CalBike Looks Back at This Year’s Legislative Efforts–and Ahead to the Next

by : CalBike – excerpt

The California Bicycle Coalition–CalBike–supports local bicycle advocacy efforts to build better bike networks. It does this in part through its work on state legislation that promotes bicycling and via its efforts to increase the amount of funding available for building better bike infrastructure.

California is poised to become one of the most bike-innovative states in the nation. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) got a new mission and vision statement this year that is more bicycle friendly, and endorsed progressive street designs. A new State Transportation Agency is shaking up how California traditionally thinks of transportation, and we got to see the first rounds of the Governor’s new “Active Transportation Program.”

While the 2014 legislative session wasn’t ideal in every way, our policymakers took huge steps forward, most importantly with exciting advances toward modern street design. You can find links to exact bill language, fact sheets, and letters to and from lawmakers at the California Bicycle Coalition website here

More Funding Approved, but Not Much
More funding is essential to building the infrastructure California needs to get more people to ride bikes. It is also key to economic sustainability. Active transportation infrastructure creates more jobs during construction and supports the local economy during its lifetime.

At $129 million, or barely 1 percent of the state’s transportation budget for biking and walking combined, funding for bike infrastructure is paltry at best.

We had limited success this year with our efforts to increase bicycle funding. Despite our advocacy, there was no increase in the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The formulas for spending cap-and-trade revenue did make active transportation eligible for about $65 million this year and up to 10 percent ($200-$500 million) in future years, but there are no guarantees that it will be spent on active transportation. Increasing and protecting the amounts eligible for active transportation in the ATP, in cap-and-trade funds, and from other sources is a goal for next year

The Governor did indicate support for more bike funding by signing AB 1183, which allows a $5 vehicle registration surcharge dedicated to bicycle infrastructure. Originally proposed as a tax against bikes, the bill was amended — thanks to our work and that of Senate Governance & Finance Chair Lois Wolk — to become a vehicle license surcharge.

AB 1183 is more of a symbolic statement than a practical funding source, because local agencies would need two-thirds voter approval to impose the surcharge. Until the minimum threshold to pass tax-related ballot initiatives is lowered, this surcharge is most likely not going to be a viable source of revenue… (more)

Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit

B : latimes – excerpt

Los Angeles County has funneled billions of dollars over the last two decades into new rail lines to lure commuters out of their cars and off the region’s overcrowded freeways. But many would-be train riders are struggling with how to start.

One of the biggest barriers to attracting new riders to Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains is not the price of fares or the frequency of service. It’s the lack of parking…

Half of Metro’s 80 rail stations have no parking. And at the stops where there are spaces, riders frequently complain that there aren’t nearly enough. In North Hollywood, where the Red Line subway ends, the MTA estimates that it loses as many as 1,500 riders a day because the parking lot fills up by 7:30 a.m…

Scott’s daily dilemma illustrates an often overlooked but significant choke point in the ambitious growth of L.A.’s light-rail system. Metro’s six-line network, which has seen steady ridership gains over the last five years, now carries about 350,000 people on work days. Parking shortages could complicate Metro’s goal of shifting hundreds of thousands more drivers to public transit in coming decades.

Planners say it’s impractical, perhaps impossible, to build enough free parking. Train station lots have low turnover because most commuters leave their cars all day. To meet demand, Metro lots would have to sprawl far beyond the station—or, in dense urban areas, rise several stories.

Studies from several U.S. cities show a direct link between parking and ridership, suggesting that full lots discourage some people from riding the train. But limited land availability and high construction costs constrict Metro’s ability to add spaces…

Northern California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system faces similar questions. A recent study there estimated a dozen new above-ground parking garages in Oakland, Berkeley and nearby suburbs would cost nearly $250 million to build—about $36,000 per space…  (more)

 

Tech mogul Sean Parker befriends politics (and parking)

zRants

Shalene Gupta :Fortune – excerpt

Sean Parker, the former Facebook president and Napster co-founder, is in the cross-hairs for his support of a car-friendly ballot initiative in San Francisco.

All Sean Parker wanted to do was help San Francisco’s poor. The tech billionaire who co-founded Napster and served as Facebook’s first president donated $49,000 to a San Francisco initiative that would make life easier for drivers. The result? Local papers have labeled Parker the enemy.

At first brush, the referendum seems innocuous enough. It would set a number of car-friendly goals like rolling back parking fees outside of peak hours and letting residents approve new parking meters. It also asks that motorists be given more seats on the local public transit board and encourages city planners make congested streets flow more smoothly.

“I have a long-standing frustration that the only people who are significantly disadvantaged by onerous DMV regulations…

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S.F. building boom eats up street parking

By Vivian Ho : sfchronicle – excerpt

The sound of jackhammers and beeping tractors in many San Francisco neighborhoods is as common as the squawk of seagulls at AT&T Park or the rumble of F-line streetcars on Market Street.

But with every lurch of the city’s construction boom, a precious urban commodity disappears: street parking…

Gordon said the department approves about 1,000 new street-space permits a month. They vary in duration, and in whether they can be enforced only during work hours or 24 hours a day.

Public works, Gordon said, does not consider whether a permit request is being made in an area that has already lost parking spaces to other ongoing projects…

Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the southeast area of the city, said she’s been working with the city attorney’s office in recent months to draft legislation that would improve the construction parking permit system…

Her focus is on limiting the 24-hour parking permits so that residents can, at the very least, park overnight.

“I’m not interested in this current wholesale blanketed process of, ‘You want 24 hours? Here, have 24 hours,’” Cohen said. “And then when you’re driving around trying to find parking, you see a whole street free but you can’t park there.”

Cohen said she would also look into whether the city should limit the number of active permits in one small area.

Cohen introduced the drafting request last month, and hopes to have a piece of legislation by the end of November… (more)

Thanks to Supervisors Cohen for looking into the construction parking problem. One of the major causes of gridlock, other than street diets, is the double parked cars around construction sites. Many are not legal, but it is hard to tell unless you check. Thanks  for looking into this.

Brief Reveals Flaws with San Francisco’s Transportation Task Force Report

by Wendell Cox : pacificresearch – excerpt

Today PRI released a brief reviewing San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s Transportation Task Force Report: 2030. The brief is a supplement to PRI’s earlier study “Plan Bay Area Evaluation” (June 2013), which critiqued the plan developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).  Both the brief and the study were authored by Wendell Cox, a PRI fellow and consultant on public policy, planning, and transportation issues.

Mr. Cox writes, “Even if all of the required funding recommended by the Task Force Report is obtained, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is unlikely to be able to deliver on the promises of the 2030 transportation plan.”

Mr. Cox believes that the plan gives little or no attention to the potential for increasing truck and automobile congestion on the city’s streets: “Street improvement programs will give greater priority to transit, cycling, and walking, and will have a necessary effect of slowing general vehicle travel. Similarly, the implementation of additional exclusive bus lanes and taking of capacity from streets for cycle lanes would likely have the same effect. Traffic congestion retards the productivity of the city by increasing travel times, increasing business costs, higher air pollution, and greater greenhouse gas emissions as vehicles are less fuel efficient at slower speeds and in ‘stop’ and ‘go’ conditions.”

In addition, Mr. Cox believes that escalating costs will also present difficulties:

1)    Most of the costs of the 2030 transportation plan are for capital improvements.  In the public sector, capital improvements are inherently susceptible to substantial cost overruns.

2)    The Task Force Report indicates little or no commitment to cost effectiveness.  Muni’s costs over the last 15 years have risen far more than inflation.  This occurs because there is no competitive influence to keep transit costs under control.

Mr. Cox writes that it seems unlikely that the city would be able to deliver on the expensive capital projects in the 2030 plan without significant strategies to ensure that projects stay on budget.  He suggest that the plan might be accomplished through “design-build” contracts with winning bidders that obligate them to deliver the finished projects within budget, making up for the additional expenses from their own resources.  He adds that there are public policy solutions that can bring transit costs under control, which make it possible to maximize service levels for the public and keep fares low — for example, competitive contracts that involve the use of private and public companies to operate individual routes of the transit system for the lowest cost.

Download full report

To learn more about “Evaluation Plan Bay Area: Transportation Task Force Report: 2030” or to arrange an interview with author Wendell Cox,, please contact Rowena Itchon (ritchon@pacificresearch.org) or Laura Dannerbeck (dannerbeckconsulting@gmail.com) at the Pacific Research Institute… (more)

So we aren’t all crazy when we claim that ”

Traffic congestion retards the productivity of the city by increasing travel times, increasing business costs, higher air pollution, and greater greenhouse gas emissions as vehicles are less fuel efficient at slower speeds and in ‘stop’ and ‘go’ conditions.”

The experts agree with us.