1. Why do cyclists love green-painted (and, ideally, physically separated) bike lanes, like the new cycletrack on Broadway? According to Greater Greater Washington, because they "send the clearest-possible message that roads are not only for cars."
Unlike white stripes on the road, in other words, green lanes are loud and proud—they send a message that drivers "must not expect to have roads completely to themselves." Green lanes are public relations, in other words, as much as they are simple (and cheap) lane markings.
2. Will defeated Mayor Mike McGinn have another chance to say "I told you so"? Probably, if the latest calamity facing the downtown tunnel-digging machine is any indication: "Bertha," which is digging the largest deep-bore tunnel in the world to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, remains stuck underground after colliding with an unknown obstacle, the Puget Sound Business Journal (among many others) reports.
In his 2009 campaign, McGinn argued that the tunnel would end up late and over budget; as mayor, he rallied the anti-tunnel troops for a nonbinding 2011 referendum opposing the tunnel. That resolution lost.
In a statement this afternoon, Washington State Department of Transportation tunnel program administrator Todd Trepanier said the state had "proactively stopped tunneling" and was "taking the necessary steps to ensure that the chosen strategy can be implemented safely."
3. Seattle Transit Blog's Martin Duke has a refreshing counterpoint to the conventional wisdom of regional transit critics who argue that Seattle should "go it alone" and separate itself from King County Metro, on the grounds that Seattle "subsidizes" the rest of the county.
Noting first that Seattle exists within a region, and that people move within different areas of that region, Duke goes on to absolutely eviscerate the argument that the suburbs are just freeloaders sucking Seattle dry.
Take it away, Martin:
Of course, this provincial argument about who benefits is ultimately unresolvable. Plenty of suburban residents utilize a Seattle route for some of their trips, and Seattle benefits when suburbanites come by transit rather than car — or rather than not at all. Most importantly, everyone benefits from the free flow of people around the region in ways that alleviate pollution and congestion. And of course the revenue itself largely comes from sales tax, and it’s hardly unheard of for Seattle to shop at Southcenter, or Bellevue to shop downtown.
Oh, and Duke has plenty of numbers to back his argument up, too (35 percent of routes never go through Seattle, and another 20 percent go through Seattle and another jurisdiction, for example)—if that's your thing.
4. Mount Baker residents are opposing a modest increase in development capacity (from a potential 65 feet to a potential 85 or 125 feet of residential development).
Only this time, they're literally defending a giant parking lot and a massive big-box Lowe's, plus lots and lots of awful car-oriented development that does absolutely nothing for the neighborhood except, I guess, keep new people out.
Crosscut reports on the controversy over the proposed upzone by the Mount Baker light rail station at MLK and Rainier, which single-family residents in the much wealthier nearby single-family neighborhoods oppose because, they say, it would make it harder for them to park and destroy the "character" of their neighborhood. Oh, and because renters—who make up more than half of Seattle's residents—"don't build community."
I get that change can be scary. But in a growing city, it's also inevitable. And really, it's pretty hard to argue that a bunch of auto shops and pawn stores that close up at night are better for "community" than a thriving, multi-use district where people actually have their eyes on the street and are invested in their neighborhood (even if they are—gasp—renters).
5. Think Progress reports on how SeaTac workers' lives will change under the new $15 minimum wage. Workers talk about being able to buy fresh vegetables; the ability to stay in their apartments if the rent goes up; and finally finishing college. Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association have challenged the law, which passed by a 77-vote margin, in court.
6. Hallelujah, there's a federal budget deal.
Washington state U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, head of the Senate budget committee, and her House counterpart, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, have hammered out a deal—which relies on targeted spending cuts and non-tax revenues from government fees—to keep the federal government going for the next two years.
Talking Points Memo has the details.