Green Lake Residential Urban Village: A Transit Void?

The Green Lake Residential Urban Village has seen some substantial growth over the past 15 years. We’ve seen multiple blocks torn down and built back up again. Albertsons is gone, but we have a PCC and Bartell Drugs now (many consider that an upgrade.) Parking has never been plentiful. We now have less of it, but the city is making clear that parking isn’t a priority.

What city officials have said on many occasions is “With greater density comes greater transit.” There’s been a few dozen versions of that, but they make the same point. The neighborhood becomes denser, parking goes away, the need for cars goes away and that’s supplanted by walkability and transit.

The challenge is, city officials aren’t in charge of transit, King County is. Over these past 15 years of substantial growth, we haven’t seen an increase in transit. Some will say it’s worse than it was a couple years ago, some will note that some busses are now 12 minutes apart instead of 15.

Getting from Green Lake Urban Village to Downtown

Is the Green Lake Residential Urban Village a Transit Void? The Transit Score map paints a picture.

These are the default settings and show areas that have a 30 minute or less travel time.

Even with its close proximity to I-5 and designation as an Urban Village, somehow Green Lake doesn’t have rapid transit options like areas to the north, east, south or west. This, in itself, doesn’t look that drastic.

When you look at the city as a whole, and neighboring cities, the gap in transit is more visible. Lake City and areas of South Seattle have quicker access to downtown. Areas of neighboring cities like Kenmore, Shoreline, Kirkland and Bellevue also have better options – even with twice as far to travel and not positioned near a major freeway. While the rapid trip over I-90 is understandable, the gap surrounding an Urban Village is even more pronounced.

Maybe Green Lake doesn’t have the people, or the growth, to rise to the level of needing the transit options that other neighborhoods and cities have.

Has Green Lake been growing?

It feels like it has, but let’s look at the data and compare it to surrounding neighborhoods with better transit options. There’s many ways to measure growth. When thinking about bus stop positioning and their ability to serve the community, the number of units in a given area is a fair approach.

These are new units in each Urban Village since 2006. Clearly Green Lake is growing and clearly at a much faster rate than the surrounding Urban Villages.

Maybe Green Lake is below expectations in growth?

The 2005-2024 growth target was 250 units. We’re 12 years in, and maybe with six years to go if we weren’t near the 167 mark the neighborhood could seem to be missing the target. As of September of 2017, where are we at?

845 new units – nearly 340% of our 2024 target. We met the target in 2011 – 13 years ahead of schedule.

So growth can’t be the issue. Maybe the Green Lake Urban Village has grown significantly, but it still doesn’t have that much density.

How dense are these neighborhoods?

As of Sept 30, 2017, Green Lake Urban Village is by far the most dense Urban Village in the area.

To be fair

I’m not a transit engineer. I have not inspected the Transit Score code and algorithms to verify it’s accurate. There are plenty of presumably smart, analytical, cautious, kind and thoughtful people working daily to make transit the best they can with the resources they have.

I do think 45 minutes for a commute downtown is too long. Some who live 35+ miles north can get to their jobs downtown in under an hour. Traveling at off-peak times results in slower busses and longer routes and it often takes over an hour.

What does it take to get better transit? At what point do we give up on the concept of “with greater density comes greater transit”?

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