Why traffic laws are not being enforced

Comments from a concerned citizen

The city outgrew the infrastructure and LOS (level of service) some time ago. There are too few police, firemen, Muni drivers, teachers, 911 emergency call center operators, etc. for the current level of population. Not only do we have more people living in San Francisco, the population swells during the day making it impossible for the traffic control officers to do a proper job. To make matters more difficult, City Hall dedicates huge amounts of money to planning for future growth instead of fixing the problems we have today. SFMTA can’t hire and train enough operators but they did manage to push their PR department from 4 employees to 55 to try to convince you that you should be happy with “their service”. Are you?

Keeping police officers on the streets is one aspect of the development policy that the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) was supposed to take into consideration, and did until recently. Now they just create a record that shows they took CEQA into consideration and found that they could do nothing to mitigate the “harm” that might come from the new project under consideration and approve it anyway. You may thank your state government and the courts for overriding the local government laws and policies and protections our residents voted for to keep a healthy balance between growth and services. Now we just have forced growth.

If you are paying attention to local Planning Commission hearings you have heard residents and local neighborhood organizations warning about the lack of infrastructure growth to support the increased population. Instead of taking these concerns into consideration, our state representatives have rewritten laws to avoid slowing growth to match LOS (the level for service needed to serve the community.)

In the next few days you will see a number of street actions that are an attempt to bring this unbalanced growth to the attention of the public and an attempt to suggest a better plan going forward to return the city to a more pleasant standard of living. You will also see some new faces running for office that offer a different narrative.

If you don’t like the way things are, you might consider making some changes when you can.

Electric-Car Owners Hard Hit by Massive California Power Shutdown

By : caranddriver – excerpt

Tesla’s Elon Musk promises battery and solar solutions for the many EV owners who can’t charge their cars.

  • Nearly a million Californians are now without power as the electric company deliberately shut it off this week, fearing high winds would spark wildfire.
  • The affected area in Northern California surrounds Fremont, home of Tesla, and a great many electric-car owners who can’t charge their vehicles as usual.
  • Tesla’s Elon Musk is swapping in battery Powerpacks and solar power for Superchargers in the region as fast as he can get permits, he claims on Twitter…(more)

Of course if they have solar installations on their roofs, they can charge the cars using their own power during the day and suck off the car during the night. That is if they are free to arrange a schedule to fit that reality. If their job is reliant on energy anyway, they may be off work. Many possibilities for off-the-grid power solutions will no doubt surface soon.

Caution! This is a Completely Hypothetical Exercise that could become Reality

motorists.org – excerpt
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board (ARB) recently put on a presentation titled “The Science behind Sustainable Communities Strategies.” The stated goal was to provide “an objective review of the empirical evidence on how effective various transportation and land use strategies are at reducing vehicle miles traveled (and thus greenhouse gas emissions).” A representative from one of the NMA’s allied organizations in California, Robin Cole with the Association of California Car Clubs, attended and provides us with a first-hand account below.
Robin’s comments remind us of how hostile urban planners are toward automobiles as they spread their vision of densely populated urban areas where cars are seen as a threat. Robin notes that the presenter, Dr. Susan Handy with the University of California—Davis, relied mostly on assumptions, not facts, to support her claims. This approach reminds us of the rationale for mandating the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) during the Arab Oil Embargo. The government claimed that lowering highway speed limits would reduce fuel consumption by more than two percent. In reality, the reduction was less than half a percent, yet it took more than 20 years to fully repeal the onerous NMSL…

The bottom-line goal of all of this is to get people out of their vehicles by making it more expensive to drive (gas, parking, tolls, etc.) and by getting people to live near where they work, play, shop, etc… (more)

Recap: What Is The Future Of The Car?

by George McIntire : the bolditalic – excerpt Jul 28 at 10am

If you take a look at past conceptualizations of what the future will look like, they almost always involve flying cars. Those obviously don’t exist, but that concept was an underlying theme about the importance of cars and transportation in decades to come. At our “Gearing Up: The Future Of The Car” tech panel last Monday (co-hosted with General Assembly and sponsored by Metromile), we brought together a group an extremely knowledgeable panelists from different backgrounds to discuss what path cars and technology will take in the future.

Panel Lineup:
Moderator: Damon Lavrinc, Silicon Valley Correspondent, Jalopnik
Dan Preston, CEO, MetroMile
Danny Shapiro, Director of Marketing, NVIDIA
Ezra Goldman, Founder & CEO Upshift
Steven Rahman, Director of Technology & Research, Samsung Research America

We live in a time where technology moves at an increasingly rapid pace. Each year there’s a new iPhone with a smaller and faster microchip. Cars and the technology they employ seem to be an exception to that rule. The question of why cars don’t innovate as fast as our other tech gadgets was the first one to be tackled by our panel. Shapiro highlighted safety as a key factor. “The car is a life or death situation, which requires more engineering, testing, and work than other technologies.” The panelists agreed that the room for error is much smaller for cars and this translates to slower innovation and upgrading.

The panel’s primary focus was what the near future of driving will look like, analyzing what we’re likely to see by the year 2020 or 2025. Four experts were in accordance that data will play an even larger part in our experience. We’re very likely to see more sensors and even cameras installed in our vehicles that will be used to improve the safety and comfort of driving. Facial recognition could be used to replace keys and to alert the driver that his/her driving is unsafe.

Halfway through, Lavrinc decided he to address the “800-pound gorilla in the room” which is the subject of autonomous/self-driving cars. He asked the audience if they would like to see or own one, and the majority raised their hands.

As for it actually happening? The panelists threw cold water on that prospect and basically said don’t hold your breath. Figuring out the insurance and liability issue is something that will take years to solve. However, this is a goal that tech and automakers are diligently working on, as evidenced by the fact that every major car company has a presence in Silicon Valley(more)

Bike lanes vs. bike paths: Where you ride may make a difference in the pollution you breathe – science roundup

By Susannah L. Bodman :  oregonian – excerpt

When you think of the hazards of commuting by bike or just the occasional ride alongside traffic, what may come first to mind are collisions, driver vs. bicyclist road rage, and maybe even that special bit of hazing called “rollin’ coal.”

Actually, relating to the later, having a driver intentionally blast a plume of smoke in your face is not the only time you may need to worry about what’s coming out of the tailpipes around you.

study published online in advance of the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science of The Total Environment tested the potential exposure of cyclists to two kinds of traffic-related air pollution, or TRAP, based on where they might ride.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health used mobile monitoring stations to test the air quality along five bike routes in the Boston area, with the routes categorized into three types: bike paths, which were separated from traffic; bike lanes, which ran adjacent to traffic; and designated bike lanes, which were shared by buses and bikes.

They tested for two main components of TRAP: black carbon and nitrogen dioxide.

The result?

The researchers found that bike lanes have significantly* higher concentrations (33 percent) of both key pollutant types than bike paths, but that designated bike lanes had a significantly higher concentration than the paths only for nitrogen dioxide…

In other science news (for the week ending June 28, 2014):

Speaking of nitrogen dioxide and air quality, data from NASA’s Aura satellite is showing that overall air quality in the United States is improving. The satellite measures nitrogen dioxide, which comes from gasoline and coal combustion, as a proxy for overall air pollution. Factors that may be contributing to the improvement include more efficient technology and stricter air quality regulations. (Side note: The next time you hear someone pooh-pooh NASA and what the agency does for us in exchange for the funding it receives, you can point to this: air pollution monitoring.) (Smithsonian Magazine)(more)

This pretty much coincides with the science we have been following. Air quality has improved due to a number of technological breakthroughs. Most scientists point to the use of natural gas instead of coal as a major improvement. Regardless, air quality is improving.

Minds Appear Made Up About Plan Bay Area

Posted by Jessica Mullins : sanrafael.patch.com – excerpt
More than 200 community members, many apparent critics of the Plan Bay Area, packed the Marin County Board of Supervisors Chambers Thursday night for a debate on whether the controversial regional housing plan is good for the region and Marin.
The panelists included Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute, Napa County Supervisor and Association of Bay Area Governments President Mark Luce and Mass Transit Consultant Thomas Rubin of Oakland….
The meeting scene was a similar one that has played out countless times in the last year, a standing-room only crowd with several attendants holding anti Plan Bay Area signs.
At the meeting, proponents of the plan (Kinsey and Luce) were interrupted by hecklers multiple times.
At the beginning and end of the meeting, moderator Marin County Superior Court Judge Verna Adams asked people to raise their hands if they were for or against the plan. The majority of the attendants were anti Plan Bay Area. At the end of the meeting, when Adams asked if anyone had changed their mind, no one raised their hand… (more)


Off-Road Bike Paths Needed In Transportation Planning “Bible”

Off-Road Bike Paths Needed In Transportation Planning “Bible” (via Planetsave)

Making the case for off-road bike paths instead of on-road bike lanes (or, ideally, in addition to them), here’s a summary of some recent research I conducted and some recent research out of Harvard Medical School: More or less, bicycle infrastructure policy and its relationship to riderships was…

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The Greenest Building Is One That’s Already Built

 Jerri Holan : sanfrancisco.urbdezine.com – excerpt

If the biggest threat to human survival is climate change, then American construction is probably the industry most responsible for causing it.  Every new construction site represents the climate being changed, the environment being degraded, energy being consumed, and irreplaceable natural resources being used.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Statistics Center, 48% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the construction and operation of buildings.  That’s almost twice the amount of emissions that come from cars, trucks, and airplanes combined.  While the industry and transportation sectors each consume about 26% of our energy, the construction sector uses 48%.   And, according to National Association of Homebuilders, one 2,000 square-foot home uses up to 1.5 acres of forest and for each ton of Portland cement produced, one ton of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere(more)

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How California is planning growth for a prosperous economy and clean environment

Kaid Benfield’s Blog – excerpt

A thorough new report developed by my colleagues at the Natural Resources Defense Council, together with Move LA, a transportation and smart development partnership in southern California, documents the impressive progress made over the last four years to ensure that our nation’s most populous state will absorb future growth in a sensible way.  Called Bold Plans for California Communities, the report traces the history and implementation of the state’s landmark planning framework, adopted by the state legislature and signed by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.

California’s planning framework
In California, laws tend to be known by bureaucratic names or abbreviations and numbers (think Proposition 13 or AB 32).  The planning legislation, known by most as Senate Bill 375 or simply “SB 375,” wisely takes account  of the growth pressures facing the state – population is expected to increase about ten percent in each coming decade – and directs each of its metropolitan planning organizations to coordinate transportation investment, land use and housing so that growth occurs efficiently while minimizing emissions and  other environmental impacts.  The most significant environmental provisions of the law direct the California Air Resources Board to develop and assign transportation emissions targets for each region, and then requires each region to develop a detailed strategy to assure that those targets are met.  The Air Board must review the plans and certify that each is adequate to meet the targets.  It’s not quite that simple, of course, but that’s the general idea…. (more)

Brown signs state’s driverless cars bill

KTVU And AP Wires – excerpt

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday that will pave the way for driverless cars in California.
The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla will establish safety and performance regulations to test and operate autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways.
The governor signed it at the Mountain View headquarters of Google Inc., which has been developing autonomous car technology and lobbying for the regulations…. (more)