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It’s the zombie idea that never dies. Once again a mandatory helmet bill is being considered that would apply to all adult cyclists. This time it is happening in New Jersey:

A new bill introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Atkins would make New Jersey the first state in the nation to require everyone, including adults, to wear a helmet while operating a bicycle, scooter, or motorized scooter, or face a $25 fine. Assemblyman Atkins, who spoke with ABC news framed the proposed legislation as a way of “protecting us from the what-ifs.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), of the nearly 9k bicycle deaths in the U.S. from 2010 to 2020 84% of those riders were not wearing a helmet.

And 99.9% of those bicycle fatalities were from car collisions (which helmets don’t protect against).

During the latter days of the Obama Administration, the FRA proposed a new two-man crew mandate. It would have required all trains — including passenger trains — to have both a train driver and conductor. The effort was widely seen as a gift to railroad unions.

The Trump Administration quickly cancelled the rule-making effort — but now the idiotic rule is back:

The Federal Railroad Administration has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed rule that would require at least two crew members for most trains.

Set for 9:30 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 14, the hearing will take place virtually and in-person at the National Association of Home Builders headquarters in Washington, according to a notice published in the Oct. 27 Federal Register.

The proposal calls for regulations establishing safe minimum requirements for the size of train crews depending on the type of operation. This minimum requirement is proposed for all railroad operations except for those that don’t pose significant safety risks to railroad employees, the public or the environment. Other exceptions would include trains working as a helper service, as well as those consisting of only a locomotive or a locomotive attached to only a caboose.

As noted previously, single-man operation is common throughout the world for passenger operations. This rule would outlaw cost-effective commuter and regional train service in the US. This time, the FRA at least acknowledges that the new rule is contrary to global practice — which the agency then dismisses with some cringeworthy arguments:

Foreign train operations in developed countries, other than Canada, are not comparable for the most part due to differences in train lengths, territory, and infrastructure. For instance, a foreign, one-person freight train operation in an industrial-type railroad servicing only one origin and one destination would not be comparable due to the complexity of most U.S.-based freight rail operations. Most foreign, one-person freight train operations also do not carry out extensive interlining or switching with other railroads. Further, many foreign, one-person passenger train operations do not have to share track with freight operations or operate over highway-rail grade crossings, and thus the safety hazards associated with those foreign operations are not comparable to those involving U.S. passenger train operations.

The idea that single-man operated passenger trains don’t have to deal with grade-crossings or freight trains will no doubt come as a surprise to anyone who ridden trains in Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK, etc, etc…

BUSD is going ahead with plans to construct a $27.5 million parking garage at Berkeley High School. The school is one block from a BART station, and directly served by the Milvia cycletrack. The garage will replace an existing surface lot, with a net increase of around 120 spaces. That comes to around $230k per added parking space, making this one of the most expensive parking projects undertaken by a school district.

Biking is very popular at BHS, with many overflowing bike racks around the center courtyard. This ludicrously expensive parking garage will at least serve bikes, right?

Showing complete lack of self-awareness, the same Board which planned this garage also passed a Climate Action Plan in 2018. “VISION: BUSD shall be non-polluting whenever feasible” it states in big bold letters — with a directive to encourage and prioritize non-motorized transportation for both students and staff.

Hard to believe, but its has been a decade since the FRA gave the Ok for transit agencies to use modern, lightweight trains. And yet hardly any rail operators have taken advantage of the technology. But perhaps that is starting to change, with the announcement that California will be trading in its antiquated tank-trains for something much more modern:

California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and Stadler signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the design and supply of four hydrogen Flirt trains to operate in California. The agreement highlights the responsibilities and roles of each stakeholder and will lead to a contract which outlines the procurement of the zero emission multiple units, with the option to purchase up 25 units.

Stadler is the only manufacturer in North America that designs and builds rail vehicles compliant with the FRA AVT Crashworthiness Standards.

AVT means “alternative compliance” trains, i.e. lightweight, so it burns less fuel (unfortunately, the decision to use hydrogen might negate the cost advantages…).

The FTA has an innovative program to locate childcare facilities near transit stations. The idea is to make it easier for parents to pick-up and drop-off their kids from daycare as part of the commute.

But the Riverside School Board apparently didn’t get that memo. They are freaking out over plans to build a new regional transit hub near the site of a planned school:

School board members are demanding regional transportation officials change plans for expanding a Riverside train station because it’s near the site of a planned school to serve the city’s Eastside community. The board voted 5-0 Thursday, July 14, to oppose the expansion, as proposed, and to urge the agency overseeing the venture — the Riverside County Transportation Commission — to pursue other options for increasing the Riverside-Downtown Station’s ability to handle passenger rail traffic.

This is about the safety of children,” said Tom Hunt, in urging colleagues on the Riverside Unified School District’s board of education recently to take a stand against the project.

One-man operation is the industry standard practice for regional and commuter services. However that isn’t the case for Denver RTD — which still uses both a driver and conductor:

Recent staffing issues for the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) University of Colorado A-Line have caused cancellations of trips, leaving travelers waiting at Denver International Airport (DIA) for hours. Since January, 1,548 A-Line trips have been canceled, according to data from RTD. About 80% of those cancelations – 1,290 in total – happened because there wasn’t a second crew member available to be on the train. One reason for this is that the A-Line requires two people to be on board the train during a trip.

Thanks to automation, two-man operation became obsolete decades ago. To make matters worse, RTD work-rules require the second crew member to be an armed guard (i.e. rent-a-cop) — which limits the pool of applicants.

June 7th was the ribbon-cutting for new platforms at the Ashland (VA) Amtrak station. Built at a cost of $10 million, the purpose of the project was to improve ADA accessibility and safety:

A quick glance in the image above begs the question of what exactly was done to improve accessibility? There is obviously no level-platform boarding. Passengers with mobility issues will still have difficulties climbing stairs into the train. Wheelchair riders will still have to rely on mobile lifts. This was the best that could be done for $10 million?

Sadly, this project serves as a template for stations all across the country. Amtrak is spending $58 million bringing 16 stations into ADA “compliance” — with another 120 stations in the pipeline at a cost of $126 million.

This must be a new world record:

Help is on the way for people looking for parking and green spaces in San Diego’s East Village, but, if the city’s plan to build a new garage and park comes to fruition, it won’t be cheap for taxpayers. A large portion of the project’s overall project cost will be for a two-level underground 185-space structure that will be built at an estimated cost of a little under $35 million — that breaks down to a cost of $188,374.49 per parking space.

Note that the Trolley is just 1 block away.

Behold! The office building at 405 Colorado, Austin and its 13 stories of parking. Leed Certified — and was awarded a prestigious Austin Green Energy Build 2-star rating.