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Hurrah! Oakland and San Francisco Slow Streets are now on Google Maps (but no Alameda?).

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Anaheim has its $200 million ‘ARTIC’ station. San Francisco has its $2+ billion Transbay Terminal. But the award for most expensive and useless intermodal station project will surely go to San Jose, for its $10 billion (yes with a “b”) Dirion makeover.

There is a lot that can be said about problems with the project, but this one picture from a recent presentation sums it up:

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The Caltrain/HSR platforms are on the elevated structure, and the VTA LRT stop is proposed to be re-located underground. Note that the layout we have today has both the LRT and Caltrain platforms at-grade alongside each other. So after spending $10 billion, they’ve made the transfer worse — even though convenient “intermodal” transfers was a design goal. With the Caltrain tracks elevated above grade, it would be simple to continue the LRT line at-grade through the station area, with a stop directly at a station entrance (preferably the north concourse side on Santa Clara St).

What’s bizarre is that a group of stakeholders were sent on a junket to study European train stations, including this one in Rotterdam –which as you can see has the trams located at-grade directly outside the station:

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It was 1 decade ago that Berkeley City Council canceled the AC Transit BRT project, a decision which generated nationwide ridicule. Councilmember Robinson is trying to revive the project, and asked council to reverse the decision. This may be just virtue signaling (Berkeley routinely passes meaningless proclamations), but we’ll see:

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The 2010 AC Transit BRT project was much more than bus lanes — it was a Complete Street makeover with left-turn pockets, bike lanes, and crosswalk fixes to make Telegraph safer for all road users.

From 2010 until 2018 (the last year data is available) the CHP SWITRS database records a whopping 216 injuries on Berkeley’s portion of Telegraph Ave. How many of those injuries could have been prevented had the BRT project been built? Well, we can look to Oakland where a road-diet along its portion of Telegraph reduced total injuries by 40%. Oakland DOT also reports that their Telegraph improvements accomplished a Vision-Zero milestone: no pedestrian collisions in crosswalks. By contrast, Berkeley’s section of Telegraph had 54 pedestrian injuries in the years 2010-2018.

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Injury collisions (all types)

TGV derailment

A landslide caused a TGV derailment near Strasbourg. According to media reports, the train was going 170mph, but there were no fatalities:

The driver, whose injury was not specified, was evacuated by helicopter following the accident near Ingenheim, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) northwest of Strasbourg. The train was still intact but the locomotive was leaning on its side and four other wagons were also off the tracks, according to the state rail operator SNCF and AFP journalists at the scene.

“Despite going off the tracks, the TGV remained upright,” the operator said in a Twitter post.

TGV’s have semi-permanent coupled passenger cars, which helps avoid jackknifing.

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Bernie is a NIMBY

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Nobody is being displaced — the property is a former horse racetrack.

And it is not the only time Senator Sanders has intervened in local development politics…

The Problem: transporting thousands of employees from/to a very large North Bayshore employer in Mountain View to the Caltrain station.

The solution, as proposed by some on the Mountain View City Council: a $1 billion monorail:

The idea has been floating around since 2009 under several names and iterations — Personal Rapid Transit, pod cars, SkyTran, autonomous shuttles, monorails and gondolas — all aimed at solving the practical challenge of efficiently moving commuters roughly 3 miles, from the city’s downtown transit center to Google, NASA Ames and other major employers.

Despite the decadelong wait and worsening traffic, the project suffered another setback last month. An $850,000 study to figure out the land requirements needed for the future Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) line, originally intended to begin last month, has been pushed back to November. Council members granted the request of city staff who sought a one to two year delay, citing burdensome workloads and a vacancy in the public works department. The study now aims be complete in April 2021. Estimated costs to build an elevated system over surface streets could cost as much as $195 million per mile, raising questions over how the city could cobble together enough transportation funds to pay as much as $1 billion.

There is of course a trivial solution: just stripe bus lanes. The $850k cost of the study is enough to pay for it. Google and the other employers already have buses, as does the VTA.

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Do Pastafarians count?

The fashion police in Canberra (Australia) will no longer require that Sikhs wear bike helmets:

Australians will no longer be fined for wearing religious headwear instead of a helmet while bike riding in Canberra, under new rules aimed at making cycling more inclusive. The exemption, which came into effect quietly in December, was introduced after a Canberra man wrote to ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury with a problem.

“I am a big fan of riding bicycles and I used to have a bicycle when I was in Melbourne because as a Sikh boy I had exemption not to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle,” he said.

The decision brings Canberra in line with Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, which all have similar regulations in place. In NSW, the only state currently without a bike helmet exemption, members of the Sikh community have unsuccessfully lobbied state government representatives to have the law amended.

US Federal Law (and the courts) have increasingly taken a dim view on rules and regulations that infringe on religious freedom. I wonder if/when we see a court case on the constitutionality of bike helmet requirements.

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