San Francisco Hackathon To Focus On Improving Public Transportation

BY SARAH LAI STIRLAND : techpresident.com – excerpt

San Francisco is a laggard in the field of public transportation when compared to many other big cities of the world. Unlike Hong Kong, London or New York City, it’s often not possible to take a bus or subway to get somewhere in a timely fashion. And parking is a nightmare.
Hence many companies opt to locate themselves in the Peninsula, where employees can hop on WiFi-enabled shuttles to get to work.
San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee wants to change that, and to bring more companies back into the city. His staffers recently convened with Hattery Labs to figure out ways of making this happen. One idea they had was to arm San Franciscans with better information about their transportation options. So they’re convening a hackathon mid-October. The goal is to get 50 or so developers to create a variety of apps that will both help the city to engage in better transportion planning, to help San Franciscans to more easily plan their trips, and to better communicate how the city is fixing transportion problems.
The event is being organized by Hattery Labs, Engine Advocacy, the San Francisco Mayor’s office and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority. Other sponsors of the event include Google, Keen.io, General Assembly, and Waze.

More details about there event are available here.

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Someone should come up with an app to tell you which parking spots are legal. Most drivers can’t tell by looking at the curb color or reading the signs when and if a parking spot is legal. SF needs an app for that.

Physically moving bodies through space is not a virtual problem to solve. It is a physical problem. They could possibly solve some issues by creating a proper computer system for tracking parts for there many different types of vehicles. We hear they have none. They might need a better way of scheduling the routes and a computer program might help them with that, otherwise, you pretty much need real mechanics to keep the buses moving and there is no app for that, unless you want to replace the mechanics with robots.

Fell/Oak Bikeways Go to SFMTA Board, Could Be Partially Done This Year

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.org – excerpt

The project is scheduled to go up for final approval by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors on October 16, and if it passes, all but the concrete work — which includes sidewalk bulb-outs and planted concrete barriers — could be completed before January, according to agency spokesperson Paul Rose.
That may not necessarily mean the route will be rideable, however. “It remains to be determined whether or not [the bike lanes] can be used while the work on the concrete barrier is being done,” said Rose. The concrete work may not be finished until next summer… (more)

Restrictive Zoning Is Crippling Silicon Valley’s Transit Options

Timothy B. Lee, Contributor : forbes.com – excerpt

People like me who would like there to be more dense, walkable neighborhoods in America face a kind of chicken-and-egg problem. Achieving the necessary density requires a significant fraction of people to give up their cars. Living without a car is only practical in areas that are well-served by transit. But a good transit system is only economically viable in metropolitan areas that already have significant density… (more)

Mr. Lee makes some compelling arguments, though I’m not sure zoning is to blame for the lack of popularity of public transit. As some have pointed out, driving in a car is the safest, healthiest mode of transport, and there is something comforting about knowing your heavy coat is in the car if the weather turns.

There are many personal reasons people have cars. It is hard to present oneself as a professional on a bike. Somehow I don’t think a judge would approve of an attorney showing up in riding gear in court. BART works as long as you are near one, but the bus is out if you need to meet a schedule.

San Francisco electric taxi program faces setbacks

By: Will Reisman : SF Examiner Staff Writer – excerpt

Stuck in park: The Yellow Cab fleets in San Francisco and San Jose were supposed to receive 61 electric taxis as part of a program the SFMTA would oversee.
In 2010, San Francisco received $7 million to establish an electric vehicle taxi network that would put it on par with global cities like Tokyo and Amsterdam.
Yet two years later, the network still doesn’t exist and it won’t be ready until 2013, due to a series of planning delays.
As of now, not a penny of the $7 million awarded in the 2010 grant has yet been used for the project and no sites have been established for battery-swapping stations. But Proctor said the network, called the eTaxi Program, will be ready by next year … (more)