Tag Archives: commuting

How Does Mercer Island Commute?

Just saw an excellent post in the Seattle Bike Blog on how Seattle commutes. Which got me wondering how Mercer Island commutes.

I went to the Census American communities Survey, just released for 2012, and looked at Mercer Island versus Seattle, Bellevue and all of King County:


In only a few minutes with the data a few things popped out:

1.Islanders drive more than the rest of King County.

2. Our mean commute is lower than Seattle, Bellevue or all of King County, probably because of how central the Island is.

3. Almost 10% of Islanders work from home, quite a bit higher than the rest of the county.

4. Islanders take public transportation at a much lower rate than the rest of the county. I think we’d take it more if we could get to the Park & Ride more easily or find parking there. These days, it’s parked up before 8 am, causing a stressful morning for anyone planning to get a spot.

My husband and I have tried many of these methods– driving alone, carpooling, the bus, and biking– at different times. Basically anything other than walking. One of the nice things about Mercer Island is you can get almost anywhere, fast.

I wonder how these numbers will change when the Express Lanes give way to Light Rail. One would expect a dramatic drop in driving alone and a rise in public transportation. We’ll see in about 10 years.

Bike to Work Day on Mercer Island

Bike to work day was gorgeous this year.

Going over the I-90 bridge to Seattle.

I noticed many fewer riders on the bike trail over I-90 this year. Perhaps the exceptionally abysmal spring we had contributed to the reluctance of commuters to get started this year.

The I-90 bridge coming to Mercer Island from Bellevue.

My husband and covered the commutes to the East and the West, with him going over to Bellevue-Redmond and me heading over the I-90 bridge and up to Fremont. In either direction there were volunteers handing out schwag and snacks.

The rest station right over the I-90 bridge on the Seattle side.

Thanks to the Cascade Bicycling Club for organizing. They’ve got some great resources for bike commuting in the region. Also check out detailed instructions on the Mercer Island to downtown Seattle commute.

Here’s hoping to more weather like that!

What’s That Barge Off I-90 Doing?

It’s the WSDOT removing and replacing “30 frayed and corroded anchor cables that hold the bridges in place on Lake Washington during windstorms.”

Cable cross section. Thanks Mike Murphy and Flickr.

Here’s the cool part:

“Unlike a typical road project, much of the work to replace anchor cables will be out of the public eye. Specially-trained commercial deep-sea divers will haul the cables as deep as 200 feet, remove the old cables and attach the new ones. A barge will be standing by with an on-board decompression chamber to treat divers after they resurface. Once each new cable is connected to its anchor on the lake bed, workers can fasten them to the floating bridge pontoons. Each cable takes about a day to replace.” From Mike Murphy at WSDOT.

Specially trained divers! On-board decompression chambers! Barge standing by!  THAT’S SO COOL.

Opening the hatch. Flickr.

Frayed cable. Flickr.

Keep an eye out as you drive over I-90 for divers surfacing from the deep.

Breaking Away from Cycling Ordinance

The Mercer Island City Council wisely broke away from an ordinance that would have required bikers in groups of 2 or more to pull over for cars. The MI Reporter is right on the wheel of the story, giving a stroke by stroke account of the meeting.

From the P-I Velocity blog.

Cyclists drafted a variety of protests at the meeting. Skinny people in spandex may not look too tough but they can get cranky (especially when they haven’t eaten an hour into a long ride). Mercer Island is one of the premier cycling destinations in the area for our winding, hilly and stoplight-free route from East Mercer to West Mercer to bike path. Team Luna rides it for training, commuters cross the Island to link the East Side and Seattle, and there’s even a Waffle Ride.

The cyclists attack:

  • criminale.com posted an account of the council meeting. He spoke of this highlight: “The MI police testified that they receive more complaints from cyclists about cars than they do from automobile drivers about cyclists.”
  • mattridsesfar sprinted to comment on Bike Snob NY, saying “The council is trying to pass an ordinance that will require cyclists to stop and pull over if (even a single) car is behind them. This is the same place where, 2 years ago, I was given a $248 ticket for “failing to stop” at 2 stop signs.”

These aren’t really attacks, but I’ve got a metaphor to maintain.

It’s great to keep East and West Mercer bike friendly. Many Islanders are cyclists or commuters, and I for one  don’t mind most of our  spandex-coated visitors (though as a former competitive cyclist myself, and a bike commuter, I’m the first one to say that some cyclists have an attitude that is totally unwarranted.)

And by the way, May is Bike to Work month. Here’s a photo from last year’s:

Thanks again to Joshua Putnam and his great bike photos on Flickr.

Bonus link.

Groundbreaking: 24-hour HOV Capacity on I-90

We’re one step closer to 2-way, all way HOV and Light Rail on I-90. Sound Transit and the WSDOT broke ground on Stage 2 of the new HOV lane and East Link light rail project. Here’s what it’ll look like when it’s all done:

Click for larger view.

From the press release:
“The new HOV lanes and HOV direct access ramps will help improve the speed, safety, and reliability of buses that use I-90, and will help meet the growing demand of transit users on both sides of Lake Washington. Currently, buses and carpools traveling I-90 in the off-peak direction often are stuck in traffic because the reversible center express lanes operate only in the peak direction (westbound in the morning and eastbound at night). The new HOV lanes between Seattle and Bellevue will offer 24-hour HOV capacity both eastbound and westbound. HOV direct access on- and off-ramps will enable buses and carpools to access the HOV lanes without crossing other lanes of traffic.”

“The second stage of the project now getting underway will add a new eastbound HOV lane between Mercer Island and Bellevue. The first stage of the project opened in 2008 with new westbound HOV lane between Bellevue Way and 80th Avenue Southeast on Mercer Island and improved HOV access in Mercer Island and Bellevue. The third and final stage will add HOV lanes to both directions of I-90 between Mercer Island and Seattle, clearing the way for light rail to be constructed in the center lanes.”

Here’s a photo from the groundbreaking (thanks Andrew Schmid at Sound Transit for sending):

There’s nothing ten people in suits with shovels can’t build.

Update on Island Crest Way

Have you noticed the car counters on Island Crest Way? An email to Mike Cero, City Councilmember, confirms: “The counters are indeed for the re-configuration. This will be the third count on ICW in the last couple years. Also note the counters are on 86th, 44th and other roads.”

Not, in fact, ICW. It’s less dangerous to stand on 44th and take a photo.

So now that the fall elections and winter weather (such as it was) are over, work can proceed on Island Crest Way’s road diet. The City says: “Finally, the City Council authorized the Island Crest Way project to go to bid.  It is expected that the bid will be awarded near the end of June 2010 and construction will take place this summer.”

Again, from Mike: “The council is scheduled on June 21st to approve those bids. So yes we are on track, but true fidelity of the schedule will happen on June 21st.” We’ll keep you posted.

Just Out: Drawings of Mercer Island Light Rail Station

Looks like the link rail station will take over the Express Lane entrances downtown. A nice design that leverages the current configuration:

Daily Journal of Commerce has more drawings. Anyone got a subscription?

In MI Reporter’s summary of the Sound Transit hearing, sounds like there was a lot of bellyaching: “Others, too, asked about the center lanes with concerns about fire and emergency access, disruption and noise during construction and access to the park and ride and transit during the day.”

The truth is that nothing I’ve heard about the current plans address that fact that you can’t park at the MI Park and Ride. But since we’re not getting Light Rail til the ’20s we’ve got some time to stew on it.

Mercer Island Park-and-Ride to Get MORE Full?

Anyone interested in light rail on Mercer Island should attend the workshop on the planned Link station Tuesday night. Unfortunately I can’t go, but tell me how it goes. It’s at the Community Center at Mercer View from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

And as Seattle Transit Blog points out, anyone interested in using the Park and Ride should also go.  If Light Rail doesn’t connect to the Park-and-Ride in Bellevue, many East Side riders might drive to Mercer Island to pick up the light rail to the airport or the city.

If you use the Park-and-Ride, you know it’s completely packed full by 8 or 8:30 a.m. most weekdays. Any additional load means bleary eyes for Mercer Island commuters who’ll need to park by, say, 6 a.m. to use the only Park-and-Ride available to us. Ouch. If you have time, please go to the workshop.

I-90 Express Lanes Traded for Light Rail and a Player to be Named Later

This just in: I-90 Express Lanes will be converted to Light Rail. Sound Transit will fund new car pool lanes over I-90.

Light rail charges on. Photo from Sound Transit.

I can’t tell from the Seattle Times article if Mercer Island residents will be able to use the car pool lanes like the Express Lanes, but use of the term “car pool” makes me think not.

Around the Lake: Restaurants, Elections & Books

Updates from the great nearby. From the West:

CHS-logo Capitol Hill Seattle provides a great summary of the rumors surrounding Elliott Bay Book’s possible move to Capitol Hill from Pioneer square.

RVP-logoThe Rainier Valley Post has a heads-up on the Seattle Bookfest is this weekend in Columbia City. There will be author readings, a Childrens’  Stage, and panels and workshops. Looks like literary hilarity. Saturday & Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.

Publicola-logo Publicola’s election picks are out. Here’s the cheat sheet. They’ve got good analysis, so click in to read more if you’re interested. Headlines: they like Dow Constantine for King County Exec, Rosenberger for Assessor, and McGinn for (Seattle) mayor.

From the East:

kirkland-logo Kirkland Weblog reports on the “bin on the lake,” which took over space from the now-defunct Yarrow Bay Grill.

Downtown-Bellevue-logo Downtown Bellevue Network, who is hipper than we are, reports on three trendy new restaurants opening in Bellevue: Purple Cafe, Trophy Cupcakes, and earl’s.

And in all-over news, the Seattle Times writes that King Co. Exec Candidate Susan Hutchinson now supports Light Rail over 520, not I-90, proving yet again that the Puget Sound region is not one short on proposals for transportation. Short on actual transportation we may be, but we’re not short on proposals. East Link Light Rail over I-90 is baked though it will still take years to implement. So let’s stop reworking proposals in the middle of construction, and get us some transportation.


Let’s just build it, already.