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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Dispute Over Parking Spot in San Francisco Ends in Stabbing

NBC Bay Area staff : nbcbayarea – excerpt

Two men were transported to the hospital Saturday night after being stabbed during a dispute over a parking spot in San Francisco, according to police.

Both men were taken to the hospital in critical condition, police said… (more)

We know people are pissed and stressed over parking and traffic conditions. What does it take to convince City Hall that SFMTA is starting a war on the streets that can be resolved by returning the streets to the public? We should at least try to do a test set up by the public to see if their ideas are not better than SFMTA staff ideas on how to manage parking.

 

Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

By John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

Gridlock by SFMTA. photos by zrants

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…

Henry Karnilowicz, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, said that billions of dollars are being spent on the many street changes and improvements across the city. “And here they’re talking about giving 1.5 million? That’s nothing,” he said. “That’s a drop in the bucket.”…

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)

This is the Union Street Merchants. How about the ones on Van Ness Avenue an Polk Street that are still struggling to stay afloat? There is talk of tearing up Polk Street again. WHY? Can’t the supervisors stop this constant disaster from killing our city?

Quit blaming the internet for the demise of our retail businesses. We have been dealing with the internet for decades and only now are the businesses suffering. high rents and street closures are putting the final nail and the retail coffin. We are losing big corporate store like the Gap as well as small local businesses so this is not a matter of size.

We suggest everyone scream NO MORE DISRUPTIONS!
STOP NEW DISRUPTIONS ON OUR STREETS UNTIL THE CURRENT ONES ARE DONE AND OUR STREETS AND TRAFFIC ARE MOVING SMOOTHLY AGAIN. Contacts for City Hall

SF mulls Uber and Lyft fees, gas tax for transportation funding

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Transportation Task Force 2045 is weighing possible measures for future ballots to fund Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure in The City…

2045? They can’t get 2017 right so they are skipping ahead a few years to fix those problems. Who are they kidding?

San Francisco is mulling a 20-cent-to-$1 fee for Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco to fund local transportation, like Muni, among a suite of more than 20 potential tax measures.

From a tax on companies in the “gig economy” like TaskRabbit, to a gas tax, those measures are aimed at raising millions of dollars for Muni service, streetscape projects and bicycle infrastructure throughout The City.

The new ballot measures in the form of taxes, fees and bonds may be introduced in the near and far flung future, with some measures introduced as early as 2018 and others — including the potential Uber fee — in years to come, because they require changes in state law, according to city documents…(more)

City Hall is living beyond its means. That is the message the voters sent when they opposed the sales tax. Gentrification is not just based on rent rates. Each tax adds to the cost of living. Property taxes raise rents. Gas taxes and fuel tax raises the cost of goods that need to be transported, such as food. Now that we are using less water they want to tax the tap water.

Construction for Van Ness Improvement Project will Shift Traffic Lanes Next Thursday for Utility Work

SFMTA Press Release:

San Francisco—Starting Thursday, November 2, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all surface transportation in the city including the Municipal Railway (Muni), will shift traffic lanes on Van Ness Avenue to begin replacing major utilities including water, sewer and emergency firefighting water systems as part of the Van Ness Improvement Project.

The project, a major overhaul of Van Ness between Lombard and Mission streets, will revitalize road and utility infrastructure, while making safety enhancements and transportation upgrades, including San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit system.

Beginning the morning of Thursday, November 2, southbound lanes on Van Ness will be shifted to the center of the roadway to make room for the first of two construction work areas on Van Ness Avenue. On Monday, November 13, the second of the two construction work areas will be created when northbound lanes on Van Ness Avenue are shifted.

Once the lanes shift, on some blocks of Van Ness Avenue, two lanes traveling in the same direction will separate to pass on either side of median islands where 12 trees are protected for construction.

Utility work zones will be located on the western side of Van Ness Avenue between Sutter and McAllister, and the eastern side of Van Ness Avenue between Jackson and Lombard. Along with the traffic lane shifts, parking will be temporarily eliminated in the two utility construction zones, preserving parking opposite the construction zone when possible. Each of the work areas will occupy one side of the street, approximately five feet from the building line on Van Ness to the center of the roadway. Sidewalk widths will be reduced to no less than five feet adjacent to the two construction zones, and access for people walking will be maintained on both sides of Van Ness Avenue.

In preparation for the upcoming traffic changes, blue zone parking for people with disabilities, loading zones and street furniture such as newspaper stands, bus shelters, bike racks and trashcans have been temporarily relocated.

At times this work will require reducing Van Ness Avenue to one lane in each direction, limiting work to nighttime hours. Construction teams will notify neighbors in advance of night work and will be taking measures to reduce nighttime noise.

Once the two construction work areas are established, crews will begin by replacing the 1800s-era water and sewer systems beneath Van Ness, reducing their vulnerability to damage from earthquakes and minimizing potential service outages. Portions of the emergency firefighting water system, which supplies more than 1,200 fire hydrants through San Francisco, will also be overhauled and new street and sidewalk lighting will also be installed. This intensive and disruptive phase of work is expected to continue through Winter 2019.

By the end of construction, projected in 2020, Van Ness Avenue will be a greener, safer, and more efficient street everyone can enjoy for years to come. The work will also provide a major overhaul of underground utilities that will allow for a more resilient infrastructure that can will keep the area running when we need it most.

For more project details and to sign up for construction updates, please visit sfmta.com/vanness.

If you live or work anywhere nearby Van Ness Avenue, you may want to let the Supervisors know what you think of the plan. I don’t see any mention here of the holiday break that is generally put in place so the merchants can survive during the busiest shopping time of the year when many make the bulk of their profits. If 50% of a block consists of commercial properties, and the owners who want a holiday construction break they are supposed to get one. Contact your supervisors and your state reps Ting, Chiu, and Wiener. Van Ness is part of the state and federal highway system and the state is partially to blame for the mess since they turned it over to SFMTA.

Van Ness BRT project delay may impact Golden Gate Transit operating costs

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s traffic woes are the Bay Area’s traffic woes.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials pointed to the two-year delay of San Francisco’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project as a source of financial pain at a finance committee meeting Thursday, during a review of their 2017 strategic financial plan.

But the bridge district’s budget would also look more rosy — to the tune of $1.5 million — if San Francisco roads were simply less clogged, according to district documents… (more)

Most people blame the SFMTA for the mess that makes the Millennium Tower look like small potatoes. We need Peskin to direct the 30 plus SFCTA staffers at the SFCTA to prepare a report on the Walsh contract. Who suggested using a Design-to-Build contract, used in small construction jobs, as a good way to design and manage the massively complex and growing multi-contractor mess that we have on Van Ness Avenue.
Who supported this project management style and who advised against it? Can we quit listening to the people who get it wrong and start paying attention to the people, and the public, who get it right?
Until this mess gets sorted out City Hall should stop all non-essential new projects from breaking ground.

We should stop installing building billion dollar old technology on our streets when new tech may solve much of the problem. See this new system being tried on China now and then decide how to “design for the future”. http://www.sfexaminer.com/v…

National Association of City Transportation Officials

NATO – excerpt

Mission: NACTO’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life… (more)

NACTO’s core principles and priorities for city transportation in state and federal legislation and regulation are:

  1. Promote safe transportation systems
  2. Support sustainable funding and financing for transportation projects
  3. Bring project decisions closer to the taxpayer, at the local level
  4. Reduce the impact of transportation on climate change
  5. Increase equitable transportation access for all people and all modes
  6. Prepare for automated vehicle technology… (more)

One of the many Organizations that SFMTA and our city officials are involved with, where policies are made on a national/international stage.

SFMTA Rep Takes Heat as Everyone objects to Dangerous Potrero Slalom Run

Op-Ed

Objections to the Potrero streetscape rollout took center stage at a neighborhood meeting at Zuckerberg SF General that was called to update concerned neighbors on the various construction projects underway and planned for the hospital grounds. The public has been complaining for months about the new slalom run on Potrero that mimics the curvy streets on Third Street, where traffic is forced on and off the light rail tracks, and distracted drivers have difficulty watching for pedestrians while they attempt to follow the lane changes.

Nobody addressed the new hospital plans. Complaints were about:

  • The lack of notice about the meeting
  • Distracted driving
  • Dangerous new curvy lanes with up to 22 turns and constant changes.
  • Medians and trees – design, placement, and choice of trees.
  • Increase in traffic on narrow sides-streets where most cyclists choose to ride.
  • Confusing signs and directions
  • Traffic signal removal
  • Some mention was made of the Fire Department’s concerns that are supposed to have the project on hold, but, more details are needed on that subject

There were a lot of suggestions for improvements:

  • A better noticing system for neighborhood with a 2-week lead time
  • Elimination of the extended medians past the pedestrian walkways that drivers are not anticipating
  • Removal of some of the most objectionable medians that restrict traffic flow
  • Re-opening the 23rd Street pass through from the Potrero Hill ramp that allows entry into the Mission. It was noted that this is the second barrier to keep people out of the Mission devised by SFMTA.
  • Better clearer signage and possibly a freeway sign warning of a construction site ahead for drivers who wander off the freeway
  • Elimination of forced right turns and no right turns.
  • Moving bike lane to side street and possible speed controls on those streets.

All of the changes and experiments that SFMAT claims will calm traffic are making drivers more angry and less safe and calm. Residents on the narrow side streets are seeing claim the accident count is up more accidents, making everyone less safe, and creating havoc on the street, as drivers attempt to watch the road changes and other cars, they are finding it hard to watch out for pedestrians and the occasional bike at the same time. This AAA study seems to back up the public’s fears about distracted driving, and explains why many of the traffic infractions are attributed to Ubers and Lyfts who don’t know the city and are depending on dashboard maps to get around.

We need to insist that our supervisors look at these studies and accident reports and consider what options they have to reverse the SFMTA project approvals, straighten the streets, and limit out-of-town TNCs that do not know the city. This study should also be sent to the Governor who may have signed SB 182 into law last week. That state bill was passed prior to all these reports as far as we know. If this bill is written into law, the next step is to go to the state level agency and deal with is there. More on that to come.

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/

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.