Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 29

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Burl Love. Photo by Zocalo Public Square.

Burl Love. Photo by Zocalo Public Square.

Today’s profile of a Metro rider by Zocalo Public Square: I carry a Bible on the bus, Don Felipe Drive to Pico Boulevard.

In between bicycling stats: with Dennis Hindman (CiclaValley) 

Good look at some stats on bicycling in the city of L.A. Bottom line: the number of commuters using bikes is up since 2008 as is the number of collisions. But it’s not quite that simple — read the analysis here. Obviously most concerning is the 15 bicycle fatalities in the city in 2013, although it appears that number will decrease in 2014. Even those numbers are hard to decipher as each accident has its own particular circumstances.

Is climate change killing my California dream? (Grist)

Jogger and Santa Barbara Channel with oil rig.

Jogger, Santa Barbara Channel and oil rig, photo by Steve Hymon

The always fun and informative Ask Umbra column tackles a big question from a Minneapolis resident trying to decide to move to San Francisco or perhaps Talktown (our name for D.C.).

So where should you sink those roots? Well, if you’re picking purely on climate change projections, staying put isn’t a bad idea: The upper Midwest, including Minneapolis and Detroit, is predicted to weather the coming crisis better than most regions (hint: It won’t be frozen tundra for long). And if it’s West or Bust for you, the Pacific Northwest from Washington through northern California (even with the drought thing) is also shaping up to be something of a climate refuge – despite what our executive editor might have you believe. I myself have sniffed out a few other good bets for the uncertain years to come.

Read the whole article please — it’s quite informative and entertaining. If Devin chooses San Francisco anyway, we wish him and his bank account well. And I have to post this — I enjoyed the pickup truck commercial preceding it…

And yeah I may be an Old Goat, but not that old yet…Long Beach is in the house!

After years of battles, Long Beach is about to get its first electric buses (LongBeachize)

Brian Addison is pleased that Long Beach Transit finally settled on a firm to produce much-needed electric buses even though he’s not crazy about their choice (BYD, who is manufacturing the electric buses purchased by Metro). But he also recognizes there’s a bigger issue here: electric buses do not directly emit greenhouse gases, which CNG buses do.

Long story short: many transit agencies — Metro included — have moved to CNG powered buses because natural gas has less of an impact on air quality than diesel buses. But natural gas is still a greenhouse gas, leading critics to say that CNG doesn’t really help cut greenhouse gases compared to diesel. The hope is that electric buses will both lower fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions, although that (of course) depends on how electricity is generated.

The most recent numbers from the state show that in 2011 California produced 70 percent of its electricity — and 45 percent of that came from natural gas. The more renewables used in the future will also help electric buses get cleaner, too.

Meanwhile, the American Lung Association just issued their annual State of the Air report, which founds that Southern California has some of the most polluted air in the country according to some measures (ozone and particulate matter). The Lung Association’s recommendations, according to the Daily News?:

The Lung Association says that despite challenges of drought and climate change, pollution gains can continue with increased investment to support:

•Zero emission vehicles and fuels

•Sustainable zero emission freight systems.

•Healthy community planning to increase walk, bike and transit access.

Of course, Gov. Jerry Brown is in the news today for his announcement that California will accelerate its attempt to cut greenhouse gases. Like a recent announcement about cutting water use, there aren’t yet details on how this will be accomplished. But having a goal is a good starting point, me thinks.

The engineer’s lament: two ways of thinking about automotive safety (New Yorker) 

No pay wall for a new article by the very popular writer Malcolm Gladwell. I wouldn’t be giving away Gladwell for free if I worked in journalism. Then again, my current employer address indicates that journalism is perhaps not my field of expertise.

I haven’t read this yet — this will be my lunch companion later. But this one paragraph deep in the article is certainly provocative:

Last August, the traffic-safety expert Leonard Evans published a paper in the American Journal of Public Health. In the early nineteen-seventies, Evans wrote, the United States was often said to have the safest roads in the world, and since then traffic fatalities in the U.S. have declined by forty-one per cent. That sounds like an impressive number. But then Evans pointed out that, in the same period, traffic deaths in the Netherlands, for instance, declined at twice that rate. The United States, once No. 1 in the world in safety, has fallen to nineteenth place. If American highway deaths had followed the European pattern, Evans concluded, twenty thousand lives would have been saved in 2011 alone.

The numbers, too, serve as a useful reminder that highlighting something like bicycle deaths may be important but it’s also good to have some context. Such as the number of car-related deaths Americans are willing to tolerate each year. Answer: more than 30,000 each and every year.

7 replies

  1. Hmm. San Francisco is one of a handful of cities that have had electric buses for decades. Only the newest ones have batteries for traction power, and as I understand it, even they only have enough juice on board to run a short distance with the poles down, e.g., to maneuver around an obstruction without access to the trolley wires (I seem to recall being on board when the driver had to do exactly that).

  2. The New Yorker gives you a few articles a month for free (a taste!) before demanding you pay (or reopen the article in an incognito window.

    • Hi Jonah;

      My beef is that I don’t think they should be giving away anything. I just went to a shop to get a sandwich for lunch. Said sandwich was not free. It has never been free. It should be free. Same with journalism!!!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Sure, but your “sandwich of the month club” might give you a free sample before asking you to subscribe. (Stretching the analogy a bit too far, I know.)

  3. “The hope is that electric buses will both lower fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions, although that (of course) depends on how electricity is generated.”
    Still waiting to hear where this ‘cheaper’ 24×7 energy will come from, especially when you have to figure in the entire system cost – generation, storage, transmission as well as consumption. My low (grid based) electric consumption still won’t justify a solar panel installation unless you consider a thirty or forty year payback ‘good’. Also useless for high power appliances like ranges, ovens or water heaters. Not to mention nebulous warranties and future reroofing headaches ….
    The Google engineers are correct – existing sustainability efforts are a sham with (unforeseen) technological breakthroughs being the likely answer.
    In the meantime …. M.T.F.C. ….

  4. If I can bring in a different perspective, is that such solar panel technologies and mass production develops further, most likely to be eventually manufactured outside the US if not already, they continue to get better and cheaper, and in due time, will become more affordable without the constraints of 30-40 years of ROI.

    Just look at computers. What used to be so massive that it fit an entire room and so expensive that only major corporations and government agencies can afford are now available on the size that fits on one’s palm and be purchased by anyone at your local 7-Eleven for $50. You yourself are typing on a keyboard that’s mass produced in China, using a computer monitors and components come from Malaysia and Thailand.

    Contactless card technology, once touted as “space age” is now nothing more than mass produced items that are Made in China and can be bought in bulk quantities for a cheap price on alibaba.com http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/bus-validator.html