Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Viva Via

Oh Good. RantWoman’s Twitter feed is full of other transit nerds already asking a number of questions about Via, the new app and pilot program that provides rides between southend Link stations and other destinations.
Wheelchair accessible? The app promises someone will call. RantWoman will leave further reporting to Twitter.
Um, no. RantWoman will not just leave further reporting to Twitter. RantWoman saw the bit about refer a friend. RantWoman will refer a couple people near and dear to her who now use paratransit. RantWoman thinks light rail a substantial part of the trip plus Via for a short distance might be an awesome substitute for a long paratransit trip at least for paratransit riders who also ride the bus..  RantWoman also thinks the convenience of Via would make a great substitute for scheduling hassles and the need to schedule in advance. RantWoman hopes zillions of people who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids will call or sign in and attempt to book a ride just so there is some kind of record of likely demand. RantWoman also thinks running this service long-term without wheelchair accessible vehicles is not legally sustainable. But RantWoman is not a lawyer.
Appaccessibility? RantWoman downloaded the App via the Playstore and the link on Metro’s website. No autorotate. Sigh. Then as RantWoman was creating her signin at some point the phone froze and Talkback and vibrate on touch both refused to work. RantWoman eventually was able to go back to the home screen. The next time she opened the app, whatever the issue was seems to have resolved itself. So far
Fare? The same as bus fare, $2.75. Does having a monthly pass count or does the fare always come out of one’s ORCA wallet. What if one has a disabled pass? Via seems to be targeted at people who do not already ride the bus, but RantWoman has no trouble thinking of trips that would greatly expand possibilities for riders with a disabled pass, and for lower cost per ride than current  paratransit.

I am blind and may or may not be able to find the nearby corner. How do I connect with my Via ride?
Confidentiality? RantWoman is not crazy about the app displaying her phone number. RantWoman  would also prefer an anonymized promo code rather than one based on her first name.

So RantWoman is eager to see what else the riding public has to say!

And here is a link to download the app yourself.






Wednesday, April 10, 2019

United Blind Of Seattle Friend Day 2019 THIS Saturday at WTBBL

United Blind 2019 Friend Day is Just Around the corner

Come one, come all!

A Seattle chapter of the Washington Council of the Blind, the United Blindof Seattle cordially invites you to come and learn about all facets of our organization, enjoy getting to know the people who make up this Seattle chapter, and join with us for a light lunch.

You will hear all about what activities this chapter is involved in along with what belonging to the chapter means to its members. We will also be sharing about the organization at both the state and national levels. There really isn’t a better way to learn, in a nut shell, what this consumer
organization of persons who are blind is all about!

April 13th, from 1:00 to 3 p.m.
Where: The Washington Talking Book and Braille Library
2021 9th Ave.
Seattle, Wa. 98121
What do you need to bring:Only yourselves with an inquisitive mind and a plan to learn and have a
good time!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask whoever is inviting you, or
contact President Darryl Roberts at 567-249-7197 or membership chair Julie
Brannon at 206-547-7444.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pedestrian Refuge?

Pedestrian Refuge at the new Brooklyn Avenue Sound Transit station, by way of University village.

RantWoman did not go to University Village today. RantWoman has gone there a number of times recently on errands on the way to RantMom’s new abode. RantWoman will miss the sense of family joy and gentle crowds.

Um, right. RantWoman loves the sense of joy and people bustling on Sunday afternoons, but the crowds are a little tiring for cane travel. Worse, RantWoman is really not crazy about the curbless design. RantWoman travels along buildings just fine, but sooner or later RantWoman needs to cross from one side of the roadways to the other. RantWoman navigates well enough visually not to have anything very coherent to say about the kind of landmarks people with less vision than RantWoman has use to find things like intended crosswalks. RantWoman does find the intended crosswalks, but RantWoman does not enjoy the sense of unease figuring out whether vehicles will actually stop and stop short of the intended crosswalk.

RantWoman thinks she is not alone. RantWoman asked a small number of blind people she knows who has been to University Village and do they find it easy to navigate. Among people who have been there, the answer was almost unanimous: no. RantWoman, will, though, be sending some other blind people to check out University Village, and not only for the charms of all the shopping opportunities but also because of conversations about design for pedestrians and buses at the new Sound Transit station opening in 2021 at 43rd and Brooklyn in the U district.

Transit planners learned their lesson from the Husky Stadium station: there are lots of buses that stop "near" the Husky Stadium station, if by "near" one means two blocks away with various other pedestrian challenges. Only a few routes stop right at the station. Transit planners promise to do better for the station at 43rd and Brooklyn. Plans currently call for westbound buses to run along NE 43rd with a stop directly in front of the station entrance. Eastbound buses will have equivalent direct access on NE 45th.

One question: could there be bus stops on Brooklyn instead of along 43rd so that 43rd could be completely pedestrianized? RantWoman thinks this is probably a long shot, but mentions the option anyway.

The bigger question: curbs or curbless on 43rd with a wide pedestrian refuge separated from the busway buy planters, yellow dome strips and other tactile cues. Here is why planners recommend curbless.

Pedestrian volumes are expected to be very high. Tens of thousands of people per day is the number that sticks in RantWoman’s mind without looking things up. From RantWoman’s perspective it is certainly desirable to have as much space as possible for that many pedestrians to move around in.

Suppose curbs are included, an idea which sounded better to multiple blind people in a conversation..The fire code says there has to be a minimum distance which RantWoman does not remember between curbs to allow fire truck access. But meeting that minimum distance means less width for all the anticipated pedestrian flows.

Where can blind people go to experience an example of curbless design. RantWoman suggested University Village.

Also on RantWoman’s mind: what will be happening on the South side of NE 43rd? RantWoman is wondering about retail. RantWoman will not be excited about crossing a street in front of or between buses to visit retail. If retail is supposed to be there, RantWoman would think again just to pedestrianize the whole street. But where oh where do buses go?

Readers who have strong opinions are invited to leave a comment or to check soundtransit.org for meeting schedules and options to comment further.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Bike lanes: Contrarian Fit

Please bear with RantWoman who is devoting her Saturday night keyboard to a contrarian FIT.

RantWoman hopes everyone interested will attend the opening of the NE 65th St. bike lanes with more joy and enthusiasm than RantWoman can find.


RantWoman is thrilled that buses on 65th will not face the terrifying to RantWoman reality of leapfrogging back and forth with bicyclists at every stop. RantWoman is supposed to be thrilled that there is now separate biking space on 65th. But the other day, RantWoman watched the bus she was on try to negotiate the turn from 15th Ave NE to NE 65th. Let’s just say, the turn past the bike lane did not seem like it would be fun for a bus driver.

RantWoman is well aware she is swimming against the current to ask “wouldn’t the bicyclists be even happier if they could have a freer more open ride on say 68th or 70th. RantWoman is all for bicycle infrastructure, and also all for the reality that there are LOTS of people for who bicycles are NOT a workable first mile / last mile solution. But RantWoman digresses.

Congratulations on the opening of the new bike lanes.

And from LAST Saturday’s meditations:


RantWoman has a long list of to-do’s that probably are not going to get to-done tonight.


Instead, RantWoman will first wax lyrical about a journey to NE Seattle, to the land of large homes and long established trees. RantWoman always appreciates this journey for vegetation and fresher air. RantWoman also allows herself a pang about the need for greater density and more multifamily housing even when RantWoman is really going to enjoy someone’s large single-family home.  RantWoman always finds herself grateful to have very hospitable friends who from time to time invite the likes of RantWoman to come visit. These visits are a delight on MANY grounds but they also make RantWoman grateful that someone else is in charge of all that homeowner property management stuff.


This time RantWoman also collected data she needs to remember to convey to Metro: RantWoman was travelling late in the afternoon on a Saturday and needed to catch the 71 from in front of the UW Medical Center. Both the Transit app and the posted schedule suggest that the 71 is operating on the timetable listed for the 73 and the 73 is operating on the timetable listed for the 71. Facepalm, except the sun was too glorious to be crabby too long.


Once RantWoman was on the right route, the next bus moment was, drum roll please, the protected bike lane on NE 65th and watching the bus try to turn onto NE 65th. The turn did NOT look like a happy experience.


As a bus passenger, the bus driving behind a bicyclist experience is frequently terrifying so RantWoman likes the idea of protected bike lanes to a point.


NE 65 is comparateively narrow. Why not have the PBL on 70th?


RantWoman definitely does not feel the same way about 35th Ave NE. RantWoman thinks 35th NE is more than wide enough to support bike lanes. AND RantWoman thinks bike lanes would be a great use of that wide roadway.


RantWoman already has plenty else to keep her busy but RantWoman hereby joins the chorus of people opining about revisions of the Bicycle Master Plan.

Friday, April 5, 2019

CNIB Foundation Study: Connected Autonomous Vehicles

Transportation is seeing all kinds of disruptive transformation. Ride sharing, electric cars and automated vehicles are only a few examples. While all these innovative technological advances will hopefully have a positive impact within our communities, the needs of pedestrians who are blind must not be left to chance.
The CNIB Foundation in partnership with a leading Canadian university and a long serving researcher in the field of blindness, with partial funding from the Government of Canada - Transport Canada, is undertaking a study to identify possible mitigation strategies so that connected autonomous vehicles do not further marginalize pedestrians who are blind.
We are inviting our colleagues throughout the world to share their views via an online survey. To access the survey, go to https://cnib.ca/en/support-usadvocate/transportation?region=ab. You’ll also find an overview of the project there. The survey will close at the end of April 2019.
Please share widely and encourage anyone with sight loss or who is blind to take a few minutes to complete the survey. The final report which will consolidate our findings will be available mid to late July 2019.
Thank you in advance for taking time to share your views via the survey. If you have any questions, please contact Lui Greco at lui.greco@cnib.ca.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

SCAM ALERT: Phishing for Social Security Numbers

Hi All

Below is an example of a pretty garden variety phishing scam. As always, avoid clicking on links as described here.

Guest post from anonymous poster:
If you haven’t heard already, there’s a scam going around. The better partof my day has been spent contacting credit bureaus, financial institutions, Social Security and the FTC.

This morning I received a call on my cell phone from Maryland, 240 846 8836. I answered and it was a robo call telling me fraudulent activity had been reported with my Social Security number and to call immediately. I did and a man with a heavy Pakistani accent told me fraudulent activity had been reported and that legal enforcement was taking place. He asked me to give him my social security number and birth date so that he could tell me about the activity and unfortunately I did.

The caller gave me his name of Officer Joshua Brown (a very generic, Anglo name for someone with a heavy Pakistani accent) and an employee ID number and case ID and warrant number for me. He said that there were legal charges against my name for suspected activity in Texas near the border in
El Paso. He said the FBI had been alerted and something about a car in which drugs had been found. It sounded like a scam to me and I said I would call back later to receive the full information because I had a bus to catch. He said if I didn't call by tomorrow  that local law enforcement
would become involved. This was frightening and felt personally threatening.

I changed my plans and returned home to speak with (staff in my community) I asked what I should do if people arrived to my door insisting that I come away with them, and one said I could call dispatch (911) and ask them to verify that they had sent officers to the building. He said that (genuine) officers would be very understanding. If officers had not been dispatched, I could ask that they be dispatched at once as people impersonating officers were attempting to search my home,
issue a subpoena, or arrest me with or without a warrant.

I then took precautions associated with identity theft. I filed a report over the phone with the Social Security fraud hotline and on-line with the Federal Trade Commission; requested fraud alerts and credit freezes to be placed with all 3 credit companies; contacted my financial institutions; and will attempt to file my taxes this evening so that no one can file a fraudulent tax return in my name.

I finally got through to Social Security’s main number this afternoon, and
the representative described the exact series of details of the scam I had
experienced. She said that it has been going around and had even been on
the news. It still left me scared for my safety. As a woman I have to be
aware of the possibility of abduction, rape and even murder. If someone
comes to my door I won’t open it and will call 911. The caller did not ask
for my address. My building has a close relationship with our local law
enforcement officer, and I emailed him about what occurred as well.

Just a word to the wise. What a way to play on national fears generated
about immigration.

Friday, March 29, 2019