Archive for October, 2011

Bring on the Blight

New computer renderings of CA high-speed rail show just what the CHSRA has in store for San Jose, and it isn’t pretty. Here is the Hedding grade separation, which gets both a trench and an aerial. My, what an inviting place for some TOD.

Aerials blasting straight through town. Absolutely hideous, the worst kind of 1950’s planning:



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The Return of Tailfins

Never thought I’d see the day when tailfins make a comeback. Yeah, I know, the marketing droids euphemistically call them rooftop or sharkfin spoilers, but tailfins are what they look like.

And like their predecessors, tailfins are found mainly on gas-guzzling brands such as BMW and Lexus.

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Working Group of Incompetents

In case you were wondering who helps FRA develop passenger railroad safety rules:

In developing proposed safety standards for passenger equipment operating at speeds greater than 125 mph but not exceeding 150 mph, FRA formed a subgroup (the ‘‘Tier II Equipment Subgroup’’) of Working Group members representing interests associated with the provision of rail passenger service at such high speeds. The full Working Group recommended the formation of a smaller subgroup to consider Tier II passenger equipment standards, as a number of Working Group members found the operation of high-speed passenger equipment to be outside their immediate interest and expertise. FRA invited representatives from organizations including Amtrak, the BLE, BRC, RPI, and UTU to participate in developing the Tier II standards.

In other words, Amtrak and some union bosses. Does anyone believe they have the mathematical or technical expertise to do cost-benefit analysis? Or even care about the costs of excessive safety regulations?



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GM’s Aging Demographic

Actually, “Reality Sucks” is the perfect slogan for GM. It survives on government bailouts, and the 20-something market abandoned the brand.

And GM knows this better than anyone, as evidenced by this advertisement targeting their few remaining customers:

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Back in 1997 when work began on the Southside Plan, many had high hopes to reverse mistakes of the past. This is a student-dominated neighborhood, where 70% of residents don’t even own cars. Reverting 1-way high-speed arterials back to 2-way neighborhood streets was a no-brainer. Building a bike network was also a no-brainer too.

But then a funny thing happened. As the Plan dragged on and on for the better part of two decades, the transit, bike, and ped elements are all but eliminated. And so now in reading the Plan that Council adopted last week, it is hard to find any changes at all.

For example: Dwight and Haste are retained as 1-way speedways, though the study suggests Bancroft and Durant be “considered” for 2-way operation (planners use the word “considered” to mean “nice idea, but won’t happen”). Similarly, the bike network is largely unchanged. Don’t expect to find bike lanes on Telegraph, Bancroft, or Piedmont Ave.

The only positive aspect of the Plan is conversion of Dana and Ellsworth back to 2-way operation with bike lanes. These are relatively short segments in residential blocks. Nobody should mistake this for bold thinking.

The Plan also uses extravagant language to promote AC Transit and other transit services. But then Council killed the AC Transit BRT, making nonsense of the Plan’s transit goals too.

So there you have it: 15 years of planning to come up with a do-nothing option.

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