Transit Score

I previously wrote about Walk Score and its use in Sacramento, and now the Walk Score company has released Transit Score. Sacramento ranks 22 out of 25 cities, with a Transit Score of 32 (of 100), in the category of “some transit.” The categories are rider’s paradise, excellent transit, good transit, some transit, and minimal transit. It is worth noting that if all the major cities had provided their transit information, Sacramento would probably have not been on the list at all, because with a population of just under a half million, it is not in the usual top 25 but would show up in a top 50.

Walk Score notes “The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score for a specific point by summing the relative ‘usefulness’ of nearby routes. We define usefulness as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route.” As pointed out in the recent Streetsblog post, it does not including information about where you can go once you’ve gotten onto the transit, which also of course affects the usefulness of the transit. Continue reading “Transit Score”

Two-waying streets in SF

StreetsBlog San Francisco had an interesting article yesterday about the conversion of one-way streets to two-way streets, SFMTA Brings Humane, Two-Way Traffic Back to Ellis and Eddy. This is an idea I’ve mentioned before for midtown, but haven’t posted any details yet, and still am not ready yet. But this article builds the justification.

The conversion was the result of an extensive community transportation study, which is detailed at http://www.sfcta.org/content/view/312/159/. The most interesting quote I found in a brief reading of the materials is:

“Much of the auto traffic impacting the Tenderloin is not local traffic. The neighborhood’s unique location adjacent downtown results in large volumes of through traffic to and from the Bay Bridge, the Financial District, and other areas of the City. Many of the roads are designed as auto-oriented, high-capacity facilities, with multiple lanes and one-way configurations. The residents of the area have expressed a strong desire to see the neighborhood’s streets become more livable by shifting the balance away from maximizing auto throughput toward an improved environment for pedestrians and public transit. Slowing traffic speeds or ‘traffic calming’ through the neighborhood is one way to achieve this goal.”

Sound familiar?

There are a number of other great recommendations. Take a read, both of the StreetsBlog post and the underlying study.

SACOG transportation plan

20120420-151331.jpgAn interesting SacBee editorial, SACOG sets high bar on transportation plan.

SACOG is the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, responsible for overall planning and much of the distribution of transportation funds for the region. The plan funds transit, state highways and local roadways, and pedestrian/bicycle facilities. I’ve reviewed the Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2035 (MTP), and think there is still far too much emphasis on road widening, but there are also a lot of new and innovative efforts towards a balanced mode share. Though I personally think any money spent on automobile infrastructure is a waste that we will regret in the future, this is at least the beginning of a shift in priorities.

Avoid the comments on the editorial. The trolls who don’t have jobs and are home during the day, and are likely dependent on public subsidies, have already posted many comments, asking for yet more public subsidies for their preferred lifestyle of cars and suburbs.

Sprawl

20120419-200953.jpgThis week’s Sacramento News and Review (Thursday, April 29, 2012) has a feature story titled “Onward, Sprawl,” highlighting the impacts of the passion for growth of Sacramento County, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and Elk Grove. I highly recommend a read. The Sacramento Bee has a short article in the Wednesday, April 18 edition titled “County kicks off plan for Hwy 16 growth,” yet another area for development east and south of the developed area of the county.

It will be impossible to serve these new developments with a functional transit system. RT is already not able to serve the sprawling suburbs of Sacramento county, and these developments are much further out from the central cores that contains most of the jobs in this area. Neither light rail nor bus service works when the distances are great and the ridership small, as it would be for these far-flung areas. Driving will increase, more and wider roads will be needed, traffic will be induced, and those people looking for respite from an auto-dominated landscape will feel a need to move even further out, to get away from it all.

Continue reading “Sprawl”

Portland

20120404-224509.jpgI have been in Oregon City, Oregon, for the last few days visiting my friend Tim, as well as Patti who came over to join us from Idaho. We worked together in the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona many years ago.

Monday I spent in Portland while Tim was working. Since I don’t have my bike with me on this trip (I miss it), I was focused more on walking and transit.

I walked all over the downtown area and along the river. Not once did I see a motor vehicle encroach on a crosswalk with a pedestrian in it, which is a common occurrence in Sacramento, though I’m sure it happens. Sidewalks are wide throughout most of downtown, but not on some of the older streets where new development or redevelopment has not taken place. Street furniture is common. In parts of town such as the Pearl District and Chinatown, there are frequent kiosks with maps of the streets and interesting destinations.
Continue reading “Portland”

Co-op relocation

20120402-144029.jpgThe Sacramento Natural Foods Coop is considering relocation to 28th and R streets. As a coop member, I’m interested in how the new location addresses transportation. Though plans are preliminary and vague, here is my reaction to what is available so far on the website at http://www.sacfoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1726:store-relocation-update.

  1. The new location is a bit closer to the 29th Street RT Gold Line light rail station. It is about the same distance from the RT bus routes 38, 67, and 68. Transit accessibility is a key locational factor, so this is good.
  2. There seems to be no special consideration for bus riders using the routes on 29th St. There could be a bus bay, large bus shelter, large but landscaped waiting pad, and a clear pathway from the bus stop to the store without having to cross through the parking lot and/or cross the driveway entrance-exit. These might be included and not shown on the generalized drawing, but I rather suspect that they weren’t even considered.
  3. The building is oriented to face the surface parking lot, not to face the street. The message of this orientation is that members who drive are more important than members who live in the community and walk or bike to the store.
  4. Bike parking seems an afterthought. The drawing appears to have 16 bike parking spaces, north of the store entrance, while there are 302 vehicle parking spaces. Common practice in cities with high livability is 20% of all parking for bikes, which would be 60 bike parking spaces. The bike parking area is also further away from the entrance than several non-handicapped spaces, which should never be the case. In the conceptual schematic drawing, the bike parking may be contained in the weird structure that sort of looks like a water tower.
  5. Several news articles in local media and in the Co-op Reporter have emphasized the additional parking but said nothing about bike parking, or other modes of transportation, and I suspect this is not an oversight. Does the staff and board regularly bike to the store, or drive? I don’t know, but the emphasis on parking is an indicator.

Given the stated mission of the co-op, “…consumer-owned natural foods grocery store that places the values of cooperation and sustainability at the forefront. Our focus is to benefit our owners, support our local growers, participate in our community and protect the environment,” every instance of a member or customer driving to the store instead of getting there by active transportation is a step away from these goals.

I hope that the co-op will revise its plans to reach out to people who walk, bike and use transit.

Utility pole in the bike lane

Note: I have moved this post here from my personal blog, since it fits better here, and it is the post that got me started on this blog.

The photos are of a bike lane with a utility pole in the middle of it. This is Fair Oaks Blvd westbound, just west of New York Ave, in the Carmichael area of Sacramento County. The first photo is from a distance, showing the clear bike lane markings. The second photo is closer, showing the pole dead (yes, DEAD) center in the bike lane.

I can think of a million irate things I’d like to say about this situation, but perhaps I’ll restrain myself and let the photos speak for themselves. I will say that, though this is the most egregious bike facility hazard I’ve seen in Sacramento County, it is far from the only.

   

Vigilante drivers

I’ve been thinking about a post on vigilante drivers even before starting this blog, but my experience yesterday means this is the topic for today.

vigilante: any person who takes the law into his or her hands, as by avenging a crime

Yesterday afternoon is was riding home from Howe Avenue Elementary School, there to provide lessons in pedestrian safety. Southbound on Howe Ave, there are no bike lanes, but there are three traffic lanes and traffic was light. As I rode in the middle of the right-most lane, 11 or 12 feet wide, not wide enough to share with a motor vehicle, vehicles changed lanes to pass, in a smooth flow of traffic, and I had gone quite some distance with no issues. One vehicle behind me decided to do otherwise. The driver started honking and yelling, and when I did not move out of the lane, accelerated hard past me, coming close enough that I felt some part of the vehicle brush my sleeve. It is hard to say whether she intended to kill me or to intimidate me, but in either case she was acting as what I call a vigilante driver. These are people who are sure that it is illegal for you to be riding your bike on the road, and since no law enforcement is present, decide to take the law into their own hands and become judge, jury and executioner, using their vehicle to carry out the punishment. Continue reading “Vigilante drivers”

Aggressive midtown drivers

I’ve only lived in midtown a while, but from the first it was clear to me that here was a walker and bicyclist paradise, at least in comparison to where I’d lived before, Carson City, and where I work, Citrus Heights. It still seems a bicyclist paradise to me, but I’m seeing the dark side for pedestrians. This may be a recent development, or perhaps I’ve just become more aware of the reality. Though I bike more than I walk, I’m certainly a pedestrian too, and there are a large number of pedestrians in midtown.

Many drivers in midtown are aggressive towards pedestrians. At times I think this is mostly commuters who live elsewhere and just work here, but at times I’m sure it includes the people who live here as well. Driver behavior I see on a daily basis:

  • Speeding: drivers exceed the posted speed limit, especially on the one-way streets
  • Failure to yield: drivers do not yield to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks; this is a violation of the law
  • Failure to stop: drivers do not stop in additional lanes when one driver has stopped; this is a violation of the law
  • Aggressiveness: drivers do not yield to pedestrians waiting to use marked and unmarked crosswalks; this is a violation of human decency

Continue reading “Aggressive midtown drivers”