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.

Advertisements

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.

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

Mayor Lee to give $1.45M in aid for merchants struggling due to subway delays

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Struggling Chinatown merchants, as well as merchants from Union Square and other areas affected by Central Subway construction, may soon see relief to the tune of $1.45 million from San Francisco… (more)

Regardless of the dumb proposal of paying to clean the streets and spruce up buildings that difficult to access, this is an admission that the City’s street maintenance and construction projects are causing harm to merchants and that harm has financial consequences.

Honolulu will be the first major U.S. city to fine distracted walkers

by

Pedestrians looking at their phones at crosswalks will have to pay up to $99 for the offense

Earlier this year, a pilot project in the Netherlands set out to tackle “distracted walking” with eye-catching crosswalk lights. But a new ordinance in Honolulu is addressing the same problem from an entirely different angle: fines.

Starting in late October, pedestrians walking across Honolulu’s roads will be subject to fines for just looking at their phones. First-time offenders will face a maximum fine of $35, with the amount increasing up to $99 after a third offense. This will be the first punishment of its kind in the country.

The ordinance also appears to be part of a growing trend of pedestrian-shaming campaigns in U.S. cities, which blame walkers for the rise in pedestrian deaths by citing activities like jaywalking, wearing dark clothing, and smartphone use. The dangers of smartphone use by pedestrians is understudied, but presumably not as fatal as distracted driving.

“Sometimes I wish there were laws we did not have to pass, that perhaps common sense would prevail,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell at a bill-signing ceremony. “But sometimes we lack common sense.”

The initiative was proposed by a group of safety-minded high-schoolers who created the ordinance after conducting research on pedestrian safety… (more)

Seniors, disabled impacted most in dangerous SF crosswalks

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

According to city data, San Francisco has the dubious distinction of being the second most dangerous city in America for people simply trying to cross the street; only New York City has more pedestrian fatalities.

Seniors and those with disabilities demonstrated just how precarious crossing the street can be and why they want the city to lengthen the amount of time on pedestrian signals…

The SFMTA says it’s already improving cross times from four feet per second to three and a half feet per second and improvements to Masonic and Geary are already underway.

“Once the light turns green you have a tendency to just to step on the pedal and go and may not be looking directly in front of you at the intersection of someone who may not have been able to cross,” said SF Supervisor

Sandra Lee Fewer who walked with the group around the intersection to get a feel for the timing of the lights. Lee Fewer said she was stuck by a car as a child so fighting for pedestrian rights is important to her… (more)

Rally with Seniors for Safe Streets this Friday

Friday, July 28, 2017 – 10:30am – 11:30am Masonic Ave & Geary Blvd

It is time for the San Francisco to make its streets safe and accessible for ALL seniors and people with disabilities!

For too long seniors and people with disabilities have had to navigate poorly maintained sidewalks and potholed and poorly-patched streets, and use crosswalks designed primarily for the able-bodied pedestrians.

As a result, seniors make up only 15 percent of the city’s population, yet account for over 40 percent of all traffic deaths in 2016, resulting from traffic crashes involving people walking.

Every year hundreds of pedestrians are injured or killed in traffic crashes. Since seniors are five times more at risk of dying from their injuries as those under 65, the majority of those who are severely hurt or lose their lives are seniors and members of the disability community. This year people like 76-year old Jeannie Yee who lost her life in Cow Hollow, 93-year old Ka Ben Wong who was killed in Russian Hill, and 77-year old Meda Hacopian who died near Lake Merced when she was struck by a car, have all been victims of unsafe streets!

Speak up for Seniors and People with Disabilities this Friday

Join Walk SF, Seniors and Disability Action, and members of the San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets in urging city and state officials to experience what it’s like to try to get around local streets every day as a senior, or as a person with one or more disabilities.

Rally with members of the community as they challenge legislators to walk or roll in “our shoes.” These safe street advocates will invite legislators to use wheelchairs, walkers, canes and other mobility devices and aids, as they attempt to cross Geary Boulevard at Masonic Avenue safely (two of the city’s high-injury corridors, the 13 percent of streets that make up 75 percent of all serious and fatal crashes).

For more information, or if you need transportation to the rally, contact: Pi Ra of Senior and Disability Action at 415.225.2080 or srira@sdaction.org.

We could ask for longer lights for cross the streets and street repair to make the streets less difficult to cross. It don’t take millions of dollars to change the timing on the traffic lights, or do a little pothole repair. What does it take for the SFMTA and other city agencies to do the quick, cheap fixes that don’t take years of planning and millions of dollars?

Salesforce buys naming rights to Transbay Transit Center

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s new downtown transit center will have something in common with AT&T Park and Oracle Arena — a corporate name.

Salesforce, a software company with its headquarters and 6,600 employees in the Bay Area, has agreed to a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship of the 2½-blocklong facility set to open next spring at Fremont and Mission streets. The deal includes naming rights, which means that the complex would be known as the Salesforce Transit Center.

Similarly, the 5.4-acre rooftop open space will become Salesforce Park if the board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority approves the contract Thursday at its monthly meeting.

The cloud-like Salesforce logo that adorns two towers near the transit center would not appear on the exterior of the new facility, however. Nor would Salesforce have veto authority on events held in the park, even those of rival corporations… (more)

What a coincidence. This naming announcement comes out right after the plaza re-design was heard in Planning. The Commissioners were not too supportive of the changes suggested this week. Let’s see if they feel more supportive next time.

RELATED:
Facebook to build a small city next to its headquarters

SFMTA Pulls Another Lucy on Us – This time giving our curbs to Scoot

City-Owned car parked in the daylight, and and pedestrian zones one day after SFMTA Board passed the resolution removing curb rights from property owners.

Day One After the SFMTA Board passed the Scoot Resolution giving Scoot a license to park at will FOR FREE on our city streets, including in our RPP zones, and in the painted red zones “curb cuts” next to our driveways, that they like to ticket us for parking in, a homeowner snapped the above photos of a city-owned vehicle “Air quality control” vehicle in a driveway on the corner, overlapping both the pedestrian intersection and the “daylight” on the corner, making it difficult to see around the corner and drive in and out of the  driveway.

This was on Wednesday, one of the spare-the-air days, so SFMTA is breaking a lot of their rules here by allowing this car out on the street on a spare-the-air day, when their employees could easily take a ride on one of the many Muni lines in this transit rich area, and stand on the street corner to do their counts.

After shooting the photos, The homeowner approached the car, tapped on the closed window. to get it rolled down, and told the driver he couldn’t park in the driveway on the corner. He said, and I quote, “We have work to do and there is a parking problem here.”

After accusing the guy of being sent here to gather data to remove more parking on 17th Street, the resident pointed out a  parking space across the street and let him know that there was ample shade over there so he could park and stand in the shade and do his job without being a nuisance. He ignored the request to move.

What did we learn this week?

We learned that the SFMTA Board has quietly removed our rights to park across our driveways without any public comment or discourse, in spite of warnings by Supervisor Fewer, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, and Board members Heineki and Hsu, that it may backfire on the Scoot program to throw so many wrenches into the works at one time. RESIDENTS may respond negatively to the Scoot program.

How do you feel about removal of curb rights for property owners?

The reasons given and the conversation about turning day-light parking areas over to Scoot are pretty infuriating. Thornley and Brikman got into a conversation about “curb rights” for property owners that have fed the SFMTA ticket machine for decades as they handed out tickets when owners complained. Thornley said SFPark, his baby, has been thinking of using corner areas for Scoots and shared cars and Brinkman decided now is as good a time as ever to change the tradition of curb rights for property owners.

A lot more was said but, the bottom line is that SFMTA pulled a Lucy by removing public parking rights under the guise of safety and is now turning those rights over to the private share enterprises that we are being inundate with in the name of clean air, safety, and you name it.

Why did the media not report this?

To their credit, there was a lot to report from the SFMTA Board meeting of June 20, 2017. They caught the big stories that required some digging to do a proper job on. I’m sure there will be plenty of complaints and negative Scoot stories out in no time. The SFMTA is testing our tolerance levels, putting Scoot in the cross-hairs, making Scoot the canary in the coal mine.

It is time for property owners, residents and merchants to rise to the occasion and demand a reversal of this plan. Call your supervisor and request a public hearing on this issue.  If you object to corporate giveaways to the disruptive technologies that are killing the cultures of our city through gentrification and displacement, avoid Scoot and let the owners know why you are avoiding Scoot. Pedestrian groups that supported day-lighting may have something to say about this as well as property owners since their protections are on the line.

Get your concerns into the Board, Ed Reiskin and your supervisors when you see something wrong. Complaint programs are explained here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/sfpark-compaints/

Many complaints about the way this meeting was conducted. People are looking into the manner in which the resolutions and amendments were passed. People who were there were not sure what happened and looking at the tape doesn’t make it any clearer.