Monthly Archives: November 2006

A mobile memorial

Andrew from Sound Transit sent me this Guardian article, about a unique tribute to executed Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Chief among these “first martyrs” was Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian journalist and novelist who spearheaded a massive campaign against oil corporations and the Nigerian government, accusing both of waging an ecological war against the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta. …

Last year, to mark the 10th anniversary of Saro-Wiwa’s execution, Platform, together with Amnesty International, the Arts Council and Greenpeace, launched a competition, asking artists to come up with proposals for a Saro-Wiwa memorial. The winner was Nigerian-born sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp, whose “mobile memorial” takes the form of a giant bus …

The bus was chosen deliberately, as a complex symbol of many of the things Saro-Wiwa stood for–and against.

“I think transport is an important feature in environmental debate,” she says. “The poorer world is always trying to catch up with the west in transporting goods. I wanted a spectacle of some kind, one of those vehicles, stacked precariously with all the goods they can carry. It will be fantastic to see it in a London street.”

To see pictures of the bus memorial and hear commentary by the artist, check out this slideshow.

Cold morning, late bus

This month, I’ve been helping out a friend with a project that has required me to make several trips to Ballard. Normally, I take the 27 (or the 4) downtown and then catch the 17 or 18, but this morning I broke my rule about transferring (choose the itinerary that provides the most options at the transfer point) and tried the 48+44 route that Trip Planner suggested. I let love (wanted to ride the 48 with Bus Nerd like I usually do) and curiosity (never ridden the 44 before) get in the way of my own good sense, and I paid the price with a windy, 40-minute wait at 15th & 42nd.

Apparently, there was a major accident somewhere on the route, and the bus I finally caught was over an hour behind schedule. By the time we got to Fremont, there was a 44 right behind us, so the driver started passing folks up, even (and especially) little old ladies with walkers. Did I mention it was one of those old-school trolleys, with a broken heater and leaky windows?

On Thursday, I’m taking the 17.

A busless Sunday

Today was a blissful zero; I didn’t even leave my house. This afforded me the time to watch an old movie (the original Terminator–Bus Nerd’s idea) and this old-school video. If you don’t want to play it, here’s what you need to know:

Sach: “Yusef won’t you tell me where the honeys is at?”
Yusef: “They on bus stops … “

Sadly, the bus chick pick-up artist is one of the few who is aware (and taking advantage) of this phenomenon. Fellas: Don’t let him win due to lack of competition.

The Zone(ing) diet

On Wednesday, Streetsblog linked to this article by Richard Jackson, author of Urban Sprawl and Public Health. Some excerpts:

The message of the book is simple: our car-dependent suburban environment is killing us. Planners, most notably the New Urbanists, have been saying this for decades, but Jackson’s got the statistics. And the charts. And the tables. In his book and in lectures nationwide, Jackson demonstrates–technically, like a doctor–how sprawl is at least partially responsible for a full range of American diseases, from asthma to diabetes, from hypertension to depression. The reason that we spend one dollar out of six on health care is very preventable, and yet we claim some of the worst health statistics in the developed world.

You say, “The modern America of obesity, inactivity, depression, and loss of community has not ‘happened’ to us. We legislated, subsidized, and planned it this way.” When did you first start to make the connection between the design of our national landscape and the health of our citizens?
In July 1999 the head of the CDC invited his dozen directors to the central office to work on a paper about the ten leading diseases of the twenty-first century. I’m driving over there, and as always I’m thinking about pesticides, herbicides, cancer, and birth-defect clusters–you name it. I’m late, stuck in traffic on Buford Highway, voted one of the ten worst streets in North America. It’s a seven-lane road surrounded by garden apartments, mainly for poor immigrants, with no sidewalks and two miles between traffic lights. It’s 95 degrees out, 95 percent humidity. I see a woman on the right shoulder, struggling along, and she reminds me of my mother. She’s in her seventies, with reddish hair and bent over with osteoporosis. She has a shopping bag in each hand and is really struggling.

I lived in Houston, Texas for eight years. I loved many things about the H, but its build environment was not one of them. Consistently one of the fattest cities in the country, it is also (not coincidentally) one of the most sprawling and car-centric. (Of course, the amazing food might also be a contributing factor. What I wouldn’t give for a taste of boudin right about now. But I digress.) Sidewalks are rare, roads are wide, and strip malls abound. It’s hard to get anywhere in Houston (grocery store, drug store, library, park, cafe–shoot, even the bus stop) walking, and those brave enough to attempt it are often forced into ditches at the side of the road.

On the other hand, it’s 85 degrees there today.

A ride-free cheat sheet

Yesterday, I saw this at the stop on Pike & 3rd:


Since you probably can’t see for yourself, thanks to my sorry picture (hey–the bus was coming) and the PI’s file-size limits (compression is not a blogger’s friend), it’s a map of the Ride-Free zone. It shows which buses go down all of the major downtown streets, and there are arrows that indicate which direction each street runs.

We likey!

Transit, now (or at least in a couple of months)

Now that prop 2 has passed (thanks, Saulty!), the folks at the county are busy making plans to expand bus service. The first changes will happen in February (even before the tax increase takes effect). Here’s what the County Kingpin tells us we can expect in the near term:

Route 8 – Several trips would be added at the edges of the peak periods and would operate between Seattle Center and Capitol Hill, the most heavily-used segment of this route

Route 44 – Early evening service on weekdays would be revised (one trip added in each direction) to achieve a 15-minute frequency rather than the longer spacing between trips which now contributes to overloading and operational delays

Route 101 – Add two morning trips and one afternoon trip at the edges of the peak periods when ridership has started to outgrow the existing levels of service

Route 120 – Improve Saturday service frequencies from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes through a greater part of the day

Route 140 – Improve midday weekday service frequencies from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes

Route 194 – On Saturdays and Sundays, add two earlier morning trips from downtown to Sea-Tac Airport to better serve airport workers and travelers with early morning flights

Route 234 – Extend service later on weekdays (to 9 PM)

Route 245 – Increase frequency of Sunday service from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes through the main part of the day, similar to current Saturday levels of service

I see there’s still no love for those of us at the “other” end of the 8 route. (Hmph!) Moving on…

New buses (175 total) will start arriving in spring, at which time some of the more meaningful of the promised improvements will begin to be implemented. And while I’m on the subject…

Folks who live in areas that will actually benefit from these improvements: You can show your fellow taxpayers your appreciation by leaving your cars at home and actually getting on those brand-new buses. Come on! Everybody’s doing it.

A sibling agreement

Saulty and Bus Chick, last Tuesday:

Saulty: “The election isn’t today is it?”
Bus Chick: “Nope–next week.”
Saulty: “Good. I thought I forgot to vote.”
Bus Chick: “Hey, speaking of … make sure you vote for Transit Now.”
Saulty: “What’s that, and why should I care?”

Bus Chick proceeds to explain all the reasons Saulty should vote yes on Proposition 2.

Saulty: “That sounds cool. I’ll vote for it, but only if you vote no on that strip club thing.”