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The Daily Troll: Mayoral poll in question. Bellingham party blows up. Space Needle goes to NYC.

Will a future of driverless cars improve Seattle's transportation choices?
Western Washington University's home page banners a statement about an off-campus disturbance (click to enlarge)

Western Washington University's home page banners a statement about an off-campus disturbance (click to enlarge)

Polling: McGinn still looking at big gap

new KING 5 poll shows challenger Ed Murray hanging on to his commanding lead over incumbent Mike McGinn in the Seattle mayor's race. (Murray polled 52 to McGinn’s 32 percent, with 15 percent of the respondents still undecided.) But both campaigns tell Crosscut's Bill Lucia that their internal polls show the race as being considerably tighter than that.

Of course, both might have their reasons for wanting to present a closer race: McGinn to encourage his supporters and Murray to guard against complacency. The last KING5 poll before the August primary gave an extremely good prediction of the actual outcome: It showed Murray and McGinn winning, with Murray 1 percent ahead of the incumbent — just like the real-life outcome. It also nailed that Peter Steinbrueck and Bruce Harrell would finish third and fourth, in that order.  — J.C.

Out of control in Bellingham

Hundreds of revelers hurled rocks and other projectiles at Bellingham police officers when the cops attempted to break up a rowdy gathering near Western Washington University in the wee hours of Sunday morning. A few officers suffered minor injuries. Bellingham police Sgt. Mike Scanlon told the Bellingham Herald that he had never seen such a rowdy crowd in more than 20 years on the force. Three partiers were arrested — none of them students at Western Washington University — but police clearly expect more arrests.

And Western obviously expects some of them to be students: University President Bruce Shepard and student body president Carly Roberts put out a joint statement saying that disciplinary action could be taken against any student troublemakers even if they escape criminal charges. Western headlined the statement across the top of its home page — a bit of refreshing honesty in a spot normally reserved for wooing prospective students and their parents. — J.C. 

The driverless future

There's a line of thought that driverless cars will improve traffic and make streets safer, but how will buses, bikes and pedestrians fare in that scenario? Andrew Smith at the Seattle Transit Blog offers some interesting predictions about the approaching trend: When buses are "robotised," he posits, public safety concerns will force Metro and Sound Transit to hire security guards, negating any potential cost savings. Car-sharing will limit the number of cars on the road, making biking a more attractive option, and we'll convert the extra space into hundreds of miles of bike lanes.

But when it comes to pedestrians, Smith switches from rosy to grim: A vehemently anti-pedestrian culture, he says, will raise real and imagined safety threats, leading people to choose robo-cars over walking, even for the shortest of distances. I'm with Smith on buses and bikes, but then there's his prediction that "Pedestrians will go from people you see looking out the window to faceless obstacles that are never seen as you look at your smartphone or tablet from the self-driving car." The robocar may be faceless, but the pedestrian should never be. — E.M.

Big Apple trying Seattle's height cuisine

The head chef at Sky City, the revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle, is putting together a meal at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. The Journal's Glenn Drosendahl notes that the Beard House (home of the James Beard Foundation and its coveted annual food awards) has given Sky City's Jeff Maxfield and a crew from the restaurant a prime Saturday night booking.

He's going local on the menu with oysters, clams and salmon. There's also Yakima Valley corn soup with Anderson lamb bacon, Dungeness crab and heirloom tomatoes; coffee-brined and red wine-braised RR Ranch short ribs with Theo cocoa nibs; and Woodinville Whiskey-chocolate pot de crème with goat’s milk caramel and mountain huckleberries." — J.C. 

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Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.

Erica Meurk, a Crosscut editorial intern, is a Seattle native and a 2005 graduate of Whitman College. She has several years' experience in nonprofit communications and development, having served most recently as grant writer at Cascade Bicycle Club. Her interests include keeping local bookstores in business, eating as many vegetables as possible and riding her bike uphill in the rain.

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Posted Mon, Oct 14, 6:57 p.m. Inappropriate

Based on the self-obsessed malevolence of local drivers -- especially the number of times I've nearly been run down in crosswalks -- I assumed already we had had driverless cars.

Posted Mon, Oct 14, 7:51 p.m. Inappropriate

It's already come to terror for peds. I've had many a dangerous encounter with bicyclists going too fast for the conditions of the road or just coming around blind corners and them yelling at me to get out of the way when in fact I have the right of way.
I have begun to hate both cars and bikes. sheesh.


Posted Mon, Oct 14, 8:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Driverless cars are decades away. The first time a driverless car malfunctions and kills someone, they will probably be banned.


Posted Mon, Oct 14, 11:15 p.m. Inappropriate

"The head chef at Sky City, the revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle, is putting together a meal at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City". He could give the James Beard Foundation a real surprise by serving a sampling of the standard fare for the Space Needle all after the required 30 minutes under a heat lamp.


Posted Tue, Oct 15, 11:50 a.m. Inappropriate

Pity about Murray. I haven't heard a real, concrete, implementable idea out of him so far. He's running against McGinn more than he's articulating anything for himself. Even his "vision" speech was peppered with a bunch of bland, sound bites meant to sound good and mean little.

If he gets voted in, I have no idea what he will actually do. I suspect he wants it that way. Most voting against McGinn are angry that he dared be passionate and confrontational with the mealy mouthed, wishy washy, city council that barely ever passes anything that isn't a complete muddle meant to please everyone and achieve nothing.


Posted Tue, Oct 15, 2:51 p.m. Inappropriate

On the other hand, it could be that people are fed up with the obnoxious bicyclists, and identify McSchwinn as one more douchebag on two wheels.


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