Feeds:
Posts
Comments

UK Roads Minister Jesse Norman doesn’t think enough is being done to dissuade cycling. He is conducting a safety review that may result in some new laws:

A review into cycling safety announced last month would be broad, possibly including whether cyclists should be forced to wear helmets and high-visibility clothing, Norman said. But he promised any conclusions would be led by evidence.

On possible laws for helmets and high-visibility clothing, Norman said the review would “ask very general questions and if the feedback is that we should consider that stuff, then we’ll look at it”.

He added: “Obviously there will be some people who feel very strongly that there should be hi-vis, and there will be plenty of people who think very strongly the other way. It’ll be the same with helmets. The literature on risk is quite a well developed one, I don’t need to tell you.”

Norman’s safety review was triggered by the tragic fatality of a pedestrian, Kim Briggs. She was struck by a cyclist as she crossed against a light. The cyclist was jailed because his bike lacked front brakes. Norman has proposed increased penalties for what he calls “dangerous cycling”.

Advertisements

Anaheim taxpayers are wondering why their city paid for a $108 million parking garage, but Disney gets to keep all the parking revenues:

They zoom into the six-story concrete structure, carloads of costumed kids, foreign tourists and graying baby boomers sporting Mickey Mouse ears, “Frozen” dresses and “Star Wars” backpacks.

The cash pours in too: Each vehicle pays $20 to park at the Mickey & Friends facility, $35 for a preferred space close to the escalators and elevators. Even if the parking garage fills just half its spaces, it would still generate more than $35 million in annual revenue and easily hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the structure.

That money all goes to Walt Disney Co. The city of Anaheim, which owns the garage and spent $108.2 million to build it, charges the company just $1 a year for the lease.

More than 20 years after Anaheim agreed to pay for the parking facility as part of Disneyland Resort’s expansion, it has become a symbol of the city’s complicated and increasingly tense relationship with its biggest and most powerful corporate citizen.

 

Caltrans has put out a draft version of its statewide rail plan. At first glance, it looks brilliant. They use ideas borrowed from the Swiss, such as pulse scheduling and integrated ticketing. Perhaps someday even 125mph electrified trains running on frequent schedules.

But dig deeper into the actual projects in the 20-year pipeline and it is disappointing. They will mostly throw money at existing Amtrak corridors that have to share track with freight. It is a huge waste of money — for example:

phase2

So after spending $324 million, we get a whopping 2 additional round-trips added to the schedule — in a corridor that will soon have faster and cheaper BART service.

On the list of “low-hanging fruit” for bike projects in Oakland, it is hard to top Joaquin Miller Rd. It is a popular cycling route for accessing parks in the Oakland hills. But the road is grossly overbuilt for the minuscule car traffic it carries — 4 travel lanes, plus parking, and a wide median. As a result, there is a huge amount of speeding. A speed survey found 90% of drivers exceeding the 35 mph speed limit (with 50 mph not uncommon).

A road diet was the obvious solution for reducing speeds and providing improved bike/ped facilities. And so here is the re-striping plan that Oakland’s professional planners came up with:

joaquin_miller

As you can see, the uphill side (shown on the left) retains the two travel lanes. This of course does nothing to slow the speeding. And then there is the mess on the right: they removed one of the travel lanes, but did not use the extra space to create a bike lane. Instead there is a weird median buffer, for what purpose I have no idea.

It is hard to overstate the incompetence shown here. The road is sufficiently wide for buffered bike lanes, or perhaps even parking-protected cycle-track on both sides of the street. Instead we got a useless median buffer. Uphill cyclists are especially vulnerable due to the huge speed differential. And pedestrians will still have to contend with crossing a multi-lane arterial with speeding traffic.

joaquin2

As reported earlier, Nippon Sharyo has been struggling to complete the contract for new FRA-compliant bi-level trains for California. The project was becoming a fiasco, years late and in danger of being canceled altogether.

To salvage the project, it appears that Caltrans is now going with Plan B; i.e. purchase single-level railcars from Siemens instead:

The Midwest bi-level passenger railcar procurement (Contract No. 75A0362) of 130 bi-level passenger railcars is led by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in joint agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), which represents the Midwest Coalition.

In order to satisfy its obligations under the Contract, Sumitomo Corporation of America (SCOA), proposed to (1) substitute Siemens Industry, Inc. (Siemens) in place of Nippon Sharyo as SCOA’s prime subcontractor and railcar manufacturer, pursuant to Section SP7.2 of the Contract and (2) manufacture 130 single-level railcars in place of 130 bi-level railcars.

Caltrans/IDOT are reviewing SCOA’s proposal. By moving from bi-level to single level railcars, Caltrans/IDOT will reduce the delivery frame for the railcars from approximately 24-34 months for a single level railcar as opposed to 5 years for a bi-level railcar. In order to proceed, Caltrans/IDOT and SCOA will execute an amendment to the Contract which will accommodate the substitution of Siemens as the manufacturer of 130 single level railcars.

One complication is that the Siemens single-level cars are not low-floor vehicles, and California Amtrak routes have just 8″ platforms. So passengers will have to climb stairs to board, which can be difficult for those with limited mobility, heavy luggage, or bicycles.

 

The World Socialist Web Site is asking the same question I’ve been thinking about: why weren’t trains used to evacuate people from the path of hurricanes Irma and Harvey? The highways were really the only way out of Houston and South Florida, and highways are notoriously inefficient for moving large numbers of people. And that presumes access to a car, which a lot of people don’t have:

For millions, their only way to flee is by car. Gas shortages have spread across the state, and drivers confront extremely heavy traffic that burns through gas with little progress. From southern Florida, there is only Interstate 95 or Interstate 75 to head north, both of which have had extensive delays for days. On Friday, northbound delays covering hundreds of miles were visible on I-75 and I-95 even into Georgia and South Carolina.

This “fend for yourself” method of evacuation presents an enormous inequality, where working people must spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to head to safety, assuming they even have a car. As a retirement destination, Florida also has many residents over 65 years old. This includes residents in nursing care, or with physical or mental impairments, that make them unable to drive or fly.

Why haven’t passenger trains, which could carry a thousand people a time, been sent to Florida to help? Residents without money or the ability to travel by car or plane could be taken to designated points of shelter and food.

Prior to Hurricane Gustav in 2008, there was a small successful example of this, as some 2,000 residents of New Orleans were taken to Memphis, Tennessee on special trains. A worker who participated in the rail operation noted that “At least 50% of the passengers were elderly, many in wheelchairs, on walkers or canes and generally unable to move very well without some assistance.” On a return trip, many passengers brought more luggage, as they could buy essential supplies in Memphis that would have been out of stock or priced-gouged in New Orleans. With baggage cars and plenty of space, the train accommodated this for free—compared to an airline that would charge $50 per bag.

It should also be noted that car evacuations are quite dangerous due to car crashes. It is not unusual for hurricanes to cause as many casualties through car crashes (often hundreds of miles away) as the storm itself.

gettyimages-55743523

Residents fleeing Hurricane Rita

 

BART has kicked-off its transit-village project at Walnut Creek. And as usual, it has a huge amount of parking. Might as well call it a parking-oriented village:

The first preliminary work begins Saturday in the “south permit lot,” where the new 900-stall BART parking garage will be built. It will stand next to the existing multilevel garage, which will remain in service. Ron Heckmann, a spokesman for the project, said the new structure will more than compensate for the loss of the south and north permit lots and the permit lot east of the station to residential and retail development, the net gain being about 100 stalls.

The new garage building is expected to open in late 2018, said Arthur, adding he hopes all the 596 apartments and ground-floor retail spaces will be finished in about five years. Parking for apartment residents and retail patrons will be provided in underground garages below those future buildings.

775 underground parking garage spaces will be built (at great expense) for the 596 apartments — in addition to the 900-stall parking garage.

wc_garage