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Archive for May, 2016

After the VW Dieselgate fraud was revealed, investigators began looking at other manufacturers. German transport authorities tested 53 vehicles, and 22 of them show suspiciously high levels of nitrogen-oxide. Fiat, in particular, shows striking irregularities:

Bild am Sonntag reported that testing by the KBA of a Fiat model had shown that the emission control system shut down after 22 minutes – two minutes after the end of a standard test.

This caused the dangerous pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx) to be released into the atmosphere “at more than 10 times the permitted level“, the report said according to the newspaper.

The KBA had concluded that there was “sufficient evidence of an impermissible defeat device“, said the newspaper, adding that the automaker had declined to comment on the claims.

Fiat is now stonewalling the investigation:

Fiat officials had been due to hold a meeting with German authorities on Wednesday but cancelled the talks abruptedly through a lawyer’s letter, the transport ministry said in a statement. The carmaker had declined to meet as it deemed Italian officials to be the only authority responsible on the question of whether their vehicles complied with existing emissions regulations, the ministry said.

“This uncooperative attitude of Fiat is completely incomprehensible,” said Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt.

 

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To accommodate higher passenger loads, BART has been testing new seating layouts. There are three configurations being tested:

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This evening, I was riding in the 3rd one. Most of the seats were removed along one side of the car. I have to say, it did a good job accommodating five bikes, airport luggage, and an oversized wheelchair. The wheelchair user was thrilled that she finally got a window seat. Passenger volume was not that high, though, despite being rush hour.

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Approaching 12th St Station 

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Relatively empty at the end of the line in Fremont

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Substandard cycletracks

The good news is that planners are finally embracing cycle-tracks. The bad news is that they are still designing substandard cycle-tracks.

A previous posting discussed a substandard cycle-track in Alameda. On the other side of the channel in Oakland, we find yet another example of half-assed bike infrastructure. Oakland bike planners are proposing to build cycle-tracks on Fruitvale Ave. The cycle-tracks would run from the BART station, under I880, and out towards the Bay. For the most part, the project is satisfactory — except for the segment running past I880. It is that segment which is by far the most dangerous for cyclists. And it is in that segment where the cycle-tracks would disappear entirely. Bicyclists would have no physical protection from the heavy traffic coming on and off the freeway.

Even worse, the plan would sandwich an unprotected bike lane between a right-turn lane and through traffic. This is a proven failure, as demonstrated most spectacularly last week in San Francisco.

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