Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, December 23, 2013

Electric car sharing may be the perfect solution for Chinese cities

http://www.treehugger.com/cars/electric-car-sharing-may-be-perfect-solution-chinese-cities.html

By Lloyd Alter, December 23, 2013

The air pollution in Chinese cities is legendary; when I was there recently you could barely see across Tiananmen Square. The traffic is like none North Americans have ever seen as well; Six rings of highways in Beijing, every road completely jammed with cars at all hours of the day. Then there is the problem of parking all those cars, there is just nowhere to put them all.



That's why this car sharing system from Kandi Technologies Group makes so much sense. KTG makes a little Smart-car like electric car that can go 75 miles at up to 50 MPH. They store the cars in giant vertical vending machines that deliver the car on demand. They rent for $3.25 per hour.

It is modelled after Hangzhou's bike share system, the largest in the world. People aspire to an enclosed vehicle that can carry their families and stuff safely instead of piling on to scooters. The cities are dense enough to support vending machines close enough to where people live.


Film Maker Aaron Rockett describes how the system will grow.
Kandi's plan is to build with both Government and "outside" support, 750 of these garages in just the City of Hangzhou over the next four years through a 50-50 joint venture with Geely Automotive, China's largest passenger automaker, which would require some 100,000 Kandi electric vehicles to stock them. This model is slated to spread to other cities and regions like Shanghai, Shandong, and Hainan. Two garages were just completed in Hangzhou over the past two months and another 18 are currently under construction

The Biggest World Cities To Scale... Guess Who's Are The Sprawliest?

http://urbantimes.co/2013/12/the-biggest-world-cities-to-scale-guess-whos-are-the-sprawliest/

December 2013


 The, Biggest, World, Cities, To, Scale, Guess, Who, s, Are, The, Sprawliest, City Planning, Infographic




54 major world cities, head-to-head. USA and Eastern Asia show their urban might.

I wish I could tell you that there is a diverse range of continents represented in the top 10, or even top 20, of those, but I can’t. There is a great over-representation from the USA (~9) and Asia (~6), which leaves only five left for the remaining five continents.

As we get to the smaller sized urban areas, in the region of 0-25 square miles, the sheer number of Asian cities comes to the fore. The city mapping below was done by Matt Hartzel, who had to eye-ball some of the cities’ formations:

matthartzell.blogspot.co.uk
matthartzell.blogspot.co.uk

If we now order this by population, there seems to be little logical correlation with American cities.

The likes of Miami, Atlanta and New York show a stark contrast in the way that the metropolitan areas grow when compared to other continents. Karachi is incredibly tightly defined given its population size, the same with New Delhi, Jakarta and Dhaka. Tokyo is the major exception in Asia.
Here they are ordered by population size (again from Matt Hartzell):

matthartzell.blogspot.co.uk
matthartzell.blogspot.co.uk

But how anomalous are American cities compared to the rest of the world?

This is covered by Matt too. Take Atlanta (with a metropolitan area of ~8,376 square miles). Then take Karachi, Chengdu, Jakarta, Chongqing, Cairo, Xi’an, Dhaka and Jinan (with a combined population of around 100 million people).
Lay them on top of one another…
matthartzell.blogspot.co.uk
matthartzell.blogspot.co.uk

And now a few words on methodology. As with all maps and statistics, these should be taken with several grains of salt. The goal here was to create a simple infographic for broad comparative purposes. To create the footprints themselves, I used satellite imagery to physically trace the boundaries of the built-up area of each city’s greater urban area. These footprints do not correspond to administrative boundaries. They are based purely on the divide between urban and rural land use. Which, at times, can be a very subjective task. I included low density suburban housing tracts within my urban footprints (hence the size of the US cities). I included dense built up areas which weren’t connected to the main contiguous urban area but were within its periphery (examples: Moscow, Frankfurt). I excluded rural areas, farmland, villages, or large urban parks. Obviously, simplification was necessary. [Source]

Streetsie Awards People’s Choice: Vote for the Best and Worst of 2013

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/12/20/streetsie-awards-peoples-choice-vote-for-the-best-and-worst-of-2013/

By Tanya Snyder, December 20, 2013

 streetsie_2013




We’ve been very restrained all year, people. Out there in the world, people were doing crazy things and amazing things, and all year we have refrained from giving out cheeky awards for awesomeness or idiocy.

Well all right, we may have accidentally given out a few cheeky awards along the way — worst intersection (Omaha), worst parking crater (Tulsa), most insipid motor mouth (St. Louis County’s David Wrone). But by and large, we have been truly demure.

Time to take the muzzle off. What did we think of 2013, Streetsblog community? Here we tell the bozos what we thought of their shenanigans and take our hats off to the sustainable-streets heroes out there.

Cast your votes by midnight on New Year’s Eve. When that ball drops, this poll ends. We’ll post the results when we come back to work, January 2.

Until then, we wish you the happiest of holidays.

Most Kick-Ass Grassroots Movement for Livable Streets
Outrage of the Year
Best Place to Tear Down a Highway
Safe Streets Star of the Business Community
There Are So Many Potential Candidates For This Award For State Ineptitude
Most Awesome DIYer of the Year
Issue That Most Needs to Resolve Itself Because We’re Just Really Sick of Talking About It
The Clearest and Most Exciting Evidence that the Country Is Changing
Biggest Bonehead

Why are the Big Three resisting new mileage and emissions standards?


 It is clear the new standards for mileage and emissions are working, and more can easily be done.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-becker-auto-emissions-20131219,0,541688.story#axzz2oK8AZE00

By Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang, December 19, 2013
 
 
 Car exhaust
 
In 2012, fleetwide gas mileage in the U.S. improved 5%. Above, exhaust flows out of a tailpipe in Florida.

One year after automakers began building cars to meet tough new mileage and emissions requirements, it is clear the new standards are working. An in-depth assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency found that manufacturers are on track to deliver a fleet by 2025 that will cut in half the global-warming pollution of cars and save Americans billions of dollars at the pump.

The EPA reported Thursday that the 2012 fleet's mileage increased 1.2 miles per gallon, a roughly 5% jump. That improvement alone will save purchasers of 2012 cars about $1,600 at the pump over the life of a vehicle. And because car engines turn each gallon of gasoline into 25 pounds of carbon dioxide, the improvement will also keep about 4 tons of CO2 per car out of the atmosphere, the EPA estimates.

So why is the auto industry still resisting the new standards?

Virtually all the 2012 improvement came from cars. Automakers failed to shrink SUVs, minivans or pickups or raise their mileage. Overweight and cheaper to build because they lack much of the best technology, trucks achieve worse mileage than cars and spit out more pollution, and the auto companies seem reluctant to change that.

And, once again, American automakers delivered poorer gains in fuel economy than their competitors abroad. The best-performing automakers were Mazda, Honda and Toyota. Nearly all manufacturers improved their gas mileage, but GM and Chrysler improved less than the others and so fell further behind. Ford gained more than its domestic rivals, but its fleetwide fuel economy, like that of its Detroit competitors, is still below the industry average.

Before agreeing to the 13-year federal program, carmakers lobbied successfully to have the government evaluate the program near the midpoint. They called this midterm review their "exit ramp," betraying a hope they might use it to weaken the standards before they are fully implemented. Privately, a top industry advisor has warned that Detroit's Big Three are preparing for "a bloody fight" to weaken the federal standards.

The U.S. auto industry is also balking at standards set by California, the leader among states in fighting global warming.

Under California's requirements, adopted under a waiver from the EPA, about 15% of the fleet sold here in 2025 will have to produce no tailpipe pollution. Seven other states have adopted the California standard, which is intended to increase sales of plug-in electric vehicles and cars powered by fuel cells or other nonpolluting systems. But the Automotive News reports that industry officials continue to fight the plan for zero-emission vehicles behind the scenes.

The industry has also begun lobbying to accelerate California's midterm review, perhaps hoping for a potential exit ramp just as the new rules are taking hold.

The companies continue to make money under the new rules, and they're doing so while more than meeting government mandates. According to the EPA, 28% of this year's cars aren't just meeting current standards, they are hitting the mark for 2016 vehicles.

Meeting higher emissions standards is a matter of auto mechanics, not rocket science. The data show that companies are achieving the early targets even though they've only just begun to deploy their best technology. Three-quarters of 2012's cars and light trucks operated with six gears or more, helping deliver power to the wheels more efficiently. But only 23% of 2012 vehicles employed direct fuel injection, which saves gas by ensuring more complete combustion.

Using gas-saving, high-strength, lightweight materials, automakers have shaved 150 pounds from the average vehicle. But according to Clarence M. Ditlow III, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety — with which our Safe Climate Campaign is affiliated — they should be able to cut at least twice that with no impact on safety.

The EPA's extensive report makes clear that setting ambitious requirements matters. From 1989 to 2007, automakers successfully resisted standards that would mandate significant improvements. But without a government mandate, auto companies continued to churn out antiquated technology and focused on SUVs and other trucks rather than building more efficient cars. Only when the government toughened standards did fuel economy go up and emissions fall.

The auto companies should be celebrating instead of kvetching. They are delivering profits to shareholders and cleaner cars to the public.

The Source’s big, honkin’ 2013 roundup post has landed; take it, it’s yours

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/12/20/the-sources-big-honkin-2013-roundup-post-has-landed-take-it-its-yours/

By Steve Hymon, December 20, 2013


DSC_7522-2



Above is the very nice rainbow seen Thursday afternoon over East Los Angeles and County-USC Medical Center. Will there be a rainbow over Metro in 2014? Stay tuned for that, folks.

As for 2013, here are some of the highlights:
13-2011_map_gm_underconst_may13-1
Metro debuted a new “under construction” map in June, which proceeded to skip happily across the internet. Metro currently has 87 miles of rail lines and that number will pass 100 once the projects shown on the map are completed.

•In February, the ExpressLanes projected opened on the 10 freeway between downtown Los Angeles and the 605 freeway, joining the lanes that had opened on the 110 in Nov. 2012.

Perhaps the big news on the ExpressLanes front was the Metro Board of Director’s decision last spring to suspend account maintenance fees. Although the fees applied to relatively few existing customers at the time, there seemed to be a positive reaction from the public — by late summer more than 200,000 transponders had been issued, twice the number expected before the lanes opened on the 10 and 110.

Next year will be a big one for the ExpressLanes as the Metro Board is scheduled to decide whether to continue the pilot program or not.

In a pronounced nod to transit etiquette, Metro introduced platform decals in February in an effort to get passengers boarding trains to stand aside in order to allow passengers to disembark from the train.

img_31742
The reaction by many Metro customers: that’s nice but what about decals to show people to stand on the right on escalators?

•It was a big year for one of those Metro Rail projects, with the Metro Board of Directors approving a $1.27-billion contract in June to for the final design and construction of the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line light rail line. Earlier in the year, the Board — in a deal brokered by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — had decided to add two optional stations to the project — one serving Leimert Park and the other at Hindry Avenue to serve nearby Westchester.

•The second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension both are about halfway complete with work proceeding smoothly on both of the Measure R-funded projects.

Track work near Overland Avenue earlier this fall. Photo by Expo Line Construction Authority.
Track work near Overland Avenue earlier this fall. Photo by Expo Line Construction Authority.

Work crews working on the bridge over Palm Drive in Azusa. Photo: Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.
Work crews working on the bridge over Palm Drive in Azusa. Photo: Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

•Meanwhile, utility relocation and other exploratory work continued in advanced of construction on the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension subway.

Metro contractors in October looking for tiebacks -- anchors that help support building foundations.
Metro contractors in October looking for tiebacks — anchors that help support building foundations.

•Early in the year, the Board approved a contract to provide cell phone service in underground stations. The contract was recently signed and work will soon begin; complete installation is expected to take 24 months.

•In March, a new ‘share the road’ poster debuted and was widely praised by the cycling community.
A T-shirt with the design on it is available in the new Metro store that opened in December.

13-1362_otd_bike_traffic_safety_30sheet_jl_lo

Metro released draft alternatives for the Los Angeles Union Station master plan in May. In October, the Metro Board approved going forward with a concept that would construct a greatly expanded east-west passenger concourse while relocating the bus plaza to a north-south configuration closer to Alameda Street that would also consolidate many of the bus stops around Union Station. The final master plan is scheduled to be considered by the board in the latter half of 2014.

177866585-20131024rbmitem19handout

Zipcars finally landed at Union Station in March.

Gate latching finally got underway in June, beginning with the Red/Purple Line. By year’s end, five Gold Line and five Blue Line stations were also latched. Gates on the Green Line will be latched in early 2014.

More frequent late night service was added to the Expo, Gold and Orange lines in June.

•Los Angeles got a new mayor on July 1, meaning the Metro Board also got a new member — Mayor Eric Garcetti. He subsequently announced his three appointees to the Board: Councilman Mike Bonin, Councilman Paul Krekorian, and Jackie Dupont-Walker.

•In October, in an introductory video for the annual Mobility 21 conference, Mayor Garcetti said that another transportation ballot measure is possible in Los Angeles County and that connecting Los Angeles International Airport to Metro Rail is among his highest priorities.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZZVZqT5PdY


•In July, Metro released its review of a Beverly Hills Unified School District consultant memo that challenged the agency’s rationale for choosing the Constellation site for the Purple Line Extension ’s Century City station. The gist of it: Metro defended its prior work that determined that Santa Monica Boulevard was an inappropriate location for a subway station due to the location of active earthquake faults.

In the meantime, lawsuits by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District against Metro and the Federal Transit Administration challenging the project’s environmental studies continue to proceed through the courts.

•Rail cars with a new exterior design debuted in August on the Blue and Expo lines.

newexteriordesign_sm1

•Metro held a media event in September in hopes of stopping a rash of suicides along the Blue Line over the past couple of years. Signs were also installed along the Metro Rail system with information on where people could get suicide crisis help.

•Metro staff this fall issued a report that refined the alternatives for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. They are: peak hour bus lanes along the curb of Van Nuys Boulevard, a bus lane in the center of Van Nuys Boulevard, a low-floor light rail line in the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard and a light rail line that would require passenger platforms in the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard. The draft environmental study for the project is expected to be complete in 2014.

•The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project managed to open several components of the project this year, including a 1.7-mile segment of the new northbound carpool lane, the new Wilshire flyover ramps and the new northbound off-ramp to Sunset Boulevard – just this past week — the new Mulholland Bridge, the direct descendent of Carmageddon I and II.

The new eastbound Wilshire to northbound 405 flyover on-ramp. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.
The new eastbound Wilshire to northbound 405 flyover on-ramp. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The new Mulholland Bridge. Photo by Dave Sotero/Metro.
The new Mulholland Bridge. Photo by Dave Sotero/Metro.

•In November, a Metro Board committee discussed the need for fare restructuring, which is expected to be formally proposed and considered in the first half of 2014. Among options that agency staff discussed are unlimited rides on a single fare for a certain time period (for example, an hour or 90 minutes), different fares for peak and off-peak hours and a simplified zone structure and/or offering flat fares for zoned buses.

And that’s pretty much the highlights as the sun sets on 2013 — please leave a comment if I left anything significant out.

A profound thank you to everyone for reading, riding and writing us with your questions, concerns and comments this past year. After our usual holiday breather, we’re looking forward to explaining what YOUR government is doing in 2014.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,

Steve

A lovely November evening as seen from the Metro mothership. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.
A lovely November evening as seen from the Metro mothership. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Wi-Fi Doesn't Just Enhance Amtrak — It May Actually Encourage New Riders

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2013/12/wi-fi-doesnt-just-enhance-amtrak-it-may-actually-encourage-new-riders/7950/

By Eric Jaffe, December 23, 2013


Wi-Fi Doesn't Just Enhance Amtrak — It May Actually Encourage New Riders

Last week, Amtrak announced that it's expanding its free Wi-Fi service, known as AmtrakConnect, to eight corridors in the Midwest. These routes carried more than 3 million people in fiscal 2013, and one of them, the Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis, made Amtrak's biggest relative ridership gain for the year, up nearly 10 percent [PDF]. All told, free Wi-Fi coverage now reaches about 85 percent of Amtrak passengers.

As travelers increasingly see the train as a sort of mobile office, free Wi-Fi becomes less of an amenity and more of an essential service. Until travel times themselves improve, Amtrak's ability to offer more productive travel time, at least compared with driving or flying, represents one of its chief competitive advantages.

Indeed, there's some evidence that AmtrakConnect serves as a tool to recruit new riders. A research team led by transport scholar Patricia Mokhtarian recently considered that possibility after Amtrak installed free Wi-Fi on its Capitol Corridor in California, which travels between San Jose and Sacramento. At the time, Amtrak indicated that even a 1 to 2 percent jump in ridership would have made the investment worthwhile.

Mokhtarian's team concluded that Amtrak had met this goal and likely exceeded it. In one analysis, based on on-board surveys, the researchers calculated that Wi-Fi was responsible for a 2.9 percent jump in trips. A separate model based on trip data estimated a similar Wi-Fi boost (2.7 percent) — with AmtrakConnect much more important to new or low-frequency riders (expected to make 8.6 and 6.2 percent more trips due to Wi-Fi, respectively) than to regular riders (1 percent).

Those findings are encouraging (if somewhat speculative), but Amtrak's bigger problem is that in a short time its free Wi-Fi service has acquired a reputation for being extremely unreliable. Some of this is the type of unreasonable demand placed on the world that Louis C.K. describes in his famous "everything's amazing and nobody's happy" rant. Some of it is a projection of Amtrak's broader reputation — marginally real, mostly perceived — for clumsy service.

Fair or not, Amtrak has to deal with that problem. It's certainly trying. Its broadband technology was recently upgraded to improve Wi-Fi speed and reliability in select corridors. Anecdotally, in the Northeast Corridor, that effort has made things better, though service remains spotty at times and certain activities (e.g. video stream and large downloads) are still restricted so individual users can't monopolize the service.

A legitimate fear is that, at some point, poor on-board Wi-Fi might cancel out whatever ridership gains the service attracts. In that sense, Amtrak is wise to see Wi-Fi as a key low-cost investment — especially until federal funding catches up with more substantial needs regarding track upgrades and food operations and long-distance costs. It would be even wiser to do everything in its financial power to make sure the service works well.

A Paris Metro Car, Gift-Wrapped

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/12/paris-metro-car-gift-wrapped-holidays/7949/

By Feargus O'Sullivan, December 23, 2013




 A Paris Metro Car, Gift-Wrapped


A French artists’ collective gave the people of a Paris an unexpected Christmas present late last week: a giftwrapped metro train.  Armed with rolls of wrapping paper and tape, a group from production company Sisaprod descended on the Paris Metro’s Line 8 on Friday morning. Smothering every surface in fuchsia-colored paper, within minutes the group had transformed a car into a festive photo opportunity. The purpose of the action? Simply “to enjoy ourselves and to give other people pleasure,” according to Sisaprod lynchpin Clea Polar.

Sisaprod have ambitions to take things further next time. “If RATP [Paris’ metro authority] want to do a project with us, then we could decorate an entire train” Polar told French site Itélé. Alas, it seems Paris transport bosses don’t share their enthusiasm. As soon as staff realized what had happened, the train was taken out of service and stripped back to its normal un-festive state.


As curious commuters look on, the artists set to work.


Members of Sisaprod wrap a pole inside a car of Paris's Line 8 metro.


A gift-wrapped corner. 





The finished train, wrapped in brightly colored paper. 

11 Reasons Why Bicycling in the U.S. Is Exceptionally Dangerous

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/12/11-reasons-why-bicycling-us-exceptionally-dangerous/7953/

By Matt Phillips, December 23, 2013





 11 Reasons Why Bicycling in the U.S. Is Exceptionally Dangerous


It’s great for the environment. It’s salubrious. And it’s good, clean fun.

However, how safe it is varies considerably from country to country, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the club of the world’s more developed nations. And of the OECD’s 34 members, Americans are not only among the world’s least avid cyclists; they are also among the most likely to get killed. Here are a few interesting—if morbid—takeaways. Pedal safely!

OECD
  • Roughly “17% of all cycling fatalities were involved in a hit-and-run crash in which one (or several) of their crash opponents fled the scene (2005-2011, FARS) – presumably the motorist(s). This is nearly four times the rate of hit-and-run involvement for all recorded traffic fatalities over the same period in the United States (4%).”
  • “Investigating officers on the scene of fatal bicycle crashes in the United States found no contributory factor on the part of the motorist in 46% of cases.”
  • “An overwhelming majority of fatal bicycle crashes occur in dry or clear atmospheric conditions – 94% in the USA and 87% in Europe.”
  • “One quarter of (deceased) cyclists for which an alcohol test was performed returned blood alcohol values above 0.08 mg/ltr which constitutes a drink-driving offense in all 50 US states.”
  • “In the United States, most fatal bicycle-vehicle collisions involved a passenger car or light truck  (Sports Utility Vehicle) though 10% of fatal bicycle collisions involved a large truck.”
OECD
  • “In the United States, 36% of all fatal bicycle crashes for the period 2005-2011 occurred in junctions with another 4% in driveways (commercial and private) most likely caused by entering or exiting motor vehicles.”
  • “In the United States, the share of fatal bicycle crashes occurring in low-speed zones was lower than in Europe – possibly because low-speed traffic calmed zones are relatively less common in the United States.”
  • “In the United States, 27% of deceased cyclists for which helmet use was recorded wore helmets in 2010 and 2011.”
  • “Red light running by cyclists … is an often-cited contributory factor in fatal and serious injury bicycle crashes (at least in the United States).”
  • “Motorists were charged with traffic violations in nearly one third of all fatal bicycle crashes and investigating officers identified a crash-contributing factor on the part of the motorist in over half of all fatal bicycle crashes.”
  • “Data from the United States indicate that cyclists were imputed with an improper action in 68% of fatal bicycle crashes (though, as noted earlier, this may be biased as the cyclist was not able to give their version of events).”