Feeds:
Posts
Comments

After the VW Dieselgate fraud was revealed, investigators began looking at other manufacturers. German transport authorities tested 53 vehicles, and 22 of them show suspiciously high levels of nitrogen-oxide. Fiat, in particular, shows striking irregularities:

Bild am Sonntag reported that testing by the KBA of a Fiat model had shown that the emission control system shut down after 22 minutes – two minutes after the end of a standard test.

This caused the dangerous pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx) to be released into the atmosphere “at more than 10 times the permitted level“, the report said according to the newspaper.

The KBA had concluded that there was “sufficient evidence of an impermissible defeat device“, said the newspaper, adding that the automaker had declined to comment on the claims.

Fiat is now stonewalling the investigation:

Fiat officials had been due to hold a meeting with German authorities on Wednesday but cancelled the talks abruptedly through a lawyer’s letter, the transport ministry said in a statement. The carmaker had declined to meet as it deemed Italian officials to be the only authority responsible on the question of whether their vehicles complied with existing emissions regulations, the ministry said.

“This uncooperative attitude of Fiat is completely incomprehensible,” said Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt.

 

To accommodate higher passenger loads, BART has been testing new seating layouts. There are three configurations being tested:

bart_layout

bart_layout2

bart_layout3

This evening, I was riding in the 3rd one. Most of the seats were removed along one side of the car. I have to say, it did a good job accommodating five bikes, airport luggage, and an oversized wheelchair. The wheelchair user was thrilled that she finally got a window seat. Passenger volume was not that high, though, despite being rush hour.

bart_car2

Approaching 12th St Station 

bart_car3

Relatively empty at the end of the line in Fremont

The good news is that planners are finally embracing cycle-tracks. The bad news is that they are still designing substandard cycle-tracks.

A previous posting discussed a substandard cycle-track in Alameda. On the other side of the channel in Oakland, we find yet another example of half-assed bike infrastructure. Oakland bike planners are proposing to build cycle-tracks on Fruitvale Ave. The cycle-tracks would run from the BART station, under I880, and out towards the Bay. For the most part, the project is satisfactory — except for the segment running past I880. It is that segment which is by far the most dangerous for cyclists. And it is in that segment where the cycle-tracks would disappear entirely. Bicyclists would have no physical protection from the heavy traffic coming on and off the freeway.

Even worse, the plan would sandwich an unprotected bike lane between a right-turn lane and through traffic. This is a proven failure, as demonstrated most spectacularly last week in San Francisco.

fruitvale5

fruitvale2

fruitvale3

 

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times published a story on the racial disparities in police enforcement of black bicyclists. The article alleged that the Tampa Police had, in effect, a stop-and-frisk policy of black bicyclists. They called it the bicycle blitzkrieg, and 8 out of 10 people ticketed were black.

As a result of that report, the US Dept. of Justice conducted an investigation. The results were just published, which can read at http://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-w0801-pub.pdf.

The report confirms the allegations. The police department did have a policy of targeting cyclists in high-crime neighborhoods. Although these neighborhoods are predominantly black, the report stresses that this does not mean the program was racially motivated.

The stated purpose of the bicycle blitzkrieg was to: 1. recover stolen bicycles, 2. reduce traffic accidents, and 3. “pro-actively” reduce crime. The program failed to achieve any of these goals. Hardly any stolen bikes were recovered. The areas targeted for blitzkrieg did not have high accident rates to begin with. And the program did not reduce crime levels.

Older cars cause a disproportionate amount of smog and particulate pollution. If anything, California should be making the rules more strict on old cars, not relaxing them. But just in time for Earth Day, the California Senate Transportation Committee voted to move the smog exemption cut-off year from 1975 to 1980. This will exempt well over 100,000 cars from having to use any smog equipment in California:

A new bill proposed by California Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) that would change the California smog exemption year cutoff from 1975 to 1980 passed through the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing earlier this week. The next step for SB 1239 is to be approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations. The bill passed the first committee in a bipartisan vote of six votes for and five against.

If passed, the bill would exempt cars prior to the 1981 model year from California’s biennial smog-check inspections and would open the door for non-CARB (California Air Research Board) drivetrain modifications.

The deciding vote was cast by Senator Bob Wieckowski, a Bay Area Democrat who represents the 10th district in Alameda County. One of his 2014 campaign themes was to promote clean technology.

smog

First there was the Fremont flyer. Now the Hayward flyer:

One of BART’s new train cars overshot the end of the track and ran into a mound of dirt at a Hayward testing facility on Friday — another setback for a transit agency that has been dealing with aging infrastructure and a mysterious track problem crippling trains.

Officials were investigating whether an operator mistake or system error caused the glitch, which occurred at 1:55 p.m. on a test track between South Hayward Station and Union City, said Taylor Huckaby, a BART spokesman.

The train was traveling on a straight track and continued going after the track ended, causing some of the train to remain on the track while the rest went into the dirt, he said.

hayward_flyer

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91 other followers