Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Painting Bicycle Lanes, Disabled Parking in EV Charging Spots, New Gas Tax & Annual Vehicle Fee in CA + MORE

May 1, 2017 14:00 pm · 38 comments

Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every first and third Monday at 2 p.m. on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every first and third Monday of the month at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.

Email your questions to

COMMUTER:Whose idea is it to paint bicycle lanes all over the city and who pays for it? Doesn’t everyone know the right side of the road to ride a bike?

–Fed-Up Taxpayer

TRAFFIC JAMMER:  In researching the answer to Fed-Up Taxpayer’s question, the Jammer was surprised to see that even some cycling enthusiasts are not fans of bike lanes.

Bike East Bay, one of the preeminent cycling organizations on this side of the Bay Bridge, is on record approving bike lanes. According to the organization’s website,protected bikeways encourage significantly more bicycling “by comfortably separating cyclists from traffic.”

However, some cycling advocates oppose bike lanes. The Vancouver Cyclist blog – (LINK) says the lanes are bad, for one thing, because they encourage cyclists to ride dangerously, using the lane instead of hugging the right-hand side of the road.

As far as who is paying for those lanes, Fed-Up, I think we all know the answer to that question.

COMMUTER: Can a disabled person with a placard park in a parking spot reserved for electric vehicle charging?

–Curious Charlie

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Parking spaces such as disabled spots, vehicle charging stations and spots reserved for patrons of specific venues are not interchangeable. The electric vehicle driver doesn’t get to park in a disabled spot unless he or she is disabled and has a placard, and the disabled driver can’t park in a charging station unless he or she is charging the vehicle.

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Beloved Claycordians, as we know, a new 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax is going into effect Nov. 1. (LINK) Gov. Jerry Brown Friday signed the legislation, which also includes a new annual vehicle fee. The vehicle fee goes into effect Jan. 18, 2018.

With this news in mind, the Jammer is sharing three basic tips on how to save money on gas. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section!

  1. The single most effective thing you can do to use less gas is to drive 55 on the freeway, according to AAA and other sources.
  2. Don’t accelerate or brake hard. No jackrabbit starts at stop lights.
  3. Gas prices can vary as much as 40 or 50 cents per gallon in the same city. So be sure to check apps like GasBuddy,, to find the cheapest gas in your area.

TRAFFIC JAMMERThat’s it for this week. Be sure to cruise by at 2 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART, County Connection or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.

Send your questions to

KP May 1, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Oh, Jammer…driving 55 on the freeway is just inviting road rage.

nytemuvr May 1, 2017 at 2:34 PM

Proper tire inflation and wheel alignment are big determining factors for good vehicle gas mileage. Being OCD about tire pressures on my vehicles, I’m aghast at what I see on some others on the road. Also, engine maintenance (spark plugs, air filter, etc.) is critical to good mileage. It’s like the old TV commercial…”You can pay me now, or pay me later”.

Spectator May 1, 2017 at 3:16 PM

Who pays for bike lanes? Before anyone gets too excited, I’d like to point out that most bicyclists in suberbia own a home and drive as many cars, trucks and R/V’s as the rest. So most bicyclists are paying their share of the taxes. Bicycling is sometimes convenient, or an inexpensive commute, but is mostly a strengthening and fitness alternative to a sweaty, stinky gym. It’s also fun as in sports, as opposed to stationary gym equipment.

anon May 1, 2017 at 3:17 PM

My car is approaching vintage status. It has become difficult to fill the gas tank because the nozzles are now much shorter than they used to be and it’s a long way between the gas cap and the actual tank flapper on this car. I’m sure there must be some sort of “fix,” but in the meantime, I have only found one gas station that has a nozzle I can fill the gas tank with, and I must dribble it in to keep it from automatically shuting off, what with the vapor recovery part of the nozzle and all. It takes an incredibly long time to do this, and is rough on the hand muscles holding it just so for so long. It has a newer catalytic converter installed, so it is not a polluter. I’m sure many owners of vintage and antique cars have faced the same problem as newer recovery nozzles have been introduced. Would anyone know what the solution is to this problem, aside from getting a new car? Is there an adapter for the nozzle available for vintage or antique cars, or can the gas fill area or gas tank be replaced to accomodate the newer, shorter nozzles?

Patty May 1, 2017 at 3:18 PM

There is so much paint on some of these roads, it is hard to figure out where I am supposed to drive sometimes.

MElMel May 1, 2017 at 3:24 PM

I would not have to brake so hard I there were fewer people paying attention on the road. Stop cutting me off and stop being so entitled.

ClayDen May 1, 2017 at 3:43 PM

I agree with both KP and nytemuvr. Driving smoothly at the speed limit will allow you to get to your destination in a reasonable time for a small penalty in gas mileage. After all, time is worth something. You generally don’t start to pay a big penalty until you get in the range of over 65-70MPH. Power required goes up at about the cube of velocity, and the more power, the more gas burned. This is because power = drag*work, and aerodynamic drag goes up with the square of velocity. Of course there are other variables such as tire rolling resistance, roof racks, etc. Driving an efficient car can pay big dividends. Also, efficient cars don’t have to be boring; make a trip to a Mazda dealer for proof. There is usually little justification to drive an SUV, when a sedan or station wagon will meet your needs and get better gas mileage. If you need to carry a lot of passengers and “stuff,” a minivan is more efficient than an SUV with the same seating capacity and will usually carry more cargo. About the only time it makes sense to get an SUV is if you need AWD or need to tow more (most minivans are limited to 3,500 lb).

anon May 1, 2017 at 3:55 PM

yo bike punks– stay in the bike lane, no 2 &3 side by side in my travel lane, stop at stop signs or you may die. obey the law…oh – that’s right – you are above the law…but not the coroner,also dressing like a court jester make all of us laugh

Concord Mike May 1, 2017 at 4:02 PM

The bike lobby gets what it wants because they are very well organized, on a first name basis with staff and city council, and know wat buttons to push.

Kudos to them, but those of us dependent on our cars need to understand this is a zero sum game. Money going to bike lanes is money not going to basic road maintenance, and the bike lobby agenda targets your car as the enemy.

Dorothy May 1, 2017 at 4:35 PM

I can’t ride a bike but don’t mind bike lanes.

What I do mind is some bikers who seem to enjoy riding as close to the drive lane as possible. That means I sometimes have to move halfway into an oncoming traffic lane in order to stay the legal amount of feet away from the biker. Especially on city roads where it is 2 way, 2 lane and no real room to spare.

anon May 1, 2017 at 4:41 PM

I’m not anon @9! Love the colorful bike racing outfits! I’m the anon with the vintage car question! I also bike!

WCreeker May 1, 2017 at 4:55 PM

Dorothy, if a cyclist is riding close to the traffic lane, odds are there’s so much crap in the bike lane that it’s hazardous to ride there. The cars ‘sweep’ the travel lanes so there is less debris. There’s often so much metal, glass, and vegetation debris in the bike lane that’s it’s really tough to ride there. Be nice if they were swept more.

Justifiable anger May 1, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Fed up with haters #3:

I cycled to work in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, so know that I am sympathetic to riders. I am always courteous, encouraging and on the look out for bi and motor cyclists.

But. The nasty attitude of modern cyclists with an agenda is obvious. Just the other week I found myself behind a small group in front of me taking up the entire width of the lane. I stayed back, knowing the road we were all turning on had two lanes and it would be safe for me to pass at that point.

Just as I guessed they all turned into the far right lane, leaving me the left lane to pass them 30 yards up the road. Then…The lead cyclist rode into the left lane as well just to hog both lanes.

Nice work, creep.

It might be better if bicyclists should be sharing the sidewalks. Not the road.

Turn and burn May 1, 2017 at 5:35 PM

After my experience with a bicyclist the other week who thought he knew the law of the roads and felt the need to tell me and the car in front of me, I have no more respect for bicyclest.

pete andreas May 1, 2017 at 6:08 PM

I drive a car and I also ride a bicycle for fitness and fun, to enjoy the great out doors. I ride in bike lanes and when I do I ride the lane at the outer line of the lane near the car side , the main reason I do is when coming to intersections the drivers at the intersection will see me.also it is to avoid the junk that has accumulated at the side of the road.. Also it is legal to ride in center of the road if there is no room at the side its called lane take over,if 5 cars behind you need to move over. It is illegal to ride a bike side by side.And yes I like the bike lanes my taxes helped pay for, my safety and the safety of others

WC resident May 1, 2017 at 6:10 PM

@anon #5 – Get a fill cap insert. Here’s links to various styles.

You will need to Google about to find out which type works best in your car.

The last link shows one where the small hole is sized to allow the unleaded fuel nozzle to fit inside it. You push and the area right around that hole makes a seal with the nozzle’s vapor recovery system.

Modern fuel dispensing nozzles have a vapor recovery system that expects to make a good seal with the opening in your vehicle. As it dispenses fuel it expects an exactly equal amount of vapor to be pushed back out of the tank. If that does not happen it shuts off. The vapor is put into the gas station’s fuel storage tank. The big “1203” trucks that supply gas stations also do vapor recovery. For every cubic foot of fuel delivered they get back one cubic foot of vapor. The truck full of vapor is taken to the refinery. As the “1203” truck is filled again the vapors are routed into into a recovery system.

Grewah May 1, 2017 at 6:30 PM

In the words of Sammy Hagar:

Post my face wanted dead or alive
Take my license, all that jive
I can’t drive 55!

chuckie the troll May 1, 2017 at 6:52 PM

Driving 55 on any local freeway is an awesome idea if you want to cause/be involved in an accident…just saying.

As for the latest tax from jerry-rig Brown, the man who as governor in the 70’s proclaimed ‘no new freeways’ and sold off Cal Trans R/W, and today is throwing BILLIONS of dollars down a high speed rail to nowhere…I expect this money to be diverted for other stuff just like our other gas taxes and registration fees.

RunnerDope May 1, 2017 at 6:58 PM

>> This is because power = drag*work, and aerodynamic drag goes up with the square of velocity.


That should be power = drag * velocity, etc.

Curious May 1, 2017 at 8:42 PM

We do not need another tax increase to pay for road improvements. We need the state to put back the money they removed from the transportation budget.

drivesatruck May 1, 2017 at 8:56 PM

well my question is, who tells you how much your car is worth? I say if it’s the state, we are all going to be driving expensive cars.

mary f - ph May 1, 2017 at 9:13 PM


55 saves lives (and gas).

Do it!

mary f - ph May 1, 2017 at 9:19 PM

@chuckie the troll:

“Driving 55 on any local freeway is an awesome idea if you want to cause/be involved in an accident…just saying.”

You are allowed to drive up to 20 mph below the limit on the freeway. The federal government encourages 55 mhp because it saves lives. If you want to cause accidents at 65 mph, be my guest. And if you rear end me while I drive 55, guess who is at fault??

ClayDen May 1, 2017 at 9:29 PM


Work = force*distance Velocity enters the equation in the drag term. Drag = 1/2 air density*velocity squared*frontal area*drag coefficient Drag is the force.

3rdrail9er May 1, 2017 at 10:03 PM

Lets be real: driving 55 on the freeway has now become a hazardous practice. Average speed on Ygnacio Valley Rd is 55mph.

ON DA May 1, 2017 at 10:10 PM

If you are from England or another foreign country driving on the left side is perfectly normal.

Thus J walking must be perfectly normal too right? Er um left?

Old habits are hard to break sometimes, if not impossible.

Painting bicycle lanes is a step in the right/left direction.

Unfortunately people tend to follow their own rules when caught up in the conundrum.

RunnerDope May 1, 2017 at 10:50 PM


So if I combine the two equations you gave:
power = drag * work and work = drag * distance

We get power = drag * drag * distance

ClayDen May 1, 2017 at 11:02 PM

The speed limit on YVR eastbound between Oak Grove and the top of the hill actually is 55; it’s 55 part of the way westbound. BTW, of the approximately one million miles I’ve driven, I figure something like 160,000 of those miles have been on YVR.

anon May 2, 2017 at 12:14 AM

@16 WC resident

Thanks so much! It looks like a relatively simple solution. The vapor recovery is precisely what is hanging me up when filling the tank. “For every cubic foot of fuel delivered they get back one cubic foot of vapor..” That is a remarkable amount of vapor recovered per cubic foot of fuel. I’m guessing before they put the vapor recovery nozzles into use, that vapor was lost to the atmosphere. So, it’s a good thing. Until I get the fill cap insert, I’ll have to look more favorably on the vapor recovery nozzle, then. Thanks, again.

Mixed Vegetables May 2, 2017 at 3:05 AM

Can we remind people to drive 55 in the RIGHT LANE!!!!!! If you want to go slower, GET IN THE RIGHT LANE! It irks me that I have to speed up around cars going 65 mph in the “fast” lane. They’ll see a line of cars behind them in the left lane and they must be thinking “meh, I don’t have to go that fast”. EFF You. You may have nowhere to be but some people do sadly.

Kenji May 2, 2017 at 11:05 AM

@Concord Mike #9 –

You said “Money going to bike lanes is money not going to basic road maintenance.”

This is not exactly accurate. The City of Concord funds its capital improvement projects (CIPs) by applying for grants from regional and state programs. The few bicycle infrastructure projects we’ve had in this city have been funded almost entirely from programs aimed at developing active transportation (i.e. human-powered, walking and bicycling) and other modes besides the private automobile. Concord could not have obtained or spent that money on either construction or maintenance of car infrastructure.

As for the “bike lobby” in Concord (which, as you and I have discussed here, consists of Concord residents) getting what it wants, this is also not the case. What we want is serious, practical, comprehensive bicycle infrastructure that will convert significant car traffic into bicycle traffic, and thereby save wear and tear on the roads, reduce the spending of government money, and greatly improve the safety and health of Concord residents. There have been very few bicycle CIPs in this city so far, there are very few in the pipeline, and these few are not in the places they are most needed in order to make bicycling a safe, practical option. Those places are, necessarily, where motor traffic volume and speed is highest.

As always, I appreciate that we can discuss and disagree respectfully.

ClayDen May 2, 2017 at 12:24 PM


Power required = drag * velocity, which is where the velocity cubed term comes from (since drag is related to velocity squared). The faster you go, the more work is being done per unit time. Power is the rate of doing work. 1 HP = 33,000 ft-lb/minute in English units, or 1 HP = 746 Watts.

RunnerDope May 2, 2017 at 2:40 PM

Hey Mixed Veggies,

Please don’t tell people to drive in the slow lane.
How am I going to get around all the slowpokes in the fast lane?

RunnerDope May 2, 2017 at 2:43 PM


Agree completely.

Do/did you fly out of Buchanan? I’ve been out there since ’84; General Air then over to the East ramp in ’91.

ClayDen May 2, 2017 at 5:45 PM


No, but I’m a semi-retired aerospace engineer and I also have an A&P license. I fly RC airplanes.

RunnerDope May 3, 2017 at 11:01 PM


Who did you work for? I was at Systron Donner for 11 years.

Anon, too. May 4, 2017 at 7:28 AM

I’m just curious about the new traffic limitations along Clayton Rd. What is the logic of no right turns onto Marclair Dr. and Bel Air Dr.?

ClayDen May 5, 2017 at 7:57 AM


Navy and NASA.

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