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] gmail.com. I need your expertise, your voice, to keep TGM consistently informative and relevant to Marin’s changing urban and transportation landscape.


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)

Mid-Week Links: Perfect Storm

San Francisco Bridge Before the Storm

Photo on flickr by Matt Muangsiri

A ludicrous amount of stuff is happening this week in the City. Though much of the week has already gone by, Fleet Week and America’s Cup, along with others and your regularly-scheduled weekend fun, are still to come.

So take transit and spare yourself the pain of hunting for parking (though if you do, download SFPark and get your passengers to tell you where to go). If you don’t live near a stop, use one of the park & rides. Golden Gate Transit has the rundown for its added service. Unfortunately, that won’t include Route 29 to Larkspur Landing, so you’ll have to bike, drive, or walk from Lucky Drive.

So for the sake of your sanity, your nerves, and the good people of San Francisco, leave the car in Marin.

Marin and Beyond

  • Regional transit service to and from Marin will be the subject of a new study funded by the Community Transportation Association of America. All transit options are on the table, but whether anything will come to fruition is another story. The study is to be completed by 2013. (News-Pointer)
  • If your home shares walls with another, you’ve got a year to quit smoking. San Rafael will ban smoking in attached homes like apartments, as well as on downtown sidewalks, starting next October. (Pacific Sun)
  • 75,000 square feet of downtown Tiburon has been sold to real estate investment firm for an undisclosed sum. The sale means the buildings will likely receive some long overdue renovations. (IJ)
  • The stink of rotting algae at Spinnaker Point in San Rafael has raised the ire of residents and BAAQMD, though nobody who can do anything about the problem wants to pay for it. (IJ)
  • San Anselmoans took back downtown from the car for last Sunday’s Country Fair Day, bringing out the young, the old, and the stormtroopers. (Patch)
  • Y’know that new train control system on Caltrain being paid for by High Speed Rail money? Yeah, it’s a gigantic waste of money and won’t do anything it’s supposed to do. Just like the last train control system. (Oakland Tribune, Systemic Failure)
  • Apparently, President Obama wants to keep freeways out of the suburbs. The position Marin took 40 years ago has reached the White House. Sadly, Congress has yet to get the memo. (Washington Post)
  • And…: San Rafael needs a new parking manager, and it seems there’s room for the office to do some reform. (City of San Rafael) … Forcing people to wear bicycle helmets is a sure way to harm bicycling and make everyone less healthy and every bicyclist less safe. (NYT) … The Ross Police Department faces dissolution if Measure D doesn’t pass.  (IJ)

The Toll

This week, Hailey Ratliff was struck and killed by a driver. Eight others were injured.

  • Dalton Baker, a high school student, critically injured himself when he was clotheslined while riding his bike in Healdsburg. He ran full-speed into a parking lot cable that he apparently didn’t see. He’s lost part of his liver and may lose both kidneys. (PD)
  • Two pedestrians crossing the road were injured by a hit-and-run driver in San Rafael. The driver rear-ended another car, which in turn struck the pedestrians. Police are searching for the culprit. (IJ)
  • A four-year-old was injured after a driver pulling out of a driveway bumped him in Mill Valley. It’s extremely important not to dismiss such incidents, as children are frequently killed this way. (IJ, Kids and Cars)
  • A woman whose tires disintegrated on the road lost control of her vehicle, crashing it and injuring herself in Novato. (Patch) … A woman crashed her car into a Petaluma fire hydrant, injuring herself and causing a geyser. (PD) … Two were injured when a driver wasn’t paying attention to the road and caused a three-car crash in Santa Rosa. (PD)

Mid-Week Links: Rise Above

CA - Marin County: Fort Baker - Battery Spencer and Golden Gate Bridge

photo from flickr, by Wally Gobetz

Marin and Beyond

  • Most of the residents planned for in the Civic Center Station Area Plan won’t use SMART to get around in their everyday trips, but that doesn’t mean the housing won’t reduce per-capita greenhouse gas emissions; building homes within walking and biking distance to North San Rafael will do that. (IJ, Streetsblog)
  • Mill Valley has formally objected to its RHNA number, saying that 129 new housing units too many for the city to zone for. The city stopped far short of following in Corte Madera’s decision to leave ABAG, with some councilmembers questioning how that could help. (MV Herald)
  • Very small apartments, on the order of 220 square feet, are being considered by a number of cities to attract the kind of young people that are just starting their careers and who view the city, rather than just their apartment, as their living space. (Sustainable Cities)
  • Amid opposition to athletic complexes at the San Rafael Airport and Hamilton, it’s worth asking – is there actually a dearth of quality athletic facilities in Marin? (IJ)
  • If you commute to the South Bay and don’t want to drive, it turns out you can transfer from GGT to most of the Silicon Valley shuttles at Lombard & Filmore, at least according to a new map of the services. It might take longer, but at least you can avoid 101 driving, then city driving, then more 101 driving. (Noe Valley SF)
  • Traffic congestion isn’t everything, and it’s important for planners to keep in mind the broader context of transportation costs to ensure dollars are spent for maximum return. Often, that means on something other than congestion relief. (Planetizen)
  • And…: San Rafael Target begins construction. (IJ) … You don’t want to drive into the City next week – trust me – but Golden Gate Transit has you covered. (GGT) … The water taxi has arrived in Marin, offering for-hire services to Tiburon, Sausalito, and points around the San Francisco waterfront. (IJ)

The Toll

Thankfully, only one person was injured on the roads this week.

  • Three drivers, including a police officer, were involved in a three-car crash in Santa Rosa on Wednesday. It’s unclear who was at fault, and only minor injuries resulted. (PD)
  • The woman who was hospitalized after a driver crashed his SUV into a downtown San Rafael restaurant last week is in stable condition. The crash is still under investigation. (IJ)

End-Week Links: Flight


photo from Flickr by Doc Searls


Marin County and Beyond

  • Marin Transit has accepted a four-year contract with Golden Gate Transit. The dealwill result in lower costs for MT and a shift in supplemental bus service to an alternative vendor. MT plans to revisit the contract in two years to ensure its viable over the long term. (Marinscope)
  • Brett Richards has a new blog about the Ross Valley Sanitary District, and he wants to make sure everyone reads it. Richards, the former general manager of the RVSD, has fallen off the radar since quitting the agency under a cloud of scandal and bizarrely unprofessional behavior. (Patch)
  • Santa Rosa has rezoned part of Coddingtown Mall in preparation for the SMART station. The zone is a compromise between mall owners, who wanted to maintain their mall car-centered, and the city, who wanted the opposite. (PD)
  • Marin General Hospital is proceeding with its rebuilding efforts, and a draft EIR is now available for comment. The $500 million project would expand the hospital to 660,000 square feet and provide 919 parking spaces. (NBBJ)
  • Complaints of racial profiling, discrimination, and unprofessional behavior were aired in a Marin City meeting with the county sheriff’s department. The county has pledged to work on the issues. (IJ)
  • To meet the environmental challenges facing Marin, from sea-level rise to car-dependency, we need to build where we’ve already built and strengthen our built and natural environments. (IJ)
  • Bikeshare got an official stamp of approval when the Federal Highway Administration released a guide of what makes a good bikeshare system. The burgeoning transportation mode isn’t a bicycling panacea, and it’s important for Marin and other cities to carefully weigh the costs and benefits. (Streetsblog)
  • And…: If the UN wants to herd us into public transit, it has a funny way of going about it. (Systemic Failure) … Eliminating streetlights is an idea crazy enough to work. (Strong Towns) … The Golden Gate Bridge will have an all-electronic tolling system by next year. (SFist)

The Toll

Five people were wounded on the road this week. Another two men died on the road, though both deaths could have been caused by medical events rather than the actual crashes that resulted.

  • A 68-year-old man crashed his SUV into a garage in Santa Rosa and died. It’s not apparent whether the crash killed him or if he suffered a medical emergency, killing him and causing the crash. (PD)
  • Paul Borré died while driving in Petaluma on Monday, though it seems he suffered a “major medical event” that killed him, causing the crash. His daughter, who was in the car with him, survived uninjured. Paul was 41. (PD)
  • In Petaluma, a woman driving a car hit and injured Thomas Williams, who was walking his bike across the street in a crosswalk. She gave Thomas $60 for his bike, then sped off. Police are searching for the suspect. (PD)
  • A woman was seriously injured when a driver used an SUV to push her into a shop on Fourth Street in San Rafael during the Thursday farmer’s market. The driver was taken in for questioning, and it’s unclear whether it was an accident or not. (IJ)
  • Richard Marshall seriously injured himself by crashing his truck (perhaps while under the influence) into a tree in Novato. (Patch) … A motorcyclist lost control of her bike and injured herself as a result on Highway 1. A driver injured another motorcyclist in the same area by making a U-turn into his path. (Marinscope) …

End-Week Links: Circling

A view of our past, this home movie was shot from a passenger airplane in 1941. Though mostly of San Francisco, what looks like a Northwestern Pacific passenger ferry can be seen, as is a still-industrial Tiburon, before landfill built up the downtown we know and love today.

Marin County

  • Contract negotiations between Marin Transit and Golden Gate Transit are drawing to a close. GGT has its final proposal (the proposal), MT is weighing what might happen if the relationship ends (PDF, page 15), and we’ll see what happens on Monday. (IJ, GGT, TAM)
  • While Marin relishes its small-town character, it’s vital that we leave the door open for new history to be written, to allow our downtowns to continue their evolution as vibrant commercial centers for more than just antiques and ice cream. (MV Herald, Joyce Kleiner)
  • There’s now a moratorium on building permits in San Geronimo Valley to protect salmon spawning streams. A judge ordered the moratorium, settling a lawsuit by environmental group SPAWN against the county which argued environmental protections lacked teeth, violating CEQA laws. (IJ)
  • The Marinship building is now on Sausalito’s register of historic places. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs owns the building, but found that it would be extremely expensive to renovate and wants it torn down. Though Sausalito hopes more money will come from the feds to fix it, Congress has begun to micromanage all real estate in the government’s portfolio; it’s unlikely House Republicans would be willing to part with the extra money. (IJ)
  • Marin Sports Academy is pondering a 78-acre sports complex in Hamilton, and neighbors are having none of it. (IJ)
  • This Wednesday, listen to some of the leading thinkers on development in Marin and how to target growth to support Marin’s conservation efforts and character. Wednesday, September 19, 7-9pm, 618 B Street, San Rafael. (IJ)
  • San Anselmo is taking applications for an open seat on the Planning Commission. (RV Reporter) … MTC released its 2012 Getting There Guide, complete with regional transit and rail maps. (Bee) … Visit West End for a culture crawl on Sept. 21, 6-8pm, and find out what you’re missing in the oft-overlooked neighborhood. (IJ)

The Greater Marin

  • Transit is extremely popular among Americans, with fully twice as many supporting its expansion over roads. Whether living in urban or rural places, whether liberal or conservative, young or old, people choose transit over roads. Alas, politicians – local, state, and federal – continue to choose road expansion instead. (Streetsblog)
  • Bicycle lanes will be exempted from CEQA if a new law is passed in Sacramento. The environmental review process has been used to great effect by opponents of the lanes, who say they will unduly harm traffic. (Planetizen)
  • Water taxis and water buses are coming soon to the San Francisco waterfront, and possibly up to Sausalito and Tiburon. The water taxi, run by Tideline Marine Group of Sausalito, is negotiating for landing rights in Marin, and would be an on-call ferry service. The buses, run by the confusingly-named Water Taxi Co., don’t have plans for Marin. (SFGate)
  • Rohnert Park celebrates its 50th birthday this week. The city, deliberately founded as a placeless, centerless suburb, wants to shed that history and found a new town center, just like its older, more urban neighbors. (PD)
  • San Jose’s governance has not innovated like its population, leading to old-school policies that stifle innovation, support big companies over start-ups, and limit downtown to a shadow of what it could be. The suburbs, meanwhile, accommodate innovative companies in sprawling office campuses. (Metroactive)
  • There’s a battle of the parking petitions going on in San Francisco. On one side: people that don’t want to give up their flat-rate or free parking spaces. On the other, people that do. The counter-petition was formed to make the point that neighborhood organizations often don’t represent the whole neighborhood, and that a lot of people really do want things to change. As of press time, the anti-reform petition was about 70 signatures ahead. If you live or park in San Francisco, be sure to sign for reform! (Streetsblog)

The Toll

The roads claimed seven injuries this week, and one person was injured on a bicycle trail. Thankfully, nobody was killed.

  • A woman who was struck by a 13-year-old boy riding his bike on the sidewalk in the city of Sonoma was awarded $1.4 million in damages from the boy’s family and the city. The judge awarded the sum after finding Sonoma’s bicycle ordinance, which allows relatively unfettered sidewalk riding, to be unsafe. (PD)
  • Harry Smith plead not guilty to attempted murder and other charges after appearing court for the first time. He’s accused of running down Toraj Soltani with his car while driving on a golf course. (KTVU)
  • Raquel Nelson, whose child was killed by an intoxicated driver while they were crossing the road in front of their Georgia apartment complex, is still being prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter and faces three years’ prison. She chose retrial over a one year probation in an attempt to clear her name. (Streetsblog)
  • A cyclist in a crosswalk was hit and injured by a driver in Santa Rosa. (PD) … A motorcyclist t-boned a car in Mill Valley, injuring himself. The car driver was fine. (IJ) … A driver fleeing from police injured two people, one seriously, by colliding with the cars they were driving in Santa Rosa. He also hurt himself before being arrested. (PD) … A motorcyclist severely injured himself after leading police on a chase and crashing in west Sonoma County. (PD) … A bicyclist injured himself by crashing near the Marin-Sonoma border. No further details are available. (PD) … A motorcyclist was severely injured in a crash with a car in Santa Rosa. It’s unknown if there were any other injuries, or if the car had a driver. (PD)

Advertising Transit

For a while now I’ve been of the mind that if you want something that doesn’t exist you should make it. Unfortunately, I’m not a filmmaker or an advertising guru so I can’t make ads for transit that are as sexy as car ads, something I’ve always wanted but never seen and suspected didn’t exist.

Muni Diaries apparently has the same thought, but unlike me they up and found this most awesome of ads:


Midttrafik presents … The Bus!
The bus driver is cool … “I’m cool…”
Top nice seating
Gigantic panoramic windows … with impressive scenic view
Designer bells with cool functions
Free handles
It is big… and long
It has its own lane
Yeah, it’s street … and it also runs a[t] night
“I’m still cool”
Yes, the bus is cool, so get up ealier tomorrow and get a good seat
Midttrafik … we’ll handle the driving for you.

Um, wow. I want to ride that bus.

Out of Madrid came a series of fantastic ads that, while about as on-topic as a bank advertisement, certainly do what car ads do for cars: make the product, riding a subway, just as sexy as it should be.

Inject a little wonder into your commute is the message here.

Here – make the world right again on transit.

And how do you advertise night service? Well, when Copenhagan Metro started running 24/7, they ran this bit to let the train-travelling public know:

Made me yawn.

Still, there are a few transit ads here in the US. In a conversation with @AngrySean and @mikesonn we found this low-budget but tightly done ad for Butte County Transit. Ride the B-Line:


A while ago, during the national high-speed rail debates that didn’t amount to much, some of the actors from Mad Men did a spot about rail, and it made a few rounds in the wonky and fan circles, but that is, unfortunately, about it.

The train: You wouldn’t do open-heart surgery on yourself, so why would you drive yourself?

And, finally, we have a series of ads from LA’s Go Metro campaign, which is mostly known for its outstanding print and billboard segments, but it had its TV spots, too. A few particularly surreal used interpretive dancers and a beat poet. This is my favorite:


I only found one really good ad for bicycling, the other thing we transit advocates like to advocate for, but it’s American-made and embraces the full scope of the bicycling culture, though the 20-somethings riding their city bikes on the sidewalk looks a little weird.

Any ad that makes biking as American as apple pie makes me happy.

Most of these I’d take over the squeaky SMART radio spots (Flash) I’ve heard. What’s your favorite transit ad? How would you advertise transit in Marin?

Mid-Week Links return tomorrow.