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France has taken a u-turn in its efforts to promote safe and convenient cycling. Thanks to a new law, kids aged 12 and under will be required to wear bike helmet. Failure to do so risks a whopping 135 euro fine. The rule applies even to kids riding in a bike trailer.

The new law was announced at the end of 2016 and is part of a raft of measures contained in a report published last October by a government committee for road safety, following a recent rise in road fatalities. The other measures include fines for drivers caught using their mobile phones while driving and stiffer penalties for speeding.

Youth helmet bills are largely based off a law passed by California back in 1994. The California law has been quite ineffective, and yet it is still being used as a model.

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Mexican standoff

The Press Democrat has an interview with SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian. Here is Mansourian defending the agency’s screw-ups:

Mansourian, who has earned praise and criticism for his full-steam ahead managerial approach, did not appear chastened as he reflected back on the events of 2016 that prompted the service delay.

He made the case that SMART could not have foreseen having to replace the engines on each of the 14 rail cars because of a design flaw, nor the challenges getting warning signals at crossings to work properly or the difficulty attracting staff to the high-cost North Bay.

“If there was anything that was in our control and we could have worked harder, and we had a crystal ball, then we would probably feel awful,” he said. “But there were three things that led to this — not a single one of them was in our control.”

In fact, no crystal ball was required. All of these mistakes were entirely predictable and preventable. SMART could have ordered a reliable, off-the-shelf trainset. Instead, they spec’ed out a custom model, which would inevitably have bugs. SMART also designed a signal system around track circuits instead of axle counters. Axle counters are the industry-standard approach because they are 5 times more reliable.

SMART blames its staffing problems on the high-cost of living. In fact, there is an absurd amount of featherbedding. Trains will have both an engineer and conductor, when only an engineer is needed. And there will be eight vehicle technicians, for a fleet of just 14 railcars.

The VTA has published the draft EIR for phase 2 of the San Jose BART extension. Phase 2 would extend the line starting from Berryessa, through the downtown area, and terminating (for now) at Santa Clara Caltrain. The projected cost is more than $4.7 billion.

Like most EIR’s, it is extremely long. But you can skip to this one chart, which tells all that you need to know about the cost-effectiveness:

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In other words, the VTA will spend over $4.7 billion to generate just 14,619 new transit trips. Counting operating subsidies, that is more than $50 per trip.

 

 

And this is why we can’t have nice things:

“This plan looks more like fantasy than fact, and we’re going to fight it,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal told reporters.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to overhaul sections of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route in Connecticut has already hit heavy resistance in southeastern Connecticut, where the agency wants a new 30-mile inland segment to bypass the curving, twisting tracks between Old Saybrook and Kenyon, R.I.

The FRA met stiff opposition in Connecticut last week when it released a massive report documenting how it wants to modernize Amtrak’s heavily used but badly deteriorating 456-mile Northeast Corridor route from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Sen. Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and Blumenthal all slammed the proposal for Connecticut, where Amtrak’s Acela and Northeast Regional trains run along the shoreline from Greenwich to Stonington.

Good job San Antonio Police. Really making things safe out there:

“We can never have the kids out front,” said Kristi Flanagan. So she made a sign with a clear message, ‘Drive like your kids live here.’

“This is a residential street,” she said. “It’s not an autobahn.”

While she and her family were outside putting Christmas lights up this week, drivers weren’t paying attention. “I started pointing to my sign, trying to notify motorist to slow down there’s kids out here,” she said. Still, she says, they wouldn’t listen.

“So I took to the streets,” she said. She held the sign over her head in the middle of traffic. “We’ve received nothing but support from the community,” she said. Neighbors mostly seemed happy to see someone finally doing something, but 45 minutes later a police unit showed up.

“Issued me a class “c” misdemeanor citation,” she said. “Backwards, it’s very backwards.” She thinks the ticket should have gone to the drivers.

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In 2015, the Netherlands saw an uptick in road fatalities. Fietsersbond, the Dutch cycling group, says that one culprit is speeding in built-up areas. They want the Netherlands (and all of Europe) to require technology in automobiles that prevents speeding in 30 kph zones:

By building more safe cycle tracks we can reduce the number of deaths. This also applies to the reduction of the speed. However, we unfortunately have to conclude that the 30 kph roads are not safe enough. Indeed, it is still driven too hard. Entering more 30 kph should be accompanied by a widespread adoption of Speed Assistance, a function in a car so it does not drive over the speed limit.

Fietsersbond, Traffic Safety Netherlands, and TeamAlert want the Dutch government will actively promote this functionality and is going to push hard for a European commitment.

The technology for this already exists. GPS mapping is a mature technology, and in the US some insurance carriers already monitor driver behavior electronically. All that is needed to implement this is the “bureaucratic will” on the part of politicians and road safety regulators.

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