There’s an on-ramp to the Seattle I-5 express lanes on the South end of the City. For many workers in that area, it would take them only a few minutes to get their cars from their parking spots to the highway, if I were allowed to use it.
Unfortunately, the City of Seattle decided that the express lane on-ramp on 5th and Columbia is only for HOVs (high occupancy vehicles), or car pool cars.
On the surface, I understand the rationale. They want to incentivize people to ride together. They want to cut down on traffic in the downtown portion of Seattle and prevent long lines of cars from forming around the on-ramps.
However, as is often the case with progressive thinking, there was a gap between their intentions and the realities of human behavior.
Instead of driving two blocks to get into the express lanes going North, where one would most likely drive a steady speed for nearly 10 miles – from Seattle to the local bedroom communities, those commuters have to drive down 4th Avenue, through downtown, and then cut over to Howell for another 10 blocks until they can reach the express lane entrance there.
Naturally, the put an exclamation point on this by ripping out lanes in and around downtown to add unused bike lanes.
So, instead of protecting the environment by letting drivers get right on the highway to drive a consistent, miles per gallon speed (which is better for the environment), they now have to drive in heavy traffic in which they’re starting and stopping constantly – when they’re not sitting at a light idling.
And we’re not even talking about bike and pedestrian safety.
It seems to me they would have been better off allowing anyone to enter the express lanes in the heart of downtown. My guess is it might actually be better for the environment than what they’re doing now.