Afternoon Jolt: Buses and Cars
The day's winners and losers.
1. This is a belated winner, but it's been coming up a lot recently in post-mortem conversations about the Proposition 1 loss.
We've got to give the Seattle Times a winner.
Their April 18 editorial against Prop. 1, the Metro funding proposal, seemed to turn to the tide against the measure. After years of diminishing influence—remember their Rob McKenna endorsement campaign, not to mention their recent Richard Conlin (!!) endorsement—getting the Times' editorial board on your side hasn't much read like the important prize that it once was for local campaigns. But they certainly—with follow-up slams—seemed to make a big difference this time around.
Though with whom, exactly?
"Seattle" is a misnomer for the local daily
Big footnote: Prop. 1 won by a landslide in Seattle, 66.5 percent. And it was the exact opposite outside of Seattle—66.5 percent against. Pair that information with the Seattle Times' influential endorsement, and it would appear Seattle is a misnomer for the local daily.
Another footnote: It wasn't that attentive suburban voters simply showed up at the polls while lazy Seattle liberals stayed home: Seattle had 40.1 percent voter turnout while suburban and exurban Seattle had 36.2 percent turnout. It's just that there's more non-Seattle King County residents—1.37 million—than Seattle residents—634,500.
2. Today's loser: Cars!
If the "war on cars" is a real thing (it isn't) , cars, in Seattle at least, are losing.
According to a Seattle Department of Transportation report that will be presented to the city's transportation committee tonight, "congestion"—that is, car traffic—declined by 3.3 percent between 2011 and 2012, continuing a downward traffic trend that has been consistent over nearly the last ten years.
Meanwhile—directly defying the conventional wisdom that building bike infrastructure (which Seattle has also done) increases traffic congestion— bike traffic went up 4.7 percent over the same year car traffic decreased, putting Seattle third among U.S. cities in bike travel share (at 3.4 percent) while pedestrian travel increased an impressive 18 percent.
Defying conventional wisdom: bike traffic went up 4.7 percent over the same year car traffic decreased.
And throwing more conventional wisdom out the window: The number of collisions between cars and pedestrians and between cars and bikes continued to decrease; in 2012, Seattle had the second-lowest pedestrian collision rate, and the eighth-lowest bike collision rate, in the country.
Conclusion: the more cities accommodate and normalize bike and ped traffic, the less dangerous biking and walking becomes.