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Weekend Roundup: Bikes Don’t Cause Pollution, Enough Free Parking

...and High Speed Rail getting wired up

Photo: Warren Wells

Here are a few Streetsblog news nuggets to start your weekend.

MTC staff confirms the obvious: bikes don't cause pollution

It is, of course, a ridiculous claim. But nonetheless car-brained schemers who want to turn the bike path on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge into a sixth car lane are making the preposterous claim that bikes are making pollution in the city of Richmond worse. Fortunately, staff at MTC--along with advocates, environmental scientists, and anybody with a fully functioning brain--are starting to toss out that notion. From the MTC staff report:

The proposed westbound 3rd lane [which would replace the bike lane] may not improve air quality since non-exhaust emissions (particulate matter associated with road dust, brake wear, and tire wear) could increase due to more Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).

Staff is being characteristically soft spoken. The simple fact is bikes don't have tailpipes. Most cars do. And all cars pollute way more than bicycles. More lanes means more cars means more pollution. It's that simple.

Nevertheless, this will be discussed further at the Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee meeting on Wednesday. "This might seem like a slam dunk but we still need people to comment at the meeting (in person or via Zoom) to defend the pathway & ask for more sustainable/effective solutions for transbay commuters, including a lot more public transit," wrote Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz on Twitter.

Again, the committee meeting is on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 9:35 a.m. Here's the link with info to attend and comment.

Don't make it even harder to adjust parking rates

Photo: SFMTA

It's bad enough that huge swaths of the city are set aside for free or nearly free storage of private automobiles. Cities don't provide space for someone to store a cow or a refrigerator at public expense, so why cars? The situation will get even worse if a populist proposal to prevent SFMTA from raising parking rates gets passed. From a San Francisco Transit Rider's release:

On September 19th, Supervisor Safai introduced and Supervisor Peskin co-sponsored a charter amendment which would require explicit, written mayoral approval of any SFMTA budget that:

  • Changes Muni fares (upwards or downwards)
  • Increases the hours in which parking meter fees are collected
  • Increases the maximum meter fee that can be collected

A budget with any of the above changes can only be submitted to the Board of Supervisors with approval by the mayor, and the mayor has 15 days from the budget submission deadline to approve. The way the amendment is currently written, failure of the mayor to approve within that deadline would result in the budget being sent back to SFMTA to remove the changes to fares/fees.

The Transit Riders are urging members and other advocates to contact their supervisors to urge them to vote "no" on this proposed SFMTA Budget Charter Amendment. Follow this link to make your voice heard.

California High Speed Rail ready to get wired

Caltrain's mainline in Burlingame with wire overhead. Soon it'll be time to start wiring up the Central Valley segment of High Speed Rail. Photo: Caltrain

The California HSR Authority is now shopping for a contractor to wire up its initial operating segment in the Central Valley. From an CAHSRA release:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Board of Directors today took another step toward bringing the nation’s first 220 mph electrified high-speed rail system into operational service. The Board approved the release of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to industry for design services for track and overhead contact systems (OCS) for the initial 171-mile passenger service connecting Merced to Bakersfield.

With the overpasses, viaducts, drainage, etc (aka: the heavy lifting) nearly complete, the authority is now turning its attention to the electrical systems, tracks, and trains themselves. “Today’s approval allows us to move forward and get this transformative project into operations as soon as possible,” said Board Chair Tom Richards. “This is a critical step in our new procurement strategy and yet another important milestone for us to deliver high-speed rail service in the Central Valley and statewide.”

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