Archive for the ‘Local’ Category

BART to the future fleet

April 17th, 2014

BART's Fleet of the Future prototype BART's Fleet of the Future prototype BART's Fleet of the Future prototype BART's Fleet of the Future prototype

Today BART launched the first of several workshops with a full-scale prototype of their new train cars. They’re looking for rider feedback before finalizing the design. Most of it seems pretty nifty:

  • Comfortable, easy to clean seats
  • Extra set of doors for faster boarding
  • Bike racks
  • Digital signs and maps

BART says their new trains will be quieter on the inside and have better air conditioning, but these features weren’t part of the demo.

I took the time to voice my concerns about the boarding difficulty that the redesign didn’t address. One BART representative suggested a couple mirrors might solve the problem, which is an interesting alternative I hadn’t considered.

If you’re interested in checking out the prototype and giving feedback, several more workshops are scheduled. If all goes as planned we’ll start seeing these new trains in 2017.

Ugly building in “Silicon Valley” show

April 16th, 2014

Mike Judge’s new show “Silicon Valley” satirizes Bay Area tech culture. From Peter Thiel paying kids not to attend college to unconventional social norms to strange business practices, the show has some pretty easy targets to mock.

One of my favorite aspects of the show is the unusual architecture it highlights on the Peninsula. From the Google-inspired “Hooli” campus to the incubator housed in an Eichler, the Bay Area’s architecture has the same experimental quality as everything else here.

Not all experiments are successful. One particularly notable example of bad Peninsula architecture is highlighted in this scene: (click for larger version)

It’s an unusually ugly building on an unusually ugly stretch of El Camino in Palo Alto. Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps:

According to LoopNet this building was constructed in 1961. One can only imagine that drugs were a factor in the decision to attach those garish metal panels to the upper floor of what would otherwise be a tolerably bland building.

But it may not have long for this world — plans are afoot to replace it with a larger office building (PDF warning.)

Perplexing wood box installed on utility pole

April 1st, 2014

Wood box thing

Sometimes in life there’s questions that don’t seem to have concrete answers, like who shot JFK or the career of Shia LaBeouf. Today another such question popped into existence in the form of a perplexing wood box installed on a utility pole at 16th and Guerrero. It’s the kind of thing one wouldn’t notice easily, like a slightly misplaced item you only catch out of the corner of your eye.

Some of the questions I’ve been able to come up with:

  • Who made this?
  • Why?
  • Is it art?
  • Why wood?
  • What does the pattern mean?
  • Why on this pole, of all places?
  • WTF?

If any answers are provided I’ll post updates. Until then, I’ll be scratching my head.

Clarion Alley updates

March 27th, 2014

Here’s a few new pieces that caught my eye in the always-changing set of murals in Clarion Alley:

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Clarion Alley

Sign proclaims that spring is over

March 27th, 2014

End Spring

While the weather outside may lead you to believe that spring is just beginning, let’s not be so quick to judge. According to this sign in the Financial District, spring is over.

Deal with it.

BART station side hatch

March 14th, 2014

This morning I arrived at the 16th Mission BART station only to find the entry was blocked by a steel gate! Oh no! How would I get to work?

Turns out a detour through a secret passage was necessary, as documented in the photos below.

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New BART trains don’t address boarding issue

March 8th, 2014

The new BART train cars will have lots of improvements over the current ones. But there’s one boarding issue that they didn’t quite tackle.

See what’s missing from their design, as pictured above?

You may have to take a step back, so to speak, in order to notice. Consider how people board BART trains: commuters and other frequent riders wait in a line or small group on the station platform near where the train’s doors stop when it pulls into the station. Generally they let other passengers off first before anyone gets on.

Or at least, they try to. On current BART trains it’s difficult to tell if there’s someone waiting to exit before you get on, because the trains are designed like this:

Now Boarding

As you can see from Todd Lappin’s above photo, there aren’t windows next to the doors. This means you can be standing on the platform, unable to see an exiting passenger before you try to board. Not exactly a well thought out design.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Van Ness Muni Metro Station

As the above photo by Roshan Vyas illustrates, even when Muni Metro’s doors are open you can still see the people inside. You can wait for them to get off before shoving your way on — or not, like certain impolite Muni passengers at rush hour. But either way at least there isn’t a wall at a crucial point in the train car exterior.

BART’s new trains narrow this boarding blind spot, but they don’t eliminate it. Look at all this wasted space:

I understand there needs to be a place for a map and maybe some ads on the trains, but this isn’t the place for it. There shouldn’t be a need to pick between faster boarding and information — both goals are attainable without sacrificing one for the other.

Proof that Mitch Hedberg never rode BART

March 7th, 2014

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“An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. You will never see an escalator out of order sign, just ‘escalator temporarily stairs — sorry for the convenience.’”

– Mitch Hedberg

 
While he may have taken Muni Metro, it’s clear that Hedberg never rode BART.

E-Team investigates what’s causing innocent bystander deaths

March 6th, 2014

Dan Nayez, Chief Investigative Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (KGG) — In San Francisco, simply stepping near bullets in mid-air can be deadly. Five people have been killed standing around San Francisco this year. It is a tragedy unfolding at an alarming rate. The E-Team wanted to see what is causing the spike in innocent bystander deaths. We spent months on the streets investigating the problem.

We’ve investigated the role that gangsters and police play in shootings. Now, we show you the mistakes people make while they stand around that put them at risk for serious injuries.

The San Francisco Department of Health estimates two to three people a day are hit by bullets, many of them are injured… others die.

The E-Team wanted to see what was happening, so we took our cameras to the streets. We watched again and again, as people crossed mid-bullet, raced against drive-bys, pushed strollers out into landmines, crossed gang territory with their heads down on their smartphones or just walked out into explosions in progress without looking for shrapnel at all.

We saw Kane Wagner nearly get hit by a bullet. He admitted he wasn’t looking, “Yeah I know, in the city it’s pretty much you keep your heads up and go straight.”

Veterinarian Kris Boller said, “I can admit that have been texting and walking. Then I look up and I feel like an idiot because I almost get hit by machine gun fire.”

Surveillance video obtained by ABC7 News shows just how fast it can happen. It was taken a couple weeks ago. A man walks out onto Van Ness Avenue into oncoming gunfire. It was the last time he was seen alive.

Commander Mike Alice heads up the San Francisco Police Department’s efforts to keep people safe. He said, “Of those bystanders who were killed last year, a third of them were identified as being the cause.”

In the last seven years, 120 people have died and more than 5,600 have been involved in collisions mostly with 20 mm rounds.

“Our people definitely have to take a greater stake in their own safety,” said Alice.

The department is cracking down on people who fire their guns too fast and innocent bystanders who cross in front of machine gun fire. In fact, they’ve issued 43 percent more tickets this January over last.

The city health department is looking for long term solutions. It used police department data to track the most dangerous schools and libraries.

Perhaps not surprising, the most dangerous neighborhoods for bystanders are also the city’s busiest in terms of weapon activity. Most of the worst are downtown on stretches like 6th Street, South of Market and Geary in the Tenderloin.

“Six percent of our city parks contribute to 60 percent of where our severe and fatal injuries happen,” said Margaret Warner of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

She said an analysis of those accidents also sheds light on who is generally at fault. “Two thirds of the time, people firing the weapons are assessed to be at fault,” said Warner.

The city will be investing $17 million over the next five years to improve safety conditions for bystanders. It includes shortening the walking distances and slowing the bullets down at corners. The city just finished such a project on Cesar Chavez Street.

“We’re all bystanders,” reminded Erica Smith. She is with Bystanders SF, a not-getting-shot-at advocacy group. She believes street improvements will help reduce bullet-related injuries and deaths.

“We often point fingers and I don’t think it is helpful to point fingers. We are educating people and we also need to focus on the things that we know work. We know that street improvements work, so that’s the main thing we need to spend taxpayer dollars on,” added Smith.

But even in those areas designed to be safer, our cameras watched as innocent bystanders continued to make potentially dangerous mistakes over and over again.

“At the end of the day it really is quite simple,” said Alice. “The second amendment is there to protect human life and people have to adhere to those rules of the country. Whether you’re firing a shotgun, a machine gun, or a grenade launcher. If the bullets are in the air, do not cross in front of them.”

We want to raise bystander awareness. Help us by joining the conversation on Facebook or if you see a shooter or bystander doing something dangerous tweet your pictures and video using the hashtag #didntlook. Maybe together we can encourage shooters, knife throwers and bystanders to look up and look out for each other!

Space reserved for mural

February 12th, 2014

New mural

This space is reserved...

A mural recently appeared on the side of the former Andalu space at 16th and Guerrero. Apparently there’s more to come, as a large sign proclaims that the space is “reserved.” Stay tuned for further updates as the mural progresses.

UPDATE: A new piece of the mural has appeared.

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UPDATE, part 2: Despite being aggressively tagged over in the past few days, the mural sprung back into action with more cutesy characters.

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UPDATE, part 3: Well, that didn’t last.

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