Can Walnut Creek be a model for reducing gridlock? It hopes so

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

As Bay Area traffic congestion hovers at an all-time high, the East Bay suburb is taking matters into its own hands to limit single occupancy vehicles on the roads and becoming a model of smart transit among smaller cities… (more)

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My turn: Public-private partnerships are an industry gimmick that don’t serve public well

By Cathrina Barros : calmatters – exccerpt

The start of a new legislative session inevitably brings calls from industry for lawmakers to authorize privatizing state highway projects through so-called “public-private partnerships.”

That would be a mistake.

Proponents claim multiple benefits such as cost savings and efficiency. But they fail to mention that previous highway projects in our state built with the same scheme they seek have not delivered as promised.

In fact, they are marked by taxpayer bailouts, cost overruns and bankruptcies.

Let’s take a look at the record…

People who want to hand public highway projects over to private interests claim that cost overruns are the responsibility of the developer, not taxpayers.

Tell that to the California Transportation Commission, which in 2017 spent $91 million to cover unexpected cost overruns to the Presidio Parkway developer… (more)

On a local level, SFMTA and their enterprise partners have taken over large swaths of public space in various public/private enterprises that are hard to pin down. It is extremely difficult for the public to access information on the financial details of these agreements, though many attempts have been made. Ask the taxi drivers how their medallion investments have turned out or the firm that financed them. What we end up with is privatization of public property. Rarely does the enterprise benefit the public. If anything, the public/private enterprises become an easy way to hide disbursement of funds from the public.

It appears that Governor Newsom is giving up on the largest boondoggle in recent memory that was supposed to be a public/private enterprise but never caught the imagination of any big money investors. He is suspending High Speed Rail, limiting it to the area that has already been built. Putting the rest of the project on ice. It seems that no one really expects that train to bring in the billions it will take to break even.

San Francisco Sees Decline in Bike Riders

By Christie Smith : nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video and graphic)

Number-of-Bicyclists-Drops-in-San-Francisco_Bay-Area online

It’s a shock to say the least as numbers show fewer people are biking in the Bay Area, a stunning statement considering how much the city has made streets bike friendly.

With more people moving to San Francisco, riders said there are not enough protected bike lanes for bicyclists.

Considering how much the city has done to make streets more bike friendly, trends show a decrease of riders from 126,000 riders in 2015 to 95,000 in 2017 according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)… (more)

One of the interviews is with a Valencia Street Bike Store who admits to having sinking sales over the last five years. It appears that not all industries have done well during the explosion of Bike Lanes. If any bike store in town should be successful it should be one on Valencia, one of the heaviest traveled bike streets in town. We should determine which industries are successful and which are failing by talking to more merchants on Valencia.

Will a “front door” help San Francisco steer the stampede of emerging technologies testing on its streets?

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals – excerpt

Electric scooters. Delivery robots. Uber and Lyft. Even the soon-to-be shuttered van service Chariot started operating without the approval of San Francisco, with city policies as a secondary thought.

Now San Francisco, which has been ground zero for many emerging technologies, is looking to better keep tabs on the various startups keen on testing or operating their new products in the city. After six months of meetings attended by representatives from over 100 companies, city agencies, think tanks and community organizations, a new report was released Thursday by the Emerging Technology Open Working Group, led by city administrator Naomi Kelly.

“It is clear that technology is part of the social fabric of life in San Francisco,” the report says. “Yet as keepers of the public right-of-way and other public spaces, we must develop appropriate policy measures to mitigate risks and unintended impacts on San Franciscans and our infrastructure.”

The report will next be presented to city’s board of supervisors, likely sometime in January, followed by a hearing… (more)

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New Laws for cyclists in 2019

By Robert Montano : fresnobee – excerpt

Each new year brings change to the California Vehicle Code. Many of these changes will have a significant impact on roadway safety. Californians are fortunate to have Legislators who work to identify and respond to the evolving trends of traffic safety. This year, we see changes to helmet use on bicycles, motorized scooters and the expansion of the hit-and-run offense within bicycle paths (lanes). Here are highlights on several of these new laws:

Helmet use on motorized scooters (AB 2989, Flora): Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are age 18 or older. Motorized scooters may operate within a bicycle path and on highways with speed limits up to 25 mph. Local jurisdictions may pass ordinances to allow motorized scooters on highways with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour. However, it is still illegal to operate a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.

Bicycle hit-and-run on bicycle path (AB 1755, Steinorth): The provisions of the felony hit-and-run law have been extended to cyclists traveling along bicycle paths. Currently, in the California Vehicle Code, a motor vehicle driver involved in a collision resulting in death or injury to another party is required to stop at the scene. AB 1755 clarifies that the same vehicle code also applies to bicyclists who cause injury-related collisions… (more)

CHP notes new laws concerning helmet use on bicycles and scooters, hit-and-run crashes on bike paths

By JC Flores : turnto23 – excerpt

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The California Highway Patrol is making the public aware of new laws approved by the California Legislature in 2018 that will affect roadway safety in several ways…

Bicycle hit-and-run on bike path (AB 1755, Steinorth): The provisions of the felony hit-and-run law are extended to cyclists on Class I bikeways (bike paths). Currently, in the California Vehicle Code, a driver involved in a collision resulting in death or injury to another party is required to stop at the scene. This law clarifies that the same vehicle code also applies on Class I bikeways and allows law enforcement to hold individuals accountable for reckless behavior… (more)

MTC News Headlines

mtc – excerpt

Headlines For Dec 14, 2018

Ford GoBike will boost fleet of electric bikes in SF from 250 to 850
San Francisco Chronicle

Ford GoBike more than triples its SF electric bike fleet today
Curbed

Transbay Transit Center inches toward repair
San Francisco Chronicle

Holes cut into steel contributed to beams cracking at SF’s Salesforce Transit CenterEast Bay Times

Holes cut into Transit Center beams ‘probable cause’ for cracks
San Francisco Examiner

Video: No Date Set on When Transbay Transit Terminal Will Reopen
NBC – Bay Area

(more)

Sticker Shock

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Everything you need to know about California’s new carpool lane decals

Drivers of plug-in vehicles who freely coast through California’s carpool lanes may get a shock in January, when regulators roll out new rules — and new stickers for cars that qualify.

The change is part of a years-long strategy to clear out traffic in the lanes, so that they move faster for traditional carpools, mass transit and eligible clean air vehicles. And it’s the latest complication in a system that’s burdened by competing goals — from encouraging more people to buy efficient cars, to extending the freebie to lower-income drivers, to creating a resale market for used plug-ins.

Confused, yet? Below, we answer questions you may have about the clean-air sticker program… (more)

The author attempts to unravel the confusing new carpool lane sticker rules. Competing goals is an apt description of the government’s transportation policies and this is no exception. These changes follow the same changes in doctrine that has riled most of the Europe. No one can make up their mind what the long term methods should be, so they change rapidly back and forth to look like they are accomplishing something. All they accomplish is an angry populace that wants relief and stability firm government programs.

Uber And Lyft Are Making Traffic Worse While Claiming To Fix It

By Michael Hobbes : huffingtonpost – excerpt

The ride-hailing companies want you to think they’re reducing congestion and promoting public transit. Their actions tell a different story.

For years now, Uber and Lyft have argued that their business model provides a way for cities to augment public transport, reduce car ownership and beat traffic congestion.

In 2015, Uber co-founder and then-CEO Travis Kalanick told a room of CEOs that he envisioned “a world where there’s no more traffic in Boston in five years.” The co-founder of Lyft, John Zimmer, predicted in 2016 that private car ownership “will all-but end in major U.S. cities” by 2025. “If Lyft Line were to be applied to all single occupancy taxi trips,” Zimmer and his co-founder, Logan Green, wrote in 2017, “it would reduce the number of vehicles needed by 75 percent.” They called their post “The End of Traffic.”

But these utopian visions have yet to square with reality. Since 2015, studies have consistently found that ride-sharing is associated with more driving, less public transit use and worsening congestion. Car traffic and ownership rates are still rising and, according to a study earlier this year, up to 60 percent of Uber and Lyft rides replace walking, biking, buses and trains — transportation modes that didn’t add cars to the roads. Just this month, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority concluded that ride-sharing accounted for roughly half of the 37 extra minutes San Franciscans spend sitting in traffic every day compared to 2010…

A study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority concluded that ride-hailing accounted for roughly half the increase in congestion between 2010 and 2016.

(more)

What does it take to change situation that is well-documented by a number of studies? We are told the California PUC is responsible for removing local government control over the TNCs, Google buses and other non-public transportation business models that we are causing the major traffic problems and putting our public transportation systems at a disadvantage? Maybe the solution is to change the CPUC. Ask the governor wannabes how they will do this.

 

Citing management failures, city withholds funds for Salesforce Transit Center expansion

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A city transportation body voted Tuesday to suspend “all further financial assistance” for work on the Salesforce Transit Center, citing a lack of faith in the project’s leadership.

It is the latest delay to transit center funding, after $200 million was held up by a Board of Supervisors committee last Thursday for clarification purposes. That funding will return for a vote this week at the board.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board, which is comprised of the Board of Supervisors, voted unanimously to delay $9.6 million in funds to the Transbay Joint Power Authority until The City can evaluate what led to the discovery last month of cracks in two steel beams, shutting down the newly constructed $2.2 billion transit center…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said it is vital that The City plans the multi-billion dollar project effectively, making it essential to re-evaluate the transit center’s leadership before the next phase of transit center design begins.

“The right time to get it right is in the beginning,” Peskin said…(more)

The solution to dealing with the accountability problem is to pass a Charter Amendment to restructure the departments that are responsible for the transportation mess that seems to be pushing us toward a private corporate takeover of our streets. The shadowy regional TJPA has been a thorn in our sides for a while. Now we see the results of their efforts. What will it take for citizens to act? Ask the candidates for supervisor what they will do when they are in charge.