Picture a new way to arrive at your location
The people looked frozen in time on Second Avenue, sitting on folding chairs and pretending their hands were on steering wheels.
Published August 26, 2007 by SeattlePi.com
The people looked frozen in time on Second Avenue, sitting on folding chairs and pretending their hands were on steering wheels. They also sat shoulder to shoulder to illustrate riding make-believe buses or light rail.
But those moments on Sunday gave photographers time to document what it looks like to have 200 people traveling on Seattle streets.
As part of a campaign to encourage discussion, the International Sustainability Institute, OnRequest Images, the city of Seattle, King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit and various businesses organized the event, which drew volunteers as early as 6 a.m. Sunday.
"This is a cultural shift to get people to think about alternatives … and away from the idea of the car," said Patricia Chase, co-founder of the Seattle-based institute.
The images will be part of a free "commuter toolkit," which is costing about $50,000 to produce. The campaign will include posters with photographs of people riding in cars, buses, on light rail and on bicycles.
While the shoot with about 75 actual cars stretched for two blocks, the photos with the imaginary light rail car and buses took up less than a block.
"We could free up a lot of space," said Jayson Antonoff, an institute co-founder.
In addition to the posters, organizers plan to release other information online at i-sustain.com on Sept. 24, when the downtown transit tunnel is scheduled to open.
During the Sunday shoot, Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims sat next to each other, pretending to be on a bus.
"Hopefully, we'll have some dramatic comparisons," Nickels said, referring to the photographs.
Sims pointed out that 100 million typically board Metro Transit buses each year.
"If you convert those to car trips, you couldn't move in the city," he said.
While residents of Copenhagen, Demark, conducted a similar photo shoot in the 1970s, the idea for the Seattle campaign started after regional transit officials visited Curitiba, Brazil, in March 2006, Antonoff said.
That city is known for its transportation alternatives, especially its public buses.
As Seattle resident Michelle Mills, 31, waited for one shoot to begin Sunday, she said a friend told her about the campaign.
"I think it's cool," she said. "There is public transit, but it's not good enough."
But the event generated some controversy.
About 15 bicyclists critical of Nickels' transportation efforts showed up to lobby for bicycle lanes on Stone Way North and for more safety measures.
Part of that street has bicycle symbols to encourage motorists to share the road.
"We want to put pressure on the city to keep its promise about bike infrastructure," said Henry Rose, a 28-year-old bicyclist from Seattle.
When asked about their concerns, Nickels said the city is investing in sidewalks, bicycle lanes and trails. The city, he added, is committed to building a balanced transportation system.
Some organizers feared the protesters would show up in clown costumes. One man, riding a recumbent, wore a Winnie the Pooh outfit.
Earlier in the day, John Fikkan, a Seattle resident, walked by the shoot.
"I think it's absolutely great," the 66-year-old said. "We know how difficult it is to drive around the city."