Don’t Drive to the Parade

For the love of all that is good and holy, don’t drive in to San Francisco today. If you’ve been living under a rock, or really just don’t care about sports that much, here’s a protip: the Giants won the World Series in a sweep, and now all of the Bay Area wants to celebrate on Market Street.

In short, the roads and ferries are going to be packed. Take a bus instead.

Golden Gate Transit has a handy guide to all things Giants and transit-related. They’re adding ferries out of Larkspur and Sausalito to deal with the crowds.

Easy, you say. You’ll just drive to the ferry, right? Yeah, don’t do that either. The ferry parking lots are already full, and the ferries themselves are full, at least for the morning. If you have time, you can swing by the ticket kiosks at either the Larkspur Landing or Sausalito ferry terminals to see if there are any tickets left for the afternoon, but in case you don’t have the time, there’s one unthinkable option: the bus.

Yes, that much-maligned mode of transportation has capacity to spare. As of 8am, commuter buses were emptier than normal, so they definitely have room. You can figure out how to get into the city through, Google Maps, the GGT maps, or my own guide to the freeway below. The strip map can be printed on six standard-sized sheets of paper; just choose “Poster” on your printout. Sorry, the pocket-sized version is coming out a day late.

The full map. Click for a larger image, and click here for PDF.

One other thing that might prove handy is the General Timetable to 101 (PDF), which has how to get anywhere from anywhere on Highway 101.

So don’t drive to the ferry, and you probably won’t get a seat even if you bike or walk there. Don’t drive at all. Take bus to San Francisco instead. There’s room to spare.

UPDATE: It totally escaped my mind that you could take the 40/42 bus from the San Rafael Transit Center to Richmond or El Cerrito del Norte BART stations and take those into the city instead of the direct bus lines. It’ll take longer, and the buses are likely delayed this morning because of heavy traffic on 580, but it is another option. Just don’t drive to the stations; their lots are probably already full, too.

Shootings are Second to Crashes

More police have been killed by cars over the past decade than have been shot. In fact, the number one cop-killer in the US is the car, not the gun. Add in motorcycle crashes and its more than all violent deaths combined.

Transit Miami, in an article about public apathy over traffic deaths, found a table with the causes of police officer death as collected by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund over the past 10 years. Nationally, 173 officers have died nonviolently, such as a job-related illness, 650 officers have been killed violently, and 687 have been killed in traffic.

Think about that. More cops die on the road than die in the street.

People fixate on the violent deaths and try to prevent those, but pay little heed to traffic fatalities. A quick search of Google trends data finds peaks about officers shot or killed. Only one article, from Maryland, was about an officer killed in a car crash, but it’s a memorial piece. There’s talk about the dangers police face every day, but, just like when a civilian dies, traffic deaths are taken as inevitable.

They’re not inevitable. Simple things, easy things, can make police officers and civilians safer when travelling. Road safety isn’t as sexy as bulletproof vests or Tasers, but it’s the difference between life and death for those who have pledged to serve and protect the public. We owe it to them, and ourselves, to never forget that it’s roads, not just guns, that kill.

Police officer deaths by type

Mid-Week Links: Get Up

What’s it like to be a bus driver? How’s it different from a bus passenger? How we get where we go shapes our perspectives and our understanding in ways we miss.

Marin Proper and Greater

  • BioMarin opened its new downtown San Rafael headquarters to much fanfare, with the mayor and lieutenant governor in attendance. The move brings 300 workers to the most transit-accessible place in the county; here’s hoping they take advantage. (IJ)
  • Novato’s new economic development director has some big ideas for Novato, especially downtown, and that could mean some positive change is on its way for the beleaguered city. (IJ)
  • Tam Valley residents spoke out against zoning for 34 new residences at Tam Junction, saying they would cause illness, environmental harm, traffic chaos, and injury to neighbors. (Herald)
  • Road maintenance, housing, and the county safety net will get the bulk of a $5 million surplus allocated by the Marin Board of Supervisors. Still to be decided is how to split $46 million in funding for pension and health liabilities. (IJ)
  • Protected class I bicycle lanes reduce injuries by up to 90 percent where installed, according to a new survey out of Toronto. (Streetsblog)
  • Amtrak continues its move toward moderate-speed trains with a successful 110-mph test in Illinois. That segment is expected to cut about an hour off of the Chicago-Saint Louis travel time. (The Hill)
  • And…: Cotati broke ground on its new transit center, which will include the SMART station. (PD) … A 20-room hotel is coming to Sausalito. (IJ) … New affordable housing is on its way to Hamilton. (NBBJ) … Superman declares a war on cars, slums, and takes it a bit too far. (Planetizen)

The Toll

Our transportation system killed two people and injured two others this week.

  • Alejandro Torres was killed by a driver in Santa Rosa while crossing the street. The driver, Sebastian Valdoz, who was uninjured, says he didn’t see Torres, who was well into the crosswalk. Santa Rosa police are investigating the cause but accused pedestrians of being over-confident when they have the right-of-way and have traditionally laid fault at the feet of the dead. Torres was 24. (PD)
  • Dorothy Buechy, who injured herself in a car crash last Wednesday, died of her injuries in Santa Rosa on Saturday. She was 86. (PD)
  • The IJ reports that the rash of accidents in Monday’s rains slowed down the commute but writes not a word about injuries.
  • The Tiburon man who tried to run down a pedestrian because of the pedestrian’s plaid shirt was banned from driving for three to five years. This is on top of a one year jail sentence. (IJ)
  • A big-rig driver lost control of his truck in the rain and crashed it in Santa Rosa, spilling diesel fuel and injuring himself. (PD) … A bicyclist was hit by a driver in Sebastopol on Friday and suffered major injuries. (PD)

If you’d like to contribute, shoot me an email at theGreaterMarin [at] I need your expertise, your voice, to keep TGM consistently informative and relevant to Marin’s changing urban and transportation landscape.

The Transit Benefit (sort of) Comes Back

Average monthly cost for each commute type. Cells highlighted in red are not fully covered under the federal + state benefit.

This week, Governor Brown signed into law a $75 pre-tax transit benefit for employers to offer employees. It’s a partial fix to cuts to the federal transit benefit, which dropped from $230 to $125 this year.

I say partial because while the federal benefit applies to all companies, California restricts its new benefit to companies with 50 employees or more, excluding a hefty 40% of Bay Area workers. As well, it still doesn’t make the transit benefit equal with the parking benefit; drivers, who get a $240 parking benefit, still have an advantage.

While $230 covered any bus transit commute starting in Marin and most starting in Sonoma, $200 isn’t enough to cover Novato transit commutes to San Francisco or many Sonoma commutes. California still has a way to go to intelligently promote and fund transit, and the region continues to leave low-hanging fruit like congestion pricing on the tree, but it’s good to see the state step up where Congress has failed.

Mid-Week Links: Oops

las gallinas creek, marin county

las gallinas creek, marin county by on2wheelz, on Flickr

Marin and Beyond

  • SMART is owning up to its failures at Gallinas Creek, admitting that it misinterpreted its own guidelines for construction work and violating state and federal protected species and habitat laws in the process. The agency is now seeking the proper permits to continue construction work. (IJ)
  • The Marin Board of Supervisors approved a sprawl development just past Santa Venetia, allowing ten homes to be built far from just about anything. (IJ)
  • That GGT/MT contract isn’t quite as finished as we’d hoped. While staff tried to finalize language, Marin Transit raised concerns that it doesn’t give MT the flexibility to choose which routes GGT would operate, leading to an impasse. (IJ)
  • India issued, then rescinded, an arrest warrant for Vijay Mallya, owner of Marinscope newspapers. His airline, Kingfisher, bounced $1.9 million worth of checks; the warrant was withdrawn when Kingfisher agreed to pay the outstanding bills. (IJ)
  • Every time you use a Clipper card, a computer records that data, and that data can be subpoenaed. There’s also a smartphone app that allows a Clipper card to be read and travel history retrieved. (Bay Citizen)
  • The Federal Housing Administration has loosened restrictions on financing for mixed-use development. Under old rules, which I discussed a while ago, FHA wouldn’t fund developments with more than 25% commercial space. Under new rules, that goes up to 50%. (Streetsblog)
  • Though some Marinites call anything above 4 units per acre “extremely high density housing“, a development in Los Angeles shows that even 40 units per acre can be suburban and walkable. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • And…: American AgCredit plans to build a new office park in Sonoma County, thankfully near a planned SMART station. (NBBJ) … Our Presidential election season utterly ignores car-free issues. (Greater Greater Washington) … MCBC is hosting a family bike workshop this Saturday at 10am in Larkspur. You should definitely be there. (IJ) … Fairfax’s Biketoberfest was a roaring success, as always. (Patch)

The Toll

This week, our transportation system killed three people and wounded 14 others.

  • A man killed himself when he crashed his SUV into a tree in Santa Rosa on Thursday. Police aren’t sure why he lost control of the vehicle, and his name hasn’t been released. (PD)
  • Joseph Von Merta was killed by a driver in Santa Rosa, the ninth pedestrian to die in the city this year. He was hit while crossing the road early Monday morning, and died Wednesday night. The driver, Emanuel Morales-Rodriguez, suffered minor injuries, and fault has not been determined. Von Merta was 57. (PD)
  • A driver died in a single-car crash in Windsor early Sunday morning while she exited Highway 101. Sheryl Greenlee may have suffered a medical emergency that killed her and caused the crash, but the investigation is ongoing. Greenlee was 43. (PD)
  • A driver lost control of their vehicle near Marinwood and spun out on wet pavement. The result was an 11-car crash and eight injured people, six of which had to go to the hospital. (Patch)
  • Cassandre Jade seems to have seriously injured herself in Lucas Valley. She drove off the road and into a creek before dawn on Thursday and was only extricated four hours later. (IJ)
  • Three people were injured in a three-car collision in Healdsburg. (PD) … A bicyclist was seriously injured by a driver in Santa Rosa on Saturday. (PD) … A car flipped on Highway 101 in San Rafael on Wednesday morning. No injury or other information was released. (IJ)

Alternative Future: A Contemporary Interurban

Click to enlarge, or click here for PDF. This map assumes other lines are operating around the Bay Area, but that map will have to wait for another time.

Let’s say for a minute the Interurban hadn’t stopped running in 1941. It was bleeding money, but its parent company, NWP, was a for-profit entity. What if the Interurban had somehow survived?

For the sake of this exercise, I’m taking a few liberties. First, that the Bay Area had valued its rail transportation system from the 30s to the present, but had consolidated it all, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, under the single umbrella of the MTC. Second, that European best practices had been implemented at least in this corner of the country. Third, that the Interurban could now survive on a 50% subsidy. And fourth, that Marin and Sonoma have their current populations, though with less sprawl.

Though I had originally intended for this to be a bit more a light post rather than something more data-driven, a Twitter conversation with Dan Lyke motivated me to put some numbers behind the costs of an Interurban.

Costs per vehicle-kilometer (vkm) vary widely based on the system. Vancouver’s automated Skytrain system costs $2.18/vkm, BART costs around $3.50/vkm, and New York’s subway costs $5.81/vkm. Using quite a few assumptions, I get an average annual operating cost between $43.2 million and $111.6 million. If we assume an average fare of $2.50 and a 50% farebox recovery rate, total ridership would need to be between 8.6 million per year, roughly the same number of transit trips on today’s GGT system, and 22.3 million. With the Geary and North Beach extensions (Muni’s 38-Geary alone carries over 13 million weekday passengers per year), it’s entirely feasible for the system to meet BART’s 80% farebox recovery.

Alas, reconstructing the system would be prohibitively expensive and politically impossible. Large portions of some major roads (Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Fourth and Third Streets, Magnolia Avenue, Miller Avenue, and others) would need to be converted back to rail, wealthy homeowners would need to accept trains running behind their back yards, Sausalito would need to take a new elevated railway along the waterfront, Geary and North Beach would need to be torn up for a new subway, and over $10 billion would need to be spent. While the San Francisco part of the project might be worth it, for 8 million riders per year, most of them already served by transit, the cost and pain of the Marin Interurban simply wouldn’t be worth it.

This map, along with all my other maps, is posted in the Map Room.

Mid-Week Links: Finish Line


Untitled by fabola, on Flickr

Endorsements are in! I don’t do endorsements myself, but that doesn’t stop me from linking to the endorsements of organizations and newspapers I respect. Greenbelt Alliance says Yes to Marin’s Measure A and Yes to Healdsburg’s Measure W. The North Bay Bohemian has its recommendations for state propositions, the Pacific Sun has its comprehensive endorsements for the entire ballot, and the IJ is working through its recommendations on the Editorial page.

Marin County and Beyond

  • SMART is under investigation for violating the terms of its environmental impact report and potentially disturbing endangered clapper rail and salt harvest mouse. The agency didn’t get the proper permits for its demolition work around Gallinas Creek and says its also investigating what happened. (IJ)
  • The Marin Housing Authority is being sued for questionable repair bills and fees housing advocates say were illegally used to balance the agency’s books and causing some tenants to be evicted. (IJ)
  • Marin Transit’s Catch-A-Ride program rolled out a couple of weeks ago, and the feedback is good so far. Catch-A-Ride gives registered seniors a $14 to $18 discount on up to eight cab rides per month. (News-Pointer)
  • Gerstle Park neighbors want a crosswalk removed because it’s supposedly dangerous despite there having never been an accident there. The crosswalk would continue to exist as an unmarked crosswalk anyway. (Patch)
  • It was a close call that saved Richardson Bay from becoming a kind of West Coast Coney Island and the site of a World’s Fair. Less close were dams in the Bay, a submarine base in Sausalito, and a canal from the Pacific to Richardson Bay along Tennessee Valley. (Marinscope)
  • Gas price spikes in California are thanks to a confluence of bad market factors that should begin easing soon. Marin’s car-centric lifestyle and character make it more vulnerable to such shocks than other counties. (IJ)
  • If you ride a bike in Marin, you may want to register it for free with the county sheriff’s office. (Patch)
  • And…: Napa’s Green Commute Challenge is going strong after six years. (Register) … SMART begins its move to a SMART-inaccessible office park. (PD) … Sometimes, transit systems have so much waste that, when restructured, they can become far, far better without a single dime more of operating costs. (Human Transit)

The Toll

Two men were killed and three people were injured.

  • Julio Villalobos was killed by a driver in San Rafael. Police are still trying to determine the circumstances of the incident, and charges have not yet been filed. After outcry over the safety of the intersection, San Rafael’s public works department is taking a fresh look at its safety. Villalobos was 84. (IJ)
  • Heath Kingsley Hunter injured two people and killed himself in Sonoma last Thursday. While on his motorcycle, Hunter rear ended and injured driver Fernando Castro. Hunter lost control of his motorcycle and drifted into oncoming freeway traffic where he collided head-on with driver Christine Luckin, seriously injuring her passenger and killing himself. Hunter was 43. (PD)
  • A driver hit a utility pole in San Anselmo, causing it to fall across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and closing the road for 17 hours. The driver wasn’t injured. (IJ) … A man suffered diabetic shock and crashed his car in Glen Ellen on Monday. It’s unclear if he was injured in the crash. (PD) … A motorcyclist seriously injured a biker in Rohnert Park on Sunday. Police are looking for the motorcyclist, who did not stay on the scene. (PD)