Bay Area Bike Share announces station locations in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville

Originally published in the East Bay Times online on April 25, 2016 and in print on April 27, 2016. 

OAKLAND — If permitting goes as planned, residents can expect to see bike sharing stations popping up around the East Bay before the end of the year.

Motivate, the company that operates the bike sharing network in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, announced on Monday that it will add 350 bikes at 21 stations in Oakland, 10 stations in Berkeley, and three stations in Emeryville, mostly concentrated in the cities’ downtown corridors.
The new stations are part of a tenfold expansion of the bike sharing network in the Bay Area, which already includes locations in San Francisco, San Jose, and other South Bay cities, according to a spokesperson for Bay Area Bike Share.

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Mandatory fees for discounted BART passes coming to college campuses

Originally published in the East Bay Times on April 25, 2016.

San Francisco State University students voted overwhelming earlier this month to pay a mandatory per-semester fee in exchange for discounted MUNI and BART passes — perhaps paving the way for other universities and colleges to follow suit.

Pamela Herhold, BART’s manager of financial planning, said at last month’s BART board meeting the initiative could serve as a pilot for other universities and colleges in BART’s service area, opening the possibility for students at nearly 50 other institutes of higher learning in the Bay Area to receive similar discounts. San Jose State students receive unlimited bus and light-rail passes.

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SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Setting Down Roots in Oakland

This story was originally published in the East Bay Express on April 20, 2016.

BERT JOHNSON - Paw Ku Tee and her father Sein Win grow food together in the New Roots program.

Paw Kut Tee and her father Sein Win grow food together in the Intergenerational Food Justice Internship program through the International Rescue Committee and Oakland International High School. Photo by Bert Johnson/East Bay Express. 

In 1997, when the ongoing civil war in his native Burma made it impossible for him to continue working, Sein Win knew it was time to leave. Following other refugees to Thailand, Win said he thought the move would only be temporary, that he, his wife, and their three daughters would be able to return when the war ended. Instead, they lived in a refugee camp for fourteen years.

One day in 2010, Thai government officials told Win his family could apply to live in the United States. Win was eager to leave the camp, hopeful that he could receive medical treatment for several chronic health problems, and optimistic that his children would have better opportunities in America. After a year of waiting and three days in transit, Win’s family landed at the Oakland International Airport and settled in Oakland. Without knowing any English, Win said it was difficult to navigate the city or to connect with any of his new neighbors. But when his daughter, Paw Ku Tee, told him about a new gardening and cooking program at her high school that pairs refugee elders with youth, he jumped at the chance to participate. A farmer in his former life in Burma, Win had spent years on the land, growing wheat, rice, and vegetables to sell. (more…)

Sick Fest: A Lesson in ‘Sick Woman Theory’

Originally published in the East Bay Express on March 23, 2016.

PAMILA PAYNE - Johanna Hedva.

Photo by Pamila Payne. 

One day in late 2014, when demonstrators were spilling out into streets across the country to declare that Black lives matter, author and activist Johanna Hedva found herself listening to a procession of protestors from inside her Los Angeles apartment. Incapable of getting out of bed due to a debilitating illness that regularly renders her unable to walk, drive, work, or sometimes speak or understand language for up to five months at a time, Hedva had little recourse but to watch the march move on without her. The experience got her thinking: “How do you throw a brick through the window of a bank if you can’t get out of bed?”

That question forms the basis of Hedva’s Sick Woman Theory, a manifesto for people living with chronic illnesses or disabilities, the first chapter of which was published in Mask Magazine earlier this year. It’s also the question that motivated Sick Fest, an evening of readings and performances by writers and activists who are chronically ill and disabled, including Hedva, that will take place at Chapter 510 in Oakland (2301 Telegraph Ave.) on Saturday, March 26. (more…)

BART riders hope help is on the way with new cars

Originally published by the Bay Area News Group in the Contra Costa Times and affiliated newspapers on March 19, 2016.

The inaugural train car for BART’s new fleet is seen as it leaves the manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania.

The inaugural train car for BART’s new fleet is seen as it leaves the manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. (Courtesy of BART)

As the first car in BART’s new fleet arrived in Hayward on Tuesday for testing, riders said they were cautiously optimistic about whether the cars would significantly improve their commute.

The new train cars are part of BART’s “Fleet of the Future,” a $2.6 billion effort to replace its 669 cars with 775 new ones over the next five years, according to BART spokesman Jim Allison. Ultimately, Allison said, the transit agency would like to add an additional 306 cars, bringing the total size of its fleet to 1,081 and increasing its capacity by 49 percent from current levels, but funding hasn’t yet been identified for this second expansion phase. (more…)

BART board delays action on seat hogging ban

Originally published in the San Jose Mercury News and other Bay Area News Group affiliates on March 10, 2016.

OAKLAND — The BART board of directors sent a proposal to crack down on seat hogs back for more work Thursday over concerns that the new rules weren’t clearly defined and might be arbitrarily enforced.

The proposal, introduced by Director Joel Keller, would prohibit passengers from placing their personal belongings on the seat next to them, if it prevents other passengers from having a seat. Under the proposal, first-time scofflaws would be subject to fines of $100 and up to $500 for repeat offenders. (more…)

St. Andrews Plaza: More than a Triangle

Originally published in the East Bay Express on March 9, 2016.

St. Andrews Plaza. Photo courtesy OaklandWiki.

Locals call it Triangle Park. At less than a quarter-acre, bounded by San Pablo Avenue and 32nd and Filbert streets, the concrete plaza is officially called St. Andrews Plaza and includes dusty planter beds and a smattering of trees lining its edges. For years, area homeowners have complained about the park, saying it attracts drug dealers, sex workers, and violence.

The City of Oakland received a $456,000 grant in July to renovate the space, and crews erected a fence thin this week so that workers can begin the demolition before the remodel, which is expected to start at the end of the year. Though relatively obscure to people outside the neighborhood, the renovations proposed for the tiny park are stirring up mixed feelings among residents, many of whom laud the changes but are concerned about what will happen to the current park users. (more…)

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