SFMTA Cuts Block of Polk Bike Lane Fought By Visionless Mayor’s Optometrist

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The SFMTA has nixed a block of protected bike lane planned on Polk Street, where merchants including Mayor Ed Lee’s optometrist have vocally opposed it to preserve car parking.

The raised, protected bike lane between California and Pine Streets was removed from Polk’s plans six months after they were presented at the final public open house. SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin ordered the reduction, as shown in emails [PDF] obtained by Madeleine Savit, who founded Folks for Polk to advocate for a safer street. Reiskin and the SFMTA Board of Directors are mayoral appointees.

The Polk redesign, which is up for a vote by the SFMTA Board of Directors on Tuesday, has been fiercely opposed by a group of merchants called “Save Polk Street,” which has spread misinformation in its campaign to preserve parking. Under the proposed plan, partial bike lanes would be installed by removing about 30 percent of the 320 parking spaces on Polk, or 8 percent of parking spaces within a block of the street. About 85 percent of people on Polk arrive without a car…

“I’ve heard from many different groups,” Lee told Streetsblog. “I know we want to make the streets safer, make it bike-friendly, small businesses don’t want to lose parking for their constituents… I can’t have a particular position on it except to endorse the most balanced approach that they have because there’s issues that should not be in conflict. We shouldn’t promote bicycle safety over pedestrian safety over cars and parking. I think they’re all going to be important.”

“We have to look at the future — what is it that thoroughfare suggests to us? And how do we take a look at that future and [find] the safest, expedient route that balances the different modes of transportation people have, but also supports the businesses at the same time. If it takes more time, then I’m going to suggest that more time should be taken.”

Construction on the project has already been delayed by a year, and the original plans for protected bike lanes on Polk were dropped for 14 of 20 blocks… (more)

Dave Cortese Elected Chair of Metropolitan Transportation Commission

MTC : prnewswire – excerpt

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Dave Cortese took over the reins of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today after the 18 voting members of the 21-member regional Commission unanimously elected him as chair for the two-year term running through February 2017.

The Commission is charged with planning, financing and coordinating transportation for the nine counties comprising the San Francisco Bay Area, a mission that also extends to integrating transportation facilities and services with development while promoting sustainability. MTC oversees several travel resources in the Bay Area, including the free 511 traveler information system (on the phone at 511 and on the Web at 511.org), the Clipper® transit fare card and the FasTrak® electronic toll collection system.

Cortese brings to his assignment two years as MTC’s vice chair, and eight years overall as an MTC commissioner. He was first appointed to MTC in 2007 as the Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) representative, later transitioning to Santa Clara County’s seat on the Commission. In February 2015 he started his third four-year term as an MTC commissioner… (more)

Are Google Buses Already Legal? Yes and No

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfweekly – excerpt

Disrupt the law, legalize later.

That’s the modus operandi of tech companies such as Airbnb and Uber, which innovate in ways old-fashioned laws often don’t address. It’s also seemingly the tactic used by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to justify its pilot program to legally allow corporate shuttles, like the infamous Google buses, to use Muni bus stops.

Except maybe Google bus illegality is more clear cut than initially thought. California’s state vehicle code right now specifically outlaws any bus from using public bus stops, save for school buses, according to a state lawmaker.

State Vehicle Code 22500(i) was explicitly called out by Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who is seeking to change the law in favor of corporate shuttles. Allen introduced AB 61, which would change state vehicle code to allow local transit agencies (such as the SFMTA, which runs Muni) to grant permission for private entities to use municipal bus stops. The change would allow for even more Google bus-style shuttles to proliferate on city streets across the state.

But the bill’s existence raises an interesting question: Why seek to legalize something unless it is illegal? And if it’s illegal, then how are those corporate shuttles getting away with pulling over at Muni stops across San Francisco?… (more)

AB 61 – Assembly Member Travis Allen: is sponsoring a bill that many in San Francisco oppose. Read and decide for yourself: https://legiscan.com/CA/text/AB61/id/1055426

Send comments and letters to the committee members:

State reps on the Senate Transportation and Housing Committees: http://stran.senate.ca.gov/

State Assembly Committee on Transportation:
http://atrn.assembly.ca.gov/

More links are here.

 

A’s prioritize parking over development at Coliseum

By Matthew Artz martz : contracostatimes – excerpt

OAKLAND — In another potential blow for transforming the sprawling Oakland Coliseum complex into a bustling sports and entertainment district, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said that if his team were to build a new ballpark at the site he would want it surrounded by acres of surface parking spaces — just like O. Co Coliseum is now.

Less than a week after the Oakland Raiders announced they were pursuing a stadium proposal in Los Angeles, Wolff said there is not enough land readily available at the Coliseum complex to build a stadium and satisfy the city’s desire for additional development, such as homes, shops, offices and a hotel.

The only way it could work, Wolff said, would be to build multilevel parking garages, but that would leave fans waiting in long lines to exit the garages and begin their drives home.

“Parking is a key issue for us,” Wolff said. “We want surface parking surrounding the ballpark wherever we build it unless we’re in the heart of a downtown.”… (more)

Assembly Bill 61 may cause more problems for people who use public transit

Originally posted on SF Public Transit Solutions:

AB 61 – Assembly Member Travis Allen: is sponsoring a bill that many in San Francisco oppose. Read and decide for yourself. Details are below: https://legiscan.com/CA/text/AB61/id/1055426

Bob Planthold, a concerned SF citizen who often speaks on behalf of disabled people and Muni riders, outlines some of his concerns with the bill below along with a request that people contact the Assembly members responsible for passing this bill, listed here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

Folks,

I send this specifically to various disability advocates. Assembly Bill 61 may cause more problems for people who use public
transit, especially: those with disabilities, some seniors, those pushing a baby in a stroller or accompanied by a toddler.

Assemblymember Travis Allen, from the Huntington Beach area of Orange County, introduced a bill that would allow any employer shuttle anywhere in California to use any transit bus stop anywhere in California.

He believes this promotes an alternative to private…

View original 498 more words

Phil Matier: San Francisco’s DeSoto Cab Company Ditches Longtime Name For Flywheel App

By Phil Matier : cbslocal – excerpt (audio track)

The oldest cab company in San Francisco is rebranding itself to keep up with its high-tech competition. After more than eight decades, DeSoto is hopping on board with Flywheel. Phil Matier reports. (2/18/15)… (more)

New paint job and billboard image, but they are keeping the standard cab prices instead of on-demand sliding scale.

Roadshow: When a transit commute takes twice as long as driving

Q I would like to live in Thomas McMurtry’s world (Roadshow, Feb. 12), where access to public transportation is as easy as getting on a bus or train that stops in front of your house.

I live 13 miles from work, which isn’t that far. But there’s no simple public transit in my neighborhood, and no public transit comes by my place of work. I live in a different county than the one I work in, so even if it was easy on both ends, I’d still be negotiating three transit agencies.

Google tells me that my commute via transit would be just over 2 hours versus about 40 minutes in commute traffic. Charging for parking works in some areas, but it’s hardly a panacea for all traffic issues…

I would love to use public transportation more, but all Caltrain and VTA light-rail lots within 5 miles of where I live are full weekdays at 7 a.m. Caltrain is standing-room-only at rush hours...

The powers-that-be want us to use public transportation more, but they do nothing to make it workable. If the best we can do is convert carpool lanes to “Lexus lanes,” transportation in the Bay Area is doomed to gridlock in the not-too-distant future... (more)

 

S.F. Truck Drivers Are Getting Sent to Pedestrian School

By Rachel Kaufman : nextcity – excerpt

Driving in San Francisco is not easy. The streets are narrow and hilly, lost tourists stumble out into the street, and there are plenty of cyclists (including bike-share users, who may be newer to cycling and thus less familiar with the rules of the road). Now picture driving a truck in San Francisco….

“There’s a lot of confusion on city streets,” Knox White says, “especially as we are reengineering them and redesigning them in new ways. We’re stepping away from, ‘There’s a bike lane or not a bike lane.’” Instead, the city has green-painted bike lanes, “regular” lanes, sharrows and more. “There’s a lot of confusion out there … . People could use some understanding of what to expect from bicyclists or pedestrians. Sometimes they do things, even if they’re not supposed to, that are surprising.”…

“I think the key takeaway for me is as we are doing these new, innovative things, most of which are great to have, we have to be really careful that we’re bringing people along,” Knox White says.

One thing is certain: It might be tough to get around in a truck in San Francisco, but they’re not going anywhere any time soon. Says Smith: “If we don’t bring stuff, people don’t live.”.. (more)

The SFMTA’s New Mandatory “DOUBLE RIGHT TURN” at Fell and Masonic is Off to a Rough Start

sfcitizen – excerpt

Well it seems that making the #3 lane of southbound Masonic a mandatory right at Fell is backing the Evening Drive all the way back to Fulton.

Background, from last week.

Boy, these orange and black signs sure look permanent, huh? One supposes that the orange color says, “Hey, look at me, the new sign!”

You know, I thought the SFMTA hated DOUBLE RIGHT TURNS but now they’re enshrined? Mmmm… (more)

Muni’s Plans for Mission Street Could Impact Bus Stops, Parking and Traffic

Mission Street’s public transit is about to change – but not quickly. If you want to have a say, attend tonight’s meeting at the Women’s Building from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. or check out the website here and fill out an online survey.

In its Muni Forward program, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is thinking of making at least four changes on Mission between South Van Ness and Cesar Chavez Streets  that will be implemented in 2017. The biggest impact on riders would be a plan to reduce stops from nearly one every block to a stop every other block.

The proposed changes also include bus bulbs at 16th and 20th Streets,  right turn pockets, left turn restrictions,  and redesigning the street to make the traffic lanes wider than the existing nine feet.

The right turn pockets would remove three parking spaces, but would also prevent the backup that happens when a driver is trying to make a right turn, but can’t because of pedestrians crossing in front of them.  The current design, officials said, means that buses end up crossing the dividing yellow line to pass right-turning vehicles that get stuck.

At present there are some left turn restrictions, but the new proposal would limit left turns from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays for the entire stretch from South Van Ness to Cesar Chavez.

An official from the SFMTA presenting the plan to the Mission Merchant’s Association today said the space opened up by taking away bus stops could be used for parking spaces or bike corrals. No decisions have been made… (more)