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

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ed Murray Has Extremely Vague Plan B For Bertha Boondoggle



  Bertha in gingerbread form.

The first step of dealing with boondoggles is to admit that you have a problem. And since Seattle has itself a first-class boondoggle in Bertha, Seattleites have been waiting for someone with some semblance of authority to make that admission. Furthermore, they're waiting to hear what, if anything, we're going to do with the mess if Bertha fails in her mission. Finally, Mayor Ed Murray has answered those questions.

"Whether it's a tunnel, or whether it's some other type of tunnel or some other type of arrangement that we come up with for the central waterfront, the important thing is we find a way to make this corridor work."

So to review, Seattle is either going to end up with...
a) A tunnel
b) Some other type of tunnel
c) Some other type of arrangement

Got it! Thanks, Ed.

· Mayor Murray Has Some Vague Plans for Dealing With the Bertha Mess! Which of Them Is Best? [SLOG]
· Seattle Tunnel Tops "Highway Boondoggles" List [SLOG]
· All Bertha coverage [CS]

Why Sweden Has the World's Safest Roads

Sweden has rebuilt roads to prioritize safety over speed.


By Zainab Mudallal, December 31, 2014

 Image Mr Thinktank / Flickr

What safe roads look like.
Sweden is on its way to reaching zero road deaths per year. It’s an incredible feat, coming from a peak in road deaths in the 1970s. In 1997, Sweden implemented its now-famed “Vision Zero” plan in hopes of eradicating all road deaths and injuries, and it has already cut the deaths by half since 2000. In 2012, just one child under seven years old was killed on a road, compared with 58 in 1970.

The Economist earlier this year took a look at the data: the number of cars on the road and the distance driven have doubled since the 70s, yet just 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden last year, a record low. That represents just three deaths per 100,000 people, and compares to 5.5 in the European Union and 11.4 in the US. (See this European Commission report for additional data.)
How has Sweden done it? “We are going much more for engineering than enforcement,” Matts-Åke Belin, a government traffic safety strategist, told CityLab recently.

Sweden has rebuilt roads to prioritize safety over speed and other considerations. This includes the creation of “2 + 1″ roads, three-lane streets consisting of two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other; the extra lane alternates between directions to allow for passing. That design saved roughly 145 lives during the first 10 years of Vision Zero, according to the Economist.

 Sweden has also created 12,600 safer pedestrian crossings with features such as bridges, flashing lights, and speed bumps. That’s estimated to have halved pedestrian deaths over the past five years. The country has lowered speed limits in urban, crowded areas and built barriers to protect bikers from incoming traffic. A crackdown on drunk driving has also helped.

Others are studying the Swedish model. New York has also adopted a Vision Zero plan, which includes the implementation of slow zones and increased police enforcement of speeding laws. As a result, it’s never been safer to cross a street in New York City. Just 131 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents this year, a record low.

Is it possible to get road deaths even closer to zero than Sweden has? Many experts are betting that driverless cars are the answer to that.

Beijing raises subway fares to ease overcrowding


January 2, 2015

Beijing subway passengers

When a single mother was crushed to death while trying to get onto an overcrowded subway train in November, it pointed to a problem that transit officials in the Chinese capital had already promised to address.

They did so this week, raising subway fares as much as fourfold in what they said was an effort to reduce overcrowding.

That response, not surprisingly, has not been overwhelmingly popular.
"I still had to spend 15 minutes lining up outside my subway stop this morning before I could get into the station," said Zheng Shenchen, who lives near the Tiantongyuan North station at the end of Line 5. "It looks like the government just needed an excuse to raise the price for subway tickets."

Pan Xiaomei, a single mother from Chengde, Hebei province, died in early November, on a day when a record 9.3 million passengers flocked to Beijing's subway system. Government restrictions that day kept half of Beijing's automobiles off the streets to keep them clear for dignitaries in the capital for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Pan, 33, was crushed after becoming trapped between a moving subway train and the safety door on the platform, after apparently failing to get into an overcrowded car.
Ridership that day wasn't significantly higher than the system's recent average of more than 9 million riders. (By comparison, New York City averages 7.7 million subway riders daily.) Beijing's subway system has experienced explosive growth in recent years — and has become notoriously overcrowded as a result.

From having five subway lines that ran about 87 miles in 2007, when the city's anywhere-you-can-ride subway pricing was introduced, Beijing today has 18 subway lines that cover more than 327 miles, after four new lines went into operation Sunday.

But with the expansion has come more riders, making the experience of riding a subway during rush hour nigtmarish.

A video from the official China Central Television documenting the scene at Beijing's Xierqi station during morning rush hour went viral last year. A subway worker whose job is to regulate passenger flow on the platform was pushed into the train several times by riders rushing to get in.

When local authorities said they planned to raise fares, solving the congestion problem was touted as one of the major benefits. A higher price "can help divert more passengers away from the subway to the buses," the state-owned People's Daily said in July.
Before the fare hike took effect Sunday, Beijing charged a flat fee of 32 cents for all rides, regardless of distance. The new fares begin at 48 cents and can go as high as $1.45, depending on how far a passenger travels.

Zheng, 26, who works for an Internet company 12 miles from his apartment in north Beijing, now pays more than double the old fare for his 50-minute morning commute. Still, he has no plans to take another mode of transportation.

"Taking the subway is the fastest way for me to get to my office," he said. "Taking a bus is simply not an option with the traffic congestion on the roads in Beijing."

When the public hearing on the subway fare hike took place in late October, 10 people were chosen to represent commuters. Such a hearing should have been "a chance for ordinary people to exercise their democratic rights," wrote Zhang Hongliang, an economics professor from Minzu University in Beijing, in a blog post at the time. But in China, he said, the only choice is "which price hike plan is better."

Many young migrants in Beijing such as Pan and Zheng rent affordable apartments at the end of the subway lines to keep the cost of living down, while having the convenience of an easy commute to the city.

Zhang Jian, who works at a stock brokerage in Beijing's central business district, moved with his girlfriend to an apartment building next to the Liyuan subway station in Beijing's eastern suburbs three years ago because the rent is only $209 a month.

Although his daily expenses on the subway almost tripled after the fare hike, Zhang, 27, still wouldn't consider moving closer to work.

"If I move, the difference in rent is much more than the additional money I had to spend on subway tickets after the fare hike," Zhang said. "Taking the bus can't guarantee I get to work on time because of traffic congestion on the road, so I just need to face the higher subway fare and deal with it."