SF politicians, bicyclists and others gear up for bike lane changes

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

Supervisor Hillary Ronen is living in fear.

Her husband takes their young daughter to school nearly every day on the back of his bicycle and, nearly every day, she’s haunted by mental imagery of the two of them being doored or sideswiped or otherwise coming to grief on Valencia Street. San Francisco’s major cycling artery is also ground zero for Uber and Lyft drop-offs and pick-ups, a mixture about as combustible and ominous as locating a match factory next to the lighter fluid depot.

These are the sorts of things that wander into Ronen’s mind during endless public comment sessions in Board of Supervisors meetings.

Valencia Street forms the border between Ronen’s District 9 and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy’s District 8. Sheehy — who worked as a bike messenger when he arrived in this city in 1988 to underwrite food, beer and $300-a-month rent — recently donned an aggressively yellow shirt and served as a human protected bike lane

Installing  protected bike lanes of the sort everyone professes to want on Valencia is going to require overcoming two sorts of obstacles: logistical and political. It’s not clear which will be more difficult… (more)

Valencia is a disaster for everyone. The street is not safe after dark. Expensive restaurants are car magnets and they need regular delivery services. Not a good recipe for a bikers’ paradise. I avoid it but if there are limited turns on the street, how will the drivers get to the side streets?

If cyclists don’t feel safe with cars, maybe City Hall needs to rethink the bike path program and separate bikes from the cars by taking them off the major arterial streets and putting them on the slower side streets. Allow the traffic to flow, free up public parking and give the bikes their own routes. At least try it on some streets and see if the friction goes away.

Motor vehicles get the major streets, bikes get the minor ones, and pedestrians get the sidewalks. It doesn’t hurt to try a separation in some areas to see if the war between the modes does not calm down before things get really ugly. Use the money to fix the potholes and improve Muni service instead of painting the streets.

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New plan to ban encampments at ‘Hairball’ emerges as homeless and cyclists clash

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

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City officials are exploring ways to remove encampments from the “Hairball” to address the growing number of clashes there between cyclists and homeless people…

The new parking restrictions and bike lane are the first steps among dramatic changes by city officials coming to the Hairball, as bicyclists and people living on the streets increasingly clash…

Peggy Howse, owner and president of All Seas Wholesale, a fish distributor located on Jerrold Avenue said… parking restrictions on Jerrold Avenue may hurt her workers, who travel from as far as Antioch and already battle for parking with nearby RVs…

But in an SFMTA board meeting on Sept. 21, staff said parking restrictions on nearby Barneveld Avenue were put in place to ensure nearby employees could fairly compete with RVs for parking.

Leave it to SFMTA to claim that by eliminating parking spaces they are making parking more available by forcing more competition for parking spaces. Not sure which of the new math programs they studied where subtraction equals more not less, but, most of us live in the real work where subtracting gets us less not more.

Some vitriol from local cyclists has emerged on social media and among the cycling community, concerning the Hairball and its tent-living residents. Cyclists also often vent frustration alleging they’re targets of theft for “chop-shops” run at homeless encampments… (more)

Given the constant nasty comments on social media and the new lack of civility in San Francisco you might want to consider who is moving here and why you may prefer less of them. People used to move here because they loved San Francisco the way it was. Now they come to get rich and change it.
Plan Bay Area forecasts elimination of 40% of the middle class. For that plan to happen, middle class citizens will leave or become extremely rich or extremely poor. Think about that next time you consider who you want to represent you at City Hall. Ask them how they feel about the Plan Bay Area.

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

by John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

The ongoing Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement Project has a clumsy name only a bureaucrat could love, and many merchants on Union Street definitely don’t love one of the project’s features: the loss of a left-turn onto Union Street from Van Ness. They say it has hurt business on their street because of a loss of traffic; drivers on Van Ness just find it easier to drive onward and shop elsewhere. One idea being mooted is seeking about $1.5 million in compensation from the city for their loss of business…

Karnilowicz doesn’t know what will happen regarding compensation, but the situation is not going to go away. He points to a presentation by the city’s Controller’s Office, which studied the impact on local businesses of similar construction projects by measuring the change in sales taxes; in one, West Portal, there was a 12 percent drop in sales tax. “That’s like a 12 percent [decline] in income,” Karnilowicz says; for some businesses, “that’s what their profit margin is.”…(more)

Just say NO to more taxes next time SFMTA comes begging for more. Merchants and pissed off residents who want to live and work in San Francisco should continue opposing tax increases for transit projects to send a clear message to City Hall that they are fed up with streetscape projects. Send letters and comments and complaints to your supervisor and the candidates running for office. Make sure they hear your demands for a freeze on new construction until the current projects are completed. Don’t be shy with your state reps either. Let them know you don’t buy the “we need more money for transit” line when you see more streets being torn up every day. City contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/san-francisco-officials/
State contacts: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/state-legislators/

SF households may lose parking permits to free up spaces citywide

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Can’t find a parking spot near your home in The City? You’re not the only one.

To ease neighborhood parking woes, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is undertaking its first major overhaul of residential parking permits since they were established in 1976.

But first, the agency is starting small.

The SFMTA Board of Directors will consider on Tuesday approval of a pilot program to slash the number of residential parking permits per household in two neighborhoods — northwest Bernal Heights and the Dogpatch — which may become law citywide by 2019.

Under the original parking permit rules still in place today, The City grants more parking permits than there are spaces available, SFMTA staff told reporters Wednesday…(more)

 

Holding Company behind Motivate is Bikeshare Holdings LLC. By most counts this is not a neighborhood friendly organization.

 

Bikes and more bikes, everywhere you look are blue Ford GoBikes in the stations in the Mission. Don’t see many peddling around but there are a lot on them parked at the stations, especially near public parks and in front of businesses like grocery stores. photo by zrants.

We just unearthed a lot of details about the Motivate group behind Ford GoBikes. Motivate is held by Bikeshare Holdings LLC, one of the largest luxury developers in New York City. If you oppose gentrification sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/hillary-ronen-no-corporate-bike-rentals-in-the-calle-24-latino-cultural-district

Motivate has a private/pubic partnership agreement with MTC. MTC allocates government tax and grant funds including your tax dollars. We already already covered the relationship with MTC and SFMTA. We were lacking in details about Motivate. This should fill in those gaps. To see the rest of the story go here: Ford-gobike-bay-area-bikeshare-update/

According to their PR campaigns and reported by several sources, a national bike-share program was set up by Bikeshare Holdings LLC to soften local opposition by removing street parking, claiming they are complimenting public transit for everyone. The real goal is to gentrify neighborhoods, raise property values, and make room for the luxury housing Related Company builds. (Details can be found in their press releases and on streetsblog and other articles). 

Bikeshare Holdings LLC was founded in 2014 by two CEOs – Jeff Blau is (or was) the CEO of Related Companies. Related builds luxury housing. Harvey Spevak is the CEO of Equinox, an American luxury fitness company that operates several separate fitness brands, including Equinox, PURE Yoga, Blink Fitness, and SoulCycle.

If this news bothers you, you may want to attend the next SFMTA board meeting, that is scheduled for next Tuesday the 6th of September in room 400 at City Hall at 1 PM. You  may want to let SFMTA Board know how you feel about the deals they are cutting without prior public notice or debate. You might also object to using your tax dollars against your interests or contracting with known criminals. Recent article in the SF Examiner: SF awards $3.2M in contracts to company connected to alleged bid-rigging, federal indictment.

Bikes Sharing Companies Compete for Bay Area Market

Host Scott Shafer : kqed – excerpt (audio track included)
Dan Brekke, editor and reporter, KQED News
Emily Stapleton, general manager, Ford GoBike

Ford GoBikes popping up all over photos by zrants

This is a corporate takeover of our streets.
Can you call the public/private corporate exclusionary deal MTC, Ford and Motivate have cooked up “competition” or fair business practices? Now the cyclists are threatening to boycott merchants who object to Ford bikes.
Time to fire back with boycotts of our own. Sign the petition to stop the Bikes in the Mission.

People voiced opposition and demanded removal of the GoBikes at the SFMTA Board meeting.  Board member Art Torres said “I think this is unacceptable… I’m glad you folks told us about this. This isn’t just going away.” He’s got that right.

If it seems like the Bay Area suddenly has a plethora of bike sharing options, it’s because it does. Several companies such as Ford GoBike, LimeBike and Spin are each looking to make a mark in the region’s bike-friendly culture. Ford GoBike, which utilizes docking stations where bikes are parked between uses, plans to expand its existing 700-bike program to 7000 bikes. Other cities like South San Francisco and Mountain View have made deals with stationless bike sharing companies, which allow riders more flexibility but risk bikes being left in random spots.

Both types of companies have faced pushback: In San Francisco’s Mission District, the neighborhood council banned a GoBike station from 24th Street and bikes have been vandalized throughout the Bay Area. San Francisco, which like other cities has a controversial exclusivity contract with GoBike, has yet to approve permit requests for several stationless bike share companies. In this segment we’ll take a look at how the bike share turf wars are helping and hurting the Bay Area…(more)

Corporate Connections:Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is a 9-county regional organization of unelected officials that manages state and federal funds and grants, including taxes for large public transit projects.  Motivate is a NY based corporation that operates bike shares on a national scale. Ford GoBike is the Bay Area bike share division of Motivate. Motivate contracts with the city of San Francisco under a controversial deal put together by the SFMTA.

Ford GoBike Financial arrangements: According to the information here, MTC has a partnership agreement with Motivate. MTC subsidizes bike share and most other public transportation systems. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK! In this case, Ford is a patron of the GoBike program, to the tune of $49 million dollars over the next ten years. IF FORD DOES NOT SUPPORT YOU, YOU MAY NOT WANT TO SUPPORT FORD. This means that GoBike can expand whether or not people rent the bikes.

Ford GoBike Expansion Plans: GoBike plans to have 540 stations in San Francisco by the end of 2018. By their count, this would remove 1620 parking spots, many in residential neighborhoods. They expect to be the 2nd largest market in the country. Who is benefiting from this? How will this effect the Residential Parking Permit program?

Unfair Businesses Practices: How can a private/public partnership subsidized by public taxes and a corporate patron compete fairly with private bike owners and businesses associated with bike businesses and rentals that do not enjoy any subsidies? SFMTA is not approving any stationless bike rentals yet. Do they feel threatened by that model?

Regulatory Practices: How can the SFMTA fairly regulate their competition? How widespread is the competition?

Public criticism: Many residents claim they had no notice before the stations popped up and there has been a lot of pushback and vandalism. GoBike officials claim they are prepared to handle this and since city policies override voters and taxpayers wishes they do not appear to care. With our money backing them, they don’t need to. THINK ABOUT THIS NEXT TIME YOU ARE ASKED TO SUPPORT MORE TAXES FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Let Ford pay instead.

RELATED:
Bicyclists Boycott Bernal Businesses Seeking Removal Of Bike-Sharing Stations
Last week, the Examiner reported that the MIssion-Bernal Merchants Association (MBMA) asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to immediately remove a new Ford GoBike station installed in front of the UPS Store at 60 29th Street between Tiffany and Mission… (more)

 

Stop Privatization of our Streets

No Corporate Bike rentals in the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District

Petitioning Hillary Ronen

Please protect the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. The District and Mission as a whole has been experiencing extreme pressures Please protect the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. The District and Mission as a whole has been experiencing extreme pressures of gentrification causing forced displacement, creating undue hardships, family separation, loss of jobs, privatization of our public spaces, forced crowding, cultural erasure and high rents…. (sign the petition)

Uber and Lyft Have Become Indistinguishable Commodities

By : nytimes – excerpt

If you need a ride, pull out your phone and load up the Lyft app. Or try Uber. Really, it doesn’t matter which you pick.

Though the two ride-sharing giants have carried on like the bitterest of enemies recently, their services have become pretty much indistinguishable. In many places, they both offer ubiquitous, cheap and mostly high-quality service.

They’ve become commodities.

That’s my conclusion based on the last two months of riding Lyft and Uber in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s difficult to say that either is much better, or much worse, than the other. From pickup speed, to driver and car quality, to price, they’re both pretty good.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Take Uber’s. This week The Verge published memos detailing Uber’s campaign to recruit Lyft drivers. According to the report, Uber hires contractors who request Lyft rides and, before the ride is out, attempt to recruit drivers to sign up for Uber.

What is most notable is the indiscriminate nature of Uber’s campaign. During recruiting missions, contractors were paid $750 for any Lyft driver they signed up. The contractors had to be warned to wait a few minutes between rides, so as not to call the same driver twice.

Uber is not going after the best Lyft drivers and cars. It’s going after any Lyft driver with a car and a pulse. And that’s the problem: If Uber itself thinks almost any Lyft ride can be easily transformed into an Uber ride, why shouldn’t we just use Lyft?… (more)

These companies are out to corner the market and once they do, they will raise their rates to take advantage of demand pricing the way they did during outside lands. Do everyone a favor and avoid these vultures.

RELATED:
Uber’s Secret Agents: When Poaching Becomes Unethical

Cab Drivers Gathering License Plate Intel on Uber, Lyft, & SideCar

By Rachel Swan : sfweekly – excerpt

After vehemently contesting a recent media report saying a mass exodus of cab drivers are headed to app-based, car-hire startups, the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association this week decided to make it clear that cabbies are still the victim in this business battle.

Namely, it’s vastly outnumbered. After collecting license plate data from cars bearing the trade dress of a Transportation Network Company (TNC), the association says the ratio of car-hires to cabs is about 3,400 to 1,800 — roughly 2 to 1.

“We’re trying to show these TNCs are a big safety issue in the streets of San Francisco,” SFCDA director Trevor Johnson tells SF Weekly before launching his litany of complaints.

He says companies including Uber and Lyft say they’re creating efficient transportation when in reality, they’re creating traffic snarls. They say they’re being green when they’re really flooding the roads with cars. They say they’re improving safety when they’re really encouraging more people to troll the streets looking at their cell phones… (more)

Uber’s Motion to Dismiss SF Taxi Drivers Suit Defeated

Posted by The Brandi Law Firm Blog – excerpt

On November 20, 2013, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court rejected Uber Technologies attempts to throw out a suit brought by San Francisco taxi drivers seeking compensation for unfair completion from Uber.  The taxi drivers all drive vehicles that comply with the legal requirements of the CA PUC and SFMTA including one million in insurance per vehicle, police background checks for drivers, and vehicle inspection safety checks.  The drivers contend that Uber competes unfairly in that it has not complied with the regulations for carrying passengers for hire.

In his Order, Judge Goldsmith wrote:
“The Court declines to invoke the doctrine of judicial abstention as to the first cause of action for unfair business practices, fourth cause of action for accounting, and fifth cause of action for declaratory relief.  The instant case is distinguished from Alvarado v. Selma Convalescent Hospital (2007) 153 Cai.App.4th 1292, where the court found judicial abstention appropriate where it was called upon to oversee nursing hour requirements and regulate complex health care matters on a class wide basis involving several classes of health care providers.  The gravamen of this instant case is statutory interpretation with no regulatory or administrative implications… (more)