Archive for the ‘Commute Planning’ Category

Counterintuitive, but true.

Click for video.

We’ve all been there, sitting in our cars stuck in a never-ending gridlock and we think to ourselves, if only there were more lanes we’d all be moving along! Road rage sets in, and no matter what poignant story NPR is piping through the radio waves, our stress levels rise and we arrive at our destination full of hatred for our fellow man. Or, perhaps you’re more calm and hold it in, but that anxiety goes somewhere; there is mounting evidence that our commute tension is hijacking our health and wellbeing. Either way, you’re not alone in thinking traffic here is the worst–It actually is! Second worst in the nation for evening rush hour congestion, and fourth worst for overall congestion, that is.

Recently, when solicited for ideas on how to improve commutes in and around the Sound, one respondent said “Super simple. MORE LANES IDIOTS.” First of all, it’s ‘MORE LANES comma IDIOTS’, but that’s beside the point. Many researchers have taken the time to investigate this common and seemingly logical thought only to come up with the same answer: More lanes don’t mean less traffic. In fact, adding lanes almost always results in the same proportion of traffic as before. “As civil engineer and sustainability advocate Charles Marohn so eloquently put it, ‘Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants.’”

Click for image source.

What is “induced demand”?

Induced demand is the concept that demand is relative to supply. In terms of traffic, this means that by increasing road capacity (supply) there will be more cars taking those roads (increased demand). Essentially, as we add lanes more people decide to drive in those lanes. How could this be, you ask? Well, for a brief period widening a road may result in less traffic. But alas! This sweet, sweet commute is fleeting. As more drivers realize this route is now faster and easier, more drivers will take it. What is more, those that weren’t driving (either taking public transit or avoiding leisure trips altogether) are now likely to be incentivized to drive; it being so quick and easy and all. More roads can also attract more business and their associated road use. Essentially, you may be stuck in traffic whether the road has two lanes or six.

Image: Vox.com

So what are the facts?

In 2009 two economists compared data on new roads built and the total number of miles driven in 228 US cities between 1980 and 2000. What they found was a precise correlation.  According to Wired, “If a city had increased its road capacity by 10 percent between 1980 and 1990, then the amount of driving in that city went up by 10 percent. If the amount of roads in the same city then went up by 11 percent between 1990 and 2000, the total number of miles driven also went up by 11 percent. It’s like the two figures were moving in perfect lockstep, changing at the same exact rate”.

Of course, there are limits. If we were to build a highway 100 lanes across, drivers would have a hard time filling it up. Within reason, though, induced demand is a cold, hard fact, even when controlling for factors such as population growth and transit service. Forward-thinking departments of transportation across the nation are beginning to accept this fact, including CalTrans (California Department of Transportation) in the state perhaps most synonymous with gridlock frustrations, and reconsidering the allocation of precious transportation dollars.

The Lone Star State and the lone success story

I’m sure some readers out there are thinking to themselves, this so-called research is skewed! This article is biased! Where are the stats on Texas, where increased road capacity reduced traffic? Well, it’s true that in Texas an anomaly happened. The state decided to build more lanes and it did in fact reduce the average commute time by half, but experts say this won’t last in the long run.

What can we do?

Take lanes away. No, I’m not nuts. In fact, research has shown that the induced demand trend also works in reverse. When cities take away lanes, traffic will end up readjusting itself so that approximately the same ratio of cars to road exists. It’s been done internationally with great success in congested cities such as Paris and Seoul, where more drivers decided to go by foot or public transit rather than drive when road capacity was reduced. However, there are limits; taking away a massive thoroughfare and replacing it with a single lane road won’t exactly slim down with ease.

Is there hope for my commute?

So, are we doomed to live our lives in metal boxes on wheels, crawling along at a snail’s pace, with our hands glued to the steering wheel and our eyes narrowed at the car ahead? Well, that depends on if we can change our culture. America is arguably the most car-centric nation on earth, and proud of it. This means that until we collectively decide that driving isn’t the coolest, the best, the easiest, or the only way to get where we’re going, there will always be traffic no matter how many roads we build ourselves.

As always, Choose Your Way Bellevue is happy to dig into the details and plan that non-drive-alone commute for you!

The takeaway

Whether you become a diehard bus rider, aerodynamic-spandex-wearing biker, or a stay a steadfast driver we wish you luck in getting from A to B. We hope you’ll continue to look at issues from every angle, and of course, recognize the influence social, political, and economic factors have on each other. Traffic and transportation is a big issue that won’t be tackled with any one-size-fits-all solution.

Leave your comments below or email us with questions, comments, or fresh ideas. We’d love to hear about your commute experiences- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

 

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staff

Monday, March 13th, 2017 4:05 PM | by Paige Anderson | Add a Comment

The South Bellevue Park-and-Ride will be closed for approximately five years during construction. ST Express buses 550, 555 and 556, and Metro buses 241 and 249 will continue to serve Bellevue Way Southeast next to the closed park-and-ride during construction. The future South Bellevue Station will include bus and paratransit transfer facilities and a 1,500-stall parking garage. Sound Transit expects to receive a construction schedule from the contractor soon that will identify the closure date, to be announced through East Link construction alerts. Stay informed by subscribing to Sound Transit’s East Link alerts at soundtransit.org/subscribe.

With a closure like this, it’s a great time to evaluate all of your options and we’re here to help.

Sound Transit identified replacement and existing park-and-ride lots with additional parking capacity and also expanded service on routes traveling to downtown Seattle and Bellevue. Visit the links below to discover replacement park-and-ride lots and new routes to find an alternative lot that works best for your lifestyle and location. There may even be a carpool or vanpool option that can get you to your destination.

We realize the park-and-ride closure may have a big impact on your commute. If you would like help navigating your options, fill out a custom commute planning inquiry and the Choose Your Way Bellevue team will help you find your way. You can always visit ChooseYourWayBellevue.org for information about alternatives to driving alone.

Choose Your Way Bellevue has created a new “East Link and Travel Options” page to help you get around during East Link construction. The new page will be updated with relevant information throughout the various stages of construction as they emerge, including frequent commute plans we’ve created for commuters. Let us know how we can support you during this change in our environment!

-Augusta, Choose Your Way Bellevue staff

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 10:26 AM | by augusta | Add a Comment

Planning of Commute – Anxiety Level 6/10

I would consider myself an intermediate Seattle bus traveler. I used to ride the bus every day to get to work in South Lake Union, or to neighboring areas like Capitol Hill and Queen Anne, but never one to take me across multiple cities. So in regards to intercity public transportation, I’m a novice at best. So the night before my second day at my new job in Bellevue, I decided to map out my path of travel and outline any red flags such as road closures and “what if” scenarios if buses were late. Using this time resting my eyes, meditating, maybe actually having breakfast – sounded a lot more tempting than driving during rush hour to get back home in Seattle. I used every source I could think of: Google Maps, One Bus Away, Metro Trip Planner – anything that could give me a good sense of timing.

Morning of Commute – Anxiety Level 7/10

I found that I could take the bus right outside my door down to the University Street tunnel station and transfer easily to a bus that came about every 8-15 minutes to downtown Bellevue. As I waited, I noticed I didn’t have reception down in the tunnel station. I glanced across the way and saw a sign that said free Wi-Fi on the platform! PERFECT! I quickly logged in and checked my One Bus Away app and notice that my bus was running behind. If I had checked before I could have made it in time for the bus ahead of it, but after getting a little confused with which way to head off of the bus, I just barely missed it. A gentleman next to me mentioned that usually this bus is right on time, so I’ll count today as an anomaly. Once it arrived a few minutes later, the bus was a bit crowded, but I was able to get on. As we were cruising swiftly by traffic on I-90 I realized that we were quickly making up time for the late departure. I arrived at the Bellevue Transit Center and at work a few minutes late, but not bad for a first timer.

Week 2 of Commuting to Bellevue– Anxiety Level 1/10

Two weeks later – When I wake up, I quickly check my One Bus Away (an app a fellow bus rider suggested to me), to see when my bus is arriving, I keep it on hand as it updates regularly and I can easily walk out my door about 2 minutes beforehand. I now have a routine down and can sometimes catch an extra wink or two in the morning due to how consistent my travel time is now into work. The 550 has been on time (give or take 2-3 minutes) every day, and I’ve always scored an open seat.  I’m glad I didn’t let one hiccup deter me from trying the route again, but it comes by so often that even if you do miss a bus, you know the next one is just right around the corner.

Tips:

  • No “Cutsy’s”! –Unspoken protocol for commuters traveling to and from the Eastside, make sure to wait in whatever line is forming for the bus at your platform. When your bus arrives, some may get on, others won’t, just step forward and make sure not to jump ahead of anyone that is getting on the same bus! On day 1, this formal line was a foreign concept to me as it’s usually a free for all on Seattle downtown buses, but I quickly learned that you either get in line, or wait until the end of it to get on.

Overhead space for extra items

  • Have extra bags or books? The Sound Transit buses have overhead space compartments for just those things. Another plus was overhead extra lighting, so make sure to bring that book or set of notes to review!
  • Stand clear of the back doors or they won’t be able to close.
  • Have your fare ready!
  • Also, make sure to enjoy the view!

    View off the I-90 bridge

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 9:59 AM | by Sandee Ditt | Add a Comment

The Seahawks are poised for another great season, and they can’t do it without you! To make sure you get to the game without getting stuck in traffic or a stadium parking lot, try taking transit to the game!

seahawks busseahawks bus 2
• From the Bellevue Transit Center you can catch Sound Transit Route 550, which will drop you off at the International District Chinatown station, a short distance from Pioneer square and Century Link Field. You can also catch the 550 at the South Bellevue Park & Ride. Regular adult fare: $2.75 (each way). *Note: The South Bellevue Park & Ride may be closed as early as January 2017 for up to five years for East Link Light Rail construction.

• If you’re heading across the lake from the Eastgate Park & Ride you will enjoy 20 festive minutes with fellow Hawks fans on Sound Transit Route 554 before arriving at 5th and Jackson, which is a short walk to the stadium. The 554 departs Bay 3 (I-90 Expressway Ramp & 142nd Place Southeast) every 30 minutes. After the win you can catch the 554 for your return trip from 5th and Jackson. Regular adult fare: $2.75 (each way).

• Metro Transit will operate Seahawks game day shuttle bus service from three locations: Eastgate Park & Ride, South Kirkland Park & Ride, and Northgate Transit Center. Fares will be $4 each way, or $8 round trip. Bus service generally begins two hours prior to kickoff and ends 45 minutes prior. Please note that service is only available for weekend games. Get more info on game day transportation straight from the Hawk’s mouth.

• You can also catch Metro Route 271 from Eastgate Park & Ride or the Bellevue Transit Center to the University of Washington, where you can use your ORCA card to seamlessly jump onto Link light rail to the stadium. Sound Transit’s website has fare and schedule details.

Remember, Seahawks game days are busy for all downtown buses. A couple of things that help the offense run more smoothly are patience and an ORCA card:

• Post-game traffic can clog the streets. Please be patient and remember the bus will eventually come.

• When making the play call to ride the bus, also remember that an ORCA card will not only save you money by letting you transfer between buses, but also speed up boarding. If you will be paying your fare with cash try to have exact change ready. There are many places to get an ORCA card. You can purchase one at the Bellevue Transit Center vending machine on the north sidewalk, or at other participating retail locations, as well as by mail. Here’s the playbook on getting an ORCA card.

If you’d like help planning your route or need additional information, fill out an online commute inquiry form or send us an email. Some great resources for trip planning are trip planners from Sound Transit and Metro; Puget Sound Trip Planner App; OneBusAway; City Mapper; and Google Maps.

Friday, October 14th, 2016 8:34 PM | by Paige Anderson | Add a Comment

It’s easy to see the correlation between not exercising and looking silly on your hiking date or not flossing and emitting potent halitosis, but less obvious is the correlation between your daily commute and your health and wellbeing.

Before you go checking WebMD and discover that you need to amputate a limb, it’s important to remember that there are many variables to consider when evaluating your commute. Depending on how and how far you travel each day, your risks may be different. For example, traveling more than ten miles each direction is associated with high blood sugar; commute distance is also related to blood pressure and body mass index. Not to mention the prolonged exposure to air pollution and the risk of lung diseases, heart attack, and stroke.

Image thanks to: www.erwinwurm.at

Image thanks to: erwinwurm.at

Even depression, anxiety, and social isolation are greater risks for those driving to and from work alone. Psychologists have found that mental health issues are a result of not just earth-shattering events, but also minor emotional experiences can manifest into negative psychological expression up to ten years later.

 

 

It has also been found that a commute of more than 45 minutes is correlated with lower sleep quality and more exhaustion than those with shorter commutes. Issues stemming from of lack of sleep are myriad, including an effect on attention, long-term memory, impulse behavior, lower immunity, and other problems.

However, not all hope is lost. If you a part of a carpool, vanpool or vanshare, that social time is thought to be having a positive effect on your health and wellbeing in the long term.

He takes the bus. Image thanks to: rollingstone.com

He takes the bus. Image thanks to: rollingstone.com

If you choose to ride your bike to work you’ll not only save money, but you’ll reap the health benefits of a regular exercise regime and reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Taking the bus can also be a cost-effective and stress-free way to commute. All that time you’d be focused on the road you could be reading, dozing, or maintaining a celebrity-sized social media presence. Busing also has positive health benefits, because even though you may walk just a few hundred yards to the nearest stop, that adds up over the week. In fact, even standing and balancing on the bus is considered a core workout (goodbye belly, hello abs!).

Don’t forget that combining modes may be your best bet for your commute.

If you’d like help planning your new commute don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Thursday, October 6th, 2016 11:11 PM | by Paige Anderson | Comments Off on Commute Consequences

Subscribe

Categories

Archives

Related Blogs