Polk Street makeover sparks heated debat

By Jonathon Bloom : ABC7news – excerpt – See video attached below.

Polk Street in San Francisco is about to get a makeover to make it safer for cyclists and that’s sparked a hot debate.

http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=498662

Beyond being a haven for shops, bars and restaurants, Polk Street is also one of the only ways to get across that part of the city by bicycle and the city wants to make that a whole lot safer.

At a public hearing, cyclists told stories of getting hit by cars to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which put a face on a sobering statistic.

“Polk Street is one of the six percent of city streets that account for 60 percent of the collisions,” San Francisco MTA spokesman Ben Jose said.

It’s why engineers have worked up a plan to make Polk Street safer on bike and on foot… (more)

RELATED:
Plan to Pluck Parking Places From Polk for Pedalers Panned:

This has not only been a highly contested project, but there is mass confusion of the plan. According to this tape, nothing will happen until next summer 2016. We don’t really know what will happen or when it may happen. The Planning and Building departments are overwhelmed with projects.

 

Not only are the bike lanes highly controversial, many people want to see better enforcement of the traffic rules for bikers. According to official reports, half the accidents involving cyclists are due to their bad behavior and risk taking. Motorists want cyclists to take tests, purchase licenses, and insurance and cover the costs of the bike lanes.

MTC launches interactive website

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday unveiled its new Vital Signs website, vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov, an interactive tool that Bay Area residents can use to track the region’s progress toward reaching key transportation, land use, environmental and economic policy goals. Residents also can consult the new website to learn more about historical trends, differences and similarities among the Bay Area’s many communities, and how the nine-county region stacks up with other major U.S. metro areas.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area… (more)

Coming to 13th Street: SF’s First Downtown Parking-Protected Bike Lane

Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

13th Street is set to get a westbound parking-protected bike lane between Bryant and Folsom Streets, among other improvements this spring. Image: SFMTA

San Francisco may get its first downtown parking-protected bike lane on 13th Street this spring. The SFMTA will be taking comments on the plans at a hearing tomorrow morning.

The bike lane would be installed only in the westbound direction of 13th underneath the Central Freeway, from Bryant to Folsom Streets. It would complement the existing eastbound bike lane on 14th Street, providing a safer route on a “key east-west corridor for people biking to destinations like the Caltrain Station, the Mission District, AT&T Ballpark, and the South Beach area in general,” said SFMTA Livable Streets spokesperson Ben Jose… (more)

We saw no notice about this plan. Discovered it when we went to protest the Polk Streetscape Project. Why do they want cyclists near freeway on and off-ramps? This is a dangerous street for cars. There is no reason to have bikes on this street when there are better options nearby.

On further examination, we see that these lanes are the awful design that they have in Golden Gate Park that people detest. Let’s confuse everyone, especially those dreaded out-of town visitor who have the nerve to try to drive in our city by imposing “unique” new confusing bike lanes along-side the freeway access roads. That will be a welcoming experience.

BART rider satisfaction lowest in 16 years

By Denis Cuff : contracostatimes – excerpt

WALNUT CREEK — BART riders’ satisfaction with service has dropped to its lowest level in 16 years because of overcrowded, hot trains and dirty seats and carpets, according to a survey of train riders.

The transit agency said the problems are side effects of record ridership as the recovering economy creates more jobs and more commuters — many of whom can’t find seats on trains or spaces in station parking lots.

“BART is a victim of its own success,” BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. “We have more people riding our trains than ever, but the same resources to serve them.”… (more)

Uber e-mails reflect company’s brash reputation

By Carol Said : sfgate – excerpt – (includes exhibits and videos)

Uber

Uber reps pose with MADD on the steps on SF City Hall while state judge rules Uber emails are admissible and release them to the public. Uber says they plan to donate $1 to MADD for every person who types in the promo code “Think and Ride.”

Uber’s brash reputation evidently extends to the way its managers talk about drivers. In forceful and sometimes crudely derisive language, Uber bosses discussed when to fire drivers for the on-demand ride service, according to internal company reports and e-mails.

Uber was compelled to produce the documents as evidence for a class-action lawsuit by California drivers seeking to be considered Uber employees rather than independent contractors. The company sought to have them kept under seal but a federal judge ordered them made public. The judge heard arguments Friday about whether the case should be dismissed, but made no ruling.

The documents illuminate a sometimes-contemptuous culture that would make a human resources manager cringe…

A win by the drivers could seriously affect Uber and Lyft’s bottom lines. The companies could be obligated to pay drivers’ operating expenses such as gas and vehicle maintenance. The Uber lawsuit’s lead plaintiff told Reuters that his annual expenses topped $10,000. The companies could also be on the hook for Social Security, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. As of December, Uber had more than 160,000 active U.S. drivers in 161 cities, it said in a report this month. Lyft, which is in 60 cities, has not released its driver numbers.

“They think they’ve come up with a brilliant new model by which they can shift onto workers all the expenses of having a business,” Liss-Riordan said. “California law doesn’t allow them to do that.”…

In Thursday’s hearing on the Lyft drivers’ case, U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria said that California law appears to favor the drivers’ contention that they are employees, according to Reuters, but he didn’t issue a ruling… (more)

Ride Share riders and companies oppose AB 612 and AB 2293 which seek to deal with insurance issues. video on CBS channel 13.

Merchants, bicyclists continue to wage battle over Polk Street redesign

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Notice

Notice posted outside City Hall was missing in action for most of the week prior to the hearing. There are allegation of intent to hide the hearing from the citizens and businesses on Polk Street.

The SFMTA’s engineering division is meeting Friday about a contentious plan for Polk Street that has pitted neighborhood merchants against cyclists.
San Francisco’s popular Polk Street corridor is on the road toward a significant transformation to make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. But the redesign remains a contentious debate pitting merchants against bicyclists.

The battle comes to a head Friday with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s engineering division meeting on the plan, followed by a possible vote as early as next month by the agency’s board.

Nearly three weeks since her mayoral appointment, District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen finds herself in the middle of the controversy. She has met with at least three groups continuing to fight over the plan, after some say her predecessor, David Chiu, lacked leadership on the issue.

“Two years of work has been done on this,” Christensen said. “I’m coming in on the final act.”

She has yet to take position on the SFMTA’s recommended compromise plan but noted “there is still a lot unhappiness” on all sides. “I’m trying to determine if that’s a true statement, is this the best we can do,” Christensen said…(more)

The $12 million project will result in the removal of 100 parking spaces on Lower Polk between Pine and McAllister streets, and 10 spaces on Upper Polk between Union and Pine. Work is set to begin in spring 2016 and finish in winter 2017…

Another group, Folks for Polk, is threatening to a place a Polk Street design initiative on the November ballot if a final plan doesn’t include at least a pilot program offering protected bike lanes

The $12 million project will result in the removal of 100 parking spaces on Lower Polk between Pine and McAllister streets, and 10 spaces on Upper Polk between Union and Pine. Work is set to begin in spring 2016 and finish in winter 2017…

Another group, Folks for Polk, is threatening to a place a Polk Street design initiative on the November ballot if a final plan doesn’t include at least a pilot program offering protected bike lanes… (more)

The showdown is called an Engineering Hearing. It is set for Friday, January 30, 10 AM in City Hall room 416.

To read about the proposed improvements to Polk Street in more detail, visit our website: www.SFMTA.com/Polk. You are welcome to attend this hearing, or to submit any comments to sustainable.streets@sfmta.com with the subject “Public Hearing.”

RELATED:
Driving a hard bargain over plans for Polk Street

Uber’s surge pricing backfires during Sydney hostage siege

Jennifer Booton : marketwatch – excerpt

Prices automatically surged as part of ‘peak demand’ policy

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Uber has found itself embroiled in yet another PR disaster: spiking prices as a hostage situation unfolded in Sydney, Australia…

Uber customers have long complained about Uber’s peak demand prices. But this is the first widely-reported instance where the hike has occurred during an emergency situation.

The app is facing extreme backlash from the move, with Twitter user Tyson Armstrong calling it a “shameful disgrace” and others using far harsher expletives. Uber responded to angry tweeters by saying that the surge pricing is automated. The fares, it said, were increased to “encourage more drivers to come online [and] pick up passengers in the area.”.

Uber “does not profit off crises,” it said…  Uber’s ‘surge pricing’ surprises some users: Variable-pricing model increases the rates for rides with the limo-booking service, surprising many New Year’s Eve revelers…(more)

Complaints About Uber Surge Pricing Caused The Better Business Bureau To Give The Company An ‘F’:  On Thursday, Uber received an “F” grade from the Better Business Bureau, the New York Times reports. It’s the lowest rating that the independent organization assigns to businesses… (more)

Uber’s #357 Crosstown L.A. Ride Highlights Controversial ‘Surge Pricing’… It wasn’t snowing; it wasn’t raining; it wasn’t New Year’s Eve. It just happened to be 7pm — not 9pm where most people are prime to go out nor 2 am when bars are closing. There was absolutely no excuse whatsoever to be charged the surge price — not even their “supply and demand” cop-out justification, which falls short in this instance. On a clear night with near-perfect weather and at least 10 Uber vehicles within my proximity at the time of the reservation, there was plenty of “supply.”… (more)

Uber CEO mocks ‘surge pricing’ complaints on Facebook(more)

While the surge pricing during the hostage crisis caught everyone’s eye, we know there are numerous complaints around the world. Send us your surge pricing stories, and copy them to Mayor Ed Lee and the supervisors: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/san-francisco-officials/
Uber is so good with their computers, I am sure they can send a warning message to their customers during “surge times” to warn people before they accept the “surge price ride.”

Oregon Senate bill would mandate bicycle licenses and registration

by : bikeportland – excerpt

… An Oregon legislator has introduced a bill that would mandate licenses for everyone over 18 years of age who rides a bicycle and would require them to pay a $10 fee to register their bikes. The bill would also prohibit the use of “state highway fund” dollars on “bicycle” projects and repeal ORS 366.154 (a.k.a. the “bike bill”).

Senate Bill 177 has been introduced by Senator Brian Boquist (R-12) “at the request of” a constituent. That “at the request of” part is important because it appears the bill is what’s known as a “constituent bill”. In other words, this isn’t a bill the senator himself is pushing for — he has merely accepted it and moved it along into a committee to appease a vocal constituent. In this case, the constituent is a man named Ted Campbell…

You can view the full text of the bill here(more)

This is a good conversation to have. Cyclists need to follow the rules. Licenses will help with enforcement. If cyclists get their way and there are fewer cars on the road, the cyclists will be paying for the roads. They might as well start paying for bike paths now. Licensing is the first step.

Needless to say California needs to license bikes. Who in Sacramento will bring that up?

S.F. replacing old streetlights with cheaper, better LED bulbs

By John Coté : sfgate – excerpt

For years, Queen’s Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe, at the southern end of a commercial strip on San Bruno Avenue, was a destination in darkness.

“Really dark and gloomy” was how Queen’s owner, Danielle Reese, described nighttime in that stretch of San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood.

Now a clear, white light from a new streetlamp illuminates the front of Reese’s restaurant after dark, a sign of things to come as San Francisco prepares to replace 18,500 old, high-pressure sodium streetlights with more efficient ones that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

The new lights are not just supposed to be brighter, but smarter…

The new streetlights are supposed to consume about half as much energy as the ones they replace, last four to five times longer and cut the amount of glare radiating into the night sky, reducing light pollution…

San Francisco officials anticipate total savings of about $1.4 million a year. If that materializes, the lights would pay for themselves in about eight years, and they’re designed to be maintenance-free for 15 years or more.

Beyond cost savings, the new lights will be connected wirelessly to a computer network, allowing them to be monitored and controlled remotely. They will automatically alert maintenance staff if a light goes out and can be dimmed during off-peak times to save energy.

Different owners

Roughly 60 percent of San Francisco’s 46,000 street lights are owned by the SFPUC. Most of the rest are owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a private utility, with still others owned by the Port of San Francisco and the state transportation department, Caltrans… (more)

This is good news to those of us who have been requesting better illumination of intersections for some time. The safest pedestrians are the ones you can see.

 

California state bills of concern to motorists

The NMA continues to advocate for motorists’ rights at the national, state and local level. Legislatures across the country took up a broad range of motorists’ issues in the second half of 2014. Here’s a brief summary of the driving-related issues we addressed.

California

Opposed Assembly Bill 1646 which would add a violation point for texting or using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Assembly Bill 2393 which would increase vehicle registration fees to fund the implementation of an automated fingerprint identification system. The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Assembly Bill 2398 which would establish penalties for a driver convicted of causing bodily injury or great bodily injury to a “vulnerable road user,” defined as a pedestrian, a person on horseback, a person operating a bicycle, in-line skates, roller skates, a scooter, or a skateboard, and a person operating or using a farm tractor. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown.

Supported Senate Bill 1079 which would protect against potentially higher fuel costs by exempting suppliers of transportation fuel from having to purchase carbon allowances until 2021. The bill died in committee.

Opposed Senate Bill 1077 which would require various transportation agencies in the state to implement a pilot program designed to “explore various methods for using a mileage-based fee (MBF) to replace the state’s existing fuel excise tax.” The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Senate Bill 1183 which would allow local jurisdictions to impose a $5 vehicle surcharge to fund the expansion of, and improvements to, bicycle trails and bicycle parking facilities. The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Senate Bill 1151 which would enhance penalties for numerous infractions and misdemeanors committed in school zones. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown.