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.

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Political muscle and dealmaking got Prop. E passed

By Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview and sunsetbeacon – excerpt

Political muscle and deal-making got Proposition E passed, which created the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The proposition was on the November, 1999 ballot.

According to an article in the SF Examiner, SF Mayor Willie Brown worked hard during a re-election year to muster support for Proposition E. The work paid off. The SF Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to put the measure on the ballot. Supporting the plan was a combination of progressive and moderate supervisors: Tom Amman, Alica Becerril, Amos Brown, Leslie Katz, Barbara Kaufman, Mark Leno, Gavin Newsom, Mabel Teng, Michael Yaki and Leland Yee. Only supervisor Sue Bierman voted against the plan.

In the ballot pamphlet supporting their position, the 10 supervisors said, “Proposition E will make Muni much more accountable for service delivered. It will take strong steps to reduce traffic by finally making transit a real alternative to the automobile, and it will ensure Muni is fully funded to meet the City’s transit needs for years to come.” None of those goals have come to pass…

If political muscle can create it political muscle can kill it. Make sure you grill all the supervisor candidates on how they plan to take back public control of the agency and then hold them to their promise.

Proposition E is a SF Charter revision, which means it is a part of the City’s guiding document and can’t be changed without a vote of the people. It had the support of many of the city’s political leaders, including SF Mayor Willie Brown, state Sen. John Burton, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley and the Democratic and Republican parties. They all called for improving bus service in the City, but they gave up control over the agency responsible for performing the task, changed the city’s Transit First Policy to be hostile to private vehicles, and created a super-organization responsible for thousands of employees – without supervision from any elected officials. No one is held accountable at the SFMTA…

Prop. E also gave the SFMTA the power to tax, which it tried to do in the November 2016 election by requesting a half-cent sales tax increase for transit projects that the agency refused to spell out. Trust us. Just give us the money, the SFMTA said. The voters, in their wisdom, said “no!”  Prop. E was passed by San Francisco voters on Nov. 2, 1999, by a 61- 39 percent vote… (more).

I you want an excuse for owning a car, you need to look not further than the fires in the north to see why a car is you best refuge in a disaster. All these thousands of people in shelters got there by private vehicle. The public transportation system is the first to close down during a crisis event that requires mass evacuations, and who wants to carry you life in a backpack? In the event of an emergency, your vehicle is your emergency vehicles and possibly your home for a while.

RELATED:
Transportation Madness

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.

Measuring Cognitive Distractions

Report by AAA : .aaafoundation – excerpt

In this landmark study of distracted driving, the AAA Foundation challenges the notion that drivers are safe and attentive as long as their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Using cutting-edge methods for measuring brain activity and assessing indicators of driving performance, this research examines the mind of the driver, and highlights the mental distractions caused by a variety of tasks that may be performed behind the wheel.

By creating a first-of-its-kind rating scale of driver distractions, this study shows that certain activities – such as talking on a hands-free cell phone or interacting with a speech-to-text email system – place a high cognitive burden on drivers, thereby reducing the available mental resources that can be dedicated to driving. By demonstrating that mentally-distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision, this study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that “hands-free” doesn’t mean risk free.

More distracted driving related research:

Report
Presentation
Fact Sheet

RELATED:
SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone Objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

by John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

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…

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)

Just say NO to more taxes next time SFMTA comes begging for more. Merchants and pissed off residents who want to live and work in San Francisco should continue opposing tax increases for transit projects to send a clear message to City Hall that they are fed up with streetscape projects. Send letters and comments and complaints to your supervisor and the candidates running for office. Make sure they hear your demands for a freeze on new construction until the current projects are completed. Don’t be shy with your state reps either. Let them know you don’t buy the “we need more money for transit” line when you see more streets being torn up every day. City contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/
State contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

Merchants Affected By Construction Projects Could Receive Loans & Grants

by Teresa Hammerl : hoodline – excerpt

As major construction and streetscaping projects in the city have brought traffic jams, blocked parking and limited visibility for small businesses, merchants across San Francisco are frustrated.

Now, the city’s supervisors are looking at how they could better support business owners, including with loans and grants.

The Board of Supervisors Government Audits & Oversight Committee met on Wednesday to discuss the economic impact of construction.

“We’re in a construction boom in the private sector and public sphere—with more investments going into capital improvements—than we’ve seen in years,” said District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes West Portal and parts of the Inner Sunset. “What we’re discussing today is the unavoidable impacts these projects have on our merchants and commercial corridors.”…

Kim said that her office had already secured $100,000 add-back for construction mitigation, as well as an additional $95,000 dedicated to merchant assistance.

She also said that she was considering a fee for private developers that would go into a larger citywide fund to help support business owners during private construction projects.

“I know we have a lot of fees on our private developers, but we should consider a small one based on the cost of construction,” she said… (more)

SoMa Merchants Also Claim Losses Due to Central Subway Construction

: streetsblog – excerpt

But Will Less-Well-Organized Businesses Get Money from Mayor’s Newly Announced Program?

Business in San Francisco’s Chinatown could receive up to $10,000 from the city to help bring back customers ostensibly lost due to construction disruption from SFMTA’s subway project, according to a release from Mayor Lee’s office about a new “Central Subway Mitigation” program. Along the same tack, the mayor is asking SFMTA, Public Works, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to develop a Citywide Construction Mitigation Program.

Although the Central Subway Mitigation program is reportedly in response to lobbying from Chinatown advocates, businesses in Union Square and on 4th Street, along the subway’s route through the South of Market neighborhood, are equally impacted.

“Business is down forty percent,” said Angela Jigmed, owners of Panta Delux Cleaners on the corner of 4th and Bluxome. Her business has been there for ten years. “For us it’s been very hard. Customers can’t stop here because of the construction.”… (more)

What did we say yesterday? There is no way the city can afford to continue the pace it is on that is harming businesses all over the city. We are calling for a halt to new projects and planning and on-going contract negotiations for new capital projects until all holes in the ground are filled. If this is a radical approach, it is more pragmatic than the non-stop destruction of our streets that is killing our businesses. It is a lot cheaper and easier to do nothing than to be on constant damage control and the taxpaying citizens are not buying the more money needed to fix it excuse. They turned down the last request for increased taxes. If you agree send a message to City Hall to stop this madness.

SF ambulances arrive late to life-threatening calls during sweltering weekend heat

By and : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco was so short on ambulances during the record-setting heat last weekend that it took about an hour for them to respond to some life-threatening calls, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

San Francisco Fire Department records obtained by the Examiner show that fire engines waited more than 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of 28 life-threatening calls. The goal is for an ambulance to arrive at a life-threatening emergency within 10 minutes 90 percent of the time…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin called the response times “entirely unacceptable.”

“The city and county of San Francisco was caught flat-footed,” he said.

Peskin said he will continue to push for San Francisco to improve its emergency response times at upcoming hearings.

“If we can’t get a heat wave right, we are in big trouble,” Peskin said, alluding to the potential for a major earthquake shaking The City… (more)

People have been warning about ambulances stuck in traffic for a long time. Maybe now something will done to move traffic instead of stall it. Other cities are doing a better job according to the PBS story linked below. In Pittsburgh they are using actual traffic flow to control the traffic signals.

At any rate, we understand that there is a state agency that may step in if the situation does not improve. We expect the SF Department of Emergency Management will be concerned about these matters.

How Pittsburgh is test driving tech to make your commute smarter

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/pittsburgh-test-driving-tech-make-commute-smarter/

 

 

Keep LA Moving

keeplamoving – excerpt

Masonic traffic b 081713

Photo of traffic stuck on Masonic before the road diet. These scenes are being repeated all oer the state of California. LA citizens are fighting back.

It’s official! KeepLAMoving has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the City of Los Angeles.

Our 53 page petiton alleges that the City did not follow proper CEQA procedure, denying residents their due process before the project commenced. It’s Court Case No. BS 170 464. Click here to see it. 

The Neighborhood Council of Westchster/Playa voted to send Mike Bonin a letter opposing the road diets on Culver and Jefferson. Click here to read it.

Gridlock Is Not The Answer

Fire Department and Emergency Response Issues with street improvements

SFFD 1-desktop from zRants on Vimeo. (includes videos and Q and A)

CSFN General Assembly Presentation by Assistant Deputy Chief Anthony Rivera, July 18, 2017  Powerpoint. attached Notes from the presentation are here or download a word doc. July CSFN SFFD. Download the Q and A that followed the presesntation.

Videos of recent accidents and emergency vehicles trying to enter the ER at General Hospital caught up in traffic jams.