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Our transportation system is this country’s biggest energy hog. You might think that the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) would know that better than anyone. But look where the lab is situated, way out on the Denver ex-urbs. This mammoth 1,800-car parking garage was built to accommodate all the employees driving. And boy the NREL is sure proud of their ‘energy-efficient” parking garage. Without a hint of irony they write:

It’s no secret that researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) do cool things — including finding new ways to capture energy from the sun and wind. But there’s nothing cooler than working on a parking garage, right?

The garage generates so much traffic that an entirely new access road had to be constructed to connect it with the I70 highway.

This would be another “stand your ground” type law, only with cars instead of guns:

The North Carolina House of Representatives approved legislation in a lopsided 67-48 vote Thursday that would shield drivers from civil liability if they collide with protesters.

Opponents say the legislation is unnecessary and may give drivers the false impression they can maliciously run over activists. One Democrat warned it would make the state the butt of jokes about being full of “dumb rednecks.”

But Republican proponents, who sent the measure to the state Senate by a veto-proof margin, say recent encounters between activists and drivers makes the reform both sensible and necessary.

Today marks the anniversary of Italy’s liberation from Nazi occupation. There were many heroes in the resistance. One you may not have heard of is Gino Bartali, two-time winner of the Tour de France:

Twice winner of the Tour de France and three times champion of the Giro d’Italia, the Italian cyclist’s greatest achievement was the part he played in the resistance. In fact, he used his skills on two wheels to save the lives of Jews, by transporting false identity papers between cities – hidden in the seat of his bicycle.

Later, Bartali moved on to physically transporting Jewish people to the safety of the Swiss Alps in a wagon pulled along by the bike. His fame proved to be a valuable asset, as he was able to tell patrols that his various journeys were simply part of his training – though he aroused suspicion, as a national hero, police likely didn’t want to risk upset by arresting the cyclist.

It is unknown exactly how many people Bartali saved, as the humble cyclist refused to be interviewed about his rescue activities.

Bartali was featured in the 2014 documentary My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes:

Mere days after California legislators passed an historic gas tax increase, highway planners are already salivating over using the money to build new freeways:

From Hans-the-Fremont-Traffic-Czar:

“Perhaps the most exciting thing Senate Bill 1 provides for Fremont, Caltrans and all of Silicon Valley is the opportunity to finally get the State Route 262-Mission Boulevard connector between I-880 and I-680 upgraded to a full freeway. The concept being pursued is a below-grade expressway allowing traffic to pass through without stopping at the two signals at Warm Springs and Mohave.

“This corridor is practically congested 24/7 and uncorking this bottleneck should be a welcome relief for daily commuters to Silicon Valley jobs, Silicon Valley’s weekend warriors heading to Tahoe, and increasingly for truckers hauling shiny new electric vehicles emerging from the Tesla Motors factory.

“This project was previously thought as unfundable due to anemic levels of state funding, but SB 1 has changed that. There is now over $500 million available annually for improving congested corridors and freight corridors. I can’t imagine there are many more worthy highway corridors across the state for this investment than 262.”

The gas tax increase was sold as a way to close the maintenance deficit in California’s roads, not to build new highways.

Moreover, the SR-262 is the most useless highway project imaginable. It would blight the commercial district near the $1 billion newly-built Warm Springs BART station, while doing absolutely nothing to improve automobile congestion.

If you are a pedestrian in Sacramento, the dangerous drivers may be the least of your concerns.

As you may have heard, a pedestrian was assaulted by a Sacramento police officer while crossing the street. The event was captured in cell-phone video by a bystander, and dash-cam video from the officer’s patrol car. The Sacramento PD released the following statement to explain the incident:

On Monday, April 10, 2017 at 5:07 p.m., a uniformed Sacramento Police officer attempted to stop a pedestrian who was observed crossing the street unlawfully near the intersection of Cypress Street and Grand Avenue in North Sacramento.

After the violation, the officer exited his patrol vehicle and attempted to contact and detain the man. The officer gave multiple verbal commands for the man to stop but the subject ignored his instructions and proceeded to walk away from the officer.

This statement shows the Sacramento PD is utterly confused about jaywalking laws. Crossing the intersection at Cypress and Grand is completely legal under CVC. Dash-cam footage confirms that the pedestrian, Nandi Cain Jr, crossed corner to corner. And no, he was not crossing against a light or anything like that: there are no traffic signals at the intersection.

Even worse, the dash-cam footage shows a driver blasting through the intersection right in front of Cain as he is trying to cross. Pedestrians crossing unsignalized intersection have the right-of-way, and cars are required to yield. If the officer was going to go after anyone, it should have been the driver and not the pedestrian.

So this incident is disturbing on multiple levels. The police did not protect a vulnerable road user from a dagerous driver. Instead, an officer goes after an innocent pedestrian who is rightly annoyed at getting stopped — and gets assaulted as a result. Then the police dept. puts out a ridiculous press release calling Cain a lawbreaker.

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Dash-cam video of Nandi Cain, Jr “jaywallking”

A proposed bill would tax visitors who wish to bicycle in Montana:

Bozeman, Montana Republican State Senator Scott Sales thinks cyclists are an invasive species in his home state.

Involved in stopping bicycle safety legislation recently as well, he now wants to tax each visiting cyclist $25 to ride in Montana. This fee is an amendment that’s been added to senate bill 363, which relates to invasive species management and more specifically the spreading of mussel larvae in reservoirs.

The amendment proposed by Sales and tacked on to the unrelated SB 363 would require a $25 decal for each bicycle, which would supposedly help to fund the state’s battle against invasive mussels.

All Democratic State senators voted against the amendment, while 29 out of 32 Republicans voted for.

Ford CEO Mark Fields wants fuel efficiency standards rolled back, and President Trump is only too happy to oblige.

Fields says the EPA rules will cost 1 million jobs. He does not say how that 1 million figure was computed (given that it is such a nice round number, we can guess where he pulled it out from). But if it is accurate then that is actually a really good thing. It means that the nation’s transportation requirements can be met with 1 million fewer workers. That is a yuge productivity gain! It frees up 1 million workers to address other pressing needs, like fixing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or developing new businesses.

Okay, but maybe assembly line workers can’t or don’t want to be retrained. What to do with 1 million unemployable autoworkers? Well, the 34-year savings of the fuel standards for the economy is on the order of $1 trillion dollars (give or take depending on future gasoline prices). And that is just the direct costs, not factoring in the medical benefits of cleaner air. $1 trillion is enough to give each of those workers a $1 million early retirement check.