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SunBreak: Will U-Link ‘flatten’ Captiol Hill for people on bikes?

Since the opening of Beacon Hill Station, many people who ride bikes have figured out that for a couple bucks, Link Light Rail will make one of Seattle’s mightiest hills disappear. Just hop on at Pioneer Square Station and two stops and an elevator later you are at the top of the hill.

Michael van Baker at the SunBreak asks: Will University Link do the same to Capitol Hill?

From the SunBreak:

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But it was on the ride back that we really had an epiphany as to how things would change when University Link light rail goes into operation, fall-ish of 2016. Capitol Hill cyclists, in particular, understand what Portland cyclist Elly Blue was referring to when she wanted to know how Seattle bikers dealt with our “monstrous inclines.” No matter where you go, off the Hill, it’s waiting for you on your way back. At the end of 40 miles, it can be a little disheartening.

As it happens, though, if you’re headed up Interlaken (which, still steep, is at least scenic and less car-frequented), you pop off the Burke-Gilman right by the future University Link light rail station. Once that opens, poof, no hill. It’s almost Buddhist. On Sunday, we waited for the 43 bus, and its front-end bike rack, but the drawback to that made itself clear when the bus hove into view, and we could see a bike already on the rack. Luckily, it was a 3-bike rack, so we still fit. But light rail will have the capacity to shuttle many more cyclists around than buses ever will.

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12 responses to “SunBreak: Will U-Link ‘flatten’ Captiol Hill for people on bikes?”

  1. Devin

    You know, the point that this would be great after a long ride is a good one, but I hope it doesn’t completely flatten the hill. The more people on bikes going up the hill, the more appealing it looks.

    If you see a steady stream of folks riding up Pine (which you do from 4-7 ish) or even riding up the backside of the Hill on Union, it makes the climb seem more bearable. “If they can do it, so can I!” After a week or so of riding up the hill, most folks can get up with relatively no trouble and as people said to Elly Blue: It feels awesome to get to the top of a hill. You feel so accomplished, and the views are fantastic!

    I think Link will help bring folks to the hill and for that reason a bixi station or two at CH Station would be super useful. In any case, with the new bike infrastructure on Broadway plenty of folks will finding themselves riding on the hill on way or another. It’s quite exciting. Oh, especially if the 520 trail does link up to Capitol Hill, we’ll potentially be in the center of the city’s cycling driven (heh, bad puns) economy.

    The biggest thing to do, I think, will be to educate the public on cycling etiquette. (I still see people bike rack hording, running stop signs, and not wearing helmets. I am sure they are new cyclists, and basically there just needs to be outreach to educate them on doing what’s best for their safety and the community as a whole. -one person breaking the rules makes us all look bad-).

    1. Shane Phillips

      Personally, I never felt like I got completely used to Capitol Hill, either riding up Pike or up 10th from UW. When I go ride the Burke-Gilman, I always stop at UW Medical Center to catch the bus back up, and Link will make it that much easier. Sure, sometimes people like to feel accomplished about a tough ride, but for me biking is more about utility. Ideally, my commute by bike would be easy enough that I don’t have to get sweaty in either direction, and if I want a tougher ride for health and/or relaxation reasons (which I often do), I’ll go for something a bit more adventurous.

  2. melinda

    Eventually, some of these folks will be like “meh, I don’t feel like paying the $2.50 and waiting for the train. Maybe I can get up the hill myself!”

    And until they do, they can still bike to Capitol Hill. Sounds good to me!

  3. Gary

    “you won’t need rain gear…” Well that’s sort of true. But if you ride to Woodinville you might be waiting until 2040 for a Light Rail ride home.

    I use the ST bus system as a back up. And a friend of mine when he was first starting to commute used the #8 to climb Capitol Hill. Now that he’s in shape we both shun the bus as being better than walking but only used in the case of a mechanical failure. When you count the time between buses vs just riding, thigh busting hills or not, riding wins. That and some decent gears. A compact Double (30 x 48 with a 13 – 27 rear will conquer just about any grade around here.

    1. Todd

      I do the mixed commute thing myself. I don’t understand the purist line of thinking. There’s no better deal in the area than a bike and public transportation. None. A bus or train serves the purpose of those hard core greenies out there.

      1. Gary

        “purist line of thinking.”

        It takes 1hr to ride a bike to the nearest P&R (3 mile ride), wait on average 10 minutes, ride the bus for 20 minutes, the ride the mile to work. Total time 1hr. “sort of” need a shower.

        Ride all the way 1.25hr Thus for an extra 30 minutes/day I get 2.5 hrs of exercise vs 1 hr of exercise in 2hrs of commute. And I’ve lost 10lbs of fat, my blood pressure is 125/70 resting pulse 52. And I find that the ride reduces my stress level both at work and at home.

        And if there is a Mariners game, or an accident, the mixed bus ride home can be the same amount of time.

      2. Todd

        Yeah, I didn’t mean that “purist line of thinking” towards you Gary. It was directed at the context of Tom’s article.

      3. Todd

        Oh and riding is where it’s at. I’m simply stating that if somebody looks down on a biker because they throw it on a bus from time to time, then they can jam it. I still say I rode more miles last year than most of the people on this site, and I still throw my bike on a bus.

  4. merlin

    I understand some people here in Seattle even ride up the Counterbalance – and that’s a hill that won’t be flattened any time soon!

  5. Todd

    Why is this a concern? I don’t get it. Who the hell cares?

  6. Pat Hirayama

    That’s actually three stops from Pioneer Square station. It’d be two stops from International District station.

    1. Joe

      Well, it’s really two from Stadium. Two from ID is SODO. (Most of my bus and train rides include a bike, but most of my bike rides do not inlcude a bus or train.)

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