Tag Archives: Ballard

And counting

Earlier this month, I celebrated my car-free anniversary. As of March 5th (or was it the 6th?), I’m officially seven years in.

It’s been an eventful seven years. I bought a home, got married, lost my beloved mother to cancer, and had two children. Navigating so many major life events without a car in a city that all but requires one has certainly had its challenges, but it has also integrated the bus into all of my significant recent memories*–and made it impossible for me to imagine my life without Metro. As I wrote in my Real Change column back in 2006, buses have associations for me.

Riding the Water Taxi reminds me of the days I spent with my mother during her last months of life. The first time I rode it to my parents’ Seacrest Park condo the spring after she died, I cried. Sometimes I still do.

The 545 will forever feel romantic to me, since it’s the route Nerd and I rode together in the early days of our courtship. I don’t think I’ve ever looked more forward to a commute–or for that matter, to anything.

The 4 and 27 are my baby buses–the 4 because I rode it to all of my obstetrician appointments–and home from the hospital with Chicklet; the 27 because I rode it to the hospital to deliver Chicklet and home from the hospital with Busling.

And there are many more. The Ballard buses (17, 18) take me to my brother, Jeremy (and also remind me of my rather unfortunate adventure as a ball-gown model); the 55 takes me to my Joelie and the place I still consider home; the 14 is all about TAC meetings, Top Pot (Summit side), and writing group get-togethers at my friend Marchel’s house (Mount Baker side); the 194: Paris, Detroit, and airport goodbyes with Bus Nerd; the 8: Mom again.

And the 36, though it’s not one of my regular routes, reminds me of why I ride: to be a part of my community, and to share my travels with the people I share the world with.

Bring on the next seven.

*The bus is also integrated into many of my not-so-recent memories, like this one and this one.

Upcoming events for transit types

6th annual Sustainable Ballard Festival

What: A “community fair and … showcase for the activities and initiatives our neighbors have engaged in throughout the year. The 2009 Festival will feature live music, how-to workshops, fun & educational activities, local and sustainable businesses and much more!”

If you go, don’t miss the Undriving booth–one of SB’s coolest projects.

When: September 26th & 27th, 12 PM – 5 PM
Where: Ballard Commons Park, at the corner of corner of NW 57th & 22nd NW (So glad for the new 27/17 combo!)
How much: Free!

Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around

What: “A Panel Presentation by David Byrne [Talking Heads cofounder and author of the acclaimed Bicycle Diaries], Barbara Gray [Seattle DOT], Dave Janis [Bicycle Alliance of Washington], and Mark Hinshaw [architect for LMN and author of True Urbanism].”
When: September 28, 7:30 PM
Where: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Avenue
How much: $30 (Purchase price includes a copy of the book.)

King County Transportation Town Hall

What: A public meeting, hosted by Councilmember Larry Gossett, that will “focus on the impact light rail will have on the regional transit system, and the fiscal challenges facing Metro Transit…”

The public and the committee will receive briefings from:

• Ron Tober, Deputy CEO of Sound Transit, on the opening of Link light rail July 18,
• Metro Transit’s Victor Obeso, Manager of Service Development, and Jack Lattemann, Transportation Planner, on the integration and restructuring of bus service with the arrival of light rail,
• Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond, on Metro’s budget gap and the agency’s service reduction strategy in the wake of declining revenues.

Presenters will take questions from the audience and Councilmembers will take public testimony on any issue at the end of the program.

When: September 30, 6:30 PM (Informal reception begins at 6:00.)
Where: Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, 4520 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. (You can take Link!)
How much: Free

Also note: This is the last weekend to take the bus to the Puyallup Fair. We (that is, Chicklet, Nerd and I) did it last year, and it was easy and fun (and cheap!).

September Golden Transfer

Golden Transfer This month’s Golden Transfer goes to Sustainable Ballard, a four-year old organization that promotes sustainable practices within its community, with the goal of making Ballard the “first US town [not to nitpick, but I thought it was a neighborhood] to become energy independent.”

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, this weekend SB hosted its annual sustainability festival in Ballard Commons Park. This year, they added something new: a fun, clever (and, I’m hoping, effective) program to get Ballardites (Ballardians?) out of their cars: Undriving Ballard. The program encouraged participants to commit to changing their transportation habits (read: drive less) for the month of October. In return, they received: support and information, free Metro bus tickets, an “Udrivers License,” and, as I mentioned Friday, the admiration of all the good-looking people at the fest.

Undriver licensing booth at Sustainable Ballard
Me, signing up for an undriver license (big coat is obscuring Bus Baby)
Unfortunately, I had to crop the bottom of this very cool sign, due to an item Bus Nerd was carrying that kept obscuring the camera lense.
Undrivers having fun at the fest
Fulvio and Julia, SB volunteers and committed undrivers

Here are Bus Nerd’s and my undriver licenses, which we plan to show the next time we hit up a club or concert:

Note that I was far too dignified to take advantage of the props they had available for pictures. Bus Nerd? Not so much.

Undriving Ballard was a hit. I was impressed by the idea and the implementation, and I wasn’t the only one. There was a line at the Undriver Licensing booth all afternoon on Saturday.

So, thanks Sustainable Ballard, for motivating more folks to try alternatives to driving, and, especially, for demonstrating your concern for the earth by taking action in your community.

Another bus-chick-friendly weekend event (or, First Ballard, then the world!)

Sustainable Ballard’s annual festival is happening this weekend at Ballard Commons Park (17, 18, 44). It’s all about celebrating sustainability and educating folks about how to “live more lightly on the earth.” Last year, I gave a short talk at the festival’s transportation tent about my experience living without a car. This year, SB’s making car-free advocacy a major focus of the festival, with “Undriving Ballard: A place for people to explore alternatives to car travel, and get inspired to make an Undriving Pledge.”

I’m going to be there, sharing some of my knowledge and learning from others…maybe you?

P.S. – If you “undrive” to the festival, you’ll receive, in addition to the admiration of all the good-looking people attending, two free bus tickets from our friends at Metro.

27+17=bus-friendly music

Tonight, my friend Coby is performing at Conor Byrne in Ballard. (He’s opening for Ali Marcus, who’s celebrating the release of her most recent CD.) Coby’s show starts at 8, and the first song in his set is going to be about–I’ll give you moment to take a guess–the bus!

Bus Chick's favorite rock star


And he was already my favorite rock star–OK, except for Prince.

Bus Chick’s kind of place

Last night, I hopped on the 17 and headed to Ballard, a neighborhood I have visited more frequently in the past six months than in the previous six years. This time, it was to model a ball gown (seriously) at the Ballard Art Walk. (Modeling is not my strong suit–or, to be honest, my idea of a good time–but I have a friend in fashion school, and she had an assignment. But I digress.) Embarrassing pseudo-runway experiences aside, I’m developing quite a fondness for the place.

And what’s not to love? Though it’s not especially easy to get to from where I live, Ballard is served by lots of buses. It’s also pretty walkable (by Seattle standards, anyway), which probably explains why there are fun events like art walks. After yesterday’s, Bus Nerd and I headed to the (very rider-friendly) stop at Ballard &; Market, checked the schedules of the three buses (17, 18, 44) we could take to a transfer point home, and then headed to an Indian restaurant for dinner. We finished right in time for the 17, so we didn’t get to take advantage of any of the many benches and shelters at the stop. We did, however, witness an instance of bus (stop) luh. (Sometimes, even when it’s 30 degrees outside, you hate to see that bus comin’.) If I hadn’t been carrying a shopping bag full of makeup, shoes, and hair appliances, I would have snapped a picture. But, again, I digress.

Ballard is the home of Sustainable Ballard, an organization working to make the neighborhood the first carbon-neutral community in the country. And though they haven’t quite made it yet, lots and lots of Ballardites (Ballardians?) are pledging to drive less. My pledge: to hang out in this bus-chick-friendly part of our fair city (not wearing a ball gown) even more often in 2007.

And speaking of school…

It looks like Ballard and Franklin students will be riding Metro to school, starting in the fall. Metro’s official position is positive, but it looks like some bus drivers have misgivings. From the March 3rd PI article:

“Marc Auerbach, a 10-year Metro Transit operator and former Seattle school bus driver, urged the board not to meet just with Metro executives but to sit down with drivers as well. He noted that Metro drivers aren’t able to deal with discipline problems or other potential emergencies.”

They aren’t the only ones. Though I am positive about the idea in theory, I have ridden the bus with high school kids enough to know I’m not going to like it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be one of those grown folks who hates on teenagers. Shoot, when I was a teenager, I rode Metro to school–and most likely cut up and made too much noise, like the kids I ride with now. OK, so maybe I am one of those old folks hatin’ on teenagers (sorry, guys), but my own potential (and minor) irritation is certainly not what’s at issue.

I hope that the district considered all the costs associated with this change when calculating the projected savings. It’s not just about buying bus passes for the kids. There will be the added service on the most frequently used routes (unless they’re assuming that the county is going to cover it), possible schedule changes to accomodate staggered arrival, and, of course, discipline. (Metro plans to ask for staff from the district and the two schools to work with its transit police and operations personnel.)

It will be interesting to see how everything goes. I hope they can work the kinks out with the pilot and find a way to make it successful. It would be nice to see the district save money and take advantage of its existing (and quite good) bus service.

What do you think? Anyone out ride on one of the affected routes (I’m guessing the 15, 28, 7, and 48)? Any high school kids who will be part of the program?