On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Rail, Biking, and Density
Our daily roundup.
1. Seattle Transit Blog reports that Rainier Valley light rail users are fueling ridership growth on Link Light Rail. In terms of total ridership growth, the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill showed the largest gains between 2011 and 2013, with about one out of three new riders coming from Southeast Seattle.
STB concludes, "Overall, ridership is heading in the right direction. There is no need to listen to calls for a one-time bump in ridership that might come from subsidized parking. Instead we should keep to the path that’s generating all day, sustainable growth: increase the number of people allowed to live near the stations and improve the bike, pedestrian, and bus connections to them."
King County Metro is set to cut up to 17 percent of its service if voters don't restore its funding in November.
2. The Urbanist has a good report on Wednesday's Westlake cycletrack open house, where, as we reported, opponents of the proposed reserved two-way bike lane argued that the city needs to preserve (largely free) parking for cars instead of providing safe tranportation routes for cyclists.
They note, quite reasonably, that people objecting to the cycletrack who instead proposed that the route to downtown should simply be on Dexter Ave. ignore the fact that biking up Dexter involves navigating a big hill—no problem for many cyclists, but certainly an obstacle for those who are less fit or are otherwise mobility-impaired.
Westlake, in contrast, is a flat route into downtown Seattle.
3. Speaking of downtown Seattle: At Crosscut, Knute Berger argues that we shouldn't be building Vancouver-style density and should instead be encouraging the preservation of "older parts of the city"—that is, those dominated by low-rise developments and single-family homes.
He argues that "older" districts that aren't "growing up," like Capitol Hill's Pike-Pine, "have fewer chain retailers and restaurants, are more active around the clock (e.g. greater numbers of people using Flicker [sic] or making cell phone calls after 10 p.m. on Fridays), have more jobs per commercial square foot than newer development, and have more new businesses than average in the city."
(While there may be more chains in more urban spots like Capitol Hill than in single family zone hubs, Berger does not offer any data showing that there are more indie businesses and indie restaurants in those neighborhoods. Without that, his argument falls pretty flat. It also ignores the numbers. It's like complaining that NYC has a bigger carbon footprint than rural Ohio without considering that if everyone on the planet selfishly lived in rural oasises rather than in ecologically sound dense cities, the planet would cease to exist. As for his point about Flickr use and phone calls; conversely, there are more people dancing, walking around, and playing bike polo on Capitol Hill on Friday night.)
Meanwhile, areas like the one where Erica lives, in Southeast Seattle, are benefiting tremendously from increased density. (Rents are higher, perhaps, but bye-bye, crazy crime!) Maybe the solution isn't to be Vancouver or Pike-Pine. Maybe it's a combination of both.