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CalSTA Rep: Let’s Make Biking and Walking the First Choice for Short Trips

CalSTA Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy and Housing Kate White testifies to the CA legislature on the benefits of encouraging walking and bicycling

CalSTA Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy and Housing Kate White testifies to the CA legislature on the benefits of encouraging walking and bicycling

CalSTA, the state agency that oversees all state transportation departments including Caltrans, is committed to improving conditions for transit, biking, and walking, according to its Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy and Housing, Kate White.

“Thirty percent of all trips in California are less than a mile,” said White, testifying at a legislative hearing yesterday in Sacramento. “We want to make bicycling or walking the default for those short trips.”

White gave her testimony at a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing and the Assembly Committee for Environmental Quality, which was set to discuss the relationships between transportation and greenhouse gas emissions. Representatives from state agencies addressed questions about what changes need to happen for the state to reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

CalSTA, according to White, recognizes the importance of clean vehicles and clean fuels. “However,” she said, “our focus at the transportation agency is on the infrastructure and behavioral side of the coin. And that means improving transit, walking, biking, and housing to reduce vehicles miles traveled.” She highlighted three strategies the agency is focusing on:

  • High speed rail, which White called “the cornerstone of electrifying transportation in California.” California expects high speed rail to replace “dirty” air trips between the Bay Area and the L.A. region. The project also includes electrifying Caltrain, which will have the added benefit of doubling the capacity of the popular Bay Area rail service.
  • Supporting local transit for trips between five and a hundred miles long. The state transit account this year, said White, was for $1 billion, and the state generally contributes several hundred million dollars every year for local and regional transit.
  • Active transportation. The Active Transportation Program (ATP) is investing in projects to make safe, inviting walking and biking trips an alternative to driving, especially for trips that are less than a mile. “These represent over 30 percent of all trips, and many are unfortunately still made by automobile,” said White. “A mode shift to walking and biking not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but has many co-benefits for health, and for healthier life styles for children and families,” she added.

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Streetsblog USA
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Ranking the Sad Parade of Federal Transpo Funding Ideas From Worst to Best

The Highway Trust Fund is on a losing trajectory. But no one can agree on how to fix it. Image: Congressional Budget Office via America 2050

America’s transportation funding system is broken, and no one in charge has good ideas about how to fix it.

The problem seems simple enough: The federal transportation program is going broke because Washington has allowed the gas tax to be eroded by inflation for more than 20 years.

As obvious as raising the gas tax may be, America’s political leaders won’t touch it. Yesterday, The Hill reported that Congressman Bill Shuster, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is ruling out a gas tax increase or any additional fees on driving to fund transportation.

Apparently, anything that might make driving a little more expensive is no longer politically palatable. Instead, President Obama and members of Congress have trotted out a series of proposals that range from one-off gimmicks to total fantasies that wouldn’t solve anything.

It can be hard to keep them all straight, so here’s our ranking of ideas to fix federal transportation funding, from worst to best.

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Streetsblog.net
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Texas DOT Raring to Build Money-Losing Toll Lanes

Expanding highways by adding tolled lanes can still be a big money loser. Photo: Wikipedia

States seem to love expanding highways by adding tolled lanes, even when the money doesn’t add up. The 495 Express Lanes in DC’s Virginia suburbs lost $51 million last year, forcing investors to restructure $430 million in debt. Similarly, Maryland taxpayers are likely to be on the hook for the state’s new I-95 lanes, which are generating barely $5 million a year after costing $275 million. Toll lanes in Atlanta and Houston are also not hitting their financial targets.

Brandon Formby at the Dallas Morning News’ Transportation Blog reports on a highway expansion in Dallas that seems to be heading in the same direction. As a toll road, it won’t make money, but that isn’t giving state officials much pause:

In a not-so-surprising move, the North Texas Tollway Authority board this morning passed on building the Southern Gateway, the name given to a planned rehab of Interstate 35E and U.S. Route 67 that will also add managed toll lanes to both roads.

But don’t expect that to halt the project. This is the sixth consecutive time the region’s tolling entity, which has dibs on any North Texas tolling project, has turned down a managed toll lane project. The Texas Department of transportation plans to move ahead with the work.

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Today’s Headlines

  • 86-Year-Old Driver Hospitalizes Mother and Daughter in Crosswalk at Stonestown Mall (KTVU)
  • Driver Who Killed Alfred Yee, 87, at Geary and 26th Arrested for Vehicular Manslaughter (SF Appeal)
  • SF Bicycle Coalition’s “Women Bike SF” Campaign Holds Events to Get Ladies Pedaling (SFGate)
  • Private Shuttle Services “Leap” and “Chariot” Aim to Fill Muni’s Gaps — With Perks (SFGate)
  • CityLab Mocks the “Ridiculous Luxury” Showcased in Leap’s Ad
  • Weekend BART Shutdowns Coming Between Coliseum, Fruitvale Stations for Track Work (SFGate)
  • Bay Bridge’s Chief Engineer Answers Questions About Cracks, Corrosion on Steel Rods (Modesto Bee)
  • East Bay Express Details the Top Ten Biking Projects Soon to Hit Oakland
  • Alameda Approves Lease for Ferry Maintenance Facility (Alamedan)
  • Hayward Mother, Child in Stroller Struck and Hospitalized by SUV Driver on Hwy 880 Onramp (KRON)
  • Airport Shuttle Driver Who Hit Pedestrian Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Reckless Driving Charges (SFBay)
  • 19 Cab Companies Sue Uber for Falsely Advertising Better Safety, Hurting Taxi Industry (CBS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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As Tenderloin Crosswalks Get Safer, KPIX Weeps for Lost Parking Spots

At Jones and Ellis Streets today, drivers yield to pedestrians at a corner clear of parked cars. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The SFMTA recently implemented a simple measure to improve visibility at crosswalks in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood with very high concentrations of both pedestrian injuries and children.

Corners at 80 intersections got the “daylighting” treatment, which improves visibility by clearing parked cars that obscure sightlines between drivers and people in crosswalks. It’s one of the latest efforts in the city’s Vision Zero campaign, which is targeting the 12 percent of city streets that account for 70 percent of severe and fatal traffic injuries.

To hear KPIX reporter Ken Bastida tell it, these measures to reduce traffic violence are just an annoyance for people who need to find a curbside parking spot right now

Ken Bastida solved the mystery of the "vanishing meters." Image: KPIX

Ken Bastida solved the mystery of the “vanishing meters.” Image: KPIX

“Think it’s getting harder to park in San Francisco? Well, it is,” Bastida said by way of introduction alongside the text, “Vanishing meters.”

Here’s how Bastida explained daylighting (a “fancy word”) in his best muckraker voice: “The curb gets painted red, the meter disappears, and we’re left with what the city calls ‘a safer intersection.'” Truly a devious plan by the city.

Bastida didn’t cite any safety statistics or interview anyone on camera who uses the crosswalks, but he did find a driver to complain about how hard it is to find a parking space. With testimony from that one guy in the bag, Bastida then declared, “Frustrated drivers say they’re all for safety, but they’re quick to point out, visibility is a two-way street.” Apparently, we’ve all got to wear more DayGlo.

What Bastida didn’t mention is that drivers’ failure to yield in a crosswalk is among the top five causes of pedestrian injuries citywide (the other four are also driver violations). That’s according to the SFPD data behind the department’s “Focus on the Five” campaign.

Tenderloin Station is actually the worst SFPD outpost in the city when it comes to focusing enforcement on those five violations. In September, the most recent month for which citation data is available, officers didn’t issue any tickets to drivers violating pedestrians’ right-of-way. However, they did manage to issue 245 tickets — 43 percent of their total — to pedestrians.

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Streetsblog USA
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Parking Madness 2015: Boston vs. Parkersburg

Yesterday, in the closest match in Parking Madness history, Amarillo edged out Nashville by just six votes to advance to the round of eight.

Today we have two new eyesores for you to judge, as the biggest city in New England squares off against Parkersburg, West Virginia, representing Appalachia.

Boston

boston_crater_axon

This entry comes to us via commenter JM, who asserts:

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Streetsblog USA
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AASHTO Chief: Don’t Blame Street Design for Cyclist Deaths

This is a pretty revealing (read: depressing) exchange between a U.S. representative and the president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which represents state DOTs.

The transportation agencies that comprise AASHTO essentially dictate how streets are designed throughout the U.S. They are aware that pedestrian and cyclist deaths are not declining as fast as total traffic fatalities. But don’t worry, says AASHTO President Jon Cox, because there is absolutely no problem with the design of America’s streets.

Around 49 seconds in to this clip from a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Rick Larsen of Washington State questions Cox about the rising share of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities:

A few of us asked the [Government Accountability Office] to look at this trend. And one suggestion we’ve heard is that we’re over-engineering or overbuilding roads so the posted speed limit may not match the size of the road. As a result that contributes to a more unsafe road for bikers and pedestrians. Has AASHTO looked at this issue — the relationship between design standards and road safety for bikers and pedestrians?

Cox, who runs the state DOT in Wyoming — the least populated state in the union! — gave this response (emphasis added):

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Streetsblog.net
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Touring Portland’s Brand New Car-Free Bridge

Portland’s Tilikum Bridge will carry transit, biking, and walking traffic over the Willamette River, but no cars. Photo: Jonathan Maus/Bike Portland

Okay, it seems like now Portland is just showing off. The city is putting the finishing touches on the Tilikum Bridge, a multi-modal span that will serve buses, cyclists, pedestrians and trains — but no cars.

This bridge has it all: a safe walking and biking path, transitways free of traffic congestion, sleek design, bike counters, a scenic lookout. Jonathan Maus at BikePortland got an early look a few months before it’s scheduled to open. He elaborates:

Before I even got on the bridge, I was impressed at how many bike-related changes have been made at the bridge’s intersection with SW Moody near the new OHSU/PSU Collaborative Life Sciences building. There are several new bike-only signals to help make the transition from the Moody cycle track, across the street, then onto the bridge’s bike path.

Given how much biking and walking will happen on this bridge it will be very important for people to stay in the proper lane. You’ll also notice the bike/walk lane markings, which are very similar to the ones used by Multnomah County on the Hawthorne Bridge (the only difference is that the bike marking is green instead of yellow). TriMet has also outlined the white center lane stripe with black to make it more visible.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Van Driver Arrested After Rampage Through the Castro, Mission (Hoodline)
  • SFPD Shoots, Kills Driver After She Flees Police, Then Drives at Them at Van Ness and Pine (ABC)
  • Man, 26, Critically Injured on Bike After Crashing Into Stopped Car on Gough at McAllister (SFGate)
  • Free Muni Program Overwhelmed By High Demand From Seniors, Disabled Riders (SF Examiner)
  • “Leap Transit,” a Lounge-Like Private Bus Service, Launches in the Marina (Biz, CBS, Ars T.)
  • Sympathetic Driver Offers Reimbursement for Blocking a Personal Driveway (Chron)
  • “Tipsy Tow” Service Returns for St. Patrick’s Day (Mercury); SFPD Steps Up Patrols (SF Weekly)
  • More on SFO’s Plans to Track Ride-Hail Vehicles for Fee Collection (ABC)
  • East Bay Express Looks In-Depth at Transport Oakland’s Efforts to Make Streets Safe for Bicycling
  • Three Children, Two Adults in Critical Condition After Hit-and-Run Crash in Oakland (ABC)
  • Man Killed After Jumping in Front of Caltrain in Mountain View (Mercury News, CBS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Most Lyft Customers in SF Sign Up to Share Their Trips

As of January, a majority of Lyft trips in San Francisco use the ride-hail app’s “Lyft Line” carpool feature, according to the company, meaning most passengers are looking to share rides with other people taking similar trips.

Lyft Line users aren’t always matched up, and Lyft spokesperson Paige Thelen said she couldn’t tell us how many Lyft trips are actually shared. But she did say that during a January promo called “Match Muni,” when fares for many Lyft Line trips within SF were set at a flat rate of $2.25 — the same as a Muni fare — over 90 percent of Lyft Line trips were matched up. Lyft Line fares are advertised as always cheaper than regular Lyft fares, and the price doesn’t change if a match is found or not.

The stats, announced yesterday by Lyft CEO Logan Green, show progress in the app’s evolution toward functioning as a genuine “ride-share” service. Lyft and its rival, Uber, have long been given the “ride-share” misnomer when they are more accurately described as app-based taxi services with less regulation.

Lyft Line and Uber’s competing feature, UberPool, both launched in August in SF before expanding to Los Angeles and New York City. UberPool is also now in Paris. Uber hasn’t responded to a request for data on its carpool usage.

As Inc. noted yesterday, Lyft and Uber both say their goal is to make car ownership unnecessary.