Congress Advances Proposal To Preempt Calif. Regulations On Self-Driving Cars

By  Daniel Potter : Capitol Public Radio – excerpt (includes audio)

Congress is advancing a proposal to preempt some California regulations on self-driving cars.

States like California have traditionally regulated how cars are operated, but the federal government regulates their design.

“The trick here is now the vehicles are becoming the operators, so there’s a little blurring of those lines,” says Law Professor Bryant Walker Smith.

He also says the bill would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more authority over autonomous vehicle design. That could preempt current requirements in California for things like an emergency switch to shut off self-driving mode.­

“But that preemption would not preclude states from enacting all manner of other laws related to automated driving,” says Smith.

Registration and insurance would still be left to the state. The Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t comment on the bill, which is up for a vote in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee this week… (more)

 

City Attorney files injunction to force Uber, Lyft to disclose driver data

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco just upped the stakes to legally wrangle driver data from Uber and Lyft.

The City Attorney’s Office Friday morning filed a court order in San Francisco Superior Court to compel Uber and Lyft to comply with subpoenas filed against the companies early last month.

Those administrative subpoenas, filed on June 5, would require the ride-hail companies to hand over four years of records, including miles and hours logged by drivers, incentives that encourage drivers to travel to San Francisco from far-flung cities like Los Angeles, driver guidance and training, accessible vehicle information and driver routes within San Francisco… (more)

RELATED:
SF takes Uber, Lyft to court for GPS traffic data

 

 

Supervisors vent frustrations over reportedly slow, unnecessary roadwork

By Joshua Sabastiani : sfexaminer – excerpt

upside-down

This sign on Bryant and 16th Street illustrates the lack of direction and focus we feel as we navigate the “complete streets” projects springing up in patches all over the city. The anger and frustration is boiling over and being directed at the supervisors. Photo by zrants.

City agencies responsible for roadwork were in for a bumpy ride Wednesday as supervisors aired their frustrations over such issues as sluggish pothole repairs and allegations of wasting $40,000 on an unnecessary bulb-out project at one intersection.

The frustrations built up during a hearing Wednesday before the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee over a road condition report. But the hearing quickly turned into litany of complaints from members of the board. (See meeting transcript Item 1. Update on Street Resurfacing Program and Analysis of the 2016 TRIP Report.)

The tension comes as The City is increasingly investing in repaving roads and changing streetscapes to make them safer for pedestrians and bicycles and more efficient for Muni, in addition to greater investments in sewer and water infrastructure. Complications arising from a private sector development boom have also added to such frustrations…(more)

The Supervisors appear to have divided up the job of investigating various coplaints.

Supervisor Breed complained about an popular $40 K bulbout, but, she missed the extremely expensive sidewalk extensions along the bus stops cost upwards of $250 K. The bulbout campaign to slow the cars is capturing the Muni buses and fire trucks, slowing down instead.

Supervisor Peskins took on the potholes and discovered that the 311 coplaints are marked completed when they are passed to other city departments to be fixed, not when they are completed. He also complained about multiple digs in one area.

Supervisor Fewer voiced her concern that the SFMTA plans to put off pothole repairs on Geary until they start the BRT project. The heavy filled buses do as must damage to the streets as the trucks, so the more buses you have the more larger potholes and Geary is full of heavy full buses.

The hearing comes as Mayor Ed Lee’s budget, which was approved on Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, includes $90 million in roadwork investment during the next two years. That investment will fund the resurfacing of at least 600 blocks annually…

“Given this huge investment in our streets, we need to get things right, and that includes investing in and prioritizing coordination,” Peskin said…

Thomas said the coordination is occurring with weekly design meetings among the agencies, bi-weekly meetings with PG&E and a project database charting out work five years ahead.

“Coordination is the key to everything that we do,” Thomas said.

But Fewer said they need to look for ways to augment it.

“We are seeing this added need for greater coordination,” she said…(more)

Residents would say this coordination needs to come with public scrutiny, input and prioritization. the five year plan needs to be a two0-year plan that matches the budget allotment.

RELATED:
Analysis: Traffic-slowing construction projects have doubled in SF in past decade

Transit agency ‘mistake’ reveals extra parking removed from Potrero Avenue

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Sometimes, San Francisco makes mistakes…

Like not listening to the neighbors who know the street…

…neighbors are also concerned that the Potrero Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project was designed before Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital built its new trauma wing — and that those 2014 transportation plans reportedly block emergency vehicle access…

That allegation from neighbors was later expressed by Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which heads the project.

These concerns prompted the SFMTA Board of Directors to approve the project in a limited capacity Tuesday and carve out a hole in their plans directly in front of the hospital so that portion can be studied…(more)

Here is something for the next SFMTA study.

We opened this story with the last article we see on the Potrero Project and the warnings from neighbors that this new road configuration is dangerous. So far we have seen no mention of the 4-car pile up that draw ambulances and stopped traffic yesterday, June 20, during rush hour, in front of the entrance to SF General, as residents on the 900 block of Potrero Avenue predicted.

So far as we know the accident was only recorded by the neighbors, who seem to be more vigilant than professionals in documenting the problems on Potrero. It was no-doubt witnessed by a lot of commuters stuck in the street, who were probably grateful they were not the victims of this folly.

Hours of wasted time in this one accident will not be made up soon by the faster buses we are told will go soon whizzing by on transit only lanes. Since the SFMTA did not consider the victims of this accident worth noting, we doubt they will end up in their count.We are here to fill in the media gaps. This marks the second story we scooped this month. More videos and links will follow and hopefully some of our press partners will take this story up, when they finish reporting on the latest Trump tweets.

Witness statement:

I’d say southbound traffic was diverted onto 21st Street for at least half an hour.  I came out onto my front steps to smoke at about 6:20pm and saw the police SUV and diversion already happening to my left, then noticed all the emergency vehicles and the aftermath of the accident to my right, just south of the 22nd Street east offset.  I got to the scene within a couple of minutes, shot video (that I still haven’t watched) on my cell phone, which then immediately died, then ran home to get my iPad and was back shooting video by 6;27, first of the accident, next of the intersection of Potrero Avenue and 21st Street.  Then I went back inside to post the videos from my iPad while my phone continued to charge.  By 7(?)pm, the streets were open again.

Before and maybe after, I was listening to music through headphones in the back of my house, hence missing facts.

Video links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd8iskKgxg8

 

 

The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

How many laws can one cyclist break in an intersection?

Op-Ed


Cyclist running red light at a railroad crossing photo by zrants.

I was headed north on Webster when I came to a stop light and stopped. As I looked to my right side I saw a cyclist approaching with a child on the back. The next thing I noticed was that Although the child was wearing one, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. He was wearing shorts and some kind of sandals. As I watched, he approached the intersection with the red light, and, instead of stopping like I did, he crossed in front of me like a pedestrian might, and then proceeded to cross the intersection against the red light on the other side and drove up onto the sidewalk, where he proceeded to continue on his way.

First, he wore no helmet, so, if he went down he would not be protected and able to help the child, who would also go down if he bike fell. Not very smart parenting.

Then, he did not stop at the red light. Instead he crossed the street in front of the stopped cars from right to left and then crossed against the light on the other side. He could have been hit by a vehicle proceeding through the green light, or a car making a right turn. He may or may not have been seen by either car, as he was weaving a bit through the potholes. Since he was breaking the law, and not following the rules of the road it was hard to anticipate what he was doing until he did it, making it harder for cars to avoid hitting him.

Then he drove up on the sidewalk.

I count four laws being broken at this one intersection. And he is teaching his child to break the laws. That is what really bothers me. Parents are putting their children in dangerous situations and teaching them bad habits at the same time.

Red transit-only lanes have no use in West Portal

By Sally Stephens : sfweekly – excerpt

MissionReds
Merchants blame the experimental Red Lanes on Mission Street for 30% loss of business. Photo by zrants.

One Red Lane too many : SFMTA is using Red Lanes like these on Mission Street to remove “blight” like thrift shops, small unique craft businesses and repair shops all over town as loss of easy access and parking divers customers away.

Studies of displaced communities all over the world prove that gentrification is killing neighborhoods and the unique community character that created the charm the new residents think they are moving into. Views are a past memory as new towers scrape for the clouds and fog moves inland as the trees that blocked it are removed for the hilltops.

The small collection of cobblers, repair shops and bookstores left on West Portal, are slated for extinction because they are on a “transit rich” street. Red Lanes are the answer to curb these hangers on. They must go to make room for more high rise units of housing, coffee shops, gyms and bike shops. Everything else will be delivered by Amazon drones soon, unless they get permission to have the self-driving vehicles roam the sidewalks.

One size doesn’t always fit all. Most of us know that, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has yet to learn that lesson.

The SFMTA recently received federal approval to expand red transit-only lanes to 50 streets throughout The City. While most are in the highly congested downtown and South of Market areas, others are not.

West Portal Avenue is one of the shortest streets included in the expansion. Two Muni light-rail trains and two bus lines travel at least one block on the street.

I go to West Portal nearly every day to shop, eat or meet friends. I see lots of trains and buses, but I rarely see one stuck behind a line of cars slowing it down. The trains move easily — sometimes, too fast — down the street. So, why does the SFMTA want to put red lanes there?

The Federal Highway Administration considers red transit-only lanes — like those painted on Mission Street — to be an “experiment” in speeding up mass transit. Indeed, the proposed expansion is also considered an experiment.

A few months ago, the SFMTA released a study of red lanes on three streets in The City’s northeast section and declared them a grand success. According to its blog, the SFMTA considers red transit-only lanes to be the “new standard” for city streets.

But this new standard may not be a good fit for West Portal…(more)

It is up to the residents and businesses to stand up and say San Francisco will not tolerate any more Red Lanes or experiments on our streets. People in the eastern neighborhoods tried to warn everyone and they were ignored. Now they are coming after everyone on the West side. It is time to act. Let you supervisor, Mayor and state and federal reps know if you are fed up and want to stop being the guinea pig for transportation experiments. Roll back the Red. Join the Sensible Transportation movement: http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots

Kevin McCoy : usatoday – exceprt (includes video)

Searching for parking is more painful than ever for U.S. drivers.

Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for spots on streets, in lots, or in garages, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The hunt adds up to an estimated $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel, and emissions, according to the analysis by INRIX, a leading specialist in connected car services and transportation analytics…

Hunting for parking “imposes significant costs on our pocketbooks that we often don’t think about,” and also adds to (traffic) congestion,” said Bob Pishue, an INRIX transportation analyst and co-author of the report. “This is a problem not only drivers face, but local shops and businesses, too.” … (more)

Thank you Supervisor Yee for requesting a Controller’s analysis of the effect of large street projects on our local businesses, but, do we need more evidence that local businesses are at risk when parking is removed, lanes are reduced and getting round the city is a pain instead of a pleasure?

San Francisco residents need to be put on notice that the anti-parking and cars movement is purposefully being used to kill our local economy in favor of the Amazon jungle SFMTA planners envision for us. According to them we have too many retail businesses. Everybody should shop online and take deliveries. Not that there is a plan for delivery parking either. They were probably planning on sidewalk robots, but, that plan was put on hold to protect the walkers.

Who needs safe streets to walk down when you can put on your army boots and pack your weapon of choice as you stroll down the crowded sidewalk ankle-deep in waste to the street corner. If you are lucky we will picked up by a self-propelled vehicle or make your way up to the roof for the Drone delivery of your lunch. The not so fortunate must make their way to a crowded bus or walk if walking is still free.

This is where we are headed if we continue along the path they have chosen for us. Look at the designs of all the buildings and you can see the plan in action now. What does it take to change this picture? Stay tuned.

The anti-car traffic congestion and parking problems and street obstructions did not happen by accident. This condition was planned and implemented by the people you see and hear from every week at the SFMTA. They are the power brokers who are running the show. You can read their treatise and see exactly how rose to their positions of authority.

SF residents are the only casualties in ‘war on cars’

By Sally Stephens : sfexaminer – excerpt

280 traffic on a cloudy day by zrants

San Francisco is a transit-first city. Those of us who live here are told we should use Muni to get around. Or ride a bike. Or walk. But above all else, we should not drive our cars.

To reinforce this, city policy makes it easy to remove existing parking spaces — turning curbside parking spots into parklets — and explicitly prevents new developments from providing a parking space for every unit built. Some have called this a “war on cars.”

If you look at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Strategic Plan, however, it turns out that “transit first” includes prioritizing ride-hail vehicles. In essence, The City wants people to get out of their own cars and into other people’s.

There’s no war on cars in San Francisco if the cars are being driven for profit. Those are welcome here — even if the drivers don’t live here, don’t pay taxes here and, often, don’t even know how to get from one place to another in The City.

No, the war on cars is aimed at San Francisco residents.

A recent report released by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority showed that cars from ride-hail companies Uber and Lyft make more than 170,000 trips — driving more than half a million miles — within The City every weekday. Nearly 6,000 ride-hail cars clog the streets during peak commute hours…

San Francisco’s “war on cars” targets residents to give up their cars, while allowing — even encouraging — people from out of town to drive all over our city, as long as they’re doing it for money…(more)

SFMTA is taking our public streets and selling them to THEIR preferred car-shares and other corporate entities. As if Uber and Lyft and the tech buses weren’t enough of a nuisance, the SFMTA has now invited Scoot to park their Scooters and (4-wheeled vehicles, that some of us refer to as cars) pretty much anywhere they want to. There is a hearing on this matter at the Planning Commission this holiday week on Thursday. If you object, let the Planning Commissioners and your supervisors know. Details are here:


Thursday, July 7, 1 PM
agenda
Room 400 Planning –  Transportation Commission

Item 15. 2017-000475PCA CAR-SHARE AND SHARED LIMITED RANGE VEHICLE PARKING REQUIREMENTS [BOARD FILE NO. 170625,  PREVIOUSLY BF 161349] Planning Code Amendment to allow Shared Limited Range Vehicle Parking. (But only Scoot and city-owned vehicles appear to be in on this deal that will hand public property over to city commercial interests.) Private owned vehicles cannot park in Daylight zones. yet, SFMTA’s CHOSEN vehicles may. UNLESS RESIDENTS STOP THIS SCOOT PREFERRED PARKING PROGRAM.

Bay Area voters may be asked to OK bridge toll hike of up to $3

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Saturday Night traffic on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

Lawmakers, business leaders and staffers at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have been quietly meeting at the state Capitol in an effort to draw up a proposal for a toll increase of $2 to $3 on the Bay Area’s seven state-run bridges.

The goal is to have the measure in front of voters either in next year’s June primary election or on the November general election ballot.

Money from the toll increase — an estimated $125 million a year — would pay for a number of projects intended to ease traffic congestion. Those could include funding for 300 new BART cars, something that would allow the transit agency to run more trains; construction of more high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstates 80, 680 and 880, plus Highway 101; expanded ferry systems and more express buses; BART service to San Jose; and the growing cost of the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco… (more)

How many times will voters be tapped to pay for the mistakes and miscalculations of our elected officials? What will they do if the voters refuse to pay their debts?

Will they go away and leave us alone to get on with our lives?  New Jersey and Illinois are finding out now, as they face a major credit-default crisis.

There is a limited amount of tolerance left among the taxpaying public. This could be the end of the gravy train. SFMTA is raising rates across the bridge for everyone, including the Muni riders. Meanwhile, there has been no comparable raise in salaries to cover the costs of living increases except among the government employees.

How much government does the public need or want?

Once again, read the article and comment at the source if you can. The ideas they dream up of how to get money out of use to spend on their projects is staggering.