The unelected bureaucracies that keep us stuck in traffic

By Jackie Lavalleye : californiapolicycenter – excerpt

Inadequate roads are leaving Californians stuck in traffic. According to a 2016 study by Inrix, a data company that specializes in traffic-related analytics, Los Angeles, California has the worst traffic in the United States. San Francisco takes the number three spot, and San Diego comes in number 14. In all, 17 California cities rank among the 100 most congested cities in America.

Traffic congestion has many negative effects on cities and people, including reduced economic growth as well as adverse health effects for the people sitting in traffic. So who is responsible for our terrible traffic? A group of little-known public agencies have a federal mandate to plan and implement transportation-related projects – but they aren’t getting the job done for Golden State commuters.

In 1962, the federal government created Metropolitan Planning Organizations, usually called “Associations of Governments”, as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962. The purpose of these agencies is to bring together elected officials from various cities and counties within a metropolitan region for the purposes of planning regional transportation efforts. Further, the intention of this Act was to increase collaboration and cooperation among local governments within a region.

The boards of these organizations are not directly elected. Instead, local elected officials from member cities are appointed to serve on their boards. Day to day decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats.

Legally, many of the Associations of Governments in California are enforced by a Joint Powers Agreement. Per Nolo’s plain-english law dictionary, a Joint Powers Agreement is a “contract between a city and a county and a special district in which the city or county agrees to perform services, cooperate with, or lend its powers to, the special district.”… (more)

More data on the process that was used by the people who took over control of our lives may be found in the fourty year plan that was written and published by some familiar names and organizations that have taken control of our lives. Read the plan and see who has been involved from the start and how they planned and executed the disaster we are living in now, and what may be done about it. http://livablecity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tlc_path.pdf

Red transit-only lanes have no use in West Portal

By Sally Stephens : sfweekly – excerpt

MissionReds
Merchants blame the experimental Red Lanes on Mission Street for 30% loss of business. Photo by zrants.

One Red Lane too many : SFMTA is using Red Lanes like these on Mission Street to remove “blight” like thrift shops, small unique craft businesses and repair shops all over town as loss of easy access and parking divers customers away.

Studies of displaced communities all over the world prove that gentrification is killing neighborhoods and the unique community character that created the charm the new residents think they are moving into. Views are a past memory as new towers scrape for the clouds and fog moves inland as the trees that blocked it are removed for the hilltops.

The small collection of cobblers, repair shops and bookstores left on West Portal, are slated for extinction because they are on a “transit rich” street. Red Lanes are the answer to curb these hangers on. They must go to make room for more high rise units of housing, coffee shops, gyms and bike shops. Everything else will be delivered by Amazon drones soon, unless they get permission to have the self-driving vehicles roam the sidewalks.

One size doesn’t always fit all. Most of us know that, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has yet to learn that lesson.

The SFMTA recently received federal approval to expand red transit-only lanes to 50 streets throughout The City. While most are in the highly congested downtown and South of Market areas, others are not.

West Portal Avenue is one of the shortest streets included in the expansion. Two Muni light-rail trains and two bus lines travel at least one block on the street.

I go to West Portal nearly every day to shop, eat or meet friends. I see lots of trains and buses, but I rarely see one stuck behind a line of cars slowing it down. The trains move easily — sometimes, too fast — down the street. So, why does the SFMTA want to put red lanes there?

The Federal Highway Administration considers red transit-only lanes — like those painted on Mission Street — to be an “experiment” in speeding up mass transit. Indeed, the proposed expansion is also considered an experiment.

A few months ago, the SFMTA released a study of red lanes on three streets in The City’s northeast section and declared them a grand success. According to its blog, the SFMTA considers red transit-only lanes to be the “new standard” for city streets.

But this new standard may not be a good fit for West Portal…(more)

It is up to the residents and businesses to stand up and say San Francisco will not tolerate any more Red Lanes or experiments on our streets. People in the eastern neighborhoods tried to warn everyone and they were ignored. Now they are coming after everyone on the West side. It is time to act. Let you supervisor, Mayor and state and federal reps know if you are fed up and want to stop being the guinea pig for transportation experiments. Roll back the Red. Join the Sensible Transportation movement: http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

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.

Drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots

Kevin McCoy : usatoday – exceprt (includes video)

Searching for parking is more painful than ever for U.S. drivers.

Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for spots on streets, in lots, or in garages, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The hunt adds up to an estimated $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel, and emissions, according to the analysis by INRIX, a leading specialist in connected car services and transportation analytics…

Hunting for parking “imposes significant costs on our pocketbooks that we often don’t think about,” and also adds to (traffic) congestion,” said Bob Pishue, an INRIX transportation analyst and co-author of the report. “This is a problem not only drivers face, but local shops and businesses, too.” … (more)

Thank you Supervisor Yee for requesting a Controller’s analysis of the effect of large street projects on our local businesses, but, do we need more evidence that local businesses are at risk when parking is removed, lanes are reduced and getting round the city is a pain instead of a pleasure?

San Francisco residents need to be put on notice that the anti-parking and cars movement is purposefully being used to kill our local economy in favor of the Amazon jungle SFMTA planners envision for us. According to them we have too many retail businesses. Everybody should shop online and take deliveries. Not that there is a plan for delivery parking either. They were probably planning on sidewalk robots, but, that plan was put on hold to protect the walkers.

Who needs safe streets to walk down when you can put on your army boots and pack your weapon of choice as you stroll down the crowded sidewalk ankle-deep in waste to the street corner. If you are lucky we will picked up by a self-propelled vehicle or make your way up to the roof for the Drone delivery of your lunch. The not so fortunate must make their way to a crowded bus or walk if walking is still free.

This is where we are headed if we continue along the path they have chosen for us. Look at the designs of all the buildings and you can see the plan in action now. What does it take to change this picture? Stay tuned.

The anti-car traffic congestion and parking problems and street obstructions did not happen by accident. This condition was planned and implemented by the people you see and hear from every week at the SFMTA. They are the power brokers who are running the show. You can read their treatise and see exactly how rose to their positions of authority.

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?

Backpacks On Public Transit: Agencies, Commuters Weigh In

by Saul Sugarman : hoodline – excerpt

We’ve all been there: you’re having a pleasant ride on a Bay Area train or bus, only to get rudely smacked by someone’s bag.

SFMTA and BART officials have received complaints about the problem, but “of course” there is no direct policy to address it, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

However, her agency has put posters in many BART cars asking riders to please remove their bags and put them between their legs, she noted.

“It is an absolute fact: if everyone took their backpacks off and put their bags between their legs, we could fit more people on our train cars,” Trost said.

Some forthcoming BART cars offer remedies to the bag issue, she added. The agency’s “Fleet Of The Future” cars, a $2.6 billion project set to debut later this year, will have added room underneath seats for passengers to store their bags. And a new extension to Antioch will have cars that have luggage racks… (more)

I heard that schools no longer have lockers so student must carry everything in backpacks. When you force people into contraptions without seats and with no real consideration into what people need to carry with them, you should anticipate a lot of extra stuff on the bus.

When you expect everyone to use public transit for all their errands your virtual reality designs should anticipate a lot of stuff will accompany the passengers.

You must expect a lot of backpacks, baby carriage, grocery bags and luggage, along with the every present bikes and skateboards and every other imaginable personal items that people would normally put in a car or other personal vehicle if they had one to carry their stuff in.

I’ve got an idea for you, instead of having special compartments and special sections for putting the stuff, why don’t you just return the seats to the buses and make sure that everyone can sit comfortably with their stuff in their laps like they used to.

Leave it up to the SFMTA to take a system that works and screw it up!

They are at it again

Letter from a friend about the latest plan to replace a major traffic lane with a bike lane. This time the victims are Oak and Fell streets.

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

SFMTA is considering implementing bike lanes on Fell and Oak along the Panhandle, from Baker through Stanyan.  Attached is a feasibility study contained in a final memorandum dated August 22, 2016 from MTA.

The proposal includes:

·       Moving the parking lanes on the South side of Fell and the North side of Oak away from the Panhandle, and installing one-way bike lanes.  The parking lanes would “float” away from the curb, like those on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park; people parking wouldn’t have a curb to guide them.

·       Reducing the number of vehicular travel lanes on Fell and Oak from four to three.

·       Bicyclists in the bike lanes wouldn’t be required to stop for red lights at the intersections of Lyon, Central, Ashbury, Clayton, Cole and Shrader – pedestrians crossing Fell and Oak couldn’t rely on the red lights but would have to make sure no cyclist is coming.  Indeed, the ability of cyclists to go fast and not have to stop at traffic signals would be a major attraction of the bike lanes.  (See page 12.)

·       Around 75 of 280 parking spaces on the South side of Fell and North side of Oak along the Panhandle would be removed.  (This would be in addition to the parking spaces being lost on Masonic due to the Masonic project, and those lost in the neighborhood for corporate shuttle buses and car sharing rentals.)

·       Cyclists could continue to use the existing pedestrian/bicycle path in the Panhandle, besides using the new bike lanes.

Another version of the proposal envisions a two-way bike lane along the South side of Fell, and no bike lane along Oak.  This would require removing all parking spaces on the South side of Fell.

These bike lanes are being promoted by North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association (according to its bylaws, its Western boundary is Masonic) and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

I oppose this proposal because I believe it would endanger pedestrians (especially seniors, people with mobility and vision disabilities, small children and those in strollers), increase congestion and pollution, make the shortage of on street parking even worse, and increase conflicts between motorists and cyclists.  I don’t know how far along the proposal is.  I live on Fell and haven’t received any communication from MTA about it.

Instead of this proposal, the existing pedestrian/bicycle path in the Panhandle should be repaved, smoothened, better lit, and, perhaps, widened and otherwise improved.

Tricia Stauber, PRO|SF (Panhandle Residents Organization) Community Coordinator, has put together an online survey.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PndleSurvey
The survey is open until January 12 at 11:30 PM.

To express your opinion to the MTA Board, email:  MTABoard@sfmta.com and Roberta Boomer, Secretary to the Board, Roberta.Boomer@sfmta.com

To express your opinion to Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation, email:  ed.reiskin@sfmta.com

Thank you for considering this email.

Cordially,

 

panhandleprotectedlanes_preliminaryanalysis_final_08222016copy

 

 

 

 

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

SFMTA Board to review traffic, parking modifications for Arguello Boulevard Safety Project

By Nuala Sawyer : sfexaminer – excerpt

The SFMTA Board of Directors will review a new round of proposed changes to Arguello Boulevard on Tuesday, in anticipation of the safety improvement project’s construction groundbreaking. While the bulk of the project includes improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, this new round of changes will manage car traffic and parking along the busy corridor…(more)

How many projects does SFMTA have in mind for 2017 so far? We are losing count. Where would we rather spend our money this year. As David Chui has pointed out, there is a long list of at risk organizations that deserve some help. How would you prefer to spend your tax dollars in 2017?

Public Meeting for EIR on January 5, 2017

richmondsfblog – excerpt

The final Geary BRT EIR will be under review at an upcoming public meeting of the San Francisco Country Transit Authority (SFCTA) on Thursday, January 5, 2017 (2pm, City Hall, Room 250). At that meeting, the SFCTA will be asked to certify the EIR, which includes approving the design and configuration described in the EIR. The meeting, which will not be the last public discourse on the Geary BRT, is an opportunity for members of the public to speak their views on the Geary BRT project.

If the EIR is approved at the January 7 meeting, the project will then go into final design planning, which culminates with the SFMTA Board taking action to legislate every one of the recommended changes for the project.

But given the historic pace of the Geary BRT project so far, that is a ways off. The earliest any construction would begin is in 2018 on the downtown portions of Geary. It would not be until late 2019 / early 2020 that any construction would occur west of Stanyan.

To find out more about the Geary BRT and the release of the final EIR, please visit gearybrt.org.

Sarah B…(more)

Comments on the source as well as here are welcome…

There are so many issues involved with this project, we will have to get back on what they are, but, if you are concerned and want to oppose this, there are two meetings scheduled for next week with two different groups and each may be contacted with public comments. Sample letters and contacts are here:

Open Letter to the City Authorities:

Our plea to San Francisco city authorities is to delay the decision for 30 days and consider what you can better spend $300 million dollars on than cutting trees and digging holes on Geary and killing more local businesses like you did on Mission Street. We need economic impact and socioeconomic impact reports on all projects that involve shifting traffic on major commercial streets.

Wasting time and taxpayer money on a $300 million dollar boondoggle when there are thousands of homeless people on the streets who need immediate attention is a criminal act as far as many are concerned. For once the SFMTA should allow the much cheaper and less disruptive public plan to more forward. See if the public is smarter than the SFMTA. Just give us this one street to prove we can do it cheaper and get better results.

Notice there is no mention of safety here, only speeding Muni on Geary. Who ever came up with the idea of moving the BRT lanes from the curb to the center and back again? That cannot be a safe move. Already we have seen the results of merging traffic with the BRT on 3rd Street and merging bike lanes and traffic lanes without warning. What happened to merging lane warning signs? Bike lanes crossing over traffic lanes has got to be the worst way to protect cyclists.

This plan is all about moving more than $350 million dollars of taxpayer money from our pockets into the contractors’ bank accounts. Read the alternative plan and see if you don’t agree that it makes sense to try a different approach.

– Concerned San Francisco Citizen

Upcoming meetings on this issues listed on the SFCTA website:
http://www.sfcta.org/meetings-agendas-and-events#jan2017

Wednesday, January 4, 6 PM –  Geary BRT Citizens Advisory Committee – 1455 Market St., 22nd Floor – Details  CAC is scheduled to hear and vote on the Geary BRT.

Thursday, January 5, 2:00 PM –  Special Transportation Authority Board Meeting Room 250, City HallDetails This is where the Board of Supervisors, acting as the County is expected to approve the $350-360 million dollar Geary BRT large project authorization, before the public or the Board of Supervisors has sufficient time to review and analyze the large document that was just released on the 15th of December. CEQA still allows a 30 day period for public review and comment, so this will cut that allowance down, leading, once again to a violation of CEQA by the SFMTA.

SFMTA will have an excuse for fast-tracking their Geary BRT, so we need as many letters and people to protest against this outrage at this meeting as possible. Sample letter:  https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/geary-brt/

There is a second excellent letter requesting a delay that is here requesting that the Chairman of the SFCTA Board of Commissioners, Aaron Peskin, postpone the Geary BRT EIR vote for one month. Quite a few letters have gone out with that request.

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