On the front page of the Seatte Times is an article about the South Lake Union Trolley- aka The SLUT.
The streetcars’ classy image and comfortable handling might attract people who wouldn’t hop a bus.
The downside is they can get stuck in traffic, slowing the average speed to 9 or 10 mph. All the street activity creates occasional obstacles, in a fast-changing part of town.
During test runs, motorists would suddenly turn, switch lanes or run stop signs in front of the trains, and track grooves have pitched bicyclists onto the street.
Streetcars have stopped for parked delivery trucks that protrude into the trackway; in one case, a train tore off a truck mirror. One train had to wait when a construction lift stalled on the tracks, until workers towed it off. The line makes two tight turns at Thomas Street, making the wheels grumble as the train slows.
To improve travel time on the system, sensors were installed to give streetcars…
…the ability to stop in the event they detect t the hazards on the track and address the problems as described above? Like a car making a right turn, a pedestrian crossing the street, an automobile door opening, or a cyclist that just wrecked on the tracks in front of them?…
… priority over autos at stoplights, even at busy times on Mercer Street.
Right. Way to prioritize there Paul Allen.
South Lake Union Trolley car – heres an article about it.
and heres the article protesting it at seattlelikesbikes.org….
On December 12 the S.L.U.T. begins operation, and we will be on site from 5:30-6:30pm, riding this route around Westlake Ave N, protesting the lack of consideration for Seattle cycling commuters and their safety, and asking that the Seattle Department of Transportation correct this grievous and dangerous error. click for ride materials.
As you may or may not know, the South Lake Union Trolley or S.L.U.T. is a project of Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., meant to connect the South Lake Union tech campus to downtown. Despite serious concerns voiced by major local cycling organizations and prior Department of Transportation experience in Portland, Seattle fast-tracked the streetcar project under pressure from Vulcan Inc., installing tracks in a configuration that is hostile to cyclists, placing tracks in the right hand lane rather than in the center lane as is common on other lines.
I’ve personally watched two people eat it. And heres a SLOG POST about another bad wreck.
…New grooves in the pavement, for the streetcar’s eminent birth, grabbed my front tire.
I hit the ground, left thigh first. The handlebars from my rapidly disintegrating bicycle jabbed powerfully into my ribcage, near to my heart. I heard a pop. I was only wearing a t-shirt, so my bare flesh met the pavement. I finally came to halt, having slid the length of a city block.
My rib was broken; my arms were shredded. My left thigh swelled to fill my normally baggy pants. You can bleed a fifth of your blood into the thigh—creating a trapped lake that slowly crushes into oblivion the nerves and eventually the muscles of the leg. It’s what almost happened to me; only aggressive icing and elevation saved me from needing emergency surgery.
The SLUT aggravates me to no end. I’m a big fan of public transportation – but this was negligent on some very important fronts. In so many ways this feels like another monorail. I don’t see the benefit in this or how a streetcar is going to bring more people to the area. In other cities, instead of building a streetcar they build open sided buses that look and feel like a streetcar that do the same job without impeding traffic or requiring a multi-million dollar overhaul of the streets that make it more dangerous for bicyclists. If this was for the benefit of the community, I’d love to see the studies they compiled of interviews with community councils or where the community had any say whatsoever in how this project came together. No, this feels decidedly self serving. Other questions raised: will the SLUT dovetail into the Seattle Metro system? Will be be able to use our bus passes on it like the Waterfront Streetcar? I don’t know.
I guess the point is moot now – the milk is spilt. However, if there are to be other streetcars in the future, we should learn from the
mistakes shortfalls of this trainwreck bike wreck in the making. More clearly marked bike lanes and clearly marked safe-routes across the tracks, warning signs – and hey, how about marking the trolley passage with a big red stripe down the road. In the future, running tracks down the center lane of major arteries like other cities do (and like the Waterfront Streetcar did). I’m sure with even a modicum of community involvement, these points would have come to light before tracks were laid down.
But enough of my ranting. If you’d like to attend, you’re encouraged to come on a bike or – this is the best part – a wheelchair, as I’m told its not wheelchair accessible either.