Monday, December 11, 2017

In the November 30 London Review of Books:

"There is a great deal of beauty here," Oscar Wilde wrote[in a letter]. "The Kabyle boys are quite lovely. At first we had some difficulty procuring a proper civilized guide. But now it is all right and Bosie and I have taken to haschish[sic]: it is quite exquisite: three puffs of smoke and then peace and love."

Oscar Wilde: A 20th Century man stuck in the 19th Century.

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"Multiple": A single word cliche

You see it everywhere in print and hear it from the talking heads on TV---using "multiple" when "many" is all the writer/speaker is saying: "A storm that moved through the region early Sunday caused havoc on Bay Area highways as multiple crashes and fatalities were reported."

Sometimes a writer/speaker striving to avoid using good old "many" will use "myriad" instead.

And why is it better to say/write "garner" than plain old "get"?

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

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The former vice-president, in the wilderness years
Bel Air fire, 1961

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Riding a bike can never be safe

Cycling can be made safer but never safe enough for me and most people. 

Yes, the most serious threat for cyclists are accidents with motor vehicles, which can mean death and serious injury.

But experts on cycling tell us that most cycling accidents are "solo falls" that don't involve motor vehicles. Bike messenger/author Robert Hurst:

Realistically, it is not the prospect of dying in an accident, but that of being sent to the hospital with a serious injury, that hangs over the vulnerable heads of cyclists. The cyclist’s primary goal should be, first and foremost, to avoid serious injury. This is the cyclist’s bottom line. We must do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, short of staying at home (page 70, The Art of Cycling).

Hurst and many reality-based cyclists think the risk is worth it. The rest of us think that if what you're doing includes the risk of serious injury, you should stop doing it. Do something else to get around when you leave home.

These thoughts are prompted by still another horror story by a cyclist (Is Road Riding Worth the Risk?):

The impact was as sudden and unexpected as lightning on a cloudless afternoon. One moment I was pedaling on a side road to my house after wrapping up a trail ride. The next I was 20 feet off the road on my back, tangled beneath my mountain bike in a stand of chamisa. People talk about their lives flashing before them in such moments, but for me there was only the sound of breaking glass and a searing pain in my left side as the car hit me from behind.

The writer on the increasing threat of distracted driving:

It seems like I hear a story of a cyclist getting hit by a car almost daily. Between 2010 and 2016, fatalities of cyclists struck by vehicles rose by 35 percent, up to 840, in 2016. People for Bikes says that increase doesn’t indicate a growing risk, but rather the overall growth of cycling. Yet, cyclists notwithstanding, fatal automobile accidents due to distracted driving have also ballooned during that same period. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that on any given day during daylight hours, some 660,000 people are using cell phones while they drive. In the past few years, I’ve told my wife, Jen, that as many people as I see texting while driving, it seems almost inevitable that I’d eventually get hit...

Yes, take up mountain biking or bike where there's no or little traffic. Best of all, don't ride a bike at all.

In that widely ignored UC study on cycling accidents in San Francisco, solo falls--called "cyclist-only" accidents in the study---were often just as serious as accidents with motor vehicles:

In our comparison of AVB[auto-versus-bicycle] and CO[cyclist-only] injuries, we found that CO injuries four times more likely to be admitted to the hospital after presentation in the emergency department. Despite this increased likelihood of admission, our data indicated that length of hospital stay, hospital disposition, and the Mean Injury Severity Scores were not different among AVB injury patients and CO injury patients.

Even so City Hall urges the city's children to ride bikes to school!

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Drawing the line

From today's NY Times:

To the Editor:

Every woman alive — although some of us are more fragile and sensitive than others — knows the difference between an advance from a man that threatens our career and livelihood unless we comply, and a sloppy, silly come-on that is just stupid bad judgment on the part of the guy. We also understand when the advance goes from sloppy and stupid to the use of physical force. Many of us have experienced rape, an entirely different order of violation.

There are degrees and degrees of male sexual malfeasance. The continuum is radically different from one end to the other. This has to be acknowledged, or we are on a path to moral chaos in the area of relationships between the sexes.

I don’t know exactly where the line is, but I know that there is a line. I suspect that the lines most women draw are very similar one to another. Is it possible to define them?

Anne Breckenridge Dorsey
Sausalito, Calif.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Image result
Bears Ears National Monument

04 DECEMBER 2017 

Dear President Trump and Secretaries Zinke and Perdue: 

We, the undersigned scientists, educators, and professional land and resource managers, write to express deep concern and disappointment over your decision to reduce the size and integrity of Bears Ears National Monument. We urge you to reverse this decision, restore the monument to its original boundaries, and work with the Bears Ears Commission of Tribes---which was established by presidential proclamation---and its many partners to develop a scientifically grounded, culturally informed, and effective plan for long-term stewardship. 

Among the signatories of this letter are established scientists who have conducted original research in the region, educators who have used Bears Ears as an outdoor classroom to explore the connections between land, water, nature and culture, and professional resource managers who are tasked with protecting this landscape while encouraging sound and sustainable land use. 

Others recognize the scientific value of this unique landscape and wish to see its protection restored. Monument status safeguards irreplaceable resources, while providing new and immeasurable opportunities for all Americans to enjoy and participate in the stewardship of their public lands. 

Bears Ears National Monument is of immense cultural value to all Americans. The five Tribes working together to protect and defend Bears Ears (Navajo, Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni) share a commitment to this place, and their offer to share their knowledge to ensure that all Americans can enjoy this heritage is invaluable, generous, and visionary. This landscape is worthy of protection for its scientific value alone, yet it is the dedicated stewardship of the Tribes and Commission that makes this monument truly unique in the National Conservation Lands system. 

Bears Ears presents the country with an opportunity to move forward and develop new models for cooperation, respect, and success. Multiple scientific assessments informed the Proclamation of December 28, 2016, and clearly established that this landscape is worthy of permanent protection. Nowhere else are geology, biology, human history, and culture so deeply intertwined, evident, and accessible as in Bears Ears National Monument. 

Rather than reducing the size and integrity of the Monument, we believe that the top priority of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture should be to support the development and implementation of a management plan that will ensure sound stewardship of this landscape and its geological, biological, and cultural resources, in perpetuity. We pledge to assist the Bears Ears Intertribal Commission and the appropriate federal and state agencies in advancing this process. 

* Those listed below sign as individuals; affiliations are listed for identification purposes only and do not imply institutional support for the positions expressed here.

We offer the following specific suggestions: 

• Restore the monument to its original boundaries, agreed to in the proclamation 
• Support a scientifically rigorous and culturally informed process to develop a management plan that reflects the goals articulated in the proclamation 
• Respect the agreements previously reached with the five tribal governments that establish the central importance of tribal leadership in planning and management 
• Create new opportunities for citizens to learn about, appreciate, and enjoy this landscape 

We, as representatives of the scientific community, are committed to working with state and federal authorities, and with the Bears Ears Commission of Tribes, to ensure that management of the monument will serve all Americans, while also establishing a new model for collaborative management with Tribes, and an appropriate balance of conservation and sustainable land use. 

We urge you to protect scientific values, educational opportunities, and unique natural and cultural resources by restoring Bears Ears National Monument to its original extent, and we urge you to honor tribal leaders by continuing to engage in a new, more inclusive model for public land management. 

We stand ready to work with you and with our many colleagues to safeguard this spectacular and irreplaceable part of America's history for the future enjoyment and benefit of all Americans. 


Thomas D. Sisk, PhD, Correspondent 
Olajos-Goslow Chair of Environmental Science and Policy 
P.O. Box 5694 
Northern Arizona University 86011-5694

* Those[292] listed below sign as individuals; affiliations are listed for identification purposes only and do not imply institutional support for the positions expressed here.

See also Bears Ears is Here to Stay.

Thanks to Outside.

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Pic of the Moment

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Democrats favorite boondoggle

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - California High Speed Rail Project
Monte Wolverton

Kerry Jackson

California Democrats cling to their favorite boondoggle even as problems mount up.

When the father of the current governor of California was governor, he was a driving force behind the highway building boom that gilded the already Golden State. Aggressive road construction and free-flowing water were Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Sr.’s lasting legacies. By contrast, Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr. is looking at a legacy tarnished by a bullet train that will cost far more than projected, won’t thin out today’s jammed highways, and will never run on time.

Politicians like flashy new projects: a European-style bullet-rail line is more glamorous than maintaining battered transportation arteries and adding desperately needed highway capacity. But California’s 800-mile, high-speed rail plan is well on the way to becoming a legendary boondoggle. 

News that $35 million allocated for utilities costs had been transferred on an “emergency” basis to pay train contractors are one reason why Republican state assembly member Jim Patterson called for an emergency audit. “What are your plans to complete the project?” demanded Patterson last month of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “Describe to us how you’re managing costs. Please explain to us why and how you are transferring hundreds of millions of dollars just to keep the construction going?”

Democrat Al Muratsuchi, chairman of the legislature’s Audit Committee, rejected the request on procedural grounds. His reasoning: because the legislature wasn’t in session, committee members and the public would be denied “the opportunity to have a say in the decision.” The rejection, combined with the train’s mounting troubles, makes it look like there is something to hide.

Muratsuchi has reportedly told Patterson that he can submit the request again in January, when the legislature is in session—in other words, when lawmakers will have an official opportunity to say no, or, if the request is granted, to spin whatever inconvenient news the audit turns up. Muratsuchi might think that Patterson is looking for a “gotcha” revelation to make headlines, but concern about the cost and progress of the rail line is well founded—from budget estimates and cost-containment policies to contingency planning if funding dries up. 

“We owe it to the people to demonstrate that the High-Speed Rail Authority isn’t going to skip town and leave us with a partially built track,” Patterson said. “Californians deserve to know what Plan B is—it’s time for a reality check.”

At about the same time that Patterson’s audit request was denied, the High-Speed Rail Authority announced that its environmental reviews, which were supposed to be done by 2018, won’t be finished until 2020—just the latest delay in a project that has had too many to count. The Los Angeles Times reported in September that the 119-mile Central Valley segment alone is already $1.7 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule.

Policymakers sold the high-speed rail project to voters nearly a decade ago in a ballot measure that promised a 220-mph super train that would blast passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a tidy two hours and 40 minutes. Independent analysts say that the ride will likely take at least three hours and 50 minutes and as long as four hours and 40 minutes—or only an hour less than it currently takes to drive.

So it might not be very fast—but at least it will be cheap, right? Wrong again. Projected fares have risen along with the projected travel times. What was once estimated roughly as a $50 ticket between Los Angeles and San Francisco had inflated to $105 by 2009, according to the project’s business plan. The latest estimate: an $86 fare, which one can readily imagine going higher still by the time the train is operational.

Ridership estimates have steadily fallen. Voters were told that by 2030, the system would carry 65.5 million to 96.5 million riders a year—figures about three times higher than independent projections. At the lower numbers, not enough commuters will fill the seats to relieve the grinding congestion on the roads.

California has already spent more than $3 billion on a project with an estimated cost that has bounced around from the original $33 billion to $43 billion, then up to as much as $117 billion, before settling, at least for now, at about $68 billion. 

Some pressure is building to junk the project—to take a smaller loss now, that is, rather than a much larger one in the future. Letting the bullet train die would probably require a ballot initiative redirecting the project’s allocated but unspent funds to more useful projects—such as increased highway capacity. And that’s something that Californians could actually use.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Women and public transit

Washington Post

A light-rail train in Minneapolis derailed last week, forcing Metro Transit to bus riders around the train for several hours. The Phoenix light rail is suffering from major problems due to homeless people, leading the agency to try to force people off the trains.

But the biggest hit against transit is the me-too movement that encourages women to speak out against sexual harassment and other sex crimes. 

“The me-too movement is a public transportation issue,” says Washington Post writer Martine Powers. “If you’re a woman who rides public transportation, you’re almost guaranteed to experience the kinds of demeaning or threatening encounters that fit squarely within the bounds of the #MeToo conversation.”

The good news is that women are more likely to report such assaults than they were a few years ago. Powers notes that reports of sexual harassment on the Washington Metro system are up 65 percent in 2017 over 2016. Similarly, reports of sex crimes on the New York City subway have gone up 50 percent in the last three years. We can hope that these increases are because women are more willing to speak out and not because harassment is actually increasing.

The bad news is that there’s not a lot that transit agencies can do about it. Last September, Powers revealed that a man had been arrested more than twenty times for exposing himself to women on Metro trains and in Metro stations, yet he isn’t in jail and Metro doesn’t have the authority to ban him from the trains.

Increasing reports of sexual harassment on transit may not reflect increasing numbers of actual such harassments, but they will make more women have second thoughts about taking transit and more of them may desert publicly owned transit in favor of alternatives such as Uber, Lyft, and Chariot.

Of course, there have been incidents with Uber, but potential patrons know that ride-sharing drivers, unlike other transit passengers, know they are closely tracked and that their livelihoods depend on providing good service. All in all, this is likely to be just one more nail on transit’s coffin.

A comment to the story:

Another advantage to ride share providers like Lyft and Uber is that users can choose their driver. This means women can choose a female driver by looking at the driver's picture. I know several women who don’t like to take cabs with male drivers but would prefer a woman driver.

Rob's comment:
What about women passengers on Muni and BART? When will that shoe drop?

Search Results

Search ResultsI Was Groped On Muni (Again) - San Francisco - Broke-Ass Stuart

Search ResultsI Was Groped On Muni (Again) - San Francisco - Broke-Ass Stuart

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Roy Moore is a good Republican

Time Magazine

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Fallout from the Zarate verdict

Photo: Paul Chinn

Heather Knight quotes
District Attorney Gascon in today's Chronicle:

“The first thing that came to mind wasn’t that we lost the case,” Gascón said in an interview Monday. “It was how horrendous this is for the Steinle family and what they must be going through.”

Bullshit. Steinle's family had a more nuanced reaction. They weren't interested in a vindictive verdict, which wouldn't have brought Kate Steinle back. They will be "going through" that loss for the rest of their lives.

For once I agree with Willie Brown:

The person we elect as district attorney should show his face when things go wrong and explain what happened. But District Attorney George Gascón didn’t go public the night of the verdict, instead leaving it to his spokesman to offer that the outcome “was not the one we were hoping for.” No kidding.

I can't remember agreeing with Tim Redmond, who actually attended the trial, about anything, but he gets it right here (Growing chorus agrees Gascon bungled the Zarate case):

This case was never about whether her death was tragic. It was about whether the district attorney should have charged an undocumented immigrant who has no history of violence with murder when the evidence suggested he picked up a gun that went off by mistake. The jury made it pretty clear that the evidence wasn’t there.

Interesting that Matier and Ross, who were not there for most of the trial, have come around to my perspective (as usual, without credit to 48hills). Same goes for Willie Brown, who noted:

"The prosecution’s case was a classic instance of a district attorney overcharging a crime, and in the process alienating the jury. By asking for a first-degree conviction, prosecutors upped the bar of proof and the chances of the whole case falling apart. There was precious little evidence that Garcia Zarate committed premeditated murder, and by raising that bar, prosecutors undercut their credibility with the jury."

Gascon also overcharged Ross Mirkarimi: D.A.'s attempt to destroy Mirkarimi continues. See also George Gascon for a recap of some of the lowlights of his career here in San Francisco.

See also I Saw the Kate Steinle Murder Trial Up Close. The Jury Didn’t Botch It.

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How big is the far right?


From Tablet:

...First, the American appetite for right-wing extremism has always been relatively small. Citing survey data gathered in 2013 by the highly respected Pew Research Center, Devin Burghart reports that only 0.14 percent of Americans (i.e., 14 for every 1000 citizens) admitted to being dues-paying members of the tea party, the most newsworthy radical-right grouping of our era. He estimates the number of “sympathizers” varies anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of the public depending on the crisis of the moment, and that active supporters (as indicated by Facebook “likes”) compose just 2 percent. 

Continuing a pattern that goes back at least six decades, the large majority of tea-partiers are white males from the sparsely populated states of Alaska (No. 1 in terms of per-capita membership), Montana (No. 2), Wyoming (No. 3), and Idaho (No. 4). This comports exactly with data gathered in the 1980s on the per-capita number of right-wing extremist headquarters by state.

Second, whatever its reputed size, American right-wing extremism is a cyclical phenomenon. In other words, while there has never been a time without government-bashing bigots and racists, there are definite moments when this sentiment captures the popular imagination. But just as quickly, it dissipates like morning fog. Without being overly mechanical about it, these upsurges seem to occur about once every 30 years or so...

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Pic of the Moment

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Normalizing evil

NY Times

A letter to the editor in response to a story in Sunday's NY Times (In America's Heartland, the Voice of Hate Next Door):

To the Editor:

Why on earth would The Times describe a white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer as being “polite” and having “Midwestern manners” that “would please anyone’s mother”? A person who spouts anti-Semitic hate, denies the extent of the Holocaust and believes that people of different races should be separated is per se the opposite of polite, and certainly wouldn’t please any mom I know (or would want to know).

When we lose sight of what evil means, what it actually entails, we risk legitimizing and normalizing it.

Stephen A. Silver

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Anti-Semitism in Bay Area schools

Roland Dodds on Harry's Place:

I noted the growing issue with anti-Semitism at public schools in the infamously left-wing California Bay Area a few months back, and recent examples continue to bubble to the surface. According to Algemeiner, the Alameda School District has routinely ignored anti-Semitic language directed at Jewish students:

In Alameda, California, middle and elementary schools have been defaced with swastikas and a Jewish elementary school student reportedly received a death threat. Under pressure from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the parents of Natasha Waldorf — who received multiple antisemitic threats at Alameda High School — Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) officials are finally admitting that antisemitism is a problem and that they’ve made mistakes in how they’ve responded to it. But they are still not doing what’s needed.

The AUSD must implement a prevention, protection and proscription plan. Prevention means educating students and families about antisemitism and making it clear that harassing Jewish students won’t be tolerated. Protection means adequately training staff to recognize, stop and report antisemitism. Proscription means effectively responding to antisemitism, including by publicly condemning it, appropriately disciplining wrongdoers, and ensuring that targeted students are protected.

I agree with the author and the parents complaining to the school district: more has to be done to educate the community about the ways current anti-Semitism is employed. The meme culture that has allowed the alt-right to cultivate influence and build its ranks was often done using language and visuals older members of the community might not recognize as instantly anti-Semitic in nature.

Having said that, the piece also mentions students pronouncing things like “Hitler should have finished the job,” which seems like an easy piece of anti-Semitism to pick up on. 

As a teacher, I have seen many anemic administrators more interested in covering up existing problems than addressing them in the open. It makes a leader and school look bad to report every negative social instance, and they understandably hope to “fix” problems internally rather than having outside observers or press involved...

Dodds on the Santa Rosa fire.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

MH370: The pilot did it

Jeff Wise on his blog:

In the months after the disappearance of MH370, Malaysian police searched for any clues that might suggest that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was the culprit. This would have been the simplest explanation for why the Boeing 777 suddenly went electronically dark and pulled a U-turn forty minutes into its flight, and scarcely a minute after Shah’s voice was heard over the radio calmly telling air traffic controllers “Good night, Malaysia 370.” 

But to their chagrin, the evidence was slim. Zaharie had left no note. His family and friends had noticed no sign of mental disturbance. There was no evidence of political or religious extremism or of marital discord. He was under no financial pressure. He just didn’t fit the profile of someone who would kill hundreds of innocent people and take his own life in the process...

Rob's comment:
Wrong! The US media has ignored evidence of Shah's Islamist motivation, but I posted links to publications in New Zealand and Australia that didn't ignore that evidence.

But Wise provides more evidence:

The police did find, however, a single piece of evidence pointing at Shah. In his home they found a hard drive that contained a flight simulation program as well as data points created when he saved simulated flights. Five data points recorded on February 2, 2014, were of particular interest. It looked like they came from a single 777 flight that went up the Malacca Strait, passed the tip of Sumatra, then turned south and wound up with zero fuel over the remote southern Indian Ocean. 

This route so uncannily resembled the flight path deduced from MH370’s radar track and then satcom symbols that it was taken by many as smoking-gun evidence that Shah had practiced absconding with the plane. Some even believe that the flight-sim files could offer clues as to where to find the plane. (Indeed, the discovery of the flight sim files was one of the reasons that the authorities shifted the surface search area in mid-April 2014)...

See also Shedding idiotic talk about terrorism.

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Pic of the Moment

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Net neutrality is simple: Equal access versus greed

Mother Jones

Kevin Drum in Mother Jones:

“Net neutrality” is a simple thing: it mandates that ISPs (internet service providers, usually your cable or mobile phone company) provide the same level of service to all comers—from mighty Disney to modest Breitbart to tiny little startups. Without it, internet providers can sign exclusive deals with big companies so that their sites are nice and fast, while the also-rans are sluggish and unreliable.

But would internet providers do this? One of the arguments against net neutrality is that it addresses a problem that might happen in the future, not a problem that actually exists.

This argument doesn’t do much for me, since I think the probability that internet providers will sign lucrative deals like this is pretty close to 100 percent. Hell, some internet providers have already come pretty close.

Netflix pays Comcast for fast service on its lines. In the past, T-Mobile has “zero rated” certain sites so they don’t count against your data limit. These should be viewed as opening salvos, not full-blown non-neutrality, but they’re certainly a sign that monopoly internet providers know they have a very valuable commodity that they can auction off to the highest bidders if they’re allowed to...

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

True Believers talk 2

Paul Avenue bike lane

More on the Streetsblog/Jodie Medeiros interview:

Jodie Medeiros: And we need to be bold about what we’re doing and invest in the infrastructure and engineering and projects that are going to lead to significant safety improvements and meeting our Vision Zero goals by 2024. What’s crazy about Vision Zero is that we only have six years left in this goal, and I don’t think that we have a lot to show for it yet.

Streetsblog: It seems as if cities never make big breakthroughs until they get a “Bicycle Mayor,” such as Bloomberg or Gregor Robertson in Vancouver, Canada.

JM: I’m very pleased that Ed Lee has adopted Vision Zero and he has made it one of his priorities. But we are having trouble with inter-agency conflict, and that’s stalling projects. Our letter to him asks him to be bold, and to be a leader, and to fix those conflicts. Projects should not be stalled; there’s no reason for that...

Rob's comment:
What's "crazy about Vision Zero" is that it's a policy goal adopted as if it was at all realistic. No, traffic injury accidents and fatalities won't be eliminated by 2024---or by 2124, for that matter. Basing public policy on wishful thinking just makes City Hall look dumb, like the previous 20% by 2020 fantasy.

Like to hear more about the "inter-agency conflict that's stalling projects," but we're not going to get a realistic account from Streetsblog or Walk SF, both of which are anti-car special interest organizations.

More from the interview: 

SB: How will you address the connection between poverty and safety?

JM: Equity should absolutely be front and center of our work. When you look at how many high-injury corridors are located in the Tenderloin, for example, that signals to me that Walk SF’s emphasis should be on improving the streets in that neighborhood, hands down. 

That is why we are doing community outreach for a safer Taylor Street. It’s one tiny project, but we are also working with Supervisor Kim’s office to see if there’s anything we can do to focus on these high-injury corridors, with wider sidewalks, slower traffic, bulbouts, painted crosswalks–--these are all simple design fixes that can be done cost effectively. Walk San Francisco brings diverse communities together, so we work with Tenderloin Safe Passage, we work with senior groups...I had a great conversation with Donald Falk, Chief Executive Officer of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.

SB: What did you talk about?

JM. About how he wants to work with Walk San Francisco more and learn about Vision Zero. That’s key to our work: bring groups together so we are all pushing in the same direction. We don’t just need to join with transportation advocacy groups–there’s so much work that can be done with other community organizations...

Rob's comment:
But wider sidewalks, bulbouts, and painted crosswalks can't by themselves make streets safer if the main issue is, as Commander Ali said two years ago, a lot of "really bad behavior" by everyone on city streets: distracted pedestrians, negligent cyclists and motorists. Human nature/behavior is hard to design or engineer, which is why it's not even mentioned in the interview. 

This is also why talking with community groups and "bringing diverse communities together" on the issue is also not likely to have much effect. Everyone supports traffic safety, but not everyone behaves responsibly when they are on city streets.

And not every neighborhood supports taking away street parking to make bike lanes or to ban cars on busy streets.

More from the interview:

SB: How do you thread the needle when local communities hamstring and fight safety improvements? Think about Chinatown’s opposition to a car-free Stockton, or the Bayview pushing to remove bike lanes from Paul Avenue. I mean, Paul Avenue is having a recently installed bike lane removed because of local opposition.

JM: It’s all about advocacy. The Supervisors need to hear from other communities--–disability advocates, parents, maybe more than just bike advocates on one side and a church on the other...One of the good projects coming out of Walk San Francisco’s participation in the Stockton Street project is car-free Powell. Granted it’s just a couple of blocks, but it’s  a start. Parklets on Powell street was a start, and look what it’s led to. Demonstration projects often work. It’s about pilot, pilot, pilot.

Rob's comment:
But when some kind of pilot program was proposed to determine the traffic consequences of the Masonic Avenue project before it was implemented, the city rejected the idea with the lamest rationale.

More from the interview:

SB: Let’s talk about Automated Speed Enforcement.

JM: It’s at the state level. David Chiu’s legislation would give us a five-year pilot in just San Francisco and San Jose, so we need to do our state lobbying to help pass this through committee in early January. We are doing our homework and pulling our forces together to try and get this moving. Speeding is the leading collision factor, causing ten times more fatal and serious collision injuries than drunk driving. We have to have a public education campaign about speed like we’ve had on drunk driving. And we need enforcement, like the cameras, to help change behavior.

Rob's comment:
Like Congestion Pricing, speed cameras are the ultimate anti-car fantasy, both as an enforcement mechanism and, for already predatory cities like San Francisco, a potential source of money to support a bloated payroll.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

True Believers talk to each other

From a Streetsblog interview with the new Executive Director of Walk San Francisco:

Streetsblog: During your years with the Bicycle Coalition, what was your greatest accomplishment?

Jodie Medeiros: Getting past the injunction.

SB: The Rob Anderson environmental lawsuit? That really jammed things up, but it also forced some creativity, didn’t it?

JM: (Nods) We weren’t able to paint anything on the street. We weren’t able to put up a single bike rack. It was really an interesting time in our city’s history. Out of that period came the Great Streets program at the SFBC–--and that lead[sic] to Sunday Streets, and parklets, and institutionalizing the parklets program. These are now things that we see every day in San Francisco. Parklets are flourishing. We’re using our streets for better uses than just car parking. That period was the greatest in my transportation history. I’m very proud of it.

Rob's comment:
Out of the mud grows the lotus! The injunction against the city we got way back in 2006 was traumatic for the anti-car folks. It was one of the few events that pierced their normally impenetrable political bubble (see Susan King, the injunction, and PTSD and The Guardian rewrites history).

Note how Streetsblog and Medeiros talk around the issue without any specifics. How and why exactly did we get Judge Busch to issue an injunction against the city's Bicycle Plan? Because the city was obviously violating the most important environmental law in the state, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that requires an environmental study before implementing any project that even might have an impact on the environment. The city was beginning to implement its 500-page Bicycle Plan on the streets of the city without doing any environmental study

Yes, the city and the anti-car folks came up with the parklet idea, which they like because constructing parklets requires taking away parking spaces from those wicked motor vehicles (Parklets: Institutionalizing the smoking section). Why anyone but smokers want to sit next to motor vehicle traffic with the accompanying diesel and carbon monoxide fumes is still a mystery to me.

More from the interview:

SB: If that was your brightest accomplishment, what is your biggest disappointment

JM: Change in San Francisco is too slow. That’s definitely something that I’ve learned in my career in the SFBC and the Housing Coalition. Unfortunately, policy and engineering takes time.

SB: We aren’t on track to attain the Vision Zero goals either.

JM: (nods) It’s horrible, it’s tragic–--what’s most tragic is it’s preventable. We know just 13 percent of our streets are responsible for over 75 percent of severe and fatal injuries, so our streets are dangerous by design. It’s not rocket science. We have the tools to re-engineer our streets.

Rob's comment:
All the "improvements" made to city streets under the Vision Zero idea have made no difference at all in the number of traffic accidents or fatalities in San Francisco. That result would give pause to everyone but the True Believers at the Bicycle Coalition, Streetsblog, Walk SF, and the SFMTA. For the latter---and the Department of Public Works---the Vision Zero bullshit is also a source of jobs to implement all that "re-engineering."

More on the interview tomorrow.

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This day in history: Origin of Species published in 1859

From This Day in History:

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a groundbreaking scientific work by British naturalist Charles Darwin, is published in England. Darwin’s theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called “natural selection.” In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species.

Darwin, who was influenced by the work of French naturalist Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and the English economist Thomas Mathus, acquired most of the evidence for his theory during a five-year surveying expedition aboard the HMS Beagle in the 1830s. Visiting such diverse places as the Galapagos Islands and New Zealand, Darwin acquired an intimate knowledge of the flora, fauna, and geology of many lands. This information, along with his studies in variation and interbreeding after returning to England, proved invaluable in the development of his theory of organic evolution.

The idea of organic evolution was not new. It had been suggested earlier by, among others, Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin, a distinguished English scientist, and Lamarck, who in the early 19th century drew the first evolutionary diagram—a ladder leading from one-celled organisms to man. However, it was not until Darwin that science presented a practical explanation for the phenomenon of evolution.

Darwin had formulated his theory of natural selection by 1844, but he was wary to reveal his thesis to the public because it so obviously contradicted the biblical account of creation. In 1858, with Darwin still remaining silent about his findings, the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace independently published a paper that essentially summarized his theory. Darwin and Wallace gave a joint lecture on evolution before the Linnean Society of London in July 1858, and Darwin prepared On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection for publication.

Published on November 24, 1859, Origin of Species sold out immediately. Most scientists quickly embraced the theory that solved so many puzzles of biological science, but orthodox Christians condemned the work as heresy. Controversy over Darwin’s ideas deepened with the publication of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), in which he presented evidence of man’s evolution from apes...

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