Archive for April, 2011

Martin Duke at the Seattle Transit Blog posted a reminder today about Metro Transit Route 50, a historic east-west route between West Seattle and Columbia City. It was proposed to be restored when routes were rearranged for the opening of Link light rail.  It didn’t make the cut.  But there is a detail of Route 50’s routing that stood out to me today.

Instead of following Avalon Way to Spokane Street and crossing the lower bridge, Route 50 would turn down Genesee Street to Delridge Way, then travel north to Spokane.  This slight re-route down is an important concept, as Derek at the Delridge Grassroots Leadership Blog noted.  There would be a minor increase in travel time, for a vast improvement in connectivity.  The North Delridge neighborhood would be directly connected to the Junction, with its supermarkets and wide variety of shops.  Residents from further south on Delridge could transfer to the Junction at shared stops between the 120, 125 and 50.   The Delridge corridor is a virtual retail desert, and transit users in the area find it easier to travel downtown for basic services than to go up to the West Seattle Junction.  They are only one mile apart, but the steep hill and lack of transit routing results in an extreme level of disconnection.

In fact, I have previously dreamed about this same routing for the 22 between the West Seattle Junction and downtown.  I was unsure whether Metro buses could handle Genesee Street’s steep slope, but it must be possible if it made it into Metro’s proposed routing.  Regardless of what happens with Route 50, this Delridge routing should be implemented on Route 22 when routes are revised for Rapid Ride “C.”


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I have created another map of Seattle’s population density, using units of gross households/acre.  This a measure of the built environment rather than of population, since household sizes can vary with time and between neighborhoods (maybe I’ll make a map of that also).  Net housing units/acre is a commonly used measure in land use planning and zoning, which excludes roadways and non-developable land from the area calculation.  This map is of gross density, incorporating all land, resulting in at least 40% lower density values.   

Only a few hotspots, such as Capitol Hill and Belltown, exhibit greater than 50 units/acre gross (red on the map).  At this level of household density most trips can be taken on foot or via mass transit.  The controversial state bill promoted by Futurewise would have mandated zoning average >50 units/acre net around high capacity transit stations.   A broader section of Seattle’s core has a continuous household density greater than 10 units/acre.  This level of households is associated with robust local bus transit combined with lots of trips via foot or bicycle.  In fact, the orange area on this map corresponds well with my personal experience of the zone in which you can catch a bus on a moment’s notice to go to the next neighborhood, without extensive pre-planning or OneBusAway use.  You are always within two blocks of a bus stop, and a bus is usually coming within a few minutes.

There is a wider swathe of Seattle with 5 to 10 units/acre gross, which generally represent the portions of the city with sidewalks.  While predominately single family homes, these neighborhoods were developed in an era of streetcars and small lots.  Unlike central and north Seattle, the south half of the city is rather inconsistently developed, with a patchwork of low, medium and highly developed areas.

Data sources: U.S. Census Bureau, King County GIS, WSDOT

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