Are bike lane improvements working on Valencia Street? We asked the neighborhood

By Abraham Rodriguez : missionlocal – excerpt (includes video)

A pilot program to study protected bike lanes on Valencia began this January, but was limited to only two blocks between Duboce Ave and 15th street on Valencia. We asked area residents what if they thought the new bike lanes were making things safer… (more)

Depends on who you ask. Bikers feel safer but the emboldened bikers threaten pedestrians and traffic is worse. Drivers have more problems parking, loading and unloading, double parking.

Bay Area Ford GoBike employees vote to unionize

By Joe Firtzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

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Workers voted 35-24 to join the Transport Workers Union of America

Those little blue Ford GoBikes are now officially union-backed bicycles.

Bay Area Ford GoBike workers voted to join the Transport Workers Union of America in an election, Thursday.

The workers voted 35-24 to approve unionizing, according to the TWU, which released the results Friday morning.

“The ultimate act of democracy in a workplace is joining a union. By voting to join the TWU, San Francisco’s bikeshare workers have greatly strengthened the economic security of families,” said TWU international President John Samuelsen in a statement.

Ford GoBike maintenance workers are employed by Motivate LLC, a spinoff of the former company Motivate, which was bought by ride-hail giant Lyft last year. Lyft operates Ford GoBike but the unionized workers are not Lyft employees, though the announcement also comes on the heels of Lyft debuting its stock on the public market…(more)

Not so fast. There is a lot of interest in turning contractors into employees. Now that they are union workers, that might happen rather soon. It is just a matter of time before the radical new tech corporations become part of the old school and they are looking out of the next big thing that will replace them.

Editorial: San Francisco’s escalating war on cars

by Chronicle Editorial Board : sfchronicle – excerpt

Gas prices are bouncing up. So are bridge tolls. San Francisco’s car insurance rates, parking charges and auto break-ins are infamously high. If there was a further inducement not to drive, here’s another: congestion pricing.

The concept finding favor with transit planners and environmentalists would charge drivers a fee for entering the downtown area. The benefits would bring the city more money for public transit and give paying drivers more room on the streets. Other blessings include less pollution, fewer dangers from zooming cars and quicker transit travel times…

It’s all good unless you have a hard time paying up. Critics aren’t sold on what translates as a tax on low-income drivers. There are significant details to work out: what to charge ride-share goliaths like Lyft and Uber, how to treat commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks, and where the money goes from congestion fees. Get ready for pressure for carve-outs for hybrids and electrics, drivers with disabilities, and unsuspecting tourists and conventioneers…

As with New York, San Francisco would need permission from Sacramento, where opponents such as major auto clubs and trucking associations are cool to the idea. Biggest of all is how drivers feel about another levy in the name of a traffic cure. Voters last year rejected a repeal of a gas tax increase, suggesting they favor spending more money on traffic improvements. Local bond measures for BART and other transportation upgrades have also passed…

Getting around in a car can be a maddening experience in San Francisco. Plenty of financial and logistical disincentives to driving are in place. An additional burden on those who need to drive is not a panacea to the daily quagmire.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form: SFChronicle.com/letters(more)

With the demise of many local businesses and a new determination by many to leave the Bay Area soon, further car wars may be a bridge too far for the residents and businesses struggling to survive the highest cost of living in the country.

With the highest rate of IPO over-valuation on tech companies that consistently lose money, San Francisco may want to keep some non tech businesses thriving to weather the next economic downturn. We need to conduct some surveys to find out why the businesses are failing.

It appears some efforts are already underway in Sacramento to may level the playing field between tech-based contractor-dependent corporations and other businesses. Our heavy dependent on delivery services may also be cut short soon as internet sales taxes, rising shipping costs, and package thefts put a damper on online businesses.

San Francisco’s heavy move into sports arenas may be a poor long-term gamble as well. Sports gambling and gaming along with expensive tickets amy not draw the large audiences over the long term. There is a fatigue factor that sets in after a while. SFMTA and City Hall have made a lot of assumptions on how the pubic would act and they have not always been right. Massive traffic jams may dampen tickets sales as they have dampened retail sales.

Paris to tax scooter and bike services

By Romain Dillet: tech crunch – excerpt

According to the City of Paris, there are 15,000 free-floating vehicles of all forms and shapes in the city, from electric scooters to fluorescent bikes and motorcycle-like scooters. And the City of Paris announced today that companies that operate free-floating services will have to pay a tax depending on the size of their fleet.

If the plan goes through and if you’re running a bike-sharing service, you’ll have to pay €20 per bike per year. For scooter companies, they’ll pay €50 per scooter per year. Motorcycle scooters will be taxed €60 per scooter per year.

According to Le Parisien, it will be a tier system. Every time you go over the basic tier, you’ll have to pay more. Companies will pay 10 percent more for vehicle No. 500 to vehicle No. 999, 20 percent more for vehicle No. 1,000 to vehicle No. 2,999, and 30 percent more for any vehicle after No. 3,000… (more)

Lawsuit Seeks to Force Lyft to Provide ‘Full, Equal’ Service to Wheelchair Users

By Dan Brekke : KQED – excerpt

We’re now in Year Seven of the great transportation disruption unleashed on the smartphone-toting world in large part by San Francisco ride-hailing service Lyft.

But a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday says that one significant population is still being denied the go anywhere, go anytime benefits bestowed by the company’s service: wheelchair users who need specially equipped vehicles to get to appointments, the airport, dates or work.

The class-action complaint filed in U.S. District Court by Oakland’s Disability Rights Advocates says that Lyft violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to ensure wheelchair users have access to its service… (more)

National union takes over Muni local in midst of contract talks, citing ‘infighting’ and ‘dy sfunction’

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The leadership of Muni’s operator union has been kicked to the curb even as contract negotiations for roughly 2,000 drivers are underway, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Transport Workers Union Local 250-A’s leadership was suspended Thursday by the national union, the Transport Workers Union of America, who will take over ongoing contract negotiations with The City.

In the meantime, Local 250-A has been placed into “receivership” by the Transport Workers Union of America, which will assume all of the local’s responsibilities.

The fate of the Muni workers’ contract — and therefore their wages — could potentially solve, or worsen, an operator shortage that has slowed the commutes of tens of thousands of San Franciscans… (more)

In this season of global discontent, it does the public no good to comment on subjects they know nothing about. If driving a bus for Muni was an easy job, people would be lining up to do it.

Management is too busy trying to enforce impossible rules and regulations and has no time to figure out what the personnel problems are. Let us ask Ed Reiskin for a copy of his calendar from the last three months since he declared he would solve the problems with Muni meltdowns. He has clearly not met his own expectations. Let us see his calendar to find out what he spent his time on.

Then let us talk to the drivers who are quit and ask them why. We appreciate what the media is doing to uncover these problems with the union during the contracts, but, we need a few other facts. We can start by asking some direct questions before placing any blame.

Chiu bill would prevent cities from towing vehicles for nonpayment of parking tickets, registration

By Victor Tence : sfexaminer – excerpt

Cities would no longer be allowed to tow vehicles with multiple unpaid parking tickets or overdue vehicle registration fees or that haven’t moved in more than three days under legislation introduced by Assemblymember David Chiu Monday.

Chiu, D-San Francisco, introduced Assembly Bill 516 with the intention of preventing cars from being towed in cases where it does not serve any public safety purpose and disproportionately impacts low-income people.

The bill would prohibit poverty-related tows wherein the owner has received five or more outstanding parking tickets, were unregistered for more than six months or if the vehicle had violated the 72-hour parking restriction… (more)

This does not mean there will be no tickets issued, only that the towing option will be changed if the bill passes. We will stay tuned and see how this plays out.

Inspectors missed lapse in building process that would have prevented cracks at SF Transbay center

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Four levels of inspections and plans failed to prevent or uncover a construction flaw that resulted in the cracked girders that forced the closure of the Transbay Transit Center 5½ months ago, the agency’s executive director said Thursday.

Mark Zabaneh, head of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, said three teams of quality-control inspectors working for contractors didn’t discover that a necessary grinding process, used to eliminate small cracks associated with holes that were cut into the girders, was not performed and that the authority’s own spot inspections also missed the oversight.

Those micro-cracks developed into larger cracks and, finally, a large fissure that ripped through two large steel girders that support the building. Similar girders over First Street have not cracked.

“The execution was not done properly, and that is something we are looking into,” Zabaneh said Thursday after an authority meeting. “It’s an area of great concern for us.”…(more)

There is your answer. It had to be design, execution or materials. Turns out execution is blame. Who pays for that error?

Cab Drivers Sue SFMTA Over SFO Restrictions

By Ida Mojadad : sfexaminer – excerpt

The lawsuit claims that the SFMTA is trying to boost the value of its $250,000 medallions to weaken another legal challenge.

Taxi drivers and companies sued the SFMTA on Wednesday to halt new restrictions at San Francisco International Airport, the group announced Thursday.

The San Francisco Taxi Coalition, Alliance Cab, Town Taxi, and three individual cab drivers filed the complaint in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday, alleging constitutional violations of due process and equal protection regarding a new SFTMA policy. In February, the transit agency began limiting cab drivers who could pick up passengers at SFO to roughly 1,000 drivers who own medallions.

That leaves out scores of struggling cab drivers using SFO as a lifeline. More than 1,400 medallions are in service and there are more than 4,800 active cab drivers, according to the SFMTA.

“We’d like to see the SFMTA actually look out for the industry and individuals in the industry for once,” says Yellow Cab CEO Chris Sweis. “The government should really be making regulations around sound public policy.”… (more)

Why People Vote for Expanded Public Transport but Don’t Actually Use It

By Laura Bliss : psmag – excerpt

New research in Los Angeles shows that people support expanded transit options based on party affiliation and frustration with congestion—but not to ride it themselves.

In November of 2016, Los Angeles County made history. A whopping 72 percent of voters approved Measure M, a sales tax measure set to generate $120 billion over 40 years to expand rail, rapid bus, and bike networks. With it, the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority promised to “ease traffic congestion” and “transform transportation” across the region.

But that promise is likely to remain unmet, judging by history. Between 1980 and 2016, L.A. passed three major transit sales tax measures and built 110 miles of rail. Yet ridership on L.A.’s transit system has been slipping for years, while the number of miles traveled in private cars is rising. Other American cities that have passed major transit measures are facing the same conundrum.

Which is? Voters might love transit, but that doesn’t mean they plan to ride it. And transit agencies that appeal to voters with pledges to solve traffic woes might be digging themselves into a hole.

Those basic disconnects at the heart of a landmark sales tax measure are the subject of new research by Michael Manville, an urban planning professor at the University of California–Los Angeles’ Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research is full of wisdom and warnings for other cities keen to replicate L.A.’s superficial success… (more)

If you build it will they take it? No unless they are desperate these days. Riders who can are choosing other methods to get around, claiming the public options are unreliable, dirty, dangerous and unaccessible for those who need it most. In order to increase capacity and “cut costs” transit officials are removing bus stops and bus seats, against the will of the public who is supposed to take them. The riders and drivers are ignored so they are both leaving in large numbers.