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An ode to one of our favorite buskers

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Jesse Morris was better known as “Punk Rock Johnny Cash” — if you had the fortune of seeing him at downtown BART stations, you’d know his breathtaking rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues.” Jeff took this photo in an alley off Valencia yesterday, a simple honoring of this musician who made our Muni and BART rides just a little more special.

In 2011, riders told us that Jesse had passed away, and more than 60 people wrote us about how much he made their day every time they saw him at BART.

Two of the letters that we got from readers at the time:

“When my sister turned 40 a few years ago, I gave Punk Rock Johnny Cash $10 to sing happy birthday to her on my phone.”

“For the past four years, I looked forward to seeing Jesse at BART. When my Mom was dying from cancer, I got her one of Jesse’s CDs, She loved Johnny Cash, and she loved SF, and he was kind of a bit of both.”

Jesse’s bandmates and friends organized a benefit concert for him at the Uptown in Oakland. Here’s a video of Jesse singing at BART — it’s easy to see why he made such a big impression on everyone.

RIP Jesse Morris, indeed.

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nlvivar
1400 days ago
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Oakland, CA
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Why We Need a New Democratic Party

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As a first step, I believe it necessary for the members and leadership of the Democratic National...
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nlvivar
1411 days ago
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Oakland, CA
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Vote No on California Proposition 60

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Adult Performers and industry workers have asked us to stand in solidarity with them as they fight against California Proposition 60. Prop. 60 threatens their privacy as well as their safety. We stand united...


This post, Vote No on California Proposition 60, is from Good Vibes.


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nlvivar
1435 days ago
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Oakland, CA
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11 Feet, 8 Inches: Infamous “Can Opener” Bridge Continues to Catch Trucks

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Can opener bridge sign by Jürgen Henn (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Eleven foot eight dot com is an oddly specific domain with a correspondingly niche focus: the website revolves entirely around footage of a particular train bridge in North Carolina. This bridge has been nicknamed “the can opener” for its uncanny ability to regularly scrape the tops off of oncoming trucks. It has been involved in hundreds of accidents over recent years, despite what appear to be ample warning systems.

Located in Durham, the bridge was completed in 1940 and simply not designed to accommodate trucks above a certain height. Area resident Jürgen Henn noticed the high frequency of collisions and in 2008 decided to install a camera on a nearby building to document them. Since then, he has captured, edited and posted over 100 videos of collisions, mostly of amateur drivers in rental trucks or RVs.

The state, railroad and city have all considered or taken actions to reduce accidents involving the bridge. From the perspective of each party, the problem is as well-solved as it can be.

The state has prominently posted a pair of signs, flanking the street, that indicate the height limit of 11′ 8″ (a few inches less than the actual clearance). Clearly, though, these do little to prevent accidents.

By installing a crash beam to keep trucks from hitting the bridge itself, the railroad protects its infrastructure, freight and passengers. Their concern is not with trucks on the road but trains on the rails above.

The city has installed a supplemental array of warning mechanisms, including three “Low Clearance” signs posted at each of three intersections in advance of the bridge. Until recently, an “Overheight When Flashing” sign (with blinking orange lights) was also posted directly in front of the bridge. Trucks, however, continued to crash into the beam, so the sign was removed and a new strategy implemented.

new versus old sign
Replacing old sign with new system, image by Jürgen Henn via 11foot8

An LED display was swapped in for the old combination of sign and lights. This display activates when attached sensors detect an oversize vehicle approaching. The sign sits alongside a new stoplight that is likewise tied into the sensor system. The light turns red to give truck drivers time to see the warning sign and consider their options. Despite even this latest sophisticated intervention, however, the bridge continues to claim and maim trucks.

Since no amount of warnings seems sufficient, other solutions have been considered and rejected, including: raising the bridge, lowering the street or redirecting truck traffic entirely. Unfortunately, raising the bridge would require a lot of money and regrading on both sides. Lowering the street is impractical because a sewer main runs below. Redirecting overheight traffic from the area entirely would be impractical, since many trucks need to approach the intersection then turn on the street running parallel to (but just before) the bridge.

In a way, the bridge represents a perfect storm of variables conspiring against a complete and permanent design solution. The railroad, state and city have all done what they can and called it a day.

stopsign

What remains is a flawed piece of infrastructure that exists in a sort of bureaucratic void. It seems to be waiting for either an extreme event or someone to come along with an ingenious alternative solution.

Meanwhile, 11foot8 continues to dutifully document the bridge, which, like numerous other too-low overpasses around the world, seems unlikely to stop causing accidents anytime soon.

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nlvivar
1483 days ago
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Sometimes, if you're having a bad day, watching the 11'-8" videos is the only way to recover.
Oakland, CA
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DMack
1484 days ago
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Our treasured vicious internet bridge hits the bigtime on this most erudite of podcast [website]s
Victoria, BC

Self-driving cars are not a solution to housing affordability

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Palo Alto Mayor Patrick Burt has come up with the solution for the lack of housing in Silicon Valley: workers living in self-driving cars as they endure 2-hour commutes:

Burt:   Our TMA is moving towards reducing the number of trips 30 percent. We can have shared, autonomous vehicles powered by carbon-free electricity.

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nlvivar
1483 days ago
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A-effing-men.
Oakland, CA
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The BART Twitter account wins the Internet amid system meltdowns

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There’s a right way and a wrong way to run the social media account of a public entity. During this week’s BART disruptions, the agency’s Twitter account engaged in so much “the right way of doing things.” Gizmodo has the story:

“Last night, the person in charge of the official San Francisco BART Twitter account lost it. In 57 tweets, the account espoused truth and honesty, and pretty much admitted what everyone in the Bay Area already knows: the crumbling institution kinda sucks.”

We can sympathize! Here at @munidiaries and @bartdiaries, we probably see almost as many hateful public transit tweets as the poor soul who ran BART’s Twitter feed this week. Fortunately our only job here, as four riders blogging away in our living rooms, is to pick out the funniest rants and present them to you! The media found the guy who was running BART’s Twitter feed that night: Taylor Huckaby of @iwriterealgood.

More from Wire.com:

Thankfully for Huckaby, BART’s higher-ups approved of the rogue policy change. His boss commended him for “single-handedly” turning the tide of “pretty much abuse” into an actual conversation. “It was exciting to be able to start a conversation about infrastructure,” Huckaby says, “because infrastructure is just not sexy—unless something is broken or brand new.”

Even The New York Times is on it. They talked to Huckaby about his approach to social media for  BART:

His philosophical approach to social media runs counter to that of most government agencies, which he said use Twitter as a bullhorn.

“With the political climate, there’s a lot of focus right now on America’s crumbling infrastructure — why are our tax dollars not getting us anything; where’s our return on investment?” he said, explaining why he thought it was important for government to be responsive online.

Here are a few of the tweets from that evening:

that Gizmodo cites as examples:

People in other parts of the U.S. took notice and applauded BART’s openness and honesty through the crisis:

This one, from the Metro LA account, was especially awesome in its GIF-y solidarity:

Yes, we indeed need more openness and candid communication from public transit agencies. Hear that, @SFMTA_Muni?

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nlvivar
1647 days ago
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Oakland, CA
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