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The “E-BIKE” Act would have provided a refundable tax credit up to $1,500 on the purchase of a new e-bike. Authored by Congressmen Panetta (D-Calif) and Blumenauer (D-Ore), it would have paid up to 30% of the cost of a new e-bike.

But now the bill has gone into the Legislative buzzsaw of the House Ways and “Means-Testing” Committee, and has been significantly watered down — to the point of being largely useless. The e-Bike refundable tax credit is now just 15% of the purchase price, capped at $1,500 total. And the credit phases out starting at $75,000 of adjusted gross income.

For comparison, the same bill would provide a $12,000 subsidy for the purchase of a $74,000 F150 electric pickup truck to a family with $800,000 annual income.

(For details, see Sec. 136401/136407 here)

Biking in the Matrix

The trailer for the new “Matrix 4” film is out, and if you look carefully at the bookshelf in the therapist’s office there is a copy of “Velo City” sitting on the bookshelf. The book is a celebration of bike culture and its ongoing (r)evolution.

Senator Chris Murphy is the author of various Buy-America bills over the past decade. It is one of his top priorities — and yet he can’t understand why HSR costs are so damn high:

This the same Senator who killed a plan by Amtrak to build a 30-mile bypass around the slow tracks along the Connecticut shoreline. The bypass would have reduced NY-Boston travel time by a remarkable 20%. Amtrak proposed building the route inland through open terrain, so as to keep construction costs low. However, the Senator demanded the route stick to the same curvy ROW where it will be very costly and complex to do any speed improvements.

If Senator Murphy wants to discover the reason US high-speed rail costs are so much higher, he can start by looking in the mirror.

Some cities do infill-development. Then there is Waltham, MA — which used eminent domain to protect a parking lot:

The city is preparing to take a parking lot between the Boys & Girls Club and the library by eminent domain. The city council approved on Monday spending just under $1.4 million on a parking lot across the street from the Waltham Boys & Girls Club. Mayor Jeannette McCarthy is proposing to take the lot by eminent domain to keep as a municipal parking lot. Although there is a municipal garage within walking distance, the library and the Boys & Girls Club share street parking.

The 12,000 square foot property that fits about 40 parking spaces was listed for $1.4 million in February, according to Realtor.com, which mentioned that condominiums, singles, two families, commercial bays with offices above are allowed by right in that space.

Waltham also took a nearby property at 481 Main St, and will demolish the building there to make into yet another parking lot.

The revised EIR for the SF-SJ segment has been published, although it hardly changed from the 2020 version. A few observations from both documents:

1. The existing 4th/King HSR station will get fare gates. Page 2-77 states: “The existing 4th and King Street Station would serve as the interim terminal station for the project until the DTX provides HSR access to the SFTC. Station improvements would include installing a booth for HSR ticketing and support services, adding HSR fare gates, and modifying existing tracks and platforms.”

2. Transfers between Caltrain and HSR at Millbrae will be done through the upper concourse. This is similar to the baldy designed transfer currently done between BART and Caltrain at Millbrae. There will be no cross-platform transfers between the express and local trains.

3. The upper concourse at Millbrae is extended all the way to El Camino Real, for no apparent reason. The southbound Caltrain is at-grade, and the west entrance is at-grade, but this diagram suggests these passengers will have to travel all the way up and down the concourse just to go from street to platform.

Click to enlarge

After the Capitol Hill riot, a considerable number of corporations indicated they would withhold campaign contributions from the so-called Insurrection Caucus. But one corporation that has not shied away is Cubic:

Cubic Corp.: $5,000 to the NRCC in March and a combined $26,500 directly to the campaigns of the 147 election objectors.

Cubic is, of course, the defense contractor which manages MTC’s Clipper Card program. Their contract with the MTC was recently renewed, at a cost of over half a billion dollars.

Cubic’s record of campaign contributions can be viewed on the FEC database.

At least they are being honest:

Prince Albert city council is considering a mandatory bicycle helmet bylaw focused on fighting crime as much as children’s safety. Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick, who brought the idea to council, said the potential bylaw would increase safety and help reduce crime.

“A resident in my ward brought this forward to me and said this would give the police extra opportunities or power to stop people that are on bikes [with] backpacks, etc. that don’t have helmets,” he told council. “It would give them just another avenue to make that stop in our neighborhoods, down our back alleys.”

Well, this is not good:

President Joe Biden has nominated Jennifer Homendy to be chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for a term of three years. If approved by the U.S. Senate, Homendy will succeed Robert Sumwalt III. She has served as an NTSB member since August 2018. Homendy has more than 25 years of experience in transportation safety, including nearly two decades supporting the critical safety mission of the NTSB, according to a White House press release.

Homendy wants a nationwide all-ages bike helmet mandate, and was responsible for the helmet focus in the NTSB’s recent bike safety study.

The VTA is still defending its decision to build the phase-2 San Jose BART extension with a deep bore tunnel. They are being roasted on social media for the design of the stations, which would be as much as 90′ underground. VTA is pushing back, saying this is no big deal:

[VTA spokeswoman] Alaniz contends the deep stations won’t be a hindrance. Riders will have the option of taking escalators, multiple high-speed elevators or stairs at each stop. VTA estimates that even at the peak of rush hour it will take riders “less than a minute” to get from the platform to street level by taking the elevators, Alaniz said, while escalators will take between a minute and 90 seconds depending on whether the rider walks or stands. “A minute, to me, just seems extremely nominal when I think about a typical commute,” Alaniz said.

It is not clear where Alaniz obtained the 90 second figure, as it is significantly lower than what has been publicly discussed. A study of the downtown SJ station using simulation software showed it could take as long as 3.55 minutes to exit the platform, and 12 minutes to exit the station.

The simulation was done in the context of an evacuation. While one might argue routine rush-hour traffic is not quite the same as an evacuation, note that the simulation assumes the faregates and emergency exits are opened. In fact, Alaniz does not indicate whether the 90-second figure includes wait-time at the faregates.

The reason for the lengthy travel time is due not so much to the depth of the station, but the lack of exits. In a conventional downtown cut/cover station, there are exits heading off in multiple directions. These deep-bore stations funnel passengers through a single narrow chokepoint, which can easily back up.

During the 1976-1977 drought, an emergency pipeline was put on the RSR bridge to transport water from the East Bay to Marin county. This year’s drought is even worse, and Marin is having discussions with Caltrans about possibly bringing the pipeline back. There is now a bike/ped path where the pipeline used to be:

The Marin water district is beginning to lay the groundwork for future discussions about the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge with Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority. The Transportation Authority of Marin, which manages traffic congestion projects and funding, has been in preliminary conversations with the district about this, said executive director Anne Richman.

As to where the pipeline would fit on the bridge — especially with the recent addition of the new bicycle and pedestrian path on the top deck — what traffic impacts could result from the construction and where the pipeline would be located in Marin, Richman said, “All those questions remain ahead of us.”