On Other Blogs
On Other Blogs Today: Lockers, Taxis, Bikes, and Buses
Our daily roundup.
1. Seattlish has a smart, provocative take on a proposal the city council is floating to provide lockers for people living on the street to stash their stuff. (SHARE/WHEEL provides free lockers, but only 150, while the city's unsheltered homeless population numbers in the thousands).
The well-meaning idea, instigated by well-meaning council member Sally Bagshaw, is to add 100 lockers in Seattle this year. It's a great (and humane, and sane) proposal, in theory: Give homeless people a place to stash their stuff, and they won't have to carry all their possessions around on their back all day (which makes it tough to interview for jobs, look for housing, or just wander the streets for hours on end.)
In practice, though, Seattlish points out a major potential problem: Bagshaw's proposal could come with some pretty harsh, and potentially unrealistic, conditions, such as showing up to regular visits with a caseworker and making active efforts to find a home. Those may not seem like major hurdles to you or me, but they can be to someone with major mental illness, transportation challenges, and other struggles. Not to mention the fact that, for various reasons, some people prefer to live on the street.
"The issue here isn’t that the councilmembers didn’t do their research," Seattlish writes. "It’s that their proposal is kind of part and parcel with most proposals by City Council: It addresses a problem with a solution that will go over well with voters and tax payers, but doesn’t actually help the people who need it the most."
2) Here's city council member Tim Burgess' thoughtful look at the new taxi license and ridesharing rules the council plans to debate and vote on in two weeks. (I wrote about the many moving parts of the proposal here).
Two quick takeaways:
"I favor removing limits on vehicles and drivers in the dispatch [ridesharing] market for the two-year pilot program being proposed. If the majority of my colleagues favor a cap, I could support Councilmember Clark’s amendment to raise the current limit of 300 to 600 private vehicles available for [ridesharing licenses]." (Some council members want to remove the cap, some want to raise the number, and some want to keep the proposed limit of 300.)
"For current taxi drivers, we should increase the number of licensed taxicabs that can operate in Seattle." (The council generally agrees that the city should increase the number of taxi licenses, but there is some debate about how many new licenses the city should grant).
Much more (including a potential proposal to phase out flat-rate for-hire cabs entirely) at Burgess' web site.
3) Sightline has a stunning infographic showing how many buses could be saved for the price the state is paying for every foot the tunnel-boring machine, "Bertha," moves beneath downtown. For example: "The cost for Bertha to dig the length of a Chinook salmon would keep one King County bus on the road for a year."
Why pit the bus system against poor, benighted Bertha? "Because, unlike the world's largest tunnel boring machine, buses reach their destinations."
4) Three years after the state legislature passed the vulnerable users' law, which holds negligent drivers accountable when they injure or kill vulnerable roadway users like pedestrians, cyclists, or wheelchair users, a judge has issued the very first fine under the law—$2,500, in a case where a motorist T-boned a cyclist, who spent five days in and out of surgery for her injuries.
Biking Bis reports that one reason the law isn't getting more use (it's not like no one in the state has been hit by a negligent driver in the last three years) is that many police simply aren't aware it exists—a sign, perhaps, that in addition to tough (and hard-won) rules protecting cyclists, we need far better training requirements so officers, not just bike advocates, are aware of those protections.