Events, News & Blog

Why Asking for Bike Lanes Isn’t Smart

There’s a quote that’s stuck with me for some time from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom: “You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so f***ing smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?”

American urbanists and bike advocates are smart, or at least well informed. We know how important cycling is. We are educated about cycling cities in other parts of the world and how they are so much better for health, well-being, economics, traffic, pollution, climate, equity, personal freedom, and on and on.

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Sustainable Transportation: A Challenge for the 21st Century

Awareness of public transportation and climate change is growing worldwie. In the last century, the need for increased mobility grew substantially around the world. Working toward a more sustainable transportation system is a common challenge for Switzerland and the U.S. Therefore the brochure and the companion exhibit On Track to the Future – Sustainable Transportation: 

A Challenge for the 21st Century intend to foster multidisciplinary and bilateral discussions and exchanges. The exhibit and the brochure look at the strengths and challenges of the Swiss and the U.S. public transportation systems. Furthermore, they present information on policies, incentives, in- frastructure and maintenance plans, land use planning, pricing concepts and timetables,offering an interactive  opportunity to learn about sustainable transportation.

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Banning cars on SF’s Market Street, once a radical idea, approved unanimously

Author  Rachel Swan

Banning cars on San Francisco’s Market Street may have once been a radical idea. But on Tuesday, the Municipal Transportation Agency board voted unanimously to do it, with undiluted support from just about everyone: bicycle activists, politicians, city bureaucrats, parents, health care workers, business owners, ride-hail companies and Mayor London Breed.

One message rang out loudly during a rally on City Hall steps and an hour-long hearing before the vote: start building “Better Market Street” immediately, and then replicate it elsewhere.

The plan that kicked off nearly a decade ago will start construction in January, with a ban on private cars east of 10th street on the city’s downtown spine. It will restrict commercial loading on the street to certain hours, extend the Muni-only lane from Third to Main Street, widen sidewalks, replace the ancient bricks with concrete pavers and add a sidewalk-level bike path with a protective curb. Crews will also build a streetcar loop east of United Nations Plaza, allowing the F line to shuttle from Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Caltrans Settles Environment Lawsuit, Cancels High Desert Freeway Project

A recent court settlement spells the end for the planned High Desert Corridor Freeway. Bryn Lindblad, deputy director of Climate Resolve – one

of the plaintiffs – calls the settlement “a victory for smart planning [and against] climate change.” Climate Resolve estimates that the freeway would have resulted in four million additional miles being driven every day. Those tailpipes would have contributed major greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the planet’s climate emergency.

The $8 billion, 63-mile High Desert Corridor freeway would have spanned two counties connecting the north L.A. County cities of Palmdale and Lancaster with San Bernardino County cities of Victorville, Apple Valley, and Adelanto. The route would have gone through a patchwork of privately-owned undeveloped wild lands populated by Joshua Trees.

The L.A. Times had billed the High Desert Freeway as “L.A. County’s first new freeway in 25 years.” CalPIRG called it a top national boondoggle.

At the urging of former L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Metro’s Measure M sales tax included funding for the L.A. County portion: $170 million available now, slated for property acquisition, and $1.8 billion scheduled for 2063-2067 for construction.

In 2016, Caltrans certified the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The plan was for a High Desert “multi-purpose corridor” featuring an 8-10 lane freeway, plus bike path, solar panels, and high-speed rail.

In late 2016, Climate Resolve – with activists Dr. Tom Williams and Bryan Baker – filed a lawsuit challenging the High Desert Corridor under the California and National Environmental Quality Acts (CEQA and NEPA.) The lawsuit was led by attorneys Mitchell Tsai and James Birkelund. The nonprofit Endangered Habitats League joined the plaintiffs.

When the judge found that the EIR was insufficient with regards to biological and greenhouse gas impacts, Caltrans agreed to essentially shelve the project. In theory, Caltrans could have appealed or quickly gone back to the environmental study phase and completed a Supplemental EIR (SEIR). Instead they signed on to a settlement agreement that halts work on the freeway portion of the project. In the settlement, Caltrans committed to not purchasing land for the proposed freeway until the agency completes the SEIR. The agreement leaves in place the approval of rail and bike components of the project.

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Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That.