(April 1, 2013) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2013 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington
Bus Rapid Transit: Introduction
(August 15, 2011, Tom Lane) While some view urban sprawl as a major problem, it’s only in the eyes of the beholder. Most people when surveyed (such as the two Smart Growth Surveys at the heading of this page) prefer large lots, even if it means a longer commute. One of these studies demonstrated that most prefer 3 to 5 acre lots.
However, we are facing peak oil, and long commutes with oil are not sustainable. And, we’re importing oil from countries that do not like us and want to blow up Israel. So far, methods of urban containment, such as Smart Growth, have failed to provide long term housing solutions, with folks ultimately moving to larger homes on acreage when they can afford it, as Dr. Peter Howley of Ireland reports, see: (_____________, ________________)
Light rail can only take a few percent along a narrow corridor. Bike trails are great, however, once again, the numbers are not convincing. In terms of Seattle Metro buses, about 15% take the bus to work within the City Limits of Seattle (ref: http://city-data.com).
Therefore, what could work, to meet the demands for green space and big backyards? One solution is high speed, high capacity, bus rapid transit, using the Seattle areas extensive network of HOV lanes. Furthermore, additional HOV lanes can be built, along both freeways and high capacity boulevards and state highways.
Hybrid electric bus rapid transit, along with Kemper Freeman and other entrepreneurs establishing electric car charging stations, will be the future of transportation as we transition away from Middle East oil. Every American family, every child, should have a big backyard for barbeques, baseball, and apple pie.
Tom Lane’s Other Posts on I-1125, Light Rail, and Kemper Freeman
Before proceeding, click the following link for a list of all of my posts. (Posts and Photos Copyright 2010-2011, Tom Lane, except the Video screenshots from Firefox, with appropriate credit provided.)
Second, please click this link, for my I-1125 You Tube Video page.
Third, for my letter to public officials advocating a yes vote on 1125, click this final link. Note: Neither the 2nd or 3rd link appears in the first link above.
John Niles and CETA (Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives
I will expand this section on BRT Experts John Niles of CETA along with Dr. Richard Harkness of the ETA and Dr. Jim MacIsaac’s 12 Lane Myth
A video of John Niles with Stan Emert is at the bottom of this web page.
SR-169 from Renton to Maple Valley: Great Opportunity for BRT
(August 15, 2011)
Sound Transit light rail runs north – south, from Tacoma to north of Seattle. Their plan ignores an efficient high speed public transportation plan for the heavily populated and often affluent Eastern Suburbs in King and Pierce Counties, such as Kent, Renton, Issaquah, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Bonney Lake, and many unincorporated areas in King County with acreage, such as Mirrormont, May Valley, and High Valley.
Unfortunately, a network of two and four lane, narrow roads connects these cities to the major arterials to the west, SR-167 and I-405. These roads do not meet capacity and face significant gridlock. They need widening to relieve congestion and increase speeds to 55mph, in order to increase gas mileage and decrease air pollution. And, the addition of HOV lanes could provide for BRT, vanpools, and carpools.
SR-169 from Enumclaw to Renton (and through Black Diamond and Maple Valley) is an existing freeway that can be widened to 6 to 8 lanes, including HOV lanes in both directions, for BRT, carpools, and vanpools. SR-410 from Enumclaw to Sumner (and through Bonney Lake) can also be widened in the same manner.
Transportation engineer Dr. James MacIsaac of the ETA and CETA proposes this map for BRT in the region, including Eastern King County. As you can see, BRT provides a significant network covering several thousand percent more distance than a light rail line:
SR-169 Photos, We can Widen to 8 Lanes for BRT
Below, you can see that there is room for three general purpose lanes in each direction, and one HOV lane in each direction for BRT, vanpools, and carpools. Note that bike lanes would not be safe, since under this proposed widening, the SR-169 corridor travels at 55mph. However, fortunately, there is already a 10 foot wide very popular cycling and walking path on the north side of SR-169, extending from Renton to Maple Valley. This extensive trail along the Cedar River even has parking areas off of SR-169 for bike commuters.
Counterarguments to Long Distance BRT Transportation
One counterargument raises against long distance BRT transportation is that people choose to live 30 miles away from city centers, and therefore should not be subsidized with public transportation. However, this does not reflect the realities of a growing urban metropolitan area. Today, most major US cities, including Seattle, are “polycentric,” meaning that most jobs are found in the suburbs, not the downtown areas. When Seattle was smaller, most jobs were within the City limits.
Therefore, Dr. Jim MacIsaac’s map above allows people to commute quickly from suburb to suburb. For example, Maple Valley, about 30 miles southeast of downtown Seattle, is a very affluent community with folks who work for Microsoft, who has offices in the suburbs of Redmond and Bellevue. Therefore, these residents could ride BRT, and would never use the more expensive light rail, that travels in one line north to south from Tacoma to north of Seattle.
And, these rural residents are paying the same tax as city residents for light rail, but they will never use it if they commute to Bellevue, Redmond, or Tacoma.
Furthermore, the externalities in terms of congestion, such as bad gas mileage, air pollution, and spending less time with your family, are worth compensation in terms of widening rural roads and providing rural public transportation.
And, of course, Eastern King and Eastern Pierce County offer tremendous amenities, from trails in the Mountains to Sound Greenway to mountain biking and river rafting down the Cedar River.
Finally, the Puget Sound Regional Council established an Urban Growth Boundary, curtailing growth withing a boundary in Eastern King County. However, new construction continues (see the D.R. Horton home below). And, population will increase outside the boundary on five acre properties, as I’ve discussed elsewhere.
John Niles with Stan Emert on You Tube
John Niles with C.R. Douglas on The Seattle Channel