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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Could Department of Livable Streets fix SF parking and traffic?

By Matier & Ross  : sfchronicle – excerpt

With the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s parking and traffic management becoming a bigger political issue, plans are being revved up for a City Charter amendment that would hand those jobs to a new Department of Livable Streets.

The MTA board would still hear all parking and traffic matters, but the Board of Supervisors would have the final say over parking rules, stop signs and the like.

“The buck stops with the Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, one of the initiative’s sponsors. “I don’t want to be held accountable for something I have absolutely no control over.”..

Safaí cited his frustration over the MTA’s decision to reject a two-year effort by his Excelsior constituents to get a four-way stop sign at the corner of Avalon Avenue and Edinburgh Street — where a pedestrian was later killed.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is co-sponsoring the ballot move, said the final straw for him was hearing that Mayor Ed Lee, with support from the MTA, was negotiating with ride-hailing giants to turn parking spaces into designated pickup stops for Uber and Lyft.

Safaí and Peskin need four more supervisors to sign onto the Charter amendment to get it on the June 5 ballot. They’re confident they’ll get there…(more)

Now we know more details about the proposed SFMTA Charter Amendment and what pushed the supervisors over the edge – lack of response from SFMTA to a citizens’ request, and the privatization of public streets. We have all experienced these problems and been helpless to solve them. The elected Board of Supervisors should be able to get a bit more done to clean up this mess.
If you agree with the plan to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot, let the supervisors and everyone else know. Contacts

RELATED:
Advocates Align to Fight Proposal to Split Muni/SFMTA
The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Transit Riders have come out hard against a proposal to split Muni, operator of San Francisco’s buses and trains, from the rest of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also oversees street design, stoplights, signs, and taxi and parking regulations.
The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to put the amendment on the June, 2018, ballot tomorrow/Tuesday, 2 p.m., at its regularly scheduled meeting.

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.

L-Taraval: SFMTA Seeks To Remove Parking, Add Boarding Islands

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

With the recent release of the final results of a six-month boarding zone pilot, SFMTA hopes to add boarding islands and remove multiple stops to make the L-Taraval corridor safer for pedestrians and passengers.

The boarding zone pilot took place over a six month period at inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues and included improved signage, flashing lights and painted lane markings to alert drivers…(more)

As you can imagine the removal of these stops is not popular with Muni riders on the L-Taraval. They will show up and are asking for support from other Muni riders and people who oppose bus stop removal at the SFMAT Board Meeting on December 5th. Please see this letter from Paula of Save Our L Taraval Stops!

It all comes down to longer walks to the Muni or longer rides on the bus. Who gets to decide? The riding public or the SFMTA? Next time you get to vote on SFMTA’s continued control over Muni, remember they took away your Muni seats and stops and that is why you are walking longer and standing on the bus.

Get more details on how your can help:
https://savesfmuni.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/l-taraval-sfmta-seeks-to-remove-parking-add-boarding-islands/

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)

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!

 

Many California voters don’t like state gas tax increase, poll finds

By Dan Walters : sfchronicle – excpert

California’s top politicians and interest groups celebrated a few months ago when the Legislature passed a package of taxes and fees to pay for long-neglected improvements to the state’s transportation systems.

The heart of the $5-plus billion per year revenue package is a 12-cent-a-gallon hike in gasoline taxes that took effect this month, just as other factors, including a spike in global oil prices, hit pump prices that were already among the nation’s highest.

When they filled up their tanks this month, California motorists typically paid 40 to 50 cents per gallon more than they had been paying a month earlier.

As the tax increase went into effect, the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences were conducting one their periodic public opinion polls.

The results were potentially devastating for the political, business and labor union groups that had pushed successfully for the transportation package after decades of delay. Most of California’s registered voters would opt to eliminate the gas taxes and fees, the polling found…

If repeal succeeds, the state’s highways, streets and transit systems will continue to deteriorate, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s successor and legislators will have to deal with it.

One option might be to divert more revenue from the sale of carbon emission credits under the state’s cap-and-trade program to transportation, and less, or perhaps none, to Brown’s pet bullet train project…(more)

What the author fails to mention is that there are now two gas tax repeal bills moving forward and that one of them includes a NO MORE TAXES without voter approval element. What is also missing is any mention of the 20 cents per gallon tax on diesel that will have a devastating effect on the price of goods transported by trucks, especially the price of food. The last thing California needs is another inflationary tax that increases the cost of food.

Larkspur parking spaces lost as SMART moves in

By Mark Prado : marinij – excerpt

Larkspur ferry riders will have 300 less spaces to choose from now that the Golden Gate Bridge district must give up a portion of parking to make way for SMART’s Larkspur extension…

As work continues to bring commuter rail south from San Rafael, a portion of a parking area for Larkspur ferry patrons will be permanently closed Wednesday.

That will result in the loss of about 300 spaces. While the area is usually lightly used during the work week, ferry riders going to Giants games or to special events in San Francisco served by the boats do use them as other lots swell.

In order to get trains through the Cal Park Hill Tunnel and to the Larkspur stop, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency needs the area to construct a station and other amenities as part of the $55.4 million project. The parking area is situated up a hill above 300 Larkspur Landing Circle. SMART plans to commence its Larkspur service in 2019… (more)

Here is a perfect example of how regional transportation systems under state directives, play musical chairs with the commuting public:

They remove service for existing riders under the guise of adding more future customers to their the “future perfect” system they are designing for. Meanwhile, drivers are faced back in their cars to cope with the loss of service. The winners in this game are the planners, consultants, developer sand the politicians they support. The losers are the commuters.

The Best thing voters can do is take back our streets and kick the “future perfect’ planners out at the ballot box when they get the chance. Grill the candidates on thee topics before you pledge support for them.