Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Save the Ringwood Ave Bike/Ped Bridge

This bridge is a useful connection between parts of Menlo Park split by the 101:

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CalTrans, as usual, wants to add lanes to the 101. In the process, they need to demolish the current bridge. But they are happy to build a new, better (wider, so hopefully more bike-friendly) one.

This would be pretty much a non-issue except that a group of (brazenly racist) NIMBY's from the more affluent neighborhood west of the 101 petitioned the Menlo Park city council to not replace the bridge, since it provides access for criminals (though nobody can cite an actual crime committed by a user of the bridge) and brings down property values. The council sensibly rejected this. Now another group from the same neighborhood, apparently ones who don't keep up on local news quite so well, have suddenly heard about the project and making the same request.

The bridge is well used, among others by students of Menlo/Atherton High School who happen to live on the unfashionable east side of Menlo Park. Members of this community are understandable annoyed at both the injury of losing pedestrian access to the rest of the city, and the insult of being classified as undesirables who should be kept out, and have started a Save Our Bridge petition.

The bridge is a useful link for making bike trips along the Baylands, and if you do or think you might use it for that reason, I urge you to sign this petition (people who live or work around (not necesarily in) Menlo Park are especially encouraged to).

Monday, April 13, 2009

No Tunnels!

This is the scenery that passengers of BART's SFO/peninsula extension could be enjoying. These are images of the abandoned SP San Bruno branch line (hotlinked from RailsAroundTheBay.net), the original entrance into SF, which the BART line was built under--denying passengers what might've been one of the most scenic rides in the BART system, instead condeming them to a dark and eardrum-assaulting passage.

The explanation, beyond brazen goldbricking, is the usual NIMBY opposition to having to hear, or even being forced to look at, trains going by. Or rather, in this case, opposition by proxies of the actual neighbors of the right-of-way, since most of them (the line passes by the cemeteries of Colma) are no longer voters. That's right--as a transit rider, you rank below dead people, at least when it comes to enjoying scenery!

A few months ago (before the vote for HSR last fall, actually) Palo Altans began campaigning to get CalTrain's tracks through their city buried in a tunnel. They theorize that the ambiance of Alma St, which parallels the tracks, is being brought down by passing trains. Never mind that Alma is not much more than a four-lane expressway/traffic sewer. It's going to take a lot more than hiding the trains to make it a nice place to take an evening stroll!

With the passage of the HSR measure, there's been a lot more talk of tunneling up and down the line, instigated by the need for complete grade separation before bullet trains can whizz up and and down the peninsula, and the fact that the High Speed Rail authority has proposed to accomplish this by elevating the line.

I personally think the simplest solution is to keep the tracks at grade, and deal with cross-streets one at a time. After all, in PA, University Ave, Embarcadero Rd, Oregon Expwy, and San Antonio Rd have already been over and underpassed, leaving, by my count, only four actual grade crossings left: Alma, Churchill, Meadow, and Charlston. Churchill and Meadow could probably just be closed, being close to Embarcadero and Charlston, respectively, leaving only two crossings to be separated. Surely that's a simpler and cheaper solution than either elevating of burying the line.

Anyway, to get back to my main point: burying transit in tunnels, besides the horrendous expense, seriously degrades the experience of rides. Fight for your view!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Tumbleweeds on the Cowcatcher

Next thing you know, we'll be held up by train robbers!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Don't Get It

How meta--an ad for advertising:

But I don't get it. The first half seems to allude to the Trix commercials of my youth. The second reminds me of an old joke involving the Lone Ranger that is unfit for a family-oriented blog.