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Super Bowl Blocks Bikes

Santa Clara Police close a one-mile section of the San Tomas Aquino Trail during events at Levi's Stadium

Santa Clara Police close a one-mile section of the San Tomas Aquino Trail during events at Levi’s Stadium, forcing the public to use a two-mile on-street detour. During the stadium’s construction, city officials promised that the trail would remain open at all times. Photo: Andrew Boone

Want to walk or bike to Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium this Sunday? It won’t be easy. The big game’s organizers have banned the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) from providing free valet bike parking at the stadium. The City of Santa Clara also agreed on a ten-day closure, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9, of the San Tomas Aquino Trail for the construction of an entertainment area on the surface parking lot next to the stadium.

“Many of us were hoping to see Super Bowl 50 be the most bike-friendly big game yet. Instead, attendees will apparently have no place to park a bike, even if they are able to navigate past the closed bike path and double detour on surrounding streets,” wrote SVBC in an online petition to the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee that has gathered 280 signatures. “In a region with soaring traffic and a country where transportation accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, ignoring people-powered transportation seems both irresponsible and antiquated.”

Valet bike parking and quality pedestrian and bike infrastructure cut both car traffic and reduce demand for car parking on event days, direct benefits to both Levi’s Stadium and those living or working in the area.

“The largest bike parking area takes up about 4000 square feet for up to 285 bikes,” wrote SVBC Bike Parking Coordinator Alison Pauline in an email. “We are parking up to 285 bikes in an area that could fit 13 cars.” Paluine said volunteers typically park between 100 and 200 bikes at 49ers games, depending on how many fans show up to watch the team play. Record turnout to date was over 700 bikes for a two-day Grateful Dead concert in June of 2015.

SVBC Bike Parking Volunteers at Levis Stadium

Volunteers park hundreds of bicycles at every Levi’s Stadium event, except Super Bowl 50, for which organizers have banned valet bike parking and closed the San Tomas Aquino Trail. Photo: SVBC

A network of over 100 miles of continuous off-street walking and bicycling paths stretching from Mountain View to San Jose connect directly to the football stadium’s main entrances along the San Tomas Aquino Trail in northern Santa Clara. “Our publicly funded San Tomas Aquino Trail has been taken over by a private corporation with the complicit support of the City of Santa Clara,” said former SVBC Board of Directors member Scott Lane. “This world-class network of off-street trails is intended for everyone to enjoy, not only those wealthy enough to afford 49ers football tickets.” Lane led successful negotiations in October 2014 between active transportation advocates and Santa Clara Police Chief Mike Sellers to allow trail access for people walking or bicycling to stadium events.

“While there will likely be a sizable increase in pedestrians on the San Tomas Aquino Creek
trail before and after NFL events, the creek trail is open to both pedestrians and cyclists and there are no restrictions on use,” promised Santa Clara city officials in the stadium’s Environmental Impact Report. “Anyone at anytime can access and use the trail.”

Additionally, the Super Bowl will cost Caltrain an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 to operate extra trains to shuttle fans to and from Mountain View, where they can transfer to Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail trains – operating for the exclusive use of Super Bowl ticket-holders. VTA rail ridership to the stadium is capped at 12,000, and even at $20 a ticket the agency said it will not recover Super Bowl costs either. SamTrans is paying 12 bus drivers to remain on call so that bus bridges can be set up in case Caltrain breaks down. None of the transit agencies will be compensated by the National Football League or Levi’s Stadium.

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Friday Job Market

Looking to hire a smart, qualified person for a position in transportation planning, engineering, IT, or advocacy? Post a listing on the Streetsblog Jobs Board and reach our national audience of dedicated readers.

Looking for a job? Here are some current listings:

5278 Planner II, San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco
This position performs difficult city planning work and participates in all phases of city planning; assists in the preparation of planning, research, surveys and projects; conducts investigations, collects and analyzes data on zoning, subdivision design, urban renewal, rapid transit and other land use problems; assists in the conduct of environmental impact reviews; assists in the preparation of written and graphic reports; may supervise subordinate survey, clerical and office personnel; and performs related duties as required.

Store Manager, PUBLIC Bikes, Santa Monica
PUBLIC Bikes seeks a a results-driven, marketing-oriented, high energy Store Manager to lead a new Santa Monica store scheduled to open in late February. This person will be the literal face of PUBLIC bikes in the Santa Monica-area market, manage the local team, and work closely with that team to engage local merchants, neighborhood and city influencers, cycling advocacy groups to plan community-based events and partnerships in and out of the store.

Public Service Director, City of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio
The City of Columbus is seeking a strong manager and a collaborative and innovative leader with previous executive leadership experience to serve as the Director of the Department of Public Service. This position will serve as an advisor to the Mayor, at the cabinet level, on a wide range of public and infrastructure services essential to the citizens of Columbus. This position directs the activities of four divisions, which have the primary duties of removing solid waste, snow and ice removal, transportation planning and operations, design and construction activities, graffiti removal and pothole repair.

Families for Safe Streets Organizer, Transportation Alternatives, New York
Supported by TA, Families for Safe Streets members engage in advocacy and targeted awareness campaigns to press for changes to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries on NYC streets. The FSS Organizer will play a critical role in supporting existing FSS members, growing the group by reaching other New Yorkers impacted by traffic violence, and coordinating new support service activities.

Streetsblog USA
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Obama’s Politically Impossible Transpo Plan Is Just What America Needs

Even with a tax on oil, the U.S.'s effective gas tax rate would be the lowest in the industrialized world. Graph: Tony Dutzik via FHWA

Even with a tax on oil, the U.S.’s effective gas tax rate would be the lowest in the industrialized world. Graph: Tony Dutzik via FHWA

It may be “seven years too late,” as tactical urbanist Mike Lydon put it, but President Obama has released a transportation proposal that calls for big shifts in the country’s spending priorities.

Obama’s proposal would generate $30 billion annually from a $10-per-barrel surcharge assessed on oil companies. More importantly, the revenue is linked to a substantial shift in what transportation projects get funded. It’s the kind of thorough proposal, on both the revenue and spending sides of the equation, that Obama shied away from for most of his presidency. (It would only have stood a chance during his first two years in office.) While this Congress would never pass it, the proposal does lay down a marker for what smart federal transportation policy could be.

In a rough sketch laid out by the White House yesterday of the upcoming proposal, Obama calls for major increases in transit funding and investing in a network of efficient high-speed rail. Perhaps even more innovative is a $10 billion program to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. This program, among other things, would fund states to better coordinate housing and job development with transportation. Obama’s proposal also calls for $2 billion to support research and development and the implementation of autonomous vehicles.

Not surprisingly, what has gotten the most press is the oil tax, which even Obama admits would likely be passed on to consumers through higher gas prices. Already, Republican Congressional leaders have called the proposal “DOA.”

Obama’s people have acknowledged the bill faces long odds in Congress, describing it as a conversation starter. An unnamed administration official told Politico the plan would help shift the nation’s transportation policy out of the Eisenhower era.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Which Cities Are Adding Walkable Housing the Fastest?

Since 1970, most American metros have seen their share or walkable urban housing decline, according to this analysis by data guru Kasey Klimes.

Since 1970, most American metros have seen walkable housing decline as a share of total housing. Chart: Kasey Klimes

As more Americans look for walkable places to live, cities are struggling to deliver, and a lot of neighborhoods are becoming less affordable. A new analysis by Kasey Klimes of Copenhagen’s Gehl Studio illustrates how major metro areas have let their supply of walkable housing shrink over the years, contributing to today’s housing crunch.

In this chart, Klimes shows how much walkable neighborhoods, which he defines as places with 10 or more housing units per acre, have grown or declined as a share of total housing in the nation’s 51 largest regions, from 1970 through 2010.

In most places, Klimes writes, the trend since 1970 has left cities in bad shape to handle the increasing demand for walkable neighborhoods:

The percentage of housing in walkable neighborhoods has dropped from 19.4% to 12% since 1970. Overall, though the number of housing units in America has outpaced population at a ratio of 3:2 since 1970, the number of housing units in walkable neighborhoods has trailed behind population growth at a ratio of 3:1. Now that market preference has returned to dense housing, this mismatch has left us far behind in adequate supply.

The silver lining is an uptick in decade to decade construction of dense housing. The net gain of housing in walkable neighborhoods as a fraction of total net housing gain by decade has increased from just 0.3% in the 1970’s to 10.7% in the 2000’s.

Despite some recent progress, the mismatch between low supply and high demand is contributing to rising housing prices and burdening people with rents they can’t afford in many cities and neighborhoods. Zoning that outlaws walkable development and the disproportionate political power of development-averse property owners are two factors that have hindered housing development where it is most in demand.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • A Look at BARTs New Seating Layout (KQED)
  • More on Super Bowl BART Rideship Boost (SFGate, Kron4)
  • No More Getting Whacked by a Backpack on BART (SFGate)
  • More on BART and Shake Alert Earthquake Warning System (AlmanacNews)
  • Former VTA Manager to Oversee Caltrain Modernization (MercNews)
  • SFMTA Warns People Away from Super Bowl Party (Grist)
  • Woman Punched on Muni (SFExaminer)
  • Market Street Mixed Use will Have no Car Parking (SFExaminer)
  • Man Dies in Suspected DUI Crash (SFGate)
  • More Old Eastern Span of Bay Bridge Coming Down (SFExaminer)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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The Bay Area Should be Hyper Skeptical about Hyperloop

Hyperloop cutaway drawing. Image from SpaceX.

Hyperloop cutaway drawing. Image from SpaceX.

Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s pitch for a transportation technology that he says will whisk people from somewhere north of Los Angeles to the East Bay in 35 minutes, was in the news again thanks to a two-day conference held at Texas A&M University. Engineering students from around the world displayed designs for a Hyperloop vehicle.

So what is a Hyperloop? And what does any of this mean for advocates for safe, sustainable transportation?

It shouldn’t mean anything, because for now it’s just a big experiment. Except that Musk sets the whole thing up as a challenge to California’s statewide rail modernization and electrification project, also known as High-Speed Rail (HSR). HSR will bring clean, sustainable mass transit into the realm of city-to-suburb and city-to-city transportation. That’s why it’s getting funded in part by cap-and-trade proceeds. It will help fund Caltrain electrification and the connection to Transbay. It will replace many short-haul flights and cars for trips to and from Northern and Southern California and the cities of the Central Valley. So Musk, developer of the Tesla electric car and sometimes environmentalist, should be solidly behind it. Instead, here’s the start of his introductory paper for Hyperloop:

How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL – doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world? Note, I am hedging my statement slightly by saying “one of”. The head of the California high speed rail project called me to complain that it wasn’t the very slowest bullet train nor the very most expensive per mile. The underlying motive for a statewide mass transit system is a good one. It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving. The train in question would be both slower, more expensive to operate (if unsubsidized) and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying, so why would anyone use it?

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Crowdsource Bicycling App ‘Ride Report’ Goes National Today

Crowdsourced map xxxx

Example Ride Report crowdsourced map of Portland streets. Redder streets are more stressful, greener streets more chill. Image via BikePortland.

Since last September, Portland cyclists have been generating bike trip data via the free Ride Report app. Today, Ride Report has completed its Portland beta and is now open for use throughout the United States.

Ride Report, currently available for iPhone only (Android coming soon), runs in the background. The app knows when riders are riding their bikes, and tracks these trips. After each trip it prompts a short one-question survey: was the last trip “stressful” or “chill”? The app aggregates survey data to form a crowdsourced bicycling map showing which routes cyclists rate best and worst. End users–likely to be mostly folks who are already regular riders, according to Ride Report co-founder William Henderson–can track their trips and can view crowdsourced maps. Ride Report also works with municipalities to license data for bicycle planning. Much of the data is available free in an open source format; for full data, cities contract with Ride Report.

BikePortland’s Michael Andersen writes that Ride Report is “simple, seamless, and some of the messages are gently funny, which makes it a pleasure to use.” Andersen’s recent article reviewed Ride Report data maps for Portland, identifying which streets are stressful at which times of day.

There are a few apps that are helping cities better understand cycling patterns. For example, Strava has licensed its trip data to cities. With its trip evaluation tool, Ride Report builds in the additional data layer of the bicyclist experience.

These apps are still in their early stages; none are perfect. They, of course, only track the trips of people who are well enough off to own a smart phone, hence low income riders and low income neighborhoods are very likely underrepresented in their data. Andersen mentions that during the past week Ride Report “accounted for 7% of my battery power. It turns off automatically when I’m under 20%, which is nice.”

Cyclists – are you using Ride Report and/or other apps to track your trips? What do you like or dislike about the app? What additional features could make your trips, your neighborhoods, and your region better?

Via Streetsblog California
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Take CalBike’s Survey About California’s June Primary

California needs elected representatives that understand the importance of stress-free, connected bikeways. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

The California Bicycle Coalition is in the process of planning candidate endorsements in the 35 state races that are up for election in the June 7th California primary. CalBike knows that it is crucial to elect representatives who understand the importance of strong complete streets policies and of building good low-stress bike networks for everyone to use.

To help it formulate an endorsement strategy, CalBike is looking for feedback on candidates and issues that matter to bicyclists in the state. Fill out the survey here—it takes about ten minutes, and asks about your affiliations and interests.

Who doesn’t want to share their opinions?

While you’re at it, if you’re not registered or you’ve moved in the past year, register to vote.

Streetsblog USA
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A University Built Around the Car Sees the Light

Fresno State University was, until very recently, your prototypical car commuting school. The school began as an isolated agricultural institution and is still connected to a large university farm. Its transportation services haven’t extended much beyond subsidized parking.

Fresno State University is trying to transition from a drive-to campus to one with a more balanced menu of transportation options. This pedestrian scramble is designed to reduce pedestrian injuries. Photo: Stop and Move

Fresno State University is trying to transition from a drive-to campus to one with a more balanced menu of transportation options. This pedestrian scramble is designed to reduce injuries. Photo: Stop and Move

But over time, writes James Sinclair at Streetsblog Network member Stop and Move, the area around Fresno State became more residential. And the university’s transportation systems began to creak under the weight of increasing traffic.

Now, Sinclair reports, the university seems to be getting serious about moving beyond the car, and it’s rolling out a respectable Transportation Demand Management program.

He outlines what’s included:

Free Bus Passes

Also new as of last summer, Fresno State students and staff now have unlimited free access to FAX and the Clovis bus systems!

Scramble Crosswalk

This one was a very pleasant surprise, and another example of Fresno State finally (FINALLY) realizing that the infrastructure around the campus influences which mode of transport people use…

Unfortunately, the walking/biking facilities are poor. Very bad lighting at night, narrow sidewalks, and then an intersection which strongly favors cars.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Super Bowl City Protests Block Buses (SFGate, InsideBayArea)
  • Expect Ferry Delays from Super Bowl Protests (SFExaminer)
  • TSA Provides Extra Security on Bay Area Transit for Super Bowl (SFAppeal)
  • More on BART and Muni Rideship Surge from Super Bowl Events (SFExaminer)
  • More on Earthquake Warning System for BART and Other Systems (KQED)
  • Designs for Bay Bridge Western Span Bike Path (SFExaminer, SFist)
  • More Work to Remove Old Bay Bridge Span (Kron4)
  • Very Transit Adjacent Car Barn Ready for Re-purposing (Socketsite)
  • Suspect Sought in San Jose Hit and Run (MercNews)
  • Novato Bus Hub Design Debates Continue (MarinIJ)
  • Muni Wants your Old Photos (SFist)

Get national headlines at StreetsblogUSA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA