Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Traffic death, semantics, and Vision Zero

U.S. traffic deaths as fraction of total population 1900-2010.png

More Vision Zero foolishness from the New York Times:

Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers. Just don’t call them accidents anymore. That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error. “When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health. “In our society,” he added, “language can be everything.”

The first sentence in the article is simply false when you look at the graph above. The Wikipedia entry tracks traffic deaths from 1899 through 2014. As the graph above shows, the trend has been consistently downward, with occasional upward spikes.

See also this:

New Geography

Language can't be "everything" in this---or any other---society. This language change, like the Vision Zero campaign itself, only gives people the illusion that they're doing something positive.

Calling something an "accident" doesn't at all "trivialize" the notion of "human error." Very few humans purposely cause traffic accidents, and of course the definition of accident includes/requires the idea of intent. That almost all fatal traffic accidents involve "really bad behavior" by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians doesn't mean those accidents are preventable in any obvious way.

Unless there's a dramatic change in human nature, these semantic games are silly---and, not coincidentally, just another PR front by the Vision Zero ninnies.

Only at the end of the NY Times story do we get the Vision Zero link:

When New York City changed its policy in 2014, it did so partly in response to such grass-roots efforts, including from a group called Families for Safe Streets. The group is led by parents like Amy Cohen, whose son, Sammy, was run over and killed in Brooklyn in 2013. She helped start a campaign called “Crash Not Accident,” and said that the drivers in deadly wrecks should not be given the presumption of innocence just because they have lived to tell their side of the story.

Clicking on the link takes you to a Vision Zero Network site.

Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker made a good point about focusing too much on mechanical failures with the vehicles we drive, which, while important, can be false lead when considering traffic safety overall:

The public approach to auto safety is preoccupied with what might go wrong mechanically with the vehicles we drive. But the chief factor is not what we drive; it is how we drive (emphasis added).

The anti-car bicycle lobby is a major force behind the Vision Zero bullshit: see thisthis, this, and this.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

High-speed rail "scoping" meetings this week

See how easy it is? What's the problem?

[The notice below doesn't include tonight's San Francisco meeting:

5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Monday, May 23, 2016
UCSF Mission Bay
1500 Owens St.
San Francisco, CA 95158]

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is holding "scoping meetings" tomorrow, Tuesday, May 24th, and Wednesday, May 25th. 

Here are the meeting details:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
San Mateo Marriott
1770 South Amphlett Boulevard
San Mateo, CA 94402

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
SFV Lodge
361 Villa Street
Mountain View, CA 94041

If you think traffic congestion on the Peninsula is a nightmare now, get ready for traffic that will be ten times worse:

The High-Speed Rail Authority is planning for up to twenty (20) trains per hour on the Caltrain Right of Way (High-Speed trains on top of Caltrain service). Without Quiet Zones, that is a lot of horn blowing!

There are forty-seven (47) at-grade intersections between San Francisco and San Jose, and traffic will be blocked at virtually every one of them.

With a train passing every three (3) minutes and crossing gates coming down, total traffic paralysis will ensue. When asked about this problem, the Authority says, "We're studying it!"

Union Pacific has not agreed to permit High-Speed Trains in the Caltrain corridor, and Union Pacific has the right to demand additional right of way to install concrete intrusion barriers to separate freight and passenger traffic. That could mean a doubling of the width of the rail corridor and the need for massive condemnation of business and residential properties on the Peninsula.

The scheduled "scoping meetings" are supposed to let the public highlight areas of concern. Come to the San Mateo Marriott tomorrow evening, or to the SFV Lodge on Wednesday to let the High-Speed Rail Authority know what you think! A presentation by the Authority scheduled at 6:00 o'clock each evening.

Rob's comment:
On Union Pacific's right of way on the Peninsula, see this and this.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

What about home team broadcasters?

Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett

It's unfair and annoying to many fans of the Golden State Warriors and the fans of other teams: After broadcasting all 82 of the regular season games, the home team broadcasters are pushed aside in favor of network bigshots. I want Fitzgerald and Barnett to do the games when the Warriors are in the playoffs, not Reggie Miller and Marv Albert.

Same goes for the Giants during the MLB playoffs, not to mention the World Series. I want Kruk and Kuip to do those games, not big network names who haven't done a Giants game all year. 

My proposal would be like the designated hitter rule: In baseball when National League teams play in American League stadiums, the designated hitter rule is observed but not in games played in National League stadiums. 

The same principle should apply during the playoffs: hometown broadcasters should do the games played in the home team's stadium.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Lies about Masonic Avenue prevail

7J7C6072 copy
Jim Herd photo

The Masonic Avenue bike project will not "improve" anything for the more than 12,000 daily passengers on the #43 line. It will even make the trip between Fell Street and Geary Boulevard slower, since it will permanently remove the two parking lanes on Masonic to make separated bike lanes. Those two parking lanes are now converted into traffic lanes in the morning and evening to help Masonic handle the commute traffic.

The other lie on the sign: that this is a "streetscape project," not essentially a bike project. The same lie is used to describe the Polk Street bike project.

In June 2016, the city will be breaking ground on the Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project. This community-initiated project will build a better, safer, and more attractive Masonic Avenue from Fell to Geary. After a multi-year public planning process, the project was approved in 2012 with improvements including a new public plaza, wider sidewalks, repaving, a new median, sewer and water upgrades, new trees, better lighting and raised bikeways.

There's a lot of dishonesty and stupidity in this short paragraph. Why would Masonic need "wider sidewalks"? They are already among the widest in the city, which is why the few cyclists that now use Masonic often ride on the sidewalks. 

Of course there's nothing wrong with the existing trees on Masonic, except that they have to be cut down to make room for the bike lanes. The "public plaza" will be the small triangular space at Masonic and Geary where some garish "art" will be added to make it "new" and unimproved.

The "multi-year planning process" on Masonic featured a ten-year campaign of lies and disinformation by the Bicycle Coalition and its City Hall allies.

But the biggest lie is about the safety of Masonic, which I wrote about here several years ago. Otherwise, hey, they got it just right!

San Francisco Citizen gets it wrong (He's gotten it wrong before): "I don’t think Masonic will be 'transformed.' I don’t think we’ll end up with a 'new' Masonic."

Of course Masonic will be "transformed," but the only public benefit will be the paving and the "sewer and water upgrades," assuming the city doesn't screw that up, too.

The primary beneficiaries of this project will be an unknown number of future cyclists who will get protected bike lanes. The city has no idea how many cyclists will use those lanes after the project is finished, but it won't be nearly enough to justify screwing up traffic for everyone else that now uses Masonic, the 12,000 daily #43 passengers and more than 32,000 other vehicles.

7J7C6088 copy
Building bigger lies for everyone

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Calculating how dumb SMART will be

Richard Hall's comment

The Marin Independent Journal's story on SMART train fares (SMART weighs one-way base fares of between $4 and $5 for commuter rail).

From Richard Hall's comment to the story:

These fares are TRIPLE that of taking the bus to SF. They demonstrate that this train is not transportation for the masses, this train is "first class" transportation reserved only for the affluent, so that only the rich can bypass the traffic mess that's being made of 101. Remember that the train is getting billions while the money to add capacity to 101 has been cancelled. There's even talk at the latest SMART meeting to raid Measure A funds which were promised never to be diverted to the train.

Rob's comment:
Hall's fare calculations of course only apply to commuters going to San Francisco. Along with ridership estimates, fare calculations are crucial to determine how a system pays its operating expenses. San Francisco's Muni system, for example, collects only 25% of its operating expenses from fares (page 9), which means that the system requires a 75% taxpayer subsidy.

The California High-Speed Rail project has always had problems determining fares. In 2008 voters were promised a $50 fare between SF and LA, but that was quickly abandoned as not credible, which is why the project has been reluctant to make any more promises about fares, though the latest HSR business plan (page 67) is talking about $89 fare between LA and SF.

It will only be clear how much taxpayers will be subsidizing the SMART system---how dumb it will be---after it starts operating and we know how many passengers it will be carrying.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

San Francisco: "Car hating capital of the Bay Area"

Question: A few days ago, a friend took me to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park for my 66th birthday. I live in Santa Cruz and don't drive in the city very much. After driving around for about 20 minutes, I found an empty slot in a long line of cars on JFK Drive and noted that the slot had "parking" written on the pavement so I parked there. 

When I returned, I had received 2 parking tickets for $192 each. Upon closer observation, I noticed that under the car in front of me on the pavement was written "no" as in no parking. I have pictures if it would help. In retrospect it sounds naive to think they would write "parking" on the pavement, but shouldn't the "no" and "parking" be close together?

I would like to protest receiving two tickets for the same offense and ask for leniency because of my birthday and being from out of town, but after trying every day to access my citations on the SFMTA website, it always displays "plate not found." How long does it take to post tickets on the payment site?

George Hoffer
Santa Cruz

Answer: It can take several weeks, but you must pay or protest the citation by the due date on the ticket or you could get hit with late fees and collections fees. Do not pay if you wish to appeal. You can also request an appearance with a judge and that's where the photos might help reduce $384 in fines on a birthday outing. Google SFMTA and parking citations. One ticket, OK. But two, ouch. I'm rooting for you, George.

Question: I drive to work in the car hating capital of the Bay Area---San Francisco---and have begun to see bike riders on some of the busiest streets of the city, where it is either a traffic hazard or a death wish to be on a bike. Great examples are Van Ness Avenue, Lombard Street toward the Golden Gate Bridge, 19th Avenue, etc. Are there any restrictions on streets bikes can use?

Jason Leman
San Francisco

Answer: Very few. Bikes are allowed on urban streets, and there are no restrictions on the streets you mentioned.

Earlier posts on SF as predator herehere and here.

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Austin rejects Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft Throw Tantrums When Their Business Practices Are Exposed as Harmful to Workers
Jim Hightower

Pouty, whiney, spoiled-bratism is not nice coming from a four-year-old, but it's grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporate elites like Uber and Lyft.

The two internet-based ride-hiring brats call themselves "ride-sharing" companies, but that's a deceit, for they don't share anything—their business model relies on folks needing a ride to hire a driver through the corporations' apps. With the bulk of the fare going to out-of-town corporate hedge funders.

The two outfits have swaggered into cities all across our country, insisting that they're innovative, tech-driven geniuses. As such, they consider themselves above the fusty old laws that other transportation companies, like taxis, follow. So Uber and Lyft have made it a corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities—from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Houston to Portland—have dared even to propose that they obey rules to protect customers and drivers.

The latest tantrum from the California giants happened in Austin, when the city council there adopted a few modest, perfectly reasonable rules, despite the screams of PR flacks from both outfits. The petulant duo then used fibs and high-pressure tactics to get enough signatures on petitions to force a special election to overturn the council's action. Naturally, being brats, they gave the city an ultimatum—"Vote our way or we will leave town"—and assumed that Austin's tech-savvy voters would flock to do whatever the popular ride-sharing service wanted.

But they picked the wrong city. First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as though Austinites wouldn't question them. Then, they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of ads would win the day for them. 

However, the slicks from California turned out to be uber-goobers. Despite spending $9 million (more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade), they went down, 56-to-44 percent.

Since they didn't win their campaign, Uber and Lyft have now left town in a huff leaving their 10,000 Austin workers/drivers behind to fend for themselves. Since their workers are considered contract employees, there will be no severance package or unemployment benefits for them.

This is part of the new "gig economy"—the latest corporate buzz-phrase from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. CEOs are hailing a Brave New Workplace in which we lucky worker bees no longer have to be stuck in traditional jobs with traditional hours, traditional middle-class pay scales, traditional benefits, traditional job security, and all those other fusty "traditionals" of the old workplace, In fact, in the gig economy, you're not even bothered with having a workplace. Rather, you'll be "liberated" to work in a series of short-term jobs in many places, always being on-call through a mobile app on your smart phone or through a temp agency. How exciting is that?

Well, they use "exciting" in the sense of distressing and nerve-wracking. The gig economy means you're on your own—you're not an employee, but an "independent contractor," with no rights and no union. You might have lots of calls to work this week, but there'll be many weeks with no calls. Don't get sick, injured or wreck your car, for no health care or workers' comp are provided. A pension? Your retirement plan is called "adios chump."

This "alternative work arrangement" is not a futuristic concept—it's already here and spreading fast. And it's not just ride-hiring gigs either. Some 16 percent of U.S. workers are now in this on-call, temporary, part-time, low-pay, you're-on-your-own economy, up from only 10 percent a decade ago. Corporate chieftains (backed by the economists and politicians they purchase) are creating what they call a workforce of non-employees for one reason: Greed. It directly transfers more money and power from workaday families into the coffers of moneyed elites.

Their gig economy is aptly named, for "gigs" are crude four-hook fishing devices that are dragged by commercial fleets through schools of fish to impale them, haul them in, and cash in on the pain. And if you don't think the gig economy is painful, why don't you ask the 10,000 Uber and Lyft workers in Austin how they feel about it?

An earlier post on Uber and Lyft here.


New York and San Francisco

The Cooper Review


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Nothing wrong with Oracle Arena

Associated Press photo

During the TV broadcast of the Warriors game last night, one of the commercial breaks had an aerial view like the picture above that showed dramatically why Oracle Arena is ideally designed and located with a huge parking lot next to the freeway.

As the Mission Bay Alliance has pointed out, the proposed location of the new Warriors stadium in San Francisco has neither of those advantages, which will mean traffic gridlock for that part of town.

Some earlier posts on the issue here and here.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Episode 3: Return of the Philistine

Moviemaker George Lucas looks over Chewbacca at the “Star Wars” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum in 1997. Photo: KEN CEDENO, AP
George Lucas: "Visionary"

He's back! Front page, above the fold in this morning's Chronicle (Lucas S.F. museum sequel):

After a lobbying campaign by Mayor Ed Lee, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas is once again looking to San Francisco as a possible home for a museum housing his collection of illustrative art and Hollywood memorabilia — this time on a site already approved for development on Treasure Island.

Yes, indeed. One of the worst planning decisions the city has made in the last ten years: approving a massive development allowing 19,000 residents on Treasure Island.

Find the traffic choke point for Treasure Island on the picture below:

In a flip-flop worthy of Donald Trump, Supervisor Peskin is on board:

One of those already signaling support for San Francisco’s effort is Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is often critical of Lee and his policies. Four years ago, he led a group that sued to block development plans on Treasure Island, citing alleged inadequacies in the environmental impact report. That suit was eventually tossed, clearing the last obstacle to building on the one-time Navy base. Now, after meeting with the Lucas design team, Peskin says the museum may be “the special, secret sauce” that “could make Treasure Island work.”

If a huge development on Treasure Island was a bad idea before, why is putting a museum there now a good idea? Aaron Peskin is the last surviving member of the class of 2000, "progressive" supervisors elected after district elections were restored. Their main achievement: more damage to San Francisco than anything since the 1906 earthquake.

More from the Matier and Ross story:

Given the limited access from the Bay Bridge to the island, transportation is certain to be a key issue. Sources tell us most visitors would probably be shuttled to the museum by ferry or water taxi.

Or something. Maybe they can be beamed over from the Embarcadero, but I'm probably getting my children's movies mixed up.

But what about bikes? Recall that the Bicycle Coalition did a transportation study for the Treasure Island project.

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"Failure has no consequences"

Traffic Talk

This sounds familiar. New Yorker Fred Siegel visits LA:

...Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti offers a host of plans to alleviate the [traffic]problem: Vision Zero, Great Streets, Complete Streets, Streets for People, and the optimistically named Mobility Plan 2035. 

But any proposal to ease congestion runs up against the gangrenous environmentalists who view gridlock positively as a means of reducing car ridership and “saving” the environment. Los Angeles, explains urbanist Joel Kotkin, is “a region uncomfortable in its own skin.” 

The city was built for the automobile, but the liberals who run things have been trying to change that. They talk about putting highways “on a diet,” but they’ve only succeeded in worsening the traffic problem. Despite massive investments in public transportation, notes the Los Angeles Times, transit ridership has declined. Free H.O.V. lanes and “pay to play” H.O.V. lanes have made little difference. In a one-party town, failure has no consequences. Los Angeles mostly just throws more money at the problem...

We’re headed back to Brooklyn soon, anyway. As bad as traffic can be in New York, the issue doesn’t infuse every discussion of where and what to do as it does in L.A. In New York, we have real estate for that.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

The real reason for Donald Trump's rise

Jonathan Chait explains the Trump phenomenon:

Why did almost everybody fail to predict Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries? Nate Silver blames the news media, disorganized Republican elites, and the surprising appeal of cultural grievance. Nate Cohn lists a number of factors, from the unusually large candidate field to the friendly calendar. Jim Rutenberg thinks journalism strayed too far from good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Justin Wolfers zeroes in on Condorcet’s paradox.

Here’s the factor I think everybody missed: The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots. Far more of them than anybody expected...

Rob's comment:
Think Trump isn't so bad? Read this: Howard Stern, Donald Trump, My Dad: Lessons in How Men Talk About Women

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Big lie about CEQA reform #2: LOS, VMT, and ATG

Amanda Eakin on the LA-based The Planning Report:

Level of Service[LOS] analysis involves quite a bit more speculation and assumption, and it’s quite a bit more complicated and expensive than Vehicle Miles Traveled analysis.

Rob's comment:
Not true. What LOS analysis does require is actual traffic studies to determine what the baseline traffic volume is in the project area. That can be expensive, but how can you know the impact of a project without that information?

Both OPR[Office of Planning and Research] and San Francisco are trying to move forward with a process that will give us a better estimate of actual environmental impact, will be less complicated, will be less costly, and will therefore expedite projects that we know are going to lead to better environmental outcomes, like transit, biking, and walking projects. Part of the way OPR is going to do that is by making clear in the guidelines that certain types of projects are assumed to have a less-than-significant impact.

Rob's comment: 
This is really about bike lanes and building housing and commercial property that provides little or no parking. Get it? Bike lanes and those parking-lite projects won't add any "vehicle miles traveled" to a project area! And the people in that new housing won't have cars---and neither will their friends and family when they visit. 

Creating bike lanes will take away street parking and traffic lanes, funneling existing traffic into fewer lanes and force motorists to circle around looking for parking space. But no "vehicle miles" will be added by the bike lane itself!

Just because something is new or unknown doesn’t mean we should keep doing the stupid, old thing that’s been causing significant environmental damage and harm.

Rob's comment:
Instead, let's do a stupid new thing. The "old thing"---Level of Service analysis---isn't at all stupid, since it measures how well traffic moves on streets and ranks them accordingly: "A" means traffic moves well, while "F" is essentially a traffic jam, with most streets somewhere in between. 

If you don't care about making traffic worse---that's what motorists get for not riding bikes or public transit!---of course you prefer VMT to LOS.

As far as I can tell, Vehicle Miles Traveled is nothing but an updated version of the Auto Trips Generated notion of several years ago. Same phony techo-jargon acronym to conceal a developer and bike-friendly traffic policy guaranteed to make traffic worse for everyone but cyclists, that is, for everyone who has to drive and those who take public transportation, since buses have to use the same streets as those wicked cars and trucks.

SFStreetsblog of course preferred ATG back in 2009 and likes the updated VMT version now.

I wrote about this bullshit way back in 2006.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Big lie about CEQA reform #1

From the anti-car Planetizen:

The irony that an environmental law would frustrate the most environmentally-friendly (and efficient) mode of transportation was not lost on Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum. "I'm a pretty committed environmentalist, but it's still hard not to feel a bit of schadenfreude over the problems that California's premier environmental law has had on the construction of bike lanes," he writes.

Drum is a smart guy. I often cite him myself. 

But another quote from his blog post is more revealing:

I'm no expert on CEQA, so I won't try to offer any detailed criticism here. Generally speaking, though, I'd like to see the law reformed so that genuine environmental concerns get the hearings they deserve, but no more. There needs to be some kind of stopping point or reasonableness test in there. A $100,000 bike lane shouldn't require $200,000 in environmental impact reports and another $200,000 defending lawsuits from bike lane haters.

Odd that a California-based political blogger like Drum is so ignorant about the California Environmental Quality Act, the most important environmental law in the state. That's probably because he writes mostly about national/international issues.

"Environmental concerns" is exactly what CEQA is all about. Any project---public or private---that even might have an impact on the environment must do at least a preliminary study of its possible impact.

Instead, the city did no environmental review of the Bicycle Plan at all. The city knew that was illegal, but just assumed it could get away with it. 

A project like the city's Bicycle Plan---which will take away thousands of street parking spaces and dozens of traffic lanes on busy city streets to make bike lanes---obviously might have an impact on the environment by making traffic congestion worse, making finding a parking space harder, and funneling existing traffic into fewer lanes. It clearly required a full-blown environmental impact report, which is why the judge ruled in our favor.

It was an easy decision for Judge Busch to make, since he didn't have to figure out whether the city's PC pro-bike, anti-car policy was a good idea. All he had to decide is whether the city should do an environmental study of the ambitious, 500-page Bicycle Plan to determine its possible impact.

Drum seems to think that money is a CEQA issue, but it's not, especially for a rich city like San Francisco, which can afford to do whatever it really wants to do (e.g., the dumb Central Subway project).

The LA Times on the money issue:

The environmental law requires proponents of new projects — including bike lanes — to measure the effect the project would have on car congestion. When a traffic lane is taken out in favor of a bike lane, more congestion could result along that road. That result can put proposed bike lanes in peril. And traffic studies to show whether installing a bike lane would lead to greater congestion can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Oftentimes, cities won’t bother with the effort.

Yes, but if like San Francisco they "bother with the effort" and do the required environmental review, they can still create the bike lanes later, which is what the city is doing now, including the also dumb Masonic Avenue project. 

That is, CEQA itself doesn't stop projects; it can only delay projects while the required environmental study is done.

Tomorrow: LOS, VMT, and ATG

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Thanks to Balloon Juice


All you have to do is mention "public transit"...

SF Chronicle

From Matier & Ross on Sunday:

She[Hillary] said she's fully behind Jerry Brown's pet high-speed rail project, which opponents have labeled a boondoggle that will never do what its advocates claim---move people quickly between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Advocating high-speed rail is the dumbest thing President Obama has done. It's already wasted millions of dollars on the California high-speed rail project. 

Opponents aren't just saying that this project won't do what it's supposed to do; we're saying it won't even get built, since the $100 billion required will never be available from any source. 

The only question is how much money will be wasted before the project is stopped, either by the courts or by Governor Gavin Newsom, who is a skeptic.

Liberals/progressives have a public transportation obsession. Randal O'Toole said it best: "All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit,' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

See also SMART and Honolulu Rail Transit

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Tax Policy Center

Thanks to Kevin Drum

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Monday, May 09, 2016

SMART[sic] train sucks up transportation dollars

(Source: The Greater Marin)
A Novato Station

SF Streetsblog's description of the latest Independent Journal story on the SMART train: "Sonoma Supervisor wants Transit Funds Used to Induce More Traffic."

All the news that fits! And if it doesn't fit your anti-car ideology, do some trimming with the description.

Anyone familiar with this part of Highway 101 knows it's a traffic bottleneck and needs more lanes.

The story is about how to divvy up $18 million in federal transportation money:

The money comes from a congressional earmark granted in 2005 for ferry service to Port Sonoma, a silted boat harbor on the Petaluma River, across from Black Point near Novato. The project has since been abandoned and its funding is up for grabs after the federal Department of Transportation released the money in March, according to regional transportation officials.

Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt wants most of the money to go to widen Highway 101 at Novato:

Rabbitt wants to see $15 million of the money used for 4.5 miles of widening along Highway 101 from south of the Petaluma River Bridge to San Antonio Creek, with the $3.2 million balance going toward the San Rafael Transit Center. Rabbitt said the widening would benefit as many as 100,000 drivers on a daily basis. The Sonoma County Transportation Authority has $15 million in hand for the narrows work and getting the Port Sonoma dollars would allow work to commence...

The SMART train folks want most of the money for the transit center.

This is the problem with dumb rail projects: they suck up transportation money that could be better spent elsewhere (e.g. high-speed rail).

Like all the Independent Journal stories about the not-so-smart train project, the comments to the story are must-reads.

Later: Santa Rosa Press Democrat editorial: Opening the bottleneck on Highway 101

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"Activism": Not the same as politics

48 Hills

The problem with this kind of "activism": The hunger-strikers and their supporters start thinking that it's all about them, not the issue they were supposedly demonstrating about in the first place. Activism turns into political narcissism.

If you can't elect a mayor and a majority of supervisors, why would the mayor let himself be bullied by your militant minority into doing something he doesn't want to do?

Tim Redmond and the Bay Guardian left made a similar mistake on homelessness more than ten years ago when they acted like Food Not Bombs was the same as having a policy alternative to Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash when it was nothing but political theater

Demonstrations and political theater are not the same thing as politics, which is why city voters, over the opposition of the Guardian left, passed Care Not Cash in 2002 and then elected Newsom mayor in 2003.

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Religion of Peace and the Koran

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Phony national debt crisis

"See the crisis? Neither do I"

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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Anti-Americanism, Alternet, and Seymour Hersh

I get Alternet's daily feed because sometimes they have a story---or links to stories---that interest me that no one else has, like this and this.

But the site has a consistent left-wing, anti-American bias. Noam Chomsky is a favored story subject, and Seymour Hersh is treated with more respect than he deserves, especially for his remarkably poorly conceived "scoop" on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. But then the Alternet left essentially sees the United States as the Bad Guy in the world.

The latest respectful Alternet interview with Hersh is a good counterpoint to CNN's recent story on the killing of Bin Laden ("We Got Him": President Obama, Bin Laden and the Future of the War on Terror).

Hersh has nothing new to back up his anonymously sourced story claiming that the US version of how Bin Laden was killed is an elaborate lie covering up what really happened. Hersh's sources seem obviously in the Pakistan government, an attempt to counter the US narrative that's not exactly flattering to Pakistan.

The only lie I can find in the US version of the story is the claim in the video above that the mission wasn't about killing Bin Laden, that the special forces were also tasked with capturing him if they could. Even according to the official US story, Bin Laden was shot immediately, though he made no threatening gestures and was unarmed.

It was clearly an assassination mission, which is okay with me. But why the unnecessary lie when the US is regularly killing jihadists around with world with drone strikes?

I count at least 14 people in the photo above watching a real-time video of the Bin Laden operation, including the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State, who was surely already planning to run for president in 2016. Why would all these people be parties to Hersh's elaborate conspiracy?

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1699 Market Street: Eyesore of the Week

1699 Market Street Rendering - McCoppin
1699 Market Street

Demolishing a low-rise building occupied by a viable business to make a nine-story apartment building is a consequence of the destructive Market and Octavia Plan I've been writing about for years. In a rapidly gentrifying San Francisco, the property underneath many buildings is now worth more than the present structures. Hence, demolishing low-rise buildings and constructing pricey new housing units makes economic sense to property owners.

Nine stories is relatively modest compared to the highrise boom coming to the Market/Octavia area.

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Friday, May 06, 2016

A woman plays the self-defense card

MAMILs: Middle-Aged Men In Lycra

Let’s fill London with cars

From Spiked:

...Last week, around 100 green activists staged a die-in outside the Department of Transport in central London. The protesters, all cyclists, were calling for cleaner air and demanding that the new mayor do something about it. As protesters brandishing ‘stop killing cyclists’ placards wandered around in their high-vis jackets and panniers, it was hard not to be a little sceptical. The new green fanaticism, which hates everything mechanised and embraces all things natural, is intolerant. Rather than putting forward better ideas for how London could expand and accommodate both cyclists and drivers, these greens demand that London drivers be curtailed. ‘The drivers should stay indoors’ one MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) told Spiked...

That's the first I've heard of the "MAMIL" term, which apparently originated in this 2010 BBC story (Rise of the Mamils: middle-aged men in lycra):

Every weekend, across the nation's rolling countryside, watch out for the Mamils: middle-aged men in lycra.

And ladies, if you have a man at home taking an unusual interest in how you shave your legs, you may have a Mamil in the making too.

Research conducted by the retail analyst Mintel suggests there has been a surge in the number of middle-aged men choosing to get on two wheels. Given the number of men aged 35-44 who are buying fancy-pants road racing machines, is this a 21st Century mid-life crisis? Has the silence of skinny tyres and carbon fibre framesets replaced the thunderous noise of motorbikes?

...The past three years have seen the rise of the uber-techno, super-flashy, full-carbon fibre, bobby-dazzler road bike. The market for these bikes has expanded faster than a 45-year-old's waistline, partly thanks to the success of the British cycling stars at the Beijing Olympics. Marketing departments have produced smart advertising messages that encourage a bit of freedom, elite performance and memories of teenage derring-do.

And the result can be seen on Saturday and Sunday mornings as middle-aged blokes polish the rear derailleur, lower the mirrored shades and pedal into the hills. Every couple of weeks, you'll see a girth of Mamils gathering to race a "Sportive", a form of amateur competing that has taken the British cycling world by storm...

Rob's comment:
You see them here in Progressive Land, too, the old guys on bikes trying to be with-it, their grey ponytails blowing in the breeze.

But if the aging, would-be cool bike guy is going to work, he has to settle for this look:

Gabriel Metcalf

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