Van Ness lanes remove trees, hurt Union Street shopping

By John Zipperer: marinatimes – excerpt

The construction on Van Ness Avenue intended to improve mass transit and safety has irked neighborhood businesses and residents.

Beginning on Dec. 19, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) began removing the overhead electric system for buses on Van Ness between Market and McAllister Streets. Through the end of the month, SFMTA closed off a lane in each direction between Jackson and Greenwich streets, began moving median trees, and working on different sections of the street.

Union Street merchants were upset at the closure of left-turn lanes from Van Ness onto Union, occurring just a couple weeks before Christmas and right in the middle of holiday shopping. The Union Street Association complained that “Business traffic is down, and this is one of the main reasons why,” and it urged merchants to contact city officials for help. Meanwhile, local residents expressed concern about the loss of the meridian trees on Van Ness… (more)

SF red transit lane beloved by riders, but merchants unhappy

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco’s controversial red-painted transit lanes are beloved by many Muni riders, and the city’s transportation planners. But they’re not necessarily here to stay. The crimson lanes are, as the saying goes, only a test.

Results of the test are still being gathered, but federal transportation authorities are expected to rule within months whether the bright-red pavement can stay or whether the city will have to remove it and live with drab but conformist white lane markings and signs.

Officials with the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency gained permission from state and federal authorities in 2012 to color some street pavement red to make transit-only lanes more visible and to try to persuade car and truck drivers to stay out of them. New York and other U.S. cities are also experimenting with red lanes. San Francisco’s are not actually covered in paint, but rather an acrylic pavement treatment applied in sheets.

The New York experiment ended years ago when they failed to gather sufficient data. They also had a problem with double parking. Some of the streets in SF, I believe Church is one of them, are covered with paint and some with the thermoplastic, depending on whether they are concrete or asphalt.

Beginning in 2013, the MTA tested the idea on a short stretch of Church Street before rolling out what it calls “red carpet lanes” on stretches of other thoroughfares where heavy traffic causes delays for transit: Market, Geary, Third, O’Farrell, Haight, Judah and, perhaps most controversially, Mission between 14th and Randall streets.

Geary to Gough is on the list. Mission Street from Embarcadero to 11th Street was on the list.  In 2012, according to meeting minutes, the SFMTA representative specifically stated they would only be applying the test to streets that were currently transit-only lanes and were on the list. This proves, once again, you can’t trust the SFMTA.

In total, 17 San Francisco streets with existing transit-only lanes were approved for the red pavement test, as well as three that didn’t have reserved bus lanes. Not all of the stretches have yet been covered with red.

Anyone want to guess who is next in line?

“We shared our citywide plan with (state and federal officials) and they gave us the green light,” said MTA spokesman Paul Rose…

When and how was the application of the experiment to Mission Street past 11th approved?

This is typical of the SFMTA. Years after they start a process they inform the public. At no time, during any of their many public street design dog-and-pony shows  did they inform the public that they were planning to conduct a Red Lane test on our streets. When some of us discovered the truth of the matter and started to investigate and complain to the state and federal authorities they must have felt compelled to admit it.

We finally have an admission that THIS IS A TEST! THE RED LANES MAY GO AWAY! Where is the explanation for the test? What are they testing? How is the public involved in the test? If you want to know, keep reading and contact the links below.

Some of us went to Sacramento in December and saw first hand how the SFMTA operates. They started by trying to silence the public, claiming the public had no right to go to the state commission. More time went into that debate, (SFMAT lost that arguement.) than the actual presentation and discussion about the test that followed. Guess what? the SFMTA cherry picked a short blocks of two streets in the entire experiment to prove that the tests were being done as required. The analysis presented was more or less inconclusive.

If any one has anything to say about the Red Lane Experiment, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.  If you need help figuring out how to file a complaint, or want to join the fight against the Red Lanes, let us know. Here are two sites that are dealing with the problem and trying to stop the spread of red lanes in San Francisco:   http://www.redcarpetmess.org and http://www.sfsensibletransit.org/

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Rose Pak’s opposition could slam brakes on car-free Stockton Street project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s preliminary plan to make part of Stockton Street a car-free pedestrian walkway may be threatened by opposition from Chinatown community organizer Rose Pak.

Pak slammed the car-free project as harmful to Chinatown in an email June 16 to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, which the San Francisco Examiner obtained…

The SFMTA and businesses agreed in February to research making the walkway permanent after construction is complete…

n her letter, Pak wrote on behalf of the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce that the neighborhood “understood we would suffer” inconveniences due to construction of the Central Subway, but believed they would be temporary.

However, making the project permanent also would “make permanent all the problems we’ve experienced,” she wrote, calling it “unacceptable to our community.”

The proposal would need to go before the SFMTA Board of Directors for community input and subsequent approval, which hasn’t yet been scheduled, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District said property owners on Stockton Street generally support the project.

“They’ve seen it as a boost to sales,” she said.

Pak later told the Examiner she met with Reiskin to discuss Chinatown’s concerns.

She said “he apologized they never did a better job of outreach” to the Chinatown community, and “he has agreed” the project would not work, because closing that section of Stockton Street would stop the flow of traffic into Chinatown and harm businesses.

“So I consider the issue closed,” Pak said… (more)

Rose is wise to see the folly in the plan to cut Chinatown off from the rest of the city.

When is the SFMTA and City Hall going to consider how dangerous it is to cut a neighborhood out of the normal traffic pattern of the city? How will trucks and other regular delivery services get to Chinatown with no easy access? How will emergency vehicles get in and out? Many people could be trapped in an emergency evacuation situation.

 

Transit Supervisor slams brakes on L-Taraval changes

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

It’s back to the drawing board for proposed changes to the L-Taraval Muni line after neighbors rallied against adding boarding islands at stops on Taraval Street.

Through three meetings last month, Sunset district neighbors and transportation planners worked on a new plan for the L-Taraval revisions. Those meetings were spearheaded by Supervisor Katy Tang, who said the acrimony over the initial proposal “couldn’t continue.”

The community had expressed anger over the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s plan to build pedestrian boarding islands on Taraval Street. Currently, train riders disembark directly onto the street.

Albert Chow, owner of Great Wall Hardware on Taraval Street, said, “We would like to seek safety, but not see boarding islands” built, because Taraval would lose parking.

Parking would be extended on side streets, the SFMTA has said, but neighbors still fear it would adversely impact businesses.

Instead of boarding islands, Chow said he and others asked for flashing bumps on the roadway, painted white pedestrian zones on the streets and overhead signs to warn away cars when people disembark from trains.

The recent SFMTA meetings followed a more contentious one in February in which hundreds of Sunset residents booed and hissed at the SFMTA planners.

“I think [the SFMTA] did listen” to neighbors’ concerns about initial L-Taraval plans, Tang said. “But because we didn’t see the final revision [to the plans], we’ll see.”… (more)

Mission Street Mess

OpEd

At a meeting attended by District 9 Supervisor Campos, MTA Director Ed Reiskin and staff, and more than a dozen Mission community leaders, Reiskin acknowledged the SFMTA got it wrong on Mission Street. Mission leaders requested a public apology and a big community meeting to allow the public an opportunity to chime in on what they want. Stay tuned for the results on that one. Supervisor Campos promised to set up meetings with local leaders to discus remedies.

The good news is that Leo’s Hot Dog Stand is staying put and the general consensus is that the SFMTA should remove the forced turns on Mission Street. As most of us who live in the neighborhood know, few people use Mission Street as a thoroughfare.

Suddenly adding forced turns every couple of blocks, has created more confusion and difficulty for drivers forced to turn their attention to yet one more problem, and made the streets less safe. Already, merchants have heard from customers and clients who apologize but say they can’t do business there any more. If the goal is to clear the street of existing businesses, the SFMTA has succeeded.

Threats of painting out the red lines and such other radical moves have been heard on the street. This is not a time to mess with the Mission as the residents and merchants are already under intense pressures to leaves the area by developers who want to displace them.

The red lanes add to the ominous threat of gentrification hanging in the air that brings large groups of protestors to the Planning Commission to fight market rate development in the Mission. One of the Spanish speaking community leaders struck a chord when she said the red lanes are “another Monster in the Mission.” Those words may become the next battle cry to stop the SFMTA projects.

Along with a lot of complaints about the horrible conditions on Mission Street and the already devastating effects the changes have had on the Mission merchants, there were some positive suggestions.

Questions about money were raised. The SFMTA plans to spend six million dollars to “improve” Mission Street in ways that obviously are not supported by the neighborhood. The problem that the Muni riders have is that the buses are over-crowded. Cutting bus stops and forcing cars onto side streets does not relieve crowding on buses. Adding a bus to an existing line costs around 1 million dollars. Why, it was asked, can the SFMTA not just add a few more buses to the crowded lines to relieve the crowding instead?

Many people want to bring back jitneys and some suggest that the express bus lines should be moved to South Van Ness or some less crowded street. There was a lot of talk about surveys taken of Muni riders and merchants, but no mention of surveys of drivers. How can you leave drivers out of the equation.

One community leader suggested looking at how the City of Los Angeles put together a red lane plan for Wilshire Blvd. in LA with a tremendous amount of citizen input. Suepervisor Campos echoed the thoughts of many when he said we need a plan by the neighborhood not a plan laid on the neighborhood.

The results of this emergency meetings are that the community will immediately convene with Campos’ staff and the MTA to work out a plan that will not devastate the Mission. There are also immediate calls for a public apology and immediate halt of enforcement of the forced turns off Mission street.

There are also plans for a wider Mission District Community meeting to air grievances and listen to ideas from the community.

 

SFMTA Cuts Block of Polk Bike Lane Fought By Visionless Mayor’s Optometrist

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The SFMTA has nixed a block of protected bike lane planned on Polk Street, where merchants including Mayor Ed Lee’s optometrist have vocally opposed it to preserve car parking…

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin ordered the reduction, as shown in emails [PDF] obtained by Madeleine Savit, who founded Folks for Polk to advocate for a safer street. Reiskin and the SFMTA Board of Directors are mayoral appointees.

The Polk redesign, which is up for a vote by the SFMTA Board of Directors on Tuesday, has been fiercely opposed by a group of merchants called “Save Polk Street,” which has spread misinformation in its campaign to preserve parking. Under the proposed plan, partial bike lanes would be installed by removing about 30 percent of the 320 parking spaces on Polk, or 8 percent of parking spaces within a block of the street…

“I’ve heard from many different groups,” Lee told Streetsblog. “I know we want to make the streets safer, make it bike-friendly, small businesses don’t want to lose parking for their constituents… I can’t have a particular position on it except to endorse the most balanced approach that they have because there’s issues that should not be in conflict. We shouldn’t promote bicycle safety over pedestrian safety over cars and parking. I think they’re all going to be important.”

“We have to look at the future — what is it that thoroughfare suggests to us? And how do we take a look at that future and [find] the safest, expedient route that balances the different modes of transportation people have, but also supports the businesses at the same time. If it takes more time, then I’m going to suggest that more time should be taken.”(more)

Please send a letter to the Mayor and our city officials to let them know how you feel about the disruptions on our city streets, and speak at the March 3 MTA Board Meeting at City Hall, room 400, around 2:30 PM if you can.

For your convenience there is a Form letter here.

Thank you for taking a stand on this important issue.

Merchants, bicyclists continue to wage battle over Polk Street redesign

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Notice

Notice posted outside City Hall was missing in action for most of the week prior to the hearing. There are allegation of intent to hide the hearing from the citizens and businesses on Polk Street.

The SFMTA’s engineering division is meeting Friday about a contentious plan for Polk Street that has pitted neighborhood merchants against cyclists.
San Francisco’s popular Polk Street corridor is on the road toward a significant transformation to make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. But the redesign remains a contentious debate pitting merchants against bicyclists.

The battle comes to a head Friday with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s engineering division meeting on the plan, followed by a possible vote as early as next month by the agency’s board.

Nearly three weeks since her mayoral appointment, District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen finds herself in the middle of the controversy. She has met with at least three groups continuing to fight over the plan, after some say her predecessor, David Chiu, lacked leadership on the issue.

“Two years of work has been done on this,” Christensen said. “I’m coming in on the final act.”

She has yet to take position on the SFMTA’s recommended compromise plan but noted “there is still a lot unhappiness” on all sides. “I’m trying to determine if that’s a true statement, is this the best we can do,” Christensen said…(more)

The $12 million project will result in the removal of 100 parking spaces on Lower Polk between Pine and McAllister streets, and 10 spaces on Upper Polk between Union and Pine. Work is set to begin in spring 2016 and finish in winter 2017…

Another group, Folks for Polk, is threatening to a place a Polk Street design initiative on the November ballot if a final plan doesn’t include at least a pilot program offering protected bike lanes

The $12 million project will result in the removal of 100 parking spaces on Lower Polk between Pine and McAllister streets, and 10 spaces on Upper Polk between Union and Pine. Work is set to begin in spring 2016 and finish in winter 2017…

Another group, Folks for Polk, is threatening to a place a Polk Street design initiative on the November ballot if a final plan doesn’t include at least a pilot program offering protected bike lanes… (more)

The showdown is called an Engineering Hearing. It is set for Friday, January 30, 10 AM in City Hall room 416.

To read about the proposed improvements to Polk Street in more detail, visit our website: www.SFMTA.com/Polk. You are welcome to attend this hearing, or to submit any comments to sustainable.streets@sfmta.com with the subject “Public Hearing.”

RELATED:
Driving a hard bargain over plans for Polk Street

SFMTA Board Approves Contested Transit Signals, Bulb-Outs on Haight

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

On Tuesday, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved plans to add traffic signals and bulb-outs along Haight Street, which could speed up Muni’s 6 and 71 lines and improve pedestrian safety. The approval came despite complaints from Upper Haight merchants over removing parking for bus bulb-outs, and mixed support for new traffic signals from pedestrian safety and transit advocates…

But the speed benefits of signalization are contested by Michael Smith, the former Chief Technology Officer and General Manager of NextBus, who co-founded Walk SF. SFMTA staff have not responded to his challenge to their estimates — neither to a request from Streetsblog, nor at the board hearing — but street safety advocates say that they might not justify costly signals, which restrict movement for people walking and biking (in this case, on the Wiggle). “MTA hasn’t convinced neighbors and pedestrian advocates of that,” said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich

But Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Schneider told the SFMTA Board she “comes at this with some mixed thoughts. ” Planners in Sweden, the birthplace of Vision Zero, say they avoid adding signals in favor of treatments like roundabouts, which maintain slower speeds and “forgive” mistakes by street users and minimize the risk of crashes. Traffic signals, meanwhile, give motor vehicle drivers carte blanche to coast through an intersection…

Peter Straus, an SFTRU member and retired Muni service planner, told the SFMTA Board that he lives a block away from Haight and Pierce Streets, one of the intersections set to get traffic signals. “I don’t think they’re things that people should be afraid of, if they’re properly managed” by synchronizing signals for slower speeds, he said. The SFMTA says it plans to do so…

Aside from the signals, several merchants at the hearing protested the SFMTA’s plans to remove parking and loading zones to create sidewalk extensions at bus stops and crosswalks. A few, including the owners of Amoeba Music, also said they thought transit bulb-outs would cause car traffic to back up, since buses would stop in the traffic lanes to load passengers…

Breed doesn’t have a specific position on the proposals, said Johnston, but she is concerned that shelters and signals could affect public safety…

Evans said that the Muni Forward plans for Haight “are in conflict” with the Haight-Ashbury Public Realm Plan, a community planning effort that the Planning Department is undertaking, with a focus on streetscape improvements. City planners have said the two plans will work in tandem, and that the Muni improvements up for approval were vetted by the public through the Public Realm Plan…

The only SFMTA directors who voted against approving the changes were Jerry Lee and Gwyneth Borden, the board’s newest member. Borden said more time was needed to work out the issues, and that she “had a hard time with” the appearance that those voicing concerns weren’t being taken seriously. “I don’t think you can overlook when there are so many diverse groups of people, with varying problems, in a particular area,” she said… (more)

Even people who normally agree with the SFMTA disagree with this plan. Most don’t want traffic signals and many don’t like the shelters. Merchants don’t want to lose any parking. If it ain’t broke leave it alone.

Someone needs to request a hearing before the Board of  Supervisors to amend the contract.

RELATED:
SFMTA Board Approves $6.6M Project Along 71 Haight-Noriega Route

Van Ness Avenue next on list for traffic tie-ups in S.F.

By Willie Brown : sfgate – excerpt

The construction boom has made it impossible to drive or even walk in downtown San Francisco — and heads up, the boom is spreading.

Next on the list for shutdowns: Van Ness Avenue…

Construction on the Central Subway has shut down the main shopping core of Stockton Street, and Geary is down to one lane as well.

No wonder the merchants are hurting.

Workers tell me they’re at it around the clock, trying to get the digging for the new subway station done by Thanksgiving.

I asked, you mean the whole job?

One guy said no, “but enough so that we can cover it over for the Christmas shopping season.”

“So Stockton Street is going to be back open?”

“Open, but not for traffic. They’re going to make it a ‘winter walkway.’”… (more)

Only the SFMTA would expect people to shop by bus or bike.

Time to Stop SFMTA.  Merchants from Union Square to Castro are being devastated by SFMTA street projects and we are all stalled in hopeless traffic jams.

Do they really think drivers blame themselves for gridlock and want more “streets enhancements”? Nobody trusts the SFMTA with more money. Last time we voted to fix the potholes we got vibrant walkable streets and bike lanes.
The best solution to the traffic problem is to vote No on A and B, (No more money without accountability) and Yes on L: Restore Transportation balance: http://restorebalance14.org/
Bring some sanity back to our streets.

Should S.F. make it easier or harder to drive and park in the city?

Business Pulse – Polls and Surveys : bizjournals – excerpt

Easier. Most people still drive; deal with it. 41%

Harder. More cars will just mean more gridlock. 25%

Neither. Transit vs. cars doesn’t have to be either/or 33%

Votes Cast: 221

VOTE NOW: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/poll/poll/15073351#comments

This survey is not a scientific sampling, but offers a quick view of what readers are thinking