Lawrence Solomon: Ban the bike! How cities made a huge mistake in promoting cycling

By Lawrence Solomon : finanacialpost – excerpt

Cycling lanes consume more space than they free up, add to pollution and drain the public purse

The bicycle has come a long way since the 1980s when bicycle advocacy groups (my group, Energy Probe, among them) lobbied against policies that discriminated against cyclists. In the language of the day, the bicycle epitomized “appropriate technology”: It was a right-sized machine that blessed cities with economic and environmental benefits. At no expense to taxpayers, the bicycle took cars off the road, easing traffic; it saved wear and tear on the roads, easing municipal budgets; it reduced auto emissions, easing air pollution; it reduced the need for automobile parking, increasing the efficiency of land use; and it helped keep people fit, too.

Today the bicycle is a mixed bag, usually with more negatives than positives. In many cities, bike lanes now consume more road space than they free up, they add to pollution as well as reducing it, they hurt neighbourhoods and business districts alike, and they have become a drain on the public purse. The bicycle today — or rather the infrastructure that now supports it — exemplifies “inappropriate technology,” a good idea gone wrong through unsustainable, willy-nilly top-down planning…

Cars have been squeezed into narrowed spaces that slow traffic to a crawl

As a consequence of the idling traffic, pollution levels have risen, contributing to what is now deemed a toxic stew. Ironically, cyclists are especially harmed, and not just because the bike lanes they speed upon are adjacent to tailpipes. According to a study by the London School of Medicine, cyclists have 2.3 times more inhaled soot than walkers because “cyclists breathe more deeply and at a quicker rate than pedestrians while in closer proximity to exhaust fumes …(more)

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SF Supervisors Save Hairball Improvements from Lengthy Environmental Review

: sfstreetsblog – excerpt

Mapsofchanges

From the SFMTA’s presentation. Image: SFMTA

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to reject an appeal for a lengthy environmental review of proposed bicycle and pedestrian improvements to the Hairball, a mess of streets, ramps, sidewalks and bike lanes that come together at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and 101.

As SF Bay reported, the appeal was filed by attorney Mary Miles on behalf of the “Coalition for Adequate Review,” alleging that the project was illegally cut up into smaller pieces to avoid a comprehensive and legally required environmental review…

A list of all the planned Hairball improvements and a timeline for their installation is available on the SFMTA web page…. (more)

 

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/

The worst neighborhoods for parking in San Francisco

By Mike Moffitt : SFGATE – excerpt  (includes map)

SF collects millions in parking fines every year

In San Francisco, parking regulation enforcement helps ensure that spaces are turned over, bus zones are not blocked, street sweepers can do their job and residential spaces are reserved for residents.

But they also have another purpose — making millions for the city.

Recently we wrote about a new app that pinpointed the 10 most parking ticket-prone blocks in San Francisco.

Now we’re looking at which neighborhoods hand out the most parking citations — and reap the most money… (more)

RELATED:

S.F.’s Worst Block for Parking Pain

By Michael Cabanatnuam and Steve Rubentstien : sfchronicle – excerpt (linked file)

More than 4,000 tickets issued last year on street riddled with confusing signs, changing rules South of Market. (download pdf)

“Parking, which is horrible everywhere in SF and is especially horrible on the 300 Block Townsend” between Fourth and Fifth Streets. This block, located next to the train station, has many conflicting signs regarding traffic and parking instructions.

Thank you Spot Angle for gathering and sharing the data on parking and traffic tickets in SF, and thank you SF Gate and SF Chronicle for conducting further research and reporting on this most irksome issue that plague our citizens.

The public is confused and outraged over many issues on our streets and tickets are responsible for a lot of that anger . Many tickets are issued unfairly and can be contested successfully if you have the time to go to at least two or three hearings.

Muni riders are not immune from erroneous tickets. Many riders complain about tickets issued because of false readings on scanners. This is one more reason people are getting off the bus.

So, what is City Hall going to do about it? They are conducting hearings on a lot of complaints related to street projects. Add this one to the list  We suggest a citizens’ review of all future signs be added to the public outreach of street projects to assure the signs at least make sense and are understood by some humans who know the neighborhood. Tickets given out where signs and rules conflict, should be disregarded as incentive to the department to fix the problem.

SF mulls Uber and Lyft fees, gas tax for transportation funding

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Transportation Task Force 2045 is weighing possible measures for future ballots to fund Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure in The City…

2045? They can’t get 2017 right so they are skipping ahead a few years to fix those problems. Who are they kidding?

San Francisco is mulling a 20-cent-to-$1 fee for Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco to fund local transportation, like Muni, among a suite of more than 20 potential tax measures.

From a tax on companies in the “gig economy” like TaskRabbit, to a gas tax, those measures are aimed at raising millions of dollars for Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure throughout The City.

The new ballot measures in the form of taxes, fees and bonds may be introduced in the near and far flung future, with some measures introduced as early as 2018 and others — including the potential Uber fee — in years to come, because they require changes in state law, according to city documents…(more)

City Hall is living beyond its means. That is the message the voters sent when they opposed the sales tax. Gentrification is not just based on rent rates. Each tax adds to the cost of living. Property taxes raise rents. Gas taxes and fuel tax raises the cost of goods that need to be transported, such as food. Now that we are using less water they want to tax the tap water.

This is a prime example of privatization of our city streets

What are we going to do about it?

photo of rental parking and vehicle parked in daylight zone by zrants

SFMTA is NOT eliminating cars from our streets. They are replacing our cars with corporate-owned cars by creating unfair parking policies and signing private agreements that give parking preferences to corporate vehicles through a repressive parking program. They are selling public parking right-of-ways to their choice of private enterprises. SFMTA is picking winners and losers without regard for public opinion or engagement. Agreements and contracts are signed years before the pubic is notified.

What is the difference between privately owned Ford Gobikes, and Scoot parking spots for scooters or cars? They all remove public right of ways on public streets. Some corporations don’t even pay for the rights to do so because they created a deal to “share” the profits with the government entities that are removing your parking. (The first agreement was signed by MTC, a regional entity to conduct a pilot project to test the program. A more recent agreement was signed by SFMTA with Motivate that detailed how they would “share” profits. This agreement also gave Motivate much of the “free” curb parking space that belonged to the public. Motivate doesn’t even pay for the permit to install the bike stands. You do.) Who asked your permission to remove your parking rights?

Sharing or taking: The SFMTA is removing space from the public and giving exclusive right to use of that space to on-demand systems, they call “sharing” systems. As some supervisors have famously pointed out, sharing does not involve cash transactions. Free parking on city streets is true sharing and that is what the SFMTA is eliminating.

We have two choices to stop the privatization of our city streets:  One of them is to sue the city. The other is to remove the powers an authorities that the agency has uses to remove our rights. through the ballot intiative system. To do that you need to convince four Supervisors to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot to repeal or amend Prop E to alter the powers of that system. Or you need to collect a lot of signatures to put it on the ballot. Either one takes a lot of time and money and effort.

Talk to the candidates. Start by demanding support for change from the candidates running for mayor and supervisor positions. All the even numbered districts are up for election and candidates are looking for support now, along with those running for mayor. Find your local neighborhood groups and work through them to demand change.

Scoot is adding battery-swapping cars to its San Francisco lineup

By Roberto Baldwin : endgadget – excerpt

The short-term scooter rental company is teaming up with a Chinese automotive startup to add more cars to its fleet.

If you spend any time in San Francisco you’ll see them. The red electric scooters with a white lighting bolt and the word “Scoot” plastered on the side of the cargo box. Scoot, the company behind these ubiquitous two-wheeled vehicles has been able to litter the city with over 700 of these bikes that can be picked up and dropped off via an app almost anywhere within the city. Now, the short-term rental company is eyeing cars.

According to Scoot founder and CEO Michael Keating, the electric scooter rental service has been used by almost 50,000 users since it launched in 2012. An impressive number, but as pointed out by Keating, not everyone is comfortable braving the perilous streets of San Francisco on two wheels. With that in mind, he announced a partnership with Chinese automotive startup CHJ to bring the automaker’s yet-to-be-released small electric car with swappable batteries to San Francisco… (more)

Privatization of our city streets.

We have two choices to stop the privatization of our city streets. One of them is to sue the city. The other is to give the pubic right to determine the future use of our city streets through the initiative process. To do that you you need to convince four Supervisors to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot to repeal or amend Prop E to alter the powers of that system.

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/

Transit New regulations for jitneys leave ban on Muni competition in flux

By Joe Fitgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco transportation officials approved The City’s first-ever regulations for jitneys Tuesday.

The regulations will require private transit to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles and to submit operating data to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, among other new rules.

A controversial ban on allowing private transit routes to mirror Muni routes is still in flux, however, and SFMTA staff said the provision to curtail duplicate service needs more work behind the scenes.

The SFMTA Board of Directors approved the regulations Tuesday after a heated discussion, and asked staff to come back to the board with its final proposal to ban competition with Muni…(more)

What do routes have to do with competition when the whole point of the service is “on-demand” pick-up and drop off. There is no competition since Muni doesn’t offer that service. The routes a vehicle travels on between the pickup and drop off spots is irrelevant to the beginning and ending points, and probably has more to do with traffic flow than anything else.

Regulate Chariot, charge fair-market value for use of government property

Op-ed by Susan Vaughan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos by zrants

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is an vital organization in The City’s efforts to combat climate change and income inequality. In its 2016 Annual Report, the SFMTA announced a 10 percent increase in service, daily ridership of 725,000 and one-year reductions of nearly 45 percent in carbon emissions…

In recent years, private, for-profit carriers that The City doesn’t regulate or regulates loosely, and that exclude many categories of riders, have proliferated on local streets: the technology shuttle buses, aka “Google” buses; transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission; and now private transportation vehicles (PTVs)…

This is legal. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, local cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions (permits to operate taxis) arguing that the medallion fee — $250,000 — was an illegal tax. A legal brief, signed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Wade Snodgrass, made the winning argument that the medallion “grants its holder the ‘special privilege’ of ‘us[ing] … public streets for private enterprise.” Elsewhere, they wrote: “California law … [authorizes] local government entities to allow the private use of public property, and to sell or lease public property, at market rates … in order to protect the public fisc.” In fact, in 2010 town hall meetings, the proposed medallion fee was identified as a source of revenue to support the SFMTA. But those medallion fees have dropped into negative numbers because of the competition from TNCs… (more)

The Board of Directors must include fair-market charges for every PTV — and shuttle bus — for “[t]he right to use streets as a place of business for private gain.”

Susan Vaughan is a local transportation advocate... (more)

How is Chariot different from Tech buses and hospital shuttles? Why are we dealing with so many different attitudes toward the same thing? Should not all these “private” transportation systems that transport the public be “regulated” is equals? The SFMTA should not be in the business of regulating private vehicles. They should stick to doing the one thing they can barely do. They should fill the holes in the road they dug up and they should manage the Muni. If the Muni were properly managed it would BE the choice of most people.

What does the director of the agency do with this time? He sits on many boards and does a lot of back slapping and self-congratulatory speeches, claiming he runs the best transit system in the world, while San Francisco traffic and businesses are being run into the ground by a construction nightmare of his own making.

City Hall is anticipating offering small sums of cash grants and low-interest loans to prop up the failing businesses long enough to get through the various hopelessly behind schedule construction projects, many neighborhoods opposed to begin with. Maybe we need to let the director go and work on his private projects and hire a new focused one who can get the jobs done effectively, ONE AT A TIME instead of 29 at a time.

If all the street construction projects went away tomorrow no one would care about the Chariots, tech buses, Muni, delivery trucks or taxis. The street constructions are creating the headaches for everyone and sucking up the Muni money. Kill the projects and you can have a free Muni.