Did Cooper Stock really have to die?

: news.yahoo – excerpt

Different traffic laws could have saved his life and the lives of thousands of others. What the U.S. can learn from Sweden.

… It is possible, even probable, experts say, because of the way Americans have designed their streets for hundreds of years — essentially viewing pedestrian fatalities as the cost of doing business, as the collateral damage of speed and progress.

“Traditionally we build assuming that drivers and pedestrians will do the right thing even though we know that humans are flawed,” says Claes Tingvall, the director of Traffic Safety for the Swedish Transport Administration, in an interview with Yahoo News. “You don’t design an elevator or an airplane or a nuclear power station on the assumption that everyone will do the right thing. You design it assuming they will make mistakes, and build in ways that withstand and minimize error.”…

Voting for problem solving over finger pointing, they view collisions as warnings that some fix — a differently timed light, a better lit intersection — is needed…

In these ways, Sweden has lowered its pedestrian death rate dramatically. It is now the lowest in the world, with 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people annually, compared with an average of 6 across the European Union and 10 in the U.S…

“Speed,” says Nicole Schneider, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy organization Walk San Francisco, in an interview with Yahoo News…

“Street design,” says Schneider.  If fatality is a function of speed, she says, then speed is a result not only of the speed limit and its enforcement, but also of the way a street is laid out in the first place. That is why 6 percent of San Francisco streets account for 60 percent of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, she says. And why wide arterial roads account for 15 percent of New York City’s road network but also 60 percent of fatal and serious injuries

Politics are slowing things down in San Francisco, too. The heads of many large public agencies have signed on to a plan to bring the death count effectively to zero by 2024, but the mayor himself has given only lukewarm support. While the police department has responded by increasing traffic citations 70 percent since the beginning of the year, Mayor Lee barely mentioned Vision Zero in his State of the City address, saying “I also support the goals of Vision Zero to eliminate traffic-related deaths in our City, but to get there, we need a little more common sense.”…

Why are numbers heading upward after years of inching down? One possible reason can be found in Sophia’s death. There have always been distractions for drivers (the man who hit Henry Bliss 115 years ago had been trying to navigate around a stopped streetcar), but never has their been the technological gadgetry — GPS maps, texting, cell phone calls, electronic cab hailing — that we see today.  “All these are inherent driver distraction tools,” Dolan says. “To solve the broad problem of pedestrian safety you have to account for that in a way that wasn’t as relevant even a few years ago.”

But do Americans have the same love of screens as they do of speed? Can street redesign create an environment that has the same chilling effect on distraction as on urgency?

“Vision Zero is a blueprint for cultural change,” says Megan Wier, an epidemiologist with the San Francisco Department of Health and the co-chair of the city’s multiagency Vision Zero Task Force. “Like drunk driving, like other health epidemics, we need to get across the message that no, it’s not an accident, it’s something that’s preventable, and we have the tools to prevent them.”…

“What we used to think of as fun we now understand as danger,” he says. “It feels wrong in a way it didn’t decades ago.” Vision Zero will only succeed, he warns, if it also changes the way we view driving just a little over the speed limit, or glancing at your phone while driving, or inching into a crosswalk that’s crowded with pedestrians.

This new moral order, more than any new traffic light sequence or redesigned intersection, or even a null death count, is the real goal of Vision Zero, he and others suggest. What is yet to be seen is how — and whether — American cities can get there… (more)

Most enlightening article. We need a serious discussion about the root causes and the best solutions to designing safer streets.

Streetline and Cisco Introduce Camera-Based Smart Parking Sensing and Integrated Network Solution

marketwatch – excerpt

Joint camera-based detection solution and Streetline IoT Gateway for Cisco Connected Grid Router (CGR) enhance smart parking offering for cities

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif . , May 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Streetline and Cisco debuted at Cisco Live!™, a jointly developed, camera-based detection solution that can work in conjunction with or lieu of in-ground sensors to detect parking space occupancy.  In addition, the companies unveiled a new, integrated Internet of Things (IoT) gateway that combines Streetline’s low-power mesh network and Cisco® Smart+Connected Wi-Fi. The Streetline IoT Gateway allows its sensor data to be transmitted via Cisco Smart+Connected Wi-Fi.

“After two years of working with Cisco, we are thrilled to see new product developments come to fruition,” said Zia Yusuf, Streetline CEO. “With the release of the video-based detection solution and the Streetline IoT Gateway for the CGR, we are disrupting the smart city space with offerings of parking solutions that are both technically robust and provide a real business value for customers.”

Furthering its position as a true “data and analytics” company, Streetline has expanded its sensing portfolio to include the dually developed detection solution with Cisco cameras. While in-ground sensors are highly effective for detecting vehicles in individually marked spaces, video can provide a level of efficacy for other use cases, such as unmarked zones and spaces…

Streetline and Cisco are currently working together in San Mateo and San Carlos . The IoT gateway is currently available for new customers… (more)

SF Leaders Begin $1.5 Billion Push for Transit Funding

by Michael Cabanatuan : McClatchy News Servicegovtech – excerpt

The push is in response to a report issued last fall which called for a series of ballot measures to raise $3 billion to invest in the city’s transportation infrastructure.

It’s no secret that San Francisco leaders plan to ask voters in November to make a big investment in improving the city’s transportation system. On Tuesday, they’ll announce the specifics: a general obligation bond measure and an increase in the vehicle license fee designed to produce $1.5 billion over the next 15 years…

Deadlines loom

The bond measure, which requires eight votes from the Board of Supervisors to make the ballot, needs a two-thirds majority to pass. The vehicle license fee also needs eight supervisorial votes to make the ballot but requires only a majority to pass in November. The advisory measure, which is not binding, needs only six votes to qualify and a majority to pass.

To qualify for the November ballot, the $500 million general obligation bond must be introduced by the Board of Supervisors by next Tuesday, with the vehicle license fee increase and the advisory measure following in the weeks to come. All of the measures face a July 22 deadline to make the ballot.

Proceeds from the ballot measures – if they pass – will be split between projects to improve Muni ($635 million), repave and maintain city streets ($625 million), and make pedestrian and bike improvements to increase safety on city thoroughfares ($296 million).

Muni plans to invest its share of the proceeds in implementing its Transit Effectiveness Project, a plan to overhaul the transit system, including improvements to make service more reliable on the 8X-Bayshore Express, 38/38L-Geary and 14/14L-Mission lines. The agency would also expand its fleet to try to increase service and reduce crowding. Money would also be spent on more transit-only lanes, better stops and updated Muni maintenance centers.

Street paving and curb ramps would be big beneficiaries of the transit tax proceeds. A 2011 bond measure that expires this year provided funds to repave thousands of city blocks. A total of 854 blocks were redone in 2013, and more than 900 are scheduled this year and next. Proceeds from the ballot measures would cover the cost of resurfacing 500 blocks a year.

“This would allow us to maintain the progress we’ve made with streets,” Reiskin said.

Street improvements intended to increase pedestrian safety as well as provide up to 65 miles of safer bike lanes would also be funded. The bike and pedestrian improvements, which include more pedestrian signals, better lighting, wider crosswalks and efforts to slow traffic, would also be funded as part of the city’s commitment to the Vision Zero project that seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

Counting on passage

While the proposals aren’t on the ballot yet, city officials are banking on passage. The MTA budget, recently approved by the agency’s Board of Directors, tentatively includes funds from ballot measures. Mohammed Nuru, public works director, and Reiskin said the city has projects from street modifications and paving jobs to new bus purchases and transit improvements lined up and ready to build if voters give the go-ahead.

“As soon as the dollars are available,” Reiskin said, “we can start putting the projects on the ground.”… (more)

Everybody is asking where the bond money will go. Here is the answer of the day. The Muni will spend $635 million rearranging bus routes, eliminating bus stops and traffic lanes by creating BRTs on some of the major arterial streets. There is no mention of buying more buses or training more bus drivers.

$625 million to maintain and pave city streets. We know what happened the last time we voted for that one.

$296 million for bike and pedestrian safety. We know what that means.

If this is not your cup of tea, you might want to support the Restore Transportation Balance initiative instead.

Bay Area’s SMART Leaves Businesses Out of Loop

by Matt Brown, McClatchy : govtech – excerpt

As the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit builds the tracks for commuter service, businesses along the line are upset at losing direct access to freight service, which can increase property values and save shipping costs.

… The Lagunitas Brewing line is one of a handful of rail spurs that have been shut off as SMART builds the tracks for commuter service. Businesses along the line are upset at losing direct access to freight service, which can increase property values and save shipping costs.

SMART says some spurs need to disappear to meet federal safety guidelines. The rail authority is upgrading some spurs that serve legitimate businesses but can’t afford to restore all the switches.

The issue highlights the challenges of operating a passenger rail system on a corridor shared with freight service and the competing interests and constituents of each…

SMART, which owns the right-of-way, is building the $427 million commuter rail system from San Rafael to Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa. It has an agreement with the North Coast Railroad Authority, the public agency that oversees freight service on the line, to restore spurs to businesses that need them, said Farhad Mansourian, SMART general manager.

After laying dormant for a decade, freight rail restarted in 2011 from Windsor to Schellville, where trains connect with other lines heading east. At the time, property owners along the line expressed interest in connecting to the freight network.

“The agreement was that if it was a bona fide business, they get a connection,” Mansourian said. “We are in full support of getting businesses connected to our freight provider. We see each other as partners.”

Businesses that want a rail spur and were not included in the original agreement can ask SMART to install one at the company’s cost, Mansourian said…

The same advantages — a reduced carbon footprint from getting drivers out of their cars — helped sell commuter rail to voters in Sonoma and Marin counties in 2008.

“The public would benefit from getting trucks off the road,” Kantock said. “People should be just as excited about freight rail as they are about passenger rail.”… (more)

Who has the right of way on the rails? Must government  choose between passengers and freight or should they compromise and serve both?

Increased advertising on Muni buses approved despite criticism

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

The number of Muni buses that can legally have wraparound advertisements was doubled by San Francisco supervisors Tuesday, despite objections that the banners would degrade rider experience.

After about a half-hour of debate, the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 to approve a 15-year contract with Titan Outdoor LLC. The agreement includes a controversial provision that increases the number of permitted advertising wraps, the type of banners that cover the entirety of a bus including its windows, from 15 buses to 30 at any given time. The wraps are most popular between September and December. The contract initially allowed digital ads, but that provision was removed.. (more)

Investing in a Safe and Reliable Muni for the Future

scottwiener – excerpt

5/20/14 — Today I’m introducing a ballot measure that ties Muni funding to population growth. Our city has been growing, and we all see the strain the growth places on our aging transit system. Muni has more than $2 billion in deferred maintenance and doesn’t have enough vehicles. We need to invest in transit to match growth. This proposal will help move us in that direction… (more)

SFMTA board offers support to third-party taxi hailing apps

After giving the green light last year for the development of an e-hailing app for all taxis in San Francisco, transit agency officials had no qualms about shifting gears Tuesday to focus on the data meant to enable the technology.

In addition, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board offered support for third-party hailing apps already in business. An independent company, Flywheel, already works with drivers from every city cab company on its e-hailing app and its ads will run on Muni buses starting in June, Chris Hayashi, head of taxis for the SFMTA, reported at Tuesday’s board meeting. The agency is open to promoting similar app services like Taxi Magic, she said.

For SFMTA board member Malcolm Heinicke, advertising for companies like Flywheel and Taxi Magic seemed like a “natural progression” of the e-hailing effort.

“Maybe it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and use some of this money to advertise to the community that there is this fleet and it’s bigger than Uber,” he said.

The SFMTA is now directing its efforts to importing cab location, occupancy and other data into its new software system originally acquired to develop the city-run app. It will then decide whether to proceed with its own app… (more)

SFMTA may change corse wit development o’taxi haileeun’ app

BMW Takes Its Car-Sharing Service To The Streets Of San Francisco

Karyne Levy : BusinessInsider – excerpt

BMW’s car-sharing service, called DriveNow, is adding 80 cars to its fleet in the Bay Area, and starting this month, it will offer street parking spots in the Mission District in San Francisco.

That means that you don’t have to drop the car off in a dedicated lot, as you would with, say, Zipcar. Instead, the car will tell you when you’re in an approved drop-off zone, which is between Potrero Avenue and Folsom Street and between 16th and 26th streets.

We’re starting in certain streets in the Mission District, and on those streets, we only have to contend with street cleaning,” Dana Goldin, DriveNow’s chief marketing officer, told Business Insider. “So right now we’re avoiding meters and we’re avoiding residential permit areas.”(more)

Do we support privatization of our streets? What is the difference between sharing and renting?