SF red transit lane beloved by riders, but merchants unhappy

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s controversial red-painted transit lanes are beloved by many Muni riders, and the city’s transportation planners. But they’re not necessarily here to stay. The crimson lanes are, as the saying goes, only a test.

Results of the test are still being gathered, but federal transportation authorities are expected to rule within months whether the bright-red pavement can stay or whether the city will have to remove it and live with drab but conformist white lane markings and signs.

Officials with the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency gained permission from state and federal authorities in 2012 to color some street pavement red to make transit-only lanes more visible and to try to persuade car and truck drivers to stay out of them. New York and other U.S. cities are also experimenting with red lanes. San Francisco’s are not actually covered in paint, but rather an acrylic pavement treatment applied in sheets.

The New York experiment ended years ago when they failed to gather sufficient data. They also had a problem with double parking. Some of the streets in SF, I believe Church is one of them, are covered with paint and some with the thermoplastic, depending on whether they are concrete or asphalt.

Beginning in 2013, the MTA tested the idea on a short stretch of Church Street before rolling out what it calls “red carpet lanes” on stretches of other thoroughfares where heavy traffic causes delays for transit: Market, Geary, Third, O’Farrell, Haight, Judah and, perhaps most controversially, Mission between 14th and Randall streets.

Geary to Gough is on the list. Mission Street from Embarcadero to 11th Street was on the list.  In 2012, according to meeting minutes, the SFMTA representative specifically stated they would only be applying the test to streets that were currently transit-only lanes and were on the list. This proves, once again, you can’t trust the SFMTA.

In total, 17 San Francisco streets with existing transit-only lanes were approved for the red pavement test, as well as three that didn’t have reserved bus lanes. Not all of the stretches have yet been covered with red.

Anyone want to guess who is next in line?

“We shared our citywide plan with (state and federal officials) and they gave us the green light,” said MTA spokesman Paul Rose…

When and how was the application of the experiment to Mission Street past 11th approved?

This is typical of the SFMTA. Years after they start a process they inform the public. At no time, during any of their many public street design dog-and-pony shows  did they inform the public that they were planning to conduct a Red Lane test on our streets. When some of us discovered the truth of the matter and started to investigate and complain to the state and federal authorities they must have felt compelled to admit it.

We finally have an admission that THIS IS A TEST! THE RED LANES MAY GO AWAY! Where is the explanation for the test? What are they testing? How is the public involved in the test? If you want to know, keep reading and contact the links below.

Some of us went to Sacramento in December and saw first hand how the SFMTA operates. They started by trying to silence the public, claiming the public had no right to go to the state commission. More time went into that debate, (SFMAT lost that arguement.) than the actual presentation and discussion about the test that followed. Guess what? the SFMTA cherry picked a short blocks of two streets in the entire experiment to prove that the tests were being done as required. The analysis presented was more or less inconclusive.

If any one has anything to say about the Red Lane Experiment, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.  If you need help figuring out how to file a complaint, or want to join the fight against the Red Lanes, let us know. Here are two sites that are dealing with the problem and trying to stop the spread of red lanes in San Francisco:   http://www.redcarpetmess.org and http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

But the experiment was supposed to last just two years, and involve periodic progress reports to the California Traffic Control Devices Committee and the Federal Highway Administration. The MTA’s first written report to the state agency, however, was not presented until Dec. 12.

Dec. 12, 2016

With no firm deadline, the test continued mostly unnoticed, at least until it got the attention of Glenn Urban, who owns a car wash with his brother on Geary Boulevard in the Richmond District where the MTA plans to install red transit-only lanes as part of a bus rapid transit project now being designed.

Urban considers the red lanes a threat to businesses — including his — because they confuse drivers and dissuade them from crossing through them, even when it’s permitted. And that could lead customers to keep driving instead of stopping.

“When they see them, they don’t know what to do, so they stay away,” Urban said. The MTA, he added, has “done little research on what this red paint means to businesses.”

Urban pressed the issue with the state committee, convened by Caltrans, hoping it would end the experiment — and the red lanes.

But at a Dec. 12 meeting in Sacramento, the committee received the MTA report. It allowed the experiment to continue and ordered up a final report to the federal government due in March, said Duper Tong, chief of the Caltrans office of traffic engineering and a committee member…

The spread of the red lanes has been controversial in some cases. When the MTA painted Mission Street red through the heart of the Mission District last spring, it installed forced right turns and banned left turns, and eliminated some street parking, and merchants complained that it was killing business…

“There are a lot of merchants that are not happy with all the changes on Mission Street,” said Phil Lesser, head of the Mission Merchants Association.  The association is not opposed to the red lanes, he said, because merchants want speedier buses to bring business to the Mission. But they want the MTA to provide public parking to mitigate what was lost and to make it simpler to navigate the maze of transit-only lanes and forced turns.  The MTA, he said, neglected the interests of the merchants in its quest to speed up Muni.

“The MTA did everything to accommodate red lanes and nothing to compensate,” Lesser said. MTA officials have said they’ll look at changes to help merchants but that they aren’t considering eliminating the red lanes…red-lane-experiment

If any one has anything to say about the Red Lane Experiment, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.  If you need help figuring out how to file a complaint, or want to join the fight against the Red Lanes, let us know. Here are two sites that are dealing with the problem and trying to stop the spread of red lanes in San Francisco:   http://www.redcarpetmess.org and http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

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2 thoughts on “SF red transit lane beloved by riders, but merchants unhappy

  1. 7th street between mission and market. 16th street bewteenchurch and 3rd street. Folsom between 3rd and embarcaderro also making a portion of Folsom street 2-way instead of one way. And eventually which I believe may happen soon or after the completion of the central piece of shit subway is mission street starting at 11th or 6th. Red carpet both directions half of the parking spaces removed for green bike lanes because Howard street bike lane which a auto lane was removed for not too mention Folsom and market street. Those aren’t good enough so we have to add another to mission street. Bunch of assholes Harrison and Bryant will happen soon.

    In any case research sfmta and sfcta sites for however many streets are next for “testing”. But these assholes are tricky. The Potrero “streetscaoe transit improvement crap” etc was actually on the sf planning site. They’re hiding all this crap spreading the info around.

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  2. Almost forgot. Until they update it which they probably will as they are shady no info says anything about “testing”. Wording was “pilot” which is what they used on church st. Until they update the site which in sure will happen after that article the wording at the moment is “red transit only lanes” or “enhanced red transit only lanes” some shit like that.

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