A bit of back story: From the latter part of the 19th century to the mid-20th century, Seattle’s dominant public transport option was an impressive system of both interurban tram lines and inner-city tram lines. By the 1940’s Seattle’s tram lines were non-existent, replaced by cars and buses.

Occidental Park Station before closure

In operation from May 29, 1982 to November 18, 2005, the 1.6 mi long George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line was Seattle’s first streetcar line to operate in the city since the disappearance of it’s trams on April 13, 1941. In classic style, it was not just a means of transport, but also a piece of nostalgia. Running from Chinatown to Belltown, along the waterfront, it was also an attraction akin to the streetcars on Market Street or the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Unfortunately this was not enough to save the line, and it was retired when construction of the Olympic Sculpture Park led to the destruction of the streetcar’s storage and maintenance barn. Read the rest of this entry »

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photo by Stephen De Vight

It’s been widely covered by local transit-related blogs over the past week that last Saturday, Hollow Earth Radio and Sound Transit hosted a series of micro-concerts on board select Link* trains. I was actually quite surprised that they really didn’t take this as an opportunity to dive into the impact of events such as this one though. Well, since no one else did, I will give it a go. Read the rest of this entry »

Hey there, my audience of none, just a friendly reminder that the annual Seattle Bicycle Expo is happening this weekend at Pier 91. From the Cascade Bicycle Club’s page: “The Seattle Bicycle Expo is the largest bicycle-only consumer show in the United States, with more than 250 booths and between eight- and ten-thousand attendees.”

Devin needs a frame that isn't 39 years old (and a different rear derailleur).

That sounds pretty promising. So, if you are looking to jump into cycling on the hill, or if you are looking to upgrade your frame (I am looking at myself right now), then it is definitely worth checking out. Not to mention that it is a breeze of a bike ride down from Capitol Hill. Especially since the bulk of the ride will be on the Elliott Bay Trail.

Single day tickets are only $10. Two days for $12.

A map of Pier 91 is here. Bike parking is available (obviously).

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Yes, I’ll provide a disclaimer. I love aesthetics and I love historic preservation or restoration. Above all else, these factors have influenced my stance on urban development.

Belmont & Pine

In 2007 I moved to Capitol Hill, the once beating heart of industry in central Seattle, because of the character that had been presented by historic preservation. As we have seen in these past years though, preservation doesn’t stand up in the face of new development and increasingly larger mega-projects, but there is something that does hold true – brick.

In Seattle’s early days brick was the source for paving, thus most of the center city was covered in a beautiful crimson. From as far south as Georgetown, as east as Montlake and Madison Valley, and as far north as Ballard we can see evidence of it’s resilience. Usually it’s not easy to find. Much like the interurban tram lines of old Seattle, our brick streets are buried under what is now our crumbling cross-hatch of concrete thoroughfares. Read the rest of this entry »

As Seattle Transit Blog has found, Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) has proposed a bill that would allow WSDOT and/or local transit agencies to work with private vendors at Park and Rides around the State. These vendors would be things like restaurants, press, etc. I’d like to think maybe he stumbled upon this post that I made on a similar topic last year, but I’d wager to say that this is probably not the case.

This is a great idea, but what about serving the transportation spine of the state? Yes, of the state. This spine serves three of the largest job centers (someday four), and the most populated counties in the state.  Link and Sounder stations (especially the DSTT and all Sounder Stations) are ripe for vendors. Many European cities and even some in the US (See DC or San Francisco) have already taken advantage of these sorts of heavily used transit routes. It might be high time for us to also provide incentive like this to people that walk or bike to transit hubs, not just those that drive.

I’d hope that this bill is revised to include such places before  being passed into law.

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Tonight, Publicola’s Erica C. Barnett hosts a transportation choices debate at Liberty. It’s probably just going to be a bunch of urbanist nerds drinking. Come have fun!

Start: 7 pm
Where: Liberty on 15th
Price: Free. Drinks cost money still, though

We’ve all seen them, with their neighborhood-centric advertising and their proliferation in the parking lots of Capitol Hill. They used to flex and now they zip. They can be plug in electric or the can be hybrid. Best of all, they can be shared. Indeed,  I am talking about Zipcars.

Re-rendering of orinigal SDOT street design proposal shows Zipcar parking at Broadway & Denny

Some may say that this is a somewhat odd topic for a blog that promotes alternative means of getting around town, but hear me out. The one gripe I hear from my car owning friends is over convenience. “Some things are made easier with cars” they say. With car sharing on the rise on the Hill, many of those friends have ditched their cars in lieu of a cheaper solution- Zipcars.

Read the rest of this entry »

After a bit of time away (trips to Portland and San Francisco – with observations to come in following posts), and after some inspiring conversations with friends on this topic, I am finally able to kick off our rack etiquette campaign.

If you are like me, you have run into the conundrum of unusable space on an otherwise accommodating bike rack. The situation goes like this: You find a rack (usually the ones that look like upside-down u’s) that has been designed to accommodate a certain number of bicycles. Unfortunately on each side of the rack someone has locked up one bike directly in the middle of the rack, essentially rendering the capacity for the extra 2+ bicycles to be null. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday Seattle Transit Blog hosted an op-ed that lends one to believe that downtown Bellevue isn’t all that bad when it comes to getting around, but unfortunately it just feels like pandering to Bellevuephiles. In response to a scathing post by Jonathan Golob of the Stranger, Martin H. Duke over at Seattle Transit Blog came out in psuedo-support of Bellevue and it’s car culture:

Most importantly, in the struggle to make our metro areas more sustainable Bellevue is not the problem. There is a narrow issue of light rail alignments, where in my opinion a very vocal neighborhood and a certain moneyed interest have led the city astray. This kind of thing happens everywhere, and I think Bellevue’s institutions in particular haven’t caught up with its size. Nevertheless, the problem is not dense, mixed-use downtowns with a little too much emphasis on driving; the problem is Redmond Ridge and Snoqualmie Ridge and Marysville. Bellevue is also making a serious effort at encouraging biking, has a high transit share, and has ambitious development plans for the Bel-Red light rail corridor. We need more Bellevues. Read the rest of this entry »

Recently, there has been quite a lot of talk on transportation project budgets. From Sound Transit’s 4 billion dollar budget deficit, to Mayor McGinn pledging 13 million dollars (while cutting back in other areas) in alternative transportation improvements, to Metro’s 70 million dollar deficit. Needless to say, there has been a whole lot of talk about scale and scaling back, for that matter.

There is speculation that the cutbacks could include elimination or Link to Lynwood from Northgate and it already means stop consolidation, reduced frequency on some routes, elimination of planned transit projects, and experimentation with one car Link trains. Rather than join the never-ending argument over these changes, I would like to take this -the first of our off-hill posts- in another direction: How can Metro/Sound Transit generate some of revenue while having to renegotiate their position on our transportation future? Read the rest of this entry »

About

Started by Devin Silvernail - a pedestrian, bicycle, and public transport advocate; Open Alleyways is an effort to re-imagine the way that we interact with each other and our community. It is our hope to shed some light on some of the most underutilized would-be public places in Seattle, and to possibly even convince SDOT to make some changes to boot.

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