Today’s Headlines

  • Golden Gate Eight Bus Saved (SFExaminer, MarinIJ)
  • Uber Testing Flat Rate to Compete with Transit (CNNMoney)
  • SF’s First Half-Protected Intersection Coming to 9th and Division (Hoodline)
  • Letters on Mission Bay Development and Bicycle Licensing (SFExaminer)
  • More Infill Apartments Coming to Mid-Mission (Socketsite)
  • Cell Phone Thefts on BART (EastBayTimes)
  • Stabbing Victim at Civic Center BART (SFGate, SFExaminer)
  • Man Tries to Abduct Child from Muni Platform (CBSLocal)
  • Two Men Killed by Amtrak Trains in Separate Incidents in Oakland (EastBayTimes)
  • Rebuild of Caltrain-Adjacent Hillsdale Shopping Center Begins (DailyJournal)
  • Transit Oriented Developers Fight Anti-Density Forces on Peninsula (BizJournal)
  • SF Bike Advocates from 1972 (SFChron)

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

  • thielges

    That Examiner letter on bike licensing recycles the same old misunderstandings. I was surprised to see it was written by Quentin Kopp. Shouldn’t a former state legislator and current judge be informed on the facts? He’s under the belief that gas taxes paid for our roads and that bicyclists contribute nothing. It would be understandable for a lay person to hold those misbeliefs but not a public employee who can influence policy and who’s responsible to know right from wrong.

  • RichLL

    The statement that cyclists don’t contribute towards the roads has a very clear meaning. What it means that a cyclist does not pay any ADDITIONAL costs to use a road, over and above what we all contribute in general taxes. But a vehicle driver pays those general taxes too AND has to pay special vehicle fees and taxes as well.

    That’s hardly a difficult concept to understand. The idea here is modest – that cyclists pay a small contribution to confer parity with other road users, And that there is some kind of licensing and registration requirements.

  • murphstahoe

    Truly embarassing. Kopp’s stamp is on some pretty important public projects so I used to naively hold him in regard, a more detailed historical reflection is showing him to be a problem maker, not a problem solver.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    I just started riding Capitol Corridor to work this week, so far it’s been seriously delayed 25% of the time :-/ I doubt that there’s anything that can be done to fix up the crossing at 98th and Railroad, which is already gated. The only fix is grade separation but there’s no economic argument to be made for what would surely cost tens of millions of dollars.

  • RichLL

    The article said that there were just 30 passengers on the entire train, and that is during commuter hours as well.

    So yes, it’s hard to see the economic argument for major new investment, as you say. But surely something could be done to make these crossing safer. And it’s not even like these trains travel that quickly.

    Or were these suicides? Neither victim has been identified. If that has been two cyclists killed, this place would be in a state of uncontainable outrage.

  • p_chazz

    The plural of “anecdote” is not data. The Capitol Corridor’s ontime performance for June 2016, the most recent month for which data was available was 96.2% For the last 12 months it was 94.4%

  • p_chazz

    As a regular rider on the Capitol Corridor, it’s my observation that most commuters on the Capitol Corridor get on and off the train in Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond; so the fact that there were 30 passengers on the train during commute hours on the stretch of track between Oakland and San Jose is not particularly significant.

    What Union Pacific needs to do is fence off the track and put up surveillance cameras on the ROW, that will alert UP police that there is an intruder.

    Your gratuitous swipe at cyclists was uncalled for. If they had been struck because they were trespassing on the ROW or ignoring signals, they would have been as liable as a pedestrian or motorist.

  • p_chazz

    Agreed. The fact that cyclists don’t pay any road-related taxes undercuts their argument that bicycles should be taken seriously as a transportation alternative. Even if they contributed a token amount that was raised from the sale of bicycles and bicycle-related equipment, it would give them skin in the game. As it is, they give the impression of freeloaders.

  • twinpeaks_sf

    What you’re not factoring in is that bicycle infrastructure costs significantly less than auto infra. So someone who rarely/doesn’t drive (even without so-called “user fees”) ends up subsidizing facilities that she doesn’t use โ€“ more than the other way around.

  • Bruce

    Drivers cause far more wear and tear to roads than bikes, and should therefore bear the greater burden in paying for maintenance costs.

  • RichLL

    What you seem to be saying there is that the Capital Corridor train only has sustainable ridership on a fairly limited segment of its entire route. If that is the case then Jeffrey’s point that major investment is not warranted seems apt, at least outside the well-used segment.

    I’d agree that there are some cheap fixes that could probably reduce the risk on casual incursions onto the right of way.

    My point about cyclists was that, a few weeks ago, when 2 cyclists were killed in SF on the same day, there was far more expressions of outrage and dismay, than was the case here, and I am not clear why. Nothing gratuitous at all – I am just asking why the empathetic differential.

  • RichLL

    Drivers do bear the greater burden. The question here is whether they should bear all of the burden, while other classes of road users bear none of the incremental burden.

  • RichLL

    Less? Yes. None? No.

    And everyone benefits from the emphasis of investing for vehicular use of roads, including those who don’t drive.

  • RichLL

    Yes, I think that even cyclists should understand that it helps their case if they are seen to be contributing something, and agreeing to some baseline level of reasonable regulation, scrutiny and liability.

  • baklazhan

    The obvious answer is that the two cyclists were killed by out-of-control, reckless drivers, while going about their daily business. That generates outrage.

    While we don’t have all the details about the two people killed by trains, trains are obviously quite predictable in their travel, and easy to avoid, so when someone gets killed it does suggest suicide, which is tragic but not outrageous.

  • PaleoBruce

    I would like to hear Quentin Kopp explain his reasoning about “Who pays for roads.” http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Who%20Pays%20for%20Roads%20vUS.pdf

  • gneiss

    Okay, then explain to me why we aren’t asking pedestrians to pay a “token amount” for sidewalk maintenance? Why are we making homeowners pay to replace broken paving?

  • murphstahoe

    Not sure where you are riding it, but the train is generally full from Great America to Oakland when I ride it, the GAC station is in the center of the Golden Triangle and there is a lot of housing in Fremont, Hayward, and Oakland. The ridership seems to be bifurcated, it sort of empties out at Jack London and starts to fill up again with the commuters to Sacramento.

    The train would be totally packed except that the ACE train sucks up some of the very large GAC to Fremont contingent. My co-workers report that Fremont to Santa Clara in a car is taking well over an hour these days, from 6-10 AM.

  • farazs

    Apart for wear and tear of roads itself, driving imposes a
    much larger strain on essential infrastructure like emergency services and law enforcement. It requires more and more elaborate traffic control mechanisms (stop lights, stop signs, complex interchanges, multiple lanes). The footprint of cycling is smaller in many ways – and that is not even considering environmental issues.

    The primary argument is that scaled by the infrastructure footprint required for cycling, cyclists are already paying more than their share by way of general taxes. Put another way, if there were only cyclists, pedestrians and public transit, every ones general taxes would be lower. Obviously this would have negative effects on quality of life and economic activity in general, so its not what any one wants, except may be a few crazy hippies!

    Which brings us to the second argument – if it can be shown that the cost of collecting fees from cyclists (proportional to their footprint), exceeds the net collection – would the other side cede that this is but political posturing with no practical consequences. Or would it then be necessary to raise the fees artificially to at least pay for its collection?

    And finally, what if I have both a car and a bicycle – so I have already paid registration fees and taxes that go with it. Do I then have to drive that car to be worthy and deserving of using the road?

  • Jeffrey Baker

    The first time I got on the train at GAC, headed to Oakland, at 4:34pm, I got there a bit early since it was my first time. I was the only person on the platform. But by the time the train arrived there were hundreds of people and easily 40 bicyclists. I though for sure I’d get bumped, but it seemed like many of the cyclists stayed behind for the ACE train, which was lucky.

    I’m not too interested in wasting lots of time at work so I’ve been taking the 8:53am and the 3:24 back. Neither is very crowded.

    It takes about 2h and 15m to get up 880 from SJ to Oakland on a bus these days. That road is a disaster.

  • p_chazz

    Since I get on at Emeryville or Richmond, I don’t see the passengers who ride between GAC and Oakland. The Capitol Corridor has grown from 8 to 30 trains a day, and ridership shows consistent gains. I only wish the money has been poured down the rathole that is high speed rail had been invested in the existing trackage and rolling stock.

  • RichLL

    As interesting as all these anecdotes and speculations are, there is one fact that is not in dispute here. When the CC train had this incident its passengers were evacuated and there were just 30 of them.

    This is just after 9 am in the morning when the rush hour is still happening. Your original statement was that investment in things like grade separation cannot be justified. The number cited above corroborates that view.

  • RichLL

    That may be a factor. But somehow when a car hits a cyclist, people here get a lot more angry then when, say a train kills 2 people or when cyclists kill 2 people.

    All lives matter.

  • RichLL

    We can all agree that vehicles impose more cost, risk, wear and tear than cyclists. What is why vehicles pay a lot more than cyclists under the current system.

    But also note that even if you own no car, cannot drive and even never get into a car, you still derive a considerable benefit from the existence of roads and vehicles.

    So the question here is surely whether cyclists, who engage in at least SOME use of the roads, should pay a little more than, say, someone who is only a pedestrian?

    And I’d argue that is reasonable even aside from the utility of cyclists and bikes being able to be tracked via licenses and registration. Absent that the driving majority will always see cyclists as freeloading in the manner described by p_chazz.

    The libertarian in me always understands why any class of people wants to be under-regulated and under-taxed. But I think the cyclist lobby would accrue more credibility if it formally adopted a position of wanting to more clearly seen to be contributing and being held accountable.

  • baklazhan

    The cyclist who killed the pedestrian was charged and convicted of a felony. Justice was served to the extent that it could be.

    We are outraged when cyclists are killed because their killers so often get off with slaps on the wrist, such as Spencer Smith who got a misdemeanor last year for a fatal hit and run of a cyclist.

  • RichLL

    I’m not familiar with the Smith case but I question the utility of throwing drivers in prison simply for being involved in an accident.

    Being thrown in prison is a deterrent against committing an affirmative act like going out and robbing a bank. But no driver goes out with the intent of killing a cyclist so a prison sentence is not a viable deterrent.

    Neither of the cyclists who killed pedestrians in the last few years served any time. Nor even did Hespelt, whose did intend harm and whose actions can in no way be considered accidental.

  • baklazhan

    If anyone is under-regulated and under-taxed, it’s the auto driver, who causes a disproportionate amount of damage and requires a disproportionate amount of space–which, again, everyone pays for in the form of general taxes. Adding taxes to bicycles would be a step in precisely the wrong direction.

  • baklazhan

    I suspect that Hespelt, who was sentenced for assault and vandalism for breaking the car window, would have happily traded his felony punishment for the misdemeanor of the motorist who, y’know, killed a guy in a hit and run, after going out drinking, and then laid low until he was tracked down by police.

    Oh and Hespelt did in fact get sentenced to six days in jail.

    But do go on about the injustice suffered by motorists who never intend to kill anyone, but just happen to do it so, so often.

  • MorganDriver

    Is Hespelt the guy with the silly mustache? Saw him at Nordstrom Rack today ๐Ÿ™‚

  • RichLL

    The notion of intent is crucial in criminal law. I’m not familiar with the driver who you cite, but even you appear to concede that he didn’t intend to kill anyone. So it was an accidental death. A similar example I feel sure you’d be more comfortable with is Chris Bucchere, who served no time either.

    Hespelt’s assault, on the other hand, was totally intentional and his victim been killed then he would have rightfully faced murder charges.

  • murphstahoe

    The problem – which you presumably know – is that the right of way that the Capitol Corridor runs on is owned by the freight line, (Union/Southern Pacific or whomever), and they aren’t invested in passenger rail.

    And speeding up that line isn’t trivial – what exactly do you do with a train line that runs down the middle of the street in Jack London Square? That goes through the marshes of Alviso? That has numerous sharp curves?

    Caltrain’s ridership grew in large part because of better service. Capitol Corridor’s has grown mostly because the alternative has become more miserable.

  • p_chazz

    The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and Union Pacific Railroad partner on a number of projects that will of mutual benefit. Like the Sacramento-Roseville third track: http://www.capitolcorridor.org/sac-roseville-third-track/

  • murphstahoe

    Cap Corridor runs one train a day past Sacramento, and there isn’t really demand for more, so that’s a pure win for UP. From Oakland to San Jose, better trackage would mean more passenger trains which is not to UP’s benefit.

  • p_chazz

    Obviously you didn’t read the link: “The additional third track will allow Capitol Corridor to offer riders 10 round trips per day versus the one round trip currently offered. ” The stretch from Oakland to San Jose is covered in the Oakland to San Jose Double Track โ€“ Phase II Rail Project.

  • murphstahoe

    “allow” doesn’t mean that it will happen, it means it *can* happen.

    I could see the value in that the Auburn to Sac corridor on I-80 is a disaster due to the poor planning in the Roseville area which has become the definition of sprawl, but I don’t see 10 round trips to Auburn anytime soon.

    A double track from Oakland to San Jose would be great. Straightening the alignment would be better. But I’m not holding my breath that the Bay Area can pull this off in any meaningful timeframe ๐Ÿ™

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