Monthly Archives: March 2009

Westbound 14, 5:45 PM

A man sitting directly behind me is chatting up the woman next to him.

Man: “Oh, you hurt your finger! Want me to kiss it and make it better?”
Woman: “Huh?”
Man: “You know, like when you were little, and you hurt yourself, and your mom would kiss it to make it better?”
Woman: “No. Mom wasn’t around. My grandma always said, ‘quit your whining and keep moving.'”

Thanks for the ride! (part II)

Hans and Shannon, two soon-to-be-married bus types from Capitol Hill, have officially declared March 18th Bus Driver Appreciation Day. (Apparently, there is no such official day–at least not one that they could find record of.) I, for one, am totally on board (sorry, couldn’t resist) and ready to help make it happen. Since this is a new thing, we get to decide how it works. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Next Wednesday, tell every driver whose bus you ride, “Happy Bus Driver Appreciation Day!” Make sure to keep smiling, even if they all look at you like you’re crazy. If you have a favorite driver, consider bringing him/her a card* or other token–nothing that would be hard to keep on a bus all day, just something small** to show your love.

So, my fellow riders: Go forth, and appreciate. And oh yeah: Pass it on!

* Note to Hallmark: In case you missed the headlines: More people than ever are riding the bus. Don’t sleep on this opportunity!
**I talked to a few veteran drivers who suggested that jewelry was sufficiently small. They were kidding, of course. Sort of.

Transit tees

Spring is around the corner (theoretically, at least). In honor, some transit-boosting t-shirts y’all might take a shine to.

This LA Metro shirt, sent to me by Clarence from NYC (aka “Streefilms Guy”), gave me a chuckle.


The back has a Metro symbol and the word “Nice.” Nice.

This one was designed a little closer to home– by Sarah U., a bus chick from Olympia who is all about showing her transit pride.


As you might already know, I’m a sucker for anything with a picture of a bus on it.

If the right person (read: a really hot person) rocked either of these shirts, I think we could increase ridership–or at least increase the bus sexy around here. Sexy Seattle bus riders: Get to ordering!

Upcoming events for transit types

Transportation Freedom Day*
*Added on 3/13/09

What: A celebration with a purpose: to educate Seattleites about their transportation costs

How much does transportation cost you?
Walking/Biking: Free
Metro Bus Fare: $1.75
Gallon of Gasoline: $2.17
Days the average Seattleite works to pay for yearly transportation costs: 74
Helping Seattle celebrate an earlier Transportation Freedom Day: Priceless

Your transportation costs could surprise you. In the average household, transportation accounts for the second largest drain on family budgets; more than food, health care, and second only to home ownership.

If fact, every dollar you earned from January 1st until March 15th will ultimately go towards your transportation costs for the year. That’s why we’re raising awareness by celebrating Seattle’s Transportation Freedom Day!

When: Sunday, March 15th, 3 – 4 PM
Where: Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, 4520 MLK Jr. Way S. (Served by routes 39, 42, and 48)
How much? Free

Did I mention there will be cake?

Seattle Green Festival

What: A “green living” expo!
“Discover some of the best green products and services the Northwest has to offer. And, through Seattle Climate Action Now!, Clean & Green Seattle, and the city’s many other climate projects, you’ll learn how neighbors, community nonprofits and city departments are working together to make their city a healthier place to live.”

When: March 28, 10 AM – 7 PM & March 29, 11 AM – 6 PM
Where: Washington State Convention Center
How much? $15 ($10 for cyclists and bus riders)

This was great fun last year. I’d be attending again, even if I wasn’t participating in the “Undriving” panel.

Climate Day for Kids

What: An Earth Day celebration, where kids (and adults) can “learn about climate change and what actions [to] take to reduce your carbon footprint. Create green art using recycled materials, and explore games and exhibits from SAM partners.”

When: April 18, 12 PM – 3 PM
Where: Olympic Sculpture Park
How much? Free!

I’m planning to take Chicklet. She doesn’t know what global warming is yet, but she’s down with anything that involves playing outside.

Seattle Summer Streets (formerly known as Carfree Sundays)

What: Car-free, locally organized street festivals
“Walk. Bike. Shop. Play. Breathe. City streets are being opened for people to have fun, celebrate the spirit and personality of their community and support local businesses.”

When: Many, many dates throughout the spring and summer. The first one (in Phinney) is on April 10th. See below.
Where: Lots o’ neighborhoods! (Though not mine yet.) See below.
How much? Free!

I went to all of these last year and (except for some minor weather issues) thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you’re fortunate enough to have one in your neighborhood, you should really, really take advantage.

Here’s all the date and place info from the City:

Event: The Greenwood/Phinney Chamber’s Art Up/Open Up Summer Streets Party
Date: Friday, April 10, 6 to 9 p.m.
Location: Phinney/Greenwood Avenue North from North 65th to North 87th streets

Event: Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike to Work Day and Summer Streets Party
Date: Friday, May 15, 4 to 7 p.m.
Location: Bergen Place Park and 22nd Avenue Northwest between Market Street and Ballard Avenue

Event: West Seattle High School PTSA’s 5K Run/Alki and Seattle Summer Streets Party
Date: Sunday, May 31, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: Alki Avenue Southwest from California Way Southwest to 63rd Avenue Southwest

Event: Seattle Parks Summer Streets Party
Date: Sunday, June 7, 14, 21 and 28
Location: Discovery Park (7th), Interlaken Park (14th), Seward Park (21st), Magnuson Park (28th)

Event: U-District Chamber’s Summer Streets Party
Date: Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: University Way Northeast between Northeast 50th and Northeast 45th streets.

Event: Pike Place Market’s Fresh Fruit Festival and Summer Streets Party
Date: Sunday, July 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Pike Street/First Avenue to Virginia

Event: Rainier Valley Chamber’s Heritage Parade and Summer Streets Party
Date: Saturday, Aug. 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Rainier Avenue South from South Orcas to South Alaska streets

Event: Cascade Bicycle Club’s Restore Our Waters Cascade Spawning Cycling Tour
Date: Sunday, Sept. 20, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Starts and ends at Myrtle Edwards Park, goes through Seattle Parks non-motorized areas of Seward, Interlaken, Gasworks, Commodore and Discovery Parks.

Event: Visit a park with permanently open streets and Celebrate Seattle Summer Streets
Date: May through September
Location: Volunteer Park, Seward Park, Interlaken, Magnuson Lakefront Promenade, Arboretum, Discovery Park

Also during the months of May through September, Bicycle Sundays are being held along Lake Washington Boulevard every weekend. Seward Park’s upper road and Carkeek Park Road west of the Environmental Learning Center are being closed to cars on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Everybody really is doing it

Despite low gas prices and fewer commuters (no job = no commute), transit ridership continues to rise. In fact, according to the American Public Transportation Association, ridership in 2008 was 4% higher than in 2007 (the highest it’s been in 52 years), while vehicle miles traveled declined by almost the same amount. Transit geeks aren’t the only folks taking note, either. The issue is the top headline on MSNBC today.

Now if only our funding priorities (ahem) would reflect our behavior.

Chicklet’s future (fingers crossed)

I spotted this book-loving young bus chick on a southbound 48 (yes, I do ride other routes) the other day.

A book-loving bus chick
BIG book, little person

I was planning to ask her what she was reading on my way out, but she got off before I did. My guess? Based on the book’s size and the intensity of her focus: Lord of the Rings. Which reminds me: A few weeks ago, on the 14, I saw a bus chick of about the same age with her nose buried Return of the King.

Looks like the future of buschickhood (buschickdom? buschickery?) is in good hands.

Another transit paradox: car-free = car-“full”

I have chosen to live without a car for many reasons. Some that are most important to me: cars’ detrimental impact on human health and on both the built and natural environments. And yet, because I am car-free (and therefore require convenient access to transit and useful services), I live at the intersection of two very busy–and not in a good way–streets. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the city–specifically, this one–and I don’t mind dealing with the associated activity/chaos. I just wish it was a city with more (better) transit, more bikes, more foot traffic, and a lot fewer cars. If the noise isn’t enough of a reminder that my family is contaminated with the exhaust (et cetera) of thousands of SOVs on the daily, the soot that regularly accumulates on our windowsills is.

It’s true that we Chick-Nerds could have a comparable level of access and convenience (with less noise and exhaust) if we lived a block in either direction, but: 1) since busing involves walking–sometimes after dark– it’s safer (especially for Chicklet, when she’s old enough to ride alone) to live as close as possible to stops and streetlights, and 2) I happen to love my home.

Of course, the details of my particular situation aren’t as important as the point I started out trying to make (y’all know how I get sidetracked): that living car-free usually requires one to be surrounded by cars.

And I thought my name was ironic.

Snow: bad. Improved communication: good.

More snow (?!) is expected this weekend (conveniently, the same weekend as a bus fam planned excursion to Issaquah). The good news is that Metro is working hard to improve its (previously abysmal) adverse-weather communication with customers. From a KC Metro press release:

With snow again in the forecast, King County Metro Transit is gearing up to keep buses moving and to keep riders better informed…

In the event of a snowstorm this weekend, King County will use the Twitter social-networking system and a county blog posted prominently on to provide all known Metro service disruptions related to bad weather.


To get the latest Metro Transit messages on Twitter, go to: The King County Alert blog is online at:

This is long overdue, but I must give Metro props for taking steps to address a major weakness. And the best news of all:

By next winter, transit users should find even more communication improvements. Metro is already upgrading the Metro Online website, developing a new transit alert messaging system, beefing up information staffing for emergency events, and planning for the integration of new technology that tracks bus reroute and service disruptions as a new source of real-time information.


The after-school special

And this was just a fraction of them:

After-school special

Three stops in a row were packed (as they are every weekday at 2:30) with energetic, just-released adolescents. It’s faster to walk those five blocks than it is to wait through all the loading drama and then creep along on a vehicle filled far, far beyond capacity. And forget about getting off.

Did I mention that the 48 passes five high schools (that I know of)?