning at 10:30am with a scheduled arrival of 12:00. That, overall is not a bad commute compared to the nightmare of those that currently commute in from Olympia. Currently the various bus trip, which includes a transfer to either a second bus or to the Sounder, is a very long trip. I’m also not one to encourage long commutes, I think they are inherently bad for society and for the mental health of individuals attempting to make these trips.

However, if the trip must be made, which a lot of people do, the train should be a viable option. There is demand, there are tracks, and soon there will be an even shorter route that will take about an hour and 15 minutes instead of an hour and a half. The problem is that Sound Transit hasn’t mustered up the strength or money to extend as far as Olympia yet, and Amtrak Cascades (which would be a perfect candidate) can’t seem to organize their trains to run along this route.

But if I were to dream nice things for the commuters of Olympia that come into Seattle, here’s a viable (and net operationally profitable option!).

  1. Take one of the train sets, which there WILL BE SPARES soon based on the arrival of two new train sets that Oregon/Amtrak has purchased. Put this single train set on an Olympia to Bellingham route for an early morning commute. Leave Olympia at 6:50 or 7am for a 8:15 or 8:30 arrival in downtown King Street Station Seattle.
  2. Take that same train that arrives at 8:30 and add another train that goes to Bellingham – at least during the College School Year – and have it depart for Bellingham around 9:00am.
  3. Have that train turn in Bellingham for the southern trip back toward Seattle, departing at 3:30pm for Seattle, arriving and departing from Seattle at or around 5:30pm.
  4. Arrive back in Olympia at around 7:00pm.

This is just one thought. With two new train sets coming online, it is absurd to keep them unused. There are routes that will garner and build ridership. Not using them is an absolutely waste of taxpayer money. They’re paid for, the Cascades are easily operationally profitable (at least between Portland and Seattle) and could easily be used and become a net asset to the route.

In a later entry I might dream up another route that would be a good idea. One of the most obvious I may outline is a new schedule for Portland to Seattle. There are a ton of flyers in the morning (that leave PDX at around 5:00am) that would happily take the train instead of flying. I don’t want to wish Alask Airlines ill will, but environmentally, economically, and mentally it would be better to shift this short route to passenger rail travel instead of having people fly.

So what’s your thoughts? Any route ideas? Maybe Spokane, somewhere else, or even Bend?

Transit Sleuth Weekly Picture (001)

Sound Transit Sounder Arrives for Boarding

Sound Transit Sounder Arrives for Boarding

A Few Not So Great Shots of the Snow

…with of course a transit focused emphasis.  🙂

A Little Bit of Commentary

So almost every single bus line is either shut down, on snow routes, or almost non-operational.  Same thing happened to TriMet when it snowed and they got slammed for it.  A few people in the community even ranted and raved about how TriMet had done a horrible job keeping the buses running.  They noted that “Seattle didn’t have this problem and Seattle does way more to keep the buses running”.  I can officially say that is not the case.  The simple fact is, “BUSSES CAN’T RUN DURING THE SNOW!?!?!?!!!!”

Meanwhile in the reality of the realm of physics and serious infrastructure, Sounder and Link Light Rail are running just fine.  There was a small delay on a Sounder run this evening.  Thousands of people used this non-auto, non-bus based transport to get home without interruption or “alternate routes”.  In inclement weather (which it seems we’ll be getting more and more of over the next century) rail absolutely rules.  Rubber on road is an absolutely inferior technology for this type of situation.  Also to add, the streetcar in Tacoma and Seattle are running without interruption.  Seriously, American cities desperately need more rail.  Not BRT, not extended buses, not all wheel drive buses, but rail.  Hard care, large scale, massive infrastructure with trains and light rail on rail.  It doesn’t stop during snow, heat, or otherwise.  It is only minimally hampered in all but the most harsh weather.  But I digress, on to more winter wonderland fun…

…with two last links…

Some news about all the snow on the Capital Hill

…and some sledding/luging down Denny.