The SFMTA has a priority problem

Letter to the editor : sfexaminer – excerpt
comment on Plan for bike lane on Turk Street in Tenderloin being reconsidered

I’m horrified that our city government prioritizes bikes ahead of public safety. I have witnessed firsthand the disaster that the SFMTA has created, confiscating public infrastructure and re-purposing for a vocal minority. Watching from Davies Symphony Hall, we were shocked to see an ambulance unable to get through Van Ness due to the newly confiscated lanes for a ridiculous bus lane and bike lanes.

During a ride along with the SFPD, officers had to slam over speed humps and screech around bulb-outs getting to an emergency call. I can only imagine what that would do to an ambulance occupant. And recently I turned right onto Eighth Street and nearly slammed into a concrete island that appeared in the middle of the right lane.

Why are we putting billions of dollars toward street redesign when we can’t even maintain them, can’t even plant trees? When seniors and disabled object to street redesigns, why do their voices fall on deaf ears? Why are the Bicycle Coalition and the SFMTA so powerful that they dictate an anti-car policy that endangers public safety?

When the Fire Department objects due to public safety concerns, they should be prioritized first. I pale to think the nightmare we will endure when they next earthquake hits and our emergency services, food and water can’t get through. It’s clear we’ll get no sympathy from the mayor, the Board of Supervisors and especially not the SFMTA (now affectionately known as Motorist Torment Authority).

As a 28-year resident of San Francisco and a supporter of subway expansion, I find myself unable to vote for funding for the SFMTA. They only cause misery and favor the 3 percent (or less) vocal minority.

Jamey Frank, San Francisco… (more)

We have been told that the bike coalition provides precinct workers. Those of us who worked some precincts know this is not the case in the districts we worked, so that excuse will not fly any more. There were lots of non-bicycle coalition precinct workers and the one Bike Coalition candidate lost big in the district he ran in. These supervisors don’t owe SFBC anything. If anyone is owned it is us.

If there is a reconsideration of the bike lanes it may be because people who work drive emergency vehicles stepped forward, complained, and stated that they are not responsible for loss of lives due to traffic congestion that precludes them from being able to do their jobs of saving lives and property when they are called to do so.

The public should demand an incident report that documents the results of ER vehicles being held up in traffic. How many claims have been filed? I have personally observed fire trucks stuck on Van Ness, (before the lane reduction) and on King Street in front of the stadium.

The New Muni Cars Have Arrived—See What They Look Like Inside

By Kelly Bonner : upout – excerpt

After the April announcement that we’d be getting new BART cars, SFMTA announced that Siemens, the developers of San Francisco Muni cars, are ready with a fleet of 260 new vehicles that are set to be delivered by end of 2016 to replace the current fleet of 151. This means that by 2017, you could be looking at these new designs that were previewed in the Embarcadero recently. They feature a new seating configuration, new color schemes (including green instead of red!), new exterior design and a host of other features. Shiny…

But one big change is that the majority of seats will most likely be laid out longitudinally, instead of transverse like they are now:…(more)

BART seats.JPG

New BART seat arrangement, photo by Zrants

The Siemens vehicles are rail cars but seats are also being eliminated on BART and probably the new buses as well.

Do you really want people standing on buses going up and down steep hills and stopping and starting constantly? If public vehicles have standing passengers they should move slower and start and stop slower, not faster. I practically fell into a wheelchair when BART started suddenly the other day. How many people can reach the hangers? What is the plan for children and short people who can’t grab onto a seat or pole? Hang onto strangers?

Removing seats is not the way to convince more people to take Muni to run errands that involve moving stuff. We have seen anti-backpack comments from bus riders who feel backpacks take up extra space. Packages, wheelchairs, baby carriages, luggage, pets, and bikes, among others, take up space and displace humans. How long before Muni starts charging extra for the stuff?

We insist on all private vehicle passengers wearing seat belts. Where is the protection for public vehicle riders?

Muni’s brand new buses struggle with SF’s hills, test results show

By : sfweekly – excerpt

Buses the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency recently bought from New Flyer Industries Inc. are not meant to tackle hills with a grade higher than 10 percent.

San Francisco is on a bus-buying spree. In the name of shoring up service, Mayor Ed Lee has invested nearly $26 million in purchasing new Muni buses since last year.

There is, however, a bump in the road: Some of Muni’s newest buses appear to struggle up San Francisco’s hills.

While the buses aren’t exactly rolling back down The City’s slopes, underpowered buses slow down Muni’s system, operators tell the San Francisco Examiner.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency tested its newest buses last November before letting rubber hit the cement, but the results of those tests — obtained by the Examiner — show Muni’s
new 60-foot electric buses don’t meet the agency’s own acceleration requirements for even moderately steep hills.

SFMTA officials told the Examiner they knew the buses couldn’t handle grades above 10 percent, so the agency would run them only on The City’s flatter routes.

Among the steepest routes in the Muni system are the 1-California and the 22-Fillmore. One portion of Fillmore is graded at over 18 percent, according to topographical maps.

Hills that steep will be off limits to the new buses.

The tests show, however, that the buses struggled even on the more modest hills — those measured in grades of 5 to 10 percent… (more)

We are a little too flabbergasted by the report. One wonders who is benefiting from this contract deal that has delivered slower buses on the hills, while the SFMTA is spending millions of tax-payer dollars destroying our streets to supposedly speed the buses up and save them seconds or minutes on each trip. WHO IS BENEFITING?

Suggest you read the entire document yourself, (see all the charts and graphs) and either write to the editor or author at the SFExaminer. Since there are no comments on the source site, comments are welcome here!

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Golden Gate Park bikeway is confusing

By Ellen Huet : sfchronicle.com – excerpt

When San Francisco officials chose Golden Gate Park for the city’s first separated bikeway, they knew the format – with parallel parking sandwiched between car traffic and bicycle lanes – would take some getting used to. A year later, however, the city’s efforts to educate cyclists and drivers have dropped off, and confusion is still rampant… …  (more)
Who’s responsible: Bond Yee, director of sustainable streets at the Municipal Transportation Agency, bond.yee@sfmta.com

Chronicle Watch : If you know of something that needs to be improved, the Chronicle Watch team wants to hear from you. E-mail your issue to: chroniclewatch@sfchronicle.com, or reach us on Twitter at@SFChronWatch and Facebook.com/sfchronwatch

What do you expect when SFMTA hires the SF Bicycle Coalition to design bike paths and they come up with ideas that run counter to the California highway design standards, as seen here:
Bikeway Planning and Design, p. 15 of the June 26, 2012 edition of the Highway Design Manual, 1003.2 Class II Bikeways (1) a, “Bike lanes shall not be placed between the parking area and the curb. Such facilities increase the conflict between bicyclists and opening car doors and reduce visibility at intersections. Also, they prevent bicyclists from leaving the bike lane to turn left and cannot be effectively maintained.”

Wonder how many rules have been ignored by the SFMTA in their rush to disrupt our lives. Who will file the first to
file a complaint.

San Francisco is no longer tourist friendly.

When natives can no longer get across town easily, how do they expect the tourists to navigate through this city with bike lanes where parking lanes should be and red and green and purple streets. SF has the dubious distinction of being the third most difficult city in the country to navigate. Way to go, SFMTA. Do you feel safer with a lot of stressed out drivers behind with wheel?

To add insult to injury, we hear that a consortium of the SF Bicycle Coalition, Nelson/Nygaard, and individuals working for the SFMTA, have a hired lobbyist to to re-write the rules to legalize the Gold Gate Park disaster. Your tax dollars at work?

Just when your thought the SFMTA was going to work on fixing the muni, they come up with more plans for bike paths and subways, but nothing for Muni riders.
Spot-By-Spot, or Route-By-Route? SFMTA Refines Its Bicycle Strategy
Pricey Central Subway contract leaves little room for future cost overruns, “…$100 million more expensive than originally anticipated…”

Eyes on the Street: Parking Progress on Baker at Fell and Oak Streets

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.org – excerpt

After the SFMTA last week announced another delay for safety improvements on three blocks of Fell and Oak Streets, work began today on another aspect of the project: a reconfiguration of Baker Street between Oak and Fell, which is used by eastbound bicycle riders to connect from the Panhandle to Oak and the Wiggle. As of this afternoon, the previous striping had been removed and temporary markings put in place.
The SFMTA’s plans for Baker include converting car parking on the west side of the street from parallel spaces to back-in angled spaces, which will partially offset the roughly 100 spaces to be removed by the Fell and Oak protected bike lanes. By making that change, along with perpendicular space conversions on Baker between Oak and Haight Streets and Scott Street south of Haight, 43 parking spaces will be added (another 14 spaces are being created by removing two bus stops on Hayes Street at Broderick and Lyon Streets). … (more)

This looks scary on paper. I am glad I don’t have to park there. This back-in parking across a bike lane looks like a lot of fun. This assumes people have good rear vision and that cyclist will not ignore the drivers who must divert their eyes from the road to park .

Bicycle lane in Golden Gate Park cause for concern

By Thomas K. Pendergast : The Richmond Review, January 2013– excerpt

On a Saturday morning the foreign tourists queued up in front of a bus near the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.
Standing scattered across a bicycle lane in a loose group of about a dozen people, they did not notice a bicyclist bearing down on them. He whistled first, then yelled “hello!” at them so they would see him coming.
The tourists moved and let him through but the confusion was on every face. Why was this bicyclist so pushy and why didn’t he just go around the bus on the other side?
They obviously had no idea that they were blocking his bicycle lane…
City planners and the SF Bicycle Coalition are set to create more of these “cycle tracks” around San Francisco but opposition is growing against the design found along John F. Kennedy Drive, near the east side of Golden Gate Park, with some disabled people and even some bicyclists saying that this design is more dangerous for them than not having any bike lanes at all(more)

We have already run a story or two on this design that does not meet state standards. Now we see the design is bad for tourists, physically challenged and elderly people as well.

From an earlier post:
State designs standards.
p. 15 of the June 26, 2012 edition of the Highway Design Manual, 1003.2 Class II Bikeways (1) a, “Bike lanes shall not be placed between the parking area and the curb. Such facilities increase the conflict between bicyclists and opening car doors and reduce visibility at intersections. Also, they prevent bicyclists from leaving the bike lane to turn left and cannot be effectively maintained.”

Wonder how many rules have been ignored by the SFMTA in their rush to disrupt our lives. And, we wonder who will file the first complaint.
Bikeway Planning and Design

Continue reading

New JFK bike lanes are bad for everyone

Steven T. Jones : SFBG.com – Excerpt

Golden Gate Park visitors have had a couple months to get used to the confusing new lane configurations on JFK Drive – with bike lanes along the edges of the road and a row of parked cars in the middle – and I have yet to hear from anyone who likes this design. Nice try, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, but this design isn’t working for any road users and should be scrapped…

Now, because the SFMTA tried to accommodate motorists with too many new parking spots in Golden Gate Park – despite previous promises to decrease street parking in the park in exchange for building a massive underground parking lot – we’ve ended up with a messy design that only exacerbates conflicts between motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. In their effort to please everyone, as is often the case, they have pleased nobody…

Not so fast. Inquiring minds want to know how much money was spent on this experiment in Golden Gate Park that most rate as a failure, and how many hours of executive SFMTA time are going into non-Muni projects? When SFMTA claims they have a multi-million dollar budget Muni deficit and demands more funds, the citizens deserve a detailed explanation of where all SFMTA funds are coming from and where they are going. They also deserve a city government that supports their needs.

Park bike lanes: bad design

letters to The Editor – excerpt

Park bike lanes: bad design

I can’t believe the Bicycle Coalition agreed to the new bike lane design in Golden Gate Park.
Cyclists now ride in a lane between the curb on the right and parked cars on the left. You have cyclists, in-line skaters, rental bikers, and children all stuck in the same lane with pedestrians trying to get to and from their cars.When I’ve ridden it, I’ve had to dodge a child darting out from between the cars and a family of five who strolled across the bike lane confused about where to go. I’ve also been stuck behind Segways and rental bikers, forcing me and another rider to go out into the traffic lane just to top 5 mph.
But of course the traffic lanes are now thinner to make room for the new bike lanes. So we’re left with one non-functional, unsafe lane and another mildly functional unsafe lane. Meanwhile, cars have less room to maneuver, and people getting out of their parked cars are forced to try to avoid traffic on one side and cyclists on the other. I can’t figure out who thought this was a good idea. The old lanes were fine – why change them?
Tom Kleinhenz, San Francisco

Sunday parking fee won’t help

Ed Reiskin’s response (“Why a Sunday parking fee,” Letters, April 7) to The Chronicle’s editorial on Sunday parking meters bordered on absurdity.
Reiskin wants San Franciscans to believe the primary purpose of Sunday meters is not to raise revenue but to help merchants – despite the fact that Muni has a huge hole in its budget and Reiskin’s primary purpose is to close it.
You don’t recall merchants clamoring for Sunday meters? That’s because they weren’t.
Merchants know that Muni’s outrageous parking ticket fines, meter rates and now Sunday parking meters is logically driving business away as potential customers choose less costly parking options outside of the area.
While San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles are all openly and honestly addressing their rising employee benefit costs, our city leaders seem to believe that gouging middle-class residents (who enjoy no such benefits) under the phony guise of “modernizing antiquated parking policies” is some form of solution.