Transit’s missing link: The public toilet

Kitsap Transit’s sparkling new North Viking Transit Center fails to serve their regular customer who is on a short “bladder leash”.  Unless they are able to “hold it” for nearly two hours, riders transiting between the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal and Port Townsend are out of luck.  This is a classic illustration of how the public toilet is so often the missing link in the success of a transit system.

UPDATE Thanks to rider pushback, Kitsap Transit placed a portapotty at the new North Viking Transit Center on March 9, 2017.  While making it possible for many more passengers to use the service, this does not excuse the lack of provision of a proper public restroom in the first place.

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Kitsap Transit bus 90 meets Jefferson Transit Line 7 at the new North Viking Transit Center.

Why has this suddenly become an issue?  In late 2016, Kitsap Transit opened a large Park and Ride facility in the middle of nowhere.  This replaced a more modest bus platform where the passengers transferred between Kitsap Bus 90 and Jefferson Transit’s #7. It was served by a simple portapotty used by both drivers and passengers alike.  Moreover, it was near restaurants and shops where riders could shelter in the event of a major transit disruption.

No expense has been spared on the new North Viking Transit Center. Except on the restroom that is.  A sweeping pavilion accommodates four full size buses at once. It’s surrounded by a huge parking lot equipped with numerous spaces with outlets for electrical vehicles. An ample number of spaces serve disabled drivers, including those who need additional room to exit their vehicles. (See photos at end of post.)

The pavilion is festooned with attractive welcome banners in four languages and large easy-to-read digital clocks.  Current transit schedules are posted.  Architects clearly paid attention to CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design); there are clean sightlines and windowed walls. While there are no corners where an unsuspecting customer can be trapped,  there is likewise no shelter from winter winds.

Fruit trees have been planted around the property to symbolize the “commitment to being part of the solid roots that Kitsap Transit has within the community that we serve now and for years to come.” Expensive, solar powered Big Belly trash compactors manage the solid waste that riders generate but there is no provision for human waste or for human dignity.

According to Kitsap Transit Customer Service specialist Trudy Stacy, “The decision not to have public restrooms available at our new North Viking Transit Center and Park & Ride was one made by our Board of Directors.  It costs so much in staff and labor to properly maintain and keep them safe and secure, that they opted not to do that at this facility.”  She added however, that the decision was being reconsidered.

Now is the time to let Kitsap Transit know the discomfort and humiliation that their lack of a restroom causes regular commuters, to say nothing of the visitors-without-cars that Port Townsend would like to attract.

It’s also important to get the support of Jefferson Transit’s board as it’s their early morning commuters to Seattle that suffer the most.  Jefferson Transit is now a better ally because they have finally put a porty potty at Haines Park and Ride.  The preferred option would be a separate entrance in their customer service building, but the porta potty is a start.

Here’s what we can do:

  1. Speak out to Kitsap Transit.  Go on line here and express your dismay at the lack of a restroom or simply send Ms Stacy an email or ring her at 360-475-0824. Emphasize the the discomfort and anger riders feel as they wait in the cold and watch drivers walk away for breaks in the warmth and comfort of the restoom-equipped Kitsap Transit headquarters
  2. Write to the Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners and attend a twice-monthly Tuesday meeting.  The Clerk of the Board is Jill Boltz, available at 360-478-6230 or via email.
  3. Write members of the Kitsap Transit Citizens Advisory Committee and attend one of their monthly meetings.  Read manual Transit 101 for the CAC.
  4. Get the support of the Jefferson Transit Authority Board. Monthly meetings are on third Tuesdays at 1:30pm.
  5. To support local transportation goals and the Jefferson County climate action plan, get the City of Port Townsend, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worden PDA, the Historical Society, the Marine Science Center, and all of the festivals organizers to tell prospective visitors the options for getting to PT by public means.
  6. Bring attention to the car-centric directions on websites of these local players, make the case for change and provide the necessary information so they can make information available.
  7. Ask Enjoy PT to target the growing audiences in Seattle, Victoria, Portland and Vancouver that do not own cars or prefer not to drive them. Invite them to use transit and other means and tell them how.
  8. Think in terms of increasing demand first and letting supply follow.
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Riders must wait in outside in the cold while the driver of Jefferson Transit Bus 7 takes a break in the warmth of the nearby restroom-equipped Kitsap Transit headquarters.

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Drivers’ bathroom is in Kitsap Transit’s headquarters building,  which is off limits to riders.

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Mean

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Solar powered Big Belly solid waste compactors mix trash and recyclables.

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Attractive banners welcome riders in several languages.

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Drivers of electric vehicles are accommodated at the bus bay platform.

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Multiple spots serve handicapped drivers. Note extra space for vans with lifts and ramps.

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Kitsap Transit may be committed to sustainability and fruit trees                               but what about the comfort and health of their customers?

Between Seattle and Port Townsend on Transit, Scooter and Bike

Introduction Jack and I own a car that hardly ever leaves the garage.  I get around Port Townsend on my bike and Jack on his scooter, Segway or tadpole trike.  Every summer, we cruise up the Inside Passage on our sailboat, with bike and scooter on board for shore visits. For trips to our favorite cities – Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Victoria – we go multi modal. Busses, ferries, and light rail all link up to get us where we need to go. We can enjoy the scenery, read, work or relax.  We end up in the thick of the city, without needing to find parking and without spewing CO2.

We’re documenting our itineraries so others can enjoy the ride.  Since there are a lot of people in Vancouver, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver who use bikes and wheelchairs, we want to show them how they can visit Port Townsend without a car.

Seattle to Port Townsend in a Nutshell

Traveling to Port Townsend from Seattle? Go multi modal! Busses, ferries, and light rail all link up to get you into the heart of our town without a car. Come by wheelchair or on foot.

ORCA – One Regional Card for All   Let’s start our trip in Seattle, where a number of public transit offering have appeared in the last two decades.  King County Metro brings together an enormous  bus network that connects with Link light rail,  the Seattle Streetcar, and Sounder trains.

360px-orca_card_logo-svgThanks to ORCA cards, riders no longer have to fumble with bills and coins to come up with the right fare.  On busses, trains and the ferry, the ORCA card works like cash or a pass, automatically tracking your fares and transfers. Fare can be added at machines  in transit centers, at participating retailers, or online after you register your card and get a login.

There are several ways to get an ORCA card. You can buy one at a ticket vending machine, from a participating retailer or online.  If you want a youth card (ages 6-18) or a senior card (65+),  however, you have to purchase it by mail or in person and show proof of age.

360px-orca_cardSeniors and people with disabilities are eligible for the reduced regional fare permit (RRFP).  If you have a disability, ORCA RRFP cards are only available at customer service centers as you must show proof of disability and have your photo taken.  Eligibility criteria are outlined here.  ORCA Cards for seniors and people with disabilities never need to be renewed.

To use your ORCA card, you “tap to ride.”  ORCA card readers are located at the entry to buses, on the right side of ferry turnstiles and near the elevators that go up or down to Link rail platforms.  You lay your card against the ORCA logo with the stylized killer whale until you hear a beep or see a green light and your fare on the screen.  The amount of remaining fare also appears.  All card readers work the same way.  If you try to swipe or insert the card, it won’t work as this one-minute video shows.

Since rides on Link Light rail are based on distance traveled, you need to tap your card at both the station where you board and the station where you get off.  Fare enforecement officials frequently board trains, so be sure you tap to ride before you get on.  And to avoid running up a very large fare, tap again at your destination.

Navigating around Seattle  Moving around Seattle through traffic, up and down hills and over bridges takes planning.  Here are some maps and tools to help you plan your trip.

Bike maps for Seattle are on the Department of Transportation website.  Here’s the edition of the same map that works on a mobile phone.  , You can also download the map in pdf here. To request a free copy of the map sent by mail order it online here or call the Cascade Bicycle Club at (206) 522-3222. Commute Seattle has additional resources for cyclists including an interactive bike map that shows bike parking and other cycling amenities.

If you’re moving on a scooter or in a wheelchair here are some more tools.   Start with
King County Transit Accessible Services.  Note that Metro offers Transit Instruction to individuals with  cognitive, emotional, and physical Disabilities, students with Individualized Educational Plans, and all senior citizens.
Also useful is Wheelchair Travels’ Seattle Wheelchair Accessible Guide and Wheelchair Jimmy’s reviews of accessible attractions and hotels.

Do you want to know about the latest transits apps for Seattle and the region.  King County Metro has reviews of 14 free apps and download info for 10 mobile phone apps at its App Center.

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Space for wheelchairs and scooters is mid-car next to fold-up seats.

Riding Link Light Rail  Link light rail currently serves 16 stations along a north south route from the airport at SeaTac to the University of Washington.

When a train pulls up all door open to permit boarding.  If you’re using a wheelchair or scooter, you should board first. Cars are roll on roll off; no ramp needs to be activated.

You may enter any door, although spaces for wheelchairs, scooters and strollers tend to be near the middle of each car. If people are seated in the reserved area, ask them to kindly move from the bank of three fold-up seats. Trains have no straps to secure wheelchairs so be sure your breaks are on and hold on to the bar attached to the underside of the folded up seats.

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Bikes hang in nooks near ends of car.

If you’re board with your bike, you’ll find nooks to hang bicycles near the ends of the car.  Link trains  also serve the airport, and luggage is accommodated in the bicycle space on a first come, first served basis.

If you cannot safely hang your bike,  stand with it near one of the doors, taking care to move out of the way when other riders exit.  There should be no more than four bicycles per car.

Single-seat, two-wheeled, standard-size bikes, including electric bikes, are permitted. Tandems, family bikes and oversized and cargo bikes are not. If you have a folding bicycle stow it near your seat

During rush hour consider leaving your bike on the racks at the station.

Taking Metro Buses  To load your bike on a Metro bus, alert the driver before stepping off the curb and be sure the driver acknowledges your desire to load. Remove any accessories or panniers that might fall off enroute. Squeeze the rack handle upwards to release the folded bike rack. Note that the label on each rack shows the direction of the front wheel.  Lift your bike and fit wheels into the slots. If the outside slot is vacant, load your bike there.  To secure your bike, push in the black knob at the end of the support arm. Pull the support arm all the way out and over the top of the front wheel releasing it as close as possible to the bicycle’s frame.

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Signal the driver before loading and securing your bike in outermost slots on rack.

If you’re moving from light rail to bus in the Seattle Transit Tunnel be mindful of several other instructions.

  • Wait with your bike at the bus bay sign.  If your bus is second in line, signal the driver of the second bus after the first bus leaves, then walk to the bus to load your bike. The second bus in line does not have to stop again at the head of the bay. If your bus is third in line, wait at the bus bay sign and alert the operator as the bus approaches.
  • Load your bike only after the bus driver has stopped the bus, opened the door and acknowledged your desire to load.
  • Be aware that most curbs are 14 inches and do not lose your balance stepping down. Also be careful to not hit your head on bus mirrors.
  • After unloading your bike, step up on the curb and let the driver know all is clear.

Getting to the Ferry Terminal on the Waterfront  If you’re on Link Light Rail, get off at Pioneer Square and  If you’re on a bus on 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Avenues overlooking Puget Sound, get off near Marion Street.   Whether walking, rolling and biking to the terminal, the slope on which downtown Seattle meets its waterfront and current construction there can make this a difficult connection

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From bus or light rail, the Marion Street Walkway is the safest way to the Ferry Terminal.

To avoid steep hills, Alaskan Way traffic and waterfront construction use the Marion St Pedestrian Bridge and Walkway.  It takes you directly from 1st Avenue to the Ferry Terminal.

Cyclists and wheelers heading toward the ferry from Pike Place Market may want to take the elevator down to the waterfront near the Seattle Aquarium, cross Western Avenue and Alaskan Way and take the sidewalk to the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal.

Sailings with the best connections for Port Townsend.  Ferry sailings from Seattle at 6:10am, 9:35am, 3:00pm, 3:45pm and 5:30pm have the best connections for Port Townsend.   Connector schedules for Kitsap and Jefferson transit are in this downloadable leaflet. (See schedules effectve Dec 5, 2016)

Fares for cyclists, wheelers and walk-on passengers are round trip; no fares are collected on the Bainbridge-Seattle return. Current fares are here.

Boarding the Ferry by bicycle.  If you’re walking your bike on the Marion Street Walkway, turn left just before the terminal building, take the elevator down to street level, continue a half block south, and join the right hand lane where cars enter the terminal area.  Stay in the lane to the right of the toll booths. Swipe your ORCA card on the card reader on your right opposite the toll booth. If you don’t have a card, purchase a ticket at the booth.  Note the $1.00 bicycle surcharge.

Bikes line up next to motorcycles between lines of cars at the Seattle Ferry Terminal. Cyclists are first on and first off the ferry, making bike commuting especially efficient in terms of time.  When the attendant gives the call, ride onto the ferry and go straight to the front of the ferry on either the lower or upper car level.  Park your bike against one of the railings. There’s no need to lock it when you got up to the passenger deck to join other passengers for the view.

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Cyclists line up  between cars and motorcycles on street level below the terminal building.

About five minutes before the ferry arrives in Bainbridge, there’s an announcements asking passengers to return to cars and bicycles.  Be ready to ride off as soon as the ferry docks.

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Preparing to disembark, cyclists gather at the front and on the side ramps.

Ferry boarding for passengers, including wheelchair users.  Enter the Coleman Dock Ferry Terminal and look for the Bainbridge ferry on the right.  The one one the left goes to Bremerton. Around the central ticket booth are restaurants, shops, restrooms, and seating.  Windows allow you to enjoy the view and see arriving passengers disembark.

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Use ticket or ORCA card to board ferry.  Note wide turnstyle for wheelchairs at right.

Take Kitsap Transit Bus #90 to Poulsbo. The Kitsap Transit bus by is right outside of the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal.  Wheelchair and scooters riders exit directly from the passenger deck. You can either go through the terminal waiting room or stay on the sidewalk that leads to the busses. Cyclists ride can right into the bus bay or walk bikes along sidewalk.

Find Bus #90 for Poulsbo. The signs on newer buses flash both Poulsbo and Jeff Transit.

Before boarding, signal your intentions to the driver. At the appropriate time, the driver will lower the bus, so the ramp can be deployed and bikes can be loaded more easily. It’s necessary to move out of the way when the ramp is deployed.

Load your bike like this:  First, lower the rack by squeezing the handle. Next, lift the bike and place the wheels into the slot. Then lift the hook over the front wheel and board the bus.   On arrival repeat the process in reverse. Lower the hook, lift your bike out, and squeeze the handle to return the rack into the upright position.  Before making these moves communicate with the driver and try to move out of the way of the busy fairly quickly.

KPT – Bike Rack v3 from Kitsap Transit on Vimeo.

Pay your fare by tapping your ORCA card on the cardreader to the left of the entry or insert exact change in the box on the right. Normally you’ll get a transfer as proof of payment.  Let the driver know you’re going to Port Townsend so they can tell the Jefferson Transit driver to wait.

Catch Jefferson Transit Bus #7 to Port Townsend.  Jefferson Transit’s bus #7 for Port Townsend pulls up to transit center platform right where you got off the the #90 or #33 from Poulsbo. There are a couple of bus shelters plus a porta potty that is not wheelchair accessible.  There is a Mexican restaurant about 200 feet behind the transit center.

UPDATE: As of January 2017, the new North Viking Transit Center has replaced the former stop on the side of the road.  The new location does not have a restroom or a portapotty. 

UPDATE:  Following rider pushback, Kitsap Transit placed a wheelchair accessible porta potty at the North Viking Transit Center.  See Transit’s Missing Link: The Public Toilet.

Like Kitsap Transit buses,  Jefferson Transit buses are equipped with wheelchair ramps and bike rack with similar instructions for loading.  What is doesn’t have is an ORCA card reader. It’s old style: you put the correct fare into the fare box.  That’s $2 because this bus crosses a county line. Should you not have change, it’s likely you’ll just be asked to pay up  later.

Once this bus crosses the Hood Canal floating bridge to Jefferson County, it serves a number of rural communities. At night and before dawn drivers may ask cyclists to bring bikes into the bus, rather than place them on the rack. This permits them to more easily see riders who wait along the route and use flashlights to signal their desire to board.

Should you be traveling with a group of cyclists, drivers may accommodate up to five bikes inside the bus. Since this assumes space is available, it’s best to check with Jefferson Transit ahead of time. You can reach Customer Service at (360)385-4777 ext 1  or post requests for information online here.

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Jefferson Transit’s Bus #7 takes you to Haines Place Park and Ride in Port Townsend

Do not get off bus #7 at the Four Corners Park and Ride, unless someone is meeting you or the driver announces a bus change.  Bus #7 goes into Port Townsend, stopping at the Haines Place Park and Ride on Sims Way.   There are currently no restrooms at the Place Park and Ride; instead riders are asked to use the facilities at the nearby Safeway and McDonalds.

From Haines Place Park and Ride, a shuttle bus and Fort Worden bus #2 serve other parts of Port Townsend. There are also buses to  Brinnon, Quilcene, Port Hadlock, Chimacum and Sequim. Calallam Transit connections serve Port Angeles, Forks and other areas around the Olympic National Park .

Best bet on weekends: The Dungness Line  If you’re headed from Seattle to Port Townsend on a Saturday, be aware that there’s a single ferry-Kitsap-Jefferson Transit connection that takes you to Port Townsend. (Note that there are two connecting itineraries in the opposite direction). Neither Jefferson nor Kitsap Transit operate on Sundays.

The Dungeness Line, operated by Olympic Bus lines, offers two trips between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula every day of the week. Buses depart SeaTac airport at 12:45pm and 6:40pm delivering travelers in Port Townsend at 4:05 and 10:00pm. (Eastbound buses leave Port Townsend at 6:25am and 1:30pm)

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Dungeness Line busses have lifts between the wheelchair seating area and the passenger door.

An independent agent of Greyhound, the Dungeness Line boasts comfortable service complete with complementary locally made chocolate chip cookies, bottled water, Wi-Fi, and a front seat ride on the Washington State Ferry between Edmonds and Kingston.

Since the Dungeness Line transports patients between communities on the Olympic Peninsula and Harborview Medical Center, buses are equipped with state of the art wheelchair lifts.  When Port Townsend passengers transfer at Discovery Bay, the two buses stop well off the road opposite each other. When lifts are deployed, passengers roll directly from one bus to the other.

Each bus has two bicycle racks in front. The boxed bicycles of air passengers and small folding bikes are accommodated in the rear luggage compartment. There’s a $5 bike charge.

The fare from SeaTac is $49 and from Harborview Medical Center $39. Most passengers  book online. Passengers with wheelchairs and bikes should also call 1-800-457-4492 to confirm there is space.  It’s also possible to simply show up at one of the mandatory stops on a seat available basis.

For Annie

A rare Internet stream of mails from those who love you found us in the wilderness. You were in pain, surrounded by Ginger and Jimi and Elisabeth. Broad calm horizons surrounded me as we motored, sometimes sailed, south from Alaska. I balanced my pain at your pain with gratitude to you for all the joy and encouragement and self confidence you brought into my life.

ab_salmon_finalI spent several days just leaning against mast, letting the recollections become more vivid. Hilarious storytelling with Laurie, sitting on the floor, getting through the cold Marrakesh winter. The color of the wildflowers on Jebel Yagour: our mules delivered us to the top, we made fresh, clean grass beds in the stone sheep-herders huts. Your unwavering vision: Watching your business grow so amazingly was inspiring. The postcard of you striding out in that orange jacket was on the wall above my desk. Our reunions always restored me, especially when Mom and Dad got old and I had just a bit of time to stop in the city and see you. I bet I’m not the only one trying to adopt your creative-positive-can-do attitude. But moving ahead without you will be tough.

“By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept, remembering thee.” When news that you’d finished your passage came, I was still at sea. The calm beautiful waters were my handkerchief, an ever-changing textile. You would have loved the hues and textures! The billowy chiffons, the far out prints, the easy pleats, the sparkles and sequins. Here are a few of my favorites. From our passage, from your passage.

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Jack’s first day on our beach

This for for Marion. Today wouldn’t have happened without Marion, DASH and the new beach chair.  (Update: For the complete story of how this beach chair and also a beach walker came to our community, please see the comments below by Anne McEnery, Jefferson County Public Health Development Disabilities Coordinator and Marion Huxtable of DASH.)

Jack spent this afternoon on the beach in front of our house, a crescent that sweeps from Point Hudson to the lighthouse out on Point Wilson.  It was his first time in the eleven years that we’ve been in Port Townsend either as moorage tenants or homeowners.

On dune

From atop a dune, we watched the ceremonial arrival of the tribal canoes.

Not only was the weather perfect, today was the Canoe Journey. We sat atop the dune and watched the ceremonial arrival of crews from from Canadian First Nations and tribes from the outer coast and throughout the Salish Sea.  As each canoe approached the shore,  elders of the tribe who were sitting under a tent would request permission to come ashore from the Jamestown S’Kallalam. After  drumming, song, and prayers in the native languages, crews carried their canoes onto the beach, with help from Port Townsend folks.

Tribal crew carries canoe onto the beach with local folks lending a hand.

Tribal crew hoists their canoe onto the beach with local folks lending a hand.

We’d picked up the beach chair at the Cablehouse Beach Canteen at the head of the pier. Signed a waver, left drivers’ licence and credit card, although there is no cost.

We started our walk on the stretch of beach between the light house and the pier. The chair is surprisingly easy to push, although I got help pushing up the dune.  Since there are drift logs high on the dunes, it’s a good idea to make sure the path you’ve chosen is not blocked by a log.  It’s easy enough to find a suitable path and important to stay on paths and not damage the dune grass.

The easiest stretch of beach to move on is just east of the pier.  Hard packed sand is smooth and yet leads to interesting low tide wildlife.

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This stretch of beach is an easy roll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Further along there is good, accessible wildlife viewing.

A tiny close up landscape of barnacles, seaworms, drills, and seaweed in diverse shapes and colors.

A tiny close up landscape of barnacles, seaworms, drills, and seaweed in diverse shapes and colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About halfway down, the beach turns rocky so it’s nice to move to the long, low-tide spit.  It’s fairly easy to push the chair over the seaweed-covered stones. We looked for a narrower band of them and stopped to turn over stones and see what was under them.

Once on the spit, it’s easy going again.  As we got toward Point Hudson awe cross to the path on shore. Here we got into some difficulty because the tide was now coming in. We headed for the green patches, but here they are not seaweed-covered rock but eelgrass.  Eel grass grows fast in the summer and it’s hard to estimate how much of it is floating on the surface. We got into deeper water and probably did some damage to this important salmon habitat.  But as happened all along the walk, some folks helped us get to shore.

At low tide a long firm spit leads past Chetzamoka Park to Point Hudson.

At low tide, a long firm spit leads past Chetzmoka Park to Point Hudson.

After dropping Jack off near home and bringing his scooter, I walked the chair back down the beach. This took a while as I was repeatedly stopped by beach walkers with questions! A woman from Sequim who’d never imagined a beach chair, came up open-mouth in amazement.  She’d noticed people moving with difficulty along Dungeness Spit.  Two paddlers from  the Jamestown S’Kallam tribe took photos of the chair to Facebook so they can start a campaign to get a chair for their elders.

So hats off to Marion and her colleagues at DASH.  The folks at the Fort Worden Canteen are displaying the chair and a fat-wheeled walker right at the front door.   I offered to give the chair a shower before returning it but they said they’s take care of it. The sign out procedure is fine, though I see no reason to leave both drivers’ license and credit card.  The form, moreover, should not ask borrowers to write down credit card number.

What I’d really like to see is DASH take some credit and use the beach chair to do some education.  A clear plastic pocket could be attached to the back of the seat.  Information about project partners, availability and instructions for use could be prominently displayed there. Small handouts of some kind could be included for those who want to tell others or who are interested in getting chairs for their communities.  And why not give chair users a chance to make a donation?

The Sidewalks of Sequim

This post is for Richard, who has introduced me to more interesting people and initiatives than anybody I know.  He absorbs good ideas and passes them on.

Last week Jack and I traveled from Prince Rupert on the British Columbia Mainland just south of the Alaskan border to our house in Port Townsend.  It’s a pleasant trip which with good planning and an air ticket can be done in a single day by public transportation.  It starts with a Prince Rupert walk to free shuttle to free ferry after which bus shuttles onto flat island with airport to flight to Vancouver and 20 minutes to walk to nearby gate and catch another tiny plane to Victoria, a small convient airport with BC transit service to the Inside Harbour from where there’s the Coho Ferry to Port Angeles and then a Calallam  County transit bus to Sequim before the home stretch – the Jefferson County Transit bus #8 to Port Townsend.

Our very last connection meant a two hour layover in Sequim, which surprised and delighted us.  Here are some pictures.

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The first thing to catch my eye was this restroom which gives a delightful street face to a parking lot.  Note wayfinding signs, bulletin board, and trash and recycling bins.

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Restroom is loaded with amenities on both sides. Attractive bike racks, landscaping, good signage and cultural information.  Across the street is the new civic plaza.

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Totem dominating the civic plaza tells the story of the origin of the fun and the moon.

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We’ve seen hundreds of totems this summer and this contemporary one by a Jamestown S’Kalallam carver is perhaps the most exquisitely designed and executed.

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What a surprise to find this guy sitting on a plaza bench nearby!  

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Then we noticed started to notice very cool temporary public art all around.

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Local textile artists had come out to celebrate Lavender Festival, which was last weekend.

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We went on  to the library to get some juice for our devices. Restrooms there are in the entrance lobby, not hidden in the stacks. (Actually, I forget. This smart design might be in the new restroom structure four blocks away. )

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And at the corner, this.  Two or three parking spaces given over to life.  You can lie on these benches – no middle armrest obstructions.  Color purple works nicely, abetted by simple lavender festival flags in every planter.

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Look at this community organization pile on!  The Olympic Music School sponsors floral planter designed and grown by Sequim High Schoolers. 

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Turning the corner onto the mainstreet, we see more sophisticated art, this time decorating a utility box.  Nearby is a decorated piano waiting to be played and more lavender banners and OPEN signs.

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Then a full fledged pocket park replete with a textile-artist enhanced bike rack and a neighborhood scale library. Okay, across at most ten urban blocks we find all these amenities and all these surprises.  Sequim streetlife rocks!

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Then we arrive in Port Townsend and I saw this.  Is it new or had I not noticed?  Sad, tacky, unwelcoming, inconvenient. And are these businesses being paid, as they would be under any good community toilet scheme?

We can do better.  Sequim should inspire us to action.

 

World Water Week Theme: Urban Water (via Water For People DC News)

Old Town Chinatown’s Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was a co-convener of this special session at World Water Week in Stockholm. Surprising to see a little group included among the likes of IWA, UNICEF, EAWAG and SEI. Could it be that there are precious few grassroots citizens’ groups working on sanitation issues? Come to think of it, are there any others that really started from the bottom up?

World Water Week Theme: Urban Water Yesterday marked the conclusion of World Water Week in Stockholm, during which 2,600 global water experts met for over 100 sessions to discuss the issues was water and sanitation around the globe. “We face an unmitigated disaster. Jaipur, India is out of water. What’s going to happen to places like that?” said Paul Reiter, executive director of the International Water Association (IWA), at the closing ceremony in Stockholm this morning. “We’re ad … Read More

via Water For People DC News

Restroom Interior, 1912 (via Vintage Portland)

Thanks to Dan Davis who blogs at Vintage Portland, we know how glorious public toilet facilities used to be. And this is the women’s room at a time when most public restrooms served only men.

Restroom Interior, 1912 Going downstairs from yesterday's restroom entrance would have taken you to this amazing underground "comfort station." The women's room provided an attendant, tile mosaics, steam heating, and marble stall dividers. The restrooms were "restored to original" during the transit mall construction in the 1970s but vandalism forced permanent closure shortly thereafter. (University of Oregon Libraries) … Read More

via Vintage Portland

Restroom Entrance, 1912 (via Vintage Portland)

Dan Davis has a couple of great posts this week on the historic underground comfort station near Pioneer Courthouse. Dan does his homework, turning over stones and single handedly making Portland more fascinating than anyone expected.

I “like”d this post and now I find I may be able to reblog it. Lazy blogger’s road to happiness! Let’s see if it works.

Restroom Entrance, 1912 Early 20th Century Portland provided a pair of underground restrooms at SW 6th and Yamhill that were almost elegant, especially by today's standards. This women's room entrance looks west, with the Portland Hotel in the background and the Pioneer Courthouse to our immediate right. A matching men's room is just around the corner on 6th. In fact these entrances, and restrooms below, still stand. Long closed, you can peek through the door cracks and … Read More

via Vintage Portland

Recycling Bin Urinals: Would they work as a stop gap measure?

Imagine an ordinary plastic recycling bin with a hinged lid and wheels of the type seen curbside and on sidewalks throughout the US. Fit into the side is a wide mouth funnel which functions as  urinal.  A tube extends to a compartment underneath the usual bin which converts the urine into high quality natural fertilizer.

Swiss designer Stephen Bischof has field tested his innovative prototype on the busy streets of South London, where video monitoring confirmed its acceptance by users.  The press, the design community, and experts in ecological sanitation have all taken note.

Considering the challenge of dealing with public urination in US cities, the Recycling Bin Urinal merits serious consideration.  First, it presents an opportunity to decriminalize public urination when people simply cannot find an available toilet.  Granted, a recycling bin meets neither the standards of dignity nor the privacy criteria expected of a public toilet.   But in areas of cities where homeless people gather at night for their safety, these emergency urinals are likely to be welcomed.

Even when public toilets are available within a reasonable distance, homeless men and women are understandably reluctant to go to them if it means packing up their belongings and or leaving them behind. The bins can be discretely rolled to a nearby alcove at night. Women can use the facility to dump urine collected in a drugstore urinal or directly with the assistance of any of a number of inexpensive cardboard or plastic funnels available on the market.

Environment activists and advocates for the rights of homeless people might do well to think out of the box and embrace this idea. Decriminalize urination, collect trash and recycle urine using the same small footprint receptacle?  Maybe this is a place to start.

APTs disappear in favor of old fashioned, hand-washed toilets. Didn’t PHLUSH say APTs would never work?

The New York Times reports another failure of the European automatic public toilets, or APTs.  This time the 34th Street Parternership, an NYC  business improvement district, learned the hard way.  Their $500,000 toilet cost $100,000 per year to maintain and very few people were brave enough to use it.
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In early 2006, PHLUSH argued that APTs were NOT the way to go, even in a huge city market where they could be supported by advertising.  This was before the Seattle APT fiasco.   How long was it that the five expensive potties remained on Seattle’s streets before they were flogged on e-Bay for $89?
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And what inspires confidence in toilet users?  The presence – full time or ocasional – of an attendant.  Says Jerome Barth, the 34th Street Partnership’s Vice President,  “It’s an attendant who knows what’s going on and has functions that go from sanitation to exchanging a few words with you to generally having a sense of what should be done.  People see them, and they know the bathrooms are clean.”

BTW we’re surprised that in her Blogtown post,  the normally astute Sarah Mirk gets it wrong: Fancy self-automated toilet’s like Portland’s loo are still mistrusted in NYC. The Portland Loo, while hefty and polished, is neither fancy nor “self-automated”.   It’s minimalist and  non-intimidating.  It’s got a sidewalk for a floor. And it gets a hand-washed by the folks from Clean and Safe .  (Also, Sarah, grammar alert: what’s with the random apostrophe?)