traffic – 511 Contra Costa

New Motor Vehicle Laws for 2017

With 2017 just around the corner, we rounded up new laws impacting vehicle & traffic safety we thought you should know about. All of these laws take effect on January 1, 2017.
Cell Phone (Electronic Wireless Device) Usage: It will be illegal to hold a cell phone (or other wireless electronic device) while operating a motor vehicle. Phones and devices will need to be mounted on the dashboard or windshield, and may only be operated by hand when activating or deactivating a feature or function can be done with “a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger” (View full text of AB 1785)
School Bus Safety: All school buses, school pupil activity buses, youth buses & child care motor vehicles used to transport school-age children will be required to have a “child safety alert system”. Since this device requires the driver to contact or scan it before leaving the vehicle, it prompts them to verify that all children have disembarked. Schools will also be required to have procedures in place to, “ensure that a pupil is not left unattended on a school bus.” (View full text of SB 1072)
Child Safety Seats: Children under 2 years of age must ride rear-facing in a child safety seat, unless they are more than 40 pounds or taller than 40 inches. (View full text of AB 53)

Advisory: I-680 Mococo Overhead Bridge Project Lane & Ramp Closures (Mar. 2015)

CaltransHorizCaltrans District 4 has scheduled the following lane and ramp closures for the Interstate 680 Mococo Overhead Bridge Rehabilitation Project:
On-Ramp Closures
The Marina Vista on-ramp to southbound I-680 will be closed:

  • Thursday night, March 26, from 6pm-6am
  • 6pm Friday night, March 27 until 12pm Saturday, March 28

Lane/Shoulder Closures at the Marina Vista/Waterfront Road Interchange:

  • One northbound lane will be closed from 8pm Friday, March 27 to 5am Monday, March 30
  • The left shoulder of southbound I-680 will be closed from 8pm Friday, March 27 through 5am Monday, March 30

Upcoming Closure of Southbound I-680 Off-Ramp to Marina Vista/Waterfront Road
In late April 2015 Caltrans will close the southbound off-ramp from I-680 to Marina Vista/Waterfront Road. The closure will remain in effect for about five months while the contractor removes the old off-ramp structure and builds a new structure.

  • Detour: During this closure, southbound I-680 traffic will detour to the Arthur Road interchange, exit and cross under the freeway, return to northbound I-680, and exit at Marina Vista/Waterfront Road
  • Marina Vista and Waterfront Road will remain open during the extended ramp closure

Please drive cautiously through the construction zone, follow the directions of flaggers, leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you, and Slow for the Cone Zone. The California Highway Patrol will be on site during these closures.
For more information about the project visit the Caltrans I-680 Mococo Bridge Rehabilitation Project page.

Vital Signs: A New Website from the MTC (2015)

In late January, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission unveiled their new Vital Signs website. Drawing from over 20 years of data, the website offers interactive, customizable charts and graphs on various aspects of transportation in the Bay Area. According to the MTC, the idea behind the project is to allow Bay Area residents, “to track the region’s progress toward reaching key transportation, land use, environmental and economic policy goals.” The MTC plans to add land use and economic development data to the site in the spring and data relating to environmental and safety questions in the summer.

Vital_SignsVital_Signs_measures

Because of the interactive nature of the site, users can essentially create their own charts and graphs by choosing which cities, counties or metro areas are displayed. It’s a way to track both changes over time as well as differences between communities and regions. You can select various transportation performance indicators, called ‘measures’, relating to commuting, congestion, transit reliability and ridership, traffic volume, pavement condition, bridge and transit condition, and transit system efficiency.
It’s quick and easy to change a chart or graph to reflect the information you want to see. For example, if you visit Vital Sign’s ‘Transit Ridership’ page and scroll down to ‘Local Focus’, by clicking on the names of transit agencies you can select/deselect them. In this particular example, the result is a Contra Costa-focused graph:
CCC_Transportation_Graph
Want to know what pavement conditions are like in your area? You can see general results or street-by-street results depending on how much you zoom in:

Pavement_Condition_regionPavement_Condition_street

For people who want to go beyond the interactive site and work with the raw data, the MTC has made it easy to access. Just click on the ‘Data Center’ icon in the website’s top-right corner.
You’ll find the new website at vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov. For a video tutorial on how to use the Vital Signs website, check out the video below:

Traffic Switch on Buskirk Widening Project (Jun. 2014)

Traffic Alert for Buskirk Avenue beginning June 26, 2014
1)      The new roadway section on the east side of Buskirk Avenue between Crossroads and Clarie Drive will now be open to one lane for northbound traffic.
2)      The new Hookston Road section (old Elmira Drive) between Hookston Road and Clarie Drive will now be open to one lane of traffic in each direction.
3)      Hookston Road between Old Elmira Drive and Buskirk Ave will be permanently closed to through traffic, this will allow for construction of the underground and storm basin facilities and a new mini-park in this area. Driveway access for the Hookston Square Business Park and the adjacent office complex will be provided through Buskirk Avenue and the west side of Hookston Road.
4)      Traffic signals at Buskirk and Clarie will now be fully operational.
Expect delays as during the switch over operation, permanent roadway striping and signing during this phase of work between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. For more project information www.pleasant-hill.net/buskirk

It's About Better Cities

From one beautiful bridge to another...
Photo credit: vision63
In just about every major American metropolitan region, and especially here in the Bay Area, streets are congested – and contested – spaces.  Increasingly cities are reallocating mixed-traffic lanes to accommodate bicycling, and while this makes it safer for the cyclists, it can affect the traffic flow by reducing the number of lanes available for motorists, transit, and goods movement. Encouraging more cycling through the creation of dedicated bicycle infrastructure may be a wise investment in the long-term, but the short-term pains it causes some commuters has given rise to the use of phrases such as “anti-car” and “war on drivers.”
More anti- #bikela signs at Colorado bike lane town hall. #fig4all
Do people on bikes cause or relieve congestion? Oftentimes changing streets to accommodate bicycling is as being a “bikes vs cars” issue. Photo credit: ubrayj02
In contemplating the growing tension over bike lane implementation in North American cities, city planner Bret Toderian contends that we should not lose sight of the greater societal aspiration behind changing our existing transportation system– to improve our cities. In an article on the Huffington Post, Toderian describes this approach to recent bike lane debates:

We need a more sophisticated discussion about how we get around in cities, and it starts with this — it’s not about loving your bike. It’s about loving what biking does for cities. If more cars make cities worse, the opposite is true for bikes. Expanding urban biking is about making better, fiscally smarter, healthier, more flexible and resilient cities. Bikes are hardly a silver bullet, but they can be a big part of better city-making.

Toderian proceeds to provide compelling arguments to support this position. He notes that encouraging cycling makes sense in cities because bicycles are more space efficient:

Most pragmatically, city-builders understand that bikes make cities work better because they take a lot less space. Even if cars were clean in emissions, the biggest challenge with car-dependency is a space problem. There isn’t enough room on the roads and parking lots of cities, to have everyone drive. They just don’t fit, and our failed efforts to make them fit, cost a staggering amount.

Perhaps surprisingly, Toderian also argues that having more people cycle in a city actually makes driving easier, not more difficult:

Even if they [cities] prioritize driving, global city-builders recognize the best thing those who feel they need to drive could hope for, is for OTHER people to be able to walk, bike and ride transit. Multi-modal cities make it easier for EVERYONE to get around – including, counter-intuitively, drivers.

When viewed through this lens it does become apparent that existing traffic congestion cannot be solved by only accommodating one mode of transportation and that bicycles are just one tool in the tool box of ways to make cities more pleasant and inhabitable– it isn’t about bikes versus cars. Check out Toderian’s full Huffington Post article.

DIY Traffic Counting Device Brings Transportation Planning to Public

Note: TrafficCOM is now known as WayCount.
Are you curious to know how weather affects the number of people that use the new bike lane in the neighborhood? Or how traffic patterns change during summer break? Anecdotal observations are useful in finding the answer to these questions but sometimes nothing compares to having data at hand.Getting the data just got a little easier with the arrival of TrafficCOM – a device available to the public that counts and monitors the speed and rate of traffic.
This is of course not a groundbreaking device, similar devices have existed for years but TrafficCOM is special because it is accessible and simple to use.
According to TrafficCOM’s website at only $140, the product costs about 1/10th the price of the least expensive comparable product. TrafficCOM also allows users to seamlessly upload and map their latest traffic count data and make it instantly available to anyone online.
data
Uploading and mapping 78 minutes worth of data from counting northbound automobile traffic. Screen grab via: TrafficCOM
With this device residents can collect traffic data and share it with city staff much like SeeClick Fix, which relies upon the public to point out public works issues so local staff  can be made aware of issues and resolve them in a timely manner.
A word of caution though, you may want to check with your local city planning or traffic engineering department prior to laying down the cord across the road!
trafficcom
TrafficCOM in action, counting bicycle traffic on a new bidirectional bike path in New York City. Screen grab via: TrafficCOM

Year in Review: 2012

san-francisco-fireworks-2012-nye

Image credit: David Yu

511CC’s 2012 Year in Review

From the Caldecott Tunnel breakthrough to Bay Area transit agencies celebrating milestones for service, 2012 was a great year for biking, transit and transportation. Here are some of this year’s top stories.

Top Tweets

Some of our most popular tweets (number of link clicks) in 2012 linked to these articles:

BART pedestrian origin outliers
Image credit: Eric Fischer

2012 highlights

Here are some transportation highlights from the year.
JAN
511 Freeway Aid

FEB
WHEELS
 

  • LAVTA retrofits 30 Wheels buses to make boarding with strollers easier

 
MAR
Union Pacific from near Pinole, CA facing west

Image credit: Steve C.

APR

 

MAY
golden-gate-bridge

JUN
mission-bicycle-20090513-110748
 

JUL
sf-muni-bus
 

Image credit: torbakhopper

AUG
 

 

Image credit: Karl Nielsen/Metropolitan Transportation Commission

SEPT

 

Image credit:  Bay Area Rapid Transit archives

OCT
bart-subway-stn

NOV
Amtrak's Capitol Corridor
 

DEC
Opening of Municipal Railway, San Francisco
 

Image credit: SFMTA / John Henry Mentz

For more interesting articles and tips on biking, transit, and transportation in the Bay Area don’t miss our Twitter feed and our blog.