The Case for Lidding I-5 in Downtown Seattle

A conceptual pedestrian lane over I-5 between Pike and Pine Streets. (Graphic by the author)

A conceptual pedestrian lane over I-5 between Pike Street and Pine Street, tying into the Pike-Pine commercial corridor and proximity to the busy Convention Center. Click to enlarge and see a before-and-after view. (Graphic by the author)

Amid Seattle’s rapidly growing inner neighborhoods remains the urban scar of Interstate 5, a massive concrete and steel ribbon that is the lasting legacy of 20th century transportation engineers. It helps move thousands of people and tons of freight every day through the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest, but it gives little to those who don’t drive and to people who live and work around it. The problems are obvious: noise, traffic, and poor urban design that makes people on the street feel isolated and wastes valuable urban land. The solution is equally clear but admittedly ambitious: lidding the freeway to mitigate its sights and sounds while simultaneously transforming the public realm of Downtown Seattle.

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An Urban Eurotrip: Part 3

This is a multi-part series. See the others here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Copenhagen

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In Part 2, I shared the comical travails of getting from Berlin to Copenhagen. After a stopover in Hamburg, the story continues.

On my last train of the day, I met a German woman named named Christina who lives in Norway. She was a hospital worker, and was returning home and cutting short a holiday to Germany because of the coronavirus. The train ride was also interesting because at one point it crosses over the 10-mile wide Great Belt, a strait that separates the western half of Denmark from the island of Zealand, the country’s most populous region and the home of Copenhagen. Trains cross half the Great Belt on a bridge, and the other half in a tunnel. Prior to this link’s completion in 1998, only ferries crossed this area. Passenger trains would be loaded onto those ferries back in the day.

Copenhagen itself is a delight. The first thing I noticed when stepping outside the station was some kind of amusement park across the street. Perhaps more so than other cities, I found there is a very large pedestrian zone and central shopping district. Commercial and utility vehicles are allowed, and private cars can go on some other peripheral streets. The buildings are all obviously old but tenderly maintained. My hostel roommates weren’t talkative at this stop, but the downstairs bar had a lively social and music scene despite (or because of?) the dreary weather.

A pedestrian street in Copenhagen.

The morning of March 11, I took a jog and found a very wide, un-Amsterdam-like canal, but it was calm enough to be swan habitat. I later learned this waterbody is actually part of several urban lakes which were dammed hundreds of year ago for defense and water supply. I visited a small breakfast kiosk recommended by a colleague and enjoyed one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had.

Next, I took another bike tour. The tour guide was Dutch and he loved that I chose an orange bike, it being the color of the national soccer team. Two other people from California were on the tour, and they had just visited Seattle and Vancouver. They also, tellingly, chose to ride Segways instead of bikes. We saw the royal palace, the famous mermaid statue, parliament, and other major sites. I also couldn’t help myself from snapping a picture of a DHL delivery cyclist.

Afterwards I took a trek to the industrial area to see Copenhill, an artificial ski run built on the roof of a waste incinerator facility. Not realizing there was an elevator, I hiked the 85 meters up past acres of artificial grass. The view view was stunning – you can see all the way into Sweden, including the huge Øresund Bridge – and it was dramatically windy. Next door an honest-to-goodness wrecking ball was taking down a concrete building. I stuck around a while, hoping to witness a skier climbing the series of tow bars, but I didn’t have any luck. I walked down and saw the skiers drinking at the bar, of course (this was still mid-morning).

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The view from Copenhill looking over a major industrial area, wind turbines, and the Baltic Sea.

After that I took buses and trains to a residential area to see Gridvick Church, a masterpiece of Danish masonry. From afar the building looks pretty unassuming, but up close its quite a splendid presentation of massive forms made from modest materials. From there I headed back into the old center city and visited the medieval Rundetaarn (Round Tower), which has a steep spiral ramp up to the top. Climbers are awarded a great skyline view from within the city.

As I headed back the hostel during the evening commute hour, I was stunned and nearly mobbed by the rivers of cyclists. As I had experienced in the morning, even on a chilly day Copenhagen is clearly a great city to bike in. You can also find all kinds of food – near my hostel I opted for a comfort option serving enchiladas one night, and other night I had the local fish and chips.

The old world Copenhagen waterfront.

The next morning on March 12, I woke up to information about the United States restricting Europeans from entering the country. I had a flew of worried emails from family. I quickly read the news and State Department websites myself to find that the restrictions did not apply to US citizens or nor to flights arriving from Britain. Since I wasn’t affected, I decided to go onward with my flight that morning to Oslo. Fortunately, I had chosen a relatively late flight leaving at noon, so I had plenty of time to relax and commute in the morning. I found a cafe with excellent hot chocolate and a maple croissant, and later took a subway train to the city’s beautiful airport.

Oslo

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I could have technically taken a train from Copenhagan, but I decided that any trip that took eight or more hours by train was best to fly instead. My March 12 flight to Oslo was uneventful except for heavy wind on takeoff. Upon landing and looking out the plane window, I saw patches of snow, fir trees, and low-lying mountains that gave me a vague reminder of the American west, maybe Colorado or Idaho. I was definitely bound for a colder leg of the trip as I advanced towards the north pole.

Getting from the airport to central Oslo was a bit more challenging than I expected. I later learned the airport is over 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city center by train, and choosing its location was a local controversy in the 1980s. At the time I was traveling there was not a direct line and I had to transfer, with the first train ticket costing $20 and the next one costing $11. Of course, I can imagine a taxi ride would have been twice as much.

Emerging from the south side of Oslo Central Station, I could immediately see the city has a stunning waterfront and busy harbor. There are a large number of sleek, low-rise modern buildings including the massive Operahuset. The main part of town where I was staying, though, had a surprisingly regular street grid with a mix of historical and contemporary 4-6 story buildings. In fact, during the rest of my time in Oslo I was constantly impressed with how wide the sidewalks were and the long sightlines (straight streets) to help me get oriented – something that wasn’t easy to find in the cramped medieval centers of other cities on my trip.

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Part of the Oslo waterfront district.

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A number of passenger ferries serve Oslo.

I suited up for a cold, windy jog to check out the shoreline. The number of ferries plying the harbor reminded me of Seattle, and in the distance I even saw a cruise ship juxtaposed with a grain elevator, but the resemblance stopped there. The downtown waterfront, particularly the Tjuvholmen and Aker Brygge districts, is developed intensely with high-quality residential and commercial buildings, a grand harborside promenade, and a small grid of pedestrian shopping streets. Among it all restaurant seating spills outside.

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Grabbing a coffee at Kaffebrenneriet.

I found a wayfinding sign showing the Havnepromenaden trail extends 9 kilometers, which was further than I had time to explore, but it seemed like a great civic amenity from my brief visit. I also came across piles of pavers and construction equipment for a street project that was converting two major diagonal streets into a pedestrian zone, which apparently opened in February 2021. I didn’t notice at the time, but the site was using electric construction vehicles. On my way back to the hostel, I also found a transit-only street filled with buses and streetcars.

At my usual postcard gathering, I saw some paintings that reminded me Norway (and other Scandinavian cultures) its steeped in troll mythology. Netflix users might know the “documentary” Troll Hunter, which follows a group of college students trying to prove the government is covering up the existence of real trolls. It’s a delight, and makes we wish I had time to visit the countrywide on this trip. I definitely want to visit the famous fjords someday, which are a couple hundred miles northwest of Oslo.

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A quiet street scene in Oslo.

I nearly seriously injured myself after dinner that night. I was tired of carbohydrates (despite passing by a bright restaurant called Texburger) and found a place offering eccentric salads with a variety of grains and vegetables. Leaving the cafe, I didn’t notice the single step down to the sidewalk, and I rotated my ankle. I was instantly worried about the implications of seeking medical care in a foreign country, not remembering how my insurance would handle a hospital visit. But after resting and some tentative steps, I found the joint could still bear weight and didn’t hurt much. Still, I decided to find a pharmacy to get some provisions.

In another forewarning, there was a long line outside the pharmacy and a security guard letting in a limited number of people at a time. This was the first such restriction I had seen on my trip. I was happy to find some instant cold packs to treat my ankle.

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Stylish public restroooms in central Oslo.

I work up early the next day to return to the same train station for a 5:56am departure to Stockholm. This was my longest train ride of the trip, at 6.5 hours, and it was quite relaxing to take my mind off the itinerary for a while. My window scrolled through a long landscape of farms and forests under an overcast sky, reminding me a bit of the sparse Russian wilderness I have only seen in movies (which must have been in roughly the same latitude). Helpfully, the train conductor announced when we crossed the border.

Stockholm

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On my walk from the train station to my hostel, I noticed that compared to Oslo this city has wider streets and more car traffic (including a lot of Volvos), but that didn’t make it any less pleasant to walk in. There is plenty of the necessary infrastructure for people walking and cycling, and the ground floors of buildings are stuffed with shops and cafes and carved with all variety of architectural nuance. I also got a view of this priority when passing underneath some kind of viaduct near the train station; it seemed the conversation had gone, “We need to have an elevated street here? Fine, let McDonald’s open up shop beneath it then.” As terrible as elevated highways in American cities are, maybe they could be a little better with this kind of creative thinking.

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The long Drottninggatan pedestrian street in Stockholm.

After dinner that night, I took a long stroll down Drottninggatan, possibly the longest pedestrian street I had encountered so far. It was at this time I started thinking I would probably need to seriously revise my trip because of the pandemic situation. My family who planned to join later in the trip were showing signs of backing out. Back at the hostel that night I learned that the Czech Republic, my next destination, was locking down and its national train company notified me of the cancellation of my Prague-Vienna ticket.

So, I cancelled my flight to Prague and booked a flight directly from Stockholm to Vienna.

Two hours later I got an alert from the U.S. Embassy in Vienna advising against travel in general, and later I found news Austria was going to require a medical certificate from anyone who had traveled to France in the past two weeks. I also got an email from the U.S. Embassies in Bern and Madrid that Switzerland and Spain were introducing some border controls. Denmark closed its borders to tourists two days after I left. Later I would learn the Switzerland ski resort I planned to visit for three days was closing down. I was also reading about restaurant and museum closures that would degrade the tourism experience.

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While the ending of my trip was saddening, I at least had a cozy space to work in at the hostel.

I felt confused and devastated as my plans began to fall apart. I stayed up late thinking things through. It didn’t seem fair. There’s no way I could have predicted that a once-in-a-century pandemic would coincide with my dream trip that I had saved and planned for five years. But that seemed to be what was happening in real time.

I had another private room at this point in the trip – which I was thankful for as I considered all the logistics of cancelling my trip and working through the emotions. While the miniature washer and dryer at this hostel left something to be desired, the comfy basement computer room was a blessing. It’s much easier to do urgent travel research and re-bookings on a big computer screen than a little smartphone.

After sleeping on it, in the morning I finally determined it wasn’t worth my time and effort to attempt wiggling through an ever-tightening maze of restrictions and cancellations. I sadly booked a British Airlines flight back to the United States, from Stockholm to London to Chicago. The flight wasn’t for two days later; that timing was decided because of a lower price, a chance to fly on a Boeing 747, and a desire to spend one extra day in Europe while I could. Or, perhaps I was a victim of Stockholm syndrome.

My mood didn’t stop me from going out and enjoying the city, which was providing blissfully blue skies. I found a place that offered a British-style breakfast with eggs and beans, plus a healthy side of bacon. The weather was chilly and sunny as I set out to explore and pick up my last set of postcards. I remembered that Stockholm is situated on several islands, and this was apparent from how often I would encounter water during the day. I stumbled onto Stockholm City Hall, a centuries-old brick building with a large waterside lawn. Here I recorded a video narrating my decision to end the trip early.

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The Slussen renewal project.

I wandered southward across a major bridge that also seemed to be part of a major infrastructure construction project. It was hard to tell exactly what I was looking at in the waterway between islands, but I recognized a coffer dam and some kind of prefabricated roadway structure positioned nearby on a barge. Nearby on a closed street, what looked like a train tunnel was being dug through a bluff. I found a staircase built into the bluff and found a handy overlook over the project site, crowded with other visitors. It turns out the transport bridges here actually sit on top of an aging lock between a lake and the sea called the Slussen, and all of the pieces here are being redone in a public works project intended to add new space for buildings and parks.

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Eriksdalslunden park.

Eventually I came across a large plaza called Medborgarplatsen, or Citizen Square, packed with people and cafe seating. I grabbed a snack and then wandered off the beaten path, downhill into a large park in a dense residential area on the south end of this island. The park, called Eriksdalslunden, included a large community boatyard and a community gardens (people must “put their name on the waiting list and hope for the best”, a sign advises).

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The Stockholm skyline.

Later on in the day my phone battery started to die, so I don’t have a lot of photographic memory to rely on. I do remember making my way back to the north end of Södermalm island and discovering a kind of urban hiking trail, a wild-looking dirt route perched on a cliff overlooking the city center. I enjoyed the sunset view with locals, including one who launched a drone.

Some pedestrian quirks I also noticed: Many of the sidewalks and stairs near hillsides had pre-positioned boxes of sand, apparently available for public use during the icy winter months. And instead of piling cardboard on sidewalks or in dumpsters, it looked like many businesses and apartment buildings collect recycling in huge, sturdy bags that can be picked up by trucks. Throughout Stockholm the streets were spotless and safe to walk on, so they’re doing something right with pedestrian mobility.

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The menu at Pub Anchor.

Back on the main island, I took a beer stop at a local cafe, and later that night found myself in a music bar that played right into the Swedish metal culture; the menu was printed on an old vinyl record and whiskey was piled atop some Marshall amplifiers behind the bar. I’m told that metal music is so popular in Sweden because people there otherwise leave very peaceful and idyllic lives, so who can blame for wanting to let off some steam and rage? And in another staple of Sweden, the next day I would stumble into a small Ikea showroom.

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One of the many waterways at Stockholm.

My last full day, March 15, was very windy. Braving the chill, I took a morning jog and explored more of the residential area around my hostel. I also walked through a subway station out of curiosity, noticing that the concourse had a number of retail shops built into it (again, a common feature throughout Europe). A small grocery store was nearly out of toilet paper, a funny parallel from news back home. And at one of the city’s many ferry landings in a small harbor, I found another reminder of Seattle: A piled of crusty shared bikes and scooters pulled out of the water. I also walked through a flea market, with offerings ranging from menorahs to Super Nintendos. That night, I dined at a small cozy place and ate a fancy version of bangers and mash, reminding me of one of my first meals in London two weeks earlier in the trip.

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Final train of the trip, heading to Stockholm’s airport.

By 3:30 the next morning, I was on a train platform headed for the airport. It turned out being three hours early for this flight was excessive, the airport being nearly empty when I arrived. Compared to Oslo, price and navigation to the Stockholm airport were a breeze. And while I was sleepy, I could appreciate that the airport station was stunning, underground and showing off bare bedrock all around.

Stepping onto the plane, I bid farewell to Europe and hoped to be back again another day.

Epilogue

I had a long layover at London’s Heathrow, giving me some time to explore it this time around. The passengers on my flight then boarded the plane via buses that took us out to the tarmac, which was the first time I had experienced that process. I was excited to finally fly a 747, the queen of the skies, though of course with my budget I sat in the second to last row of the plane without much of a view. I chatted with some of my fellow passengers, which included Americans who were leaving Europe because of the coronavirus concern. Looking back, I remember this was still a time before we started wearing masks on planes, trains, or anywhere else.

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A makeshift screening center set up at Chicago O’Hare.

I landed at Chicago’s O’Hare airport nine hours later, and went through a screening process with staff from the Centers for Disease Control and the Chicago Fire Department. My body temperature was read and I filled out a health declaration confirming I had no virus symptoms.

In hindsight, I should have caught the flight from London directly to Seattle. But I did eventually make it back home via one final leg on American Airlines (and of course, to top it off, I booked what was described as a window seat that had no window).

Arriving back in Seattle, a strange mood had certainly settled in over the city. I was overjoyed to see my partner again, but there was some awkwardness over keeping distance due to my potential for infection. During my absence, what was being called a lockdown had been ordered and my employer had ordered all staff to work from home. It would be several days before I was able to get a computer and re-insert myself into a daily routine.

Parting Thoughts

Even if the trip was cut short, I had a wonderful time in Europe and found it to be a fascinating place. The cities and landscapes are beautiful and can be endlessly explored. As readers will have noticed throughout, I was also fascinated by the continent’s approach to urbanism: compact, walkable, vibrant, transit-rich, and people-first. It’s interesting that Americans love to visit these cities and towns and spend money there, and then return home to suburbia to complain when parking spots are removed for bike lanes or when apartments are proposed in their neighborhood.

As COVID-19 finally seems to ebb and with safe practices now established, I anticipate attempting the same wild itinerary in March 2023. On the next round I may substitute some destinations (e.g. Utrecht instead of Amsterdam; Finland instead of Sweden), but still have the same goals of skiing, riding as many trains as possible, and eating my way through the Mediterranean.

With that, thank you coming on this journey with me, and I wish you safe travels wherever they may take you.

Scott Bonjukian

P.S. I have dropped some tips and tricks throughout this series. To summarize for future travelers, here they are collected:

  • Book hostels and train tickets on a single service like hostelworld.com and omio.com. These websites are very easy to use and provide consistent information. It is also helpful to deal with only a single provider in the case of travel changes or refunds.
  • Take trains everywhere – both for the intercity trips where you might otherwise fly, and for the local trips. They’re fast, show up frequently, and are surprisingly affordable.
  • When booking hostels with shared rooms across a long trip, give yourself a private room every few days. This may mostly apply to solo-traveling introverts. It’s a great stress reliever to relax, refresh, and spread out in your own space.
  • Hostels vary in amenities. I found it helpful to book hostels with laundry facilities and complementary breakfast every few days.
  • The U.S. State Department guidance and map for country-specific advisories is helpful, if conservative. You can also sign up for country-specific embassy email news.
  • Research your international cell phone service options well in advance. I was not entirely satisfied with a France-based company called Orange, where I purchased a European phone number and SIM card and later had unexpected charges. I might have been able to get away with only using a Google Voice number for calling and texting. A key need is access to maps, transit, and restaurant information when you’re out of wi-fi range.
  • I got along fine being an English-only speaker, as nearly everyone I encountered speaks it fluently and most signs have it. The most trouble I had was in France, where restaurant servers seemed uninterested in speaking it. Spend enough time in Europe, and you’ll also start to recognize similarities between various written languages on menus and maps that help aid your journey. Nonetheless, I kept a little translation book handy and tried out local phrases when it felt appropriate (especially outside the main tourist areas).
  • Bring lots of cash. It’s surprisingly handy for transit tickets, small souvenirs, paid restrooms, and restaurants that may operate cash-only. Tipping is not the norm.
  • Bringing a paper copy of every reservation and ticket may have been overkill, but it did give me peace of mind. It is recommended to bring a printout of critical information like a copy of your passport, itinerary, and emergency phone numbers (including U.S. embassies). Put printouts in a plastic sleeve. I also brought backups of everything digitally (PDF files) on my smartphone and on a flash drive.
  • If you’re backpacking like I did, carefully plan your clothing choices. I selected some outdoor/adventure style socks, underwear, and shirts that in theory didn’t need to be washed every day, but I did laundry as frequently as I could. Extra socks are essential during the winter/rainy season. I wish I had brought at least one nice button-up shirt for dining out.
  • Shoes take up a lot of space for backpackers – I ended up only bringing one pair, my running shoes, which also work great all of the walking you’ll do. It was also helpful to go for a run every day to keep up my exercise and cover more ground in scouting my surroundings.
  • For backpackers, stash your big pack in a locker at the hostel during the day (good ones should have those; bring your own lock) and use a small stuffable pack with your essentials for bopping around town. Taking a load off enabled me to explore farther. The small pack is also what I kept at my seat during plane and train trips.

Cheers!

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An Urban Eurotrip: Part 2

This is a multi-part series. See the others here: Part 1 and Part 3.

Brussels

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I knew next to nothing about Brussels, apart from the fact that is the capital of Belgium, where a friend of mine is from. Upon arrival I discovered that most public signage is in Dutch, which is much harder to muddle through than French. But I was able to eventually make a connection to the local streetcar system and get to my next hostel. Along the way I noted the mix of architectural styles and seemingly random building heights.

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An Urban Eurotrip: Part 1

One year ago today I woke up at 3am and boarded a plane at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, reluctantly evacuating myself from the closing jaws of European borders. I was just 15 days into a planned 30-day continental tour, the adventure of a lifetime, when a terribly timed pandemic cut the trip short. As we hit the one-year mark of the COVID-19 era, I finally feel up to writing about my trip and casual observations on European urban design and planning.

There’s a lot to share, so I’m breaking this post into several parts. This is Part 1, which goes through the first six days of the adventure including London, Paris, Normandy, and Brussels. Part 2 will take us to my five days in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. Part 3 ends with the final four days in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, and my return trip home.

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CascadiaCast Episode 9: Laura Goodfellow

This episode of CascadiaCast is with Laura Goodfellow. A runner since middle school, she started combining her workouts with transit routes when she moved to Seattle and took advantage of citywide and regional connections. With marathon training, most of her runs are six to eight miles but often reach into double digits. She has started attending Seattle’s pedestrian and transit advisory board meetings to get the inside scoop on local projects.

“What makes it fun is I don’t have to take long, expensive vacations to faraway places because a weekend feels like a mini-vacation,” Laura says. “I go on this running adventure to Vashon Island, to Bainbridge, or to Gig Harbor.”

We talk about the urban marathon circuit, pedestrian safety, the state of Seattle transit, King County’s new Trailhead Direct service, and multimodal funding constraints. While it’s easy to get lost in project details, Laura says, “What’s important to me is pushing the shift of seeing transit as desirable.” For example, “To get from a meetup, people would offer me a ride home…they thought, ‘that poor girl, she has to ride the bus home’. I know it’s very generous of them, it comes from a place of kindness. But it also reflects that our society sees transit as an undesirable last resort.”

Follow Laura on Twitter and check out the Seattle Transit-Oriented Runners group on Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup.com. She was also recently profiled in a blog post by Sound Transit.

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CascadiaCast Episode 8: Hunter Bevis

This episode of CascadiaCast is uniquely co-hosted with Hunter Bevis, my older brother and producer of the aviation podcast Time In Flight. By coincidence, for both of our podcasts this is episode eight!

Hunter spent his formative years in North Bend, Washington and now resides in Pasadena, Maryland. He recently made a career change from consulting to flight instructing. We both recently acquired our commercial drone pilot licenses, leading to a great discussion on why I chose this route to expand my skill set. We also talk about recent changes in the unmanned aircraft industry and the regulatory environment. We cover drone applications for urban planning, potential safety and sky clutter impacts as drones become more widespread, and the relationship with manned aircraft.

We also touch on my own passion project of lidding I-5 and Hunter’s perspective on how rapidly cities are changing and facing affordability crises.

Visit the Time in Flight website and Instagram page for more on the world of aviation and Hunter’s daily adventures of in the life of a flight instructor.

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Public Risks Being Left Behind as Downtown Seattle Land Runs Out

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
– Mark Twain

As Seattle’s development boom continues without any sign of stopping, the city is rapidly approaching a point where Downtown is completely built out and there is no land left to build on. In many ways this is a desirable situation. Urban density has clearly documented benefits for environmental sustainability, economic vitality, and public health. However, as Downtown sees more jobs and residents arrive, decades of sluggish planning are catching up and exposing voids in important public infrastructure and services. Downtown’s housing stock grew 127 percent between 1996 and 2015, now totaling over 24,000 homes, but residents have not been supported by parallel growth rates in capital facilities like schools and parks.

Downtown – and more broadly the Center City – is the thriving cultural and economic hub of the region. It encompasses and borders a variety of high-density, mixed-income, and diverse residential neighborhoods like the International District, First Hill, and Belltown. It is home to important institutions, entertainment venues, and social services used by people from across the region and state. Because Downtown affects the health and success of so many people and places it must become a more complete neighborhood.

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The Benefits of Living Car-Free

I am often met with awestruck wonder when people learn I don’t have a car. After all, driving everywhere is the American way. There are too many explanations to keep a good party conversation going, so it boils down to cost and abundance of transportation options. But I don’t get too far before I’m assured I’ll buy a car eventually or I’m declared to be a quixotic car-hating lunatic.

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Redesign the U District / Wallingford I-5 Scar on September 16

Have you been looking for a way to get directly involved with the Lid I-5 movement? Now is your chance!

Join us on Saturday, September 16, for a design charrette focused on the segment of Interstate 5 dividing Wallingford and the University District. At this free public event we’ll build a vision for reconnecting these two neighborhoods which have been divided by the Interstate 5 freeway for more than half a century.

Community ideas–that is, your ideas–are needed to help broaden the conversation and build public support for this important campaign. Pedestrian links and lids for parks and affordable housing are expected to be popular concepts in a rapidly growing area that recently underwent a major upzone and is expecting a new light rail station in 2021.

The event will include a brief presentation on the origins and goals of the Lid I-5 community effort, along with a summary of two previous charrettes focused in the downtown area. Participants will be divided into small teams to identify problems caused by the freeway and develop design solutions.

Here are the details:

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Saturday, September 16
12:30 PM – 4:30
University Christian Church, 4731 15th Avenue NE
Facebook page to share (optional)

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CascadiaCast Episode 7: Laura Bernstein

On this episode of CascadiaCast I had a wonderful conversation with Laura Loe (Bernstein), a queer educator, musician, and gardener from Colombia, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago who has lived in Seattle since 2009. As an advocate for fair housing policies, she adapted the YIMBY (yes in my backyard) movement to Seattle and has more recently taken on the YIOBY (yes in our backyards) perspective.

Laura came to Seattle as a musician and a science teacher, and got involved in local politics during the 2015 City Council race as a campaign manager. She discovered significant barriers to getting engaged in government decisions on land use, and found herself jumping headfirst into housing advocacy citywide.

She attributes the Seattle YIMBY movement’s success to Washington’s Growth Management Act, which sets a framework for concentrated growth, and the region’s light rail expansion stimulating conversations about high density development. We also dive into why certain housing messages are effective (for instance, emotions win out over data) and the tension between free market and social justice urbanists.

In 2017 she was elected to Sierra Club’s Washington State Chapter Executive Committee and also serves on the Seattle Group Executive Committee.

She receives half of her income through the generous support of individual patrons. Women urbanists are welcome to join her Facebook group intersectional densinistas (#yimby #yioby #seattle) to discuss the future of growing cities. Follow her on Twitter @YIMBYsea. And catch her keynote speech at the YIMBYtown 2017 conference!

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Seattle Primary 2017: Vote Farrell for Mayor, Mosqueda for Council

With crowded races in two important Seattle city elections this year, The Northwest Urbanist is weighing in with endorsements for the first time. Ballots for the August 1st primary are in your mailbox this week, so make sure to research the candidates and vote!

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