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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

Topic: transportation

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November 6, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Is Seattle getting less walkable?


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

For Seattle, just being a walkable city isn’t good enough.  We want to be No. 1, the most walkable city in the nation. At least that’s the goal plainly stated in the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan.

But we may be falling farther behind on that lofty goal than we thought.

Seattle’s walkability score actually declined this past year, according to the 2014 rankings of America’s most walkable cities, released on Wednesday by Walk Score.

The Seattle-based company, which scores thousands of cities and neighborhoods based on how convenient they are for someone on foot, releases new scores each year and ranks America’s top cities for pedestrians.  Last year, Seattle placed sixth with a score of 73.7 out of a possible 100.   We’re still in the top 10 this year, but we dropped down to eighth with a score of just 70.8.  Miami and Washington, D.C., leapfrogged over Seattle in the rankings.


Comments | More in Reports | Topics: pedestrians, transportation

October 14, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Amtrak ridership is down in the Northwest–is Bolt Bus to blame?

The newly restored King Street Station in Seattle (Photo: JOHN LOK/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

The recently restored King Street Station in Seattle (Photo: JOHN LOK/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Have you seen our beautifully restored King Street Station yet? With such a stunning gateway to our city, you might think folks are clamoring to take Amtrak more than ever.

You’d be wrong.

Ridership on Amtrak’s Cascade route dropped 4  percent in the 2013 fiscal year, according to numbers released Monday by the company.

In 2013, 811,692 passengers boarded a train along the Cascades route, which runs between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene, Ore.  That’s a decline of more than 33,000 passengers from 2012.


Comments | More in Reports | Topics: Amtrak, trains, transportation

July 3, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Is car culture coming to an end in Seattle?

From the heyday of car culture: the Ford Seattle-ite XXI, introduced at the 1962 World's Fair (Photo: University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

From the heyday of car culture: The Ford Seattle-ite XXI concept car, displayed at the 1962 World’s Fair (Photo: UW Libraries Special Collections)

America’s love affair with the automobile may have finally hit a dead end, according to a recent article in The New York Times.  It’s a bold claim, but the data back it up.

The number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and has been steadily declining since.

In particular, younger people have turned their backs on the car.  They are much less likely to get a driver’s license than previous generations, and they don’t romanticize automobiles in the way that their parents did.  Their love affair is with smart phones, not cars.

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Click to enlarge

Is there evidence of this trend at the local level?


Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: automobiles, cars, transit

March 27, 2013 at 6:30 AM

How safe is Seattle for pedestrians?

Photo: Michal Osmenda/Wikimedia

Photo: Michal Osmenda/Wikimedia

We don’t tend to think of walking around our neighborhood as a dangerous activity, but that presumption may have been thrown into question after the fatal crash on Monday in Northeast Seattle.  And the fact is, pedestrian injuries and fatalities are all too common.  According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 46,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States between 2001 and 2010.

But how dangerous is Seattle for pedestrians compared with other areas in the United States?


Comments | More in Government Data | Topics: transportation, walking

March 5, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Census Bureau: Snohomish-to-King among nation’s largest commute flows

According to new Census Bureau estimates, 116,000 Snohomish County residents flocked south to King County for work in 2011.  That ranks the Snohomish-to-King route as the 17th largest county-to-county commute flow in the nation.  The number of commuters on that route grew by 12.5 percent from 2000 to 2011.  Another…


Comments | More in Government Data | Topics: Census Bureau, transit, transportation

December 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM

In ‘war on cars,’ Seattle has some catching up to do

Traffic on Ballard Bridge, Seattle (photo: ComputerGuy890100 via Wikimedia Commons)

I hadn’t realized that the so-called war on cars was a “Seattle thing” until I heard a broadcast about it on NPR earlier this year.  Although the war on cars controversy has popped up in cities around North America, Seattle is one of just four — along with Chicago, Toronto and Boston — where the phrase gets tossed about with frequency, according to NPR. Indeed, when I Googled “war on cars,” the top results were dominated by links to Seattle-area publications. As NPR reported, “In Seattle, the phrase has been aimed at all kinds of city plans, including lower speed limits in residential areas.”  Yes, in Seattle, even imposing lower speed limits in residential areas can be construed as part of a war on cars.  You might say folks are a little touchy about this topic here.

Our local war on cars saw a minor skirmish earlier this week when the City Council approved a second car-sharing program, Car2Go.  Zipcar will have some competition soon.  Councilmember Tom Rasmussen threw down the gauntlet, as quoted by Lynn Thompson in The Seattle Times:”This is another great transportation option for people who would prefer not to own a car or want to get rid of a second car.” If there’s really a war on cars in Seattle — then them’s fightin’ words.


Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: Seattle, transportation