Brightest ideas of the week: Dec. 6, 2009

City’s bike plan given the go-ahead, South Africa plans to expand HIV treatment and Beyoncé is nominated for 10 Grammy Awards to cap off a truly graceful year.

1. Open lanes

Bike plan injunction partially lifted

The details: Major improvements are on the way for The City’s bike lanes. The S.F. Municipal Transportation Agency began implementing bicycle network improvements this week after a judge partially lifted a 4-year-old injunction against The City’s bike plan. The overall plan would add 34 miles of bike lanes to the 45-mile­ network, as well as 75 miles of bike routes with “sharrows,” which indicate shared-use lanes with vehicles. For now, improvements are limited to what the judge calls the “least intrusive and most easily reversible.”

2. Tricks of the trade

Tax assistance for small businesses

The details: The City is planning workshops in the coming months targeting accountants who serve clients in neighborhoods where small businesses are not taking full advantage of incentives. The aggressive push is intended to educate certified public accountants and tax-preparers about the tens of millions of dollars in local, state and federal tax breaks that go unclaimed each year, hoping they will pass them on to their small-business clients in S.F.

3. Tennis tirade

Serena Williams fined record amount for verbal attack

The details: Tennis players — much like athletes in other sports — often yell at officials. But when Serena Williams unleashed a verbal barrage following yet another minor infraction during her U.S. Open semifinal match on national television, the event was shocking. Williams, in the heat of the moment, allegedly threatened to kill the lineswoman, an act the tennis star denied. Williams was fined by the Grand Slam committee a record $82,500 and faces suspension if she commits another “major offense” in the next two years.

4. Angelic move

Baseball team honors pitcher killed during season

The details: The Los Angeles Angels played most of the season with heavy hearts following the April 9 death of pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was killed when an alleged drunk driver plowed into a friend’s car. The Angels honored their fallen young pitcher throughout the season, wearing a patch on their jerseys, taking his uniform on road trips and putting his image on the outfield wall. The team recently did one more thing in his memory: They voted his estate a full playoff share, which was $138,039 for the Angels. A full share usually goes to players on the roster.

5. Here comes Target

Chain store to set up temporary shop in The City

The details: The big, red bull’s-eye is coming to The City. As speculation increases that national retailer Target will take over a chunk of the Metreon, the low prices the chain store famously offers will give San Franciscans a taste of what could come. From Dec. 11 to 13, Target will open a temporary outdoor store in Mint Plaza. Only 50 low-budget items will be available, but store officials promise that they will be “the hottest” products. Items can be purchased prewrapped for those who fumble with wrapping paper.

6. Cyber sell-out

‘Cyber Monday’ sales rise 20 percent over 2008

The details: Online retail sales for the first Monday after Thanksgiving were up 19.6 percent over a year ago, according to Coremetrics, a Web analytics company in San Mateo. This was a welcome upturn after traditional retail sales came in nearly flat for Black Friday, with shoppers packing stores but sticking to lists, going for deep discounts and practical items. Electronics, appliances and home decor were big sellers, as consumers took advantage of sales to buy things for themselves.

7. No-money life

Ex-businessman lives on $0 for year, vows to continue

The details: British former businessman Mark Boyle, 30, has lived on no money for a year. He gave up his career after becoming disillusioned with consumerism. Now he says giving up all his worldly goods to reside in a solar-powered old caravan on an acre of land where he grows food and forages for nuts and berries was the best decision he ever made. He says he wants to spend the rest of his life this way.

8. Like clockwork

Live departure, arrival times coming to Caltrain

The details: Caltrain passengers will eventually have access to up-to-the-minute arrival and departure times — something BART and Muni riders already enjoy — at stations and potentially on hand-held devices. Starting in spring 2011, Caltrain platforms will have electronic signs connected to a GPS device that will alert passengers to when trains are arriving and departing. Such information systems can encourage increased ridership, relieving passengers of the anxiety of not knowing when a vehicle will arrive.

9. A desperate plea

Raiders fans say owner needs to let someone else lead

The details: Disgruntled Oakland Raiders fans made a high-­profile plea for owner Al Davis to step down as the team’s general manager this week by posting a billboard on Interstate 880 near the Coliseum saying, “Mr. Davis, do the right thing, please hire a GM.” The Raiders are well on their way to a seventh straight losing season, and fans are growing increasingly frustrated with Davis’ stubborn ways. While the billboard and half-filled stadiums this season may not be enough to get Davis to step aside, at least he knows fans aren’t going to take it much longer.

10. Expanding treatment

South Africa to treat all HIV-positive babies

The details: South Africa, the country hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, announced on World AIDS Day that it would greatly expand treatment for HIV-positive babies and pregnant women. The changes announced include earlier treatment for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and treatment for all children under 1 year of age.


Bright light of the week

Who: Beyoncé Knowles
What: Nominated for 10 Grammys
Why: It’s been quite a year for the former member of Destiny’s Child who grew up to be a woman in control of a successful career. She performed at the inauguration for President Barack Obama, had a starring role in a movie, gracefully stepped in to defend fellow songstress Taylor Swift from a public insult by Kanye West and now received 10 Grammy nominations. She’s a diva without the obnoxious behavior frequently associated with the title, deserving of the bright spotlight.

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