Studies Show Car Traffic in San Francisco is Dropping

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Car traffic has dropped in San Francisco in recent years, despite an economic boom and a growing population, according to studies by the SF County Transportation Authority.

A newly updated study (reported by SF Weekly) by the SFCTA counted fewer cars at 11 of 15 intersections during evening peak hours this year, compared to earlier counts taken between 2009 and 2012. Driving speeds, meanwhile, are “increasing moderately.”

As SF Weekly’s Joe Eskenazi pointed out, the data fly in the face of anecdotes from drivers — who almost universally feel that car congestion is always getting worse. And given the city’s booming economy, population, and construction in recent years, that’s one scenario that certainly would have been plausible had the 20th-century status quo continued… (more)

Why is traffic getting worse if there is less of it? Because the SFMTA is removing traffic lanes and causing the congestion they claim to be fixing. SFMTA put one over on the drivers this time by claiming they are solving the gridlock problem when they are causing it. How hard is it to figure out the the fewer traffic lanes you have to drive in the more crowded the streets will be?

STOP THE STREET DIETS!

RELATED:
The Slow Lane: The City’s Anecdotal and Statistical Traffic Studies Collide

Why the SF Fire Fighters supported Yes on L

by Zrants

SF Streetsblog, the SFMTA mouthpiece, put out derisive messages about the SF Fire Department’s objections to installing six-foot bulb-outs near intersections. Fire Department officials claim they needed more space to maneuver around corners, and requested the sidewalks be limited to five feet wide. An excerpt from the article is below.


 

Dismissing SFFD’s Irrational Protests, SFMTA Approves Bulb-Outs at School
By Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The SF Fire Department continues to make increasingly bizarre claims in opposition to sidewalk bulb-outs and narrower roadways. Last week, the SFMTA Board of Directors dismissed SFFD’s protests against six-foot bulb-outs at E.R. Taylor Elementary School in the Portola neighborhood. According to SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, one of SFFD’s claims was that fire truck drivers would be ticketed by the SFPD for entering an oncoming traffic lane to make a wide turn.

The SF Examiner reported on the dispute yesterday, though the paper didn’t question SFFD’s claims about the supposed hazards of six-foot bulbs (SFFD pushed for five feet). According to the Examiner, SFFD spokesperson Mindy Talmadge said “the department has been ‘vilified’ for voicing concerns on pedestrian safety.”…

Following an SF Examiner op-ed penned by Walk SF calling on SFFD to support sidewalk extensions, the department issued a statement responding to what it called “allegations being made by special interest groups.” Although SFFD’s Talmadge told the Examiner yesterday that “we don’t want to be the cause of a pedestrian fatality,” the December statement indicated that SFFD officials don’t comprehend how sidewalk extensions improve pedestrian safety.

“We haven’t seen pedestrians being hit by vehicles on sidewalks because the sidewalks are too narrow,” said the SFFD statement from last month. “Proposals such as these cannot possibly make our streets, pedestrians and bicyclists safer.”

SFFD Fire Chief Johanne Hayes-White also made the erroneous yet unchallenged claim in a recent Examiner article that 74 percent of pedestrians were at fault for their own injuries, though she later said she was “misinformed.” SFFD also tried, unsuccessfully, to quietly nix a provision in a piece of legislation last year that allowed the city to approve street widths of less than the state guideline of 20 feet. At hearings on pedestrian safety issues, Hayes-White and other officials have neglected to comment on these matters, though a representative is scheduled to make a presentation to the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee tomorrow evening… (more)


 

This anti-Fire Fighters attitude explains why the Fire Fighters supported Yes on L. They are as tired of dealing with the SFMTA and staff as we are. Since when are street designers experts on what emergency responders need? Who wants to slow emergency vehicles to save pedestrians two feet of road to cross? How many seconds does it take to walk two feet anyway? This from the agency that wants its riders to walk longer distances between bus stops. Where is the logic in this?

SFMTA Board Approves Contested Transit Signals, Bulb-Outs on Haight

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

On Tuesday, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved plans to add traffic signals and bulb-outs along Haight Street, which could speed up Muni’s 6 and 71 lines and improve pedestrian safety. The approval came despite complaints from Upper Haight merchants over removing parking for bus bulb-outs, and mixed support for new traffic signals from pedestrian safety and transit advocates…

But the speed benefits of signalization are contested by Michael Smith, the former Chief Technology Officer and General Manager of NextBus, who co-founded Walk SF. SFMTA staff have not responded to his challenge to their estimates — neither to a request from Streetsblog, nor at the board hearing — but street safety advocates say that they might not justify costly signals, which restrict movement for people walking and biking (in this case, on the Wiggle). “MTA hasn’t convinced neighbors and pedestrian advocates of that,” said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich

But Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Schneider told the SFMTA Board she “comes at this with some mixed thoughts. ” Planners in Sweden, the birthplace of Vision Zero, say they avoid adding signals in favor of treatments like roundabouts, which maintain slower speeds and “forgive” mistakes by street users and minimize the risk of crashes. Traffic signals, meanwhile, give motor vehicle drivers carte blanche to coast through an intersection…

Peter Straus, an SFTRU member and retired Muni service planner, told the SFMTA Board that he lives a block away from Haight and Pierce Streets, one of the intersections set to get traffic signals. “I don’t think they’re things that people should be afraid of, if they’re properly managed” by synchronizing signals for slower speeds, he said. The SFMTA says it plans to do so…

Aside from the signals, several merchants at the hearing protested the SFMTA’s plans to remove parking and loading zones to create sidewalk extensions at bus stops and crosswalks. A few, including the owners of Amoeba Music, also said they thought transit bulb-outs would cause car traffic to back up, since buses would stop in the traffic lanes to load passengers…

Breed doesn’t have a specific position on the proposals, said Johnston, but she is concerned that shelters and signals could affect public safety…

Evans said that the Muni Forward plans for Haight “are in conflict” with the Haight-Ashbury Public Realm Plan, a community planning effort that the Planning Department is undertaking, with a focus on streetscape improvements. City planners have said the two plans will work in tandem, and that the Muni improvements up for approval were vetted by the public through the Public Realm Plan…

The only SFMTA directors who voted against approving the changes were Jerry Lee and Gwyneth Borden, the board’s newest member. Borden said more time was needed to work out the issues, and that she “had a hard time with” the appearance that those voicing concerns weren’t being taken seriously. “I don’t think you can overlook when there are so many diverse groups of people, with varying problems, in a particular area,” she said… (more)

Even people who normally agree with the SFMTA disagree with this plan. Most don’t want traffic signals and many don’t like the shelters. Merchants don’t want to lose any parking. If it ain’t broke leave it alone.

Someone needs to request a hearing before the Board of  Supervisors to amend the contract.

RELATED:
SFMTA Board Approves $6.6M Project Along 71 Haight-Noriega Route

VTA’s Controversial “Bus Only” Lanes Up for Debate

Hearings begin on Thursday in Mountain View to discuss a controversial plan by Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority to create dedicated bus lanes throughout parts of Silicon Valley, despite fears that the “bus only” lanes will actually increase traffic on residential streets…

There is plenty of criticism, however. On the article page of the Mountain View voice, several people chimed in to say the bus lanes, would just steer more traffic onto local streets.

One online commenter with the screen name of “PROTEST” wrote: “How GREAT would it be to have an organized protest of this plan, with people blocking the right lane of (El Camino Real) in key spots from SJ to Palo Alto. That would be an epic visual and a very strong message. The ensuing temporary traffic snarl would also show everyone what daily life would be like with a closed lane(s)on (El Camino Real)… (more)

7 On Your Side: You may not have to pay these parking tickets

SFMTA Make It Easier To Contest a Citation While Going Green

cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Anyone contesting a citation for a parking or transit violation issued by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency can submit evidence in an easier, and greener way thanks to a newly launched online portal…

The new process allows the administrative review to be carried out online, instead of in the form of a written protest delivered to the SFMTA office… (more)

About time SFMTA’s appeal process got smart. This should work really well for the Fix folks who fix tickets.

 

RELATED:
SFMTA Launches Online Protest Platform

‘Driving miles’ is best measure of new development

Opinion By Curt Johansen and Jeremy Madsen : sfgate – excerpt
For more than 40 years, California’s signature environmental law — the California Environmental Quality Act — has helped safeguard our natural lands and protect community health. Now it’s time to modernize some elements of the law to strengthen its effectiveness and make our communities even better places to live. Fortunately, the Brown administration is following through with some long-overdue fixes that deserve broad support.

Critics of CEQA have protested that the environmental review the law requires for major projects often adds unnecessary costs, time and uncertainty, while unfairly empowering project opponents. As representatives of nonprofit organizations committed to responsible, sustainable infill growth in our cities and downtowns, we see the continuing value of CEQA for giving the public a voice in project analysis, requiring more careful decision making, and encouraging project developers to mitigate avoidable impacts where feasible.

But we also recognize that CEQA can unduly penalize urban-oriented projects over outlying, auto-centric projects when it comes to evaluating impacts on traffic — an analysis that too often provides project opponents with leverage to defeat projects or scale back their environmentally friendly elements. Currently, an infill project in downtown San Francisco, for example, might be subjected to protracted litigation and concessions to widen streets and accommodate even more traffic, despite its optimal location in a walkable, bikeable area with transit close by. Meanwhile, a new subdivision on open space or farmland that generates long-distance car trips, air pollution and crushing regional traffic can get a free pass, all because traffic in the immediate area isn’t affected.

This perverse result has to change, and the Brown administration is taking action…

As leading developers and advocates of infill projects throughout California, we recognize that this proposed reform will remove one of the most common roadblocks used to stop smart city-centered development, while requiring outlying projects to account for the regional traffic they cause… (more)

This plan was developed by lobbyists working for big developers, banks, and the pubic transportation industry, and the anti-car non-profits, and sold to the legislators as a method to “encourage” people to move into stack and pack housing in densely populated cites by penalizing people who don’t.

Nato Green explained how this works in a recent article:  What on earth does an assemblyman do? 

SFMTA approves parking, traffic for Van Ness BRT

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

he Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project moved a step forward after transit officials Tuesday approved the necessary parking and traffic changes along Van Ness Avenue to accommodate the $125 million bus rapid transit system.

The changes unanimously approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s directors Tuesday include restricting most left turns on Van Ness Avenue and removing parking spaces where the agency plans to put center bus boarding platforms…

Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Stations

  • Market Street
  • McAllister Street
  • Eddy Street
  • Geary Boulevard
  • Sutter Street
  • Sacramento Street
  • Jackson Street
  • Vallejo Street
  • Union Street … (more)

Rapid Bus Lanes Coming To San Francisco’s Van Ness Ave.; Expect Less Parking Space

By Barbara Taylor : cbslocal – excerpt

AN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The plan for San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit project is moving forward. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) board of directors has approved major changes that will eliminate traffic lanes and parking along busy Van Ness Avenue in an effort to make the thoroughfare more efficient…

The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018… (more)

“The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two  years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018.”
You know this is a lie. The changes will take effect the minute construction begins.

Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit