California’s Freeways Are a Future Power Source

californiacountynews – excerpt

After all the times we’ve cursed the world while snarled in traffic on the 405, who knew we were sitting atop a precious energy source?

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, that’s who.

For years, Gatto has been pushing California to adopt a groundbreaking technique that converts the vibration of cars over a highway into renewable energy. Now he’s finally gotten his wish, with the California Energy Commission agreeing to fund multiple pilot projects in the Golden State.

The technology uses Piezoelectric crystals like quartz which give off an electrical discharge when compressed. They’ll be embedded in the highways with the vehicles acting as the compressors. The resulting electrical currents can then be harvested to service the grid.

According to Gatto, the power generated from a one mile stretch of a two lane highway could eventually power 500 homes for an entire year or 120 electrical vehicles a day.

If this all sounds too good to be true, you should know it’s already shown great promise in Israel and Japan. There’s even a nightclub in San Francisco using Piezoeletric crystals to power its dance floor!

“Thirty years ago, no one would have believed that black silicon panels in the desert could generate ‘solar’ power,” Gatto said. “Piezoelectric technology is real, and I am glad the state has finally acknowledged its potential in becoming an energy source.”

Read more about the pilot program here(more)

$40M in funding approved to ease Bay Bridge commute

Pedestrian group tries to save car-free Stockton Street proposal

By sfexaminer -excerpt

Politically powerful Chinatown community organizer Rose Pak put her foot down on the Lower Stockton Street Improvement Project, perhaps endangering the proposal to close part of Stockton Street to cars before the proposal ever reached a public agency for a vote.

Now some pedestrian-friendly groups are speaking out in hopes of keeping the effort alive.

And new conceptual drawings of the project obtained by the San Francisco Examiner show the project is beyond the point of stakeholder discussions, and may be in the beginning stages of planning.

“We’d love to see The City study it,” said Tom Radulovich, head of transportation advocacy group Livable City, adding the project shouldn’t be killed after one meeting with one stakeholder.

“There needs to be a public discussion,” he said, “not a closed door discussion.”…

Pak said she had a personal meeting with Reiskin to express Chinatown’s concerns over business impacts to the project. Making the walkway permanent would “make permanent all the problems we’ve experienced,” she wrote in a letter to Reiskin, adding it’s “unacceptable to our community.”…

While Livable City is moving full steam ahead to support the project, other advocacy groups like the San Francisco Transit Riders are taking a more hands-off approach.

Peter Straus, of San Francisco Transit Riders, said that while the group supports the walkway, “I don’t think it’s something where we’re going to jump the gun on Chinatown, we don’t want a battle here.”… (more)

Rose Pak is right to be concerned about the flow of traffic in this city. We have lost enough streets and it is time to put a stop to the anti-car SFMTA Board. Vote for the Charter Amendment and send some of them packing.