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On Other Blogs Today: Driving, Not Driving, Smoking While Driving, and Smoking Pot

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By Erica C. Barnett January 15, 2014



1. Seattle Transit Blog reports on Monday's King County Council's unanimous vote to replace former mayor Mike McGinn and former city council member Richard Conlin, respectively, with Mayor Ed Murray and city council member Mike O'Brien as representatives of the North King County subarea on the Sound Transit board. 

O'Brien's appointment is particularly encouraging for transit backers (who've questioned Murray's pro-rail bona fides and who worried that County Executive Dow Constantine might appoint someone from Shoreline, rather than Seattle, to represent North King County). 

STB: "Although Shoreline Councilmember Will Hall would have been an excellent choice, Constantine opted to nominate one of the most progressive transportation voices possible in Mr. O’Brien." 

O'Brien, like McGinn, is a vocal, pro-transit urbanist who will push a pro-rail, pro-Seattle agenda on the board. And even though he shares those supposedly anti-establishment positions with McGinn, unlike McGinn, he's far from a polarizing figure; indeed, despite being outspent in his bid for reelection, he won with 67 percent of the vote. 

2. At Geekwire, Seattle Uber user Rich Barton reviews his week of using the black-car service (as opposed to the company's controversial ridesharing service, UberX), during which he reached the following conclusions: Using Uber exclusively (to get to work, get his kid to sports practice, go to a Seahawks game), is probably a little more expensive than owning a car.

But, he found, he walked more and saved time, primarily time he'd ordinarily spend driving around looking for parking. And he was able to get stuff done while riding, like calling his mom and working. 

Of course, as a transit partisan, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that some of those things (walking more, multitasking) are also true of riding the bus—and you don't have to shell out the $410 Barton estimates he spent in one week of using Uber. (For god's sake, though, don't call your mom on the bus unless you absolutely have to.)

3. Q13 Fox reports on a bill in the state legislature that would ban people from smoking in cars when anyone under 18 is present, and that would make it a "primary" offense—meaning that officers could pull a driver over if they seem them smoking in a car and believe a minor is present. 

Far be it from me to cry "nanny state"—I'm all for regulations that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, like Seattle's indoor smoking ban—but (don't hit me!) I'm not sure 18 is the right cutoff age.

Are 17-year-olds likely to develop new cases of asthma, one of the stated justifications for the bill? What happens if an 18-year-old is pulled over for smoking in the car with a slightly younger, but still underage, friend? Is this the best use of law enforcement resources, when many more dangerous road-related violations (like, oh, speeding) go unpunished? And ultimately, isn't the prevalence of driving itself—and the emissions it produces, which are a major contributor to childhood asthma, according to The Lancet—more harmful to youthful lungs than proximity to the occasional cigarette? 

An estimated quarter-million kids in Washington state live with smokers. 

4. The headline in the News Tribune pretty much says it all: "Some medical pot advocates seek united front, with mixed results." Basically, one faction in the medical-marijuana community wants to figure out a way to work with another faction to jointly oppose legislation that would, reduce the number of plants medical-pot patients can possess, get rid of collective gardens, and establish a registry of patients—and it isn't going so well. 

Legislators have proposed the bill because, they say, it will reconcile the medical-pot industry with the more heavily regulated recreational-pot industry, which is currently at a competitive disadvantage.

The hardline medical-pot folks think medical pot should take precedence over recreational marijuana. 



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