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Archive for the ‘automotive’ Category

To celebrate Pedestrian Safety Month, the California Office of Traffic Safety has sent this out on their Twitter feed:

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This messaging makes clear that cars are the top of the pecking order. How about instead they flip it around to say: “Driving around? Think two steps ahead, and drive the way you would want to act if you were walking.”

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This is ridiculous. Here are back-to-back NTSB tweets giving contradictory messages on autonomous vehicles. One says they are good, the very next warns against overreliance.

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This past week, Berkeley police were out in force writing $250 tickets to cyclists for rolling stop signs on Milvia and the Ohlone trail. For those who don’t know Berkeley, these are the two of the safest places to walk or ride a bike in the city.

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In a Tweet, Berkeley Mayor Arreguin denied responsibility for the crackdown. As he pointed out, it is actually city policy to use limited police resources on dangerous driver behavior.

But the Mayor and Council are not exactly blameless here. This crackdown is the result of a state grant City Council applied for. Each year the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) gives money to local law enforcement to conduct these kinds of stings. As one of California’s most dangerous cities for bikes/peds, Berkeley routinely receives OTS grant money. Apparently, one condition of the OTS grant is that recipients conduct targeted enforcement against bikes/peds. Berkeley and other cities have regularly used OTS funds for this purpose.

So in accepting the OTS grant, it was inevitable cyclists and pedestrians would get caught up in a dragnet, and many on the Berkeley City Council surely knew this because they’ve heard complaints about it before. One year in particular stands out, when an OTS-funded jaywalking sting was conducted near UC campus. Quite a number of UC students attended a City Council meeting that evening to vent frustration at the exorbitant fines.

The OTS is one of those highway agencies few have heard of, but which desperately needs reform. The OTS promotes outdated safety advice bordering on victim-blaming. OTS admonishes pedestrians to wear bright colors and carry flashlights. Bike helmets are heavily promoted, and the OTS warns against distracted walking. So it is not surprising that OTS traffic safety grants would fund some dubious enforcement strategies. Cities that want to promote bike/ped travel should avoid OTS grant programs.

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Step 1. Spend tens of millions of dollars on parking facilities at college campuses.

Step 2. Allow students sleep there overnight in their cars:

The bill, AB 302, would require community colleges to grant overnight access to campus parking facilities.

Before the vote, members of the Assembly committee heard from homeless students and their allies who voiced their support, but both legislators and community college representatives also raised concerns over costs and logistics.

Community college students make up nearly two-thirds of California’s undergraduates, and a recent survey found almost 1 in 5 have been homeless in the last year.

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Tuition at SJSU has been soaring. 13% of students experienced homelessness over the past year. And yet the highest priority for San Jose State is…a multi-level parking garage:

A historic track where two of San Jose State’s most famous Olympians trained will soon be no more. The university said Bud Winter Field on the South Campus will be turned into a new parking garage.

“Yes, there were plans to see if a new track could be installed,” said San Jose State Athletics Media Relations Director Lawrence Fan. “But the greater need for San Jose State and San Jose State Athletics is a multi-level parking structure.”

The new garage is 1.25 miles south of the main campus, so it won’t be all that useful for commuters attending class.

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Traffic fatalities are going up in the US, while they keep going down in Japan:

The number of traffic deaths nationwide in 2018 fell by 162, or 4.4 percent, from the previous year to 3,532, hitting the lowest level since data became available in 1948, the National Police Agency said Friday.

The decrease reflected police efforts to step up traffic safety education programs and crack down on traffic offenses, the agency said.

On per-capita basis, Japan traffic deaths in 2018 was 2.79 per 100,000 population. By comparison, it is around 11.40 in the US (as of 2017). If the US were to achieve the same level of road safety as Japan, 28,000 lives would be saved per year.

 

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When a city gives away curbside parking, don’t be surprised if someone takes all the spots to operate a car rental business:

Ask anyone about parking on the 4700 block of North Kenmore Avenue in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Multiple people attempting to park in the area told us that it was taking them 30 to 45 minutes to find a spot because every spot is taken by cars that are part of a resident that rents out cars to people similar to an Airbnb operation.

Ald. James Cappelman, 46th, lives on the same block of Kenmore. Even he had no clue why parking was so ridiculous until residents started complaining and he noticed this. “We saw many locked boxes with keys and I didn’t know what it was so thought this is strange,” he said.

The man accused of running the operation didn’t answer, but the alderman said he rents cars around 38 cars to people through an app called TURO. All with legal permits because the city has no limit.

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Canada could have spent $2.6 billion CAD on new transit or bike paths. Instead, it bailed out Chrysler:

The Liberal government has quietly written off a $2.6-billion auto-sector loan that was cobbled together to save Chrysler during the 2009 global economic meltdown.

The write-off, among the largest ever for a taxpayer-funded bailout, is buried in a volume of the 2018 Public Accounts of Canada, tabled in Parliament on Friday.

Canada’s auditor general has previously cited a lack of transparency over the bailouts. “We found it impossible to gain a complete picture of the assistance provided, the difference the assistance made to the viability of the companies, and the amounts recovered and lost,” Michael Ferguson said in his fall 2014 report.

At the time of the 2009 auto-sector bailouts in Canada and the United States, Chrysler was split in two: an “Old Chrysler” that went into bankruptcy and a “New Chrysler” that became viable and remains in operation today. Now called Fiat Chrysler, the international firm reported net profits of $4.3 billion US for 2017.

It will be interesting to see whether Chrysler continues operating the Canadian plants if Trump goes ahead with tariffs.

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A spot-on comment to the NTSB

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“Smart City” has become one of those inane buzzwords that can mean almost anything:

One of Bill Gates’ investment firms has spent $80 million to kickstart the development of a brand-new community in the far West Valley. The large plot of land is about 45 minutes west of downtown Phoenix off I-10 near Tonopah.

The proposed community, made up of close to 25,000 acres of land, is called Belmont. According to Belmont Partners, a real estate investment group based in Arizona, the goal is to turn the land into its own “smart city.”

“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” Belmont Partners said in a news release.

Ronald Schott, executive emeritus at the Arizona Technology Council, says the land Gates’ company purchased is in a good spot, in part due to the proposed I-11 freeway, which would run right through Belmont and connect to Las Vegas.

Ex-urban car-centric development is the dumbest city imaginable. But it will have high-speed internet and “autonomous logistics hubs” so there’s that…

 

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