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Archive for October, 2007

so you wanna fight global warming, eh?

polar-bear-lanes.bmpYou want to stop global warming?

Hmm. Maybe. Sounds good. How?

You can take BART to work.

Not me. Don’t live near a BART station and the BART lots are always full when I drive to one.

You can take the bus to BART.

No. The bus stop is too far from my house. I’d spend 20 minutes just walking there. Then I have to wait for the bus. By that time, I could be at work already.

You could ride your bike to BART.

It’s hilly where I live. I’d get all sweaty. And besides, BART doesn’t allow me to take my bike during rush hour. Any other ideas?

Yes. Keep driving and pay a carbon tax of 23 cents a gallon, pay a rush-hour toll to get into the city and a peak-hour parking surcharge when you get to work.

But I’d be paying, what, five times Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007
Under: BART, Bicycling, Buses, Carpooling, connectivity, driving, Environment, Freeways, fuel, Funding, parking, Planning, technology, tolls, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »

hopeless? try the Middle East

palestine-high-speed-rail-plan.jpgGetting up early this morning to attend a Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting and opposing press conference about California’s high-speed rail enterprise (like the space ship), my brain nearly dripped out of my ears by the time it was over.

I had lost all context. I was starting to believe that someday, high-speed rail would actually get built and I should care if it did or it didn’t.

Struggling to fire a synapse long enough to put something on this blog, I found myself Googling aimlessly and suddenly, a light bulb ignited.

My previous brush with the concept of high-speed rail was in a concrete tunnel of sorts.

I was leaving the Gaza Strip, oddly enough, when I chanced to meet Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, fuel, high-speed rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

comfort the lazy and get thee to work

After being called a traitor to bicycling earlier this week, I got to thinking: What we commuters need is a little comfort.

That’s partly why 70 percent of Bay Area commuters drive solo. It’s more comfortable to be enclosed in your own vehicle, to be able to choose the radio station, to chomp noisily on that breakfast burrito and to engage in ghastly personal grooming habits that even members of your nuclear family wouldn’t tolerate.

Not to belabor a single e-mail, but this bicyclist named John who heard me on KQED’s Forum program had a point:

Sure it’s `scary.’ The point, obviously, is to make it not scary. That’s why the other cities have things like colored bike lanes, protected Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2007
Under: BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, rail, Safety, trucks | 12 Comments »

disservice vs. dissing the service at the airport

war-demonstrators.jpg At the risk of beating a dead horse, I decided to post this chapter-and- verse analysis of the alleged disrespect paid to Marines who spent their two-hour layover on the tarmac of Oakland International Airport Sept. 27. It’s by Steve Irwin (not to be confused with the late Crocodile Hunter), an airport security consultant and former U.S. Air Force member who used to work at Oakland. He keeps up a website on aviation security and other matters at

The recent PR disaster at OAK could have been easily resolved by airport management with just three simple Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2007
Under: air travel, Security | 1 Comment »

critical of the masses


When I got invited to share my wisdom about Bay Area transportation this morning on KQED radio’s “Forumprogram, I though maybe I’d hear from listeners about my aligning San Francisco with the Bush Administration.

The outrage, I imagined, at the thought that the epicenter of all things progressive could be the running dog for U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ crusade to make drivers pay through the nose for causing congestion. I mean, really.

But no, no one wanted to pillory me for such a suggestion, not even Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, who told me Tuesday that not everything happens because of politics.

He was, by the way, the only Bay Area transportation official I’ve ever seen hug a member Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, fuel, Funding, parking, tolls | 2 Comments »

lower the drinking age? are you stoned?


All it takes it one College president making a statement about something people are passionate about and suddenly, there’s a movement. And a counter-movement. In the electronic media, anyway.

The academic leader in question was John McCardell, Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont. He must have shrewdly calculated that while he had little chance of getting attention on his own, he’d get lots of help from his numerous opponents.

Which brings us to today, when I find in my inbox a press release from the Governors Highway Safety Association:

Today in Washington, researchers joined MADD to reiterate their support for the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2007
Under: driving, Safety | 7 Comments »

just turn left at the airport

oak-terminal.jpgThis morning I received one of the biggest responses ever to any story I’ve written in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, the story had little to do with transportation and nothing to do with commuting.

A half-dozen vitriolic e-mails from readers from Virginia to Washington State, one electronic query from a staffer of one member of Congress and a phone call from another representative’s representative.

Still, journalists like to know that their “content,” as I now like to call it (because most people get it for free. Some day, I will be standing at an intersection with a cardboard sign saying, “will provide content for food.”), is being read by the widest audience possible.

The story, in cased you missed it, was about a planeload of troops fresh from Iraq on their way to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
Under: air travel, other | 4 Comments »

just a minor derailment on the way home

move-toward-the-light.jpgI had to post this when I got home; Sprint’s Internet air cards have gone down to $59 a month, but I’m not ready to bite:

7:15 p.m.: I may be crazy, but 15 minutes ago I got on a Capitol Corridor train that promises to take me home, but I’m not so sure.

When I arrived at the station, one of my fellow commuters was walking away from the station in a huff, saying there was a derailment.

“Where?” I asked.

“There’s a derailment. They’re not going anywhere,” he responded, looking at Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), rail, Safety | 7 Comments »

for whom the debt tolls


In his first report on the California’s indebtedness, state treasurer Bill Lockyer’s graphic artist elicited a few chuckles at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a.k.a the Bay Area Toll Authority.

The Debt Affordability Report has a lovely picture of hands holding binoculars, the right lens containing the Bay Bridge’s $1 billion skyway section and the left fitted with the $1.43 billion Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls | No Comments »