Save Taxpayers Money – Offer Limousine Shuttles for Cyclists

MTC’s response to Planning for Reality’s Public Records Request for the costs of the Richmond Bridge bike path includes a remarkable expense. As most folks know the bike path will cost $68m – but will likely be used by fewer than 156 cyclists over a 3 hour commute if usage is consistent with Marin bike paths (source: Walk Bike Marin, see table on page 23), meanwhile restoring an already built third car lane will cost $15m: The remarkable item appears on page 9: Relocation Assistance (Shuttle for Bikes) $1,095,000 Escalated value 2015: $1,161,685.50 Further into the breakdown it clarifies: Relocation Assistance Assume 8 hours a day Shuttle operation, 365 days a week, at $75/hr for 5 years $1,095,000 This appears to be a temporary shuttle bus that for five years will drive cyclists back and forth across the bridge! The ~156 cyclists don’t even have to wait for construction to complete, unlike the tens of thousands of motorists who will remain stuck in traffic until the work is completed. Limousines Cheaper than $1.2m Bike Shuttle It would be cheaper to taxpayers to rent limos for cyclists. You could rent a limousine for less than $75/hour, even before negotiating a discount for 5 years of service! Here is a list of multiple San Francisco limo services in SF that cost less than $75/hour (even before negotiation): http://www.sftodo.com/limousine_san_francisco.html Note: Planning for Reality anticipates receiving MTC’s response to its second records request on Richmond Bridge bike path costs by Feb 10th 2015. This original MTC response provided Nov 6th 2014 clearly showed the bike path cost of $68m, yet MTC’s spokesman Randy Rentschler stated...
Powerpoint Slides from Nov 13th Citizen Marin Presentation

Powerpoint Slides from Nov 13th Citizen Marin Presentation

Many of you have inquired about obtaining my presentation from the recent Citizen Marin event held on November 13th at San Rafael City Hall. Here is the presentation in both pdf and ppt format: Powerpoint Presentation (pdf) >> Powerpoint Presentation (ppt) >> Note: You may use the slides on websites and presentations on condition that you credit the source as follows: “Created by Richard Hall,...
The $68m Bridge Too Far

The $68m Bridge Too Far

Many Marinites and East Bay residents suffer at the hands of acute delays on both 580 and 101 in the evenings caused by the evening backup on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. The fix is on the way drivers have been told thanks to a $70.3m project set to: add an additional third lane that operates during the evening peak towards Richmond construct a bike path the length of the bridge span Planning for Reality questioned just how this $70.3m was allocated between the additional lane – likely a striping and signage exercise – and the bike path.  Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the Bay Area’s regional transit authority – responded. The $68m Bike Path (was $53m) The breakdown, shown right in MTC’s response is as follows: Bike path: $53m Peak period third car lane: $15m Initial project development costs: $2.3m Not shown – cost to replace bike access path: $15m UPDATE: Note at the bottom of page 12: Please note that the peak period (3rd) lane use may result in the loss of existing bicycle access in Contra Costa County from Pont Molate to Richmond on I-580 shoulder. The estimate cost to replace this access is $15 million and was not included in the $70 million estimate Take a look at those numbers again, now consider the number of people who would benefit from the projects: Cars on 580 peak hour: 6,100 Cars on 101 peak hour: 14,000 Avg #car occupants: 1.13 #hours peak commute: 2 Total people affected: 45,426 According to the latest 2013 Walk Bike Marin bike counts the average Marin bike path has 53...
The Richmond Bridge Bike Path – A Bridge too Far?

The Richmond Bridge Bike Path – A Bridge too Far?

While acknowledging that bicycle infrastructure is behind the curve and merits increased expenditure, we are seeing bike path projects where expenditures have been getting out of hand. Transportation funding is dwindling, the SMART train already diverted $11.4m of funding earmarked to solve congestion at the 101 Greenbrae interchange. Thanks to highly effective bicycle lobbyists and “transit oriented development” Marin’s commuters face another diversion of transportation funding.  The Cal Park tunnel  project works out at a cost of $675,000 to remove one car from our roads. That’s quite an extraordinary expense.  And we now look set to follow this boondoggle with another bike path costing even more over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. The Cal Park Tunnel – the $27m Bikers Boondoggle SF Streetsblog, a pro-cycling and TOD site, reports: After 17 years of planning, the Cal Park tunnel will open to Marin County cyclists today, providing a shorter, safer route between San Rafael and the Larkspur Ferry for an estimated 800,000 riders a year. The 1.1-mile project includes class 1 bike lanes to connect the 1,106-foot bore with Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on the south and Anderson Road in San Rafael So how much did the project cost? The initial estimate was $3m but by completion the cost had ballooned to $27m. Claim: 800,000 Annual Riders. Reality: 40 an Hour at Peak It’s claimed that tunnel will be used by 800,000 riders a year –  a seemingly enormous number. This translates to 2,191 riders today if the claim is to be believed. Consider for perspective that the population of Marin is only 258,365 according to the latest US Census figures....
Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

This coming Friday Caltrans is set to open up a new section of carpool lane northbound from Atherton Avenue/San Marin Drive exit to the Birkenstock warehouse, about 1.3 miles in length. This carpool lane will increase the capacity of 101 by 1,200 cars per hour – which at 1.67 occupants per hour (US DoT figure) and 3 hours of peak hour travel equates to 6,012 people getting where they need to go faster in that lane – not withstanding the additional congestion removed that speeds up the other lanes. This means $9m was spent helping 6,012 people = $1,497 per person Comparison to Bike Path ROI per Person Walk Bike Marin and the Nonmotorized Transportation Program identified three locations where $27.7m was spent to build bike (and pedestrian) paths. On average locations transport 53 riders an hour or 159 riders. This means $9.2m was spent helping 159 people = $58,071 per person This is 3,779% higher than the cost per person to improve 101 via a carpool lane. (although some of this was pedestrian so this gives bikes an unfairly low number) According to the Marin County Bicycle Coalition the total estimated cost for building Marin County’s complete bicycle and pedestrian network is over $100 million (Source). Comparison to SMART Here are the ingredient numbers. SMART will cost $1.2billion, at best using highly optimistic figures, it might transport 330 people daily. I’ll let readers do the math. Moral of the Story Our county supervisors and planners need to keep their eye on the ball and recognize that job #1 for dwindling, hard earned transportation funding is to move as many...
New State Planning Guidelines Disregard Traffic Impact

New State Planning Guidelines Disregard Traffic Impact

If you live within 1/2 mile of a “major transit stop” – meaning a stop served by buses running at a frequency of every 15 minutes or less at peak, or within 1/2 mile of a train station or ferry terminal  – then you should be aware of a new change to transportation analysis. Effective January 1st 2015 areas meeting  this criteria – which spans most of Eastern Marin – can henceforth exclude traffic delay, parking impact and building aesthetics as considerations that may block development or impose mitigation measures. Even if you’re outside of a Transit Priority Area (TPA) you should still be concerned – Senate Bill 743 provides the option for the new law to apply citywide or countywide. So a pro-development city or county such as Marin, whose supervisors’ plans to build far exceeds ABAG’s quota, can apply the new rules much more extensively. The result is that in effect the entire map shown, or county of Marin could be considered a Transit Priority Area. Transit Priority Area is exactly what it says – an area where transit trumps cars. Residents are expected and encouraged to use transit instead of driving. This is where planners whims and residents reality diverge. What Does this Mean Where I Live? If a developer plans to build high density housing in your neighborhood – an occurrence happening with alarmingly increasing frequency in neighborhoods that previously thought they were insulated such as Strawberry in Mill Valley – then even if the new development causes acute traffic congestion, parking issues or the building just looks ugly there’s not much residents can do...