Detroit Future City: Design for Rapid Change by the UW College of Built Environments on Livestream.
A lively panel discussion on how Detroit transforms and innovates from the grassroots.
This happened a looooong time ago, but it’s a story I keep rattling around in my head, especially on these post-Ferguson nights.
“Hold on one sec,” he said. Tall African-American man, I’d say thirty, six feet something with a baseball hat (curved bill tonight, not flat) and a wardrobe fitted for a mythical man three times his size: black hoodie halfway zipped, glistening basketball shoes with the wide flat laces, and stone-washed black jeans, the expensive kind, with white accent threads and fabric piled around the sagging bottoms, folds of cloth accumulating around his shoes like Michelangelo’s Pietà, or Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo.
“Aw, sure,” I said. We were driving something down Third Avenue, either a 3/4 or a 1/14.
“I know I got it.”
“Oh, it’s cool.”
He kept fumbling around, searching for his transfer.
What would a fellow of his look be up to on a night like this? Ten PM on a weeknight. Sometimes it’s polite to not ask. I don’t ask specifics of the guys I know are dealers, for example. We talk about things like weather. I really ought not to assume though–haven’t seen this fellow before–so I decided to venture.
“How’s your night goin’?”
“Iss been good. I just dropped off my son. We went and checked out the ferris wheel.”
“Oh, cool! Did he have a good time, your son?”
“Yeah, somebody said it was only three times they go around but we got a good three, four times. It was dope.”
“Perfect. And it’s a nice clear night, good for that,”
“Awesome. I haven’t been on it.”
“It’s good, yeah.”
“What time they stop runnin’ that thing?”
“I think it closes at ten… man, I know I had one. Truly.” He was still searching his pockets.
“It’s all cool. D’you need another one for later tonight?”
“Here’s the goods.”
“Thank you man, I appreciate it.”
“Dude, thanks for lookin’ for it! I appreciate you!”
“Man, I had it.”
“It’s all good. I trust you.”
Sometimes people just pretend to look for transfers. He really did have one. Finally he showed it to me, excited to prove his honesty. “See?”
“You’re awesome! Thank you!”
“Yeah, I just met a new lady,” I continued. His eyebrows went up in a half-smile as I went on–“so I been thinkin’ about places to take her. That sounds like a good one.”
“Definitely. I been lookin’ for stuff to do too.”
“Yeah, my lady, she thinkin’ about other things, but I’m gonna bring it back. Gonna get it this time.”
“Bring back some a that old magic.”
His eyes twinkled in the darkness. “Yeah.”
“That’s beautiful thing,” I said. The effort.
His concerns were about the same as mine. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Construction on the University District Station has been well underway since December 2013. As part of site preparation and equipment storage to construct the station box, Sound Transit’s contractors have had to repeatedly change pathways for pedestrians and cyclists while closing streets to motorists. One key closure has been at the intersection of NE 43rd St and Brooklyn Ave NE. While a portion has reopened today, the full block of Brooklyn Ave NE between NE 45th St and NE 43rd St, and small portion on NE 43rd St east of the intersection, are planned to remain closed for the duration of station construction.
Contractors have focused much of their work on drilling down pilings, excavation toward the south portion of the station box, and constructing a new bridging system. The latter of which will make many residents, students, and visitors to the area happy. This new bridge is at-grade to the surrounding streets, but is intended to allow traffic movement above the station box while work continues below. The bridge extends along NE 43rd St from the alleyway west of Brooklyn Ave NE to the west edge of Brooklyn Ave NE. This will help reconnect part of the grid by creating a one-way traffic system northbound on Brooklyn Ave NE to University Way NE (The Ave) via NE 43rd St.
For drivers and bicyclist alike, this will be a welcome change because it provides better options for moving around the area. Pedestrians will also get some measure of benefit out of the reconfiguration with wider sidewalks, new crosswalks and handrails, and a permanent pathway. The contractors have place ample striping, signage, and other improvements along the stretch of reopened street.
Photos of the streets nearly complete earlier this week are below.
The folks at the Seattle Depart of Transportation released an online public survey yesterday to gain public input on the Madison BRT project which will connect the Downtown Seattle Waterfront with First Hill and Madison Valley. (We previously covered this project back in November.) This survey primarily concerns the potential terminal locations, in Downtown Seattle and in the Madison Valley as well as the potential routes to get there.
In addition, the survey also seeks the public’s input on dangerous intersections throughout the corridor that are in desperate need of improvement for pedestrian and cyclist safety. In this case, I would advocate for Alternative 2 (in blue on the map):
As for the dangerous intersections, I will leave that up to those who are directly familiar with them and who have to make use of them each day (they all need fixing).
Here I would advocate for the following stop locations:
To participate in the survey, click the grey “Start the Survey” button or simply click here.
Full disclosure: I am a resident of First Hill and I am on the Board of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA) and sit on the Transportation Working Group. These are my personal opinions and while in sync with FHIA, they should not be construed as the official position of FHIA. Illustrations are courtesy of SDOT and used with permission.
Red light cameras have never been popular with people who drive. Since their introduction in to the US, many states have banned their use entirely. Various automobile associations and motoring groups have steadily campaigned for their removal by claiming that they do little for safety and only serve to line the pockets of cities and the private companies often behind the cameras themselves. It comes as no surprise, then, that the City of Auburn recently joined a growing number of cities across the country by choosing to remove the red light cameras installed at four intersections across the suburb. The move was undoubtably popular with local citizens, and council members voting for the removal cited data indicating that the cameras had failed to reduce injuries or automobile collisions at their intersections. On the other hand, the cameras did appear to reduce the number of people running red lights.
With Auburn out of the red light camera business, the question of Seattle following suit has come up. Like Auburn, Seattle first installed its cameras in an attempt to reduce collisions and improve safety at various high risk intersections. Unlike Auburn, though, data shows that Seattle’s red light cameras have done a tremendous job of reducing the number of collisions at various intersections across the city. By looking at the number of collisions in the three years before and three years after a camera was installed, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has found that red light cameras have reduced accidents by about 23% on average. Right angle collisions (also known as t-bone or broadside collisions) were reduced by a whopping 46%, while collisions involving a person walking were reduced by nearly one-third.
Correlation, of course, is not proof of causation–but it is a hint. The data has some imperfections, as well: in some instances a camera had to be tuned off for construction, while in others poor intersection design caused additional collisions. Not every intersection equipped with a camera saw an improvement, either. But even with these issues, the difference is stark and lends credence to the assertion that red light cameras can help make intersections safer.
To help show just how effective red light cameras in Seattle have often been, I’ve created an interactive visualization based on the data that SDOT provided The Urbanist. Use the dropdown or click on the map to look at how different intersections stack up in the overall dataset. SDOT’s data includes a total of all collisions at an intersection in the three-year periods before and after a red light camera was installed, along with the specific amounts of pedestrian, rear end, and right angle collisions (which may not add up to the total). Click here to view a bigger version, and note that you can download the file if you want to dig in further.
As part of an effort to promote cycling in Seattle, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is offering free bikeracks to city property owners. Commute Seattle says that the end of the application period is rapidly approaching with January 31 being the last day.
Through its City’s Bicycle Program, SDOT will install 50 public bicycle parking racks near buildings with high demand for bicycle parking at no cost to property owners. If you’re interested, just fill out this simple request form. The city will prioritize locations that are bound by Transportation Management Plans (TMPs) and/or those that participate in the city’s CTR program, and who do not currently have public bicycle parking at their building. For more info about public bicycle parking, including examples of bike racks, see SDOT’s Bike Parking Page. All racks associated with this program will be installed no later than June 2015.
If you have questions, please contact Mark Melnyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 684-5017.
Meanwhile, SDOT reports that performance testing of the future Czech-built streetcars is going well, especially for off-wire battery testing. Six new streetcars using this technology will serve the First Hill Streetcar Line from Pioneer Square to North Capitol Hill. Portions of the alignment, due to trolleybus wire conflicts, require that the streetcar go off-wire and instead use battery power to propel the vehicles. The opening of the First Hill Streetcar has twice been delayed with SDOT saying that operational service postponed at least until August.
The first performance tests of the new streetcars on order for the First Hill Streetcar line were completed in December. In addition to testing acceleration and braking, the performance tests featured off-wire operation powered by a rechargeable battery system, known as the On-Board Energy Storage System (OESS). When operating on the First Hill Streetcar line, the streetcars will be powered by the OESS on each inbound trip from Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square (2.5 miles). The batteries will be recharging whenever the streetcar is braking, and will also recharge on the outbound trip from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, while being powered from the overhead wires (known as the Overhead Contact System, or OCS).
Initial tests were performed on a test track at the factory where the first streetcar was completed in the Czech city of Ostrava. The streetcar operated off-wire for 3 miles, using 25% of the battery capacity of the OESS. Subsequent tests were performed on the Ostrava streetcar system. This allowed for uphill and downhill operation and simulation of traffic conditions that may be encountered in Seattle. During this testing, the streetcar operated on battery drive for distances as great as four miles and durations as long as 37 minutes. The testing also demonstrated that batteries recharge rapidly from regenerative braking and during operation on the OCS.
The test results indicate that the OESS will be more than adequate for the requirements of the First Hill line, and can also be used for significant segments of the planned Center City Connector streetcar extension.
That’s it. Today, the Kalakala is going to the breakers. The 276-foot ferry’s last trip is scheduled for early morning today, from the Hylebos Waterway to the neighboring Blair Waterway in the Port of Tacoma. After that, it will be scrapped in the drydock that was used to build some of the pontoons for the SR-520 floating bridge.
Built in 1926 in Oakland as the Peralta, the ferry was used in the Bay Area until the night of May 6, 1933 when it caught fire. The superstructure all gone, but the hull still intact, Capt. Alexander Peabody of the Black Ball line bought the hull and towed it all the way to the Puget Sound. In was in Houghton (part of present-day Kirkland) that the iconic streamlined superstructure of the Kalakala (Chinook Jargon for “Flying Bird”) was built on top of the Peralta’s hull. Entering service on July 3, 1935, the “silver slug” was an immediate hit on the Seattle-Bremerton route, where the ferry spent most of its career.
From 1935 until its retirement, the Kalakala was the icon of Seattle. Before the days of the Space Needle, the classic Seattle postcard featured the Kalakala. The ferry was rated the #2 attraction after the Space Needle during the 1962 World’s Fair. However, in the 60s the ferry proved more and more difficult to operate efficiently. She couldn’t carry the bigger cars, and her engine and superstructure were showing signs of wear. Even with improvements done, the ferry still vibrated a lot. The ferry last ran in revenue service on August 7, 1967, replaced by the Super Class (Hyak, Kaleetan, Yakima, and Elwha, still in service today).
After that, the ferry was sold to an Alaskan cannery and moved to Kodiak, AK, where it operated first as a floating processing vessel before being beached. Found by a Seattle native in 1986 after being abandoned, it took several years of efforts to partially restore the vessel and tow it back to Puget Sound. Since coming back to Washington at the turn of the century, the Kalakala has spent time on the Seattle waterfront, Lake Union, and Neah Bay before settling on the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma. Deteriorating quickly, the owner of the Kalakala, Karl Anderson, announced his plans to scrap the ferry earlier this year.
I paid a last visit to the Kalakala on January 19th when she was still in one piece. Here are some photos I took from my kayak.
Editor’s Note: All of the pictures in this article were taken by Guy de Gouville on January 19, 2015 on the Hylebos waterway in the Port of Tacoma. © 2015 Guy de Gouville/SolDuc Photography. All rights reserved. Do not copy, print or distribute without permission from the photographer.
Rest in peace, Flying Bird. 1926-2015.
More detailed information about the Kalakala can be found on Evergreen Fleet, a website dedicated to the Pacific Northwest’s ferries, run by author Steve Pickens.