#ivotebikesa

Author of Blog: Daniel Day
New Post once a month.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Car has More Rights

69.1
You've probably seen my tweets where I say, "A car has more rights than you or I walking or biking,"  and that is totally true. (Image 69.1)  When cars hit people, it isn't the fault of the driver, but the fault of the person being in the way of the car. It doesn't matter that the walk sign was on and the person was in the crosswalk, or a bicycle was stopped at a red light, the car is always given a pass when collisions occur.

It never occurred to me that if I get hit by a car, and I have been hit both walking and biking, that I would have less rights than the driver of the car.  But over the years, I started to realize after reading several stories.

The first story came from Freakanomics podcast called the "The Perfect Crime." In the show, they found out "that if you are driving your car and run over a pedestrian, there’s a good chance — especially if you live in New York — that you’ll barely be punished."  In the podcast they explore why someone would rarely be punished and the conclusion they came to that the cops have a hard time relating to the pedestrian, but relating to the driver.  One guy's solutions to all these deaths in NYC, and I kid you not is to have everyone wear helmets. (Image 69.2)
69.2

If you live in some cities, being hit by a car is a crime, yes you the person just walking around can be charged with a crime of being hit by a car. The first example happened in Atlanta, GA back in 2010.  A Mother just got off the bus and did what most of do, cross right in the middle of the stroad to get to her apartment where she was struck by a car.  Despite the driver having a history of hit and runs, the mother was sentenced to 36 months in prison.  Quote from story:  "Despite the fact that Atlanta-area municipalities continue to build roads, like the one where Nelson’s son was killed, with inadequate pedestrian crossings and sidewalks, and despite the fact that the federal government continues to vastly underfund pedestrian safety infrastructure on federally-funded roads and highways, the courts have pointed the finger at Nelson, blaming her for the death of her son on a road that was designed with no regard for pedestrian safety."

Another story comes from Ville Platte, Louisiana where three teenagers were charged with misdemeanors for not wearing reflecting clothing after getting hit by a truck.  No charges where given to the driver of the vehicle.  And if you try to go out and put a stop to dangerous driving, you'll get a ticket for jaywalking.  That what happened to a Mother who lives on the far Northside here in San Antonio.  She made a sign and stuck it in her front yard.  When that didn't work, well she went out in the middle of the street with the sign.  For doing that, she got a jaywalking ticket.

So how did it become like this?  It started with "E. B. Lefferts, who put forth a radical idea: don’t blame cars, blame human recklessness."  If you would ask a person back during the early 1900s, and ask him what the streets are for, he would have said "they're for people."  People back then were very outraged when a person was killed by a car.  After Lefferts,  when you were to ask a person what the streets are for, they would say that "they're for cars." 

In the bicycling and pedestrian advocacy community, we call this "Victim Blaming." Instead of putting the blame on the distracted driver, we put the blame of the person who was hit by the distracted driver.  Treehugger.com post about this stuff all the time.  Just do a google search with treehugger and victim blaming, and you'll come up with these results.  The Same with Streetsblog USA.

Another reason why it's easier to blame the victim, (the bicyclist or pedestrian) is because of the lever effect. You probably heard of this question before.  There's a trolley coming down a track and it's about to hit 5 people working, yet you can save those 5 people by flipping a lever which would change the track of the trolley to a track where one person is working.  Nine out of ten people said yes they would flip the lever.  However if you would ask would you push a guy off a bridge to warn the 5 people working, then 9 out of 10 people would say no.  And that's what a car is, a lever which makes it easier to kill.  "
69.3

Seemingly confirming that a car is really no different than a lever, Treehugger.com did a story back in July 2017 called " New study looks at attitudes of drivers toward cyclists, and it ain't pretty."  Tara Goddard did her PHD thesis called "Exploring Drivers’ Attitudes and Behaviors toward Bicyclists: The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Attitudes on Self-Reported Safety Behaviors."  In the study she find out why people who drive have such a terrible attitude towards bicyclist and the conclusion she comes to is disturbing.  A "car essentially anonymizes drivers," basically making the driver a faceless victim.  She also found out that the bigger the vehicle, or the status of the vehicle, the less likely to yield to the vulnerable road user. (Image 69.3)

As technology has evolved, the ways to be distracted as a driver is immense.  If you ride a bicycle, you already have notice waiting at a traffic light and seeing someone texting on their phone or talking on their phone without a hands free device.  Brand new cars are sold with built in GPS, so it's no coincidence that the blame is on distracted walking and biking.  When the manufacture put in a screen in your car, or your cell phone rings while you're driving, you are going to be distracted. Add to that cars built after 2004 have shocks that absorb virtually every bump.  You could feel the changes in speed when I drove my first car, a 1987 Ford Thunderbird.  When I drove a rental car in 2016, a Toyota, I couldn't even feel the difference in speeds let alone the bumps I ran over.  Top that, there was a screen right below the radio, a big distraction.

Spread by news sources such as the Today Show and the NY Times, they wrongfully point out that the increase in pedestrian deaths is because of being distracted while walking.  And if you don't think that this misinformation campaign is having an effect here in San Antonio, then think again.  If you look at the last page of San Antonio's Vision Zero Brochure, than you would see how that they advise people, both walking and bicycling to wear bright clothing, i.e. to look like a construction warning device. My question is that how are drivers going to notice you looking like a traffic cone when they're being distracted by reading their GPS or the latest text message?  Leave it up to the Seattle Bike Blog to point out the obvious.  Quote:  "No matter what they are wearing, the person driving is responsible for not hitting them. Period."

We can tell that drivers are being more and more distracted because we are hearing more often that cars are hitting stationary houses. You might think I'm making this up that this is a more common occurrence, but here are the stories that were reported in 2017 alone of a vehicle crashing into a house here in San Antonio....
January 19, 2017: Speeding car crashes into northwest-side house
February 5, 2017:  Driver arrested after crashing into South Side home
March 11, 2017: Car crashes into house on Far West Side, woman injured
April 12, 2017: Driver flees after crashing into South Side Church's Chicken 
May 09, 2017: Car crashes into home on Northeast Side.
May 30, 2017: Late-night crash damages 4 South Side homes
June 23, 2017: SUV crashes into two cars, drives backward into wall of home, police say, 
August 23, 2017: Car crashes through South Side salon
Now we don't blame the house for being hit by the car, but if we were to "Victim Blame" the house for being hit by a car, we would hear headlines like 'House in the way of car when hit,' or 'House wasn't wearing helmet when hit by car. We never hear 'Driver didn't see house when he hit it because the house wasn't wearing reflective clothing,' and yet we are to blame the person walking or biking when they get hit by a car.
69.4

Another problem is that we don't blame the traffic engineer for designing a terrible place to walk or bicycle.  Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which lays out rules for pavement markings and traffic signals and signs, aren't adopting rules to make protected bicycle lanes standard. (Image 69.4)  So when we hear stories like this one, "Elderly woman struck, killed on Broadway Street by minivan carrying family of 4," it fails to point out that the wide travel lanes encourage speeding, nor will it  point out that reducing the number of vehicle lanes from four to two would reduce car crashes. These stories will never point out that there wasn't a crosswalk in walking distance or the nearest traffic controlled intersection lacked a crosswalk.   Another one "SAPD: 61-year-old pedestrian killed in hit-and-run crash on Southeast Side" fails to point out how there's no traffic calming devices or that the travel lanes are two wide.  And this one "Woman killed in Northwest Side hit-and-run identified" fails to point out that despite crossing is on the other side of the intersection and would have caused the person 5 more minutes to cross.  After a while, you say fuck it, and just go.  And if you're blaming the victim in this case, then go walk it everyday, I guarantee that you'll do what she did.  The story will also fail to point out that the crossing times are virtually less than 20 seconds and takes up to 5 minutes to activate.  The story also fails to mention that the intersection wasn't given a second thought for people walking because the engineers failed to count the number of people walking by.  The story also failed to mention that the driver didn't take the necessary steps to prevent the collision. 

So the next time you hear that someone was killed while crossing a stroad, or riding their bicycle without a helmet.  Instead of blaming the cyclist for not wearing a helmet, or the person for jaywalking where no crosswalk was in a reasonable distance, we should be blaming the traffic engineers for designing a deadly space, for making sure that driving as their only means of transportation. By pointing out that the driver was being distracted, not paying attention to operating his/her vehicle.  By doing this, we'll start to acknowledge the real reason people die because of walking or bicycling.  Not because the person walking was looking at their cell phone in a crosswalk with the walk signal on, or the cyclist not wearing a helmet.  It was because the driver was distracted, it was because the traffic engineer designed the stroad for speeding, not safety.  This is why I'm a big supporter of autonomous automobiles because the politicians are making excuses, the engineers aren't designing safe infrastructure, and the police and media are quick to blame the victim in every crash.

A link will be posted to my next story: "The Driverless Car, an opportunity being missed."  As soon as it is posted.

Images:
69.1: Link to Tweet:  https://twitter.com/BikeSanAntonio/status/901211958262853632

69.2: Source for photo:  https://twitter.com/modacitylife/status/900376544308150272

69.3 Source for tweet:  https://twitter.com/KostelecPlan/status/909774284599394306

69.4 A Blog posting by Transportation Psychologist on Sept 2, 2017.

Friday, September 8, 2017

#ivotebike2017 Results/New Bicycle Advocacy Group

The San Antonio Municipal City elections are finally over.  And this is our city council.
 
District 1:   Roberto C. Trevino
District 2:   William 'Cruz' Shaw
District 3:   Rebecca J. Viagran
District 4:   Rey Saldaña
District 5:   Shirley Gonzales
District 6:   Greg Brockhouse
District 7:   Ana Sandoval
District 8:   Manny Pelaez
District 9:   John Courage
District 10: Clayton Perry
Mayor:       Ron Nirenberg

After the election, I decided to take a break from this blog and just focus on hobbies and work.  Every time I tried to sit down and write this, well nothing came out.  I wondered how is a community that cannot represent itself is going to make changes in the transportation policy of San Antonio.  Sure there's the Bicycle Collective, but I hardly ever hear about them.

The most successful grass roots transportation group is the Toll Party here in San Antonio.  Their dictator, Terri Hall, is pretty much the reason why I can say for the next twenty years is that San Antonio will not have any toll roads, any HOV, any express bus lanes.  There's is no such similar person here when it comes to VIA or bicycling. She, Terri Hall managed to get Tommy Adkissons to allow her to speak for hours at the Transportation Policy Board Meetings just to get the toll roads from being built.  And Because she has no job, she can devote the entirety of her time to this cause.

On a side note, I did learn that Tommy Adkisson's Mother was anti toll road, so at least we know why Terri Hall was allowed to violate the average 3 minutes to speak. 

About 3 weeks ago, I was notified that the Bicycle Collective changed it's name to Bike San Antonio.  This is being spear headed by Janel Sterbentz, a newcomer to our city. She notice how there's no bicycle advocacy group here, so with out even realizing it, she called her group Bike San Antonio, and didn't discover until she created her page bikesanantonio.org that I already had a blog called Bicycle San Antonio.  The head of the bicycle Collective, Cristian Sandoval has since handed the reigns of that group to Janel.

Janel has years of experience working for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Bike East Bay (formerly East Bay Bicycle Coalition) .  She also received a degree in Urban Studies from Portland State University. 

There's a meeting for interested cyclist and potential board members set up on at the Summermoon Coffee Bar, 3233 N Saint Mary's St on Thursday, September 14 at 6 PM. Fora link to the Facebook event page, please click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/132841887329289/?ti=as

I hope everyone who wants to make San Antonio A bicycle friendly place does attend. 






Saturday, July 29, 2017

SA Mission Stadium Downtown, an Opportunity Lost.

67.1 
All this talk about building an empty sports stadium in downtown reminds me of the warning I made to then Mayor Ivy Taylor. (Image 67.1)  You can invest in an empty stadium, or you can invest in free bus rides for all residence of San Antonio.  It's time that we get our priorities straight, and I stand by that statement.  We can make it more rewarding to use VIA or we can invest in an empty stadium. 

Now lets get one thing straight, I'm not against building a sport stadium downtown, I'm against using public funds to build it.  But to often we don't think like a Wall Street investor when putting down money into our infrastructure.  All to often, we don't treat public works project like an investment to the tax payer but a cost to buy something pretty.  We don't weigh the investment with possible return on investment as well as the maintenance cost that goes along with such an investment.  As a result, we see the spending of tax dollars, and the need to constantly look for additional funds to keep what we already have up and running. 

The promise I constantly hear is that it will improve the local economy. Well we already have the answer to that and it's a big fat no.  We heard this promise with the Alamodome, we heard this promise with the AT&T center, and yet the area around these stadiums are pretty much as dead as they were before they were built.  What's spurring the development on the Eastside isn't the Alamodome or AT&T Center, but $3.7 million investment put into restoring a bridge over the railroad tracks for people and bicycles, not cars.
67.2

After my tweet, I got a rebuttal from Jeff Long, Assistant GM San Antonio Missions Baseball (AA, Texas League, Padres). (Image 67.2)  He tweeted the image of the response to an empty stadium comment.  Well go to the Alamodome or the AT&T Center nearly everyday of the week and you'll see an empty stadium.  Also if the Spurs are getting way more people to go to their games, then why is the area around the AT&T Center empty?

San Antonio isn't the only city with this problem for Cincinnati was promised a big return with their tax payer subsidized stadium for the Bengals and the Reds.  In the end, it didn't spur development, but created a $14 million dollar shortfall.  When I had the chance to visited Cincinnati, I found that the action wasn't around Great American Stadium, but around Washington Park and Finlay Market.   The same with the Major League Sport Stadiums in downtown Minneapolis.  I've been to Minneapolis and there's hardly anything happening around those stadiums except a transfer from the Blue Line to the Green Line, no retail, no bars or restaurants.  Again the action in downtown Minneapolis isn't around either Stadium but on Nicollet Mall.  And finally, lets point out American Airlines Center where the Dallas Mavericks play.  Located at the far west of West-End, going to the Light Rail Station (Victory Station) and you'll see the same thing, no retail, no bars or restaurants.  Again most if not all are located nearer to the West-End Light Rail Station.  So please tell me again how is a new stadium going to improve the economy downtown?


St Louis has been going through this with the owners of the Rams for several years now and they have still voted no.

And before I get a rebuttal that sports teams bring in people and help promote the local city in tourism and growth, evidence fails to show that major sport teams help at promoting tourism or growth.  We only need to look 80 miles north and see that Austin has been getting way more growth than Dallas, or San Antonio and last I checked, Austin doesn't have a major sports team unless you count the Longhorns, a college team.  One simply needs to look at the motto for Austin which is "Keep Austin Weird" to find out why so many tech companies have been moving to the State Capital instead of San Antonio. 
67.3

So what's the opportunity that will be lost if the SA Missions decide to move downtown?  The opportunity to for transit oriented development and to have a stadium with light rail access.  Mayor Ron Nirenberg campaign promises was to bring light rail to San Antonio and the current Mission Stadium is located at the corner of US-90 and Callahan Rd.  If one just looks at VIA's long range plan, is that they plan to put any light rail on Old Hwy 90 West.  With Plenty of room to build a bigger baseball field and to turn the land around it into development that the owners of the Missions can earn a bigger return on investment all while supporting the transit services provided by VIA.

Currently VIA is updating their Long Range Plan and you can help by taking their latest survey before August 5, 2017.
67.4

And with the threat of the Missions leaving San Antonio for a more friendlier city, my response is a firmly "bye bye."  If you don't value your fans, then chances are you'll not fare better in another city.  These days, sport teams would rather give the finger to their home towns than value their fans/customers.  It is a sign of the times by those who own the means of production who would rather send their businesses overseas or have those same businesses go down in flames in a promise of a big payoff to the CEO.  These short term gains will eventually leave all, owners and customers pennyless with nothing to show the next generation except a big fat bankruptcy and a empty stadium.
 
It will be sad to see such an opportunity lost for San Antonio, VIA, and the SA Missions.  I can only hope that people who are going to be making these decisions will look pass fame and glory and the big folly and see the opportunity right in front of them.  I understand that they probably won't see it, but that's just one of the reasons why I write this blog. 

Images:
67.1 My meme tweet warning against building a sport stadium. 
67.2 The Picture that Jeff Long tweeted showing the attendance for local sport teams here in Bexar County. 
67.3  The previous VIA's Long Range Plan Map.  Can be seen at these blogs , "Mr Nirenberg, Ever think of Walking?" and "Streetcar IV: The Future of Rail in SA". 
67.4  A Google Satellite Picture of Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium, where the SA Missions currently play. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Election Report

On Saturday May 6, 2017, it was election day for the city of San Antonio city council and bond and we have some winners, not all good for cycling.  To See who was the most bicycle friendly Candidate, please click here:  http://bikesanantonio.blogspot.com/p/city-election-2017-on-cycling.html

Bad News.....
Rebecca J. Viagran won district 3 again.  This women who openly disguise herself for the people gave the finger to the people won reelection.  As I write this, the day before there was a meeting at the Mission Branch Public Library to remove the bicycle lane.  Naturally, because of work, I wasn't able to attend but from what I hear, they're keeping the bicycle lane on White Ave.  

We have several runoffs elections.  For those who are not familiar with the rules of running for city council/mayor, you need to win over 50% of the votes.  We haven't won yet and it's up to you to get out and vote again.  Ivy Taylor won 42% of the vote with Ron Nirenberg coming in at close second.  For the record, Nirenberg came in at 83% bicycle friendly.  Ivy Taylor thinks that the reason why you ride a bicycle is because you haven't found God.  For the record, Venezuela representative founder for OPEC, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo said, "Oil is the devil's excrement." Cars run on oil, again who here in San Antonio lives their day to day life according to God? 

Several Districts are also stuck in a runoff election to determine who's going to be councilmen. 

District 1:
District 1, is in a run off between Michael Montano and incumbent Roberto C. Trevino.  Michael got a 71% of a score of bicycle friendliness, but if Trevino turn it in ontime, he would have gotten a higher score.  But there's one thing going against Trevino, he decided to allow a development to remove a bicycle lane.  Both promised to a lot of things for bicycling but that's yet to be seen. I leave the decision up to you...

District 2:
The Candidates for District 2 failed to respond to my questions except for the Dori L. Brown, one of the most anti cycling candidates I've seen run for city council this election.  Keith A Toney, the Sierra Club pick also lost and it's now down to the incumbent Alan E. Warrick II and William "Cruz" Shaw.  As a residence of district 2, I really have no favorite.  Warrick the incumbent hasn't even put down a new bicycle lane and Shaw seems to be going to the same way.  I can only hope that both candidates explore question J about free bus fare because they represent a very poor district and providing free bus rides will be a boom to the residence who mainly depend on the bus to get around. But if you're looking for a choice, Toney has just endorsed Warrick

District 6:
District 6 seems to be a clear choice for Melissa Cabello Havrda who got a score of 88%.  Her opponent Greg Brockhouse didn't even bother to return my emails so we can safely assume that he's not interested in bicycling.

District 8:
The two candidates that are going for a runoff didn't even responded to my questions.  They are Manny Pelaez and Cynthia Brehm.

District 9:
The two finalist for district 9 was Marco Barros and John Courage.  Again There's a clear choice here for John Courage got 84% being bicycle friendly and he's also the Sierra Club pick. 

District 10:
In District 10, Ezra Johnson and Clayton Perry are the two finalist.  Clayton Perry didn't even bother to return my emails while Ezra Johnson did and got a score of 82%. 

So base on this, I can now endorse candidates for city council. Remember, Earlty Voting is between May 30 through June 6 with the final day to vote June 10th.

Bicycle Friendly Candidates runoff:
Mayor: Ron Nirenberg,

District 1:  Michael Montano



District 2:  Alan E. Warrick II

District 6: Melissa Cabello Havrda,

District 8:  Nobody

District 9: John Courage,

District 10:  Ezra Johnson

Good News.....
The the $850 Million Bond overwhelming passed providing money for several projects including Broadway.  The future isn't written in stone, and we have a chance to still demand that the city provides a protected bicycle lane from Houston St to Hildebrand.  It's not going to be easy if Ivy Taylor wins, but we can do it, but it's up to you to attend those pesky meetings.

I cannot confirm this, but I am wondering if you read my plea to vote for the most bicycle friendly candidate, that you voted for Keven Roles instead of Ron Nirenberg.  I ask this question because of all the under-reported candidates, he got 1557 votes.  I tweeted this because when I saw the views for my page which numbered 2429.  Compared to all the other under-reported candidates, he got over a thousand I am just wondering, did we have an effect in this election, on this guy getting those votes?  I can't prove it, but I can hope. 

In District 7, the bicycle friendly candidate won, ☮Ana Sandoval☮.  We can only hope that she has balls where Chris Medina failed to have them in defending the useless sharrows.

In other Good news, Shirley Gonzales won re-election for district 5, while Rey Saldana, although claiming to regret voting to remove S Flores, won re-election for district 4. 

Now it's up to you to get out and vote.  And even if you didn't vote in the election, you can still vote in this run-off election.  And with Ron Nirenberg, Melissa Cabello Havrda, and John Courage, all coming in at second place, with Ezra Johnson barely scratching ahead, well, they need your vote now more than ever. Most of all, we need bicycle friendly people on city council and in the mayor's office. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Harassment on the Southside

Yesterday, my friend Mary (and that's not her real name) was commuting home on Nogalitos riding Southbound. While waiting for the light to turn green,  was harassed by a Hispanic male, late thirties, driving a white Dodge Ram, license plate BT4-0802. Below are her own words.
"So... I'm riding home and stop at a red light, this truck pulls up behind me honking aggressively I turn around, already knowing what he's honking about, and say "What, it's red!" while pointing to the light. He proceeds to yell at me and drive forward like he's going to hit me so I get off my bike and stand facing him, he gets out of his tuck I reach for my phone, he continues to yell at me saying I can't be on the road. As he approached me I struggled to hit record but a man in the lane next to us gets out of his and tells him to leave me alone. I don't know what everyone's problem is but the passed two months of bike commuting have been very aggressive, this is just going to far; people need to get educated or at least mind their own fucking business. And no he did not get in his vehicle when I stopped recording."

The video she posted can be found here at https://youtu.be/rSoxont5F30

This is why we were all for the S Flores bike lanes in the first place, because harassment didn't happen when they were in place.

So what can you do about this, why don't you get ahold of the local politicians of this side of town. in the links below.

And if this is happening to you, please contact me, unlike other newspapers, I'll report it and encourage my readers to call the authorities to get justice.


Mayor Ivy Taylor
210-207-7107  Mayor.IvyTaylor@sanantonio.gov

Ron Niremberg campaign comments link    https://voteron.com/ask-ron/

D3  Rebecca J. Viagran
210-207-7064
http://www.sanantonio.gov/Council/d3/Contact/sendto/District3

D4 Rey Saldana 
210-207-7281
http://www.sanantonio.gov/Council/d4/Contact/sendto/District4

D5 Shirley Gonzales 
210-207-7043
http://www.sanantonio.gov/Council/d5/SuggestionBox

I don't know who else to contact, but if you have a contact for the SA Current, The Rivard Report, and the Express News, please email me sirbikesalot06@gmail.com 

And if you have a similar harassment video on your bicycle, please email me with the video. 

I'll be updating this with links that actually work, later today. Until then, copy and paste please. 







Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Case for Free Bus Rides

As part of my City Election 2017: Candidates Position on Cycling I asked one question that stood out. Question 'J' is  the question about providing free bus rides to all citizens of San Antonio. It a question that I believe that we need to start answering for when it comes to the future of transportation options, well there's only one option for San Antonio and that's driving.

As I stated before in previous post, I said that we here in San Antonio consider driving a free thing to do. We attack the ideal of toll roads, we attack the ideal of getting rid of a vehicle lane to make room for a bicycle. We attack the very ideal of light rail, calling it a waste of money. Yet we never attack the fact we don't have money for roads, thatfreeways don't pay their way nor decrease the number of ozone action days we experience every year.  We call toll roads double taxation yet we never say riding the bus is double taxation. We paid for the bus service through a half cent sales tax and yet we are forced to pay to use the bus like paying to use a toll road. Let that sink in for a moment especially if you're anti toll road.

If you where to ask me 4 years go, I would have said that it was a bad ideal because of what happen in Austin. So what did actually happen in Austin when free bus rides were offered back in 1990? In 1990, Austin, Texas decided to make the buses free of charge. Things went well at first, but as the program went on, problems started to arises because people who wouldn't normally be able to ride would abuse the system.  There's a term for these types of people and they're called "problem riders." And after one year of offering free bus rides, they immediately institute a 50 cent bus fare.

I began to reconsider this when I heard what the city of Tallinn in Estonia was doing which was making the public transit free of charge and still charging the tourist.  Believe it or not, we do something similar here in San Antonio with the hotel/motel tax.  We charge tourist a tax to pay for our parks, and other improvements.  Some of the money that is going to pay back this bond 2017 and other previous bonds is coming from this tax right now. So why can't we do the same thing for the residence of San Antonio? 

So what did happen in Tallinn when they made the buses free of charge.  Well to use the bus free of charge, you have to be a residence which cost €2 to register.  There was no change in driving habits of people, but what they did see was a increase of rider from the most poorest areas of the city.  So far, they don't have a problem with vandalism or with more problem riders. 

So Why can't we do the same thing here?  My vision for free bus fare in San Antonio consist of paying a yearly fee of no less than $30 to no more than $100 per resident or household of San Antonio.  This pass will work like a regular 31 Day Pass, but will last 13 months, giving enough time for people to buy a new yearly pass. This pass will only be available to residence of San Antonio.  To qualify, you need at least 2 or three things.  They can be a pay stub or a your W2, an government issued ID, a CPS Energy bill, a SAWS bill, a lease to a property, or a property tax receipt from that Bexar County Tax assessor office. I envision having people from VIA setting up a table at VITA centers to register people.

Now this isn't the only strategy to consider. "Fare Free Zones" are places where people don't have to pay to board the bus.  Several cities use this to encourage people to use public transit mainly in their downtown area.  MATA has a fare free zone in West Memphis, AR (which I have actually used) and the UTA has several fare free zones in and around Salt Lake City, UT. For San Antonio, I could see fare free zones being transit centers or even parts outside of loop 410.
 

Today A 31 Day Pass cost $38.  If you don't think that's a lot of money for a struggling family then guess what, your doing pretty well.  That's up $4 from the cost of $34 when I last purchase one in 2015. (And no I still don't own a car.)  It means parents who use the bus system to say that their kids are still 11 yrs old when they're actually 14, (yes I have done it.) to people begging for bus fare on the bus.  And yes I have begged for bus fare on a VIA bus and I do donate my own money to help a person paying for bus fare when this happens.  And if you are wondering why I say that "driving is consider a free thing to do" then look no further at the cost of renewing your a car registration yearly.  According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, it cost $51.75 plus (and since I don't own a car and don't know this fee) $10 local county tax fee, plus $7.50 Inspection Fee.  Now that not counting the insurance cost, so lets go by the cheapest and we'll just do a one month because if you don't think that people here in San Antonio who are struggling financially are cutting corners, then you are doing pretty well.  For sake of argument, well say that insurance is $50.  The Last time I got a car inspected was $30.  Add it all up, $51.75+$10.00+$7.50+$30.00+50.00 = $149.25.  So if you don't take into account for the cost of gasoline, maintenance, and insurance which when you are poor, you try to avoid paying, basically it cost only $149.50 to drive around.  Compare that to a 31 Day pas, which according to the math, you'll buy 12 passes in one year 365/31= 11.77.  $38 per pass times 12 passes comes to roughly a cost of $456 per person. 

Now if you want to contradict me in the comments below, go right ahead.  But if you fail to take into consideration that the average person who can't afford a car, lives primary from paycheck to paycheck and they're only looking at that $149.50 to pay per year to legally operate a car comparing to the $456 per year, then it's seem like a better deal. Just compare the travel times on google maps, with a car to that of VIA, especially since more blue collar jobs are outside of VIA's service area, then you begin to see why so many people who ride VIA says it sucks even though I pointed out how they really have their act together.  At the end of the day, it was Bernie Sanders says, it's more expensive to be a poor, and he's correct.


For more information on "fare free transit," please visit the wikipedia page, "Free public transport."

If we can find money for vacant sport stadiums, for sport teams that will never make San Antonio home, or anything else you believe is a waste of tax money, then we can definitely find the money to do this.  Now I know I'm going to hear the excuse "we don't have the money for this," but I know that I'm going to hear one or two ridiculous excuses.  If you follow news on VIA, just watch, you'll come across one that is just so out there, so nutty, it will be a good enough reason never to invest in a tool to fix things. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

#ivotebike2017

It's that time of year folks, when you need to do your civic duty and go out and vote for a new mayor and a city council.  With out your input, I might as well shut down this blog and rely on the lack of reporting by the Rivard Report on this issue.  Where else are you going to read about the removal of a bicycle lane because a developer wanted parking over a safe place to ride your bicycle?

This year, I wanted to target everyone running for office, both mayoral and district council candidates and ask all of them the same questions.  With help from the some of the bicycle groups on Facebook, I chose 11 questions; 8 relating to bicycle, 3 relating to VIA.  Also those who decided to vote to remove the S Flores bicycle lane back in 2014, I decided not to hold that vote against them due to the fact that this is the first asking them about it.  I needed a yes and no answer and some just left the answer blank.  They also left explanation which you can find out by clicking here and clicking on the candidate name.  Also I designed the questions to hold those running for office accountable to their answers. As much as I wanted to ask them about enforcing the 3ft rule, I knew that we as a community couldn't hold them accountable to that.  These questions are the things that I hear about my fellow cyclist and bus riders complain about all the time, getting a ticket riding your bicycle on the sidewalk, not being able to use the Howard Peak Greenways after dark, and VIA needing more buses and routes.

Also I decided to add Incumbent D1 candidate (I) Roberto C. Trevino answers.  His staff sent me the info just to late and because of that, he'll not be on the handout that I made.

I originally had a cutoff date of March 24, 2017, but due to my work and the lack of internet getting in the way of sending reminders, I decided to add one more week to the cutoff because I decided to grade every candidate.  The result is what you and everyone else can go ahead and print out on where each candidate responded.  If they didn't responded, then they're not on the printout, but I have them listed on the City Election 2017: Candidates Position on Cycling with the explanations accessible by clicking on the candidate's name.  Below are and my reason for the questions I chose.  there was going to be 12 questions, but due to room, and being the question that was voted the least priority, I left it out.  It was, are you willing to make 25mph the speed limit of San Antonio unless otherwise posted.

The Bicycle Questions.

A. Will you as Mayor/Councilman implement the Bicycle Master Plan throughout the city/in your district?
This is the biggest complaint I hear, that the city isn't building enough bicycle lanes. They're suspose to update this document every two years, sadly the last updated document that I could find was last updated in 2013. Despite this document not being updated, council members never tell Transportation and Capital Improvements do this plan when repaving streets and stroads
So you probably asking how do we make sure that the candidate will actually do this?  Well I cannot do this alone, you are going to have to do this. I'll try to organize a meeting sometime in the fall, if your interested in attending, please contact me sirbikesalto06@gmail.com

B. Will you vote to remove a bicycle lane?
With a supposedly bicycle friendly candidates voting to remove the S Flores Bicycle lane back in 2014, I felt the need to enforce this.  So if by any chance that by voting for a development or to actually remove a bicycle lane, then the next time they run, we'll be holding them accountable despite future promises. This is the reason why you see Rey Saladan

C. Will you make it illegal to park a car in the bicycle lane?
63.1
This is the biggest complaint of all, a car just parking in the bicycle lane because it's not like anyone uses this lane is on a bicycle. Now I'm willing to make exceptions like broken down vehicles of no more than 2 hour and parking in one that is next to a church during church services, but that's it.  If no legislation is passed by the council, then we hold this accountable. 

D. Will you make sure Broadway has a protected bicycle lane from Houston to Hildebrand?
If the Bond passes, then the money is available to build a protected bicycle lane on the city's busiest corridor that people ride their bicycles on.  We have a chance to make sure that Broadway has a protected bicycle lane, even one just 10 feet wide.  Despite what some candidates replied that really they have no say and that is true.  It is not true that they can't influence the mayor or the future district 1 council member. (Image 63.1)
63.2

E. Will you insist on new developments to include bike infrastructure such as a bicycle lane, mix used 10ft paths, and bicycle racks?
After what to the Bicycle lane on Broadway at Jones, I felt the need to add this. (Image 63.2)  If any future development decides to remove a bicycle lane, then we hold accountable the council member.  Lack of any action by the mayor or council with legislation, we hold them accountable.

F. Will you amend Sec. 19-286. Driving or parking on sidewalks prohibited, so people can ride their bicycles on the sidewalk?
When I wrote about this in back in 2014, I really didn't have a answer and thought that since B-cycle was around, that this law won't be enforced.  But alas, I have been hearing recently that people have been getting ticketed for riding their bicycles on the sidewalks.  I see it done all the time and I do it too especially when I need to ride against the flow of traffic.  This is an outdated law and if law enforcement can ride their bicycles without hitting people walking, then the rest of us can do it too.  I'm even will allow the amending of this law that if you hit a pedestrian with your bicycle, then it's the fault of the bicyclist.

G. Do you support a city ordinance that prevents any further Development of park or green space lands for development of sports fields?
This is a question that was recommended to me by people who love to mountain bike in McAllister Park with the recent bond fight to build more baseball fields.  It's not a park that I regularly go to, but even I feel the need to point out that we're losing green-space outside loop 410.

H. Will you either amend or repeal Sec. 22-28. Public parks hours of operation and curfew, so people can use the Howard W. Peak Greenway trails after dark?
This is another complaint I heard from people who live around the Leon Creek Greenway, how they were forced to give up commuting by bicycle because they got ticket for using the safest place to commute by bicycle.  I decided to say hell with the law and broke this law regularly.  The most deadliest thing I encountered wasn't an ax murder but a spider web blocking the path underneath Houston St. (Image 63.3)  I regularly rode past the Eastside Substation with police refueling their vehicles and never once got a ticket.   The worse thing was almost running over a racoon.
63.3
I understand that some parts of the Greenway is private property and I can understand that they will not allow people to use those parts of the greenway after dark.  I got nudged by Park Police not to trespass north of Loop 410 on the Salado Creek trail and found an alternative neighborhood route and rode on the sidewalk doing it. 

VIA Questions

I. Are you willing to look for more funding options to improve and expand VIA bus service?
When I attended a meeting about the system change in 2003, I came across a lady who said the following. "Do you want the money that is spent on bus stop amenities to be spent on more service."  Everyone hand shot up. If you read Empty Buses, it is the biggest complaint that Rey Saldaña, heard when he started riding the VIA bus.  Whether this leads to more funding option, or an increase in the sales tax, I would like the candidates who said yes to this to do their due diligence to find more funding options for VIA.

J. Will you support free bus rides for all residents of SA?
Being the only one asking these questions, I decided to ask my own and this is it.  For the reason behind this question, you'll need to click on the story "The Case for Free Bus Rides."

K. Are you willing to bring Light Rail to a vote?
Read any story lately about bus service, the riders demand that we have light rail.  Now this question isn't about whether you supported light rail, it was whether you are going to bring it to a vote.  I'm not going to argue here why a The mayor of Addison, TX is threatening to leave DART if they don't get light rail by 2025. But if you want to understand why people prefer rail over buses, you can go read Streetcar Part II: Buses aren't Better than Rail. What I wanted to know and Candidate Tony Valdivia for District 8 said it best in his explanation quote: "I am not a fan of light rail at this time as I believe the rapidly changing technology will shortly create a more efficient and economical means of travel. As a representative of the City, I would give the citizens a chance to vote on light rail, if requested. " And that's is the answer that I wanted to see. 


Images:
63.1:  Cross Section of my proposal and with the City proposal for Broadway.
63.2:  The new apartment complex at Jones and Broadway showing that parking was build over the existing bicycle lane.  The proposal that was told that the bicycles would be on the sidewalk.  This pictures shows how dangerous it would be for cyclist getting off of the sidewalk back onto the bike lane.
63.3:  A picture of a spiderweb blocking the Salado South creekway underneath Houston Street.