Menlo Park Fire District Opposes Protected Bike Lanes on El Camino Real

Menlo Park’s Fire District is fighting a trial project to install protected or buffered bike lanes on El Camino Real. Image: City of Menlo Park
Menlo Park’s proposal for protected bike lanes on El Camino Real is meeting resistance from the top brass at the city’s Fire Protection District, who would rather see the road become wider and more dangerous.

In a recent letter to the Menlo Park City Council, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman completely missed the point of installing protected bike lanes — to make making bicycling safer and more attractive. “I cannot recommend the use of El Camino Real in Menlo Park to bicyclists because it is a fairly dangerous route,” he wrote. “In my 35-year career, bicyclists almost always ‘lose’ when they are involved with an accident involving a vehicle, no matter who is at fault or to blame.”

Instead, Schapelhouman said it would be “interesting” to expand the street-level highway to six lanes and synchronize traffic signals to let drivers speed through downtown Menlo Park.

Three city advisory commissions have endorsed the conceptual plan to install bike lanes, either physically protected from motor traffic by curbs and landscaped traffic islands, or an alternative with just a painted buffer zone.

At an August 25 meeting, Menlo Park City Council members refrained from voting on those proposals but did say they favor a trial version of the protected bike lanes, which would replace 156 parking spaces along all 1.3 miles of El Camino Real within the city… (more)

Oakland Sticks to Backward Thinking

By  : eastbayexpress – excerpt

Oakland’s elected officials have long viewed themselves as progressive and forward-thinking. But when it comes to creating transit-friendly neighborhoods, building affordable housing, and protecting the environment, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the city’s leaders are way behind the curve.

As Express senior writer Sam Levin explained in a recent series of in-depth articles, Oakland is still stuck in the 20th century when it comes to transportation and the city’s longstanding love affair with the automobile. Oakland has almost no money for affordable housing, and the city should be doing all it can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but instead, it’s still mandating that developers promote car culture, requiring them to spend huge amounts of money on constructing large parking garages — that often end up sitting partially empty — right next to BART stations… (more)

If there are empty parking garages near BART stations, where are they? There are probably a lot of people who would like to know. The author should post that information.

Hillsborough panel may ask state to set Uber, Lyft rules

By Mike Salinero : tbo – excerpt

In San Francisco and Los Angeles, a check of Uber drivers earlier this summer turned up convicted sex offenders, identity thieves, burglars, kidnappers and a murderer. The check was undertaken during a consumer protection lawsuit filed by the two California cities’ district attorneys. San Francisco DA George Gascon said the investigation found “systemic failures” in Uber background checks, according to news reports.

The long-standing battle between Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission and ride-share companies Uber and Lyft could be settled in Tallahassee.

Today, the transportation commission will consider proposing a state law that would allow Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Hillsborough County if they abide by certain requirements. A draft bill will be presented to the county’s legislative delegation Sept. 25 if a majority of commission members agree.

The requirements have all been ignored or refused by Uber and Lyft in the past. They include the following:

♦  Uber and Lyft drivers must undergo federal and state background checks that include fingerprinting.

♦  Drivers must carry personal and liability insurance which covers the drivers when they are carrying passengers.

♦  Vehicles must have annual inspections by a certified mechanic of the driver’s choosing.

Some — not all — Uber and Lyft vehicles must be accessible for wheelchair-bound and blind passengers.

Uber and Lyft are abiding by similar regulations in other metro areas, including New York, Dallas-Fort Worth and Columbus, Ohio, said Kyle Cockream, executive director of the Public Transportation Commission.

“They’re doing vehicle inspections, background checks and they’ve got insurance like we’re asking for,” Cockream said. “They won’t comply in any market until they are compelled to.”… (more)

If these companies can meet these requirements in some cities, they can meet them in all cities.

Chariot Wins First Round Of San Francisco’s Private Transit Battle

By Scott Beyer : forbes – excerpt

San Francisco has become a hotbed for private bus startups, with several smart-phone-oriented services sprouting up in America’s tech capital, including Night School, Leap, Loup, UberPool and Chariot. But given the industry’s infant stages–and the regulatory hell of operating in California–several services have folded, while only one has really stuck. It is Chariot, a bare-bones vanpool company that may prove to be an industry model…

Chariot provides rudimentary vans that get from point A to B. This means that average rides cost only $2.50–compared to the $2.25 MUNI fare, and the $6 Leap fare–and monthly passes cost $93. The service, according to its site, has a 97% on-time rating, compared to 57% for MUNI.

“At the end of the day, a commuter wants to get to work quickly, reliably and affordably,” said Vahabzadeh. “Everything else is a distraction.”

His notion should be applicable to private bus entrepreneurs in other cities. Most commuters may not want luxury rides, per se, but a service that costs about the same as the public option, while performing far better… (more)

Customer service is priceless.