San Franciscans want happy trails — not rocky roads

by Aaron Peskin: marinatimes – excerpt

Budget season has drawn to a close, and the city has made a significant investment in our city streets with the Board of Supervisors approving an additional $90 million in road work and resurfacing funds to be spent down over the next two years.

These are the funds that will be used to repave our city streets (600 blocks annually), extend or repair our sidewalks, paint our bike lanes, and fill pesky potholes. San Francisco Public Works is hiring more workers, and San Francisco has slowly increased its Pavement Condition Index Score…

The wrong signs get posted for the wrong projects on the wrong streets, construction equipment lies inactive for months in on-street parking spots, while a seemingly never-ending parade of orange-and-white striped A-frame signs line the streets letting merchants and residents know that they should brace for yet another construction project that might or might not have an actual public benefit. At the very least, it could be coordinated much better.

In addition, the hearing revealed that some repetitive projects are dropped from the city’s database, in violation of the city’s moratorium on digging up the city streets more than once in a five-year span. For example, the corner of Green Street and Columbus Avenue has been dug up at least four or five times in the last six years, yet San Francisco Public Works did not have that data for those jobs on file.

I am working with Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee on legislation that would create stricter conditions for subcontractors and would trigger a construction mitigation fund for projects that run over budget or drag on endlessly.

The time has come to make sure that we are managing San Francisco taxpayer money responsibly when it comes to our city streets; these safety and road resurfacing projects are priorities that shouldn’t have to be painful… (more)

This pretty well covers the frustrations that residents and businesses are feeling with the street construction repair program being set up and “managed” by the SFMTA. The subcontractors were a problem for the residents dealing with street trees and damaged sidewalks and the Supervisors solved that one. Now it is time for them to take on the street subcontractors.

At the top of the list of issues, is the lack of skilled labor in the construction business due to the overwhelming number of projects underway. We are doing too much too fast and the quality of the work is suffering because of the unrealistic pace. This is why we need to slow it down. We will be having talks this month over various options for solving this problem. Thanks to supervisors Peskin, Yee and Kim for taking this on.

NO NOTICE: A number of other issues were raised at the meeting described here. One is the most familiar of all that accompanies every complaint being raised from “overnight” tow-away signs to sudden contractors tearing up sidewalks without a visible permit – NO NOTICE ahead of the sudden pop-up construction work. Obviously the multi-million dollar noticing system that SFMTA is using to communicate with the public is failing to do the job. We need a new procedure of noticing.

As Supervisor Breed pointed out at the meeting, unnecessary controversial bulblouts and other street “improvements” are going onto small side streets with no accident history under the guise of “Safe Street improvements.” The SFMTA staff had no real excuse for this when quizzed on the matter.

A similar issue is ongoing with regard to the hated Red Lane “experiments” that were put into areas of the city, in including Mission Street, that were not designated as “experimental” areas, and the required “studies” for the “experiments” were not done in a timely fashion.

Concerned citizens conducted their own “unpaid” studies and discovery, and obtained documents showing an uptick in accidents on certain Red Lanes were not included in the final reports given to the state agency in charge of approving the extension of the Red Lane “experiments”. The SFMTA cherry picked the test areas that proved the Red Lanes improved the speed of the buses yet neglected to “share” the data that showed an increase in accidents on some of the “experimental streets.

Complaints were filed and if the judicial system works, the matter should be investigated.

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How many laws can one cyclist break in an intersection?

Op-Ed


Cyclist running red light at a railroad crossing photo by zrants.

I was headed north on Webster when I came to a stop light and stopped. As I looked to my right side I saw a cyclist approaching with a child on the back. The next thing I noticed was that Although the child was wearing one, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. He was wearing shorts and some kind of sandals. As I watched, he approached the intersection with the red light, and, instead of stopping like I did, he crossed in front of me like a pedestrian might, and then proceeded to cross the intersection against the red light on the other side and drove up onto the sidewalk, where he proceeded to continue on his way.

First, he wore no helmet, so, if he went down he would not be protected and able to help the child, who would also go down if he bike fell. Not very smart parenting.

Then, he did not stop at the red light. Instead he crossed the street in front of the stopped cars from right to left and then crossed against the light on the other side. He could have been hit by a vehicle proceeding through the green light, or a car making a right turn. He may or may not have been seen by either car, as he was weaving a bit through the potholes. Since he was breaking the law, and not following the rules of the road it was hard to anticipate what he was doing until he did it, making it harder for cars to avoid hitting him.

Then he drove up on the sidewalk.

I count four laws being broken at this one intersection. And he is teaching his child to break the laws. That is what really bothers me. Parents are putting their children in dangerous situations and teaching them bad habits at the same time.

Self-Driving Taxis Could Have a Vomit Problem

By David Welch and Gabrielle Coppola : bloomberg – excerpt (includes video and audio)

  • Managing self-driving rideshare fleets could be costly, yucky
  • ‘It is a really big issue and no one has figured it out’

It didn’t take long for Pritam Singh to learn a key lesson about working for Lyft. People are disgusting. They have a nasty habit of throwing up in moving vehicles.

Rideshare drivers are acutely aware that customers tend to do that, along with slightly less annoying things like wiping hamburger-greasy fingers on armrests and turning floor mats into swamps of slush. Singh, who ferries passengers for Lyft Inc. in Manhattan several evenings a week, drops about $200 a month cleaning — really, sometimes it feels like sanitizing — his Toyota Camry… (more)

People can be incredibly disgusting, and don’t respect other people’s property. If you take public transportation you know what to expect in a public car. Cars with no drivers are especially at risk of sustaining damage and being trashed.

But the major point of this article is that the industry is moving much too fast into unknown territory and there are a lot of reasons why the rush to robotize cars may not pan out to be as profitable as some people anticipate. Read the article and see what you think.

Bike Coalition Preps for Next Round of SoMa Fight

: streetsblog – excerpt (includes graphics)

FolsomHowardMap

Folsom and Howard Streets Slated for Redesigns

here are now four design options for a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)’s project to add parking-protected bike lanes, possible transit lanes, and wider sidewalks on Howard and Folsom Streets in the South of Market neighborhood (SoMa). Deciding what design concept is best–and which elements of each plan are good and bad–was the topic discussed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s (SFBC) 15-member SoMa committee on Thursday evening at the Public Architecture firm on Folsom Street.

“All four of these designs are pretty darned good. All four have pretty good protected bike lanes; physically separated bike lanes and that was the top priority,” said Charles Deffarges, community organizer for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) and leader of the SoMa committee. “We can steer these in the direction we want to see for people who ride in SF.”… (more)

Go to SFMTA’s PDF to see all the four conceptual alternatives for yourself. But here are the two that generated the most conversation among the SFBC’s SoMa committee, the #2 Bicycle Connectivity scheme, and #4 Two-Way Traffic Alternative:

Way to go SFMTA! Turn two of the major access streets to the Bay Bridge into a two-way, slower than ever bike-lane laden streets with bus-only lanes. Double the commute time for everyone and force us to breath twice the fumes by forcing cars to take twice as long to leave the city. Great way to kill a city. Speaking of killing, how are the emergency vehicles supposed to get around?

Don’t let SFMTA run uncontrolled

letter to the editor : sfchronicle – excerpt

Regarding “Commerce disrupted” (Letters, Jan. 3): The author’s comments about San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency changing lanes, parking, etc. throughout the city is right on! The association has taken on a life of its own over the years and appears to be able to do whatever they wish without any public input or supervision. Who handed them the keys to all the city streets? The heart of the city is the neighborhoods. Everything should be done to protect and promote the neighborhoods, as they are what makes the city unique. San Francisco is not a shopping mall. Politicians are already mistreating the residents by renting out publie streets and venues to corporate interests without regard to the inconvenience shouldered by the taxpayer. Stop the SFMTA’s ability to do as they wish without adequate consideration and input from the residents and small businesses.

Catherine Brady-Brown, San Andreas

Bicyclists Put $100,000 Bounty on Stanley Roberts’ Head

Posted By : sfweekly – excerpt
ad.jpg

San Francisco bicyclists have always despised KRON 4’s Stanley Roberts, but since the SFPD launched a crackdown on cyclists who disobey traffic laws, Roberts has been elevated to cyclists’ Public Enemy No. 1 (with the exception, perhaps, of Park Station Captain John Sanford).

The mutual antagonism between bikers and Roberts has now reached satiric proportions. An ad posted to Craigslist’s “bicycle parts for sale by owner” category is bluntly entitled “FUCK STANLEY ROBERTS,” and assigns a $100,000 bounty to his head… (more)

Getting real in the city streets

Does bad cyclist behavior in The Wiggle need some refereeing?

By John Angelico : sfgate – excerpt

If you cycle regularly in San Francisco, you’ve probably taken The Wiggle to get from Market Street to Golden Gate Park. It’s popular with cyclists because it’s flat and fairly quiet with not much vehicular traffic. The SFMTA has plans to make changes to the Wiggle route, including improving the stormwater management (stormwater… what’s that?) and adding some bulb-outs to calm traffic.

But why wait for the SFMTA to start calming that traffic? One cyclist will be out in the Wiggle (at Waller and Steiner) this Thursday at 3 PM to referee bad traffic behavior and other unsportsmanlike conduct by other cyclists:

While 95% of cyclists using the Wiggle are really incredibly respectful of other road users, there is that small minority who give us all a bad name. I’ve always wanted to dress as a referee and hand out yellow and red cards to bad cyclists (and maybe some cars and peds too) and I’m using NOW! as my excuse!  Come join me in shaming the few bad cyclists out there and making the Wiggle just a little bit safer and more courteous!… (more)

Sounds like some good ideas.

Helmet Law isn’t only route to safety for bike riders

: sacbee – excerpt

… State Sen. Carol Liu tends toward the latter viewpoint. On the heels of a new law requiring motorists to stay at least 3 feet from bikes on roadways, the La Cañada Flintridge Democrat introduced a bill last week to fine bicyclists $25 if they are caught riding without helmets. The law also mandates reflective clothing at night…

Liu’s compelling retort is that nine out of 10 bicyclists killed in accidents nationwide in 2009 weren’t wearing helmets. In 2012, the last year for which figures were available, California had 124 bike deaths, more than any other state…

As cycling has surged in California cities, motorists already are more cognizant of alternative traffic. But urban streets like Sacramento’s have become an obstacle course of bicyclists ignoring stop signs, riding on sidewalks, and pedaling down one-way streets and bike paths the wrong way.

Nationally, more than a quarter of bicycle deaths involve drunken cyclists, a rate that hasn’t budged since the 1980s, even as alcohol-impaired driving has fallen. We need to ramp up enforcement against these two-wheel scofflaws… (more)

SB 192, introduced by Senator Liu, would amend Section 21212 of the Vehicle Code, relating to bicycles, would  require to wear helmets and reflective clothing at night. The bill would impose a $25 fine for failure to abide by the law.

If you like the idea you know what to do.

 

S.F. traffic fatalities dip, but not bad behavior

By Heather Knight : sfgate – excerpt

Last January, this column proposed a rather modest, practical citywide New Year’s resolution: “However you traverse the city’s streets — be it in a car, on a bicycle or using your own two feet — calm down. Look around. Pay attention. Be considerate.”

After all, 21 pedestrians and four bicyclists were killed on the city’s streets in 2013, the highest total since 2001.

So how’d we do? Like probably most resolution makers, the city did a little bit better — but not a whole lot.

In 2014, 17 pedestrians and three bicyclists died, according to the San Francisco Police Department. Nine people on motorcycles or in cars also died.

Last year, we griped about the inconsiderate behavior of all users of our streets where speeding, honking, blowing through red lights and stop signs, swearing, showing off a certain finger, using a cell phone and just being completely oblivious seem increasingly to be the norm.

Police Commander Mikail Ali keeps records of all the traffic collisions and deaths and said the majority of them share something in common.

“A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior,” he said…

He shared a Police Department list of the circumstances behind each traffic death in San Francisco in 2014, and it’s true. The behavior — by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — is often downright shocking.

The list also makes clear that while many city drivers are awful, the collisions are not only their fault. The Police Department found that in the 17 pedestrian deaths, drivers were responsible for eight and pedestrians were responsible for nine. Bicyclists were responsible in all three instances when they died…

“This is not Star Trek, where some invisible force field is going to be created around people by the likes of city government,” he said. “The public has to do its part, and that means adhering to the rules of the road.”

He said he’s told constantly by people that they cross streets against the light or commit otherwise seemingly minor infractions.

“It’s kind of like playing Russian roulette,” he said. “Eventually something bad does happen.”… (more)