Bike Talk on Homeless and the Hairball

: streetsblog – excerpt

Plight of Homeless Elicits Compassion from Bicycle Community

Melodie, a woman in her late 50s who lives in a camper along one of the streets leading into the Hairball, pleaded with city officials and advocates to just give homeless people some sanctuary and peace. “There’s no where else to go,” she said to a group of some 40 bike and homeless advocates who attended a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition panel last night on homelessness in the Hairball…

When the bike paths opened three years ago, Streetsblog and the Bicycle Coalition celebrated it as a victory for the safe-streets community. But, as Streetsblog has covered previously, the bike lanes are now overrun with encampments, rendering them all but impassable. Last night’s meeting, which brought together advocates and city officials at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in the Mission, was intended to address some of the concerns…

For Kelley Cutler with the Coalition on Homelessness, the Hairball conflicts are part of a nationwide issue that’s going on in every corner of the country. “They’re dealing with the same thing in Alaska, where it’s freezing.”…

“The takeaway is that people living in encampments are our neighbors and to treat people with dignity and respect,” said Emily Cohen with the San Francisco Department of Homelessness. Her department, she explained, is setting up so-called ‘Navigation Centers’–city run shelters where social workers help reconnect homeless people with relatives, jobs, medical care, and, hopefully, get them set on a path back to a permanent roof over their heads. The idea is to clear the hairball encampments not by chasing them away, but by helping them rejoin society. “We don’t approach a camp until we have the beds at the navigation centers to do it–so it’s a real offer of someplace to go,” she explained.

Cohen said they’ve made significant progress in the Hairball. “We did an assessment in August–there were 60 people living in the area, and now we’re down to 35 or 45,” she said, adding that they placed people into navigation centers, with “four more placements taking place this week.”…

Meanwhile, the California Department of Transportation owns most of the land under the freeway and Hairball, explained Luis Montoya, with the Livable Streets division at the SFMTA. Montoya explained how the Hairball was never designed by any one agency, and was instead layered on over several decades during the freeway building era–that’s why the whole thing is such a disjointed physical and administrative mess. One of the bike paths is controlled by the SF Department of Public Works, but the rest belongs to Caltrans, he said. “We have no jurisdiction over it. And we’re not consulted when changes are made.”…

So homeless people set up camp on the bike bridges–the only part that Caltrans doesn’t control…

Indeed, from Streetsblog’s perspective, it remains a mystery as to why Caltrans insists on leaving areas under freeways fenced off and unused, often covered in garbage, but will take such extreme measures to clear out the homeless from the one place where nobody would otherwise bother them–and where they have a chance to stay dry in the rainy season. It’s a horrible existence, but it’s not improved by regularly throwing out all their possessions and tossing them onto a bike path or a sidewalk or a street. That said, it sounds as if the city has been pretty inhumane and extreme too at times–Melodie said the Department of Public Works sometimes clears them off the bike path by blasting them with water in the middle of the night…

“There’s nowhere for us to go,” said Melodie, fighting through tears. “And that’s how come we’re under the freeway. We’re just trying to get out of your hair, so you can get on with your life, so you can get to work … that’s why we’re down there. And they’re hosing us down with water at 4 a.m.!”… (more)

 

 

 

 

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Brewing bikeshare battle may threaten SF’s Ford GoBike contract

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Harrison17th

These unpopular GoBikes line 17th Street line in the Mission with private corporate bikes,  removing parking for everyone, including private bike owners. They are blessed by SFMTA’s private deal with Motivate. photo by zrants

It’s not just a bump in the road. The latest conflict between stationless bikeshare companies and San Francisco has seemingly hit a full-on obstacle course.

San Francisco’s transportation agency is preparing to issue its first permit to a competitor of Ford GoBike, potentially threatening a contract between the Bay Area and the $65 billion Ford Motor Company…

Technically, the contract is not with Ford, it is with Motivate, owned and operated by Related. Motivate has an $8 million deal with Ford. See details on that deal or look it up yourself: Holding Company that owns GoBikes

But that permit allegedly runs afoul of an exclusivity contract Ford entered into with The City, along with its administrator of the bikeshare program, Motivate…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation… (more)

Here we appear to have fight over a yet-to-be-developed market. Where is the research that proves the public is anxious to rent bikes? How many people want to ride bikes who don’t own their own? Why has MTC and SFMTA involved SF voters in a complicated legal battle over a clientele that does not exist in an effort to remove public parking from the streets? Don’t they have a Muni service to run?

Why did the MTC and SFMTA sign exclusive deals (not sure these rise to the level of being legal contracts) with private entities without public knowledge or input? Why were the voters and residents left in the dark until the blue bikes appeared on the street? Do the voters prefer GoBikes and Scoots in their neighborhood or residential parking permits? Think about this as you think about who you want to represent you at City Hall.

SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Op-Ed

Objections to the Potrero streetscape rollout took center stage at a neighborhood meeting at Zuckerberg SF General that was called to update concerned neighbors on the various construction projects underway and planned for the hospital grounds. The public has been complaining for months about the new slalom run on Potrero that mimics the curvy streets on Third Street, where traffic is forced on and off the light rail tracks, and distracted drivers have difficulty watching for pedestrians while they attempt to follow the lane changes.

Nobody addressed the new hospital plans. Complaints were about:

  • The lack of notice about the meeting
  • Distracted driving
  • Dangerous new curvy lanes with up to 22 turns and constant changes.
  • Medians and trees – design, placement, and choice of trees.
  • Increase in traffic on narrow sides-streets where most cyclists choose to ride.
  • Confusing signs and directions
  • Traffic signal removal
  • Some mention was made of the Fire Department’s concerns that are supposed to have the project on hold, but, more details are needed on that subject

There were a lot of suggestions for improvements:

  • A better noticing system for neighborhood with a 2-week lead time
  • Elimination of the extended medians past the pedestrian walkways that drivers are not anticipating
  • Removal of some of the most objectionable medians that restrict traffic flow
  • Re-opening the 23rd Street pass through from the Potrero Hill ramp that allows entry into the Mission. It was noted that this is the second barrier to keep people out of the Mission devised by SFMTA.
  • Better clearer signage and possibly a freeway sign warning of a construction site ahead for drivers who wander off the freeway
  • Elimination of forced right turns and no right turns.
  • Moving bike lane to side street and possible speed controls on those streets.

All of the changes and experiments that SFMAT claims will calm traffic are making drivers more angry and less safe and calm. Residents on the narrow side streets are seeing claim the accident count is up more accidents, making everyone less safe, and creating havoc on the street, as drivers attempt to watch the road changes and other cars, they are finding it hard to watch out for pedestrians and the occasional bike at the same time. This AAA study seems to back up the public’s fears about distracted driving, and explains why many of the traffic infractions are attributed to Ubers and Lyfts who don’t know the city and are depending on dashboard maps to get around.

We need to insist that our supervisors look at these studies and accident reports and consider what options they have to reverse the SFMTA project approvals, straighten the streets, and limit out-of-town TNCs that do not know the city. This study should also be sent to the Governor who may have signed SB 182 into law last week. That state bill was passed prior to all these reports as far as we know. If this bill is written into law, the next step is to go to the state level agency and deal with is there. More on that to come.

New plan to ban encampments at ‘Hairball’ emerges as homeless and cyclists clash

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Freeway2

City officials are exploring ways to remove encampments from the “Hairball” to address the growing number of clashes there between cyclists and homeless people…

The new parking restrictions and bike lane are the first steps among dramatic changes by city officials coming to the Hairball, as bicyclists and people living on the streets increasingly clash…

Peggy Howse, owner and president of All Seas Wholesale, a fish distributor located on Jerrold Avenue said… parking restrictions on Jerrold Avenue may hurt her workers, who travel from as far as Antioch and already battle for parking with nearby RVs…

But in an SFMTA board meeting on Sept. 21, staff said parking restrictions on nearby Barneveld Avenue were put in place to ensure nearby employees could fairly compete with RVs for parking.

Leave it to SFMTA to claim that by eliminating parking spaces they are making parking more available by forcing more competition for parking spaces. Not sure which of the new math programs they studied where subtraction equals more not less, but, most of us live in the real work where subtracting gets us less not more.

Some vitriol from local cyclists has emerged on social media and among the cycling community, concerning the Hairball and its tent-living residents. Cyclists also often vent frustration alleging they’re targets of theft for “chop-shops” run at homeless encampments… (more)

Given the constant nasty comments on social media and the new lack of civility in San Francisco you might want to consider who is moving here and why you may prefer less of them. People used to move here because they loved San Francisco the way it was. Now they come to get rich and change it.
Plan Bay Area forecasts elimination of 40% of the middle class. For that plan to happen, middle class citizens will leave or become extremely rich or extremely poor. Think about that next time you consider who you want to represent you at City Hall. Ask them how they feel about the Plan Bay Area.

Bicycle Rental Company Gets Caught With Bikes Parked Where They Shouldn’t Be

Spin, a stationless bike rental startup, might be catching some heat from the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency soon as someone snapped a photo of the app-unlockable bikes parked where they shouldn’t be, complete with a missing wheel because hey, it’s still a bike parked in the city and all. Such is the tax for riding a bicycle in San Francisco.

According to Hoodline’s report on Spin and their wayward bikes, the startup has a “partial” agreement with the SFMTA and co-working space WeWork, allowing them to provisionally operate in the city. The stipulations of that agreement require Spin to only allow their bikes to be parked on WeWork property grounds. Thus far, there are only about 50 Spin bikes in operation around the city (49 if you knock off the one with the missing wheel in the photo above), all of which need to be parked in one of WeWork’s 10 San Francisco locations.

If they fail to comply with this rule, the company could be hit with some serious fines. Hoodline also shared the above photo with SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose, who commented, “The two bikes on the left—side-by-side cluttering a very busy sidewalk between a sign pole and outdoor seating—represent the type of situation we seek to avoid by requiring the operator to comply with conditions of our permit.”…(more)

LimeBike Hopes To Roll Out Dockless Bike Rentals

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

Red and Blue, and soon green. How does this not feel like a living ad on our streets? Photos by zrants.

If it yells does it sell? What happened to our sedate San Francisco fashions and architecture? How are these brightly colored, blue and green monstrosities with their blaring logos allowed to clutter our streets when merchants’ street signage is so heavily regulated? Must we be constantly accosted by ads on the Muni, BART floors, bus shelters and streets? Is this what happens when a city loses its artistic compass?

Joining Ford GoBike and Jump, another company plans to enter the San Francisco market; based in San Mateo, LimeBike aims to bring dockless bike rentals to the city.

The company—backed by venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz—does not yet have a launch date and is still working on the permit process put in place after locals found bikes from Bluegogo, a Chinese company, reportedly dumped on city streets(more)

 

 

Love Citi Bike? You Have A Real Estate Developer To Thank

By Sarah Kessler : fastcompany – excerpt

17thArkansas

Citigroup sponsors Citi Bike, but its existence and expansion are due to a powerful real estate developer’s interest in keeping it alive.

This article was posted January 12, 2016 by Fastcompany, and became the catalyst for some investigations into Ford GoBikes, that are popping up like unwanted pimples all over our streets. Oddly we heard about the Scoots deal at a surprise SFMTA Board meeting, but, the GoBikes arrived without warning and are, so far, much more prevalent and annoying than the station-less Scoots. Read this article to see where our story started. We are working on some of the details, that, it appears the SFMAT staff and director are not quite clear on and were unable to answer at today’s SFMTA September 5 Board meeting. Although to be fair, the transmission from City Hall was not good so it was hard to follow the live events. We will post a link when it comes up.

It would be a logical guess to believe that financial giant Citigroup owns New York City’s bike sharing system. It is, after all, called “Citi Bike,” and every Citigroup-blue bike is plastered with the bank’s branding.

But the company—which has a $111.5 million sponsorship commitment to the program—does not own it. Navigate to the Citi Bike website, and you’ll see that “Citi Bike is operated by NYC Bike Share LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Motivate,” and that “Motivate is a unique company focused solely on operating large-scale bike-share systems.”

This might look like an answer. But NYC Bike Share LLC is actually just the first in a nesting doll of nomenclature that—intentionally or not—obscures a brilliant business move by one of the country’s largest real estate investors… (more)

But why?

Bike sharing systems carry with them the promise of more sustainable, accessible cities and healthier city residents. But perhaps more compelling to the CEO of a real estate company is the possibility that they will raise property values. These aren’t necessarily competing motives. “As cities do well,” Related CEO Jeff Blau told Fast Company, “we do well.”… (more)

 

 

Pandora box has been flung open.

You are no longer dealing with just Ford GoBikes.

Thousands more are coming unless the pubic does something to stop them. Its plastered all over FACEBOOK that LIME bikes expanding into San Francisco and they are already signing up new members.  https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/15/limebike-raises-12-million-to-roll-out-bike-sharing-without-kiosks-in-the-us/  and another company called SPIN started dumping hundreds more on streets across the financial district. The only thing that will stop this is legislation.

We heard that a company called Arup was awarded a $550 Million contract to construct a bicycle lane across the Bay Bridge. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/13/bay-bridge-bike-lane_n_1146310.html

It is said that the lead designer for the $550M Bay Bridge bike lane is married to Ms. Brinkman, the chair of the SFMTA Board. See the following: https://bridge2017.sched.com/richard.coffin?iframe=no&w=100%&sidebar=yes&bg=no.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why all of these bikes are getting shoved down our throats for the sole purpose of removing parking from our streets. Is this what the voters wanted when they handed over management of the streets to what became SFMTA? Is this what City Hall supports? The complete privatization of our city streets and thoroughfares? If this is what our city leaders want do we want them?

If this is what our taxes are paying for do we support higher taxes?

Read about the holding company behind Motivate if you missed it to see who and what is behind the Ford GoBikes for proof that the bikes are being used to clear the way for dense urban development and luxury housing. Each day more proof of this comes out. What will you do about it? Leave or fight to stay. Pretty soon your choice will be made for you.

Fight gentrification: https://www.change.org/p/hillary-ronen-no-corporate-bike-rentals-in-the-calle-24-latino-cultural-district

Holding Company behind Motivate is Bikeshare Holdings LLC. By most counts this is not a neighborhood friendly organization.

 

Bikes and more bikes, everywhere you look are blue Ford GoBikes in the stations in the Mission. Don’t see many peddling around but there are a lot on them parked at the stations, especially near public parks and in front of businesses like grocery stores. photo by zrants.

We just unearthed a lot of details about the Motivate group behind Ford GoBikes. Motivate is held by Bikeshare Holdings LLC, one of the largest luxury developers in New York City. If you oppose gentrification sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/hillary-ronen-no-corporate-bike-rentals-in-the-calle-24-latino-cultural-district

Motivate has a private/pubic partnership agreement with MTC. MTC allocates government tax and grant funds including your tax dollars. We already already covered the relationship with MTC and SFMTA. We were lacking in details about Motivate. This should fill in those gaps. To see the rest of the story go here: Ford-gobike-bay-area-bikeshare-update/

According to their PR campaigns and reported by several sources, a national bike-share program was set up by Bikeshare Holdings LLC to soften local opposition by removing street parking, claiming they are complimenting public transit for everyone. The real goal is to gentrify neighborhoods, raise property values, and make room for the luxury housing Related Company builds. (Details can be found in their press releases and on streetsblog and other articles). 

Bikeshare Holdings LLC was founded in 2014 by two CEOs – Jeff Blau is (or was) the CEO of Related Companies. Related builds luxury housing. Harvey Spevak is the CEO of Equinox, an American luxury fitness company that operates several separate fitness brands, including Equinox, PURE Yoga, Blink Fitness, and SoulCycle.

If this news bothers you, you may want to attend the next SFMTA board meeting, that is scheduled for next Tuesday the 6th of September in room 400 at City Hall at 1 PM. You  may want to let SFMTA Board know how you feel about the deals they are cutting without prior public notice or debate. You might also object to using your tax dollars against your interests or contracting with known criminals. Recent article in the SF Examiner: SF awards $3.2M in contracts to company connected to alleged bid-rigging, federal indictment.

Ford GoBike (Bay Area Bikeshare) Update

Potrero Boosters August Meeting agenda includes this issue:

In Boston, it’s Hubway, sponsored by New Balance; in Portland, the Nike Biketown. Chicago has the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Divvy, and New York has the CitiBike. And now the Potrero has Ford GoBike, an expansion of the newly rebranded Bay Area Bike Share. Bike pods have appeared at 16th and San Bruno, in front of Whole Foods, at the Arkansas and 17th corner of Jackson Park, at Mississippi and 17th, and at the 19th and Minnesota corner of Esprit. They’ll soon be at the 22nd Street Caltrain Station.


The recent expansion has not been without controversy. Further expansion plans promise additional pods in the southern parts of Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, extending into Bayview.

Justin Nguyen, the Outreach/Marketing Coordinator of Motivate, the company operating the Ford GoBike (and the other cities’ bikeshares mentioned above), will respond to our questions and comments regarding the program.

If you want to go find out more about Motivate and the Ford GoBikes, here is your chance. If I were going I would ask these questions:

What does this mean? “the newly rebranded Bay Area Bike Share” We assume the new brand is Motivate, which we recently learned from a program on KQED radio program, is the private/public entity that was created between MTC (the regional pubic funding entity that distributes government taxes and grants) and, what appears to be, a private corporate entity or entities.

Three questions arise from this information:

  1. Re-branding: What was the original brand before the re-branding?
  2. Expansion: Expansion of what? Who or what was in the original organization and who or what is in this iteration? Which government agencies or departments are involved and which private or corporate entities are involved in this deal?
  3. What is the government’s role and goal in these partnership agreements?

As a voting taxpayer, one must determine where or not this is a proper task for a regional transportation funding organization and how this effects our eagerness to pay higher taxes knowing how they are being used.

How did all of these contracts get signed by our government officials without our notice or discussion or consent? Do we want a government that excludes public from the discussion until after the contracts are signed? Are these legitimate contracts when the pubic is kept in the dark until they are signed?