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San Francisco Celebrates Second Annual Walk to Work Day

April 11, 2014 in Environment, EV News, San Francisco, Sustainable San Francisco

Image courtesy of SFMTA

Image courtesy of SFMTA

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all transportation in the city, today joined the Board of Supervisors, Walk San Francisco, and other city partners and business leaders to celebrate the second annual Walk to Work Day. As part of the City’s commitment to “Vision Zero,” a plan to eliminate all traffic deaths in San Francisco by 2024, the SFMTA unveiled new plans to improve safety on San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks. Over the next 24 months, the SFMTA will be implementing 24 Vision Zero near-term engineering projects that will improve safety for all people, whether they walk, ride a bike or drive.

San Francisco sees almost one million trips on foot daily. But each year 800 people are injured and 100 severely injured or killed while walking, contributing to an alarming rate of overall traffic injuries and fatalities in San Francisco. People walking are among the most vulnerable road users, with over 4,100 people injured or killed in collisions in San Francisco between 2007 and 2011, nearly two people injured every day.

“San Francisco remains one of the most walkable cities in the world, and we all must do our part to keep pedestrians safe,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “Any pedestrian death or serious injury is one too many in our City, and residents will have an opportunity to fund pedestrian safety improvements to make our City safer through a proposed $500 million transportation bond and an increase to the vehicle license fee.”

Over the next 24 months, the SFMTA will be implementing 24 Vision Zero engineering projects alongside the agency’s existing programs that enhance safety for people walking, biking and driving, which include initiatives such as slowing down vehicle speeds, installing signals at intersections in need, enhancing existing and building new bikeways, and implementing measures to calm traffic citywide.

The SFMTA has also announced that the first Vision Zero project has been recently completed with pedestrian safety improvements installed at 6th and Howard streets, an intersection that has a disproportionately high number of pedestrian collisions. At 6th and Howard streets, the SFMTA installed painted sidewalk extensions to shorten crossing distances and increase visibility of pedestrians, new zebra-striped crosswalks that make people more visible to drivers as they cross the street, and advance limit lines that encourage people driving to stop farther away from the marked crosswalk.

“Building better and safer streets can help us ensure that individual mistakes on the road do not lead to death or serious injury,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Safety will always be our top priority and as we look to expand our efforts to build safer streets for everyone who uses them, the City will need voter support for the funding measures proposed by the Mayor for the November 2014 ballot.”

The SFMTA’s 24 Vision Zero projects will be spread throughout the City, from reducing vehicle speeds and installing a new traffic signal on Sunset Boulevard, to implementing safety improvements for people walking on Kearny Street. The 24 Vision Zero projects will provide safety features for all road users and are focused on not only corridors such as Golden Gate Avenue, where signal timing changes will lower vehicle speeds from Van Ness Avenue to Market Street, but also at specific locations such as the intersection of Mission Street and Silver Avenue where curb extensions will be added.

“We applaud the City’s bold commitment to Vision Zero. When streets are safer, people are healthier and businesses thrive,” said Walk San Francisco Executive Director Nicole Schneider. “Walk to Work Day is an excellent opportunity for San Franciscans to see what’s working, and what the city needs to take action to fix.”

Vision Zero builds on the Mayor’s commitment to cut the number of people killed and severely injured on our streets in half by 2021, a primary goal of the San Francisco Pedestrian Strategy, which was released in April 2013 on San Francisco’s first Walk to Work Day.

This article is a repost, credit: SFMTA. Video courtesy of City of San Francisco.

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Purchase of 60 New Electric Trolley Buses Moves Forward

March 11, 2014 in Electric Bus, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Sustainable San Francisco

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin at Feb. 27, 2014 SFMTA Budget Town Hall Meeting The vast majority of San Francisco did not budget time for the meeting.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin at Feb. 27, 2014 SFMTA Budget Town Hall Meeting
The vast majority of San Francisco did not budget time for the meeting.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages transportation in the city, today announced that the Notice to Proceed has been issued for the purchase of 60 new electric trolley buses from New Flyer Industries, following approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and SFMTA Board of Directors. The new vehicles will replace buses currently in service that are over 20 years old and account for 40 percent of system wide delays, due to mechanical issues. Notice to Proceed allows the SFMTA to move forward with the first phase of upgrades to the trolley fleet, as there are more than 300 buses that need to be replaced over the next several years.

“Replacing aging vehicles will help improve Muni’s reliability and performance,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “San Francisco deserves a safe, reliable and affordable 21st Century transit system, and these sustainable upgrades will improve service for our City’s working families and workforce for many years to come.”

“Vehicle shortages and reliability are one of Muni’s main challenges in terms of providing dependable transit service. We need more vehicles, and we need to replace aging vehicles – many far past their useful life – with newer vehicles. This procurement is a key step in the renewal of our aging fleet,” said Supervisor Wiener, District 8.

Trolley buses are the backbone of the transportation system carrying 200,000 riders every day. They serve neighborhoods throughout San Francisco with 14 routes including the 1 California, 14 Mission, 5 Fulton and 30 Stockton, which alone carries 32,000 riders daily. Not only do trolley buses offer a smoother, quieter ride but they contribute zero greenhouse gases.

“The people of San Francisco deserve modern, reliable transportation services that support the quality of life and economic vitality of the city,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. “By investing in new, high-performing, quiet and green electric trolley vehicles, we are able to provide better options for moving around the city.”

In order to expedite the purchasing process, the SFMTA joined a current, competitively bid vehicle contract with King County Metro in Washington State and New Flyer Inc. Under this agreement, King County Metro assigned 240 standard and 93 articulated option buses under their existing contract with New Flyer, Inc. to the SFMTA. In order to make an initial purchase of 60 articulated trolley buses, the SFMTA has negotiated a separate agreement with New Flyer that takes into account specific needs such as: color scheme, seat material, door sizes, training and spare parts.

The total cost of the purchase is $94,950,444 and is funded through federal, state and local support, including Proposition K funds. The SFMTA expects to have a prototype on the road in 2015.

The SFMTA is aggressively pursuing replacement and rehabilitation programs on all buses, light rail vehicles and historic street cars. With more people travelling throughout the city on a daily basis, more stress is being placed on the outdated transit system. Programs like these will help update the fleet and accommodate plans for more development and growth in San Francisco.

This article is a repost, credit: City of San Francisco.

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California Commits to Cooperation on Environment, Trade and Investment With China’s Largest Province, By Jennifer Zimdahl Galt

April 23, 2013 in Environment, EV News

Jennifer Zimdahl Galt is the U.S. Consul General in Guangzhou, China.
Courtesy of Department of State

Courtesy of Department of State

Recognizing the long history and deep ties between California and Guangdong dating back to the 1800s, I was excited to support Governor Brown’s visit to Guangdong and to have played a role in bringing together the United States’ largest state by population and economy and China’s largest province.

In Guangzhou, Governor Brown was warmly greeted by the leaders of Guangdong, including Party Secretary Hu Chunhua and Governor Zhu Xiaodan, as the delegation from California inked agreements in Guangdong to deepen their ties and to work together on low carbon economic development.  Chinese business representatives attending a breakfast in Guangzhou hosted by American Chamber (AmCham) South China on April 15 were visibly moved when they heard Governor Brown talk about how the first wave of intrepid Chinese immigrants to California overcame tremendous odds and obstacles and helped build the “Golden State” and how the Chinese-American community has excelled, topping indexes measuring income levels and educational attainment.  Audience members were also impressed when they heard from the Governor that city leaders, such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, trace their ancestry back to Guangdong.

It was fascinating to learn that Governor Brown’s connections with Guangdong dates back several decades.  The Governor mentioned that decades before receiving then-Vice President Xi Jinping in February 2012, he welcomed President Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, in 1980 to California, when the elder Xi was Governor of Guangdong and led a group of senior Chinese leaders to a visit to the United States in the early days of China’s reform and opening up policy.  In his meeting with Shenzhen Party Secretary Wang Rong, Brown said he visited Shenzhen in 1986 and was amazed at how the city has transformed into the fourth-largest city in China by GDP.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between California and Guangdong on promoting low carbon development stood out as one area where there is tremendous potential for cooperation and mutual learning that will benefit not only the citizens of both countries, but also the world more broadly.  Beyond cooperation with the government, California is also working with Chinese business to create jobs in the state while also improving the environment.  On the last day of the trip, Governor Brown visited automaker BYD, which is planning to manufacture electric buses in California after winning a $12.1 million contract to supply the city of Long Beach with public buses.  The Governor and BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu discussed ways to help California attain its ambitious goal of having one-third of its energy supplies come from renewable sources by 2020 and one million electric cars on California roads in 2025.

Governor Brown’s successful visit reinforced for me the importance of sub-national cooperation between the United States and China as a way to build platforms for cooperation between our two countries.  I expect the visit will pay tremendous dividends in the coming years in promoting not only trade and investment, but practical cooperation on the environment and educational and cultural exchanges as well.

This article is a repost, credit: Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, US Department of State,

Spring Smart Electrics, San Francisco MTA slows Car2Go

January 25, 2013 in Car sharing, Daimler, Electric Vehicles, EV News, San Francisco, Smart Electric

Smart Electric Hambach France manufacturing facility Photo courtesy of Daimler

Smart Electric Hambach France manufacturing facility
Photo courtesy of Daimler

I spoke briefly with Smart USA public relations this morning, and the new Smart Electric is still expected to arrive in the spring.  This small electric vehicle is ideal for inner-city transport with its zero emissions, quick electric-drive acceleration, and tiny size for parking.  The battery range is 68 miles, and it fully recharges in 6 hours with a 240v charger.  The price tag is $25,000 before any tax credits, so it will be the lowest priced electric vehicle on the market when it arrives.

In San Francisco, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) had talked with the car sharing company Car2Go about operating the Smart Car service in the city, but the MTA had concerns over parking issues the company required.  Therefore, the car sharing company remains in limbo as to its service in San Francisco.  Car2Go has been successful in introducing the Smart Electric and car sharing services in various cities in the United States, Europe, and Canada.  Car2Go has the ultimate goal of being a worldwide car sharing service.

Car2Go San Diego Photo courtesy of Car2Go

Car2Go San Diego
Photo courtesy of Car2Go

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is very supportive of electric vehicles, and I cannot help but think that there is a way forward with Car2Go.  Car2Go is already doing business in San Diego CA, Portland OR, and Seattle WA.  The Smart Electrics that are in Car2Go’s existing car sharing services are very distinctive, due to their small size and “electric drive” lettering on the vehicles.  They are little electric car billboards, especially when visibly charging on city streets.

San Francisco City CarShare from Beetles to EVs

December 23, 2012 in Car sharing, Electric Vehicles, EV News, San Francisco

City CarShare Ford Focus Electric
Photo courtesy of City CarShare

San Francisco based City CarShare is a nonprofit car sharing service that started operations with 12 Volkswagon Beetles in 2001.  In more recent years, the company has been quick to adopt electric vehicles to better serve its local market.  It is no secret that car ownership is expensive, and electric vehicles especially have high upfront costs.  City CarShare offers Bay Area residents the opportunity to drive several new electric and hybrid models without having to commit to car ownership.

The company recently issued a press release on its website confirming local EV demand: “A recent survey of City CarShare members indicated that they were interested in electric and hybrid vehicles as a transportation option – members identified battery (all-electric) and plugin hybrids as an excellent option (45% and 39%) or good option (38% and 40%).  When asked why they are interested in using plug-in vehicles from City CarShare, members indicated:  1) curious about the technology, 2) environmental reasons, 3) to reduce petroleum or fossil fuels, 4) the potential for cost savings or fuel efficiency, or 5) an affinity for new technology.”

City CarShare Mitsubishi-i-MiEV
Photo courtesy of City CarShare

San Franciscans have always been quick to adopt progressive technologies, and EVs mesh with many fundamental desires inherent in the San Francisco spirit.  It is not difficult to imagine the city eventually leading the nation in electric vehicle adoption.  Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Department of the Environment are championing this agenda.  More importantly, the San Francisco business community is receiving the message from San Franciscans that there is a broad interest in EVs.

Smart Electric Priced for Main Street

November 30, 2012 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Smart Electric

The new smart electric vehicle is soon to hit the US market with an expected price tag of $25,000, which places it well within mainstream budgets, especially after considering federal and state tax credits.  Also, the average driver at today’s gas prices can potentially save thousands over the years.  For example in California, off-peak EV charging with Pacific Gas and Electric can save around $1,000 a year in fuel costs verses the standard 27mpg car.  So, the Smart Electric is truly a compelling buy, considering tax credits and fuel savings.  Is this EV the catalyst to set the EV market ablaze?

I think it all depends on how Smart markets it.  This EV has an economic, environmental, and domestic electric energy story.  I hope the rest of the auto industry can match the Smart price point in the near future.  America needs millions of these EVs to make a meaningful drop in imported oil supplies.  We have been moving in the right direction, slowly.  Hopefully, the people at Smart inspire the auto industry with a great marketing campaign.  This EV has that potential as a game changer.

Photo courtesy of Smart Electric

In the future, I would like to see a wireless charging trial with a Smart Electric rental service.  In my opinion, San Francisco would be an ideal market for such a trial.  San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is eager to adopt electric vehicles, and San Franciscans themselves are tech-savvy early adopters.  A wireless trial of the Smart Electric would surely kindle EV sales and further stimulate the technology of the industry.