Ambitious SF bike plan requires attitude shifts

 SFChronicle – excerpt

If you think San Francisco has gone bonkers for bikes with green-painted riding lanes and a ride-sharing program due this summer, get ready for more. City policymakers want to more than double the level of two-wheel transportation over the next five years with a batch of new ideas that could cost $600 million…
For all its visibility on major streets, cycling remains only a blip on the transit radar, accounting for just 3.5 percent of the daily transportation picture. But this small share has built up quickly, leading the Municipal Transportation Agency to dream about bumping the figure to 8 to 10 percent of all trips by 2018…
But the heart of the plan is about divvying up street pavement, already a combat zone featuring private vehicles, taxis, Muni and delivery trucks. Inserting bike use into this mix will have a major impact…
As ridership has grown, so have bike accidents. Even mighty Market Street, perhaps the most tested, measured and enhanced bike pathway, comes with hazards that can make it inadequate and unsafe. Streets that can carry more riders in safe conditions must be redesigned. Parking garage slots need to be reconfigured to hold dozens of bikes, not a few cars. Theft-proof spots to lock up a bike should be set up. Traffic lights that regulate both drivers and riders should be installed.
In a perfect world, these are all sensible ideas. But the bill won’t be small. The cheapest set of choices comes in at $200 million with the full menu costing $600 million. The plan offered no firm financial sources, meaning that money will be a problem.
What the study also glosses over is the necessary change in public attitude. Merchants and residents along Polk street – designated for a badly needed north-south bike pathway – are protesting the loss of parking. As other streets are tapped for greater bike use, there will be similar objections.
Both money and public acceptance are in short supply when it comes to carving up San Francisco’s crowded streets. That’s not a reason for dismissing the bike plan, but it should be a warning sign as a major plan pedals forward.. (more)

Voters are ready to revolt against the SFMTA. Most people feel the priority should be to get people where they need to go, not tell them how to get there.
Wait until the BART strike hits and there are no parking spots for all those “casual car shares” being invited to help pick up the slack. We shall see the results of the mass elimination of parking by the SFMTA in their haste to force us out of our cars.
Adding insult to injury, SFMTA raised parking fees and fines. SF now holds the dubious honor of charging the the highest rates in the nation.

Muni Bus’ Inaugural Run Has Shaky Start

Michael Cabanatuan and Neal J. Riley : sfchronicle – exceprt

Muni just can’t catch a break. Even when it has the opportunity to boast about something good — dozens of snazzy new biodiesel-electric hybrid buses and a bus driver with a great head on her shoulders — something goes wrong.
The Monday dedication of the new buses, the first low-floor vehicles in the Muni fleet, seemed to be perfect. The weather was warm and sunny and the setting — at Pier 48, just across McCovey Cove from AT&T Park, was picturesque. Mayor Ed Lee gave a speech, as did other city officials, in front of one new bus while two others sat ready to carry guests on an inaugural ride to City Hall.
Lee then honored Felicia Anderson, a 14-year Muni driver who last week acted quickly when someone was shot aboard the 19-Polk. Anderson not only drove the full bus to safety but also took the wounded rider, who was only grazed by a bullet, to San Francisco General Hospital, just blocks away.
On that high note, Lee — joined by Transportation Director Ed Reiskin, other city officials and the media — climbed aboard one of the buses for a carefree ride to City Hall. But after showing off some of the bus’ new features, the driver couldn’t get the bus to budge…(more)

Golden Gate Bridge payment processing backlog

By Ellen Huet : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Golden Gate Bridge’s new electronic toll system has been tripped up by an old-fashioned snafu that slapped about 400 drivers with late fees even though they paid on time…
Processing delay
Between March 27 and the end of May, 392,000 invoices were mailed out. While most of the returned payments were processed, Currie said, about 400 were affected by the delay.
And so, several weeks after the smooth introduction of the toll system, drivers began complaining – online or over the phone – about undeserved late fees…
That led to another problem: the bridge’s website was overwhelmed and out of service for four to five days last week, and there were not enough customer service representatives to handle phone calls….
Anyone who received a late fee notice in error should call (877) 229-8655 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday – though Mondays are the busiest day.
What’s not working
The Golden Gate Bridge’s new electronic toll system was overwhelmed by the volume of mail from people who had been billed and mistakenly sent out notices for late fees to drivers who had already paid.
What’s been done: Ten workers were hired to handle the backlog, and envelopes are being redesigned to look less like junk mail.
Who’s responsible: Steve Heminger, executive director of Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Denis Mulligan, Golden Gate Bridge general manager.