1. Seattle Bike Blog weighs in (and righteously so) on news, reported by the Seattle Times and other outlets yesterday, that although intersections (and thus crosswalks) tend to be much wider in the Rainier Valley than in other (wealthier, whiter) parts of the city like Ballard, the crossing times at crosswalks are the same, forcing pedestrians to risk life and limb to get across streets like Rainier Ave. SE, which effectively functions as a north-south alternative to I-5.
Rainier, as I've mentioned a time or two, is an especially dangerous street for pedestrians, who are often faced with the choice of jaywalking or hiking up to a mile back and forth to use a legal crosswalk (where they will, in many cases, have to wait an unreasonable period after pushing a "beg button" to cross, since so many of the signals are timed for cars on Rainier, not pedestrians trying to cross.)
"It should perhaps come as no surprise that between 2001 and 2009, three out of the five people killed while walking on the street were in their 70s. People with mobility issues or who simply move slower than others are put at disproportionate risk when the walk signal is too short."
Fortunately, the city is finally doing something about the problem, taking action to retime 30 signals on the street to better reflect how long it actually takes people to get across. Now if they could do something about the road's hostility to bikes (or maybe a neighborhood greenway that steers people to and from downtown along side streets?) we'd really be impressed.
2. The national media has been paying unusually close attention to the Seattle city council's decision to limit the number of people who can drive for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft at a time, with the latest salvo coming from the green/urbanist blog Planetizen. They write:
Seattle's decision is just the latest in an ongoing debate around the country about the extent to which cities can regulate transportation network companies. Meanwhile, recent analysis and arguments have criticized the inefficiencies of taxis and called for greater implementation of transportation networks.
4. In the mood for some delicious red herring? You're in luck, says Smart Growth Seattle's Roger Valdez, who argues that KIRO Radio has "played right into NIMBYs' (Not In My Backyard-ers') hands" by running a single-source alleging that "microhousing," AKA "aPodments," are ruining property values. The piece shows an aPodment building in Eastlake.
What it doesn't show is that—as we've reported—the building in question is on a street surrounded by much larger apartments; even if you believe that new apartments are bad in every single instance, it's pretty hard to argue that a narrow apartment building on a street filled with big apartment complexes is destroying an idyllic single-family Mayberry.
Roger's going on KIRO (97.3) tonight at 7:30 to present the other side of the story.
5. Good Jobs Seattle breaks down the numbers on chef Ethan Stowell's claim, in the Puget Sound Business Journal, that a $15 minimum wage will force him to raise prices at his restaurants 25 percent.
Assuming that labor costs make up a bit above 35 percent of the cost of running a restaurant (that's the number another prominent local restaurateur, Tom Douglas, cites in the same story) and even assuming that every single employee at Stowell's restaurants—from bussers to head chefs to Stowell himself—makes the bare minimum of $9.23 an hour, they write, his claim simply doesn't pencil out.
"Real figures on business impacts are an important contribution to the debate over how Seattle can craft a $15 minimum wage that lifts workers out of poverty, boosts the economy, and supports our community businesses," they write. "Made up numbers and scare tactics are not."