Back-Seat Driver

RT debates beer ads on buses, Sacramento targets traffic-accident injuries, and Pioneer Bridge is peeling again

The Pioneer Bridge linking Sacramento and West Sacramento has been peeling in winter.
The Pioneer Bridge linking Sacramento and West Sacramento has been peeling in winter. Caltrans

Sacramento Regional Transit last week renewed its debate over whether to allow alcohol ads on buses, and the agency came up with a delicate compromise.

Buses and trains will not display ads for alcoholic drinks by name, such as a Budweiser beer ad from Anheuser-Busch. But RT will allow restaurant or bar ads that show a glass of alcohol, such as a glass of wine, as long as the beverage in the glass is not named.

The RT board has been consistently clear it does not accept ads for cigarettes, vaping and marijuana. Alcohol-related ads continue to split the board, though, and they led to a pretty good debate at last week’s agency meeting.

Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen said he favored allowing alcohol ads because he wants the agency to cobble together as much revenue as possible from ads and other sources so it can avoid leaning on riders to pay higher fares. (RT fares are among the nation’s highest.)

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna countered that a substantial number of students ride the trains and buses, and that RT should not be blatantly promoting alcohol drinking via bus ads. He proposed the compromise approach that the board ultimately took.

The board will see how the new policy works out this year and could amend it later.

After all that debate, who bought the first ad sold by RT’s contract company last week? A health care company.

Vision Zero is no ‘accident’

Our readers taught us a long time ago that there is no such thing as a traffic “accident.” When cars collide, or a pedestrian or cyclist is injured, it’s the result of some action or decision, not mere happenstance. In other words, it is preventable.

With that philosophy, Sacramento this week will formally designate itself a “Vision Zero” community with a goal of eliminating all serious injury and fatal crashes from city streets in the next 10 years.

Admittedly, that’s more of an “aspirational” goal than realistic one, city officials say. But it makes an important point, says Jennifer Donlon Wyant, who is organizing the effort for the city.

“We’re making a statement that it is unacceptable to have people injured and dying on our streets, and we are going to something about it.”

The city hired a consulting firm to do a deep analysis of where crashes occur involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians, and what may have caused those crashes: human error, bad street design, illegal behavior, etc. The city will identify “high-injury corridors” this spring, then determine best methods of attack.

“It’s a great analytical way to approach it,” Donlon Wyant said.

Participants include AARP, Regional Transit, the city Police Department, state highway safety officials, disability representatives, and advocates for safe walking and biking.

Pioneer Bridge is peeling

People peel in the summer sun. The Pioneer Memorial Bridge road surface peels in winter rains. For the third winter in a row, rain appears to have caused more of the Highway 50 bridge surface to separate, creating shallow potholes, but potholes nonetheless.

The state had the bridge over the Sacramento River between West Sacramento and Sacramento resurfaced two years ago. But each winter since, portions of it have come undone. The contractor, Myers and Sons, went out last spring and patched the freeway, hoping that would be enough.

Caltrans officials say they will decide this week what steps to take. They were at their limit last week during the big storms, dealing with highway closures, road flooding, mountain blizzards, mudslides, clogged drains, falling trees and other mayhem.

We suspect they will have to wait out what is turning out to be one of the wettest winters on record before they authorize any permanent fixes. The work is under warranty, so it shouldn’t cost the state.