Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some downsides to bus riding and bicycling in Seattle

Yesterday morning I caught a King County Metro #150 downtown at the Convention Place station, at the north terminus of the bus tunnel. One or two stops later, a scruffy looking man got on wearing nothing but a very dirty hospital johnny. No underwear. Yes, he put his worst side backwards in full view of everyone on the bus, including the very young girl sitting with her Dad across from me. He got off a couple stops later, I think at the International District station at the south end of the bus tunnel, showing everything to everyone again, this time for longer. Wow. And yuck. But whattaya gonna do? It's downtown. Sometimes stuff just happens there. Right?

Last week I got passed by a bus driver while riding my bike fast downhill, a Sound Transit #511 driver going south from Jefferson on 5th Ave, towards that same ID Station. The driver really didn't need to do that, as I was going plenty fast, but in his haste he wobbled into my lane as he passed me while we were both going around a curve. Then he pulled into my lane just ahead of me, in time to hit the brakes for the stoplight at the bottom of the hill. I had to brake harder behind him, of course. This is really not something a sensible, law-abiding bicyclist should have to deal with: unlike the subjects of this video, this driver definitely knew I was there.

As a partial compensation, on my way home yesterday afternoon I biked past a bus with a full advertising wrapper around it, the wrapper composed of many many progressive bumper stickers. Two said "I share the road with bicyclists". I was a little nonplussed.

It would have been nice if the moron in a huge pickup that drove right behind me while I was zooming down another hill last Friday followed the advice on those bumper stickers. This was on N 80th Street, coming east from Greenwood Ave N. I couldn't see him, as I didn't want to turn around at speed with him on my butt, but I could sure see that the top of his pickup's shadow was taller than my own as I flew down the hill. And I'm a tall guy. I was also following at a quite reasonable distance behind another truck, at very nearly the same speed it was going. Fortunately for all concerned. I had a turn to make two blocks later, and when I signaled my intent to do so, the driver behind me backed off.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit just bought a $250K repair truck that it's going to have to turn right around and sell, doubtless at a loss, because it's too big for the bus tunnel they bought it to maintain. Argh. I wish they'd get around to building the demonstration PRT project they promised when we voted for Sound Move back in 1996.