That Block, Updated

This is a follow up to last Thursday’s post: Bad Street Design?

There are a lot of traffic changes going on in Downtown Seattle, and the surrounding areas. I’m happy with what I see. I love all the new bike and bus lanes. I love the crosswalk signals timed to give car traffic a few extra seconds to turn right off of 4th Avenue, toward the freeway. I love the crosswalk signs at Broadway and John, timed to give pedestrians entering and exiting Capitol Hill Station a few extra seconds to cross the street.

The only reason I was motivated to write about that one block last Thursday was that it seemed out of character with the rest of the traffic changes. I started writing the post to rant about a bad design, then changed my opinion mid-way through the post, and finished up writing about the mystery of that block.

This week, the design has changed. The bus stop, which used to take up the entire block, now takes up only the first half. The Bus Only lane now ends mid-block. I haven’t seen a design like that before. Car traffic continuing westward on Pine Street now has to merge in front of the buses. It seems a little odd to me, but I’m no expert. Maybe it’ll work.

Bad Street Design?

I first noticed this traffic change yesterday morning. I had intended to write a post about it. As I thought about it later, though, I wondered if I’d misunderstood the situation. I mean, who would design something like this? So I decided to hold off until today to post about this.

I got off the 47 bus this morning, at the stop on Pine Street, between 6th and 5th Avenues. I took another look. No, I hadn’t misunderstood the situation. I managed to snap this photo during a momentary gap in traffic.


This is a pretty important bus stop. Every bus coming down from Capitol Hill stops here – the 10, the 11, the 43, the 47, and the 49. It’s the entrance to Westlake Station – the first transfer to Link light rail after Capitol Hill Station.

Yesterday morning, I wondered why so many cars were in the bus stop. (It’s also the end of a Bus Only lane, by the way, starting at 9th Avenue.) Then I saw it. The left lane of this block of Pine had been to converted to a Bicycle Only lane. (There are now bike lanes up Pike and down Pine, which I think is awesome.) The center lane has been converted to Left Turn Only, turning south onto 5th Avenue – and that’s the problem. This means that car traffic continuing west is forced into the bus stop. Two things happen: Either cars get stuck behind a line of buses, or cars get stopped by a traffic light and buses can’t get into the stop. It’s bad for cars and bad for buses.

I’m more puzzled than anything else. This design seems to be the opposite of the whole point of a Bus Only lane.

This morning, I saw a few cars just continuing forward through that center lane, around the 47 and the 10 in the bus stop. I can’t really fault them for that.

I told Phillip about this last night. He replied that designs can always be tweaked if they don’t work out the first time. I suspect he’s right. It’s also possible that this isn’t the final design. Could this bus stop be moving somewhere else? Is it going to be eliminated?

I could be entirely wrong about this being a bad design. It could just be a bad design for now. It could be a work in progress.

(EDIT: The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is, indeed, a work in progress. So I added a question mark to the post title.)

The Bus Route That Must Not Be Named

The 47 bus didn’t show up again this morning. And, once again, I didn’t receive a text alert about the service disruption.

I got to work on time, of course. I walked over to Olive Way and caught a 10. A couple of people from my bus stop did, too. Another rider caught up with the 10 on Pine Street. I saw one other person walking to Downtown.

I filed a complaint with Metro Transit when I got to work. My complaint was not that the 47 didn’t show up. (With the narrow streets in my neighborhood, all it takes is one delivery truck to bring the 47 to a halt.) My complaint was that I never, ever receive text alerts about the 47, and I wanted to know why. I added that I’ve signed up for text alerts for several routes in my general area, as well as Link light rail and the First Hill Streetcar, and I receive those with no problem. It’s only the 47 that Metro seems to forget.

Metro Transit’s complaint system is so automated that I don’t expect a reply that actually addresses my concern. I just felt the need to complain.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve voiced this concern. I added it in a comment in a recent Rider Survey.

Last week, I received a text alert that read: “Transit service will be rerouted during the Mercer x Summit Block Party on 8/19”. This is my point: There was only one route rerouted by that block party, and it wasn’t specified in the alert. Metro can’t even name the 47.

That’s the end of my rant. For now.

I was moved into my new cubicle today. I’m now on a lower floor, and farther away from the bathroom, the lunchroom, and the coffee pots. Those are the only negatives.

I’m in a much nicer space now – even better than any desk I had before the temporary move into the conference room. I sit with my back to the window, as I did before the move, but now, for the first time, there are no cubicles between me and the view. The view is more interesting than before, too. (There’s more variety of things to see.) And when I do stop admiring the view and get back to work, my group is in a better layout than before.

After a not-so-happy commute, my workday turned into a nice change of scenery.

RPZ 32

RPZ 32Last Saturday, our neighborhood became Restricted Parking Zone 32. I’m glad to see it.

We have off-street parking, but we applied for a guest permit. It was cheap, and it will come in handy when friends stop by.

We mailed in our application, rather than make a trip to the SDOT office. I was sort of expecting it in Saturday’s mail, then I was halfway expecting it in today’s mail.

We did mail it in rather late in the process, however. There’s no rush.

I’ve been glancing at windshields this morning and this evening. I haven’t seen any RPZ 32 permits at all. I haven’t seen any parking tickets, either. (I didn’t expect to see any tickets on the second day the zone took effect, actually.)

City Changes

On my way into work, whether I ride the 47 bus or Link light rail, I pass by three Pronto! bike sharing stations. Pronto! shut down a few days ago. The bicycles are gone, but the stations are still there – waiting to be removed. I never used the service myself, but I’m sad to see it go. I had my doubts about it, the idea of bicycle sharing in this hilly, car-centric city, but I was happy to be wrong, and to see all those Pronto! bikes on the street. But, it seems that good ideas don’t always work out.

I don’t know when it happened,  but I first noticed the return of the 47 stop at Summit & Harrison last week. That stop had been removed between the elimination and the revival of route 47. The 47 will never be as good as it was back when it was the northern end of route 14, but I’m glad to see at least part of it restored to its former usefulness.

I saw my first car2go Mercedes-Benz CLA yesterday. It was quite a paradigm shift for me, seeing a car2go badge on a luxury sedan. I see the added choice as a good thing. It’s been a very long time since I’ve used a car2go, and I have yet to use my ReachNow account. It’s been years since I used Zipcar. I just haven’t had the need to borrow a car.

Seattle used to have several great neighborhood blogs. My favorites were the Capitol Hill Blog, the University District Blog, and the Beacon Hill Blog. The best of all the neighborhood blogs has been the Capitol Hill Blog. In addition to the standard community announcements, it contains real news, and actual investigative reporting. (That morning when all the buses in the neighborhood had stopped running, the only place that told me that someone had taken a joy ride in a stolen recycling truck was the Capitol Hill Blog.) Every neighborhood blog has since run out of energy (the last post on the Beacon Hill Blog is dated November 4, 2015) – except the Capitol Hill Blog. It’s been going as strong as ever – until now. Justin, the guy behind the blog, is taking a “break”. I hope the Capitol Hill Blog comes back, someday, but there’s no guarantee.

I was searching this blog this morning, looking for something, when I stumbled upon the day I went into a Walmart with Pamela. It was my first and only visit to a Walmart. Phillip waited in the car, but I was curious about the inside of this evil place. Pamela had promised me that the massage I had scheduled with her would rid me of the bad Walmart mojo. Sigh.