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Posts from the "Oakland" Category

Streetsblog SF 19 Comments

New Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf: “Time to Re-Envision Our Roads”

New Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf showed promise as an executive with a smart vision for her city’s streets at the annual kick-off party for Young Professionals in Transportation’s SF Bay chapter last week.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf: “Our roads were built to accommodate more cars than they need.” Photo: Cynthia Armour/Twitter

In an interview at the event with Sam Greenspan of the podcast 99% Invisible, Schaaf said “it’s time we re-envision how we use roads” and that “we need to create a physical environment that encourages active transportation.”

An Oakland native and former council member, Schaaf was endorsed by Transport Oakland, a group formed last year to advocate for safer streets and better options to get around the city.

Here are some highlights from Schaaf’s appearance:

  • “I think it’s time we re-envision how we use roads. It’s their public right-of-way. We’ve got a great story to tell at Lake Merritt… There used to be a freakin’ freeway on either end of the lake, and we removed multiple lanes of traffic, we put in a public plaza on one end, where there are free Salsa dance lessons — I mean, it is a party going on every weekend where there used to be roads… Nobody misses those lanes of traffic at all. Our roads were built to accommodate more cars than they need.”
  • Schaaf intends to hire Oakland’s first mayoral transportation advisor, whom she “plans to announce soon.”
  • When asked about how she sees Vision Zero, she said “twenty is plenty,” and noted two recent pedestrian fatalities within the past week. “I don’t think anybody supports traffic fatalities,” she said.
  • “Oakland is multi-modal… we need to create a physical environment that encourages active transportation. It’s good for our health, for our social interactions, for our humaneness.”
  • When asked about expanding Oakland’s bike network, Schaaf pointed to the city’s first protected bike lane going in on Telegraph Avenue this year. She also emphasized the need to re-pave the city’s roads since potholes “can be deadly” for people on bikes, and because the costs of road maintenance increase dramatically when neglected for too long.
  • Schaaf plans to campaign for a transportation bond measure in 2016 to add to Measure BB, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Alameda County voters in November that will raise $7.8 billion in transportation funding over 30 years.
  • On the proposals for streetcars on Broadway and San Pablo Avenue, and the contrast with bus rapid transit improvements, she said “that’s going to be a big hot debate — one (bus transit) is more of a transportation solution, and the other is more of an economic development solution.”
  • “The issue about bus vs. rail is part of the gentrification and equity conversation… it’s incredibly important to educate our elected officials not to always just look at the shiny, pretty thing, because buses are what we need to actually get people to their jobs.” (No comment specifically on the Oakland Airport Connector, though it sounds like her take could apply to that project.)
  • Schaaf noted the blight caused by freeway underpasses, and suggested turning them into a “tunnel of wow” possibly with decorative features, shops, and amenities to make them feel safer and more attractive. “What about those freeways?” she asked, stopping short of mentioning freeway removal.
  • On the proposed second Transbay BART tube through Alameda and Mission Bay: “It will not be cheap… I think it will really reduce congestion. I hella love Oakland, but we do need to think regionally, and it would make a lot of sense for the region.”
Streetsblog LA 48 Comments

California Has Officially Ditched Car-Centric “Level of Service”

Vehicle Miles Traveled in California has been on the decline for a couple of years. Changes in how the state manages transportation changes promise to drive it even lower. Photo: ##http://www.peaktraffic.org/graphics/vmt-california.jpg##Peak Traffic##

Vehicle Miles Traveled in California has been on the decline for a couple of years. Changes in how the state manages transportation projects promise to drive it even lower. Graph: Peak Traffic

Ding, dong… LOS is dead. At least as far as the state of California is concerned.

Level of Service (LOS) has been the standard by which the state measures the transportation impacts of major developments and changes to streets. It is basically a measurement of how many cars can be pushed through an intersection in a given time. If a project reduced a street’s Level of Service it was considered bad — no matter how many other benefits it might create.

Under the previous CEQA regs, the transportation mitigation for a development such as this would have been sprawl-inducing road widenings. Image:##http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/67469#.U-OVrI1dUs0##Arch Paper##

Until now, California regulations made it much easier to build this kind of sprawl than compact, people-friendly places. Photo: Arch Paper

Now, thanks to legislation passed last year and a yearlong effort by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), California will no longer consider “bad” LOS a problem that needs fixing under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). OPR today released a draft of its revised guidelines [PDF], proposing to substitute Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for LOS.

In short, instead of measuring whether a project makes it less convenient to drive, the relevant question is now whether a project contributes to other goals, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing multimodal transportation, preserving open spaces, and promoting diverse land uses and infill development.

“This is exciting,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, principal and director of strategy at Nelson\Nygaard. “Changing from LOS to VMT does away with a contradiction that applicants currently face under CEQA. The contradiction between the state’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements and the transportation analysis requirements is no more.”

This revision in state law promises many positive changes.

Read more…

StreetFilms 7 Comments

Thousands Play in the Streets at First-Ever “Oaklavía”

On Sunday, June 27, Downtown Oakland opened two miles of its streets for traffic-free fun and activities -- zumba dancing, circus arts, BMX bike competitions and performances from local musicians. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) partnered with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Oaklandish, Oakland YMCA, Cycles of Change, and other civic organizations to create the East Bay's first car-free event in the Ciclovía mold. Preparations are in the works for another Oaklavia in the coming months.

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Oakland’s Stimulus Flap: A Shot Across the Bow for Transport Equity?

The Obama administration's warning that the Bay Area has jeopardized federal stimulus funding for its Oakland Airport Connector project -- a story Streetsblog San Francisco has been following for months -- could have national consequences for other urban transit proposals that risk harming low-income riders, civil rights and transit advocates predicted yesterday.

HegenbergerRd_P1_HRes3000px_small.jpgThe proposed Oakland Airport Connector train. Photo: BART via Streetsblog SF

Several Bay Area advocacy groups briefed the media on the civil-rights complaint they filed against the OAC, which the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) heeded last week in a letter [PDF] that threatened to yank $70 million in stimulus money from the project unless planners comply with federal equity rules.

Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, said advocates' victorious bid to push Bay Area's transit planners to examine more cost-effective and equitable alternatives to the OAC would "have a ripple effect" as other cities re-examine how their transit plans would affect lower-income and minority riders.

The FTA's decision on the OAC, described as the first of its kind, "represents government at its best," PolicyLink president Angela Glover Blackwell told reporters, adding that by "us[ing] the power of purse to make transportation agencies accountable, government shows it can be consistent with its values."

So where else are civil rights complaints playing a role in local transportation decision-making?

Read more...
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Streetfilms: Oakland’s Scraper Bikes and the Bike 4 Life Ride

Born in the streets of Oakland, scraper bikes first gained attention as a trend in bicycle customization that spread with viral speed, thanks to YouTube. Since the Scraper Bike video debuted two years ago, they've become much more: a practical means of greening urban space, a social movement, and a rallying point for young people organizing against violence in their communities.

Tyrone "Baby Champ" Stevenson, who styles himself the Scraper Bike King, says the first scraper bikes were created by Oakland teens who coveted, but could not afford, scraper cars -- souped-up sedans painted with bright colors and with rims so large they scrape the undercarriage. Scraper bikes are such a hit that many teens skip the cars and keep pedaling well past the age of 16.

On July 25, Stevenson organized the second annual "Bike 4 Life" ride to call for an end to violence in Oakland's neighborhoods. "We're trying to bring together a gun truce," he says, "because a lot of people in our community are dying from guns." This Streetfilm features scenes from the ride and more from Stevenson about the movement he helped launch.

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Help Oakland Name Its Own “Summer Streets”

uptown_unveiled1.jpgA night scene from Oakland's Uptown Unveiled. Photo: Living in the O
We were excited to welcome two long-time Oakland, CA, groups to the Livable Streets Community this week: Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) and TransForm. Inspired by the success of San Francisco's Sunday Streets, WOBO wants to launch its own East Bay version and is asking for input on what to call the event. Shannon T. writes:

So we took the “Sunday Streets” issue to the streets -- literally -- at last Thursday’s Uptown Unveiled! event at 19th and Telegraph, which itself provided a dramatic illustration of how sweet it is to block off the streets for community entertainment. Hundreds of Oaklanders filled the streets to enjoy performances, people-watching, and other free activities. WOBO’s table drew a stream of walkers and cyclists, and we tapped their creativity to gather suggestions for a name. Together with the ideas generated at Tuesday’s Volunteers Meeting, we’ve got quite a list.

Ideas include "Open Roads," "Streets for People," "Walkland" and "East Bay Easy" -- leave a comment to put in your vote!

Elsewhere, PA Walks and Bikes brought up an opportunity to participate in updating the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Pedestrian Guide; Upper Manhattan residents gave the MTA their suggestions for better routes for the Bx20 bus; and a member in St. Louis Park, MN is looking for advice about a local bridge.

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Memo to MTV: “Pimp My Bike” = Ratings Gold

Via TreeHugger, this YouTube clip features Oakland's Trunk Boiz boasting about their scraper bikes, which sport custom-painted frames and rims to match (more photos here). The video has become an online sensation, drawing more than two million views. Tyrone Stevenson, one of the creators of the scraper bike style, is ready to capitalize, reports NPR:

"Oakland has been taken over by scraper bikes," says Stevenson. "On the Internet, it is worldwide. There's people from literally across the world making these bikes, from Portland, Oregon, to Japan to Australia to Jamaica."

Stevenson says he's already making a living scraperizing bikes, but he's got big plans for the future: trademarks, patents and, someday soon, a scraper bike shop.

Stevenson's rhyme also includes the heavy favorite for Streetsblog's 2008 Lyric of the Year:

I'm movin' on my scraper bike
I'm cruisin' on my scraper bike
My scraper bike go hard
I don't need no car

That's the sound of America's youth culture catching up to the Japanese.

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Green Collar Jobs for Urban America

In Oakland, California, the pathway out of poverty is the new green wave. Yes Magazine reports on a new movement for urban renewal:

A "green-collar job" involves environment-friendly products or services. Construction work on a green building, organic farming, solar panel manufacturing, bicycle repair: all are "green jobs." The green-collar economy is big money, and it's booming. Including renewable energy and clean technology, "green" is the fifth largest market sector in the United States.

If this movement succeeds, the effort in Oakland can point the way forward-to a new era of solution-based politics for cities across the United States. If this movement fails, a city with so much promise could fall further into despair. The stakes are high, and the next six months offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to write a new story for Oakland.