Opinion: On-street car sharing is San Francisco’s future

By Scott Wiener : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Municipal Transportation Agency recently began implementing an on-street car-sharing program to improve access to car sharing in San Francisco. The program has caused some controversy, given the many challenges surrounding parking in our city. However, this program is central to San Francisco’s long-term transportation success. Studies suggest that car sharing will induce some residents to give up their cars, which will reduce competition for parking…

Some have objected to the program as privatizing public space. However, the city has long allowed private entities to monopolize street parking spaces if the use serves a practical purpose. Private businesses reserve curb space to receive shipments. Passenger loading zones for taxicabs occupy space in front of hotels. Similarly, homeowners are permitted to eliminate on-street parking by privatizing curb space via a curb cut for a driveway. We allow these privatizations of curb space in an effort to balance our community’s varied transportation needs. Allowing a small amount of curb space for car-sharing services is no different. Car sharing is a valuable service to the public… (more)

The fact that a District Supervisor is hawking an enterprise that completes with private businesses is alarming. Since when is the city and everything in it for sale? Since when is it ok for a city regulatory agency to complete with the businesses that it is regulating? Call it what it is. City Car Share is a rental business.

There are a number of problems with the sharing economy, which we will not go into here. We will mention the fact that car manufacturers rely on car sales to pay for the R and D that got us to the point we are now with cleaner more efficient engines. If you want better products you will need to boost sales, not cut them off.

 

 

SFpark Project Proves Smart Parking System Efficiency

By Marcin Maroszek : gpsbusinessnews – excerpt

Technology development on one hand and increasing traffic problems on the other, lead to a situation where authorities are more willing to invest in Smart Parking Systems (SPS). Example of San Francisco proves that SPS are effective for fighting both – traffic jams and virtual parking deficiency problem… (more)

Don’t believe the SFMTA. Traffic and parking are far worse than they were before anyone introduced any digital parking systems. You can’t use virtual digital solutions to solve actual physical problems. Parking with an app is like withdrawing cash from an ATM. It only works as long as there is money in the account. This is a PR job written by one PR firm to another and published on a trade site. A lot of back slapping going on here.

Muni’s Sluggish 30-Stockton Finally Set to Get Greater Priority on the Streets

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Muni’s notoriously sluggish 30-Stockton line is finally set to get some upgrades that will give buses higher priority on streets through the dense neighborhoods of Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, and near Fisherman’s Wharf…

Wu noted that it’s “still important to listen to community input” on the bus upgrades. A recent public outreach open house held in Chinatown by the SFMTA about the project was sparsely attended, but it’s unclear why.

One attendee, Jim Fong, said he rides the 30 and 45 regularly, and that he’s concerned about longer walking distances for seniors once stop spacing is increased from every block to every two blocks. Citywide, a 2010 Muni survey of riders found that 61 percent would consider walking a longer distance, if it meant the overall ride would be quicker and more reliable.

Aside from stop consolidation, the only point of contention for some seems to be proposals to remove car parking for transit upgrades. Chinatown residents and merchants don’t seem to depend much on car storage, and they’ve been happy to ban car parking on Stockton Street to boost business during the busy Lunar New Year shopping season.

It’s unclear how many car parking spaces would be removed in total for transit amenities, like 11 transit bulb-outs that allow for faster and easier boarding. Crosswalks at 18 intersections along the route would be made safer with bulb-outs, whether or not those intersections have bus stops.

The plans also include a two-block road diet on one-way Kearny Street, where the northbound 30 runs between Market and Sutter. Removing one of the street’s four narrow traffic lanes would allow for wider traffic lanes that better fit buses, the SFMTA says. It’s unclear if the road diet would extend beyond Sutter… (more)

Bold Visions for the Embarcadero Emerge at Public Design Workshops

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Ever since the Embarcadero was uncovered from beneath a freeway more than two decades ago, San Franciscans’ appetite for a more people-friendly waterfront only seems to have grown.

At a series of recent public design workshops this month, groups of attendees were asked to put together a display of how they’d re-allocate street space on the Embarcadero. The main idea was to figure out how to provide a protected bikeway, so that riders of all ages can enjoy the popular waterfront without having to mix it up with either motor vehicles or crowds of pedestrians on the shared sidewalk.

At one of the workshops, two groups suggested that half of the roadway, on the waterfront side, be dedicated primarily to walking and biking, even if it includes a shared-space zone where delivery drivers can move through slowly for loading. Finding a design that allows deliveries to safely co-exist with the bikeway seems to have been the main challenge since the SFMTA launched its redesign process in July

If you want to keep your lifestyle alive, you better get out and let the SFMTA and your Supervisors know that roads are not for walking and biking. Most of the people are still getting around by cars and if they want to get more people out of their cars, they should quit cutting Muni service.

The Supervisors to contact about this plan are:

D-3 David.Chiu@sfgov.org and D-6 Jane.Kim@sfgov.org and D-10 Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org

You can also contact the SFMTA project managers if you can figure out who they are. We couldn’t find any information. You can always send your comments to the Mayor: mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org, Ed Reiskin: Ed.reiskin@sfmta.com and the MTA Board members:
MTABoard@sfmta.com

 

Controversial BART tram to Oakland Airport opens, but questions remain

By : sfexaminer – exerpt

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, along with state transportation officials and politicos of all stripes, stood with smiles frozen Friday as they waited for one last politician before finally cutting the ribbon for the new monorail connecting BART to Oakland International Airport.

It was an appropriate stall, analogous to the project’s 30-year holding pattern. The long haul finally concluded Saturday with the inaugural ride of the much-contested driverless tram…

The 3.2-mile connector was proposed decades ago and over the years created much controversy. Now operational, it picks up passengers at the Oakland Coliseum BART station and whisks them on a silky-smooth 8-minute ride to the front of the Oakland International Airport…

The new tram might be a big improvement from the bus shuttle it replaced, but it still has critics.

TransForm, a transportation advocacy group, says the new connector is a boondoggle — too costly with little potential for heavy ridership, and constructed at a time when nearly $5 billion in funding is needed for major systemwide improvements to the BART network.

“This is frankly going to serve 1 percent of the daily ridership,” said Joel Ramos, a community planner with TransForm…

TransForm and others also accused BART of not properly evaluating other projects that would intersect with different communities in and around the airport.

The complaint was ultimately sustained, and BART lost some federal funding as a result…

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