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Posts from the "Air Quality" Category

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Meet Bay Area Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share officials say this color and design are only preliminary the "front runner" options.

Update 4:53 p.m.: The SFMTA just launched a bike-share station crowdsourcing map (using, we should note, a tool from OpenPlans, Streetsblog’s parent organization). The agency wants “people’s comments on where they would like to see Bay Area Bike Share stations as well as what they think of the initial 35 station locations,” said spokesperson Ben Jose.

It’s probably safe to get excited now.

San Franciscans got their first glimpse [PDF] at how the bikes and the price scheme for the new Bay Area Bike Share system are shaping up at an open house held by the SFMTA yesterday.

The seafoam celeste color and logo on the wheel “skirt guard” shown above are not final — they’re just the “front runner” designs that have come out of deliberations between the various agencies and stakeholder groups involved, said Heath Maddox, the SFMTA’s bike-share program manager.

Bay Area Bike Share's price scheme is expected to be within the normal range of other bike-share systems around the country. Click to enlarge.

“This is a color that hasn’t been used in any other bike-share system, so the manufacturer has to test it on half a dozen different frames to ensure the quality and consistency,” said Maddox.

Bay Area Bike Share, set to launch in August, will be managed by Alta, which also launched Citi Bike — the nation’s largest system — in New York City on Monday. The 6,000-bike Citi Bike system is already being used for more than 10,000 trips per day, and nearly 24,000 members have signed up. Bay Area Bike Share will use the same sturdy bike models as Citi Bike, except they’ll have more gears (seven as opposed to three).

With SF’s launch including only 350 bikes at 35 downtown stations (and another 350 in four cities down to San Jose), advocates have called for SF to move quickly to expand its system, since bike-share systems that are too small to serve a useful range risk under-use and failure. By next spring, Maddox said Bay Area Bike Share is expected to expand to the full 1,000 bikes originally promised for the pilot (which would include a total of 500 in downtown SF).

“We hear loud and clear that people want this to go big, and we want it to go big, too,” said Maddox. “We’re turning over every stone for sums of money to help it hit the ground running.”

Karen Schkolnick, grant program manager for the Bay Area Quality Management District — the agency coordinating the regional program — said that the agency will soon launch a “request for proposals” for private sponsors to help fund an expansion. She also said the BAAQMD has been fielding interest from officials in other counties, like Marin, who are interested in bringing the bike-share to their cities. “We’re busy, busy every day,” she said.

Image: SFMTA

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As Bike-Share Pilot Lurches Along, Supe Wiener Calls for Full-Scale Launch

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Barclays Cycle Hire in London. Photo: mikesandra4/Flickr

While San Franciscans eagerly await the repeatedly-delayed launch of the Bay Area’s small-scale bike-share pilot program, which has now been downsized to a minuscule 700 bikes (350 of them in SF), Supervisor Scott Wiener says San Francisco needs to take the initiative to move ahead and launch a “full-scale system” throughout the city by next year.

Wiener plans to introduce a resolution [PDF] at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting calling on the SF Municipal Transportation Agency to move beyond the pilot being planned by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and launch a citywide bike-share system by 2014. American cities including New York, Chicago, Portland, and Los Angeles are all expected to launch their respective systems by then.

Scott Wiener at Bike to Work Day 2011. Photo: Dyami Serna, SFBC

“All over the world, cities are recognizing the tremendous value of city-wide bike-share programs in reducing traffic, improving public transit and stimulating the local economy,” Wiener said in a statement. “Here in San Francisco, we should be doing everything we can to establish and start reaping the benefits from a full-scale bike share program.”

Bike-share, which the SFMTA has called one of the most cost-effective ways to increase bike ridership, was originally promised to launch in the spring of 2012 in five cities along the Peninsula, from San Francisco to San Jose. However, the BAAQMD has delayed the 1,000-bike pilot program, citing the general complexity of coordinating a regional system between five municipalities.

Karen Schkolnick, the BAAQMD’s grant programs manager, said the current launch date is set for this August, and that the pilot will initially only include 700 bikes, though the agency expects to deliver the full 1,000 bikes within the following six months. The reason, she said, is that the $7,000,000 program won’t be adequate to provide the 1,000-bike system as originally thought, and the agency hopes to get more funding from private sponsors with the initial 700-bike launch. “Basically, we used local funding to seed it,” she said.

Ultimately, said Schkolnick, the BAAQMD hopes the system will sustain itself on sponsorship funds and membership fees, and expand to the East Bay with as many as 10,000 bikes. But Wiener said he wants to make sure “we’re not just, in the future, waiting on the Air Board. I believe we should be pushing forward with our own expansion.”

“We know what we need here, and we need a lot more bike-sharing,” he said.

Read more…

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Yet Another Bike-Share Delay: Launch Now Set for Summer 2013 or Later

Bike-share in the Bay Area will now arrive no sooner than the summer of 2013, roughly a year and a half after the original launch date, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Alta Bicycle Share, the chosen vendor, is still negotiating a contract with agencies in the five cities in which the system is planned to launch, said BAAQMD spokesperson Ralph Borrmann. Once the contract is signed, he said, the launch will come at least six to eight months later.

A bike-share station in Anaheim. Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

Few details are available on the causes of the repeated delays. The BAAQMD offered the same explanation given in July, citing the complexity of launching the 1,000-bike system in multiple cities along the Peninsula. Alta has not responded to requests for more information.

“Things are moving along,” said Borrmann. “They’re still working on contractual and administrative issues in dealing with a larger-scale program like this. I believe this is the only one that’s going to be region-wide like this.”

The multiple delays of bike-share — a program which SFMTA staff has called one of the most cost-effective ways to increase bike ridership — have kept San Franciscans waiting while bike-share systems thrive in peer cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, and Denver. California’s first bike-share system launched this July in Anaheim, and is expected to expand in Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles in the coming months.

Alta is the dominant bike-share vendor in major North American cities, and plans to launch other systems next year in New York City, Chicago, and Portland, where it is based. The New York launch — set to be the nation’s largest — has been delayed by  software glitches, but it’s unclear if those issues have affected the launch of the Bay Area’s system.

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Bike-Share Delayed Again: Launch Now Set as Late as January

In yet another delay, the Bay Area’s bike-share system will now launch as late as January, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

These are the bikes for New York City's bike share system, set to be launched this month by Alta, the same operator selected for the Bay Area's system. Photo: DNAinfo

The launch of the 1,000-bike system has been repeatedly delayed since the SF Municipal Transportation Agency first said it would happen this spring. The target date was then moved to July (in time for America’s Cup), and then to a staggered launch in August and September to give potential operators more time to put together their bids. However, the contract between the BAAQMD, the agency overseeing the program, and Alta Bicycle Share, the vendor which was selected in May, has yet to be finalized.

BAAQMD spokesperson Lisa Fasano said she couldn’t comment on what’s prolonging the contract negotiations, but she said the latest delay can be chalked up to the complex nature of launching a regional bike-share system in five cities. She said the agency is aiming to launch the system by the end of the year, but that it could roll over into January.

“It’s more complicated than just launching a program in, say, San Francisco,” said Fasano. “We feel like it’s moving along, and we’re satisfied with the progress that it’s making.”

Alta, which is also launching bike-share systems this year in New York City and Chicago, has not responded to a request for comment.

SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum told the SF Examiner the news of the latest delay was “disheartening.”

“It’s just really surprising that a program that is so successful and popular in other cities has taken so long to get implemented in San Francisco,” Shahum told the Examiner. “Especially considering that we have the money in place.”

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On a Hot Streak, Alta Poised to Run Bay Area Bike-Share

The Bay Area’s bike-share system will likely be run by Alta Bicycle Share, an American vendor that already operates several systems in North America and Australia.

Alta runs Boston's Hubway Bike Share system, among others. Photo: The Fosbury Flop

A board committee of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is expected to recommend selecting Alta tomorrow, according to a memo [PDF] from CEO Jack Broadbent. The memo says that Alta ranked the highest out of six bidders in meeting the agency’s criteria.

If awarded the contract, Alta would run a system initially consisting of 1,000 bicycles and 100 station kiosks – half in San Francisco and the other half in four cities in Silicon Valley. The contract would be capped at $5,969,000, according to the memo.

The Portland-based Alta already runs systems in Boston, Montreal, Melbourne, and Washington D.C., where the wildly successful Capital Bikeshare was recently reported to be nearly operationally profitable. Alta has also been selected to run systems in New York City and Chicago, expected to launch later this year.

In each city Alta has partnered with the Montreal-based Public Bicycle System Company, which manufactures the bikes and kiosks. PBSC also makes the equipment for the Barclays Cycle Hire in London.

Alta Bikeshare is an affiliate of Alta Planning + Design, a bicycle- and pedestrian-focused transportation planning firm which has an office in Berkeley.

The system is expected to be rolled out throughout August and September.

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Bike-Share Launch Pushed Back to August to Give Bidders More Time

The Bay Area’s regional bike-share pilot program will now launch no earlier than August and may be phased in over a two-month period.

A photo simulation of a bike-share station from the SFMTA.

The launch was pushed back one month from its previously proposed date “to give prospective vendors more time to develop thorough proposals and more time to prepare for the system’s launch,” said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

According to a document [PDF] from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the lead agency for the program, the submission period for proposals from prospective bike-share vendors was extended until today following numerous requests.

The launch, originally scheduled for spring, may be rolled out in stages throughout August and September, depending on which vendor is chosen, the document says. While August 1 is the new “desired start date,” October 1 is the deadline for the vendor to complete the rollout of 100 bike-share stations planned for the pilot — 50 of which will be in downtown San Francisco.

Questions submitted to the BAAQMD, listed in the document along with the agency’s responses, include several complaints from vendors that a July 1 launch would be unrealistic.

“Unless a preferred vendor has already been chosen and has begun manufacturing, it is not possible for any vendor to manufacture, deliver, test, and deploy the equipment required to support 100 stations, 1,000 bikes, and 1,500 to 2,000 locking docks over five cities, spread out over the 50 miles between San Francisco and San Jose, in the ten weeks from contract award to launch,” writes Richard Layman of BicyclePASS, in a preface to an extension request.

A promise of a quick and cost-effective installation is one of the many criteria by which the BAAQMD and transit agencies will select a vendor. Other factors include the sustainability of the vendor’s price structure, the vendor’s experience launching other bike-share systems, the durability and design of its bikes and stations, and how well the vendor adheres to technical and legal requirements.

The other companies that submitted questions addressed by the BAAQMD were Alameda Bicycle, Blazing Saddles, Serco, Library Bikes, and ParkWide, which launched a park-to-park bike rental system in San Francisco in October.

Following today’s submission deadline, the agencies plan to announce a chosen vendor in May.

Find more details about Request for Proposals criteria on the BAAQMD web site.

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SF Bike Share Will Be “For Anybody Who Wants to Make a Short Trip”

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The SFMTA has released a preliminary map of potential bike-share station locations (H/T Cyclelicious for inputting them into Google).

San Franciscans are burning with curiosity about the imminent arrival of bike share this summer. At a forum held by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association yesterday, participants wanted to know details like where the stations will be located and what color the bikes will be.

Officials working on the project say they can’t provide answers until the vendor is selected (expected by April), but Cyclelicious provides an early map of stations proposed by the SFMTA. Project manager Heath Maddox said that while the pilot’s 50 downtown stations won’t serve as wide an area as the world’s leading systems, the stations will be close enough together to achieve a similar “blanket-style” coverage within the service zone.

“The most important thing is to have a density of coverage that works,” Maddox told Streetsblog after the presentation [PDF] yesterday. “The regional system is really set up — and it makes sense — to be the first and last mile for regional transit, but the nature of what we’re doing in San Francisco is very different. It’ll be [for] anybody and everybody who wants to make a short trip via bicycle.”

Maddox said the station proposals are still very premature, and that the SFMTA will collect feedback on them through public hearings, an online map, and a possible town hall-style meeting.

As far as the potential for expansion after the pilot, planners couldn’t say much, but Maddox did present a citywide map of areas that are “ripe” for bike share, mainly featuring transit-accessible commercial corridors. Karen Schkolnick, the program manager for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said planners hope to use the information gathered from the regional 1,000-bike pilot to develop a ”seamless transition to the next system.”

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National Fuel Efficiency Standards Could Require 62 MPG Within 15 Years

The Obama administration got a lot of attention earlier this year when it raised fuel efficiency rules to an average 35 miles per gallon across the nation’s fleet of automobiles that will be produced between 2012 and 2016. Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), have laid out an ambitious road map [pdf] to push tougher greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks built from 2017 through 2025, standards that hypothetically could push the national fleet average up as high as 62 mpg.

“We must, and we will, keep the momentum going to make sure that all motor vehicles sold in America are realizing the best fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Continuing the national program would help create a more secure energy future by reducing the nation’s dependence on oil, which has been a national objective since the first oil price shocks in the 1970s.”

reducsss..

GHG and MPG levels analyzed for various scenarios. Source: US DOT

Today’s report provides an initial assessment for a potential national program for the 2025 model year horizon and outlines next steps for additional work the agencies will undertake to meet the yet-to-be established GHG reduction goals. Depending on the scenario eventually chosen, the industry will have to reduce CO2 production across the national car and truck fleet from a minimum 3 percent (or the equivalent of 47 mpg) up to 6 percent (or the equivalent of 62 mpg).

The report outlines the costs and benefits of several approaches for reaching the targets (technology pathways A, B, C, or D), from focusing on reducing vehicle size and advanced gasoline, to relying on gas-electric hybrids and full electric vehicles (EVs). Rule makers assert that even the 6 percent target is achievable with existing technology, though the higher benchmark would require more hybrids and EVs within a manufacturer’s fleet. Read more…

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Opponents of Clean Air Having Trouble Gaining Traction for Prop 23

No political battle in the upcoming November election is as easy to sloganeer as the battle over Proposition 23, a measure that would suspend the state’s landmark global warming law, AB 32. Depending on your point of view, the measure is either about “jobs over the environment” or “Texas Oil Companies Meddling in California.”

Across the state, the effort to repeal AB 32 at the ballot box has been lampooned as an effort by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro to overturn a law that would, in the long run, severely reduce their bottom lines. And what if this reducing emissions thing catches on in other states? It could be a catastrophe for the oil industry.

The only high-profile politician who supports the measure is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Carly Fiorina. Democrat Jerry Brown, who is running for governor, is against it. So is the man he wants to replace, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Republican gubernatorial nominee, Meg Whitman, claims she is against it even though she embraces the idea of delaying the law for one year. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa laughs at it, and the Los Angeles Times editorializes against it. Senators Boxer and Feinstein? They’re both against it too.

This lack of political support is reflected in a Field poll released earlier this week that showed a an 11 point gap, 45 percent to 34 percent running against passage of the proposition. The bedrock of support for the measure seems to be the uneducated. The less time you’ve spent in the classroom, the more likely you are to support Proposition 23.

Read more…

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Detroit Residents Press EPA for Stronger Air Pollution Monitoring

In Washington, "grassroots lobbying" is more often associated with industry-funded issue campaigns than ground-up local advocacy. But residents of Detroit's industrial southwest neighborhoods took the term back to its roots on Friday, getting a personal visit from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials after a groundswell of complaints about decaying air quality.

sm_DSC01515.JPGCyclists in southwest Detroit. (Photo: Detroit Synergy)
From the Detroit Free Press' report:
Environmental Protection Agency officials watched intently Friday as a computer that measures air pollution on the spot showed spikes around industrial plants in southwest Detroit. ...

Next to the plants in the 48217 ZIP code and nearby areas are whole neighborhoods boxed in by oil recycling plants, asphalt makers, a steel plant, a stinky composting yard, a salt factory and an expanding oil refinery.

"This is what we live with," said [Jayne] Mounce, who lives near Marathon's oil refinery and petroleum terminals.

This week, Mounce said she had taken her own air samples with the help of national environmental monitoring group Global Community Monitor and found lead-laden dust, which could come from a steel mill nearby. A few months ago, similar sampling found a dangerous chemical in the air -- methyl ethyl ketone, a gas that can cause numbness, tremors and gait problems.

The story notes that EPA officials have "fewer than 50 air monitors" in the entire state of Michigan, where the industrial base has shrunk in recent years but remains a prime economic mover -- and generator of air pollution. Nonetheless, the Detroit residents' plea for stronger air quality standards is an unusual sight compared with the more common practice of localities seeking more lax rules or more time to comply with EPA pollution limits.

Methyl ethyl ketone, the gas found in local air sampling, is commonly found in manufacturing plant emissions as well as specific products such as industrial glue and the exhaust of cars and trucks, according to the Centers for Disease Control's toxic substances registry. In 2005 it was removed from the list of hazardous air pollutants regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act after a federal appeals court ruling that endorsed the move.