Bikes win, Fire Department loses in Market Street redo

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Impossible to move in traffic like this, photo by Zrants

Score a big victory for the politically potent San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which won approval the other day for protected bike lanes along several blocks of upper Market Street — despite a Fire Department protest that the reconfiguration will interfere with ladder trucks in an emergency.

“The design materially compromises the safety of firefighters and local residents,” Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White warned in a letter to the Municipal Transportation Agency commission.

At issue is a nearly mile-long strip of Market between Octavia and Castro streets. Under the plan, the city will install protected bike lanes in both directions.

The redo includes a bike lane on two blocks near Octavia that will be located next to the curb and be buffered from traffic by a lane for parked cars.

And therein lies the rub — because, as Hayes-White tells us, the parking lane will be right in the spot where a ladder truck would normally pull up to an emergency scene…

Mayor Ed Lee himself signaled his support for the biking crowd last year when he issued a directive pledging support for protective bike lanes in the city, and calling for at least 13 miles of additional bike lanes and related infrastructure annually.

Safe for bikes, perhaps, but maybe less so for anyone needing help in an emergency… (more)

The self-centered attitude of people who treat the streets as their playground has gotten out of control and City Hall needs to put some breaks on these antics that are putting us all at risk.

How is this different from the leaning sinking tower?

Experts are warning that the public is at risk? Where has the media been on this story as it has been developing over the last few months or years? The first we heard about this was a few weeks ago, after the SFMTA Board had already decided to support the Bike Coalition, with their 300 letters.

How can the public weigh in when they are the last to know about these issues?
Where are the Supervisors who are supposed to protect us? Setting up a study to count the minutes it takes to get to an emergency after the fact is pointless and insulting to the Fire Department and the public it serves.

Where were the meetings held on this matter and where are the minutes of those meetings that were held leading up to this decision?

Where are the letters that were written and arguments made against this plan. How will these documents be protected so as not to disappear like the famous disappearing volumes of engineers reports on the tower?

Who will the Bicycle Coalition members who ignored the Fire Department’s warning blame, when the vehicle coming to their aid fails to get to them in time?

I cannot figure out how to comment on the source site, even though I am signed into it. Please post some comments there is you can figure it out.

Traffic Safety Advocates Form Human Chain To Protect Tenderloin Bike Lane

by Walter Thompson : hoodline – excerpt

Calling attention to what they say is the city’s failure to protect bike lanes in high-injury corridors, approximately 15 traffic safety advocates formed a human chain this morning on Golden Gate Avenue near Market Street.

Dressed in yellow T-shirts donated by road-safety advocacy group San Francisco Municipal Transformation Agency (SFMTrA), participants stood in a bike lane and joined hands to create a barrier between motorists and cyclists…

Last month, Muni proposed scaling back a parking-protected bikeway on Turk Street—another corridor in the High Injury Network—to a paint-buffered bike lane, similar to the one on Golden Gate Ave. The change was proposed after fire department representatives said the new configuration made the street too narrow for emergency vehicles… (more)

Bike Coalition Says ‘No Way’ as City Backs off Protected Bike Lanes on Turk


Fire Truck on Potrero

Painted Buffered Lanes Failed Miserably on Golden Gate, so SFMTA Proposes them for Turk

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), for the first time ever, is opposing a bike lane.

Protected bike lanes are the proven standard for making streets safer for cyclists of all ages and abilities. However, once again, the city has backed off a protected bike lane project, this time on Turk through the Tenderloin. SFMTA made the announcement of the new paint-only proposal for a door-zone bike lane on Turk at Friday’s engineering hearing at City Hall.

No surprise, the SFBC is livid. And this time, they’ve drawn the line:

On Friday, your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition joined Sup. Jane Kim and local residents in unanimously opposing the SFMTA’s plans to build an unprotected, paint-only bike lane on Turk Street. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s opposition to the SFMTA’s deficient proposal for Turk Street marks the first time we have opposed a bike lane in our 46-year history…(more)

San Francisco is already famous for traffic congestion. Does City Hall want to be known for flaunting Fire Department regulations as well? Fire officials know what they need to do the job we trust them to do.


New SFFD vehicles designed to squeeze through narrow city streets

By sfexaminer -excerpt

The San Francisco Fire Department is expected to purchase eight custom fire engines next month that will be better suited for the narrow streets and changing traffic conditions that make firefighting a challenge in The City.

Bus stops in the middle of the street, street changes like bulb outs and the booming ride-hail industry have made it more difficult for fire trucks and engines to rush to emergencies in San Francisco, according to Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi.

News of the new engines comes just months after Mayor Ed Lee announced a two-year plan to invest $14.3 million into the department to replace its aging fleet, including 13 fire engines, four aerial trucks and eight ambulances.

Speaking to the Fire Commission on Wednesday, Lombardi said that double parking by delivery trucks and the estimated 37,000 Uber and Lyft drivers that navigate The City have created a “nightmarish” situation for firefighters on the streets of San Francisco.

“I don’t know if it’s ever been as bad as it is now,” Lombardi said. “It’s just absolutely crazy.”…

“As we densify our city and build up higher buildings to accommodate higher populations we’re going to need the wider streets,” Fire Commissioner Ken Cleaveland said at the meeting…

San Francisco’s fire vehicles tend to be larger than other cities because they are suited for motors that have enough horsepower to travel up steep hills, Lombardi said. Fire engines also have to carry 500 gallons of water since the department has to combat fast-spreading fires…

Lombardi pointed to planned changes to Hermann Street — near its intersection with Laguna Street — that would turn parking spaces from running parallel to the street to sitting at a 45-degree angle to increase the number of spaces available.

The fire department is working with The City’s transit agency to correct the proposed plan, which Lombardi said violates fire codes that prohibit narrowing streets to smaller than 20-feet wide. Under the plan, parts of Hermann Street would be 18-feet wide.

Even at 20 feet, fire trucks and engines have to drive slightly into the oncoming lane of traffic when turning onto narrow streets, potentially causing a safety hazard… (more)

We need to follow state guidelines and keep the wide streets that accommodate everyone. How is making the streets more narrow making us safer? We need a new Muni management that isn’t intent on changing the world, just getting people where they need to go. The world is changing and they are not changing with it. They are trying to force their theories down our throats.

Masonic Streetscape Project To Break Ground In June

by R. A. Schuetz : sf.streetsblog – exccerpt

In June 2013, funding to redesign Masonic Avenue from Fell to Geary was approved, after years of outreach by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and community organizing both for and against the project. Now, the construction, originally forecast to begin last May, is finally preparing break ground in June. It’s expected to last until late 2017…

The contract for the project was awarded to Shaw Pipelines for $18.3 million. Including soft costs and construction support, the project will cost a total of $26.1 million.

One of the major concerns for residents was the removal of 167 parking spaces on Masonic, to accommodate the raised bike lane, widened sidewalks, and enhanced bus stops. But before construction begins in June, 22 new back-in angled parking spaces will be added on Turk Street between Baker and Central.

According to the SFMTA, “Changes on some other streets under consideration are on hold, given operational and technical concerns expressed by members of the community and the San Francisco Fire Department.”…

The reason we are posting this story that ran in March is to emphasize the fact that there are technical as well as political issues involved in the pause in implementation  of the Masonic project. There may also be some litigation.

There are three important things to look at here, the number one being the “operational and technical concerns expressed by… the Fire Department. that effect emergency services. Quite a number of people from Planning Commissioners to Supervisors, to Federal representatives have voiced concern about the major traffic snarls in the city and some of them are addressing the issue of health and safety where the ability of emergency vehicles to transverse the city fast in emergency situations.

The SFMTA plans to slow traffic on Lombard, Van Ness, Masonic, 16th Street, Mission Street, Folsom, Potrero and Cesar Chavez. How is anyone supposed to get across town fast in an emergency situation? How can ambulances access hospitals?

We know there are slowdowns and there may have already been lawsuits over these delays. A lot of cases are settled against the SFMTA and the city all the time that are not covered in the press. We also know that the SFMTA and DPW have been required to fix some of the technical mistakes they have made in curb designs and bulbouts that effect the ability of their MUNI buses and other large vehicles to turn. Removing and narrowing the lanes is a major problem.There are state laws that specify lanes widths that are being ignored or excused on state streets.

Our city government is hard at work trying to change some of those laws. Using our city streets and SF citizens as guinea pigs under the guise of pilot programs is one way the SFMTA attempts to skirt state laws and regulations. We will be looking into this later.

Money is a big issue this year. SFMTA claims they can do more with less, even though they are broke. We have seen no record on how much these mistakes are costing or how these errors are being paid for. Where on the budget do we find these fixes?

Stay turned for an OpEd that will attempt to take these matter into account as we go into the budget period in which the Mayor has asked all departments to cut back, due to a shortage of revenue this year.


San Francisco Adds Mass Casualty Transport Buses to Medical Fleet

jems – excerpt

‘AmbuBus’ to provide mass casualty emergency care and transport during potential disasters

The City of San Francisco (CA) Fire Department (SFFD), in cooperation with the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA-Muni) and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DFOEM), recently placed two Mass Casualty Transport buses in service for mass casualty emergency care and transport during potential disasters.  These units will also be used to provide the needed surge capacity at the many special events throughout the city. The SFFD ambulance busses are outfitted to care for and transport 12 – 15 stretcher patients and 10 seated patients… (more)

More on Vehicle Operations from

Community Meeting on SF General Hospital Parking and Transit

From SF Health Network:
September 30, 2015   6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
SF General Hospital, 2nd Floor Cafeteria
City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) is hosting a community meeting to update you on activities and proposed plans for changes at SFGH and in the surrounding vicinity. This meeting will be next Wednesday, September 30th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm in the 2nd floor cafeteria of the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.
Topics of discussion will include the following:
·         Status of the new acute care and trauma center
·         Potrero Avenue Streetscape Project
·         Neighborhood Transportation, Traffic and Proposed Garage Expansion
·         Proposed new UCSF Research Building on the SFGH Campus

5R-Fulton To Be 20 Percent Faster With Traffic Circles And Tweaks On McAllister

: sfist – excerpt

The SFMTA is hailing its experiment, known as the 5L-Fulton Limited Pilot Project, as a success. Already, they say, it’s moved and consolidated stops to increase speed and ridership — on this and other tweaked routes, ridership is up 2,500 trips per day according to a report released this week. Now the renamed 5R-Fulton Rapid will soon improve further with the addition of traffic circles and a few other changes on McAllister Street to reduce travel time by 20 percent (and help the 5R-Fulton live up to its “rapid” name).

“The 5-Fulton is a critical crosstown link for the city of San Francisco, transporting over 20,000 riders daily,” Chairman of the SFMTA Board Tom Nolan said in a release of the bus that travels the length of the Richmond to Downtown. “These improvements will improve Muni’s travel time, increase reliability and support our overall Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities.”

So, 5 riders, get ready to race (at a safe, reasonable speed) around some traffic circles to be installed at McAllister & Steiner and McAllister & Lyon. Note that the bus stop at that latter intersection will be removed… (more)

This is the dumbest idea they have come up with yet. Traffic circles are a waste of road and slow down ALL motor vehicles including emergency ones and Muni buses. Here are some photos of Muni buses trying to get past traffic circle obstacles: https://metermadness.wordpress…
Obviously, SFMTA does not care about the requirements of emergency vehicles or how fast they can operate on the city streets. They are slowing them down all over town. I watched a fire truck sit through four traffic lights on
King Street while the traffic slowly crawled through the intersection at Third. No where for the cars to got to get out of the way.
Stops, no stops, it doesn’t matter to a fire truck.

What The Hell Are Are These New Bike Guidelines San Francisco Adopted?

By Leif Haven : sfweekly – excerpt

Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors officially adopted the NACTO guidelines with as much glee as if they they were taking home the cutest puppy from the humane society.

Never mind the cute puppy, what the hell are NACTO guidelines, you ask, and why are we adopting them?

NACTO, or the National Association of City Transportation Officials, is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of people who think that they can tell us how to make cities better …and surprise: the NACTO Designing Cities Conference, is happening October 22-25, so the PR timing couldn’t have been better…

There are two relevant aspects to these new guidelines — the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide. They overlap a bit, but the goal of both is to plan streets that are “safe, sustainable, resilient, multi-modal, and economically beneficial, all while accommodating traffic.”

That’s a tall order, especially in bike-friendly, car-friendly and pedestrian-friendly San Francisco…

Lane Width: NACTO recommends a lane width of 10 feet. Lanes in San Francisco range from around 8 feet to around 13 feet. Wide lanes promote speeding, believe it or not, but narrow lanes do not decrease flow or capacity according to NACTO, so narrower lanes are actually better.

Bike Lanes: NACTO says that bike lanes should be at least 6 feet wide, and whenever possible wide enough for two cyclists to ride side-by-side. They also believe things like bicycle safe gutters and grates (thank God) and no parking signs will discourage cyclists from parking in bike lanes… (more)

At least bring back the 10 feet minimum lanes. Remember there are wide buses, truck and shuttles that must use the streets as well as cars. If you want bike lanes, wider sidewalks might not be the solution.

You can get wider lanes by eliminating the costly, unnecessary, and often dangerous trees down the middle of the road that create the worst blind zones and make maneuvering wide buses and emergency vehicles really difficult. See some photos here.

REALATED: Hell on two wheels: My sister actually got hit by a bicycle rider [“What the Hell Are These New Bike Guidelines San Francisco Adopted?” Leif Haven, The Snitch, 10/10]. He messed up her car, and knocked himself out. Cyclists should be required to have insurance and license plates too!… (more)
– Rick

Firefighters concerned about narrowing SF streets

By Eric Rasmussen : KTVU – excerpt

The recent efforts to make San Francisco streets more pedestrian friendly may have the unintended consequences of slowing the response time of fire trucks answering emergency calls.

San Francisco streets can be frustrating and dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Just ask San Francisco firefighters.

KTVU recently rode along with teams on two hook-and-ladder trucks in the city. They said some tight streets are getting tighter.

“They’re making bike lanes and putting palm trees in the middle, taking out a lane of traffic,” said firefighter Jim Fewell as he navigated down a stretch of Cesar Chavez.

Streetscape plans for the busy thoroughfare include a wider median, trees and something called “corner bulb outs.”…

But San Francisco firefighters argue the changes could make navigating city streets even more difficult.

“We don’t want to keep piling on these challenges,” said San Francisco Fire Dept. spokesperson Mindy Talmadge. “That will affect our response time.”

Response times are already ticking up.

According to the department, first units are arriving on scene in about five and a half minutes after a call is received. That is as much as eight seconds slower than during the first part of last year… (more)

I hope the folks who are pushing narrow streets against the concerns of emergency personnel don’t mind the extra time it will take to pick them up and deliver them to the hospital next time they need that service. I think I speak for the rest of us and I would prefer to make it easier for them to do their job.