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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Why split the SFMTA?

I believe the Supervisors did not appreciate the type of open-ended contract they discovered when they investigated the Van Ness BRT project. I’m not going to describe it here. You can watch the many hearings that have been conducted on the contracts and delays. I’m not going into the financial shenanigans.

Other investigations into major mistakes made on projects such as the ones on Potrero next to the General Hospital lead to questions about communication within the department and SFMTAs dealings with other city agencies. At a public neighborhood meeting we discovered that the Project Manager for Potrero Ave. is also Project Manager for at least one other large project. This leads us to believe that they have bitten off too much to do well and need to put all new project starts on hold while they finish the ones the ones they have going now.

Disputes with the Fire Department and other city agencies involved in emergency operations along with daily transit meltdowns concern people who are responsible for handling a major disaster. How will a gridlocked city handle the next earthquake or other disaster that cuts off power when so much of our lives are electronica now. There is no evacuation plan. The plan is to shelter in place. That doesn’t work under all circumstances.

While you are at it, pay attention to public comments, especially where the bus stop removals and other inconveniences are opposed. Spitting SFMTA (not Muni) has less to do with cars and more to do with providing the service the Muni riders want instead of ignoring them. A business that ignores its customers will not survive long. In this case, the sales tax increase failed because no amount of lies and excuses will convince people they should pay more for less, especially when the salaries are not keeping pace with the tax increases.

The voters much approve the split and restructuring of the SFMTA by ballot.

RELATED:
Supervisors want to split municipal transit agency in two — here’s why

MUNI to split into transit and traffic, again!

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco supervisors want to divide Muni’s parent agency into two departments. Concerned with The City’s allegedly mismanaged transit policies, supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai have told stakeholders.

Under the proposal, one agency would handle just Muni, and the other would handle San Francisco’s parking and streets, sources with knowledge of the measure told the San Francisco Examiner…

The proposal would also allow supervisors to make appointments to the SFMTA’s seven-member Board of Directors. Right now, directors are only appointed by the mayor.

Peskin and Safai have approached stakeholders with the ballot measure over the last week, and discussed introducing it as an amendment to The City’s charter at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, according to sources with knowledge of the measure…

I think [Peskin is] having buyer’s remorse about his role in Prop. A,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of the nonprofit Livable City.

The DPT of old was ideologically committed to moving cars through The City, and transit, walking and cycling always got short changed,” Radulovich said.

But while the SFMTA has tried to focus more on transit and the creation of bike lanes over vehicle traffic, Radulovich feels those efforts are lackluster. He said another major reason the SFMTA was created was to free it from political influence; supervisors would sometimes stop transportation changes that would benefit thousands for the sake of one angry constituent.

But the politicians still throw monkey wrenches into modern-day SFMTA operations, Radulovich said.

The reforms just allow that to happen “behind the scenes,” Radulovich said...(more)

The City is reeling from the disruptions on our streets. We need to shed light into the dark corners of the SFMTA and dissect the billion dollar budget that they have controlled while creating a traffic nightmare. Radulovich is right about the backroom dealings. The fact that the SFMTA Board members have no private emails to communicate directly with the public they are supposed to serve should alarm voters. Who are the gatekeepers who determine what the Board sees and when they see it? Who benefits from the removal of bus seats and stops when the Muni riders overwhelmingly oppose them?

Perfect timing! A change in priorities and policies is needed now. Peskin and Safai are coming through with a brilliant move at the right time. An initiative aimed at changing the power structure of SFMTA would force the candidates for supervisor to take a position showing their true colors, making it easier for voters to determine who to support in those important races.

Top Down Government is losing public support. If the voters approve the move to alter the power structure of SFMTA, making it more accountable to the public, they will send a warning to other government entities that there is a popular revolt against government overreach.

For drivers without garages, charging a big barrier to electric cars

By Kate Galbraith : sfchronicle (includes chart)

…The San Francisco metro area, at the intersection of environmental concern and technological prowess, has more electric vehicles than most cities worldwide. But for many residents, buying one remains unrealistic. Even as prices for EVs fall and the cars’ ranges increase, the hassle of plugging them in remains daunting for those who have only street parking. It is a problem that San Francisco and other cities will have to solve as governments around the world look to cut greenhouse gas emissions (California wants to slash them about 40 percent over the next 13 years).

“Obviously, we want to have significantly more charging infrastructure, not just in San Francisco but all around California,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who plans to introduce a bill next year that would ban new gasoline and diesel cars cars after 2040. Ting has an electric Chevrolet Bolt that he can charge at both home and work.

Charging stations are proliferating in city and corporate garages, thanks to investment by electric utilities and private companies such as ChargePoint and Tesla. But getting to them can be a hassle, and a parking spot at work can be expensive… (more)

Here is a situation where the state could get out of the way of the market and allow it to solve the problem at no cost to the public.

Instead of removing parking from new development, developers should be encouraged to install EV parking spaces in the new buildings to encourage more EV sales. Not many people living with car break-ins will go out and purchase an expensive new vehicle they can’t protect.

To See the Future of Cities, Watch the Curb. Yes, the Curb

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

When Greg Rogers left his gig as a Washington, DC, lobbyist in 2015, he did what any savvy, mid-20s kid with a car and a light wallet might: He signed up to drive for a couple of ridehailing services. “Living the millennial dream means quitting your job, driving for Uber and Lyft, and trying to figure it out,” he says…

Space Wars

Rogers, the driver-turned analyst, was inspired by his struggles to come up with a new curbside management concept, one that Washington and other cities are beginning to take very seriously. He calls it “shared use mobility zones,” and you can think of it as flex-space: At certain times of day, the city reserves the curb for specific functions. During rush hour, maybe, it’s a pick up stop for a microtransit service. In the afternoon, it’s a spot where trucks can pull over and drag in deliveries without double parking. At night, it’s a designated point where a for-hire car can meet passengers pouring out of the bar on the corner. “The best part is that cities can adjust based on what their goals are,” says Rogers.

And even though Rogers hasn’t actually approached any local governments about his personal zoning idea, cities are acting on similar notions: In October, Washington rolled out a year-long pilot program modeled on the concept of flex-space. Monday through Thursday, a stretch of Connecticut Avenue in the busy Dupont Circle neighborhood is a great place to shop or grab lunch. Thursday through Sunday, 10 pm to 7 pm, it’s one of the most zoo-like nightlife spots in the District.

That’s why the city reserves four blocks on those evenings for ridehailing pick-up and drop-off zones. “Folks were spilling out into the travel lane,” says Evian Patterson, the DC Department of Transportation’s director of parking and ground transportation. Now, just a few months on, he says the city has seen safety improvements. The traffic has gotten better, too. San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale have similar pilots in the works…

Or, faster transportation overall. In 2015, Chicago’s government reserved curbside lanes on a major downtown thoroughfare for buses only, painting them a bright red. In the following year, moving and stoping violations on the road fell. Standing and parking violations almost disappeared. Bus riders were getting to where they needed to go, closer to on time—and so was everyone else… (more)

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

By John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

Gridlock by SFMTA. photos by zrants

The ongoing Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement Project has a clumsy name only a bureaucrat could love, and many merchants on Union Street definitely don’t love one of the project’s features: the loss of a left-turn onto Union Street from Van Ness. They say it has hurt business on their street because of a loss of traffic; drivers on Van Ness just find it easier to drive onward and shop elsewhere. One idea being mooted is seeking about $1.5 million in compensation from the city for their loss of business…

Henry Karnilowicz, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, said that billions of dollars are being spent on the many street changes and improvements across the city. “And here they’re talking about giving 1.5 million? That’s nothing,” he said. “That’s a drop in the bucket.”…

Karnilowicz doesn’t know what will happen regarding compensation, but the situation is not going to go away. He points to a presentation by the city’s Controller’s Office, which studied the impact on local businesses of similar construction projects by measuring the change in sales taxes; in one, West Portal, there was a 12 percent drop in sales tax. “That’s like a 12 percent [decline] in income,” Karnilowicz says; for some businesses, “that’s what their profit margin is.”…(more)

This is the Union Street Merchants. How about the ones on Van Ness Avenue an Polk Street that are still struggling to stay afloat? There is talk of tearing up Polk Street again. WHY? Can’t the supervisors stop this constant disaster from killing our city?

Quit blaming the internet for the demise of our retail businesses. We have been dealing with the internet for decades and only now are the businesses suffering. high rents and street closures are putting the final nail and the retail coffin. We are losing big corporate store like the Gap as well as small local businesses so this is not a matter of size.

We suggest everyone scream NO MORE DISRUPTIONS!
STOP NEW DISRUPTIONS ON OUR STREETS UNTIL THE CURRENT ONES ARE DONE AND OUR STREETS AND TRAFFIC ARE MOVING SMOOTHLY AGAIN. Contacts for City Hall

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents… (more)

Most people blame the SFMTA for the mess that makes the Millennium Tower look like small potatoes. We need Peskin to direct the 30 plus SFCTA staffers at the SFCTA to prepare a report on the Walsh contract. Who suggested using a Design-to-Build contract, used in small construction jobs, as a good way to design and manage the massively complex and growing multi-contractor mess that we have on Van Ness Avenue.
Who supported this project management style and who advised against it? Can we quit listening to the people who get it wrong and start paying attention to the people, and the public, who get it right?
Until this mess gets sorted out City Hall should stop all non-essential new projects from breaking ground.

We should stop installing building billion dollar old technology on our streets when new tech may solve much of the problem. See this new system being tried on China now and then decide how to “design for the future”. http://www.sfexaminer.com/v…

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?

 

Book ’em Danno: The San Francisco neighborhoods with the most parking tickets

By : bizjournals – excerpt (includes map)

San Francisco holds the dubious distinction of the highest average ticket price on the country, with the city issuing $124 million annually in tickets, according to research from parking startup SpotAngels.

The company combined city data with their own parking data on spot location, regulation and average ticket price to analyze the neighborhoods and locations where cars receive the most tickets and why.

The neighborhoods with the most parking ticket revenue are led by SoMa with $11 million followed by the Inner Richmond and the Mission, with $10.5 million and $9.5 million, respectively… (more)

The number one complaint of drivers used to be tickets. I think that may have changed, but is still really high on the list of annoyances. We understand that many tickets that are contested are found to be lacking and are eventually dismissed. See some details on how to appeal tickets: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/tickets/