UK to Invest $78 Billion in Roads

We’re told by Sacramento politicians, by county supervisors, by cyclists and transit advocates we need to accept high density housing near transit. We are sewn a story that we can be just as quaint as those progressive, green Europeans. Only here’s the reality check – the UK government just announced a $78 billion road building program. See if any of this  sounds familiar. Over here in the US you may have heard the same rationale made for investing in transit. Here’s what the UK Transport Secretary has to say on the matter: Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity…Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country. The British Government Transportation Whitepaper Read the British government white-paper. This is not some site run by a blogger, not some mere county, this is the British national government recognizing that if one sticks ones head in the sand and bets all the chips on transit, as they had done, it significantly inhibits economic growth and jobs. Excerpt – by the UK Secretary of State for Transport: We need to maximise every one of our economic advantages, and deal with every factor that holds us back if we are to succeed in the global race. Transport is one of the most important factors in making our country prosper. As a densely-populated island, we should benefit from being better connected and more compact. This government has already committed to a major transformation of the rail network. However roads remain the most heavily used mode of transport for people and businesses and we need to give...
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,...
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...
Marin’s Climate Action Plan – Moving into Checkmate Position

Marin’s Climate Action Plan – Moving into Checkmate Position

Fighting climate change is important – but what seems to have become even more important to special interests groups is placing significant impositions on the greater population, sometimes for profit, but also in the simple belief that everyone should make sacrifices to fight climate change, no matter how imposing and how minimal the actual impact is. These impositions surface as: High density housing appearing in your neighborhood, and you discover all ability to oppose it has been undermined (we have to do it to save the planet!) Noise and polluting transportation projects appearing right next to your house that encourage further development, cause congestion and ultimately a negative spiral towards apartment blocks served by trains and trolleys Money that could have been used to address severe traffic congestion problems is instead diverted to pet transportation projects that are entirely cost-ineffective at fighting climate change or moving any significant number of people Higher taxes, cap and trade funds used to pay for the above (high density housing, cost-ineffective transportation projects) Special Interests Moving into “Checkmate” Position What few know about, or realize, is that transit advocates, housing advocates and local government have been getting busy drafting their plan for how Marin should do it’s fair share to fight global climate change. Only a few of us realized what’s been happening – but it’s now time to pull the alarm cord and expose what’s going on. The drafting of Marin’s  Climate Action Plan 2014 Update is akin to special interests playing a game of chess, and moving their queen into position for checkmate. This action plan can be used in a...
Walk Bike Marin’s $28m+ Failure Rewritten Into Success!

Walk Bike Marin’s $28m+ Failure Rewritten Into Success!

While I enjoy cycling and support extending bike paths and trails, residents such as myself have found themselves facing off against bicycle coalitions and bike groups that serve as the vanguard for pushing high density housing. Frequently these groups claim to represent thousands of cyclists and speak  out against the wishes of their membership as covered in another Planning for Reality article. As someone who has been involved in many market research projects I am a big fan of statistics – when used correctly – but nothing could have horrified me more than the manipulation of  Walk Bike Marin and the associated Congressional report deeming the $28m Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program a success. This was further heralded by coverage in an article in the June 30th  Marin Independent Journal “Feds Hail $28m Bike Path Program“. What Should We Be Trying to Achieve? We do need to fight climate change,  reducing vehicle miles travelled. More importantly we should spend our dollars as cost effectively as we can to focus on the most critical resources – road and freeway usage during peak weekday commutes.  It may help with emissions to reduce off-peak trips, but if we can switch people from cars to alternative commute methods that would be the real win – saving time for those who do need to commute by car, and maximizing economic benefit. The economic benefit of reducing peak hour congestion is measured in multiple ways: People can commute to jobs that would otherwise be out of range Children can be taken to activities Additional shopping trips may occur (these may be part of multi-leg trips incorporated...