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Archive for April, 2007

critical mess between bikes and drivers


I’m both fascinated and disturbed by the Critical Mass fiasco last month, in which enraged cyclists descended upon a woman and children in a minivan in the City Across the Bay. Were it on the streets of Sadr City, we could have shrugged it off, but here in the Bay Area, we had to cringe and a parade of letter writers and pundits stood up and announced, “I’m a cyclist, and I condemn such behavior.” Yes, that’s a direct quote, because I am and I do.

But don’t take my word for it, hear it from our feature writer, Candace Murphy, someone who’s pedaled her way around both sides of the Bay for way longer than I’ve been around these parts:

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, driving, Safety, Security | 9 Comments »

Amtrak and mag-levity

ready, set ... GO!! 

As I noted earlier, the wheeled speed record set by France’s train à grande vitesse (for you non-francophones, that’s “high-speed train”) got everyone talking, especially Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who was onboard when the train hit 357 mph.

The Scramento Bee’s Buzz column quibbled over the San Francisco legislator’s claim to have been aboard the world’s fastest train:

“The world’s fastest train remains a Japanese bullet train that hit Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, Environment, Freeways, high-speed rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

it’s a date: Bay Bridge is closing

new-plans-for-yerba-buena-island.JPGWhen it comes to rebuilding the eastern span of the Bay Bridge (price: $5.6 billion), there are three main agencies that need to sign off on changes. Today the directors of those agencies met to determine your commuting future.

At issue is the expected Labor Day weekend closure of the entire bridge.

Last Labor Day, the lower (eastbound) deck had to be Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, April 6th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, driving, Environment, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »

Transportation Funding 101


So you want to know what your transportation tax dollars are paying for?

For starters, lunch.

NOTE: While it’s not uncommon for public agencies to foot the bill for lunch at informational briefing for officials and the press, the host of this particular one, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, informed me on April 13 that he had paid for this lunch himself, and this item had made him look stupid. You can read my apology here (link pending).

I had a lovely grilled salmon with asparagus at Stacie’s at Waterford in Dublin, which was just close enough from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station that I was able to bike there without breaking a sweat.

Now, before you start objecting, you should know that the asparagus was perfectly ripe and cooked just to the point where you needed a knife to cut it, but you didn’t need to chew it for 20 minutes. No cheese sandwiches on this blog.

You should also know that it was for a good cause, and I have no doubt that when my editor reads this, he will insist that I either Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2007
Under: BART, driving, Freeways, Funding, Planning, Smart Lanes, tolls, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

357 miles per hour: too fast for Fresno?

tgv-record.jpgAfter dropping $208 plus $105 in Commuter Checks for my monthly train ticket today, I should feel ripped off that it takes me 90 minutes to get to Oakland from the Central Valley.

Especially so after reading today that Assemblywoman Fiona Ma took a train that went a record-breaking 357 miles per hour through the Champagne region of France, the same type of train that I know could get me to Oakland in 11 minutes for a price so low that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2007
Under: Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Environment, Freeways, Funding, high-speed rail, rail, technology | 26 Comments »

checking for suicide bombers on BART


Call me a cynic, but I tend to believe those dire neocon predictions that when we leave Iraq, “they” will follow us. Perhaps that’s because we Americans proved so willing to step into the role once held by the infidel Soviets in Afghanistan. When seeking martyrdom, why waste your life on a second-rate superpower when you can be fighting No. 1?

After living in the Holy Land for three years, I came to appreciate magnetometer wands and bag checks. When I entered a public place such as a mall or a restaurant, I’d be apprehensive if no one was there to wand me and ask, “Any weapons?”

Returning to California in 2005, I couldn’t help thinking how vulnerable this country was to the most basic of terror attacks: Guy gets on a bus, strapped with C-4 explosives, nuts and bolts for maximum killing Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007
Under: BART, Buses, ferries, Funding, rail, Security, technology | No Comments »