The great car slowdown

EDITORIAL : Guardian Editorial – excerpt

Could lowering the speed limit help us reach our biking goal by 2020?
It’s going to be hard to reach San Francisco’s official bike transportation goal, which calls for 20 percent of all vehicle trips to be taken by bicycle by 2020. Everyone in town knows that; everyone at City Hall and in the biking community agrees that some profound and radical steps would need to be taken to increase bike trips by more than 500 percent in just eight years…

But the city, it turns out, doesn’t have the power to unilaterally lower speed limits: State law requires speed limits to be set based on formulas determined by median vehicle speeds. That seems awfully old-fashioned and out of touch with modern urban transportation policy, which increasingly emphasizes bikes, pedestrians, and transit, and city officials ought to be asking the state Legislature to review those rules and give more latitude to cities that want to control traffic speed…

In the meantime, Reskin argues that a lot can be done by redesigning streets, using bulb-outs and barriers to discourage speeding..

So now we know the real reason for all the annoying changes on our streets. They want to slow down the speed of the cars. So do these new speed limits apply to bicycles? What kind of ticket do they give a speeding bicycle, or better yet, a bicycle running a red light?

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This reminds me of the chant “Bikes against Cars”,  from “Ride Hard, Die Fast”, an avant garde theatre production by Snake Theater.

Transit First was created in 1973 to fund Muni and help balance the transit needs of the city, not coerce drivers onto bicycles. How does this kind of attitude balance anything?

No wonder the drivers are ready to revolt.

Now wait for the real shoe to drop when the Bicycle Coalition and the Port Authority support the Mayor’s Central Subway tunnel. What have those three got in common other than a desire for public money?

Andy Thornley Departs SFBC to Work at SFPark

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.org – excerpt

In a “bittersweet farewell,” the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition announced today that its policy director, Andy Thornley, has been picked for an internship at the SFMTA’s SFPark program. His transition to city government is a positive sign for the livable streets movement in San Francisco…

If there was ever any doubt about the connection between the two organizations, there is none now.

Muni: Our Transit Agency Has Neglected Maintenance for Years

By Joe Eskenazi : SFWEEKLY News – excerpt

In early 2011, Dorian Maxwell decided he’d rather not set foot on a Muni bus. That’s a decision thousands of fellow San Franciscans make every day — but in Maxwell’s case, it loomed larger. He was a bus driver. And he couldn’t help but observe that atop Coach No. 5427, the electric bus he was assigned, a 600-volt conducting wire was wrapped tightly with a jury-rigged application of what appeared to be black plastic garbage bags.

The Glad Bag bus did not go unnoticed by other drivers. “Plastic bags on the wires?” says one veteran operator with a laugh. “Oh, I’ve seen that one.” Added another, “They were just the kind of bags you’d get at Safeway.” Maxwell claims he refused to operate Coach 5427 several times, cementing a reputation as a “troublemaker.” He has since been fired as a Muni driver, but the plastic atop the bus has outlasted him. “Those bags have been on that bus for about a year and a half,” he says. “They are still on there now. I guarantee you that.”

He’s right…

Wow! That is a pretty intense intro to a story.

So, if you’re looking to answer the question: “How many Muni employees does it take to change a light bulb?” the answer is five. But the bulb hasn’t been changed yet…

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