Archive for September, 2011

The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts recently released a report entitled: Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts.

For this study, researchers gathered data from departments of transportation and public works departments from 11 cities in the United States. Using detailed cost estimates on a variety of projects, they used an input-output model to study the direct, indirect, and induced employment that is created through the design, construction, and materials procurement of bicycle, pedestrian, and road infrastructure. Their findings indicate that more jobs are created per million dollars to create bicycle lanes than any other type of infrastructure building.

We encourage you to read the entire report, but if you can’t quite commit, we created this handy graph that does a good job of breaking it down.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 4:51 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Picture 060Under almost impossibly blue skies, the gleaming new RapidRide B line was unveiled this morning before a smattering of elected officials, King County Metro employees and transit aficionados. Two inaugural rides, one originating at Bellevue City Hall and the other coming from the Redmond Transit Center, met at Crossroads Mall to a slew of fanfare, celebration, and even an appearance from a superhero.

“I feel like this is our golden spike moment,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Today, we’re bringing together the Eastside with new, reliable transit service. With RapidRide B, you’ll spend less time waiting and more time moving. It’s a leap forward in meeting the goal of increased efficiency for our entire transit system.”

RwifiapidRide B officially begins October 1, and will speedily shuttle passengers between the Redmond and Bellevue Transit Centers, operating about 20% faster than the current service along the corridor with more frequent headways. As King County Council member Kathy Lambert explained “With the RapidRide B, you can throw out those annoying schedules—you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your bus will always be coming in 10-15 minutes.” The RapidRide B coaches feature 3 entrances for speedier boarding, low floors, on-board wifi, and have the distinctly 21st century ability to interact with the traffic signals, meaning prolonged green lights to keep the bus moving. Additionally, 19 RapidRide stations have been installed throughout the corridor, all of which feature real time arrival information, ORCA card readers, benches, and a lighted signal that passengers can activate to let bus drivers know they’re waiting.

RapidRide B service is funded primarily through revenue from Transit Now, a 1/10th cent sales tax increase approved by King County voters in 2006 for improvements to bus service. Additional funding for RapidRide B came through a partnership between King County Metro and the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program, which provides money to transit agencies throughout the country specifically for bus rapid transit initiatives. Any corridor with more than 3,000 riders automatically qualifies for the funding. Executive Constantine highlighted the importance of partnerships in the creation of RapidRide B, and Councilmember Jane Hague seconded: “The fact that we were able to deliver on this during a recession means that we are doing things right in King County, and providing intelligent transportation solutions that connect our region,” she said.

The launch of the RapidRide B Line coincides with a major east side transportation system restructuring, designed to improve the efficiency of the entire network. 12 underperforming routes were deleted as part of the changes, but many new routes have been added. Public officials praised both the changes and new service at today’s event, zeroing in on the importance of transit to accommodate the exponential population and job growth predicted for the Eastside. Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson stressed that  “the B line will support future job growth in our eastside urban centers, and will also connect with future East Link light rail stations.”  Congressman Dave Reichert explained that “not only will this new service benefit commuters, it will also benefit businesses by freeing up space on the roadway for them to move goods and services.”And with tolling scheduled to begin soon on the 520 bridge, Councilmember Lambert predicted that “the B line will become an invaluable service to commuters. As an east sider, you’ll have the choice of spending over $5300 a year commuting by car to Seattle, or just $1300 on a transit pass. Think of what you could do with all that extra money!”

superhero

Lambert also shared her experience of riding the B Line with the crowd, illustrating that riding the bus isn’t just about efficiency or fancy technology. “We really enjoyed our trip this morning, and were reminded of what a gift it is to be able to take [time] out of your day to relax with neighbors, check email, and avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. It’s a great way to feel a part of a community.” And as King County Metro employee Malva Slachowitz pointed out, “the bus even looks like it’s smiling!”

The B line will official start carrying passengers this Saturday at 6am, and rides will be free all weekend. King County Metro is engaging in a full scale marketing blitz to promote the service, and will have street team volunteers handing out information at the Bellevue Transit Center from 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Thursday-Tuesday.  Maps, schedules and information about all route changes are available at metro.kingcounty.gov/up/scvchange.html

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 3:16 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Washington State Bicycle & Pedestrian Counts
Tuesday – Thursday, Sept. 27 – 29
7:00 – 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

It’s that time of year again – the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Cascade Bicycle Club are back for the fourth year of their Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Counts. If you have two hours to spare, they need your help counting bicycles and pedestrians at intersections and on trails!

They are still looking for volunteers in Bellevue, so please consider giving your time to collect data that will help WSDOT build the case for future improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in our region.

Click here for more information and to sign up. If you have questions about the project, have trouble logging in, or are unable to make your shift once you have signed up, please email Tessa Greegor.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 12:34 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Hi Bellevue biking community! Yes, we’re talking to you! We need your input!

As part of the update to the Downtown Transportation Plan, the City of Bellevue is sponsoring two upcoming bicycle rides that are must-attends if you’re interested in the future of cycling in our community.

The first ride is geared towards Bellevue residents, and will take place this Saturday, September 24, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. We’ll meet at local favorite Top Pot Doughnuts for a snack, and then take a ride through downtown, visiting places like the Bellevue Downtown Park, the King County Library, Old Bellevue and City Hall. Along the way, we’ll identify potential traffic signal improvements, and make suggestions for future signage and way-finding mechanisms. The pace will be leisurely and relaxed, and the length of the ride is approximately 3 miles.

The second is geared towards bicycle commuters to downtown Bellevue, and will take place on Wednesday, September 28 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. We will meet at Compass Plaza at Bellevue Galleria and from there branch into two groups. One of the groups will head northward towards the SR 520 floating bridge, and the other will head in the direction of the I-90 trail. Along the way, we will identify potential way-finding and signal improvements. Both will loop back and finish at Compass Plaza, with a happy hour to follow depending upon interest.

Both of the events are absolutely free of charge, and all abilities are welcome. Helmets are required and heavy rain cancels. Please RSVP to hayley@bellevuedowntown.org.

See you out there!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 4:22 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

Meet VeloBusDriver (@VeloBusDriver on Twitter), the part-time driver for King County Metro who loves everything transit-related. He’s also an avid bicycle commuter and a renewable energy enthusiast. In his previous life, he worked in the tech industry as a SQL database developer and a system administrator.

A tweeter extraordinaire, he’s amassed quite a following in the virtual transportation community. We chatted with him briefly about particulars of life as a bus driver, bicycling in Bellevue (yes, it does happen!) and his views on the future of transportation in our region.

CYWB: Your background is in software testing—how did you come to be a Metro bus driver?

VeloBusDriver: I worked for Microsoft for roughly 12 years. As the company grew I became interested in a different direction. I grew up riding the bus and have many fond memories of riding the #4 trolley on Queen Anne with my grandmother. I continued to ride the bus when it was relatively convenient and during my last year at Microsoft I often wondered what it would be like to drive a bus. During one of my commutes I ran across a driver I knew from church who told me all about the wonderful world of bus driving. It took a while before I actually decided to apply, but that’s when the idea took root.

CYWB: What’s your favorite route to drive and why?

VeloBusDriver: I really don’t have a favorite route. Really, it’s more of a favorite type of route. While I currently can be found driving Sound Transit’s 550, I’m equally comfortable driving the 73 in the U District, and soon the RapidRide B Line. I enjoy routes that are busy, well utilized, with a diverse mix of passengers.

What role do you see smart phones and technology playing in encouraging more people to live car-free/light?

VeloBusDriver: First off, there is the ability to get real time bus arrival information using One Bus Away, Metro’s bus “Tracker”, or Bing’s iPhone app. Knowing how long you have to wait for the next bus goes a long way to make the wait more comfortable. Once you’re on the bus, a smartphone is great for reading the news, Tweeting, or listening to music (with headphones, of course).

CYWB: Bellevue is getting excited about the RapidRide B Line, which will begin service from Bellevue to Redmond in October. We’ve heard some rumors that you’ll be driving. Can you confirm, and tell us what’s cool about Rapid Ride B?

RapidRide B Line has many Bus Rapid Transit features that will increase the speed and reliability of the old 253 bus line. RapidRide B coaches have 3 doors. When you couple that with the ability for passengers to pay off the bus using their ORCA card at the busier stations, you can see that loading the bus will go much faster once people get used to the system. Simply tap your card while you’re waiting for the bus and get on at any door. Another speed enhancing feature for folks utilizing mobility aids is the passive restraint system that allows the individual to simply park their mobility aid and set the brakethe driver no longer needs to secure them into position. (For those who are uncomfortable with the new system, RR B coaches still have a standard forward-facing restraint system like existing buses.) RapidRide coaches also have the ability to interface with the city’s traffic control system to keep green lights green just a little longer and turn red lights green just a little faster. Given the number of traffic lights along the RapidRide route you can quickly see how this will speed the buses along.

CYWB: You’re also a professed cyclist—aside from painting a bunch of bike lanes, what do you think could be done to encourage more bicycling in Bellevue?

VeloBusDriver: Personally, I’d like to see more city employees out on bikes where it makes sense. Given the maneuverability and cost effectiveness of bicycles, they make a lot of sense in denser areas like downtown. I’ve seen Bellevue bicycle police but they are hard to find. Though Bellevue appears to contract out parking enforcement, there is no reason that function couldn’t be done by bicycle. Reading water meters seems like a natural task for a bike for certain parts of the city. I’m not suggesting the city switch over completely to bikes but looking for ways to integrate these inexpensive and useful tools into the city’s operations would go a long way to showing others that you can get around by bike. It could also save the city money!

CYWB: What else are you looking forward to in the realm of regional transportation plans?

VeloBusDriver: While the car will be with us for a very long time, I’d like to see more of a focus on moving people, not simply vehicles. The key is to give people many options to get from point A to point B. Today, for much of our region, the only comfortable choice is to use a car. Sadly, that “choice” leaves us stuck in traffic.

CYWB: From a driver’s perspective, if you could tell the public one thing about how to make the ride go more smoothly, what would you say to them?

VeloBusDriver: Have your fare ready when it’s time to pay. The best way to do this is to use an ORCA card ePurse or monthly pass. ORCA cards can be loaded with cash, credit cards, or debit cards and also offer a 2 hour transfer for use on other public transportation systems/modes. Given the larger number of people on the buses these days, every little bit of time savings adds up. But more broadly speaking, I just wish folks would slow down a bit in life and be willing to try the bus for at least a trip or two per week. Everybody is in such a rush that they always answer “the bus takes longer” as to why they don’t take public transportation. Many of us who ride the bus would answer, “So what? At least I can read, nap, smash birds into blocks, etc… You can’t/shouldn’t do that when driving.” Frankly, I don’t really enjoy driving and do everything I can to avoid it. Yes, I know that is ironicthat’s kind of the point! 😉

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 12:41 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

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