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Transport for London (TfL) has set an ambitious goal of raising bike/ped/transit mode share from 63% today to 80%. The pedestrian infrastructure will play a major role in getting an extra million walking trips per day. To achieve this goal, London has developed some interesting ideas as outlined in a new Pedestrian Plan.

Signal timing is being optimized so that pedestrians should not have to wait more than 40 seconds at a crossing. At key intersections, detectors will be used to count the number of people waiting to cross, and adjust the signal timing accordingly.

The most radical proposal, though, is ‘green-man authority’, or what Americans might call the reverse beg-button:

‘Green man’ authority is a technique where the traffic signals show a green signal for pedestrians continuously, until vehicular traffic is detected, at which time the pedestrians are stopped on a red signal, and vehicles are given a green light to proceed. This technique has previously only been used at two locations in London, on bus-only streets in Hounslow and Morden. TfL has identified the next 10 new locations where this approach will be set up, where it would significantly benefit pedestrians, with very little detriment to traffic.

One of the frustrating things as a pedestrian is to be standing around at a corner waiting for a signal to change, even though there are no cars coming. The Green-Man authority eliminates this frustration, by defaulting to green for pedestrians. Since the UK does not have jaywalking laws, the benefit of this technology for Londoners is minor, but it would be a major benefit in the US as a workaround against all the jaywalking enforcement nonsense.

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Healthy Streets Indicators

 

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Contrary to what you may have heard from the VTA, development around the new Berryessa BART station will be extremely car-centric:

More density and imagination should be employed for the development than what has been shown to this point, said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land use and planning consultancy.

“The Berryessa development is disappointing, not a real transit-oriented development with that largest field of parking and townhomes,” Staedler said.

The Berryessa retail will have a parking ratio of 4.5 spaces/1,000 sq-ft! To put in perspective, the typical suburban grocery store has a ratio of 3. BART’s TOD guidelines recommends no more than 2.5 (and ideally 1.6).

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Normally I avoid these kinds of apples-oranges comparisons, but it is hard not to benchmark California against Morocco for HSR projects. Both California and Morocco started their respective projects in 2008. While California is stuck doing property acquisitions and environmental studies, it is full-steam ahead in Morocco:

Morocco will debut its first high-speed train by the end of this year. Testing has started on the French-made double-decker train cars that will reach speeds of 320km/h. The trains will carry passengers from the northern city of Tangier to Casablanca and cut travel time by half. Funded by governments in Morocco, France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, the project costs $2 billion.

According to ONCF, tests occurred on several kilometers of the new line with gradual increases in speed, and it was determined that the line is suitable for traffic at 320 kilometers per hour. In May, the test train reached a speed of 357 km/h linking the cities of Tangier and Kenitra, so it is expected to connect the two cities in only 90 minutes.

The Morocco project is 220 miles, similar distance as an initial operating segment in California. Morocco is also upgrading a conventional line to 140 mph.

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The City of Berkeley Zoning Board has turned down an infill housing project near the Ashby BART station, in order to preserve a gas station:

It had no residential car parking, but 48 bicycle parking spots and six commercial spaces for a planned ground-floor café. The site is less than a half-mile from the Ashby BART station.The application statement said in part: “3000 Shattuck will provide an essential combination of pricing affordability, an amenity-rich neighborhood, and easy access to public transit — key considerations for the modern workforce renter.”

“This is a way to actually get it built and provide the city with close to a million dollars into the affordable trust [affordable housing fund]. That’s the choice. Or the city can continue to have a gas station.”

It is worth noting that the South Shattuck Plan specifically calls for pedestrian-scale mixed infill development on underdeveloped lots. So once again the city doesn’t follow its adopted plans.

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Electric scooter-sharing is revolutionizing transport in California cities. But riding e-scooters without helmets is also illegal. California vehicle code (CVC 21235) requires all operators of motorized scooters to wear helmets. This will inevitably lead to selective police harassment:

Since Lime — formerly known as LimeBike — brought its fleet of 250 electric scooters to South Lake Tahoe earlier this month, the machines have been a controversial topic of conversation — much like the green bikes when they first arrived on South Shore last summer.

From a law enforcement standpoint, though, the arrival of the e-scooters has been complicated. “It’s both a public safety concern and a compliance with the law concern,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler.

Take a quick drive down U.S. 50 in South Lake Tahoe, and it’s not difficult to see almost every single one of those rules being broken. “The simple reality is that most people who come to visit Tahoe are not traveling with their bicycle helmet. At any given time there are probably 100 people riding around town without a helmet or two people on the scooter,” said Uhler. “I have limited police resources to address this. We will enforce violations that are egregious, but we can’t cite them all.”

California’s mandatory helmet law was passed over a decade ago, long before the advent of scooter-sharing. The law was passed with no debate, and without any data showing motorized scooters were causing head injuries. Mandatory helmet laws helped kill off early bike-share experiments, so it is imperative to remove this provision in the vehicle code.

 

 

What can be done to cure Florida of its parking addiction problem?

Repairs to a  parking garage for state senators and their staff, costing $28 million, are nearly complete. The underground parking garage holds 210 cars.

So the cost? $133,000 per space.

Just across the street, a parking garage with room for 100 cars sits virtually empty.

The spending is taking place as the Department of Corrections is cutting a like amount, $29 million, from substance abuse treatment. The cuts will close some programs and send some offenders to prison.

If only the DMV required vision tests for getting a driver’s license. Then bicyclists and pedestrians wouldn’t have to wear hi-viz clothing whenever they went out…