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Archive for the 'Safety' Category

2007 was a gas, gas gas … or was it?


Today I accosted several of my colleagues and asked them if they’d miss 2007.

The answer was pretty much “no” all around, with the most convincing story coming from a person who’d bought a house with a sub-prime mortgage.

In the area of transportation, especially in the Bay Area, I’d have to say 2007 was a very Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2007
Under: BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, fuel, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 11 Comments »

now that you mention it, there IS a law

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Many thanks to the AAA of Northern California for sending me a concise roundup of all the driving-related state laws kicking in in 2008.

First and foremost is the one that has probably led to more confusion than the last 100 California ballot measures. I confess that just prior to July 1 of this year, I thought we were supposed to go hands-free with the mobile phone or face the consequences (Those would be $20 for the first offense, $50 thereafter, which I suspect for many will considered the cost of doing business).

But, as AAA’s Sean Comey notes, that particular law, along with its no-cell-no-text-no-anything-while-driving-under-18 counterpart passed this year, don’t actually kick in until July 1, 2008. So Californians, gab away, but try to practice with the earpiece occasionally so it won’t be such a shock this summer.

If it helps, I recently got to know a Caltrans road crew that lost one of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, fuel, other, Safety, technology, traffic signals, trucks | 2 Comments »

transit rage


I have to start by saying that our own personal vehicles bring out the worst in us. We’re in control. We’re anonymous. Those other faceless operators are trying to get ahead of us and we hate them for it.

But public transportation is different. We must face our fellow commuters, sans glass or metal dividers. We are known. On my train, the conductor sees my name when he checks my ticket. Amtrak knows more about me than Facebook.

But our vulnerability to schedules, reliability and our dependence on the system can take its toll on our psyches and behavior.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Two incidents of late have forced me to look deeply into the mirror and wonder if I need to get in touch with my Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2007
Under: Amtrak, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 8 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 »

lower the drinking age? are you stoned?

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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 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

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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 »

don’t let driving distract you

As my son’s primary driving instructor, I had to say it:

“One hand on the wheel! How are you going to make phone calls, style your hair and eat breakfast without a free hand?”

Ok, so it wasn’t that bad, but I did have to train him to drive one-handed so he could operate the turn signal without weaving when hand No. 2 broke its grip.

Then, just this week while I was taking time off to make up for working all last weekend on the Bay Bridge closure story, my 18-year-old who’s taking his driver’s test Monday had to ask:

“Um, Dad? How are you Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007
Under: driving, Safety | 4 Comments »

a convenient distortion


Some might argue that one shouldn’t waste the time of day to such things, but I saw this I couldn’t help but wonder, “Do they really think people buy this stuff anymore?”

I’m referring to the latest warning from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, decrying a Vermont federal judge’s ruling that states can independently regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This has huge implications for California, of course, because this state is once again ahead of the curve — in no small part because of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2007
Under: driving, Environment, fuel, Misc. Transportation, Safety, technology | 2 Comments »

ok, i’ll say it: stay home on Labor Day weekend

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We journalists are fond of disseminating news, or information that is new or previously unknown.

But today I’m going to tell nearly every one of you something that we’ve known for some months now, on the theory that one or two of you will be backing out of your caves on Labor Day weekend with the intention of driving somewhere.

Just to get your attention, I’ll put it the way Caltrans does on its variable message signs on all routes leading into the Bay Area:

The Bay Bridge is closed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007
Under: 511, AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Buses, Caltrans, connectivity, driving, ferries, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 7 Comments »