From SJ Bike Party:
This Month’s Theme is Dia De Los Muertos as we Celebrate some merging of culture that is unique to San Jose. Come Celebrate the Day of the Dead with us!
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Just a few weeks ago, El Paso was all ready to go with a new bike-share network, or so it seemed. The city had lined up $400,000 in local funds from the city of El Paso, the University of Texas at El Paso and a grant from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The regional planning agency had unanimously signed off on awarding the project $1.6 million in federal transportation funds earmarked for air pollution reduction. Suburban communities had even started expressing interest in being added to the system.
But last month the Texas Department of Transportation pulled the rug out. TxDOT told local and regional officials it did not support the use of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for the project. State officials have been coy about what they’d rather see the money spent on, but they haven’t backed down. And, not content to strip funding, TxDOT officials are now plowing ahead to “deprogram” the whole bike-share project altogether, removing it from contention for any kind of funding.
Bike advocates in the city have been taken aback. After all, TxDOT officials were part of the unanimous vote by the regional planning body to disperse the CMAQ money in May.
“How can TxDOT and the [El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy] Board ever expect the community to trust in the transparency of our public agencies when a program that was planned and approved through legitimate channels was then shelved by bureaucrats in favor of vague, unnamed, and unpublicized projects?” wrote Scott White, a board member at Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition, in a letter to the planning organization’s board [PDF]. “The board must ask whether TxDOT overstepped its jurisdictional authority, and if so, was this the first time?”
From the Commonwealth Club:
Keynote: Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary
Introduced by Norman Y. Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation (retired)
Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D., Director, Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Finance Center
Flora Castillo, Chair, American Public Transportation Association
Malcolm Dougherty, Director, California Department of Transportation
Jeff Morales, CEO, California High Speed Rail Authority
Mortimer Downey, Former US Deputy Secretary of Transportation – Moderator
While owning a car is a massive financial burden, economic incentives can still get in the way of the transition from car ownership to living car-free, even if you already don’t drive much.
As Shane Phillips at Network blog Better Institutions explains today, it’s a classic problem of “sunk costs”:
When someone is interested in shifting from car dependence to greater reliance on active and public transportation, they’re often faced with a problem: the vehicle itself, one of the greatest costs of car ownership, is already paid for. Unlike gasoline and parking, which are relatively fixed and recurring expenses, a car is a sunk cost–the purchase is in the past, and much of its value is irretrievable. At that point the only really noticeable costs of driving–the ones that affect you on a regular basis–are gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking. Taking only these into consideration can make driving seem much more affordable.
This is less applicable to those who wish to sell off their vehicle and abandon car ownership entirely, but few people are willing to take such a leap without trying a car-lite lifestyle first. For those who just want to dip their toes in the water, to try something between complete car dependence and complete transit dependence, using public transportation isn’t so much a replacement and reduction of costs as it is an additional cost. Not only do you still have to pay for insurance and some gas, you now have to pay for bus fare as well, and suddenly the savings don’t seem like such a great deal compared to the relative inconvenience of transit (excluding the few places in the country where transit is actually more convenient). It’s a catch-22: as long as you’re holding onto the car you’re not saving a lot of money, but unless you’re saving a lot of money you may not be convinced to get rid of the car.
Bike to School Week Family Ride: Sunday Streets
Sun., Apr. 14 | 11:30AM-1PM | Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 School, 3351 – 23rd St.
Getting ready for Bike to School Week and eager to try biking with your kids, but not feeling up to doing it alone? We’ll get you and family ready to ride so you can get out and enjoy Sunday Streets happening right outside.
Please bring your own bicycles and helmets. Youth under 18 must be accompanied by parent or guardian. RSVP Now
Margaret Pye has been bike commuting from San Carlos to her job at a law firm in Palo Alto for the past 10 years. Pedaling home on Middlefield Road through Menlo Park and Atherton, there are bike lanes, but when she gets to North Fair Oaks in unincorporated San Mateo County, the bike lanes suddenly end with no signs indicating where bike riders should go.
“It’s kind of strange,” said Pye, 58. “When you proceed north and get into Redwood City, which is near the Costco, suddenly they’ve put things back in. It’s this little chunk where you’re left out in the middle of nowhere.”
Those kinds of connectivity issues are common in San Mateo County, where riding a bike from city to city can be a confusing and dangerous venture.
According to the San Mateo County Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, “between 2004 and 2008, bicyclist fatalities accounted for 8 percent of all traffic fatalities and pedestrian fatalities accounted for 27 percent” in San Mateo County.
While the plan, approved a year ago, envisions a connected network, bike and pedestrian advocates say it has no teeth, “especially in terms of reporting and monitoring,” said Gladwyn d’Souza, a pedestrian advocate and Belmont planning commissioner.
“It doesn’t have a system that says, you know, ‘We’re going to do this over the next 15 years,’” he told Streetsblog. Read more…
As San Mateo County’s congestion management agency, the City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG), is supposed to be responsible for reducing auto congestion. It also controls the purse strings on transportation projects, doling out millions of dollars in state and federal grants to the region’s 20 cities, whose appointed representatives make up the agency’s governing board.
“It started primarily as a transportation planning agency and to a large extent it still is,” said Joseph Kott, a former transportation planning manager at C/CAG who is now a consultant and visiting scholar at Stanford University.
The man at the helm of the agency for the last 17 years, Richard Napier – an engineer who is a former Sunnyvale mayor — is now retiring. As executive director, he gained a reputation as a skilled politician whose biggest accomplishment was building consensus among his member cities’ parochial interests.
“Richard has been a combination of a traditionalist and a cautious innovator. A traditionalist in the sense that he’s convinced that the automobile is and will remain dominant in our society,” said Kott.
Some of those innovations include programs Napier is proud to talk about: a transit-oriented development incentive fund and a “green streets and parking lot” program. The agency also oversees the county’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), which makes recommendations on funding.
“He’s a super administrator and really made C/CAG what it is today,” said Sue Lembert, a former San Mateo mayor who sat on the C/CAG Board for four years and writes a weekly column for the San Mateo Daily News. “It wasn’t just a job for him.”
While no one doubts he was dedicated to his work and successful in attracting money, more than a dozen bicycle and pedestrian advocates interviewed by Streetsblog — some of whom would not go on the record — said Napier’s auto-oriented thinking on transportation would be a welcome departure.
Ever wondered how your favorite sports team is doing in the sustainable transportation arena? Many urban stadiums have some transit connections and some bike racks. From there, though, it can be difficult to measure success.
Maybe what we need is a scoreboard for these things. Darren Buck at Network blog Bike Pedantic has done some preliminary legwork for Nationals Park in Washington, DC.
In order to determine what percentage of fans are biking, he took to counting bikes at a recent NL Divisional Series game. He counted Capital Bikeshare bikes in their docks (about 160). He counted the contents of the Nats’ bike valet (120). He counted racks (250) and he counted spillover, locked to trees, posts and fences (98). What he came up with was a rough bicycle mode share for Nationals Park at the height of playoffs excitement:
By my count, that’s a total of 628 bikes. Only 530 (or 84%) were accommodated by official parking/storage, including the 26% of all riders who used Capital Bikeshare (above my estimate of CaBi comprising 11% of all ridership in DC/Arlington, it should be noted).
With a stadium capacity of around 45,017, that’s about 1.4% of people biking to the game. Following an odd DC trend, this is far lower than our commute-to-work share of 3.3%, and right on par with Washington DC’s estimated bike modeshare for all trips of 1.5%. Given the unfathomably awesome weather, the fact that transit is beginning the rush-hour meltdown everyone knew was coming even as I type this, and the fact that Nats Park lies right in the heart of Livable Walkable Ward 6, I would have expected more (acknowledging that looking solely at the one transportation mode I obsess about is a distortion). What’s missing?