An interesting idea already in use in Europe. It’s a natural companion to green roofs, and it brings green areas to places that are now just gravel and dust. Can you imagine what the light rail would look like with green swaths of grass instead of swaths of concrete and gravel? I wonder how hard it would be to turn sections of the light rail system into grass-lined avenues?
While I’m more or less for light rail in the Puget Sound region, we need to look at all forms of transportation and use right mode for the right region. Many times, a mode, like light rail, is used to do two jobs: Local transit and medium range transit. Local transit is best served by buses, while medium range is best served by light rail. What’s called a lobed system, where you have urban areas feeding a central transit hub:
The urban districts are rated in time it takes to walk to the center of the district, about 10-15 minutes, 1250 ft. Most buildings are four stories tall and make good use of the land without being too dense. Of course these are utopias that will never get built in the real world, but they do point out what you have to look for in placing transit within existing communities.
A good example of that is where I live, Kenmore, WA. If you look at the zoning map, most of the population, proposed and existing, are within a quarter mile of SR 522. Of course there is the Sammamish Sloo that forms a wall just south of the road. This means that Southern Kenmore doesn’t have much in the way of transit options, and because it is low density, it will probably not have much in the foreseeable future.
Downtown Kenmore is perfect for several transit options, including a light rail line passing on through to Bothell and then to Woodinville. Now we just have to get the anti-growth people in Kenmore on the side of managed growth, and some of these benefits will accrue to us.