It’s official: Bay Area gridlock is worse

By Denis Cuff : mercury news – excerpt

OAKLAND — The Bay Area freeway commute is moving at its slowest pace in over a decade, as an economy that has shifted into overdrive leaves drivers idling on gridlocked roads.

In its first congestion report card in five years, the Bay Area’s transportation planning agency said that average congestion — defined as traffic moving 35 mph or less — increased 65 percent in the Bay Area from 2009 to 2013.

To address the growing problem, transportation leaders are calling for more carpool and toll lanes, improved public transit and more commuters shifting work times.

“It’s good news and bad news,” said Amy Worth, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission chairwoman and also an Orinda councilwoman. “The good news is more people are finding work; the bad news is it’s taking them longer to get there.”… (more)

No news here. There is a map of worst areas and some helpful suggestions on how to fix the problem, starting with shifting work hours to relive congestion during peak times.

S.F. traffic fatalities dip, but not bad behavior

By Heather Knight : sfgate – excerpt

Last January, this column proposed a rather modest, practical citywide New Year’s resolution: “However you traverse the city’s streets — be it in a car, on a bicycle or using your own two feet — calm down. Look around. Pay attention. Be considerate.”

After all, 21 pedestrians and four bicyclists were killed on the city’s streets in 2013, the highest total since 2001.

So how’d we do? Like probably most resolution makers, the city did a little bit better — but not a whole lot.

In 2014, 17 pedestrians and three bicyclists died, according to the San Francisco Police Department. Nine people on motorcycles or in cars also died.

Last year, we griped about the inconsiderate behavior of all users of our streets where speeding, honking, blowing through red lights and stop signs, swearing, showing off a certain finger, using a cell phone and just being completely oblivious seem increasingly to be the norm.

Police Commander Mikail Ali keeps records of all the traffic collisions and deaths and said the majority of them share something in common.

“A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior,” he said…

He shared a Police Department list of the circumstances behind each traffic death in San Francisco in 2014, and it’s true. The behavior — by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — is often downright shocking.

The list also makes clear that while many city drivers are awful, the collisions are not only their fault. The Police Department found that in the 17 pedestrian deaths, drivers were responsible for eight and pedestrians were responsible for nine. Bicyclists were responsible in all three instances when they died…

“This is not Star Trek, where some invisible force field is going to be created around people by the likes of city government,” he said. “The public has to do its part, and that means adhering to the rules of the road.”

He said he’s told constantly by people that they cross streets against the light or commit otherwise seemingly minor infractions.

“It’s kind of like playing Russian roulette,” he said. “Eventually something bad does happen.”… (more)

Hearst Corp Seeks to Rip Out Annie Alley Plaza to Make Room for Cars

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The Hearst Corporation filed an appeal last month in an attempt to dismantle the Annie Alley street plaza so drivers exiting its parking garage could take a more direct path to Mission Street.

In November, the alley exit along Mission, between Third and New Montgomery Streets, was turned into a place for gathering and events that opened to popular fanfare. But the pop-up plaza apparently surprised and irked some higher-ups at Hearst with enough pull to hire a lawyer to get it taken out on the company’s behalf, even though the company was involved in creating the plaza.

A hearing for the appeal is scheduled at the Board of Permit Appeals on February 11…

“While the Hearst Corporation supports open space, the Annie Street closure as part of the pilot plaza program has generated unintended and dangerous consequences in an already congested neighborhood,” said Cepkauskas. ”The actual traffic impact in the immediate vicinity has been much greater than forecasted by the preliminary traffic study, and everyone is very concerned about the traffic and pedestrian safety issues caused as a result of this street closure, especially during rush hour.”…  (more)

This is a good reason to test run these projects rather than put in permanent alterations.

There’s now a clubhouse for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar drivers

By CArolyn Said: sfgate – excerpt

Thousands of San Franciscans drive for hire through Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, Postmates, Flywheel, Sprig, Wingz and a host of other on-demand services. All those drivers have one key need in common: A place to heed nature’s call.

A new driver clubhouse called Groove aims to be their pit stop, offering a lounge South of Market where drivers can take breaks, get free coffee, use Wi-Fi and visit the restroom 24/7, as well as buy food-truck fusion cuisine from the likes of Bacon Bacon, Firetrail Pizza, Lil Burma and Dusty Buns.

But more importantly, Groove hopes to help foster a sense of community, said co-founder Emmanuel “Manny” Bamfo, 25. “It’s human nature to want to connect with your peers,” he said.

Groove is located at SoMa StrEat Food Park, a permanent food-truck site in the shadow of the Central Freeway. While the park’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., drivers will have round-the-clock access to a heated barn-like space with picnic tables and big-screen TVs, as well as a converted school bus with benches where they can stretch out for a quick nap — and of course, the all-important restrooms. (Five stalls each for men and women, Bamfo said.) Another important consideration: The area has lots of free parking….

Will they mingle?

Taxi drivers famously loathe Uber and Lyft, blaming them for siphoning off passengers, and resenting that they operate with looser regulations. Won’t it be a recipe for disaster for cabbies and Uber drivers to mingle?… (more)

Looks like everyone is trying to make a buck off the new “sharing economy”, while lawsuits are being filed to put a stop to it. The sharing economy is creating niche interdependent exclusionary jobs based on sketchy business models. Do you want to hang out with your competition on your break? Makes more sense to meet potential customers.

 

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