Rep. Swalwell to Host “Ride with your Rep” on Saturday in Union City

A press release sent this afternoon from Congressman Swalwell’s office:

UNION CITY – U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) invites constituents to join him on a bike ride through the Alameda Creek Regional Trail in Union City on Saturday, September 21 at 10:00 AM.

This is the third “Ride with your Rep” event Congressman Swalwell has hosted since taking office in January. It serves as an opportunity to meet constituents and discuss the most important issues facing the East Bay, while enjoying a bike ride.

This “Ride with your Rep” falls on the Worldwide Day of Play, an annual event sponsored by Nickelodeon and other organizations including the NFL and Let’s Move to encourage kids to get outside and play.  Cyclists of all ages and experience levels are welcome to join this bike ride.

All are invited to meet the Congressman at 10:00 AM. The ride will start at 10:20 AM and last approximately 45 minutes.  In case of rain, the event will be postponed.

Ride with your Rep with Congressman Eric Swalwell

Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
CA-15 constituents

Alameda Creek Regional Trail – Alameda Creek Staging Area

Union City Boulevard at Lowry Road, Union City (MAP)

Saturday, September 21, 2013
10:00 AM: Meet at the Alameda Creek Staging Area
10:20 AM: Rolling

The ride will last approximately 45 minutes

Chris DeBenedetti


  1. Bbox,

    I can’t find your most recent post about this nor, of course, your older one. Here is something I wrote up about this. I hope it addresses what you wrote. 🙂

    As for data I got from the City, I was given information on repeat offenders being low. This confirmed my notion that my experiences were typical (that once people got a ticket they drove more carefully at those intersections). I have not see specific before/after accident data.

    It seems there’s the larger issue of whether it’s ethical for a police department to have a positive revenue flow from one of their activities. I’m sensing the argument from people that for some reason that’s not ok. That red lights might be ok if the timings were changed to reduce the number of tickets so that the program was revenue neutral?

    For me, this is not about money. I would be ok with the program if it was revenue neutral or even lost a bit of money. The fact that we make a bit of money from it doesn’t necessarily make me against the program. The criteria should be if the violations being cited are from incidents that deserve to be fined. In this case, I believe they are.

    Let me ask the converse question. If there’s a traffic patrol officer that is not writing enough tickets to cover his costs, should we tell him he has to write more tickets? If there’s a sub-department in the police department that isn’t generating much revenue should we look to disband it? The fact is that much of the City’s budget goes to keeping our police department running, and we don’t expect a financial return on these expenses. We pay that cost to live in a safe city.

    Let me bring up another odd example. Suppose there’s a drinking establishment where people are known to drive drunk after being there. Say the police could set up a checkpoint and issue many DUI tickets to the point where it’s generating positive revenue. Would people be against the program because it’s making money? Would they ask that we change the legal limit so that less people are fined? Would their attitude change if such a program actually cost the city money? In my opinion, the issue here would be that we have drivers who are creating a dangerous situation. In this scenario, the city should work to resolve the problem whether we generate revenue from it or not.

    For me, the only thing open to debate is the yellow phase timing. The main arguments I’ve heard for increasing yellow times are 1) I wouldn’t have gotten a ticket if these were changed and 2) If we changed these we could reduce the number of tickets we issue, make the program revenue neutral, and negate the argument that it’s all about the money. Neither of these is compelling to me. If someone could demonstrate that there’s a real increase in safety by increasing yellow times (vs. an all red phase), or that the City’s timings are set unfairly, then I might be swayed on this matter.

    I’m always happy to discuss issues with people who know how to treat one another with mutual respect. We all can learn a lot from respectful debate.

    I’m not sure what the future of this message board is. I can see BANG’s attitude that it’s not a money maker for them, so they won’t put much time nor effort into it. It’s still sad to see that Fremont doesn’t have a good place to discuss its issues.

  2. 1.) Data re repeat offenses is fascinating. I’ve NEVER read this kind of data from any other source in this debate. That our city has completed a comprehensive study of this behavior would be fascinating to know more about. At the same time – I’m also reminded of the occasion when in council chambers, one of our traffic engineers clearly stated that yellow light durations COULD NOT BE ADJUSTED. We were – in that moment – in a similarly rarified company of municipalities. . . that same traffic engineer correct his statement a few meetings later . . . If there is data, and a study, and a control group and a statistically significant sample – I’d be interested in knowing more. In the absence of this kind of detail – I am going to chalk this statement up to interesting hearsay. By comparison, the data that I’ve sighted is well documented and available for scrutiny. I’d invite others to do similarly.

    2.) Not sure where you concluded that there is some conflict with PD’s generating revenue. No one in his/her right mind could argue that point. Heck, I’ve even argued we SHOULD bill for residential false alarms – – – but, for some reason, we’re told we can’t do so on this front – – – but I digress.
    There *is* an ethical concern -and for more clarity on that front – please read this one article – the first page or two will make the point


    3.) This IS indeed about the question of yellow light timing. The argument is NOT as you have stated (e.g., opponents are only interested in not getting caught). The argument IS that a singular state mandated minimum time does not work (according to the independent experts) for every intersection. Only those who have financial skin in the game (see point 2. above) argue the state mandated minimums. Further, because there is financial incentive cities have a strong incentive to game the system to their benefit (like resting on the laurels of a single state-mandated minimum yellow duration as being “good enough”)
    For more about an approach to the determination of yellow light timing as recommended by those who DO NOT have financial skin in this gambit – please read this one article –

    Please note that vehicle approach speeds used in the determination of proper yellow light timing IS NOT the same as posted speed limit(s).
    Also please note that a single state mandated minimum plus a 1-second “all red” is potentially as flawed as the original state minimum. The POINT IS that every intersection is different (according to the ITE) and proper signal timing is unique to that intersection and prevailing traffic patterns at that intersection. Those who argue to the contrary are guilty of broad generalization. For clues as to why we would be so willing to broadly generalize – please see previous concerns re financial gain.

  3. P.S. – re the TCB and its future – the funny thing is that BANG appears to have recently put some serious effort into a major redesign.
    Focus of the redesign appears to have been in the direction of optimizing the site for mobile devices. The bad news is that – thus far – the efforts of whoever this process has been outsourced to have been a pretty big miss.
    Case in point – the mobile layout is almost useless – you have no way to see recent comments. The workaround is to opt out and use the handy link to the standard browser version of the site (look way down at the bottom of each page when you’re in the mobile version) BUUUUT which only works 50% of the time.
    Curiously, the redesign SHOULD have reduced the page-load times as the original site is far more graphic intensive BUT – for whatever reasons the upload times in the new site have – not infrequently – been terrible. (BTW – I make this statement based on experience accessing the site from many different networks and devices).
    So – BANG appears to have put forth some serious time and effort to make the site more widely accessible (to mobile devices) In the process, upload times have gotten worse, the mobile version they are hoping more people will use is pretty lame from a regular user/blogger perspective, both sites (desktop and mobile device) are now unreliable and intermittent, and, – to top it all off – the historical content was lost in the transition.
    I’m sure someone someplace is scratching their heads over declining readership and trying to understand why the company is losing subscriptions and readership and eyeballs and click thru’s . . . to which I would respond – “Dude – take a moment and view your product and/or service thru the eyes of your customers. Your problems have NOTHING whatsoever to do with what your competition is doing.”

  4. Vinnie, All I hear is a Politician protecting a source of revenue for the City…..

  5. Right now . . . .the only counter-arguments have been interesting anecdotes which fly in the face of recommendations and/or conclusions by those who don’t have any economic gain. The only data that has been alluded to is unique in its claim(s) and undocumented at this point. I’ll hope there’s more – but, at this moment – I’m concluding exactly as Bill.

  6. Of course, I am not in favor of the City issuing unreasonable fines or fees. On the other hand, I’m not going to suggest that the City drop a source of revenue just because some people have cited their opposition to it. In this case, I’ve researched the issue with an open mind and decided that the fines issued are reasonable.

    Almost all of the red light camera opponents I know are those that have received a ticket and were upset about the fine. One of the national red light camera opponents I’ve talked with confirmed that most people he deals with are only concerned about getting their fine rescinded, and that they go away once that’s dealt with. For many of those advocating a ban on red light cameras, it is indeed all about the money.

    While you and others have shown the potential for cities to use improper timings as a way to get more revenue, I haven’t seen a concrete argument that Fremont is using improper yellow signal times. A while back I asked Roger Jones if Marty’s claim that Fremont had the shortest yellow times among neighboring cities had any merit. I never received a reply.

    My understanding is that the City uses the standard yellow times (as specified in the MUTCD) and rounds up to the nearest second. That seems reasonable to me. While you’ve mentioned the difference between observed speed and posted speed, and that each individual intersection should be analyzed independently, I’ve never seen specific evidence that a single traffic light in Fremont is timed improperly.

  7. None of us have access to the information necessary to make a claim of improper timing. How could we confirm or refute?

    So, we have no choice but to trust those who do have access to that information.
    Unfortunately – trust – is quickly eroded by the presence of a financial motive.

    Lack of trust is seemingly confirmed (for the moment) when we hear engineers making statements such as “…. it’s not possible to change …” yellow light timing.

    I’ve never been sited for running a red light – by a camera or otherwise.

  8. I believe that Roger Jones has been provided with all of the signal timings within the City of Fremont.

    I don’t know about that statement that you mention. Obviously, that’s not true. If someone did say something stupid, that doesn’t mean the whole program is bad.

    I trust your motivations and agree with you on most issues. I did say ‘almost all’ of the camera opponents had been fined. Maybe that wasn’t fair and I should have said ‘most’ instead. My apologies.

  9. The duration of currently assigned yellows BY THEMSELVES are useless – if, that is, the context of what is “proper” is a formula such as that which is prescribed by the ITE and which consists of several variables.
    If you ascribe to the recommendations of this independent organization, then, I think you need the traffic studies upon which to establish average speeds, sight lines, etc. – to FIRST, establish what a PROPER yellow for that intersection would be – – – and THEN you compare the existing programmed durations.
    But – here’s the question, Vinnie – why are you and I having this debate? Why am *I* explaining how we SHOULD establish yellow light durations. Why wasn’t this all part of the discussion presented to Council? Instead – (I’ve watched it a couple times now) – when asked about yellow light duration, we got the “we cant change it” answer – case closed. No mas. Nobody corrected the statement later and there was no further discussion. We swept it under the carpet. There it lays.
    But, trust us – everything is fine.

  10. If Vinnie was a paid lobbyist for REDFLEX, would His words be any different??? As far as the Red Light Camera’s

  11. While – to this point in the discussion – I agree with you, Bill . . . I also think it’s really important to make another point.

    While I – for the most part – disagree with Vinnie’s position on this issue, I have inifinite respect for his willingness to do what no other Council member has been willing to do – – – engage constituency in very public and uncontrolled discussion and debate.

    To be willing to expose ones self to the potential ravages of this kind of venue takes real courage . . . . something that, thus far, the others can only aspire to.

  12. Quality of life will be destroyed by plan

    The best kept secret in Newark is the general plan tuneup, given that name so the public will think the general plan is unimportant. The tuneup envisions a city with 60,000 residents, gridlocked traffic; multistory, high-density housing, limited public transportation, reduced public parkland and overcrowded schools.

    The tuneup offers no protection for the library and community center, both built by an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright. They could be demolished. The plan proposes a new city hall. The current one is closed two Fridays a month due to budget constraints. The city wants houses built on at least 14 feet of fill in a flood-hazard zone.

    The city wants to develop the Dumbarton Rail area while stating there will be no train or public transportation. No provisions for students in the increased population scenario. No sites set aside for new schools.

    Attend the City Council work session at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10. The time ensures low attendance. Email your council members and tell them the so-called tuneup will destroy our quality of life.
    Written by Margaret Lewis

  13. Boxie… Vinnie is for sure *uncontrolled* is his sanctimony. The best thing Bacon could do for Fremont is resign form the city council before he does more damage!

  14. P.S. re the current status of the TCB. . . .

    1.) Over the course of the last three days, having tried from multiple devices and networks, I am unable to obtain a complete upload of the page normally found at –
    WHen it tries to load the “new” version I get about a 1/2 page load – partial or non-existent scroll bars and “load with errors” warnings – occasionally. The page never loads far enough to get the TCB link.
    2.) When accessing the mobile version in Safari, I’ve tried repeatedly to post comments but am unable to authenticate my Disqus login and PW – which is the same as I’m using now . . in all fairness, this problem manifests itself on a single mobile device. I might be convinced its some setting in my device but I’ve been able to successfully post – – in the past. No settings have changed – ALTHOUGH the iOS 7 update was recently installed.

  15. I regularly see problems where it’s giving me the mobile version when viewing from a standard browser.

    I think the far bigger issue is that there hasn’t been a new post in over two weeks and, so far, there are a total of four people that have posted here.

  16. Perhaps you could garner more than four people if you’d do your job and deliver a site that possessed a modicum of reliability. It isn’t too hard to do.

  17. I’ve tried to post – repeatedly – and couldn’t do so for reasons relating to poor administration of the site. I’m probably more persistent then most. How many others just gave up?

  18. Fremont begins issuing camera tickets to those who are as little as 1/10th of a second late to the limit line. Even when the yellow light is set not in accordance with the 85th percentile speed of traffic but according to an arbitrarily lowered speed limit. This is a “back door” speeding ticket. Speed cameras are illegal in California. What valuable lesson are we telling people who get a ticket for being a fraction of a second late? That they should have “above average” reaction/perception times? Wikipedia says a :”blink of an eye” takes 1/10th to 4/10th’s second. Anyone approaching a RLC intersection should be warned: DO NOT BLINK.

  19. Fremont issues 9,000 camera tickets each year and that number is not coming down. And only 10 of over 700 signalized approaches are monitored. Most tickets go to inadvertent violators who do not pose a risk and who are needlessly trapped in the dilemma zone. If technology advances make it cheaper to install cameras, there could be no limit to the number of similar tickets being issued. 100,000 per year, or more. $50 million per year taken out of the economy. If $5 million per year is being sucked out of motorists’ pockets now, then wouldn’t it follow that $50 million would be a much better idea.

  20. Vinnie, 3 of 10 of Fremont’s yellow lights are improperly timed. The speed limit was lowered by reasons not allowed and thus the yellow lights were set for a slower speed of traffic. It makes sense that the yellow light should allow motorists the appropriate time to react and stop. Now if Fremont used its standard (even if arbitrary) formula of rounding to the next highest 1/2 second increment, then these RLC approaches would be 4.5 seconds and not 4.0 seconds:
    Decoto at Paseo Padre
    Mowry at Blacow
    Mowry at Farwell
    Over 50% of tickets are issued in that missing 1/2 second of yellow time. Now if the yellow light was set for the actual speed of traffic 2,000 fewer tickets would be issued each year. 2,000 “lessons” are needlessly given to offending motorists. $1,000,000 per year in fines and fees being paid each year. Yes, people complain about this. Are they just whining or do they have a legitimate complaint.?

  21. Are Fremont’s yellow lights shorter than neighboring cities? Yes and No. Newark has added 7/10’s to the yellows at each of its photo enforced approaches. Very few straight through violations. Cedar northbound at Mowry for example, about 2 or 3 potential violations per month. Mowry at Farwell (just on the other side of 880) – about 225 per month. (I kid you not – 100 times more). This is real evidence, not conjecture, not anecdotal evidence, on the impact on how a slightly longer yellow light reduces red light running. Emeryville used 8/10’s but could not generate the revenue through tickets too pay Redflex. Oakland added one second for a 4-6 month period and violations were reduced by such a margin that they were not going to generate the revenue necessary to pay Redflex. Oakland shaved off that one second just to increase violations.

    It is the Cities who play the “money card” When these camera proposals are made to city councils, they are assured they will be “cost neutral.” That means the income to the city in fine revenue will exceed expenses. You do NOT hear that argument when the police want to hire new officers. The city does NOT say the new officers will “EARN” their keep.

  22. At 8 of Fremont’s 10 camera monitored approaches, the yellow lights are set at 1/10th or 2/10’s above what Fremont calls the legal minimum. The other 2 are set 7/10’s longer than the minimum. A WHOPPING 7/10’s of second. There is no downside. No. People do not push the envelope. No. There is no rebound effect (I should mention that at one of these approaches there was over a 70% reduction in straight through violations). People do not know the yellow light is longer. How can I reasonably say such a thing? Because the Fremont officer who viewed all videos of violations did not EVEN know the light had been lengthened for over 4 months. He may not have ever known. He only knew of the change because he read about it in the paper.
    In a world where police and city councils might be interested in such outstanding results in reducing red light running, there has been NONE. Even if they believed their own argument that lengthening of a yellow light is not good, have they ever protested to Caltrans (the entity which made the change)? NO.

  23. Here is a short video about the dilemma zone (decision point) and yellow light times.


    A cop on the corner would find it nearly impossible to issue a ticket for “running the red” by 1/10th of a second. It takes longer than that to divert one’s eyes from the limit line to the signal light. Yet this is done many times each month.

    I particularly like the argument that in addition to a PHOTO ENFORCED sign, there should be one which says DO NOT BLINK. Wikipedia says a blink takes 1/10th to 4/10ths seconds. If one blinks when the light turns yellow and you are at the decision point you will run the red unless you brake harder or somehow have quicker than average reaction times.

  24. The way the city of Fremont is administrating the Red Light Camera Program is, Unethical. I am wondering about the Integrity of the Council Members supporting it.

  25. Why is Vinnie now refering to himself as the Alameda Republican?

  26. Say what you will but we can all agree that Bacon is the only the council member that “means bussiness”…NOT!

  27. I’m sure it’s total coincidence. . . . but, right about the same time someone figured out how to make this thing work right more often than not – the frequency of new posts went thru the roof.
    Pent up demand perhaps?

  28. if appellate courts in county after county say the process is wrong, if the second circuit court says the process by which these tickets are prosecuted is unconstitutional, and, if the cities do it anyway — that’s unethical…particularly because they’re making money.

  29. 500 dollars is reasonable? not when you’re already behind on your rent, and you already can’t afford to replace lightbulbs or buy medicine and your car don’t run.

  30. Quality of life will be destroyed by plan

    The best kept secret in Newark is the general plan tuneup, given that name so the public will think the general plan is unimportant. The tuneup envisions a city with 60,000 residents, gridlocked traffic; multistory, high-density housing, limited public transportation, reduced public parkland and overcrowded schools.

    The tuneup offers no protection for the library and community center, both built by an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright. They could be demolished. The plan proposes a new city hall. The current one is closed two Fridays a month due to budget constraints. The city wants houses built on at least 14 feet of fill in a flood-hazard zone.

    The city wants to develop the Dumbarton Rail area while stating there will be no train or public transportation. No provisions for students in the increased population scenario. No sites set aside for new schools.

    Attend the City Council work session at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10. The time ensures low attendance. Email your council members and tell them the so-called tuneup will destroy our quality of life.
    Written by Margaret Lewis

  31. This whole idea that Red Light Cameras nab the bad drivers and serve to change driver behavior sounds nice but is not true.
    There are 4 cameras focused on Mowry Ave.
    Let’s look at July 2013, a fairly typical month…

    #1 at Fremont Blvd (E/B) – 38 straight through potential violations.
    #2 at Blacow Rd (E/B) 111 potential Straight Thru’s
    #3 at Farwell (W/B) 284 potential Straight Thru’s
    #4 at Cedar (W/B in Newark) 13 potential Straight Thru’s. (That is corrrect: Thirteen, only ! !)

    Are bad drivers gravitating to Farwell and heading to Hwy 880 and avoiding Cedar Blvd? Are the bad drivers going West (Farwell) twice as numerous as those going East? (Blacow).
    I would say there could be numerous reasons and they all have to do with how well engineered the intersections are and not how good or bad the drivers are. Of course, the number one engineering difference is the length of the yellow light. But who ever said the goal of photo enforcement was to reduce red light running? The most common reason given is to change driver behavior (i.e. punish). Never is revenue given as a reason.

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