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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.

gps

Just another day of vehicular carnage in San Francisco:

Three pedestrians are recovering Thursday, after they were struck by motorists on San Francisco streets yesterday.

In the first such case from Wednesday, two pedestrians were rushed to San Francisco General Hospital at 11:02 a.m. after a driver hit them. According to the San Francisco Police Department, the victims were struck at the intersection of Hyde Street and Golden Gate Avenue when the 36-year-old male driver of a white sedan who was headed down Hyde “suddenly placed [the] vehicle into reverse.”

The vehicle “sped backwards,” police say, striking the pedestrians “who were waiting at a crosswalk.” Citing the ongoing investigation, police said that it was still “unclear” if the driver would face charges in the collision.

Two pedestrians at a crosswalk struck by a driver speeding in reverse — and it is unclear if charges will be filed?

Then later in the day:

A 72-year-old man was listed in life-threatening condition after being struck by a vehicle Wednesday near Balboa Park in San Francisco, police said. The pedestrian was crossing the street in the area of Ocean and Delano avenues when a car hit him at 6:19 p.m., officials said. Although the pedestrian was apparently in a crosswalk, whether he had the right of way wasn’t immediately clear, Manfredi said.

This intersection is unsignalized with clearly marked crosswalks. It is unambiguous as to who had right of way.

sf_inters

 

Buttle or Tuttle?

Back in 2012, the Legislature cancelled a $2 billion upgrade of the State’s court computer system — but not before wasting $500 million on the boondoggle. And it seems nothing has been learned from the snafu. There is now a new system from Texas-based Tyler Technologies, and it also has problems:

One of the state’s early adopters of the new technology is Alameda County. The county’s public defender, Brendon Woods, is now supporting many clients who have been affected by the issues.

“We had a client who took a [plea] deal and he was supposed to be released the day before Thanksgiving. The system wasn’t inputted properly. He was held an extra four days.”

Minor driving offences were incorrectly appearing as serious felonies,  meaning if an affected person applied for a job, they are likely to be flagged as having a serious criminal record.

Mr Woods added: “We’ve had clients who were supposed to register as drug offenders, the system shows them as registering as sex offenders.”

Build that wall 10 feet higher…and make the apartment dwellers pay for it:

A 24-unit apartment building at 1057 Freeway Drive cleared its final hurdle Tuesday with its approval by the City Council. The project by the developer James Keller will create a cluster of two-bedroom rental dwellings close to a freeway, school, athletic fields and outlet shops – as well a string of houses on Bremen Court, some of whose owners spoke out against a gate that would have linked the apartments to the street.

Although the gate would be far too small for motor vehicles, residents still urged the council to eliminate it from the plan – and ask for more solid fencing around the apartments – amid concerns a new walkway would lead to increased traffic and trespassing.

The Keller Apartments sailed through a Planning Commission vote last month with little controversy, but details of its links to surrounding streets aroused worries among many who live on Bremen Court, including some who moved into the then-new neighborhood in the early 1990s partly because of its quietness.

Opening the way from apartments to a long-quiet street would erode the safety of those living, walking and especially playing on Bremen Court, argued Maricela Lopez, a resident since 1990. “Being the mother of a 9-year-old girl, having access for anyone to walk by, how can I as a mom be making dinner while making sure she’s safe out there?” she asked council members with her daughter by her side.

Walling off the apartment dwellers won’t make the neighborhood safer (quite the opposite in fact). And the barrier will reduce the walkability of the development, especially with the only access being a freeway frontage road.

Well, that didn’t take long. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is lobbying President-elect Trump to reduce or eliminate fuel economy standards. They want to re-evaluate the Obama administration’s rules for GHG and electric vehicle mandates:

Greenhouse gas and mpg targets through model year 2021 are already on the books. A required midterm evaluation is underway to determine whether proposed mpg and greenhouse gas standards through 2022 are appropriate, or if they should be changed.

The next step in the evaluation comes in 2017, likely midyear, when the next EPA administrator will propose whether the standards are appropriate or should be changed, which would kick off a rulemaking process. A final determination is due by April 2018.

The Alliance argues that that proposed determination shouldn’t happen until Trump’s administration has had a chance to review the regulations, and can lead talks between regulators and automakers about the final years of the program, which currently aim for a fleet average of more than 50 mpg.

A Technical Assessment Report issued by the EPA about the 2025 rules found that automakers were on track to comply and adopting technologies to boost efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than anticipated.

The Alliance believes that the report “over-projects” the benefits of certain technologies and fails to fully consider consumer acceptance and market factors.

The Alliance membership includes the Big-3, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Volkswagen (of course).

If true, then Volkswagen USA seriously needs to lose its license to sell or import automobiles:

The newly discovered software was detected four months ago during laboratory tests by the California Air Resources Board, one of the people said. Neither Volkswagen nor U.S. regulators have publicly disclosed the discovery.

The discovery threatens fresh anger from officials, investors and car owners just as Volkswagen is wrapping up billions of dollars in settlements with states and owners of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. and a recall of nearly nine million tainted diesel vehicles in Europe.

Volkswagen’s previously disclosed “defeat device” software was used on Volkswagen and Audi diesel engines to make it appear that they complied with emission standards for nitrogen oxides during lab tests.

The newly discovered software, installed on Audis with both diesel and gasoline engines, did the same with CO2 emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe, according to the people familiar with the matter.

The CARB caught the emissions-cheating software through lessons learned from the earlier probe of Volkswagen diesel engines, according to Germany’s weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which earlier reported the software’s discovery.

CARB technicians conducting lab tests on Audi’s vehicles made them react as if on a road by turning the steering wheel, the people said.

When the cars deviated from lab conditions, their CO2 emissions rose dramatically.

Note that this cheat also affects gasoline engines.

The Washington Sate chapter of the Sierra Club has joined the oil and mining industry in opposing voter initiative 732. In case you haven’t heard of this measure, it would implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax.   Dr. James Hansen proposed such a scheme back in 2009 whereby revenues from the carbon tax are returned to families and individuals (in this case through a lower sales tax).

If you are wondering why on earth they would oppose, you can try to read their reasons here and here.  I’ve tried to make sense of it, but their reasoning is contradictory and incomprehensible. This is really a new low for the Sierra Club.