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This seems an important historical moment:

The Kansas City Star coined the term in 1905 to ridicule pedestrians who failed to stay to the right and yield to others on crowded sidewalks. It was a takeoff on “the jay driver,” an exasperated way to refer to the operators of horse-drawn carriages or early motor cars who traveled on the wrong side of the street. At the time, “jay” was a pejorative word to refer to a person believed to be dimwitted.

In time, of course, jaywalker became a more universal name for people who cross streets in places other than designated intersections. And, in Kansas City and other places, jaywalking became an ordinance violation—and a way for police to subjectively stop people and perhaps issue a ticket, even if the street crossing caused no one any harm.

On Thursday, the Kansas City Council voted to remove its prohibition against jaywalking. It also got rid of two offenses related to bicycling. The council acted quickly after Jane Brown, the mayor’s general legal counsel, reported on Wednesday that, of 123 jaywalking tickets issued in Kansas City over the last three years, 65% were handed out to Black pedestrians. Blacks make up only 30% of Kansas City’s overall population.

You just can’t win. When activists campaign for closing streets to cars, merchants complain that it would cost them business. And then there’s Breckenridge, which has cancelled “Walkable Main” because it was too successful:

“Something that I am really concerned about is … if a restaurant that is in the closure is able to be not just at 100% capacity but then even above 100% capacity, we already have an employment issue in this town,” Owens said. “We know lots and lots of people are trying to hire and are understaffed, and I guess I would just really hate to see some people that are at 120% capacity getting full staff, and then somebody north of town or south of town not able to get full employees because there’s just additional pressure on the employee situation.”

Council member Dennis Kuhn added that residents on neighboring streets like Park Avenue and French Street did not enjoy the increase in traffic that they experienced while Walkable Main was in place last summer. Council member Dick Carleton said he was torn on the issue and said he had concerns about safety.

Obviously the best way to improve safety is to drive lots of multi-ton vehicles down the main drag.

Perth Amboy is the NJ town where police officers swarmed a group of black teen bicyclists, arresting one and confiscating bikes. The NAACP has criticized police actions, and the encounter is being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office.

But it seems the city will be unresponsive to any investigations, as the Mayor has already put out a statement defending this city’s police force:

Caba said that the bicyclists rode through the city in an “unsafe and reckless manner” causing motorists to stop or swerve away from the group. Police stopped the group and an auxiliary police supervisor asked them to ride safely. He reminded them of the local law requiring bicycles to be registered and to display a tag.

The videos depict the interaction as professional and cordial,” Caba said. “The supervisor clearly stated he only wished to speak with the riders and police had no intentions of confiscating bikes from the riders. His actions were commendable and de-escalated any tensions that existed during the traffic stop.”

In 2015, Professors Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti published a landmark paper on the economic costs of zoning over-regulation. The study got a lot of attention because it calculated housing restrictions cost the economy some $1.6 trillion.

However, the paper made some major blunders in the calculations. The actual number is in fact far higher: $3.39 trillion!!:

Critics may rush to accuse HM of motivated reasoning, but the shoe does not fit.  Their reported figures for the effect of housing deregulation on total GDP and the wage bill turn out to be gross understatements.  The reasonable interpretation, rather, is that authors and referees alike focused so intently on the advanced mathematics that they glossed over some elementary yet crucial errors.  And this is roughly what Hsieh told me: The referees requested some changes to the text (not the tables, which look fine), but these were inconsistently implemented.

Congressional earmarks, the notorious funding method for wasteful highways, are back. Here is how Solano County is proposing to spend their funding:

The [project] list will go to Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to be included among the 10 projects each can request for the earmark dollars. The first transportation project is for the Highway 37 and Fairgrounds Drive interchange project, which is viewed as critical for the Solano360 project as well as a general economic benefit to that part of Vallejo. The second is for the Vaca Valley Parkway and Interstate 505 Multimodal Improvement Project.

[…]

In the case of the fifth project – the $228.7 million Rio Vista Flood Risk Reduction Project – the request is for $150 million. The project is designed to provide 200-year flood protection to the city by “raising levees and constructing cutoff walls on several levees protecting the eastern and northern flanks of the city along (the) Sacramento River and raising vulnerable structures above (the) 200-year flood elevation within the flood zone.”

It takes a special lack of self-awareness to widen highways, while requesting funds to mitigate flooding from climate change.

Ok, but the highway projects include a bike/ped component, right? Because that is required under the Caltrans Complete Streets policy. Here is what EIR has to say about that:

The [Solano County] Bicycle Plan proposes construction of a Class I bike path along Fairgrounds Drive, from Marine World Parkway to Redwood Street. Under the Build Alternative, this bike path would be reduced to a Class II bike lane facility. Although the Build Alternative does not propose the construction of a separated bike path, such as the one proposed in the Bicycle Plan, the proposed improvements would establish the bicycle network connectivity the Bicycle Plan intended to establish along Fairgrounds Drive. As such, the proposed Build Alternative is not considered to be in conflict with the Bicycle Plan.

The Biden Administration has released an outline of its $2 trillion infrastructure plan. It is important to note that this amount would be spent over a period of 8 years, i.e. $250 billion annually. Over that 8-year period, the plan would spend $300 billion on transportation projects, including:

  • $95 billion on roads and highways
  • $20 billion bike/ped projects
  • $20 billion fixing neighborhoods destroyed by highways
  • $80 billion for Amtrak and other rail projects
  • $85 billion for public transit

Normally, these types of projects would be funded by the Federal gas tax. But the gas tax was last raised in 1992, and inflation has reduced revenues by half. If the gas tax had kept pace with inflation, the Highway Trust Fund would have an additional $37.5 billion to spend annually. If you do the math, $37.5 over 8 years is exactly $300 billion.

Even worse, the Biden Administration would finance all of this through deficit spending.

The Biden Administration is developing a $3 trillion infrastructure plan, and every city wants in. That perhaps is the explanation for Dallas proceeding on a proposed downtown subway, because it certainly has no value-added for riders.

DART has 4 lines converging on a short segment running through a downtown transit mall. Two of those lines would be shifted a few blocks south to a new $2.7 billion subway. The plan does not provide any increase in service, except for the Red line which would see some additional peak-hour trains. DART concedes the project does not enhance service much. Indeed, the Build Alternative would see a net loss in transit ridership:

The main point of the project, according to DART, is to improve reliability and capacity. DART at one point looked at running trains on the branching lines with 10-minute headways, meaning 24 trains per hour through the downtown segment. That’s not exactly pushing the envelope; there are plenty of streetcar systems which achieve much higher throughputs. It is also curious that a subway is needed to improve capacity when DART runs just 2-car trains.

Computer simulation of subway stations. I lost count of the number of mezzanine and concourse levels at the Commerce station.

SMH this pedestrian “safety” flyer being handed out by LAPD:

The FRA has indefinitely postponed plans for a major expansion of Washington DC Union Station. The $7 billion project ran into a firestorm of criticism for its single-minded focus on car parking. There was no planning for improved bike/ped access, and only limited accommodation for intercity buses. Congresswoman Eleanor Norton sent a scathing letter which undoubtedly caught FRA’s attention:

Among other problems with the proposal, the Project includes too many parking spaces for cars. NCPC [National Capital Planning Commission], which has approval authority for the Project, has asked FRA to “substantially reduce” the number of parking spaces and to work with all the stakeholders to determine the appropriate amount of parking in light of the “mix of uses, traffic and urban design impacts and the transit-oriented nature of the [P]roject.” In order to truly become a 21st-century multimodal facility, the Project needs to address pedestrian and bike connections, which are increasing modes of transportation here, as well as pick-up and drop-off locations and the bus facility.

Andrew Trueblood, Director of the D.C. Office of Planning, has warned that FRA’s desired number of parking spaces would undermine the key goals for the Project, including prioritizing intermodal efficacy and efficiency and providing continued and enhanced quality of life for people who live, work and visit the District.

Pity poor Cubic. The defense contractor spends years lobbying for a $200 million faregate contract, only to have the pandemic upend the budget at BART. With billion dollar deficits, it would be crazy for BART to do a new faregate project…or not:

BART expects ridership won’t be close to rebounding to pre-pandemic levels for years and is grappling with “a crisis without precedent in our history,” the transit agency’s staff told its board Thursday. The pandemic is expected to cost the train system more than $1 billion in revenue losses through fiscal year 2022.

Board directors said Thursday that they want to see possible scenarios about which service could be brought back when depending on returning ridership…Director Liz Ames said she would like more investment in capital projects. She stressed moving forward on new, more secure fare gates which aren’t yet fully funded. General Manager Bob Powers said fare gates are a high priority. Director Debora Allen said “safe, clean, affordable transit” will get people back the fastest. She pushed for new fare gates and more police enforcement.

Service has been reduced almost by half, and they’re worried about whether Cubic gets their cut.

New faregates will not prevent anyone from going through the emergency exit