SFFD and the SFMTA Compromise on Bike Safety

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

A long-delayed yet vital project on upper Market Street has now been altered, aggravating advocacy groups and cyclists.

…In July, notorious City Hall gadfly David Pilpel appealed the decision, stating that it needed to undergo environmental review. The issue landed on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda, and they voted to uphold the project without further review.

The money was budgeted, the plan approved. So why, five months later, has construction yet to break ground?

The issue is one that we all thought was resolved: The Fire Department has a problem with the plan. From the get-go, it has argued that the reconfiguration of Market Street to create protected bike lanes would interfere with ladder trucks in an emergency.

“The design materially compromises the safety of firefighters and local residents,” Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White wrote in a letter to the SFMTA earlier this year.

The main issue centers around the distance ladder trucks will be from buildings, if parking-protected bike lanes are installed. The width of the street, combined with Muni’s overhead wires, will make it trickier for firefighters to rescue people, and adds in the threat of electrical shocks, SFFD claims….

And looking ahead, the battle between safe streets and the Fire Department doesn’t appear to be closer to a resolution. When asked if this redesign will be applied to other areas where issues of parking-protected bike lanes and overhead wires are bringing the two departments in conflict, Reiskin said there is no sweeping plan to remedy the issue.

“It will be very much case-by-case,” he said. “The geometry of each street is different.”…(more)

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SF transit officials discuss granting dockless bikeshare permits amid legal challenge

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency moved to potentially grant permits for at least four dockless bikeshare companies prior to facing legal challenges for potentially permitting one dockless bikeshare program in The City, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

When Bluegogo, a similar dockless bikeshare company, discussed entry into San Francisco, city officials cried foul in January, fearing the potential for piles of bikes to litter city sidewalks.

Now, four dockless bikeshare companies — Spin, MoBike, LimeBike and Social Bicycle — have all been in discussion with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to begin operation in The City, according to records obtained by the Examiner.

Emailed discussions occurred just prior to — and in some cases, after — Bay Area Motivate, LLC and the SFMTA entered a “dispute resolution process,” mediated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, to settle conflicts over San Francisco’s contract with the Ford GoBike bikeshare program.

The heart of the dispute is whether entering into an exclusivity contract with Motivate for Ford GoBike, which docks its bikes on city sidewalks, preven

ts San Francisco from granting permits to dockless bikeshare companies.

Though Motivate declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements as part of the conflict-resolution process, the company has previously said “no.”… (more)

Where is the voice of the public in this discussion of who has access to our streets? Does the public want rental bikes taking over on our streets? Where does the public right to access and use the streets end and the private corporate right to buy our streets from the SFMTA begin? How is this effecting the small “legacy” bike companies that sell and repair private bikes? Do they have a say in this “space sale” SFMTA is engaging in?

Why don’t we show our appreciation by boycotting Ford? I know it is not Ford Bikes, but they are aligning themselves with Ford so let’s boycott Ford to show our solidarity with private citizens right to control our streets and keep them open to public use. NO PRIVATE SALES OR RENTALS OF OUR STREETS!

 

SF politicians, bicyclists and others gear up for bike lane changes

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Supervisor Hillary Ronen is living in fear.

Her husband takes their young daughter to school nearly every day on the back of his bicycle and, nearly every day, she’s haunted by mental imagery of the two of them being doored or sideswiped or otherwise coming to grief on Valencia Street. San Francisco’s major cycling artery is also ground zero for Uber and Lyft drop-offs and pick-ups, a mixture about as combustible and ominous as locating a match factory next to the lighter fluid depot.

These are the sorts of things that wander into Ronen’s mind during endless public comment sessions in Board of Supervisors meetings.

Valencia Street forms the border between Ronen’s District 9 and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy’s District 8. Sheehy — who worked as a bike messenger when he arrived in this city in 1988 to underwrite food, beer and $300-a-month rent — recently donned an aggressively yellow shirt and served as a human protected bike lane

Installing  protected bike lanes of the sort everyone professes to want on Valencia is going to require overcoming two sorts of obstacles: logistical and political. It’s not clear which will be more difficult… (more)

Valencia is a disaster for everyone. The street is not safe after dark. Expensive restaurants are car magnets and they need regular delivery services. Not a good recipe for a bikers’ paradise. I avoid it but if there are limited turns on the street, how will the drivers get to the side streets?

If cyclists don’t feel safe with cars, maybe City Hall needs to rethink the bike path program and separate bikes from the cars by taking them off the major arterial streets and putting them on the slower side streets. Allow the traffic to flow, free up public parking and give the bikes their own routes. At least try it on some streets and see if the friction goes away.

Motor vehicles get the major streets, bikes get the minor ones, and pedestrians get the sidewalks. It doesn’t hurt to try a separation in some areas to see if the war between the modes does not calm down before things get really ugly. Use the money to fix the potholes and improve Muni service instead of painting the streets.

Stop unfair residential parking removal

Fight unfair residential and school teacher parking removal of 39 spaces!!!
Unnecessary for bike safety. Seven feet of space between parked cars and Muni rails.
Teachers unable to park! Chiropractic patients unable to visit.

No more parking removals from residential parking permitted areas.
Direct cyclists to use streets without Muni rails to avoid accidents.
Residents, teachers and businesses have not been properly notified or their needs considered.

You can read more and sign the petition here

See the SFMTA presentation and excuse for their plans here
According to this graphic, they had response from 49 people. Is that out of all their outreach or just about how they traveled on 17th Street. You can get a pretty good picture of how people travel by going to the street and counting the cars turning onto the street from Church. A lot more motor vehicles than walkers or bikers will pass by. Maybe that is because they don’t stop to fill out surveys at the rate pedestrians and bikers do.

17th Street outreach.jpeg

Our suggestion is to move the bike lanes to another street without Muni rails since that is the cause of the accidents. Cyclists should not ride on rails, but, if SFMTA insists on keeping the bike lanes on 17th, they should at least allow left turns off of Church on another street. They are creating the mess as usual by directing traffic onto the street that they put the bike lanes on.

What happened to the move bike route option descried on page 9? 18th Street is a better alternative as the traffic is slower, it passes by Dolores Park and Mission High, and there are fewer businesses on 18th Street.

move bike lane.jpeg

De Young Museum tries to slam brakes on making Golden Gate Park car-free Saturdays year-round

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

For half a century, John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park has been car-free on Sundays to the enjoyment of walkers, cyclists, disco-dancing roller-skaters and more — but similar Saturday closures, enacted a decade ago, only span the summer.

Now, an effort is underway to make the popular thoroughfare car-free on Saturdays year-round, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Opposition, however, may kill that effort before it’s even officially proposed to the public.

Mark Hollein, director of the de Young Museum that’s located near John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, laid out the museum’s opposition in a Sept. 7 email to San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg, which was obtained by the Examiner.

“I received your message regarding exploring the potential of extending the current six-month closure of JFK to a year-round closure,” Hollein wrote. “I cannot lend my support to additional road closures in the immediate vicinity of the de Young.”… (more)

Separate the bikes from the cars. Cyclists can ride through the park instead of on the streets. There are plenty of bike trails through the park and they can just as easily put in more bike paths as bike lanes. As some have pointed out, children are better off not breathing the exhaust, and the cars do not drive through the park, they drive on the streets. If you really care about the cyclists, give them their own bike paths inside the park.

Lower Haight Construction Woes

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

A small business owner received a citation from the city — for a square of sidewalk that they’d already dug up.

Small businesses in Lower Haight had a rough summer, which has turned into a bumpy fall, and will soon be a harsh winter. Construction has been underway for months to replace aging sewer pipes, repave streets, widen sidewalks, construct bulbouts and generally upgrade the entire neighborhood’s infrastructure. It’s needed — though easy to complain about when jackhammers outside shake your entire restaurant’s dining room.

But many of the inconveniences — customers’ cars getting ticketed while construction workers’ vehicles get off scot-free — make it even harder for those running a small business to survive. And one business owner, Matt Nudelman, who owns the Lodge on Haight, has had enough. On Sept. 30, he received a notice of violation from the Department of Public Works for a “sidewalk nuisance.” The culprit, according to the inspector who photographed it and filed the complaint, was a small stain outside the Lodge’s front door…

The kicker: That square of sidewalk no longer exists. Before the notice even landed in Nudelman’s mailbox, the entire street in front of his restaurant was dug up. Now, in order to enter his business, customers have to walk 20 feet to either side of large orange barriers. There is nowhere to lock up a bike or park a car. And the piles of trash left behind each day make the entire facade of his business look dangerously unappealing — the very thing that Public Works is citing Nudelman for…

The Supervisors are holding multiple hearings about problems with the multiple street projects that are creating havoc on our streets, pushing more families out of the city, and killing businesses that don’t have deep investor pockets to prop them up while they struggle to survive.

You might want to protest by phone or email if this bothers you in hopes of stopping the pace of new projects and street closures. If you object to the hassle of getting through town now, you will be really annoyed if the SFMTA and the Board of Supervisors approves the next big anti-traffic project they are planning for Folsom Street.

They want more bike lines and protected bike lanes on Folsom Street to make your access to the Bay Bridget more difficult than it already is. As most people are by now aware BART is already packed and often has problems operating under current conditions so switching to the BART is not much of an option, especially since there is a parking shortage at the stations and no plans to expand that.

Buses and public transit vehicles will have no better access to the bridge than they currently have so cutting off lanes does nothing to help them.

As some of us pointed out over a year ago, there is a huge labor shortage that is being exacerbated by the city projects that are forcing more talented contractors out of the area when they can’t deliver quality workers, so what are wee getting? A huge expensive mess. Rushing contractors is never a good idea if you want a job done well.

See our letter sent to the Board of Supervisors this week and edit to personalize your own complaints. Ask them who they are representing by continuing to approve more street projects.

If you can, show up to the board of Supervisors and SFMTA meetings to complain about any plans to expand the street projects until the ones under way are complete and paid for. This is the only way we are going to end this nightmare. discoveryink.wordpress.com/no-new-street-projects/

 

 

Mayor’s Plans for Bike Lanes Hide Toxic Dangers for Kids

By Richard Lee Abrams : citywatchla – excerpt

CORRUPTION WATCH-I’ve got a cracker jack idea – let’s freshen up our children’s classrooms with lead paint. Better yet, let’s protect the children from fire by using a lot of asbestos…

Asbestos has great qualities such as thermal and acoustical insulation, fire protection, strengthening of other materials. For example, asbestos strengthens floor covering making them resistant to humidity, scratches and scuffmarks.

So, let’s all cheer for more lead paint and more asbestos, especially in children’s play areas…

Oh, I forgot one of the big three in the triumvirate of good things for children’s health – toxic auto emissions…

Bike Lanes in Major Streets vs Bike Paths Away from Autos

The City locates bike lanes in major streets claiming that they are a major health benefit to the community. The City took this false information and used it as a basis for its Vision Zero campaign and its Mobility Plan 2035. Many people told the City that placing bike lanes in major streets posed a health risk to cyclists, especially children. Citizens submitted over 20 studies and research papers, all pointing out the health dangers of bike lanes in major streets. These submissions to the public record are excluded from the City’s Index of Mobility Plan 2035 public records. (Isn’t removing official documents from a public record a felony?)

Let’s Look at The Research on Bike Lanes

Harvard University in its August 15, 2014 Study, Impact of Bicycle Route Type on Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution, found that bike paths are significantly less polluted than lanes painted on the road, especially when there’s distance and some vegetation as part of the protection…

The Data Was Easily Available to the City

A 2011 article in the LA Times discussed how bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians: “You’ve decided to help your health and the environment by riding your bike to work. Good for you! Sorry to have to deliver the bad news: you may be inhaling more soot…

The Actual Purpose of Bike Lanes – Road Diets

Bike Lanes in healthy locations are worthless as Road Diets. The actual reason the Garcetti administration and councilmembers Bonin conceal the health danger to children is to create Road Diets. They need an excuse to remove travel lanes from major streets in order to create significant traffic congestion. The perverse motivation behind concealing the health dangers of bike lanes in major streets to children is to evade the state’s environmental law…

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams... (more)

That sounds about right. LA has the same system we do. So why do we want to promote our mayors to higher office when they don’t listen to us now?

 

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)

 

 

 

 

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.