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Add another chapter to the Bus' party book of records. On Monday, over 200 people crammed into Nord Alley in Pioneer Square for the 2011 Summer Fellows Inauguration. And it was the best! To be topical, the Inauguration was to parties in an alley as zombie ladybugs are to being totally real.
For an easier point of reference, check out this lovely set of photos of the event courtesy of 2009 Summer Fellow Gabe Meier:
Pai's food truck, followed by chocolate cake, followed by immense satisfaction.
Not your average alley party (little to no public urination).
2011 Summer Fellow Paris Randall relaxing.
It was Thomas' birthday!
2010 Summer Fellows Stacy Beull reveals her musical talents.
Two former Summer Fellows, two State Representatives. A match made in heaven.
Huge thank you's to everyone who made it happen - the Pai crew, Seattle Foundation, Brainerd Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, Zeitgeist Coffee, the International Sustainability Institute for the wonderful space, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, and the whole Bus family that came out to support an amazing group of young people launching their journey to leadership in Washington State!
If you follow local news in Seattle, you've probably seen that King County Executive (and friend of the Bus--both the Hella and the Metro varieties) Dow Constantine proposed a two-year $20 vehicle license fee to prevent major cuts to Metro services. Specifically, 600,000 service hours, or roughly 17% of all Metro Service.
Visualizing abstract numbers is hard. For clarity, Metro has put the effects of a 17% cut in bus service in an understandable context--"the rough equivalent of eliminating all rush hour bus service for commuters, or all weekend service in King County."
Needless to say, that's HUGE. The impacts of such a dramatic cut in service will be felt by bus patrons and those of the car-going variety alike. If you're a bus rider, the effects are pretty direct. Check out the plan for one-sixth of the (PDF--helmet tip to Seattle Transit Blog). Not a Metro rider? According to Metro, buses "carry the equivalent of 7 lanes of traffic on state highways in peak commuting hours." Your commute just got longer.
Thank you map. For enhancing my confusion.
Dow's proposed $20 fee is a fairly straightforward plan to cover the revenue gap and prevent these cuts.
Now $20 may not seem like a whole lot of money. After all, it is about a half of one tank of gas (escalades excluded), or two-tenths of one percent of the AAA's --a pretty small amount of money in the grand-scheme of car-ownership.
But those thinking that a temporary $20 car tab hike would be uncontroversial should think again. In order to pass, the car tab hike needs either 6 out of 9 votes on the King County Council, or 5 out of 9 votes to be referred to the voters on the November ballot. There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding whether or not the Council will pass the fee directly - Publicola reports that five council members are on the fence - including all four Republicans and Democrat Julia Patterson.
Completely unrelated side note: You can find out who your King County Council person is and what their phone number is here (on the right side of the page). A call from an active and engaged constituent goes a long way towards nudging an elected official in your preferred direction. Whatever that may be.
Whatever happens with the two-year car-tab hike, though, the big picture demands that we find some long-term solutions for Metro funding. Currently, Metro gets the majority of its money from sales taxes (regressive and unstable), and another big chunk from rider fares (which have increased every year since 2008).
It's almost a perfect storm: the recession, rising fares, the fact that people in King County are driving less and less, and the fact that baby boomers are about to hit the age where they have to turn in their car keys. Combine all those and you have an underfunded transit system pushed to the limit. Luckily, there are ideas out there such as the Local Transit Act designed to confront this impending challenge - we'll see how they fare (pun EXPLOSION!) in next year's legislative session. Stay tuned for more!
Last week we posted this astounding photo album from the great Vancouver hockey riots of 2011. Two follow ups that more or less confirm that this was one of the more peculiar riots in history -
1) 90% of the wreckage was cleaned up the next day by 11 am. Almost 16,000 Vancouver residents RSVP'd to join in sweeping up a shattered downtown - some of whom were angry about the riots, some of whom had taken part.
2) Police are identifying perpetrators through Facebook photos. The NYT has the rather creepy lowdown here. This feels like a fairly logical corollary to the public nature of social media and serves as an excellent reminder that when you stare into Facebook, Facebook stares back (thanks Nietzche!).
And this continues to be one one hell of a photo album.
You met some of them. Then you met some more. Now, check out the third and final installment of 2011 Summer Fellows introductions below. Say hi to them digitally now - then meet them in their full 3-dimensional reality this evening at 6pm in Nord Alley for the Summer Fellows Inauguration!
Alma Garcia Santos
I will be graduating in the fall from Eastern Washington University with a degree in social work and a minor in gerontology. I have 3 younger brothers who get on my nerves sometime like any other siblings. Super excited to what this summer will enrich me with!
Amber Rose Jimenez
Amber is enchanted with philosophy and smitten with the arts. She's got mad-rad love for a free press, an informed citizenry, and all-ages, youth run spaces. Plus, she's totally keen on learning about the social & political (sub)cultures within the Middle East and is planning on traversing the region as a foreign correspondent someday soon.
Omar Mozo Olazcon
I got this.
Sug Haynor is all about glamarchy, dirty feet, overalls, and and micron .005 pens. She/they/squee/ze enjoys long walks on the beach and dinner by candlelight.
The talented Mr. Joshua Guerci put together this video of us chatting with some of those courageous folks running for Seattle City Council at our kick-off a few weeks ago. Which candidate can name the most neighborhoods? What was the last photo attachment they sent from their Twitter Account? Do they get topical humor? Peep it:
Check out this TED talk on power, politics, and the courage to stand up for the public good from dapper gentleman and founder of our friends to the south Jefferson Smith:
At the riots in Vancouver following their Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup finals:
Peep the rest of, perhaps the most spectacular photo album in Canadian history here. Seriously, you won't regret it. Police are reporting several instances of officers suffering "human bites," solidarity riots in Montreal, and over 100 arrests. Also, judging by these photos, this wasn't "a small group of hooligans" like the Vancouver Police Chief claimed, but a broad base of (probably intoxicated) devastated sports fans, pyromaniacs, and romantics (see above). Check out the beautiful, hilarious, terrifying, and a little bit heartbreaking photo album here.
It's a three way street, and it's blowing my mind (helmet tip to the Seattle Bike Blog)
Just as Avatar added a new dimension to cinema, bicyclists are adding a new dimension to street use. Previously, the distinction between cars and pedestrians, roads and sidewalks, crosswalk users and people who have to stop for crosswalk users was pretty well-defined. Even if not perfectly practiced, the rules were generally understood.
Now that all of us cyclists are on the road, though, it's a brave new world. Much like the mythical griffin that is part-eagle, part-lion, we exist in a gray area somewhere in between a car and a pedestrian. We travel in the street, and yet are as vulnerable to collisions with cars as pedestrians. When riding in the street, we generally ride in the right shoulder, but take the car-lane when we need to, and sometimes we even ride on the sidewalk. We stop at stop lights (mostly), but treat stop signs like they're yield signs.
As a society, we're clearly in the middle of a sometimes messy, and sometimes heated process of figuring out what the norms of the road are for our increasingly three-way streets chock full of bicyclists.
Publicola recently linked to an insightful Portland Tribune article arguing that bicyclists should be legally allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs. And, as the 'Cola points out, Idaho already allows this. Mad love for Idaho, but who would have thought they'd be leading the way? It's a brave new world indeed.
Some forward-thinking locales--mostly in Europe, as far as I can tell--are even removing traffic signals--the thinking being that in the absence of traffic signals, road users are forced to pay more attention to each other, and be more considerate.
My take on all of this? I'm not sure if I'm ready to remove all the stop lights just yet. But, after years of cycling, I've developed some opinions on what the norms of bicyclist road-use should be. It's totally cool to treat stop signs as yield signs, but be very careful. And, please, don't run red lights--you just look like a dick if you do that. I generally ride to the right, but I will take a car-traffic lane anytime I even vaguely think I need to for safety. And I never, ever ride on the sidewalk, except when I'm absolutely forced to in instances such as crossing the Fremont Bridge. At stop lights, rather than ride all the way to the front of the line of cars, I'll generally take the car-lane because I'm scared of a right-turning car slamming into me.
And in general, the more separation between cars, bicyclists and pedestrians the better. Mad love for bike lanes, the Burke-Gilman and the soon-to-exist Broadway cycle track, which the city is developing in conjunction with the soon-to-exist Pioneer Square to Broadway streetcar line.
I'm actually ridiculously excited for the cycle-track. Check out the plans for Broadway's new look:
Thanks to Capitol Hill Seattle for the image.
Remember Welcome Wagon?
Attendees from last month already helped to organize our wicked fun Council Kick-Off with the Stranger, joined us at Sasquatch, and helped hundreds of young Washingtonians pledge to vote. And it only gets bigger and better from here.
Well guess what, it's happening again! Welcome Wagon is the absolute best way for new folks to meet the Bus and see what it is we do, and for Bus stalwarts to usher in another exciting year of good parties and good politics. Come join us this month for more food, drinks, foosball, and opportunities for driving the Bus into a better Washington. It kicks off at 6pm and wraps up (or moves elsewhere, as the case may be) around 7:30. Everyone is invited! Please RSVP to nicole [at] washingtonbus [dot] org!
Bus HQ 1100 E. Union St. Suite 1E
To the humans of Washington,
The Washington Bus presents to you: A great evening, a landmark event, and your golden ticket to a new era of political leadership in Washington state. Of course, we are referring to the 2011 Summer Fellows Inauguration! You're Invited! Seriously! RSVP right now to mallory [at] washingtonbus [dot] org!
The Inauguration will kick off at 6pm in Nord Alley. Exquisite food will be provided by Pai's Food Truck. Delectable drinks will also be available (including alcoholic beverages for those of the 21+ variety). We also look forward to the presence of such stunning elected officials as: Rep. Eric Pettigrew (!), Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (!), Seattle City Councilpeople Tom Rasmussen, Richard Conlin, and Sally Bagshaw (!!!), Commissioner John Creighton (!), and King County Executive Dow Constantine (!)!
It isn't everyday that you get to take part in launching a fleet of precocious young activists into public life while chowing down on delicious Thai-Hawaiian cuisine and rubbing shoulders with tremendous elected officials simultaneously. Or if it is, I want your life. Everyone is welcome, so please RSVP to mallory [at] washingtonbus [dot] org today! Keep looped in on any updates on the Facebook event page here!
Did Elkfest, Spokane's annual block party, take place a week and a half ago and we are only uploading the pictures now, OR, did the magnitude of its awesomeness warp the fabric of space-time hurling us 10 days into the future making today the first available opportunity to post photos? I submit that the answer can be found below:
Alayna, the fearless director of Nextup Spokane, leading the charge.
Button making in full force
All things good in the world right here.
Votebot in its natural environment
The Bus and a local hoodlum. Just kidding, that guy's probably awesome.
Buttons: Bringing people joy since time immemorial.
The best art gallery in a semi we've ever seen. Hands down.
Just a small sample of hundreds of Pledge to Vote cards. Also, the ceremonial lollipop marks the beginning of the lesser known Elf fest, where candied treats abound.
The ruptured fabric of space-time. Inside, Elkfest continues to this day.
I knew it! Big ups to the organizers of Elkfest, Nextup Spokane for making moves (You should hang out with them), and all those awesome pledge to voters!
Last night, alongside The Stranger, we formally kicked off the Seattle City Council elections - Bus style. That is to say, informally. There were drinks, merriment, city council candidates in bright reflector vests, and a packed Havana full of good people celebrating the beginning of a rather important, and enjoyable (if we have anything to say about it, and we do), election season. Video = inbound in the next couple weeks. Lots o' pictures below!
Who can spot the candidates?
Folks meeting Sandy Cioffi
No sleeves required
Incumbent Tom Rasmussen fielding questions.
The time of their lives.
Dan, meet Dian. Dian, this is awesome Dan.
So many mirrors in that place.
Sally Clark, the only female under 50 in elected office in Seattle, holding it down.
Which hand, BURGESS??
People identified their priority issues.
It's a party folks, come on in!
Early exit polls
What an excellent, slightly blurry night!
Thanks to Havana, the Stranger, the candidates, and most of all, you lovely people who came out and grilled them! We'll see you all again soon.
About a week ago, I was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana—home to a very flooded Mississippi River, po’boys, boiled crayfish, the Louisiana State University Tigers (they actually have a real tiger. In a cage by the stadium. Someone call PETA). And also home to seemingly hundreds of take-out daiquiri shops (the take-out part is unofficial but widely practiced).
The only problem with this seeming-paradise? No sidewalks. And really, what am I supposed to do with a take-out daiquiri shop (awesome) if I have to drive to get there (not awesome)?
All of this brings up a question--aside from having to drive to the daiquiri stand, why is it such a problem that Baton Rouge doesn’t have sidewalks? Other than easy daiquiri access, why do cities even have sidewalks in the first place? How do we benefit from them (aside from the obvious benefit of pedestrians not getting run over)?
Let’s consult sidewalk guru and Dansportation intellectual crush Jane Jacobs.
According to Jane, sidewalks—and the vibrant pedestrian life they allow—keep our cities safe.
“This is something everyone already knows: a well used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe.” (page 44 in this book, which I highly recommend).
Makes sense, right? No one’s going to rob you on a crowded street—it’s a different story if no one else is around, though. This is why I, and I’m willing to bet most of you, feel a lot safer walking down any given street at noon than at 3am. Think about it—city streets aren’t safe because of laws, or police. Those things are great, but police aren’t around all the time. Rather, you feel safe walking down the street because we, as a society, have agreed on certain norms, and in a successful urban environment, we enforce those norms through the sheer presence of lots of people on the street—the more “eyes on the street” the better.
Sidewalks are also the basic building blocks of a neighborhood community (and the Bus is all about community). They are the most ubiquitous and yet the most overlooked public space in the city. They provide a site for the many miniscule contacts that add up to form a neighborhood. Once again, the lovely Mrs. Jacobs—
“Most of [sidewalk interaction] is ostensibly trivial, but the sum is not trivial at all. The sum of such contact at a local level…is a feeling for the public identity of people, a web of public respect and trust, a resource in time of personal or neighborhood need” (page 73).
To put it another way, which is actually very applicable to our beloved civic-engagement promoting Bus— “lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow” (95).
And, crucially, these interactions (usually with strangers) cannot happen without sidewalks. In the absence of sidewalks, where these interactions take place? A coffee shop? Maybe, but if you're in a coffee shop as often as you're on the sidewalk, you have a serious caffeine problem, my friend. In your house? Not so much. Talk to strangers on the sidewalk? Yes. Invite them in? Probably not.
Basically, sidewalks allow contact with people we wouldn't have a space to interact with otherwise. And contacts between people on sidewalks are the building blocks of communities.
So, how's Seattle doing at providing sidewalks for its communities?
Grey is good, but purple areas have been unfortunately overlooked by the city. "The map accounts for whether there is a sidewalk on a road or not and whether there is a physical buffer such as a parked car or a tree. It also accounts for the volume and speed of traffic on the road" Love, SDOT
Long and short: there's definitely room for improvement. According to SDOT, Seattle has 4,000 paved lane-miles of roads, but only 2,256 miles of sidewalks. If you live fairly central in Seattle, things are probably pretty good for you. But if you live in South Park, Georgetown, parts of the Rainier Valley, or far North Seattle, things aren’t so hot.
And that's why Dansportation heartily supports the Bridging the Gap Levy. The levy passed in 2006 and provides $365 million over nine years to, among other things, build 117 blocks of new sidewalks, repair another 144 blocks of sidewalks and restripe 5,000 sidewalks.
2015 is coming up fast though. What will the next version of Bridging the Gap look like? Can we get more sidewalks? Who's with me?