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Georgia Poised to Snub Transit in Huge Road Funding Increase

Georgia seems poised to double-down on its dysfunctional transportation policies. Photo: Wikimedia

Georgia seems poised to double-down on its dysfunctional transportation policies. Photo: Wikimedia

In the competition to be the worst state for transit, Georgia is one of the clear standouts. The state contributes nothing — yep, zilch! — to Atlanta’s transit system, even as the region grapples with an increasingly crippling traffic and car dependence problem.

State leaders are now pushing for a gas tax increase that would raise about a billion dollars per year for transportation. Unfortunately, the state’s constitution prevents even a cent of that revenue from being used for transit, and Governor Nathan Deal has shown no inclination to overhaul that policy.

The whole situation encapsulates why, when it comes to transportation, Georgia keeps digging itself deeper into a hole, writes Ken Edelstein at Renew ATL:

Whether Georgia even needs all that much money for roads and bridges is an open question. Reporters and politicians are taking to the bank the Joint Committee’s claim that the state Department of Transportation need to double its budget just to upkeep our current infrastructure.

The problem is that the report’s “verified” estimate of $1 billion to $1.5 billion a year just in increased road and bridge maintenance spending was provided to the Joint Committee by a contractor with a big self-interest in more transportation spending. And the committee’s rather thin report doesn’t offer any documentation for the claim. As so often happens in the political media, however, an unsubstantiated claim by an interested party quickly morphs into the neat number that journalists must latch onto. The result: breathless headlines and credulous editorials accepting an increase in the billion-dollars-plus range as absolutely dire.

Meanwhile, Deal himself noted that the state has found the money to add more than $1 billion worth of Interstate lanes in metro Atlanta during his final term. Go figure.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • An Argument Against Free Muni for Seniors and Disabled Riders in Favor of Funding Service (Medium)
  • SF Bicycle Coalition Maps Top Ten Spots for #ParkingDirtySF Sightings
  • More on the Civil Suit Over Amelie Le Moullac’s Fatal Bike Crash With Trucker (SF Examiner)
  • Burglars Drive U-Haul Truck Into Patagonia Store to Steal Merchandise (NBC, KTVU)
  • Oakland Residents Collect Donations for Man Hit on Bike by Driver, Robbed by Bystanders (EBX)
  • Oakland Airport Connector Goes Out of Service Yet Again (SF Weekly, CoCo Times)
  • Racial Justice Protestors Take the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge (ABCKTVU)
  • Palo Alto Set to Approve New Bike Boulevard, Bike Ramp Near High Schools (PA Online)
  • Palo Alto to Hold Community Meetings on New Association Aimed at Reducing Driving (PA Online)
  • Marin IJ Calls for Enforcement of New Lower Speed Limits — On a Bike Path

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Today’s Headlines

  • At Hearing on Alamo Square Parking Permits, Opponents Defend Free Parking as a “Right” (Hoodline)
  • SFPD Helps Owner Recover Stolen Bike Registered on Bike Index, Listed on Craigslist (Mission Bicycle)
  • Panhandle Curb Ramp Reconstruction Progresses (Panhandle Park Stewards)
  • Mayor Lee Supports Free Muni for Low-Income Disabled and Senior Riders; Decision Tomorrow (SFBay)
  • Supervisor Mar Asks State to Decriminalize Youth Transit Fare Evasion (SFBay)
  • Friday Protests Lead BART to Temporary SF Station Shutdowns; Ridership Drops (SFGate, Exam, ABC)
  • More on Mayor Lee’s Announcement of Support for a Second Transbay BART Tube (SFGate)
  • How the New Bay Bridge East Span Was Designed to Be More Attractive Than Pragmatic (SFGate)
  • Today’s Caltrain Freedom Train Ride Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Will Be the Last (Examiner)
  • Marin Advocate Concerned SMART May Remove Bike/Ped Paths From Rail Plans (Marin IJ)
  • Man in Wheelchair Killed by Driver While Crossing East San Jose Street (CBS)
  • Cyclelicious: Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Needs to Make People Walking and Biking Safer, Too

Streetsblog will be offline in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and resume publication tomorrow.

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Eyes on the Street: New Bike/Ped Safety Tweaks on Upper Market, Valencia

The Market Street bike lane was widened and painted green between Octavia Boulevard and the Wiggle, among other tweaks in the neighborhood. Photos: Aaron Bialick

The SFMTA recently made some upgrades to bike lanes and pedestrian crossings around Valencia Street and Market Street.

Near Octavia Boulevard, the Market bike lanes were widened and painted green, and a buffer zone was added, making it a bit more comfortable for commuters pedaling up the hill from lower to upper Market towards the Wiggle. The traffic lanes, formerly 12 feet wide (which encourages drivers to speed and is unusual in SF) were narrowed to 10 feet to make room for the bike lanes, said SFMTA Livable Streets spokesperson Ben Jose. Continuing east toward downtown, the Market bike lanes got a fresh coat of green paint and some new plastic posts at Tenth Street.

Cheryl Brinkman, a member of the SFMTA Board of Directors, was spotted in a platoon of bike commuters climbing the hill in the newly widened Market bike lane.

“I think it feels more welcoming for cyclists, and it helps drivers realize that that’s a different kind of space,” said Brinkman. “I think for San Francisco, the green has really come to symbolize that that’s a space where there’s going to be a bicycle. And extra buffer zone is really nice because you can really ride out of the door zone.”

A couple of relatively new treatments (for SF) were also implemented on northern Valencia, at the intersections of Duboce Avenue and McCoppin Streets.

Duboce, which Jose noted sees “the fifth highest number of injury collisions citywide” (fourth highest for bicycle injuries), received a number of safety tweaks. Jose said these are the first of two phases for “Vision Zero improvements” planned for the intersection.

At Valencia and Duboce, a “mixing zone” was created by widening the bike lane approach.

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Arlington Offers Cash Bike-Share Memberships to the Unbanked

Washington, DC, is 50 percent black, but only 3 percent of Capital Bikeshare members are. As in many cities, the DC bike-share system’s users are disproportionately white, educated, and employed.

Arlington, Virginia, has come up with a way to allow people without credit cards to be bike-share members. But is their solution transferable to other places? Photo: Bike Arlington

As advocates and city officials have tried to make this economical and healthy transportation option more widely accessible, they’ve persistently come across a major obstacle: how to extend bike-share to people without bank accounts or credit cards.

Across the Potomac, Arlington is going to try something new. According to the county’s bike-share management consultant, MetroBike, “Arlington will vouch for its residents, so that they don’t need to provide a credit or debit card.”

This will be a departure from standard practice, where credit or debit cards act as insurance against stolen bikes. In the typical bike-share payment model, if a bike disappears on your watch, your credit card gets charged $1,000. The $7 monthly membership fee Arlington plans to collect in cash at its Arlington County Commuter Services ”Commuter Stores” will provide no such guarantee. The county appears to be willing to trust its residents enough to take on this risk.

Arlington is an entirely different beast from DC, though. The county has a median income of $103,000. The low-income population targeted by the cash-payment measure is significantly smaller there than in DC.

DC has developed its own solution to the problem of making bike-share accessible to the unbanked, but it involves signing those people up for bank accounts, not checking out bikes on the honor system.

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Seattle Car-Share Is Growing, But Is It Cutting Traffic?

After launching a pilot program three years ago enabling the company car2go to use on-street parking spots for its car-share fleet, Seattle is pursuing an expansion that would allow new companies to enter the market and dramatically increase the availability of point-to-point car-share vehicles.

Photo via The Urbanist

Scott Bonjukian at The Urbanist has the details about the expansion legislation and some interesting stats from the pilot program:

Up from 350 vehicles beginning in 2012, the company has reached the 500 vehicle cap under a pilot program monitored by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). The service has proved immensely popular, and reportedly has 59,000 members in Seattle – the largest of car2go’s 30 home cities — representing nearly one-tenth of the city’s population. The company has requested authority to expand. The proposed legislation (PDF) will increase the permit cap six-fold and allow up to four carshare operators in the city.

According to a staff report (PDF), the vehicles currently occupy only 0.7% of the city’s paid parking space. On average, each vehicle is used six times per day and parked only 68 minutes between trips. Personal vehicles are unused 95 percent of the time.

Committee chair Tom Rasmussen noted that car2go estimates up to 4% (2,360) of Seattle members have ditched a personal vehicle since joining, which removes the option of driving everywhere for every activity and results in congestion reduction. Increasing membership of carshare services will only improve this outcome. SDOT Director Scott Kubly said car sharing is “…a key component to creating choices for people to get around the city, and allowing people to live a car-free or car-light lifestyle.”

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Mayor Lee Says He’ll Push for Second Transbay BART Tube (SF Examiner)
  • Protesters Plan to Jam BART at Montgomery Station This Morning (ABC); Spoons to Play a Role (KTVU)
  • Funds Lacking for Panhandle Path Renovation (Hoodline)
  • Caltrain Delayed After Hitting Unoccupied Car on Tracks in Burlingame (SFGate)
  • San Mateo Planning Commission Approves 599-Unit Development at Hayward Park Caltrain (SM Daily)
  • Berkeley Man on Bike Seriously Injured By Hit-and-Run Driver at University and McGee (Berkeleyside)
  • Marin County Considers Funding a Car-Share Program in San Rafael’s Canal Neighborhood (Marin IJ)
  • Antioch Widow Sues CHP for Letting DUI Driver Go Before Causing Crash That Killed Husband (SFGate)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Trucker Who Killed Amelie Le Moullac Deemed “Negligent” in Civil Suit

A civil jury has determined that a truck driver was negligent when he killed Amelie Le Moullac as she rode her bike at Folsom and Sixth Streets in August 2013, KQED’s Bryan Goebel (Streetsblog SF’s first editor) reported today:

Amelie Le Moullac. Photo: Voce Communications

A San Francisco Superior Court jury has found the driver of a big rig truck negligent for striking and killing a 24-year-old woman who was bicycling to Caltrain in the city’s South of Market.

Amelie Le Moullac’s family had sought $20 million in damages from the driver, Gilberto Alcantar, 47, and Milpitas-based Daylight Foods. The jury awarded the family $4 million, and also found Daylight Foods legally responsible for the August 2013 crash at 6th and Folsom streets.

“This was not a mere accident, and I’m relieved to hear from the jury that something wrong was done, and I’m very sorry that the police missed that,” Denis Le Moullac, Amelie’s father, told KQED. “One can only be relieved to hear that our daughter had done nothing wrong. This is not really something that deeply consoles us, but it satisfies us.”

The finding that Le Moullac was not at fault for her own death reinforces the finding of SFPD investigators after footage of the crash was presented to them by Marc Caswell, then a staffer for the SF Bicycle Coalition, who tracked down the video himself after a memorial and rally held at the scene of the crash. Earlier that day, SFPD Sergeant Richard Ernst had parked in the bike lane to make a point of blaming Le Moullac for her own death.

“After we held the memorial for Ms. Le Moullac, and Sergeant Ernst had acted so outrageously, we were standing on the corner cleaning up when I had a pang of doubt that the SFPD had treated this case as seriously as I would have hoped they would,” Caswell recalled. “So, I decided to just ask the businesses — and I am so honored that my small action led to some amount of resolution for the Le Moullac family from this terrible injustice.”

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Dutch Suburbs Are Like America’s, and Protected Bike Lanes Work Fine There

pfb logo 100x22

This post is part of The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

This is the first in a two-post series on Dutch suburbs.

People the in U.S. street design world — sometimes even people who write for this very website — regularly say that U.S. development patterns mean that Dutch street designs can’t be immediately adopted in the States.

That’s a lot less true than you might think.

Of course some ideas can’t/won’t port over wholesale. But especially by European standards, the Netherlands is actually probably one of the most spatially similar places to much of the U.S. Guess where this is:

Count the fast food signs, the car lanes all leading up to a big freeway underpass. If not for the protected bike lane this could be Anywhere, North America. But this is actually in Amsterdam proper.

The reality is that only a minority of Dutch people live in the medieval centers of Amsterdam, Gouda, and Utrecht. Though many tourists visiting Amsterdam for a couple of days don’t typically see this, many Dutch people’s daily reality includes stuff much more like this:

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What People Think of a Citywide 25 MPH Speed Limit in Decatur

More than two-thirds of Decatur residents support a citywide default 25 mph speed limit, according to the 2014 Decatur Citizen Survey

Last year, New York City enacted a citywide 25 mph speed limit, a central plank in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero street safety platform. Are other American cities going to follow suit?

Outside Atlanta, Decatur, Georgia, has been mulling a reduction of its default speed limit for a few years. The results of a 2014 survey indicate that it would be broadly popular, with support from two-thirds of residents, reports Network blog Decatur Metro. Like many American cities, Decatur has some major streets where the state DOT sets the limit, but the effect of a new 25 mph policy would still reach far:

As you can see, over half of Decatur residents either strongly or somewhat support a 25 mph speed limit on Decatur roads. Notice the question says “most” Decatur roads. State route speed limits, like Scott Boulevard, are controlled by the state.

…basically all Decatur residential streets would be affected if Decatur implemented this new across-the-board speed limit of 25 mph. The city held public input sessions on this topic back in 2013. If the city moves forward with this change at some point in the future, the major change would be on 35 mph streets, like Commerce, Clairemont, College, South Candler, West Howard, etc.

Elsewhere on the Streetsblog Network: Streets.mn posts a great map that shows how Minnesota’s road system functions as a gigantic tax transfer from cities to rural areas. Stop and Move wonders if Fresno’s infill development plans can withstand Fresno NIMBYs. And The Urbanist has a photo update on Seattle’s newest protected bike lane.