Take Your Burning Rage from Yesterday's Traffic Mess and Fire It Toward Olympia


Now THAT is an article...
Obviously traffic that's not moving is safest for pedestrians and bicyclists. Maybe we need more road diets in and around downtown. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Emails sent!
Now imagine if this occurred oh, say, underground?
Emails sent.
Just FYI Olympia didn't have anything to do with this. The legislature, most of which is from King County and its suburbs, is where you get this system from.

But if you think Mayor Buxbaum is the problem, by all means, fire up your emailbots.
Between 3:00 and 7:00 PM yesterday, I traveled through five Seattle neighborhoods using mix of walking, bus, and personal vehicle (the latter related to my spouse's doctor appointment). I had all of my usual bad traffic-related thoughts about how better bus transit and more light rail could make things better around here, but then I had a brand new thought:

There is a shit ton of people moving here, and the flow of new people shows no signs of abating. Even if you can get 50%, or 70%, or even 80% of those people to forego car ownership or at least most personal car trips, that's still a ton of added cars on the road. At some point, forward-thinking engineering (multi-modal transit) is going to butt up against looming reality (too many cars on too few roads), and I'm really interested to see what happens then.
Another stranger attack on the republicans, when the all the mayor had to do was call his police commissioner and tell her to move that truck and get the traffic moving!!!!!!!!!!! God the stranger is soooooooo predictable.
The case for additional transportation is valid without resorting to extreme edge cases and appealing to our basest emotions.

If a similar catastrophic event like this occurred with a better transit system in place, it would get similarly overloaded. (I.e if the mythical Ballard light rail was functional, what if one its cars blocked the path of all other rail trains? Where would all of those commuters end up? Stuck.)
@7 exactly - not only will there be too few roads, but too few schools - ah the joys that constituent "planning" in this fine city
I sat on a bus yesterday from downtown to Ballard for well over an hour. My phone died, so I had no idea that it was citywide gridlock caused by something in Sodo, going in the opposite direction. Normally, I'm a big fan of buses (screw single-occupancy vehicles for commuting). But as I sat on a bus, not moving, and looked out the window at the SLUT caught in traffic just ahead of my bus, it's pretty clear that a street-based solution isn't much help. There will always be way too many cars. The focus of the solution needs to be light rail, or, god forbid, monorail. Rise above it all!
I thought these days disrupting random brunches was the way to get things done?

I guess one could go with antagonizing legislators, rather then waffle eaters, as alternate way of provoking change. But how will other people know I'm a good person?
Meanwhile, the light rail actually ran on schedule. Probably because the buses couldn't make it into the the downtown transit tunnel to hold up the trains like they do every other day. (Can't wait 'til November when they start kicking them out.)

When there are only two real North-South corridors (I-5 and 99) to move people in and out of the city it should be no surprise that a disruption on either will gridlock the city. I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often.

20,000 people moved to Seattle last year. Seattle is projected to grow another 39% over the next 30 years. I-5 is still restricted to two lanes through downtown. Gridlock will be a way of life unless a significant majority of these newcomers choose to commute via public transit and/or bicycle. People make (mostly) rational decisions and they will continue to choose to drive single occupancy vehicles if the alternatives suck. We must continue to invest in transit and bicycle infrastructure to keep this city moving.
The last place I lived in Seattle was on the north side of Queen Anne Hill, near SPU and the Ship Canal. It took about an hour to walk home from work downtown, which is exactly what I did on days like that. Up and over the hill.
2-wheel vehicles shouldn't pay the same as cars for metered parking. 8-10 hour discount parking at meters and RPZ's should exist.
I commuted on bike all day yesterday and had zero delays.
I feel so sorry for all those folks who had to really, really, hold it - if you know what I mean.
@12: State legislators go to brunch too I imagine, do you could do both!
This place is supposed to be nice:
How about ... the "security" issue? An improvised unnatural event similar to those that have occurred elsewhere in the world could have had a similar effect on transportation and the local economy. Moreover, emergency services would be halted in the fictitious scenario described above.

Light rail is not only necessary for the movement of people but will facilitate and expedite emergency services in a time of urgency.
The stranger has declared over and over and over and over that things would be fine if we just shut down the viaduct with no replacement. Yet here we have total gridlock from a shut down in only one direction. Now you find a new way to blame the government for bad traffic. Keep it classy guys.
@20: Because the Stranger advocates just shutting down the viaduct one morning without any warning.
As a Granny Smith yourself you should know the difference between apples and oranges.
What the city really needed more of was bucket drummers, to keep all the people stranded in horrific traffic, who just wanted to get home for dinner/to see family, entertained.
The legislators you're griping about are worthless. There should be more money spent on transit. ST should get its $15 billion in taxing authority. But yesterday was surface/transit in action. Stop trying to deflect and own it.
I took a Pronto bike home. It was awesome. That system needs to be expanded so more people can be like me.
I gave up my Sounders tickets last night. When light rail reaches Bellevue I won't have to worry about leaving 2 hours early for a weekday game. Also, no need to have a designated driver.
I biked home from work in 20 minutes, I wasn't even aware there was worse traffic than normal until today.
I split lanes on my motorcycle from northgate to about the convention center. My normally 30 minute commute took 39 minutes and by removing myself from the regular flow of traffic there was one less vehicle to sit behind. It's safe and easy. Costs nothing and allowing it is an incentive for people to commute on a cheaper, more fuel efficient and smaller-to-park alternative. Tell your state reps that too while you're at it.
I work and live south of downtown, so I too was spared. For which I am grateful.
People use cars, get used to it. More transit would not have done anything at all. Get over this stupid effing religious zeal for mass transit solutions because it won't work. We need solutions for drivers, more lanes and more roads.
@steve treadway Yup, all the mayor had to do was get his underlings to do something, like Chris Christie did in Bridgegate's lane closures, amirite?
Like other bike riders have mentioned, I rode my bike to and from work yesterday as usual and saw none of this. I admit I am gloating a little, but really I have to ask – How many of the people stuck in traffic were in single occupancy cars travelling 10 miles or less? I bet the number is significant. And even if you count out those who were elderly or injured, you still have a large number of people who could've gotten where they were going faster and more efficiently on a bicycle. Exactly what is it that keeps so many people from recognizing the fun and inexpensive traffic solution that most likely already stands gathering dust in their garages?
@32: Sweat. And having to pack and change from bike clothes/shoes to work clothes/shoes.
Also, fear for one's life.
emails sent!
We totally need to tear down the viaduct. And ship salmon by light rail.
Anybody remember Big Bertha?

The saving grace that would never go over budget, or go beyond timetable?

To the smug bikers and horrific drivers of Seattle. How do propose to do the following on your bike? Drop kids off at school, get to work from Ballard to downtown, fast forward to 6pm head back north to pick kid up at soccer practice on QA. Goto Lowes store to pick lumber for home improvement project in progress (trying to combine trips to conserve of course). Stop at grocery store then pick up other child from Baseball then home to Ballard? How's your fixed gear two-wheeled people/cargo hauler working in this common scenario Mr. fixed gear Kleen canteen carrying single Lumbersexual? The point I am trying to illustrate is cars will always be part of the equation. Bikes are a small part of the solution but not THE SOLUTION. What we need a combination of things that will help mitigate the cluster cuss SDOT is sticking us with. #1) myself included need to stop bitching online and email SDOT director Scott.kubly@seatte.gov and Mayor Murray and blast them with your transportaion issue. 2) Fast track light rail or monorail-Northgate to Ballard to downtown to West Seattle (one can dream). 3) Bikers follow the rules of the road and not act like entitled pricks. It's a road not your biking agility course. Bike lanes are great but let's do it right and not just reduce a car lane and slap some lines and green paint down. 4) Car drivers put down your damn phone and drive! Pay attention! Quit fucking texting and driving! You and what you are looking at on twitter, tinder etc is not important. -P.S Seattlites grow a pair; when I honk it you I am not trying to hurt your feelings it's me telling you to pull your head out and get moving. When there is an opportunity to drive the speed limit seize the day and Just DO IT. 30 doesn't mean 23 so you don't spill your frapacino.
Those guys look like they're a piece called "Themes on a Suit".
Bikes are great! I know a lot of people who bike commute. Makes a ton of sense if you live reasonably close to where you work, have appropriate changing facilities at your place of employment, access to safe bike routes, and especially if you don't have to deal with transporting children before or after work.

If your situation doesn't meet that criteria, the cost-benefit analysis changes, and biking becomes a less-attractive option compared to public transit or personal vehicle use. Cycling should be well-accommodated in our transportation planning, but it's appeal is limited and will probably stay limited.

@37) Your life sucks and you deserve it.
@40: Oh please. Is @37 a cranky pants? Yes, yes they are. Does their comment resemble a game of Traffic Rage Bingo? Yes, yes it does, but you shouldn't let their irritation negate the content of their comment. Hernandez @39 (Hi Hernandez!) makes the same points with less hyperbole and they are all good observations.
@41) I regret nothing.
@37 Your life is set up in an inefficient way. Sorry. No amount of traffic engineering or fuel efficient wonder-cars will solve your problems. Can you please point to a city where Dad works at point A, has one kid that has soccer practice over at point B, has another kid with baseball practice at point C, and is able to pick up groceries & lumber... all without worrying about traffic congestion?? This situation simply doesn't scale.
I don't disagree with this article, but the idea that those three republican senators aren't representing their constituents is pretty misleading. People who live in Kent, Auburn, Federal Way, etc are not served by light rail in downtown if they neither live nor work in downtown. They're just footing the bill because the city can't get its shit together. So while I disagree with them blocking the funding, saying they aren't doing their job by their districts is disingenuous. A lot of people outside the city aren't interested in paying for city transit that doesn't help those further afield in the county, where there is even less (or no) public transit.
@42: :) You made me Lol.
@43 - it's interesting, you criticizing @37 for expecting to not worry about traffic congestion, where nowhere in the post is there anything about an expectation to not worry about traffic congestion.
@47 Well I guess I'm crazy for assuming that he expects to get to all these activities on time...

My point is that he's proposing a transportation system where everyone lives + works + plays in any old place they feel like and then they get to all those places in cars. That proposal, that model of transportation planning, is not going to work in the 21st century for about 18,000 reasons. You know what will work? Traditional, walkable neighborhoods connected to each other by transit. Cars will not be eliminated, but they will not be used for silly things like going to work, letting kids play soccer, or getting a cup of coffee. This type of arrangement I'm proposing, by the way, isn't going to be susceptible to extreme gridlock due to one overturned fish truck.
@30, @33, @37

The fact that bikes and public transit doesn't work for some people is not a valid reason to be against investment in bike and transit infrastructure. The fact that some people need to drive is a reason FOR MORE investment in alternate infrastructure.

Although I apparently make less than the median income I make more than enough to have a choice in how I get to work. I choose to ride the light rail because it is convenient, reliable, and timely enough. If that wasn't true I would choose to drive instead. If you present people with an attractive alternative they will jump at it.

How many of those drivers stuck in traffic on Tuesday would have chosen to ride the light rail if it went to their neighborhood? Many would switch to commuting via light rail all the time so they wouldn't have been on the road in the first place, other folks who drove in might decide to leave the car at work overnight and take the train home, if that was an option.

Some folks would just have to sit in the traffic because they need to pick a kid up or travel to various job sites for work and need their car but those folks, more than anyone else, would benefit if more of the other drivers had valid, reasonable alternatives to driving themselves to work everyday.
I feel compelled to point out that in studies of congestion they've found (shock!) that people will adjust to whatever infrastructure you build.
Expand roads? People will use them more (live further away from work, etc).
Expand transit? People will use it more AND other people will use the extra capacity you just freed up on the road to drive.

You're increasing capacity either way, but people just tend to use that capacity to cause at least some level of congestion. That's not an argument against alternative forms of transit, as many of those have particular advantages anyway (including but not limited to issues of traffic and congestion--air quality comes to mind). Reading about this business has made me appreciate the "no solution solution" of surface streets (instead of reviling it like I did at the time).

So it's worth remembering that people react to transit changes as much as transit changes are made in reaction to people. For acute problems like Tuesday (my solution as an SOV eastside semi-commuter: stay at work until late), I think no matter how much transit you had, you'd still have all the people who plan to drive stuck on the roads. But of course they would be a smaller share of overall commuters if we had more capacity for other transit alternatives.

Gotta disagree with you, Lissa. The Stranger has been pimping their, bullshit pie-in-the-sky 'Surface Option' since the Nisqually Quake in 2000. Anyone who was around then remembers the apocalyptic gridlock that stretched on for weeks.

They surmised that eliminating 50% of the North-South options through Seattle would present no problems whatsoever... if only for some creative road restriping, timing of a few stoplights and everyone can hold hands and sing Kumbaya on the bus in the new urban utopia.

It was bullshit then and it's even more bullshit now.
Tax bikes. If you use the roads, you should pay your share as well.
@52 - the majority of road funding comes from property and sales tax (not gas tax/vehicle registration fees). And the vast majority of road space is allocated to cars.


@51 - the surface/transit option would have been better than the current option that will involve spending several billion dollars to get a tunneling machine stuck underground and still not having a replacement for the viaduct.