Mid-week links: Marin Transit

Marin County The latest Marin Transit board meeting was one full of change and surprise. Amid increasing ridership (though it fell in June), MT posted a $1.5 million surplus, which will go into a rainy day fund. To keep ridership on the up and up, the agency hired a new communications and advertising consultant, who will manage MT's branding, website, social media, and communications strategy. IJ reporter Nels Johnson, however, seemed to think the $300,000 consultant was taking the agency "for a spin." And, in the name of efficiency, the MT board cut Route 222, which got less than 3 riders per hour in June. Elsewhere:

  • There was so much public comment about Marin's new housing element that the Board of Supervisors had to postpone its debate until next week. (Patch) On a side note, whoever's idea it was to bring in a saxophonist to lead the potentially rancorous crowd in singing, "There's still a lot of love in Marin!" is brilliant. (IJ)
  • The Civic Center Drive upgrades look fabulous, but now that they aren't in a PDA TAM may need to rescind its funding. (Patch)
  • A driver hit a bicyclist in Fairfax yesterday by turning left through a bike lane, sending the bicyclist to the hospital with a broken collar bone. Though the circumstances seem like they warranted an investigation or a failure-to-yield citation, the driver was not cited by police. (IJ)
  • The costs of demand-responsive bus service, promoted by Bob Silvestri as the ideal transit, make it an ineffective replacement for traditional bus service. (Listen Marin)
  • The lack of BART in Marin is apparently because we're classist and racist and always have been. (The Grid) Except, y'know, that's not at all why we don't have BART.
  • TAM should take on all the causes of congestion on Highway 101, not just cars, according to Corte Madera Mayor Diane Furst. She sat on a working group to draft an alternative plan to flyovers on the freeway. (Marin Voice)
  • The Golden Gate Bridge will close for a full weekend next year for the installation of a new movable barrier. This will be the first time in the bridge's history it will be closed for more than a few hours. (IJ)
  • Parking minimums can severely constrain construction, either driving up rents in the building or preventing new construction altogether and contributing to a housing shortage. Affordable housing advocates take note. (Sightline)


  • San Rafael council candidate Randy Warren hits rival Maribeth Bushey-Lang hard, saying her need to recuse herself over issues like SMART make her unfit for service. (IJ)
  • The move to recall Supervisor Susan Adams failed to attract enough signatures, and Save Marinwood is not happy. Interestingly, no signatures were submitted to the county, so we'll never know how far short the recall came. (IJ, Save Marinwood)
  • Paul Mamalakis examines the race for Novato City Council. (Advance)

End-Week Links: Hills

Sunset on a Masterpiece, by C. M. Keiner, on flickr

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Peter robbed; Paul under investigation: Sonoma granted SMART $6.6 million of $9 million in bike/ped funding. The funds, from a federal congestion mitigation grant, will be used to purchase an additional train for the extended IOS. Sonoma bike activists are angry, to say the least unhappy, understanding, and moving forward. (Systemic Failure, SCBC)
  • Tilting at windmills: Wind turbines could be allowed in West Marin under the latest revisions to the Local Coastal Plan. Environmentalists oppose the measure, saying it would industrialize the rural region. (Pt. Reyes Light)
  • Tackling homelessness in San Rafael: Through mental health services and jobs, San Rafael is doing more to fight homelessness than just crack down on nuisance behavior. Here's hoping it does good. (IJ)
  • Another study coming down the track: Transit feasibility in the Fairfax-San Rafael corridor is on its way yet again. TAM and MTC will examine whether BRT, rapid bus, or a full-fledged streetcar line would be best to serve the 5-mile strip. (Pacific Sun)
  • RHNA is almost as fickle as thought: Despite 43 years of affordable housing mandates, California remains woefully short on affordable housing. ABAG has tried to adjust to the demands of cities, but such a scattershot approach doesn't make up for the state process's shortcomings. (Bohemian via Scott Alonso)
  • Get your son on a bike: Research from the UK shows that it's far safer for young men to ride a bike than to drive. Given that driving is the number one cause of death among teenagers, perhaps those Every 11 Minutes campaigns could be supplemented by some good old-fashioned bike lessons. (Red Orbit, CDC)
  • Hybrids really aren't so green: Hybrids, at least if you look at their entire life-cycle, really aren't as green as their reputation. The batteries are difficult to dispose of; the mileage really isn't so great; and their battery will only last about 80,000 miles, meaning one will need to buy a new vehicle far sooner than otherwise. Perhaps Marin needs a new family car, like a bike. (Streetsblog)
  • Do the council shuffle: San Anselmo picks Kay Coleman for mayor. (Patch) ... There's still time to apply for San Rafael City Council. (IJ)
  • And...: Despite the threat of financial receivership, Detroit's downtown is positively booming. (NY Times) ... Local transit has published their holiday schedule. (GGT) ... San Rafael Airport developer compares their sports complex project to Grady Ranch. (IJ) ... The libertarian take on land use planning. (United Liberty)

The Toll

At least five people, and possibly a sixth, were injured this week.

  • Yes, a hit and run is indeed a felony: Jared Whisman-Pryor, who prosecutors say hit and seriously injured bicyclist William Schilling, has turned himself in to Rohnert Park Police. As it turns out, he will be charged for felony hit-and-run. (PD)
  • Obituary for mother killed last week: Barbara Rothwell accidentally killed herself in a car crash last week near Bolinas. The Point Reyes Light paints a portrait of her life cut short. She was 48.
  • Marin Injuries: A driver hit a woman while she was crossing the street in Novato, sending her to the hospital. (IJ) ... A driver seriously injured himself by crashing into a power pole in Terra Linda. (Patch)
  • Sonoma Injuries: Ben Rhoades seriously injured himself and another driver by driving under the influence and colliding head-on with the other driver near Cotati. (Patch) ... A driver rolled their minivan in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, though whether they injured themselves wasn't immediately reported. (PD) ... An 87-year-old driver seriously injured Wilfred Lewis, who was crossing the street in Santa Rosa. The driver said he never saw Lewis. (PD)

Got a tip? Want to write an article? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com or send a tweet to @theGreaterMarin.

End-Week Links: Closure

Drake's Bay Oyster Company

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Shut down the farm: The Drake's Bay Oyster Company has been ordered to close by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The heated debate (video) over whether the West Marin oyster farm could continue to operate in a designated wilderness area has not yet come quite to the end, as the company has already filed suit. (Marinscope, KQED, Pt. Reyes Light)
  • Marin keeps getting older: Marin is indeed getting older, households are getting smaller, and homes keep getting more expensive, at least according to the latest numbers from the US Census Bureau. (IJ)
  • Toward a sub-par Transbay: The downtown railway extension for Caltrain and California HSR is poorly designed and inadequate for the needs of the two systems. Unfortunately, the needed changes are European best practices, something American planners generally aren't comfortable with. (Caltrain-HSR)
  • Affordable housing through luxury housing: Housing becomes unaffordable when luxury buyers start looking for deals in poorer neighborhoods. In downtown Brooklyn, opposition to luxury development has meant more gentrification in surrounding neighborhoods, driving up prices for everyone else. (Bloomberg)
  • There are some new mayors in town: Towns and cities in Marin got around to choosing their mayors this week: Diane Furst in Corte Madera; Andrew Berman in Mill Valley; Pat Eklund in Novato; Dan Hillmer in Larkspur; and John Reed in Fairfax. (IJ, Patch)
  • Don't walk in LA either: Half of all crashes in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs, and the LAPD isn't doing much about it, saying their more concerned with "crimes against a person". Try telling the family of someone killed by a driver they don't count as a "person". (Atlantic) Relatedly, Atherton police aren't filing charges against a speeding driver who struck and injured two women in a crosswalk despite the fact that he was found to be at fault. (Almanac)
  • Travel back in time, today!: Remember how broke Bakersfield is? Yeah, Caltrans still wants to demolish a neighborhood for a new freeway right next to an existing one. It's like the 1960s never stopped. (Stop and Move)
  • Bikers buy less more often: As it turns out, bicyclists spend more than drivers, just not all at once. In general, drivers tend to be purpose-oriented, but riding a bike lends itself to more frequent shopping stops while going someplace. In other words, to build a better retail base, build a better biking culture. (Atlantic)
  • And...: Larkspur's Draft Station Area Plan is out, and it looks pretty good at first glance. (City of Larkspur) ... A few kinks and minimal confusion welcomes the newer, hopefully better, Napa VINE system. (NVR) ... BART will survey riders about whether to charge for parking based on demand. (SFist) ... It might not be such a bad thing to keep the 2/3 requirement for transit taxes. (Systemic Failure) ... More luxury apartments are coming to Corte Madera, resurrecting the Madera Vista development. (TCT)

The Toll

Barbara Rothwell was killed and four people were injured this week.

  • Barbara Rothwell drove her car off the road in Bolinas, killing herself. Her seven-year-old son, a passenger at the time, was spared injury and walked a half-mile to find help. Barbara was 48. (Patch)
  • No charges will be filed against Adam Bigham, a driver who was involved in the July death of cyclist Ruben Hernandez, 37, in Santa Rosa. Prosecutors believe there isn't enough evidence to convict Bigham of manslaughter. (PD)
  • Marin injuries: A driver on the Golden Gate Bridge swerved into oncoming traffic, causing a crash that sent two other drivers to the hospital with minor injuries. (IJ)
  • Sonoma injuries: A driver injured herself and a passenger by crashing her car into an oncoming driver in Petaluma. (PD)

Got a tip? Want to write an article? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com or send a tweet to @theGreaterMarin.

Mid-Week Links: Freedom

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Freedom in the city: It's difficult for someone to give up the keys, especially when living in a rural or suburban setting like Sebastapol. Doing it in the city makes everything easier. Walks are shorter, transit is better, taxis are available at all hours, and people keep active longer. (PD, SFGate)
  • A form of justice: Novato has settled out of court with the family of Melody Osheroff, a 9-year-old killed by a drunk motorcyclist in 2009. The Osheroffs sued the city for poor street design but the city settled for $675,000. A memorial will be built for Melody. (Advance)
  • Autism linked to car pollution: Prenatal exposure to highway pollution has been correlated with increased risk of autism. The research underscores how imperative it is for Marin to develop solid regulations on housing near Highway 101. (Streetsblog)
  • One for the money: BART has plans to double capacity in the next 30 years, from longer trains to express service, and it will need it. Now it just needs to find a few billion dollars somewhere. (SFist)
  • Engineered danger: Speed limits set to match how fast most people drive puts the safety of drivers above the safety of pedestrians or bicyclists that also need to use the road, a dangerous metric for cities trying to take back streets for other modes of transportation. (Copenhagenize)
  • Engineered failure: To really get trains and transit to take off in the United States, the next Secretary of Transportation should be as technically savvy as he or she is visionary. The Department of Transportation needs to stop simply distributing money and start reforming how it does business. (Bloomberg)
  • Minimal damage: Adding people to cities is good for the environment as a whole, but part of the point of density is to concentrate the damage rather than spread it all over a region. If we want to maintain our green Marin cities, we need to bring nature into new developments. (Switchboard)
  • And...: Marin's median income is only middle of the pack in the Bay Area, falling even lower than Contra Costa. (IJ) ... Tiny homes from Santa Rosa are making inroads in the District of Columbia. (WaPo) ... San Francisco to be awarded for excellence in affordable housing, confusing urbanists. (SFGate) ... San Rafael considers raising parking rates. (Patch)

The Toll

Two people were injured since Monday.

  • The 53-year-old man who died last week in Tiburon has been named. Kurt Sears, a resident of Washington State in town for work, died when he flipped his car. (IJ)
  • The teenage Novato driver responsible for injuring himself and five others in a crash last week has plead guilty to a DUI and driving beyond the limitations of his provisional license. His sentence has not yet been determined. (IJ)
  • Marin injury: A teen driver injured himself by hitting another car and sliding off the road in Novato. (Advance)
  • Sonoma injury: A pedestrian was injured by a driver in Santa Rosa. (PD)

Have a tip? Have an article idea? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com.

Monday Links: Long Weekend

Art on the Farm: "Historic L Ranch Beach"

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Hard winter: It's harder to providehousing for the homeless this winter thanks in part to San Rafael's crackdown on the homeless. The city has barred pick-up of the homeless in front of St. Vincent's kitchen this year, and organizers have yet to find a church to house people on Thursday nights. (IJ)
  • The marriage continues: The final contract between MT and GGT has been approved, allowing GGT to continue on as MT's local service contractor. The deal shaves costs by 3.7 percent and cuts the annual cost increase from 5 percent to 2.7 percent. (IJ)
  • MTC shifts priorities: MTC shifted $20 million earmarked for local rail station planning grants to Congestion Management Agencies like TAM. Normally not a problem, the motion was passed spur-of-the-moment without a staff report or motion text, so it's unclear if CMA's would be required to spend the money in any particular way. (Greenbelt Alliance)
  • Seminary delays development: A 117-unit redevelopment in Strawberry is on hold pending a review of the plans by Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. The seminary had faced opposition from the Board of Supervisors and is likely retooling the plan to address supervisors' concerns. (IJ)
  • Faster trip to the Headlands: Muni's 76-Marin Headlands got a makeover last weekend, with faster and more thorough service to sites in the famed recreation area. Marinites can catch the bus Saturday and Sunday at the Golden Gate Bridge. (Muni Diaries)
  • Aged out: Elderly drivers disproportionately cause car crashes, but it can be difficult for them to give up the keys when they're no longer safe behind the wheel. In areas like Sonoma and Marin, where alternatives are few or expensive, it can be even more difficult. (PD)
  • And...: A special tax district that requires developers to actually pay for city services is under attack in Santa Rosa. (PD) ... Just because a ridiculous proportion of California drivers are drunk or on drugs, legal or otherwise, while driving doesn't make it any less of a bad idea. (SFist) ... Dave Alden is only cautiously optimistic on community-funded real estate, saying it could open the door to exactly the kinds of abuses the SEC wants to avoid. (WDWGfH?)

The Toll

The roads killed two and left 16 injured since the 15th.

  • Emile Smith severely injured himself and killed his passenger, Selena Ross, after Smith crashed his car on Friday in Santa Rosa. Selena Ross was 33. (PD)
  • An unnamed man rolled his car and killed himself in Tiburon last Friday. Nobody else was injured. The driver was 53. (IJ)
  • Marin's Injured: A driver caused one minor injury while trying to pull into the Drake High School parking lot in San Anselmo. (IJ) ... A driver injured himself in South Marin by striking a rock in the 101 shoulder, causing his car to flip. (IJ) ... A teen driver injured himself and five others while speeding through Novato last week. He has been arrested under suspicion of driving while drunk and high. (IJ) ... A police officer on a motorcycle injured himself in Tiburon by crashing his bike into a driver in another car. The other driver was unhurt. (IJ) ... A drunk driver stopped on Highway 101 and was swiftly struck by two others, one of which was injured in the pile-up. (Patch)
  • Sonoma's Injured: A speeding and reckless driver crashed into two cars and flipped his own in Petaluma, injured himself and one of the other two drivers. (PD) ... A driver injured himself by crashing his tanker truck in Salt Point State Park. His accident spilled oil and antifreeze into the sensitive area. (PD) ... A driver crashed his car in Sonoma County last week, injuring himself and no others. (PD) ... A driver struck and injured a pedestrian in West Sonoma. (PD)

Have a tip? Have an article idea? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com.

Mid-Week Links: Novato Moving

Looking at Novato and Beyond Things are starting to move in Novato, six weeks after the tragic crash that killed Hailey Ratliff. A memorial walk two weeks ago saw hundreds turn out, with city officials and residents expressing support for safer streets. Elisabeth Thomas-Matej joined my call for protected bike lanes in the city while a neighborhood group is investigating ways to lobby for safer streets. And, now that the driver who killed Hailey was cleared of wrongdoing, the Ratliff family has decided to sue Novato for negligence. The suit argues that poor road design, high speeds, and untrimmed vegetation all contributed to the tragedy.

Only time will tell if this movement is permanent. For the sake of the city and its people, I hope it is.

Marin Greater and Lesser

  • Marin County has the second-lowest number of people commuting alone to work in the Bay Area, bested only by San Francisco itself. Though it's still somewhat high at 65.2 percent, fully 19 percent don't drive, take transit, or carpool at all, and that probably means a lot of walking and bicycling. (CoCo Times)
  • Santa Rosa faces a tough decision with its Coddingtown SMART rail crossing. It can spend $1.7 million for a pedestrian overpass, or close one at-grade crossing so state regulators would allow the city to open a new at-grade crossing here. (PD)
  • Parklets could come to Fairfax, that is if the concept passes through all the governmental hoops alterations to parking usually have to jump through. (Patch)
  • The Italian Street Painting Festival is back! After a hiatus and concerns it wouldn't return, organizers received enough seed money to revive San Rafael's biggest street festival of the year for next summer. (Patch)
  • Sprawl in Tiburon is being subsidized by Marin and the costs are skyrocketing. A court ordered the county to pay half the cost of a housing development's EIR, and the cost has now reached $468,000. (IJ)
  • Larkspur has the worst roads in the Bay Area. While not much of a problem for drivers, bicyclists have a tough time navigating the cracked and buckled pavement. (Bay Citizen)
  • Marin's mountain biking history and culture is on display at the SFO gallery, so stop by next time you pass through. If you really want your fix, don't forget that we have an express bus; for a $40 round-trip, it's actually not much more than a high-class theater. (Pacific Sun)
  • A fighter pilot is trained to keep watch for any movement and to use his or her eyes to maximum effect. Drivers and cyclists, who aren't trained in the fine art of attention, should be. An RAF pilot has some tips for how to detect cyclists if you're a driver, and how to avoid getting missed if you're a cyclist. (London Cyclist)
  • And...: Caltrans hit with record fine for breaking water quality rules in 101 construction. (PD) ... A new Boston rail station is being funded by New Balance. (Archpaper) Could Fireman's Fund do the same for SMART in Novato? ... Fare hikes and service cuts are coming to Santa Rosa's CityBus. (PD) ... Marin Transit's Muir Woods Shuttle awarded for excellence. (NBBJ) ... Corte Madera's long-awaited park cafe has finally opened. (IJ)

The Toll

One person died and two others were injured this week.

  • Richard Giacomini drowned after crashing his truck into a West Marin reservoir this week. The well-known rancher was 71. (IJ)
  • Joe Kwai Lee, the driver accused of killing Alvine Heese with his car last week, has plead not guilty in Santa Rosa court. He was driving to a doctor's appointment on a suspended license. (PD)
  • A woman was injured by a driver backing out of their driveway in Santa Rosa. (PD) ... A motorcyclist injured himself by crashing his bike in Sonoma County. He suffered only minor injuries. (PD)

Two-Week Links: Busy Busy

Farmer's Market, San Rafael Quite a bit has happened in the past two weeks, so I won't bore with an introduction. From SMART to the economy to a rash of deaths, it's been eventful. Oh, and that whole election thing. Here are the highlights.

Marin and Beyond

  • The driver who killed Hailey Ratliff was cleared of wrongdoing by Novato PD, who said the driver was going the speed limit and that Hailey was at fault for failing to yield to traffic. (Patch) While the Ratliff family has moved back to New Mexico, their former neighbors are investigating ways to make Novato streets safer. (IJ)
  • It won't be viable to raise SMART tracks at Jennings Road in Santa Rosa. The planning process was begun too late for that option, but the other contenders - an at-grade crossing and an elevated pedestrian crossing - aren't so great, either. (PD)
  • California is hiring new staff so water quality permits for SMART and Marin County can be approved more quickly, and SMART and Marin are picking up the tab. (IJ)
  • San Rafael is waging a crackdown on homelessness in its downtown and is looking to move homeless services out of the neighborhood. City manager Nancy Mackle calls it a quality of life concern; homeless advocates call it unjust and capricious. (IJ)
  • The economy is going strong in Marin, and it's going to get better. So says the Marin Economic Forum, which projected continued job and income growth for at least the next two years. (IJ)
  • With a second term secured, the Obama Administration has a fantastic opportunity to reform how the US funds infrastructure, builds railroads, and stop some of the principal drivers of sprawl. (Atlantic)
  • Not every coffee shop needs to sell tea, and not every building needs to look the same. David Alpert makes a cogent argument for form-based zoning and for abolishing parking minimums. (GGW)
  • Yeas and nays: Sausalito City Council gets a much-needed shake-up. (IJ) ... Ross gets to keep its police department. (IJ) ... Marin parks and open space get a boost. (Patch) ... Levine vs. Allen still unclear, except to Levine. (PD, KSRO) ... And the rest of the initiatives, state propositions, and offices. (Pacific Sun
  • And...: A major mixed-use office building opens in Novato. (IJ) ... Larkspur's Doherty Drive is looking good with new bike lanes. (James Bikes) ... The Larkspur Ferry set a ridership record by transporting people to the Giants victory parade. (Patch) ... George Lucas is pressing on with developing Grady Ranch despite Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. (Patch)

The Toll

Three dead, 19 wounded in just two weeks of travel in Marin and Sonoma.

  • Alvin Hesse was killed by a driver on Wednesday while crossing the street in Sonoma. Police arrested a suspect, 80-year-old Joe Kwai Lee, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. Hesse was 93. (PD)
  • Two other drivers were killed in two separate, single-driver crashes in Sonoma County. (PD)
  • 92-year-old Leo Arkelian hit two teens crossing the road in Sonoma with his car, seriously injuring one and moderately injuring the other, but he denies that he hit anyone and is fine to drive. His denial raises the question: when is someone too old to drive? (PD)
  • Toraj Soltani, testifying at trial, detailed his harrowing experience nearly getting run over by Harry Smith: how Smith yelled at Soltani and tried to run him off the road, Soltani's retailiation, and the apoplectic rage that nearly turned Smith into a murderer. Smith is on trial for attempted murder and assault. (PD)
  • Remembering John Von Merta, a homeless man who was killed by a driver while crossing the street last month. (PD)
  • A bicyclist injured himself by falling off a trail in West Marin. While a friend was retrieving his bike, a driver careened off the road nearby and got stuck in a tree; the friend helped the driver escape. (Patch)
  • Santa Rosa: Two drivers injured themselves by colliding head-on.  (PD) ... A pedestrian crossing the road was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver, who was later found and arrested. (PD) ... A driver hit and injured two trick-or-treaters on Halloween, while another child was hit by another driver in a separate crash that night. (PD)
  • Everywhere Else: A driver injured herself and her passenger on Highway 101 in Greenbrae. (PD) ... Three people were injured in a three-car crash on Highway 12 in Glen Ellen. (PD) ... A driver injured himself and two others in Healdsburg by crashing into a pole. (PD) ... A driver and bicyclist collided in Sonoma; the biker was injured. (PD) ... Four people were injured in three separate crashes caused by drunk drivers in Marin last month. (IJ)

Mid-Week Links: Get Up

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_V657yEhWY]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

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 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

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


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

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2n5RQe3Ou0] 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: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_Si6Jg8-ds] Translation:

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_97DelYEVc]

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

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqfbvYbSImA]

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:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U73hxVMWjEM]

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:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR-j0ancz2w]


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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R57ZwTquraE]

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:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZplGBAwSwA]


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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlH5I2IzRNc]

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.

Mid-Week Links: Back to School

Max's 14 speed Rohloff If back-to-school traffic seems bad, that shouldn't be surprising. Nationwide, only 13% of kids walk or bike to school, and 75% get a car ride. The inevitable result is more traffic, more congestion, and a worse commute for everyone. As the birthplace of Safe Routes to School, Marin County has it better than most, with few schools isolated from neighborhoods with busy streets and an active bicycling culture. Walking and biking to Wade Thomas was one of my favorite parts about growing up in San Anselmo. Consider sending your kid off to school tomorrow on a bike, or biking with them. Maybe you'll find out how close things really are on two wheels.

Marin County

  • There is a lot going on with the Civic Center Station Area Plan: new heights, different densities, and a new "promenade" around the station's neighborhood, and opponents who object to half of it. At the core of the current dispute lies the question, How urban should Marin's Urban Corridor actually be? (Pacific Sun)
  • Given the sprawl that would be any affordable housing at Grady Ranch, and given the outcry over envisioning new housing near the Civic Center, the IJ wonders where Marinites actually want to put affordable housing.
  • As Marin City ponders incorporation, perhaps Marin ought to consider reincorporating into the City and County of Marin. The dozens of overlapping boards and districts, not to mention the baker's dozen local governments could get a haircut and consolidation, saving taxpayers at all levels some money. I wonder if town character could be maintained with such amalgamation. (IJ)
  • Transit ridership hit record levels last year around the Bay Area as the local economy continued its recovery. GGT was not immune: the Ferry hit a record 2.2 million riders last year, and even Golden Gate Bus saw a third straight year of increasing ridership, to 6.7 million. (Mercury News, GGT)
  • It's the definition of selective attention that drivers coming from 101 are complaining about the blight of a 17-foot blank firewall being erected by the Ritter Center in downtown San Rafael. Perhaps they haven't bothered to walk down Second recently. (IJ)

The Greater Marin

  • Cutting car usage isn't just about the environment or public health. Given the sheer amount of space we need to use to accommodate cars, cutting the use of cars is just common sense. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • A freeway bypass is coming to Willits in Mendocino County. The 5.9-mile project, which will cost $210 million, is intended to skirt the town and remove a frequent backup on Highway 101. Environmentalists call the project wildly unnecessary and damaging. (Press Democrat)
  • After introducing all-door boarding on all Muni routes, it turns out that people haven't been cheating the agency out of money as feared. Instead, it's been all positive, with people boarding more quickly and buses moving faster along their routes. (SFist)
  • Downtown Santa Rosa apparently had a spare 400 spots available, as parking income has surged from city-owned garages in the city center. The income seems to be from the 400 or so downtown workers that used to park at the mall's free parking garage but have stopped now that the mall has started to charge after 90 minutes. (Press Democrat)
  • And...: Napa inaugurated VINE Route 25 this week, restoring a bus connection between the City of Napa and the City of Sonoma. (Napa Valley Register) ... The luxury Embarcadero development 8 Washington will go before San Francisco voters in November, 2013. (SFist)

The Toll

This week, one man was killed and four people were injured from driving in Marin and Sonoma.

  • Last weekend, Kevin Kight crashed his motorcycle near Windsor, killing himself. The father of three was 44. (Press Democrat)
  • A car driver pulled onto River Road in Sonoma and a motorcyclist ran into the car. The victim, Joe Oliver, suffered moderate to major injuries. The car driver was unhurt. (Press Democrat)
  • The man who crashed his Vespa and launched off the San Rafael Skyway is a 42-year-old man named Timothy Bergman. Bergman survived the 40-foot fall with a laundry list of broken bones and is now recovering at Stanford Hospital. (Patch)
  • Harry E. Smith, the 82-year-old Oakmont man who ran down 47-year-old bicyclist Toraj Soltani with his car on a golf course, has been charged with attempted murder. (Press Democrat)
  • A man crashed a stolen car into a bank in Santa Rosa, causing himself minor injuries and wrecking a good deal of the bank. He is being held in Sonoma County jail. (Press Democrat)
  • A crash on southbound 101 in North San Rafael on Tuesday resulted in no injuries. (IJ) ... A driver was injured after he and a truck driver collided near Forestville. (Press Democrat) ... A 22-year-old woman severely injured herself by crashing her car at the Tiburon Wye on Saturday. She was given a DUI citation at the scene. (IJ) ... An 86-year-old man injured himself by crashing his car into two others in Novato. The drivers of the other cars were not injured. (Patch)

Got a tip? Want to contribute? Get in touch at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook using the links on the right, and don't forget to get up-to-date transit news at #NorthBayTransit.

Mid-Week Links: Par-tay!

2012_08_26_14 As well, I'd like to point your attention to the new link, My Bay Area Ideas, a transit blog by Marinite Anthony Nachor, who you may hear more of. He joins the North Bay blogosphere as the second blog about transit and urban affairs. The Greater Marin's masthead has been updated accordingly. I'm excited to read what he has to say.

With a steadily deteriorating commentariat on Patch and the IJ, it was only a matter of time before some of it started slipping into our fledgling forum. To head it off, I've implemented a new comments policy that I shamelessly adapted from Greater Greater Washington. Regular commenters have yet to even come close to crossing the line, but one-offs on the FAQ have been less than helpful and I'd rather start a good commenting culture now than wait for it to get bad.

Marin County

  • Fairfax hosted over 1,000 people at its first-ever Streets for People event last Sunday. Not quite a street fair, not quite a simple road closure, the street became the scene of performances, children playing, and neighbors chatting - just like streets are supposed to be. (IJ; photos on Patch)
  • Tomorrow, August 31, GGT is moving bus stops (PDF) for Routes 54, 56, 58, 72, 72X, 74, 76 from Fremont Street to accommodate Transbay Terminal construction, though they'll be back on Tuesday. On another note, the PDF they made for the announcement looks printable; is this part of their steady improvement in communication? Let us know in the comments if you see it around. (GGT)
  • GGT is also running a modified bus and ferry schedule this weekend, so be sure to check it before you go. (SF Ferry Riders)
  • And...: Want to live in your own San Anselmo mansion for $800 per month? (Ross Valley Reporter) ... More free parking in Sausalito. (IJ) ... The cutest transit video you'll see this week - man proposes on a Caltrain, where he and his girlfriend met. (ABC)

The Greater Marin

  • The highest barrier to bus ridership is poor information, and that barrier stretches higher still when bus systems run low frequencies. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • Healdsburg limits the number of new housing units to 30 per year, but the town is starting to wondering whether that leisurely pace is too slow. (Press Democrat)
  • The Swedish village of Jakriborg is small, planned, quaint, car-free, and only 12.5 acres. How many Jakriborgs could fit into a typical Marin park-and-ride? And how much money do transit agencies lose when they build a park-and-ride instead of a Jakriborg? (Cap'n Transit)
  • California passed two major bicycle reform bills, the first implementing a three-foot passing law and the second streamlining environmental review for bike lane projects. It's a good week to be a cyclist in California. (CBC, Streetsblog)
  • Americans gouge themselves on infrastructure costs by creating inefficient work rules, restrictive bidding processes, and putting contractors in charge of controlling their own costs. It's not just bad for transit; it's bad for everyone. (Bloomberg)
  • Slums aren't all awful, and are often better than the countryside people move from. So why shouldn't cities and countries invest in making them actual places instead of just clearing them out? (Foreign Policy)

The Toll

This week, three people were killed, including a baby; a man, a woman, and three children were seriously injured; another woman suffered moderate injuries; and an unknown number suffered other injuries. The week prior, I failed to report another man who was seriously injured.

  • A man riding a Vespa catapulted himself off Highway 101 at the San Rafael Skyway, falling 40 feet onto Second Street below. He suffered major injuries and the dog he was traveling with was killed. (IJ)
  • A woman driving a car hit a man on a motorcycle in Cotati, leaving him in a ditch with major injuries. The driver fled the scene and is still at large. The crash occurred on the 19th. (Press Democrat)
  • Though just north of Sonoma County, this crash bears reporting. Three people were killed and four injured after a southbound driver drifted into the northbound lanes of Highway 101. In the southbound car were four passengers - a man, a woman, an infant, and a four-year-old girl. All but the girl were killed, and the survivor suffered major injuries. The driver that struck them, along with her two child passengers, were injured as well. (Press Democrat)
  • A driver slammed her truck through a Sausalito 7-11, but luckily nobody was injured. (IJ) ... A number of drivers crashed into one another on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge yesterday morning. Further details are unknown. (IJ) ... Tiburon's plaid-hating driver pleads guilty to assault with his car, gets six months in prison. (SFist) ... A woman was moderately injured by a driver after she ran a stop sign on her bike in Santa Rosa. (Press Democrat)

Mid-Week Links: Streaks

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EUw69IJZlI] Bicycling has exploded everywhere in the past five years, and every time I go down Miracle Mile I see at least a few bicyclists en route. In the 1990s, they would be a rare sight indeed. In San Francisco, families are turning to the bike as a means of moving kids, groceries, and the rest, and it largely works. But the rapid expansion of bicycling has not been met with similarly rapid expansion of bicycling infrastructure. Advocates in more urban areas, such as San Francisco, insist this is the way forward, while guerrilla infrastructure shows just how easy it can be to make a bike lane, and therefore a street, safe.  Miracle Mile is wide enough for a protected bike lane, and Marin is an ideal place for others. Perhaps we should try, too.

Apologies for the spotty update schedule. Personal scheduling made it impossible to devote as much time as needed for a good blog, so I've been on something of an unplanned hiatus. But, much happened over the past two weeks, and here's the best of it.

Marin County

  • Marin Transit ran slightly less of a deficit in FY2011-2012 than expected, but budget crunch isn't stopping minor capital improvement projects or expanding its volunteer driver service for the elderly. Meanwhile, contract negotiations with GGT are going "really well" and are expected to be completed by the end of the month. (IJ)
  • SMART plans to spend $12 million to create "quiet zones" where its trains won't have to blow their horn while crossing streets. If the district had chosen to operate a transit line instead of a mixed passenger/freight railroad, it wouldn't need to spend the money in the first place. (Systemic Failure)
  • Despite neighbor opposition, San Rafael unanimously approved the Civic Center Station Area Plan. The plan, however, would have neighbor concerns attached to the report to inform debate over future development in the area. (IJ)
  • San Rafael owes California almost $1.6 million in redevelopment agency funds, at least according to the state. San Rafael and other cities are protesting the bill which they say unfairly excludes bond obligations. (IJ)
  • Grady Ranch is apparently zoned for 240 affordable housing units, though it would be a sprawl project run amok, far from the freeway, amenities, transit, and anything resembling "walkability." (IJ)
  • Sausalito councilmembers Carolyn Ford and Mike "Hand-Slapping" Kelly will not run for reelection this year, leaving only one incumbent - Linda Pfeifer - in the race. She will be joined by six others in a fight for three at-large seats on the famously contentious body. (Pacific Sun)
  • And...: Patch wonders if distracted pedestrians are victims of natural selection when they get hit by traffic... GGT is moving some bus stops in North Beach to make way for Central Subway construction. (GGT)... Fairfax will hold Streets for People this Sunday, 12-4. (Patch)

The Greater Marin

  • Easier transfers, more direct routes, and shorter headways are in store for Napa's transit-riding public. NCPTA wants to double ridership on its VINE bus system to 1.2 million trips per year and thinks this may be the way to do it. (Napa Valley Register)
  • California has another $43 million it can spend on any transportation project it likes. The US Department of Transportation released the money from unspent earmarks as part of a national $470 million initiative. Whether Caltrans will spend that money wisely, of course, is anyone's guess. (Sacramento Bee)
  • The presidential race is absolutely a study in contrasts, and transportation policy is no exception. In short, the Obama Administration wants to dramatically boost spending on transportation, though whether Congress will allow him to do so is another story. A hypothetical Romney Administration, in contrast, would dramatically shrink federal spending in the sector, and would likely have a Congress amenable to such a plan. (Transportation Politic)
  • And...: Clipper Cards to cost $3 after September 1. (Sacramento Bee)... Santa Rosa reconnects its grid with a new 6th Street underpass. (Press Democrat)

The Toll

Over the past two weeks on our transportation system, one man died, eight people were seriously injured and 12 people suffered minor injuries. The details:

  • Scott Reyna died after crashing his truck on Highway 101 near Petaluma early Monday morning. The crash caused a huge backup later in the commute, and subsequent crashes in the resulting backup sent a woman to the hospital with minor injuries. Scott was 43. (Press Democrat)
  • That same morning, another man seriously injured himself while driving under the influence on Highway 101 near Marinwood. (Patch)
  • A bicyclist, Toraj Soltani, was chased down and struck by an elderly driver last Thursday in Santa Rosa. Soltani tried to avoid the driver by moving to a golf course, but the driver pursued off-road and ran him down, inflicting serious injuries on Soltani. 81-year-old Harry Smith was later arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. (Press Democrat, IJ)
  • On Sunday, a man drove north in the south-bound lanes of Highway 101. Eventually, he struck another vehicle near Cotati, inflicting major injuries to himself as well as the driver and passenger of the other vehicle. (Patch)
  • A woman injured herself and the four children in her car when she crashed into the back of a parked truck in Novato. Thankfully, all injuries were minor. (IJ)
  • A man hit a woman with his car in downtown San Rafael. The woman suffered pelvic injuries as a result, and the driver was arrested for driving on a suspended license. (IJ)
  • And...: Someone hit a telephone pole on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in San Anselmo, but no report of injuries. (Patch)... A 2009 bike-on-pedestrian crash in Sonoma goes to trial. (Press Democrat)... A man seriously injured himself while lane-splitting on a motorcycle in Novato. (IJ)... A man suffered minor injuries when his garbage truck crashed into a gym in Novato; no word on whether he had control of the vehicle he was driving. (Advance)... Five people were injured in a three-car pileup in Rohnert Park. (Press Democrat)... A cyclist injured himself in Santa Rosa. He was trying to avoid a car that apparently had the right-of-way. (Press Democrat)

Mid-Week Links: Area Plans


Marin County

  • The Larkspur SMART station should be moved, at least according to attendees of a Station Area Plan workshop. While the town can't do much to change the station's location, the delay in that leg of the system means it could be moved to be near the ferry terminal. (Twin Cities)
  • Up the tracks, there is concern brewing that the Civic Center Station Area Plan would bring too much traffic and detract from the iconic Civic Center itself. (Patch)
  • Test results at a number of Bay Area bridges were falsified, according to an internal Caltrans investigation. The Bay Bridge and the Richmond Bridge both were the subject of false testing, though Caltrans is sure the two spans are safe. The Golden Gate Bridge is administered by a separate agency and was not part of the testing. (IJ)
  • Fairfax passed a balanced budget for coming fiscal year. The $7 million plan is bolstered by surging sales tax revenue, thanks to the new Good Earth store, and savings from empty posts, including that of Town Manager. (IJ)
  • Robert Eyler argues for a more reasoned approach to approving new development, one that separates fact from opinion and the interests of a neighborhood from the county at large. (NBBJ)
  • And...: One person thinks former RVSD GM Brett Richards deserves some praise; another thinks the San Rafael Airport rec center absolutely doesn't. (IJ) ... Mill Valley Lumber could be saved. (Pacific Sun) ... Highway signs are in the offing for The Village shopping center. (Twin Cities)

The Greater Marin

  • The Richmond refinery fire disrupted a major transportation hub, not to mention a city of over 100,000 people, and residents are pissed. Unfortunately, while other agencies announced service disruptions, GGT was, once again, silent. (SFist)
  • San Franciscans will likely vote on luxury development 8 Washington in November, 2013. Opponents dislike the size, amount of parking, and the fact that it's for rich people. (SFGate)
  • Preliminary reports on Muni's all-door boarding experiment show marked increases in speed on some major routes. Before GGT copies its maligned cousin, though, it may want to adopt all-door exiting like every other major transit agency. (Streetsblog)
  • Healdsburg unanimously approved a sprawl project of 28 homes far from the city center. Though the homes aren't terribly far out, they will be far from the city center and transit. (Press Democrat)
  • If you think you know everything there is to know about Marin's old streetcars, you might want to find out about Contra Costa's. The Museum of the San Ramon Valley is putting a number of artifacts on display detailing the history of mass transit in CoCo. The exhibit runs through August 19. (CoCo Times)

The Toll

  • This week: one pedestrian with severe injuries, six drivers or passengers with unspecified or minor injuries, and two crashes with no injuries.
  • The man who died riding a bike in Santa Rosa last week was a PE teacher in town for an educational conference and leaves behind a young family. The intersection where Ruben Hernandez was killed will soon get a stoplight as part of a new development, though it's unclear if the city council would have done anything otherwise. (Press Democrat)
  • Two drivers hit one other on Highway 101 last Thursday morning. No injuries were reported. (IJ)
  • A driver had a seizure and crashed his SUV into a ravine off Shoreline Highway. The driver was transporting kids to a surfing day camp, but thankfully nobody was injured. (IJ)
  • The driver of an armored vehicle lost control and crashed after nearly being struck by the driver of a horse trailer on Lucas Valley Road. The armored vehicle's driver was hospitalized, and his passenger was treated at the scene. (IJ)
  • A semi was struck from behind on northbound Highway 101 and its driver lost control, sending the truck into the southbound lanes near Tiburon. The driver suffered minor injuries, though no word on who hit the truck. (IJ)
  • A Porsche (it's unclear if anyone was driving it or not) hit a woman in Greenbrae after literally going under an SUV. The woman has been hospitalized with serious injuries. (IJ)
  • A drunk driver pulled in front of someone driving a Jeep in Larkfield, causing an accident. One of the drunk driver's passengers was injured, and the other - a 4 year old girl - was unharmed. No word on the condition of either driver. (Press Democrat)
  • A motorcyclist was injured on Highway 101 in San Rafael last week, though it's unclear how he was injured or the extent of his injuries. (Patch)

Mid-Week Links: Formalization

Marin City Sunset

Marin County

  • Marin City is pondering incorporation. Though it would give the community of 6,000 greater independence in some respects, it would also mean higher costs, its own RHNA, and added responsibilities now taken care of by the county. (IJ)
  • Skywalker Properties was partially to blame for the Grady Ranch debacle, at least according to the state water board, because it knew certain aspects of its creek restoration effort were "unacceptable." (IJ)
  • New housing guidelines are in development for unincorporated Marin, and the county wants your input. (Pacific Sun)
  • And...: The Marin District Attorney has launched an investigation into a $350,000 housing loan given to former RVSD general manager Brett Richards. (IJ) ... Belvedere has an interim city manager. (IJ) ... Fairfax to get electric vehicle charging stations. (IJ)

The Greater Marin

  • Metro Atlanta rejected a major investment in its transportation infrastructure on Tuesday, turning down a 1% sales tax in all but three of its regions, which will see their own investments. Transit advocates are, of course, disheartened. (Streetsblog)
  • The fiscal health of a city is related to its urban form. Sprawling suburbs cost more to maintain than more densely packed cities and towns. Stockton and Bakersfield didn't go under because of too much housing; they went under in part because they spread it too thin. (CNN)
  • Coddingtown Mall is throwing its weight around, demanding that the Coddingtown Station Area Plan leave some streets without bicycle lanes, cut out other bike lanes and new streets that cross mall property, and more, saying they would impose "undue economic hardship" on the property. (Press Democrat)
  • Napa County has a new director of transportation and planning. Kate Miller's resume is thick on more urban experience, running AC Transit and working for MTC, and here's hoping that will translate into better service for the Valley. (St. Helena Star)
  • When Caltrans wants to improve air quality in Los Angeles, it doesn't turn to transit, it turns to wider roads. (Bay Citizen)

The Toll

  • A 37-year-old cyclist died in Santa Rosa after a driver hit him at an intersection. He's the fifth bicyclist to be killed in Santa Rosa this year. (Press Democrat)
  • Sonoma: A very intoxicated driver seriously injured himself and a man standing in the shoulder of Highway 116. (Press Democrat) ... A driver ran off a cliff and survived. (Press Democrat) ... A driver was beaten and his car was stolen after a minor fender-bender in Santa Rosa. (Press Democrat)
  • Marin: Two motorcyclists riding at around 100 miles per hour collided, seriously injuring one another. (IJ) ... The plaid-hating Tiburon driver apparently also hates bicyclists. (IJ) ... A woman drove off Highway 101 and injured herself. (IJ)
  • The toll this week was one person killed, six people injured, and one person beaten.

Mid-Week Links: Plaid

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/4140910 w=620&h=357] Now that Fairfax and Sausalito are cracking down on cyclists violating stop-signs, perhaps it's important to ask whether current law is the best law. A bicycle, after all, is absolutely not a car - it can stop faster, gives a better field of view, and is much more efficient when moving than when stopped. Idaho allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, to great effect. California ought to pass the same.

Marin County

  • Marin and Sonoma both dropped state parks from their park taxes after $54 million was found in the state parks department's coffers. While Sonoma's plan is dead, Marin's tax plan would go to county open space instead. (Planetizen, IJ, Press Democrat)
  • Larkspur and Tiburon are both pondering library expansions, though residents in both communities wonder if the proposed buildings will be too large for the demand. (IJ)
  • HOV lanes in Novato are now open to the driving public, ensuring easy driving for a little bit until traffic catches up with capacity. (IJ)
  • A permanent farmer's market, a roundabout, and other improvements will come to the Civic Center under a plan recently approved by the Board. Unfortunately, it's at odds with the SMART Station Area Plan for the Christmas Tree Lot just south of the station, which calls for 4-5 story residential and retail. Planning and design for the improvements will cost about $2 million. (IJ)
  • And...: Construction has begun on SMART's railcars. Delivery is expected in about a year. (Patch) ... Novato will convert a city-owned building into art studios for around $100,000. (IJ) ... A West Marin ecotopia could be shut down for running afoul building regulations, but its builders pledge to carry on. (IJ)

The Greater Marin

  • Projections of growth are so often wrong, but they always inform whether we build new freeway lanes or rail lines or whatever. There must be a better way. (Strong Towns)
  • Activists accuse Veolia Transportation, which operates Sonoma County Transit, of human rights violations and want the county to investigate. Veolia's parent company operates bus service between Israel and West Bank settlements. (Press Democrat)
  • MTC will study a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax on Bay Area drivers to raise money for roads and transit. The tax hasn't gone anywhere in other jurisdictions, but boosters are optimistic a VMT would be an answer to the Bay Area's financial woes. (Mercury News)
  • Some Chicago designers want you to help create the perfect transit app. Not only would it tell you how to get where you're going with the schedule, it would give you real-time arrival information, allow stopovers for coffee or errands, interface with your calendar, remind you to bring an umbrella, and more. (Co.Design)

The Toll

  • You'll notice I have this new section for the death and injury toll on the roads in Marin and Sonoma as reported by local news outlets. Why? Because in the first three months of this year, 7,280 people were killed on the road in the US, doing nothing more than living their lives. It's the least we can do to report on the human cost of our road-centered policies in this little corner of the country. (Atlantic Cities)
  • A Tiburon man drove onto a sidewalk to hit a pedestrian whose plaid jacket he didn't like. The suspected driver, Eugene Thomas Anderson, has been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. (IJ)
  • Three cyclists were struck by drivers in Santa Rosa this week, though one driver claims to have lost control of her vehicle. None suffered more than moderate injuries. Separately, a driver suffered moderate injuries after running his car off the road. (Press Democrat)
  • In Marin, two people were slightly injured in a bizarre two-crash incident in Novato. Another driver drove off the road in San Rafael, giving herself minor injuries. A driver couldn't negotiate a turn and so rolled his van about 150 feet down a West Marin hill, resulting in minor injuries to himself and one of his four passengers. Lastly, a driver lost control of his truck in Larkspur, crashing it into a nearby townhouse. The driver and passenger sufferend moderate injuries. (IJ, Twin Cities Times)