Josh (mostly) commandeered Fizz this morning (Kirkland? Yawn). So here are a few outtake LIKES and DISLIKES, courtesy of PubliCola’s resident Crank.

The C is for Crank LIKES the fact that Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is sticking by her promise to get out into the city’s neighborhoods, taking an hour last night, for example, to answer questions from the East Precinct Advisory Council, which met at Seattle University’s Chardin Hall.

O’Toole (who noted, "I think I spend an average of 25 minutes a day behind my desk") answered lots of questions from the audience, from extremely specific (what should a North Capitol Hill resident do about homeless people sleeping in her bushes?) to more general (what will it take to get more foot patrols in the city?)

Responding to a resident’s query about why the East Precinct (which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District) has had eight different captains in the last five years—the latest, Pierre Davis, was appointed earlier this year—O’Toole struck a reassuring tone: “There has been a lot of upheaval and a lot of churn and a lot of leadership changes over the years at all levels of this organization, so I’m hoping we can bring some stability."

As crime (including both shootings and armed robberies) have become an increasing concern around the city, the East Precinct has been particularly hard hit, with five armed robberies, including two carjackings, in a single night last week. 

East Precinct Captain Pierre Davis, O'Toole said, has "a tough job. It would be easy for me to say, ‘We’re having big problems in the East Precinct—let’s hold the captain accountable.’ But Pierre is working hard. … I don’t see Pierre going any place.”

The C Is for Crank DOESN’T LIKE: The recent news that Seattle’s new bikesharing program, Pronto Cycle Share, will open without the high-tech helmet vending machines promised as part of the (for now) downtown-centric proposal.

(Footnote: We also DON'T LIKE that while Pronto's new system includes plenty of stations north of the Ship Canal, it includes zero—not one!—south of I-90. Sorry, half the city.)

Behold: Pronto's south-end bikesharing options.

We’re disappointed not so much in the slow rollout (Pronto says the machines will be online sometime in 2015, and in the meantime, users will be on the honor system to pick up and return free helmets on their own), as in the fact that the helmets are necessary in the first place. 

We’ve outlined some of the reasons Seattle’s helmet law discourages bikesharing and makes little sense from a safety point of view before: It creates a financial disincentive for potential bikeshare users who don’t happen to carry a helmet with them at all times; encourages drivers to drive more carelessly; and may not protect cyclists who use shared helmets, especially if those helmets are involved in a crash and then re-used.

The solution: Get rid of Seattle’s unnecessary helmet law while encouraging helmet use by improving cycling education and funding helmet discounts or giveaways for low-income cyclists. And, most importantly, focus on improving Seattle’s cycling infrastructure, so that riding on city bike routes doesn’t require taking your life into your own hands.

The C Is for Crank DOESN’T LIKE the fact that the need to fully fund K-12 education—the state supreme court recently held the legislature in contempt for failing to meet the McCleary mandate and adequately fund the public schools—is taking up all the legislature’s oxygen this year, leaving little breathing room for other pressing issues. 

The McCleary mandate means that the legislature will likely go another year without passing a statewide transportation package—a desperately needed measure that has been tabled for the last two regular sessions—not to mention mental health services, higher education, and local transit service.

Sound Transit, for example, is seeking new taxing authority to go to a regionwide ballot in 2016; the legislature will have to move by early that year, at the latest, for ST leaders to make that happen—a tricky task that will involve a still-elusive consensus between regional leaders with many different political interests and geographical loyalties.

Talking to Crank yesterday, city council transportation chair (and ST board member) Tom Rasmussen said he “want[s] us to move quickly to go to Olympia so we can take Sound Transit 3 to the voters,” but doesn’t know whether there will be enough momentum and agreement among the ST board to start the push in the upcoming session, which starts in January 2015.

 

 

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