Should cyclists yield at stop signs? Riders and motorists weigh in.

By Nicholas Goldberg : latimes – excerpt
I’m used to reading nasty messages after I post on The Times Opinion blog. The comments section often draws angry people — or in any case, people who vehemently disagree with me. When I posted about bicycle laws a couple of weeks ago as part of our Roadshare project, a commenter noted that “this article ranks among the dumbest I’ve read on the subject.”
That struck me as strong language; surely he’d read many dumber things than my post. I know I have.
But my point is not to complain. Rather, it’s to say that my most recent post — on whether cyclists should be allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs as the law allows in Idaho (i.e., slow down and be careful but don’t necessarily stop) and to treat red lights as stop signs (i.e., stop but then go even before the light turns green if the coast is clear) — received a more polite batch of comments than usual.
I expected vituperative remarks, especially from drivers who would vow to run down any bicyclist who dared to ignore a stop sign or red light. (And there were a few of those.) But for the most part, the responses were thoughtful and articulate… (more)
FULL COVERAGE: Sharing the road in L.A.


It is time for drivers and cyclists in San Francisco to have a conversation about the rules of the road. Cars follow the rules to avoid collisions. It helps them to anticipate what other cars will do. When cyclists sharing the road with motor vehicles don’t follow the same rules they put themselves at risk. No amount of police or enforcement is going to protect them as much as the driver’s ability to predict their movements.

Streetsblog LA’s Damien Newton: Everyone on the road breaks the law.

By Carla Hall : latimes – excerpt

Damien Newton, bicyclist, bicycle advocate, founder and editor of Streetsblog LA — and owner of three bikes and one car — listens as I tick off complaints from drivers about bicyclists on the roads of Los Angeles: They blow through stop signs; they ride against traffic; they ride on sidewalks.
He’s not surprised. Or sympathetic.
“Pretty much anyone who uses the road breaks the law on a regular basis. But people excuse their own breaking of the law,” he says.
He turns from the cafe table we’re sitting at in Mar Vista (his neighborhood) and points to a car that just cruised through the bustling intersection. “No one was upset that that car blew through the red light. But if a bike did that, they would get upset — because they’re ‘the other.’ For a lot of people driving cars, bicyclists are the others.”.
FULL COVERAGE: Sharing the road in L.A.
He’s right, of course.
Despite the upbraiding that Streetsblog LA can deliver to city officials or commentators defending drivers’ right to road space (I’ve been on the receiving end of a tart rejoinder), its founding editor is less enfant terrible than amused observer of L.A. as it struggles to become a road-sharing city of drivers, bicyclists, mass transit users and, oh, pedestrians.
He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:
“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”… (more)


Regulating the Google Buses: the SFMTA’s plan for private shuttles

By Isabel Angell : KALW – excerpt

Private shuttles have been using Muni stops in San Francisco for a while. But they’ve mostly been smaller buses, for hospitals and universities. In the past few years though, bigger charter buses for tech companies like Google and Genentech have also started to use Muni stops.
In total, the private shuttles regularly use more than 200 Muni stops around the city. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) spokesperson Kristen Holland says the tech buses’ rising popularity has started to cause Muni delays…
The pilot proposes a few other new rules: shuttles will have to be clearly marked, and always give Muni the right-of-way. Buses that violate the new rules will be fined. The SFMTA hasn’t decided on a dollar amount, but the fine would depend on how many stops a shuttle provider makes within the city. More stops mean a higher fine.
According to Holland, the new regulations should make Muni boardings smoother and improve the system’s reliability, while still helping the city keep cars off the road….
A Google spokesperson said the company has no comment about the proposed regulations. A Facebook rep said it’s too early in the process to make a comment.
And it’s true: this pilot program is still a ways off. Holland says next, the SFMTA staff will present the regulations to the agency’s board, and the pilot should start sometime this winter. If all goes well, the SFMTA will look into making the shuttle regulations permanent… (more)


Berkeley manipulates motorists with parking meter prices

By : bizjournals – excerpt

The City of Berkeley both raised and lowered parking meter prices Tuesday in hopes of changing the behavior of drivers.
Rates have risen as high as $2.50 per hour in Elmwood and $2.25 per hour in some downtown areas in hopes of discouraging people from parking or lingering there. Rates are as low as $1 per hour in some distant, less desirable regions.
Berkeley has never really figured out how it feels about automobiles, as anyone who has tried to drive through its neighborhoods realizes when they bump up against one of the ubiquitous barriers blocking residential roads…
The residual chaos of these old central planning decisions is still apparent to anyone who tries to drive along College Avenue between Claremont Avenue and Dwight Way, a dozen blocks north. Every automobile going anywhere has to take Ashby or College; most of the time, both roads are busy with traffic. During business hours and rush hour both are hopelessly clogged. And where the two roads cross, by Wells Fargo bank? Fuggetaboutit.
Parking is nearly impossible to find, and you can’t turn off easily onto side streets, as many of them — Woolsey, Prince, Webster, Russell, Garber — lead to impassable barriers. Beyond the huge concrete planters and metal bars meant to gouge the bottom of any car that passes, you will glimpse a parking paradise with probably dozens of empty spaces. But you can’t get there… (more)

This is exactly what they plan to do in San Francisco. Remember what it was like before the SFMTA started trying to fix traffic congestion? There was no traffic congestion. Do us all and favor and leave the streets alone. Use the streetscape funds to fix the potholes. Eliminate road diets and quit taking away street parking.

Muni Ridership Increases over Past Two Years – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that over the past two fiscal years, July 1, 2011—June 30, 2012 and July 1, 2012—June 30, 2013, trips taken on Muni have increased by more than four percent. The national increase for calendar years 2011 and 2012 was just under four percent. Along with the growing economy, several major initiatives by the Agency coincided with this increase… (more)

SFMTA approves restrictions on taxi medallions

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Vocal city cab drivers clapped, cheered and gave the rare “thank you” to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board members Tuesday after they unanimously approved an amendment prohibiting any party other than a medallion holder or taxi company to operate a medallion, and postponed gate-fee increases for six months.
The item on medallions — permits that allow a cab to operate — had been an issue for several decades but has become a larger problem in the past 10 years as medallion leasing rapidly spread as a new business model. It created an industry of medallion brokers who illegally carried out color scheme functions without permits or oversight and took in profits, said Chris Hayashi, deputy director of SFMTA’s Taxis and Accessible Services Division… (more)

Color Wars: Curbing the Underground Taxi Market

Muni aims to relieve crowding on 5-Fulton line with pilot project

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

Riders of the crowded 5-Fulton Muni line could see relief as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency implements a yearlong pilot.

If the SFMTA board approves a pilot project during its meeting today, a 5-Fulton Limited and 5-Fulton Short would result in more frequent service between the temporary Transbay Terminal and Sixth Avenue, the route’s most crowded portion. Modifications to the existing service along the 5-mile corridor would remove 16 of 114 parking spaces, according to the SFMTA staff report. Travel lanes on Fulton Street between Stanyan Street and Central Avenue would be reduced from four to three to improve bus and pedestrian safety. In addition, 9 percent of customers would need to walk an extra block due to bus stop consolidation.

“While individually these proposals have relatively small impacts on transit running time, reliability and crowding, a holistic application of these types of improvements along an entire line has not been implemented in San Francisco,” a report on the project states.

Data on the pilot, ready for implementation this fall, would be collected and analyzed at the six-month and one-year marks. The proposed service changes, vetted broadly in the agency’s Transit Effectiveness Project, are reversible… (more)

Is anyone adding up the number of parking spaces they SFMTA is removing from city streets? Or the number of traffic lanes they are removing?