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New Website Tracks How Well CA Cap-and-Trade Fights Climate Change

TransForm’s new Climate Change website shows California’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities projects. This screenshot shows the San Joaquin Valley. Data on greenhouse gas reduction hasn’t been incorporated yet.

TransForm has unveiled the Climate Benefits Map, an interactive online tool that provides a centralized source tracking the benefits of California’s cap-and-trade program, which helps fund transit and development projects.

The map, currently in beta, will feature all the data available about the various programs and projects funded by the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) and make it available to the public.

TransForm, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable transportation and land use across the state, aims to highlight the environmental and economic benefits of California’s climate change-fighting programs.

“We really believe that California is benefiting from its climate change policies,” said Shannon Tracey, TransForm’s communications director. As the state legislature considers further programs to help reduce greenhouse gases, “it’s important for people to see what we’re getting from these investments.”

“This tool will help people evaluate whether we’re doing the right kinds of investments,” she added.

The California Air Resources Board is developing its own online tracking tool for climate change policies, but it’s not close to being ready.

California’s GGRF currently funds a wide range of programs, administered by different state agencies:

Read more…

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Talking Headways Podcast: High-Speed Rail Lessons from France and Germany

france_germany_hsr

In France, the high-speed rail system is designed to provide the fastest possible connections to a single city, Paris, while in Germany the rail network has more connections but slower trips. Graphic: Eric Eidlin

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This week we’re joined by Eric Eidlin, a community planner and sustainability lead at the Federal Transit Administration. Over the last few years Eric has also been studying high-speed rail in Germany and France as a fellow with the German Marshall Fund. He recently published a report, “Making the Most of High-Speed Rail in California: Lessons from France and Germany.”

Eric discusses the differences between the French and German systems and what we can learn from each. He delves into the importance of station location, land uses for station areas, integrating walking and biking with stations, and having a 50-year view of planning these projects. And of course, you won’t want to miss lessons for California’s planned system going forward.

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Stitcher if you want to subscribe directly.

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Deadbeat Chris Christie Sticks It to New Jersey Transit Riders, Again

This is Chris Christie’s idea of “shared sacrifice.” Graph: Tri-State Transportation Campaign

As expected, the New Jersey Transit board of directors has approved a 9 percent fare hike and service cuts, again making transit riders the victims of Governor Chris Christie’s budget shell games.

New Jersey’s gas tax is the second lowest in the U.S., and has not seen an increase since 1988. Christie has refused to raise the tax, despite indications of public support, as the state racks up billions in debt. Five years ago Christie killed the long-planned Hudson River ARC transit tunnel so he could fund highways without raising the gas tax.

On the other hand, Christie has no qualms with increasing costs for transit users, who last took a hit in 2010, when fares went up 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, for bus and train riders.

Writing for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Mobilizing the Region blog, Janna Chernetz reports from yesterday’s vote to raise fares again, at a meeting where board members talked around the budget disaster caused by Christie and state legislators.

Despite pleas from advocates and commuters who oppose the proposal, each and every board member voted to approve the hikes and cuts, validating their vote by saying “their hands were tied” and that they “had no choice.” Vice Chairman Bruce Meisel explained that the board is “operating within the framework of the cards they were dealt” as he justified his affirmative vote. Meisel, posing a rehearsed hypothetical to NJ Transit Executive Director Ronnie Hakim, wondered what would happen if the proposal was voted down. Hakim’s response was substantial service cuts with layoffs approaching 1,000.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Muni to Launch E-Embarcadero Streetcar Service on August 1 (SF Examiner)
  • SFPD Park Station Plans to Educate Bicycle Riders for 20 Days, Then Crack Down (Hoodline)
  • SFMTA Ramps Up “Box-Blocking” Tickets in Rincon Hill in June; More on Muni Bus Proposals (Hoodline)
  • SFMTA Proposes Daylighting at 13 Intersections on Lombard Street in the Marina (SF Examiner)
  • More on Noe Valley’s 24th Street Bulb-Outs and Crosswalk Upgrades (SF Appeal)
  • Luxury Italian Car Dealer Will Not Open Showroom on Valencia Street (Modern Luxury)
  • Drivers Speed on Presidio Parkway (PBB); Bay Bridge Fires Likely Caused by Road Flares (ABC, CBS)
  • AC Transit to Buy Double Decker Buses for Transbay Routes (SFGate)
  • East Oakland Residents Paint “Fix Me” Next to Potholes (CBS)
  • Oakland Councilmember Kaplan: Coliseum Should Be Re-Developed to Maximize BART Use (SFGate)
  • UC Berkeley Bike Theft Down 45 Percent After Police Amp Up Efforts With Bait Bikes (NBC)
  • Sausalito Resident Wants “Tourism Impact Plan” Ballot Measure to Deal With Rental Bikes (MIJ)
  • Uber Fined $7.3 Million by CPUC for Failure to Report Data (48 Hills, CBS, KQED)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Tomorrow: Support Streetsblog and Enjoy a “Transit Oriented Beer”

Photo: Aaron Bialick

Photo: Aaron Bialick

Tomorrow’s Streetsblog Happy Hour will be special in a couple of ways. First, it’ll be our quarterly fundraising event, where 10 percent of bar proceeds help support Streetsblog, and we dole out free t-shirts and hoodies (first-come, first-served).

We’ll also be joined by Transit Oriented Beer, an informal monthly gathering of transportation planners, advocates, and folks who just want better transportation options in SF.

That’s right — “Transit Oriented Beer.” With an awesome name like that, you won’t find a more fun way to enjoy delicious drinks that support high-impact journalism for sustainable transportation.

Stop by at Virgil’s Sea Room at 3152 Mission Street (between Cesar Chavez and Valencia Streets). We’ll be on the back patio starting at 6 p.m.

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Noe Valley Gets Sidewalk Extensions and Decorative Crosswalks on 24th

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Photo: Aaron Bialick

Photo: Aaron Bialick

City officials celebrated new brick-trimmed crosswalks and sidewalk bulb-outs on 24th Street in Noe Valley at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today.

The changes will make for a more pedestrian- and transit-friendly environment on Noe Valley’s commercial corridor. At Castro and Noe Streets, the transit bulb-outs — curb extensions at bus stops — will help speed up Muni’s 24 and 48 lines.

Supervisor Scott Wiener speaking at the ribbon-cutting today. Photo: Scott Wiener/Twitter

Supervisor Scott Wiener speaking at the ribbon-cutting today. Photo: Scott Wiener/Twitter

“Property owners and merchants have invested heavily in streetscape improvements” on 24th in recent years, and the latest upgrades “keep the momentum going,” said Noe Valley Association Executive Director Debra Niemann in a statement. “That’s one of the reasons Noe Valley appeals to many as a place to live and as a shopping destination.”

“The commercial heart of Noe Valley is 24th Street, one of the great neighborhood corridors in San Francisco,” said D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener in a statement. “It’s a community destination to shop and eat and to catch up with neighbors. These streetscape improvements make 24th Street safer, more attractive and more welcoming for residents and visitors.”

Completion of the “24th Street Urban Village” project, led by the Department of Public Works, was delayed from last fall. The project also includes new benches and planters on the bulb-outs, and was paid for with $560,000 from the $248 million street re-paving bond passed by voters in 2011.

“One of the most important investments we can make in our communities is making our neighborhood streets safer,” said a statement from SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, who called the improvements “significant upgrades for pedestrian safety that will help us reach our citywide Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths.”

Read more…

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A Modest Proposal for New York’s Penn Station

“One entered the city like a God. One scuttles in now like a rat.”

Commuters wait to find out which platform they should head to at Penn Station. Photo: johncatral/Flickr

Commuters wait to find out which platform they should head to at Penn Station. Photo: johncatral/Flickr

That quote, attributed (in varying iterations) to architect Vincent Scully, refers to New York’s former and current Penn Stations. Practically everyone who’s given it any thought agrees that the cave under Madison Square Garden is a poor substitute for the gem that preceded it, but what if they’re all getting too hung up on the idea of a grand edifice?

Alon Levy at Pedestrian Observations has what he calls a “somewhat trollish” idea: “eliminate all above-ground structures, and reduce Penn Station to a hole in the ground.”

Levy envisions Penn Station as open-air walkways, platforms, and tracks, arranged for maximum functionality because they are unencumbered by structural elements required to support street-level buildings. He writes:

Most of the preexisting plans for Penn Station do not do anything about the track level. It’s assumed that the tracks will remain narrow, that trains will not run reliably enough for consistent track assignments, and that dwell times will remain high. The architects’ proposals involve a nice station headhouse to make passengers feel important…

Eliminating the headhouse moves the focus from making passengers feel important to getting passengers in and out as fast as possible. Most importantly, it means there’s no need for girders and columns all over the track level; they support the buildings above the station, including the headhouse, and would not be needed if the station were a simple open cut. Those girders make it hard to move the tracks and platforms — the only reasonable option if they are kept is to pave over pairs of tracks between platforms to create very wide platforms, which would not be well-aligned with the approach tracks.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Uber Settles Wrongful Death Suit With Family in Crash That Killed Sofia Liu (ABC, Examiner, SFGate)
  • Possibly Elderly Driver Hits Service Truck, Home, and Fire Truck on Geary in the Richmond (SF Appeal)
  • Muni Proposes New Bus Lines, Changes to Better Serve Rincon Hill in SoMa (Hoodline)
  • Voting Open for Art on 50 Muni Buses Until Friday (SFMTA)
  • SFBC: Marginalized Bayview-Hunters Point Neighborhood Shows “Enthusiastic Support for Biking”
  • Fire That Shut Down Two Bay Bridge Lanes May Have Been Sparked By Driver’s Cigarette (ABC)
  • Rail Delays: Pine Needle Fire Slows BART in SF (ABC); Caltrain Hits Crossing Gate in Menlo Park (NBC)
  • Seven Reasons to Have Bathrooms on Caltrain (Green Caltrain)
  • CAHSR Authority Says It’s “Projecting,” Not “Competing” to Take Caltrain Riders (Green Caltrain)
  • License Plate Readers Considered in Fremont (East Bay Express), San Bruno (SM Daily Journal)
  • One Killed, Three Injured on Hwy 84 in Livermore After Trucker Rear Ends Drivers (CBS)
  • Cell Phone Use By Drivers Up 39 Percent in California (Mercury News, SFBay)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Protected Bike Lanes Finally Coming to Folsom Street Near Transbay Center

Image: Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure

Image: Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure

The city will hold a public meeting on Thursday evening to present updates on a plan to install protected bike lanes on Folsom Street near the Transbay Transit Center, east of Second Street.

Construction on the project was previously expected to start this year, according to a city staff presentation from last June [PDF]. At the time, an interim version of the streetscape redesign would have included only a protected bike lane in the eastbound direction, with three lanes for cars, converted for two-way traffic.

The plans are now set to be constructed in 2016, and they’ve been upgraded “because of Vision Zero,” according to Paul Chasan of the Planning Department.

“The new design calls for a two-lane street and a cycle track, which is going to make it a much safer pedestrian environment,” Chasan told a supervisors committee at a recent meeting. (“Cycle track” is the city’s term for protected bike lanes.) “It’s going to make it a high-quality space.”

As part of the project, a protected bike signal phase would be installed at the harrowing Essex Street intersection, which has two right-turn lanes for drivers headed to a Bay Bridge onramp.

For some reason, no information on the time and location of Thursday’s meeting has been posted online by the Department of Public Works or the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, which are leading the project. The SF Bicycle Coalition posted info on its website about the meeting yesterday.

The meeting will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 701 Mission Street.

Streetsblog USA
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Senate Committee Moves to Eliminate TIGER Program in Next Transpo Bill

Normal, Illinois, transformed its downtown and improved its transportation options thanks to a TIGER grant. Photo: ##http://t4america.org/maps-tools/local-successes/normal/##Transportation for America##

A TIGER grant helped Normal, Illinois, create a more walkable downtown and new transit hub. Photo: Transportation for America

The Republican-controlled Senate is poised to eliminate the TIGER program, one of the few sources of federal funds that cities can access directly to improve streets and transit.

While the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s outline for its portion of a six-year bill was a marginal improvement on the status quo, the Commerce Committee’s portion, known as the rail and safety title, may wipe out a program with a proven track record of success. The committee plans to pass the bill tomorrow morning and send it to the full Senate.

The worst aspect is the elimination of the TIGER grant program, which in its 7-year history has provided funding for multi-modal projects that found little support from other federal programs. By working directly with cities and regional agencies, TIGER bypassed state DOTs more interested in big highway projects than enhancing transit, biking, and walking options.

The Commerce Committee cynically says its plan “formally authorizes the TIGER transportation grants program,” merely “refocusing” it on freight infrastructure. TIGER has always been a boon to freight projects that had trouble accessing federal dollars, but it has also funded projects to make streets safer, heal scars left by urban highways, and improve transit service. The committee can’t take eligibility away from those types of projects and still call the program “TIGER.”

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