New SFFD vehicles designed to squeeze through narrow city streets

By sfexaminer -excerpt

The San Francisco Fire Department is expected to purchase eight custom fire engines next month that will be better suited for the narrow streets and changing traffic conditions that make firefighting a challenge in The City.

Bus stops in the middle of the street, street changes like bulb outs and the booming ride-hail industry have made it more difficult for fire trucks and engines to rush to emergencies in San Francisco, according to Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi.

News of the new engines comes just months after Mayor Ed Lee announced a two-year plan to invest $14.3 million into the department to replace its aging fleet, including 13 fire engines, four aerial trucks and eight ambulances.

Speaking to the Fire Commission on Wednesday, Lombardi said that double parking by delivery trucks and the estimated 37,000 Uber and Lyft drivers that navigate The City have created a “nightmarish” situation for firefighters on the streets of San Francisco.

“I don’t know if it’s ever been as bad as it is now,” Lombardi said. “It’s just absolutely crazy.”…

“As we densify our city and build up higher buildings to accommodate higher populations we’re going to need the wider streets,” Fire Commissioner Ken Cleaveland said at the meeting…

San Francisco’s fire vehicles tend to be larger than other cities because they are suited for motors that have enough horsepower to travel up steep hills, Lombardi said. Fire engines also have to carry 500 gallons of water since the department has to combat fast-spreading fires…

Lombardi pointed to planned changes to Hermann Street — near its intersection with Laguna Street — that would turn parking spaces from running parallel to the street to sitting at a 45-degree angle to increase the number of spaces available.

The fire department is working with The City’s transit agency to correct the proposed plan, which Lombardi said violates fire codes that prohibit narrowing streets to smaller than 20-feet wide. Under the plan, parts of Hermann Street would be 18-feet wide.

Even at 20 feet, fire trucks and engines have to drive slightly into the oncoming lane of traffic when turning onto narrow streets, potentially causing a safety hazard… (more)

We need to follow state guidelines and keep the wide streets that accommodate everyone. How is making the streets more narrow making us safer? We need a new Muni management that isn’t intent on changing the world, just getting people where they need to go. The world is changing and they are not changing with it. They are trying to force their theories down our throats.

Rose Pak Vows City Hall Blockade To Stop Stockton Street Pedestrian Mall

: sfist – excerpt

Chinatown organizer and activist Rose Pak is much to thank for the Central Subway project, a $1.5 billion, 1.7-mile undertaking to connect Chinatown to Market Street that was pitched in part as compensation for the removal of the 1989 earthquake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway, which was a conduit to her sometimes isolated neighborhood. But to build the Central Subway, Stockton Street has been closed to cars, damaging Union Square surrounding businesses. To make up for that fact, for the last two years the city has paused construction annually and created a pedestrian space between Market and Union square covered in astroturf called the Stockton Street Winter Walk..

Just one problem: Rose Pak is a major obstacle to the plan, having written to SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin to criticize the idea in a letter obtained by Examiner at the end of last month. On behalf of the SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce, she claimed that a permanent pedestrian mall would “make permanent all the problems we’ve experienced,” which would be “unacceptable to our community.” As she told the Examiner with finality, “I consider the issue closed.”

“We have about 300 family associations, district associations, temples, churches,” Pak told CBS 5 with regard to the pedestrian mall. “Everybody is here. 100 percent of our businesses rely on delivery trucks. Look at Chinatown any hour. You can’t move.” Speaking of which, Pak will negotiate with a similar force. “Wait until I have my blockade of the MTA for a week and see how they like it,” she said. “We’ll have thousands of trucks and cars blockading the whole City Hall and MTA area for one week and see how they like it when no one can get in and out.” To clarify, “that’s a promise, not a threat,” Pak added…

However, “A lot of the merchants, a lot of the pedestrian activists and bike advocates are all saying this is something that would work,” the MTA’s Paul rose countered to CBS 5. Streetsblog appears to agree, pushing an effort to mobilize with a petition to move the pedestrian mall project along.

And, to touch on bicyclists, one prominent pro-bike voice, the parody account Bob Gunderson, has been “critical” of the Winter Walk, which is to say he’s clevelry promoted it. Gunderson’s blog, Dearest District 5, lampoons the likes of Rob Anderson, an actual opponent of bikes, by insisting that the Winter Walk has been a “carless nightmare.” In fact, “The Pedestrian Plaza was supposed to be all fun and games and a “relief from cars”, but it’s done nothing but tear apart families, ruin children’s dreams, and tank the Disney, Apple and Ferrari stores,” writes Gunderson. How long, surely he wonders, can this be permitted to endure?..(more)