Archive for February, 2010

DSC_0238In 2009 the City of Bellevue adopted a new Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Plan which identified over 400 projects that would make waking and biking in Bellevue safer and easier. These projects are prioritized and implemented as funding allows. The 2009 Ped-Bike Plan aims to provide transportation choices for those who can or wish to travel by foot or bicycle to destinations within their neighborhood, city, and the greater Eastside and region, improve health and fitness, and enhance recreational benefits, ensure that those in the community who cannot drive due to age, income or disability have mobility options, provide a safe and accessible street environment for all users, improve overall neighborhood livability, support and enhance public transit use, reduce air and noise pollution, energy use, and oil consumption, and support economic development.

In concurrence with the increase of better pedestrian and biking options around Bellevue, Choose Your Way Bellevue recently updated the Downtown Bellevue Pedestrian Guide Map. You may download and print a copy on the ChooseYourWayBellevue.org website, or stop by one of the following locations to pick up your own pocket-size hard copy:

  • Commuter Connection (In the Rider Services Building at the Bellevue Transit Center; Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.)
  • Service First Desk at Bellevue City Hall (450 110th Avenue NE; Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)
  • Bellevue Downtown Association (500 108th Avenue NE; Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

Other cities in our region are equally concerned with their pedestrian environments. Some are even launching safety campaigns. The Portland Bureau of Transportation released a short animated film about Oregon crosswalk laws. The film, “Every Corner Is A Crosswalk”, graphically illustrates responsibilities that both drivers and pedestrians have to make our roadway safer for everyone. Should the City of Bellevue or other organizations create PSA’s like the video done in Portland to further increase pedestrian safely? Check out the video below:

What do you think about Bellevue’s environment for pedestrians, specifically in downtown? Is it meeting the needs of the 45,000 workers and 6,500 residents currently circulating in the downtown core on a day-to-day basis? What pedestrian or bike friendly projects would you like to see move forward on the priority list? Comment on this post below and let us know your thoughts.

-Jordan

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 1:34 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Picture 006Recently a visitor to the ChooseYourWayBellevue.org website commented on a fundamental problem: companies locating in areas without good transit service, thus shifting the costs of commuting from the employer to the employee. His reasoning was that companies save real estate costs by locating in less expensive areas outside of downtowns, and those costs are shifted to workers in the form of more expensive commutes. Do you agree? Areas outside downtown areas are typically not as well served by transit, and transit commuting can be less expensive than driving alone (as was the case with this person). But if you drive, parking is more costly in downtown.

The 1990 State Growth Management Act aims to shift growth to urban centers – witness the growth of high rises in downtown Bellevue – but changes take time, and many employers still choose to locate out of these centers. Do you now, or have you previously worked in an area with limited transit? Did this matter to you? If you work in downtown, do you value the transportation choices it affords? Do you appreciate having a multitude of options for lunch, etc within easy walking distance? 

If you work in an area outside of downtown, have you found a viable way to commute without driving alone? Maybe perceived drawbacks could have offsetting benefits? That is, time spent reading on a long bus commute could be considered free time; time spent walking or biking one leg of a commute reduces time at the gym, etc. Do you undertake a “challenge commute”? If so, do you appreciate any aspects of it or do you just wish it would be easier? Let us know your thoughts.

-Kate

Thursday, February 4th, 2010 5:51 PM | by admin | Comments (1)

1022488_59589871Spending about an hour commuting seems to be in our genetic make-up.  Throughout history, humans have sought to keep their commutes to this time.  All of the ancient cities like Rome encompassed a space 5 km or less in diameter – the size where a person can walk from the edge of town to the center and back in one hour.  People eventually traded walking for horse carriages, then electric trains, then cars.  With the quicker modes of transportation, people have been able to move farther away from the city and work.  But one thing has remained constant- the center of the city (or work) has remained about 30 minutes away.  As traffic gets worse and it takes longer to travel the same distance every day, many people are deciding to move closer.

The best solution to saving money and time each day might be to give up the commute all together and live near work.  The financial cost of commuting is well documented.  Solo drivers in the United States spend on average $4,000 per year on driving to and from work.  The environmental impacts by commuters are gaining increased attention.  But less discussed are the social implications in commuting.

People that commute less tend to be happier.  In a German study, it was concluded that a person’s life satisfaction steadily decreases with longer commutes.  One reason, according to Robert Putnam (Harvard University professor and leading author) is that a person’s social connections are reduced by 10% for every 10 minutes of commute time.  This reduces the number of interactions with friends and the community.  People have less time to spend on personal relationships, attend events and have fun.

There are also health benefits to reducing a commute.  First, commuters have less time to eat well, get good sleep and participate in physical activities.  Additionally, a University of California at Irvine study has shown that commuting stress takes a major toll on health.  High levels of stress can lead to increased blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and a number of other physical symptoms.  In fact, a BBC study concluded that commuters had higher blood pressure levels than pilots and police officers in training exercises.  Finally, sitting in a car for extended periods of time can easily lead to back problems.  Reducing one’s commute provides an opportunity to reduce health risks and have more time to take care of one’s self.

Downtown Bellevue has a number of downtown housing options to bring people near work.  In fact, there are over 6,000 units in the downtown core and over 3,300 new units have been added since 2005.  An extra hour each day is five hours per week.  Over the year, this is an extra ten days to do something other than being stuck in traffic- that adds up to two full work weeks!  A move downtown can bring financial savings, physical well-being and increased life satisfaction!

-Michael

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 1:17 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Subscribe

Categories

Archives

Related Blogs