(A still of commute patterns in the East Bay. Screen grab via: Activemaps)
Data is an empowering and effective tool for better understanding our everyday lives, and when that information can be easily digested through visuals we are all the more grateful. With this in mind, a thank you is due to UC Berkeley planning Ph.D. student Fletcher Foti, who recently compiled commute patterns in greater New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and created an interactive visualization called “Active Maps.” Active Maps shows a day of travel from recent travel surveys and can be sorted by income and zoomed to specific areas. Each circle represents a person, and the size of the circle represents the age of the person. When looking at the East Bay, it’s interesting to note regardless of income, transit and walking appear to be most prevalent around Berkeley and Oakland whereas the surrounding parts of Alameda and Contra Costa County appear more car-dependent.
For additional coverage, visit The Atlantic City and San Francisco Streetsblog. *(Note: the default map is for New York, though you can click on the drop-down bar to select the San Francisco Bay Area)
In essence, the bike train concept brings you together with those people you see bicycling during your bike commute, the ones you see and think to yourself , “Wouldn’t it be cool if we ride together as a group? It would be safer and more fun to ride with other people!”
At the moment, Los Angeles has ten different bike train routes scattered across the region, all of which have their own “conductor” leading particular routes with specific departure times. LA Bike Trains even offers commuter surveys to gather input to figure out what routes throughout the county are in high demand.
The hopes of the LA Bike Trains founders are that by offering a more comfortable experience, bicycling can be made more accessible by those intimidated by the thought of cycling to work, and so far, the concept has received positive feedback. For more information on LA Bike Trains, visit their website, check them out on twitter (and the hashtag #LABikeTrain) or see their facebook page.
With seats like that, riding the Gillig Suburban bus could make for a very relaxing commute. Photo credit: AC Transit
Passenger-controlled overhead reading lamps
High-backed cushioned seats
Overhead luggage racks
All three new models of buses are part of AC Transit’s “A Better Ride” effort to make bus travel more pleasant and efficient. If you have ridden any of the new types of buses, AC Transit encourages you to provide feedback by sending an email to email@example.com. To keep up with the latest news from AC Transit, check out the agency on facebook, twitter, youtube, or sign up to receive their e-newsletters
up to $245 per employee withholding per month for vanpool and all public transportation
up to $245 per employee withholding per month for qualified parking, or
up to $490 per employee withholding per month for both public transportation and qualified parking
This is great news but how does one go about setting aside pre-tax income for a commute benefit? Here are some steps you can take to get started.
First, make sure you’re using a qualifying commute alternative. The benefit is available to commuters who commute to work in a vanpool, use public transit, or pay for qualified parking. (Carpooling does not currently qualify for pre-tax benefits.)
Next, ask your employer if commuter tax benefits are offered; typically Human Resources or Benefits department will know. If your employer isn’t aware of the benefit, share the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits with them.
Step three is to set up a payroll withholding for the qualified commute benefit you use. Keep in mind, your employer must have this benefit set up as a pre-tax withholding option in the payroll system.
There is also a benefit for commuting by bicycle though the process is slightly different because unlike other pre-tax commuter benefits the bicycle benefit cannot be withheld from your pay. See the full tax code here
Note: Withe the passage of California Senate Bill 1339, employers in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Are with 50 ore more employees will be required to offer some sort of commuter benefit – one of the options is to offer employees to withhold pre-tax income for vanpooling, transit or qualified parking. Look for more information on the roll-out of this bill in summer of 2013. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are developing the Rule.
The rebuilding of the Embarcadero and Montgomery Street stations would require tearing out the existing walls, installing new platforms, boring additional tunnels for staircases, and putting in extra elevators.
For added safety, the new platforms would have automated sliding glass doors that would open when the trains arrive.
The projects, in total, could take well over five years to complete.
With S.B. 1339 passed, are you more likely to pedal as part of your commute? Photo credit: Carrie Cizauskas
In September 2012, Governor Brown passed into law S.B. 1339 – legislation that allows the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to implement a region-wide Bay Area commuter policy benefiting employees who work at least 20 hours per week for an employer with 50 or more full-time employees in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. The purpose of the legislation is to encourage commuting by means other than single passenger automobile travel.
While some Bay Area cities already have commuter benefit policies to encourage the use of public transit or bicycling, the passage of S.B. 1339 will require select employers to offer one of the following commute benefits:
…Thursday, May 10th, is Bike to Work Day!
If you’ve been contemplating bicycling to work but felt unsure about the idea, rest assured you will not be cycling alone if you decide to participate in Bike to Work Day. You will likely encounter more cyclists along your commute on Bike to Work Day than any other day of the year! Bike to Work Day is the perfect day to pick up cycling – even if only for the occasion– and give it a try with thousands of other Bay Area residents.
Not only can you take comfort in safety in numbers, but you can take advantage of one of 200 “energizer stations” scattered throughout the Bay for the day. What is an energizer station? Simply put, a station providing free beverages, snacks, goodies and encouragement to bicyclists on this special day.
To see if there’s an energizer station anyone along your commute, check out the Bay Area Energizer Station map– from Pittsburg, to San Pablo, to El Cerrito, and San Ramon, Contra Costa County is well represented!
Of course, before you hop on your bike for the big day, it’ll be useful to review some basic road rules and safety procedures:
Bicycles have the same responsibilities and rights as motorists, so obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic flow; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going. Most cities do not allow cycling on sidewalks although some exceptions do apply and some exceptions are made for youth.
Be Predictable. Make your intentions clear to motorists and trail users. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you before turning or changing lanes. This is true for cycling on trails as well. The EBRPD asks that you ring or call out when approaching pedestrians.
Be visible. Ride where drivers can see you. Use a front white light, red rear light and reflectors for night cycling or when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with drivers so you know they see you.
Plan ahead. Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other bicyclists will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and utility covers. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
Equipment Check. Tires should be very firm, check that brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release wheel levers are closed. Carry repair and emergency supplies appropriate for your ride.
Speed. Bicycles shall not be ridden at an unsafe speed, or greater than the posted speed limit. Be aware of how you are perceived by other trail users.
Bells are required on bicycles on Park District trails.
Bicycles always yield to pedestrians. Before passing, SLOW DOWN, ring bell and establish verbal contact. Give plenty of space when passing and be sure to look ahead while passing to avoid on-coming collisions.
On blind turns, SLOW DOWN, call out, ring bell and ride single file.
Once you know the rules, Bike to Work Day is ultimately about fun: be sure to get out there, enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and embrace the experience of taking two wheels. And if you’re lucky, every day can be bike to work day – after all, it’s getting easier with solid-green bike lanesspreading across the Bay! Need added inspiration
What is a commute? We often think of it as a frustrating time going to and from work. But a commute can be so much more than time spent in traffic or waiting for a bus or train, it can be an opportunity to…
…catch up on some reading, perhaps the day’s newspaper or a book…
…get a little exercise… Photo credit: KayVee.INC
… or try out those new apps on your phone.
These are just a few ways to spend a commute, what do you like to do on your commute? Let us know by May 31st, in this poll or in the comments, we will be selecting one entry at random to win a $20 BART ticket!
Ever wonder what commutes were like from the Peninsula and East Bay to San Francisco in years gone by? The folks at Burrito Justice pointed our attention to this neat 1913 transit time isochron map for the Peninsula and East Bay to 3rd and Mission for ferries and trains (steam and electric). To see additional transit-related documents from earlier years, take a glance at Eric Fischer’s Flickr page.
Here is the text included at the side of the map: While practically half of San Francisco lies within the 30-minute time zone, none of the trans-bay commuters now reach land within that time. All of the trans-bay districts are reached within an hour, the same as San Francisco. But for the former, from one-fourth to one-half of the time is consumed in the water trip. Shaded contour areas and time points within circles indicate how far commuters may ride within 10-minute intervals from the center of the business district-Third and Market Streets (allowing seven minutes to the Ferry terminal, and 10 minutes to the railroad terminal at Third and Townsend Streets). The inner shaded zones correspond to the running time by electric and cable lines. Double circles and the Peninsular zone particularly refer to steam lines. Running speed is indicated directly by the relative distance between these time points. For steam trains, the time shown is on limited local trains passing by only the less important stations. Some limited expresses make 26% better time, and way locals 15% slower time than here indicated. With the same character of rapid transit equipment, it appears that from 20 to 30 minutes more running time will always be necessary, by reason of the water trip, for trans-bay commuters to reach their homes than for San Franciscans, but that no such handicap exists as a limitation for Peninsular development.
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If shared electric bikes and scooters were available in your neighborhood, which are you most likely to use?