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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Audi gets first permit to test self-driving cars on California roads


By David Undercoffler, September 16, 2014

Think twice next time you tailgate that new Audi in front of you; there might not be a human driving it.

Audi announced Tuesday that it is the first automaker to get a permit from the state of California to test self-driving cars on public roads. New state regulations took effect the same day specifically allowing such testing for the first time in California, per a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012.

“Audi is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from science fiction to pre-production readiness,” Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, said in a statement. “Obtaining the first permit issued by the state of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in this vital technology frontier.”

The German automaker is one of many that have already started testing self-driving technology elsewhere. Others include Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford, GM; many expect to have such vehicles on the road by 2020.
By 2025, as many as 230,000 new autonomous vehicles a year could hit the roads around the world. That number could swell to 11.8 million a decade later, according to a study released by IHS Automotive.

California is one of four states in the U.S. that now allow automakers to test self-driving cars on public roads. Michigan, Florida and Nevada also allow it. Gov. Brown was keen to put California at the forefront of such testing when he signed the law in September 2012. 

“Autonomous vehicles are another example of how California’s technological leadership is turning today’s science fiction into tomorrow’s reality,” Brown said at the time. “This law will allow California’s pioneering engineers to safely test and implement this amazing new technology.”

The regulations going into effect today place strict guidelines on the car, its manufacturer and the human pilot testing it.

The automaker must put up a $5 million bond against a failure to pay any claims resulting in an accident, have a net worth of at least $5 million, train anyone who will be in the car’s driver seat and have tested the self-driving car in a simulated environment before putting it on public roads.
The car itself needs to be registered as a self-driving car with the DMV, and be capable of driving like a normal car when the self-driving system is turned off.

The driver must be an employee of the automaker, be a licensed driver for a minimum of three years, have a clean driving record and be sober and seated in the driver’s seat at all times.

Like an eager 16-year-old with a new license, Audi isn’t wasting any time putting its new permit to use. The automaker already has a specially-equipped A7 autonomous car in the San Francisco area that it plans to begin testing immediately.

CTC Reception in Glendale

The California Transportation Commission will be meeting in Glendale in October. There is a reception on Oct. 8. Admission is free, but you must register ahead of time. Here is the link to the registration site:


Event Details

Please join us on October 8th to help us welcome the California Transportation Commissioners to the City of Glendale for their October meeting. The reception will provide networking opportunities with CTC Commissioners and staff, Caltrans Headquarters and District staff, and transportation programming and delivery agencies from around the state.


$500: Includes logo on event marketing
$250 (small businesses nonprofits only): Includes company name on event marketing
Contact Jenny Larios to sponsor at jlarios@mobility21.com or 949-288-6884

How to Improve 3-Foot Passing Laws


By Brad Aaron, September 16, 2014

After a couple of vetoes by Governor Jerry Brown, California finally has a 3-foot passing law.
As of June, 24 states plus the District of Columbia have such a law, which requires drivers to give cyclists a minimum buffer of 3 feet when passing from behind. With California’s law in effect as of today, Rick Bernardi of Bob Mionske’s bike law blog says 3-foot laws are good for cycling, but could be improved.

There's room to improve 3-foot passing laws, like the one that takes effect in California today. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/7000434589/in/set-72157629263668356/##SF Bike Coalition/Flickr##
There’s room to improve 3-foot passing laws, like the one that took effect in California today.

Bernardo points out that some laws, including California’s, provide exceptions for drivers that weaken cyclist protections. Minimum passing distances should be commensurate with motorist speed, he says, and intentional “buzzing” should be criminalized.

The law should also make collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass, Bernardi writes.
When drivers collide with a cyclist while passing, they will often attempt to shift the blame to the cyclist: “The cyclist came out of nowhere” is one common explanation for a crash. “The cyclist suddenly swerved into my path” is another commonly heard explanation. If the cyclist is seriously injured or killed, the driver’s explanation may be the only explanation we hear. More often than not, when a driver says that the pass was “safe” but the cyclist did something that doesn’t make any sense, it really means that the driver wasn’t paying attention, or was passing too close. But under the law, injured cyclists must prove that the driver’s pass was unsafe. 3 foot laws can be strengthened by making collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass. This means that when a driver is passing a cyclist and a collision results, the law would presume that the pass was too close. The driver could still rebut this presumption with evidence to show that the pass was not too close, but now the burden of proof would be where it properly belongs — on the driver who has the responsibility to pass at a safe distance.
Also on the Network today: Streets.MN says investing in transit for “millennials” and “millennials” alone is a bad idea, and the Wash Cycle takes a tour of the Capital Bikeshare warehouse.

Almost Every Way Of Getting To Work Besides Driving Is Better For Your Mental Health

Ending your terrible car commute is about equivalent to getting married or having a baby, in terms of improved well-being.


By Sydney Brownstone, September 16, 2014

Commutes set the tone for the day. Even if you wake up to a team of cheerful woodland creatures who will help you bathe and dress, a commute can make or break the mood. A new study finds, however, that commutes can have larger impacts than half an hour of grumpiness; they also likely affect your overall mental health.

Three researchers who tracked more than 17,000 British commuters in surveys over a period of 18 years found that those with active modes of transportation fared better on a scale of well-being.

Where an extra 10 minutes of commute time actually increased well-being levels in walkers, an extra 10 minutes of commute time decreased psychological wellness for drivers. When drivers switched to walking or biking, their psychology improved. Riding on public transit was also associated with higher levels of wellness.

The latest study is pretty consistent with other findings that show walking or biking to work is better for your physical health. But it reminds us that commuting has mental health consequences, too. Earlier this year, researchers published a study showing that drivers tend to perceive their environments more negatively than cyclists or pedestrians.

Some of the effects of switching from driving to active travel were so significant, in fact, that they mirrored the effects of other life changes like switching jobs, getting married, or having a baby. Instead of answering "no" to a question like, "Do you enjoy living in your neighborhood?" those who had made the switch started answering "yes."

"One of the main messages [of the study] is because it’s about travel to work, which everyone does, if only we could persuade a small proportion of them to make that switch, there would be a massive improvement of well-being at a national level," says lead author and University of East Anglia medical school researcher Adam Martin.

More research is needed, however, on the mechanism that makes drivers so dour. “This view complements existing evidence of a negative association between driving and physical health, and is consistent with the hypothesis that car driving (a non-passive travel mode that requires constant concentration) can give rise to boredom, social isolation, and stress,” the researchers, who published their work in Preventive Medicine, write. “Together, these results appear to suggest that avoiding car driving may be beneficial to well-being.”