Archive for the ‘Traffic’ Category

Counterintuitive, but true.

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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.’”

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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

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

ChooseYourWaySchoolPool

The changing of the seasons ushers in many things such as pumpkin flavored treats, nature’s parade of colors along your commute, and this year, SchoolPool!

The City of Bellevue and the Bellevue School District are collaborating to bring SchoolPool to the desktop of families at select pilot schools longing for a way out of the traffic woes generated during the commute to and from school. SchoolPool not only brings relief to families and the communities that support the schools, it also saves time and money. You can access Bellevue SchoolPool via the Choose Your Way Bellevue website.

What is Choose Your Way Bellevue SchoolPool?

CYWB SchoolPool is a free program that includes an online platform, open only to families at participating schools, to help them form ridematches with other families at their child’s school or participating nearby schools. Ridematches aren’t just for carpools; they are also for biking and walking groups with an adult leader.

SchoolPool Pilot is happening at the following schools:

  • Puesta del Sol
  • Somerset Elementary
  • Stevenson Elementary
  • Odle Middle
  • Tyee Middle
  • Newport High
  • Sammamish High
  • Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart

Our vision is to utilize SchoolPool to mitigate traffic congestion around schools make the commute to school easier, and help make our city more sustainable!

If you have children in one of the participating schools listed above and would like to participate, visit our SchoolPool webpage. To get started, fill out this form!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 3:57 PM | by Paige Anderson | Add a Comment

Construction has begun on East Link’s downtown Bellevue Tunnel. Starting June 13th, contractors will close a portion of 110th Ave. NE to replace the soil under the roadway. The current substrate consists of loose fill which it is not adequate for the tunneling operation. The loose substrate will be replaced with a concrete like material and the roadway will be restored, allowing full access during tunnel construction.

Phase one of the closure will last approximately five weeks (June 13th to late July).

110th closure Phase 1

The initial closure will block all lanes in both directions of 110th Ave. NE from NE 6th St. to the loading dock of City Center Plaza. The 110th Ave. entrance to City Center Plaza will be closed during this phase of construction, but there will be limited access via the loading dock. Please contact property management for more details. Both the City Hall visitor entrance and the Skyline garage will continue to be accessible via 110th Ave. NE, but drivers will have to access it from the south.  Vehicle access to Skyline Tower, City Center Plaza and Bellevue City Hall will be restricted to a right turn only from westbound NE 4th St.. The sidewalk on the western side of  110th Ave. NE between NE 4th St. and NE 6th St. will be closed. The sidewalk on the east side will remain open.

 Phase two of the closure will continue for an additional five weeks (Late July-early September).

110th closure Phase 2

During phase two, the western-most lane will be reopened to southbound traffic. At this point, vehicles traveling southbound on 110th Ave. NE will have access to the City Center Plaza and Skyline Tower garages, but vehicles exiting the garages must exit southbound on 110th Ave. NE.

Although the construction site is relatively small, traffic impacts are expected to spread beyond the immediate area. Diversion is expected on NE 8th St., NE 4th St. and NE 2nd St. as well as 112th Ave. NE and 108th Ave. NE.

Customer and visitor access to Bellevue City Hall remains available from northbound 110th Ave. NE and westbound from NE 6th St.

 Transit access to the Bellevue Transit Center will not be affected and all bus service will continue as scheduled.

Choose Your Way Bellevue wants to help you find other transportation options.

  • Contact us for custom commute plans and carpool/vanpool matching.
  • During the 110thAve. NE closure, Choose Your Way Bellevue is offering new transit riders* ORCA cards preloaded with a $10 E-purse, to get you started.
  • King County Metro VanPool is offering five days of free rides in operating vanpool and vanshare commuter vans.
  • Contact info@cywb.orgfor more information on the ORCA and VanPool promotions.

Offer

To help you get through construction, we are inviting new transit riders* to apply for a preloaded $10 ORCA card (while supplies last) or five free rides in a KC Metro commuter van. Whether you want to commute to the office, ride to the Bellevue Collection for shopping and dining, bus to Seattle for a Mariners game, or if you want to try the Sound Transit 560 or light rail to the airport, we have your first trips covered.

We will review your application, and if approved, will mail you an ORCA card within seven business days.

Eligibility

  • *A new transit user is anyone who has not used transit more than three times in the past three months.
  • Participants who have previously received an ORCA card from Choose Your Way Bellevue are not eligible for this promotion.
  • If you are already taking advantage of your employer’s ORCA benefit, you are not eligible for this promotion.
  • For more details contact Choose Your Way Bellevue, please email info@CYWB.org.
  • Limit one per person and one per email address.

Our team is also available to help you plan a transit trip through our online commute inquiry form.

 How it works

  • Submit a request for a preloaded $10 ORCA while the promotion is available here.
  • The ORCA cards will be mailed out by Choose Your Way Bellevue staff weekly.
  • Limit one per person.
  • Limit one per email address.
  • For the KC Metro commuter van promotion find a van with a seat or for tips on finding a van, contact info@CYWB.org. Once you find a van complete this form.
Friday, June 3rd, 2016 9:38 PM | by Jason Hampton | Comments (1)
0150-BellevueICEskate-12-5-14Small

Photo by Mike Penney

Magic Season is here once again bringing residents and visitors together for six weeks of special holiday events! Warm yourself up with a hot cocoa while enjoying the ice arena, Garden D’Lights, local dining and shopping! Avoid the delays of traffic and the hassle of trying to find parking by following our transportation tips to help you find alternative ways for your commute while enjoying the holidays.

What’s more, Choose Your Way Bellevue will be at the Bellevue Downtown Association Magic Season Ice Arena presented by Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday Dec. 14. Stop by our table to say hello, spin our prize wheel and learn more about getting around town during this busy season.

In addition we’ll be giving away free ice skating tickets on social media. us on Facebook and Instagram to participate in our Magic Season ticket giveaway. What exactly do you have to do? There will be multiple opportunities and chances for you to be entered into the drawingand here’s how:

  • We will post a weekly trivia question on Facebook or Instagramand if you answer correctly you will be entered to win.
  • Tag @chooseurwaybell on Instagram showing us how you’re commuting to work (if you are a carpool or vanpool driver, make sure you are parked before you snap a photo!)
  • Guess where we are! We’ll post a picture, and tell us where we are in Bellevue to be entered to win.

Three fun and easy ways to be entered to win ice arena tickets while learning about your different travel options during the holiday season. We hope to see you around Downtown Bellevue these next few weeks. Be on the lookout for our social media updates! The first trivia question will be on Monday, December 7!

Magic Season Commuting and Transportation Tips

Ride the Bus: More than 20 King County Metro and Sound Transit bus routes travel through the Bellevue Transit Center. You can park your car at a park-and-ride lot such as South Bellevue, Eastgate or South Kirkland and hop on a bus the rest of the way. Visit tripplanner.kingcounty.gov to plan your trip.

Try the B Line: King County Metro’s RapidRide B Line goes from the Redmond Transit Center through Overlake, Crossroads and several stops along NE 8th Street to the Bellevue Transit Center.

Bring Friends: Carpooling can save you time when you take high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-90 and east of Lake Washington on SR 520. The I-405 Express Toll Lanes can make a short trip to Downtown Bellevue. With a group of two or more in those off-peak times you can avoid the toll with a GoodToGo FlexPass. You need three or more to drive in the express toll lanes for free during peak hours. Three or more in your carpool is required for using the HOV lanes on SR 520. The HOV direct access ramp at NE 6th Street will get you into Downtown faster. Find out more at goodtogo405.com.

Photo by Mike Penney

Photo by Mike Penney

Park near the Park: Parking is available at the Bellevue Downtown Park if you are heading to the Bellevue Downtown Association’s Magic Season Ice Arena presented by Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card. Doing a little shopping in Old Bellevue? Two-hour, limited on-street parking is available around Old Bellevue and on Main Street.

Download These Mobile Apps to Help You Get Around:

One Bus Away: Take the bus and save money— for more holiday shopping! Download the app for iPhone, Android and Windows phones to access up to date bus arrivals times so you aren’t running or waiting for the next Metro or Sound Transit bus.

Waze: Is the community-based app where you can share with fellow driver’s real-time traffic alerts and road information in your area, helping to save you time and money.

Inrix Traffic or WSDOT: Both of these apps will keep you up to date with instant traffic and travel alerts in and around the Eastside. Be sure to download either of these apps and save yourself some time by avoiding backups! InrixTraffic.com and WSDOT.gov.

Other apps to try: These multimodal real-time trip planning app such as Google Maps, The Transit App, Ridescout, or King County Metro’s Trip Planner app can also tell you the time, duration and cost of your trip using various modes such as transit, walking, cycling, and driving.

And as always – if you need any assistance planning your trip, feel free to contact Choose Your Way Bellevue or fill out a commute inquiry.

Friday, December 4th, 2015 10:41 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

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