More than 30 groups say that the potential 2016 ballot measure under consideration by Metro should set aside 10 percent of its funding to walk-bike projects with several groups leading the way, including Investing in Place and the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition. The groups also want 20 percent of any local return money in a ballot measure to be set aside for walk, bike and Safe Routes to Schools programs.
Very interesting development. Under Measure R’s expenditure plan, 15 percent of sales tax revenues are returned to the 88 cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County on a per capita basis. The cities or county can then use that money for a variety of transportation projects, including pedestrian and bike ones. But it’s no guarantee that the money gets used for such projects.
The standard reminder: Metro staff have been studying and doing surveys for a potential ballot measure — which may include a new half-cent sales tax and/or an extension of Measure R. But the Metro Board of Directors has not made a decision to go forward. This is certainly an interesting development.
Technology that could prevent accident was absent (New York Times)
The top of the story sums it up:
For the second time in two years, a passenger train traveling well above its speed limit has derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries. And for the second time, existing technology that might have prevented the accident was missing.
Amtrak has installed the technology, known as positive train control, on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor. But the technology, designed to automatically slow or stop a train to prevent accidents, was not available on a critical stretch of track in Philadelphia where Train No. 188 derailed on Tuesday night, killing at least seven and injuring more than 200.
A National Transportation Safety Board official makes it pretty clear that he believes that PTC would have slowed the train, which was traveling more than 100 mph in a section of track where the speed limit is 50 mph.
As many of you know, Metrolink has been installing PTC, a direct response to the 2008 head-on collision with a freight train in Chatsworth that killed 25. Congress has imposed a national deadline of 2015 but is considering pushing that to 2020 at the request of many railroads who say time and money are an issue.
Separately, in what amounts to partisan bickering, a House committee yesterday denied expanding funding for Amtrak, reports the Times. For a lot of reasons, Amtrak remains a tough sell to many parts of the country, among them rural areas where the railroad doesn’t provide much service, thereby making Amtrak an easy target for lawmakers wanting to target government spending. Hmm.
A guest post from the BikeSnob can be summed up with this graph:
If anything, cyclists are cynical about Bike to Work Week because we want bicycle commuting to be more inclusive. We don’t want it to be something people do once a year out of a sense of obligation, like paying your taxes or calling grandma on Mother’s Day. We want people to discover the joy and practicality of cycling, and for riding a bicycle to become a default mode of transport for lots and lots of people in cities and towns all over America.
I’m not huge on anniversaries or weeks commemorating this or that either although I don’t think there’s any harm that comes from them. I do tend to think that in terms of bicycle awareness, the CicLAvia events may serve the masses better (they’re designed to be big events) and perhaps get people to dust off their bikes and ride them more often.
There are a lot of nice people on the train (Zocalo Public Square)
The latest in Zocalo’s ongoing series of profiles of Metro riders.
Ben Adler doesn’t like the idea of replacing the gas tax with a per mile tax — something many people want as a way to increase transportation tax revenues. The gist of his argument:
A VMT tax makes all users pay equally for their usage if you define usage in the narrow sense of miles traveled. But drivers of gas guzzlers are using, and abusing, public goods such as roads and air far more than drivers of efficient cars are. Bigger, heavier cars take up more road space, damage roads more, and cause more harm to other drivers in accidents. And road repair is a minor cost and inconvenience compared to the effects of catastrophic climate change.
There’s probably a lot of people who feel the same way — that the biggest problem with the gas tax is simply that it hasn’t been raised in more than two decades and that it’s not indexed to inflation. The other thing about the gas tax that may be a plus: it provides an incentive of sorts to purchase a fuel efficient vehicle.
Categories: Transportation Headlines