Dissenting view: Yes on Prop L

By Pratima Gupta and Phil Chin : sfchronicle – excerpt

Proposition L holds the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency accountable by encouraging a balanced oversight body. Its board of directors oversees a $1.1 billion budget and directs the policies and projects that determine whether the city sees increased traffic gridlock or streamlined bus transit — or whether another pedestrian is killed.

While the majority of city commissions have seats reserved for neighborhood representation, the SFMTA board members are accountable only to the mayor. Prop. L creates a split-appointment process that finally gives neighborhoods a chance to be represented. It would also allow the Board of Supervisors to amend the SFMTA’s budget with a majority vote.

When a Lowell student was killed on Sloat Boulevard in 2013, the community had been demanding pedestrian safety improvements for years. When the SFMTA moved to shut down lower Stockton Street for designer retail chains, the increased congestion was a death knell for the Chinatown community. When San Franciscans asked the SFMTA to regulate giant luxury shuttle buses, the SFMTA responded by charging them a mere $1 per day per stop (since raised to $3.55), even in narrow residential streets. The SFMTA’s idea of community outreach is holding a meeting to talk at stakeholders about their plans — not asking for input or listening to concerns.

Investing in our transportation system only works with meaningful input, oversight and accountability.

Pratima Gupta is vice chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. Phil Chin is a transit advocate…

The Chronicle’s View

Insulating transit planning from political meddling buys a degree of independence. That’s especially needed in a city plagued by traffic wars, jammed transit and costly employees…

SFMTA has gone too far with the narrow streets. Not only are they slowing down fire trucks, engines and emergency responders , but the buses can barely turn the corner. I watched a relatively small Muni bus attempt a turn at Harrison and 11th Street today. Given that half the street was closed off, the bus was forced to wait for the traffic to clear in the opposite lane before it could proceed. even though the bus had the green light.

It looks as if Prop L has already had some good results. After years of requests for more shuttles to extend the service during rush hours and for various reason, now that the SFMTA is feeling threatened by Prop L, they are suddenly adding shuttle buses to the busiest routes. Maybe if we keep pushing them, they will bring back those routes they killed on Valencia and other streets that Muni riders miss.

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.

Remake Way For Tech Buses

By : sfweekly – excerpt

After 31 traffic-related deaths on San Francisco’s streets in 2014, Mayor Ed Lee set an ambitious goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2020.

To do that, city transit planners are reducing the width of streets, widening sidewalks, and making other pedestrian safety improvements, as they did at the intersection of Diamond and Bosworth streets — a major transit hub near the Glen Park BART station where three busy Muni lines as well as tech buses for Google, Yahoo, and Genentech load up daily — last year at a cost of $2.8 million.

But thanks to city engineers’ miscalculation, all that extra concrete had to be torn up and removed, because those new, safer streets were too narrow for Muni and — wait for it — tech buses to navigate.

The SFMTA discovered last fall that buses were either hitting the new median or couldn’t make the turn from Diamond onto Bosworth. The agency acknowledged in November that the median and sidewalk would need to be ripped up and rebuilt, but it knew before then trouble was ahead: Some locals noticed as early as May 2013 that the turn could be a problem, according to neighborhood newspaper Glen Park News.

“Given these warnings, I don’t understand why the city would have ignored them and proceeded with a plan that didn’t make any sense,” said resident Simona Agnolucci, who’s lived on Diamond Street for seven years. “I find it very troubling. It seems like a very basic calculation that should have happened.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes Glen Park, called the errors “incredibly unfortunate.” He’s adamant the SFMTA’s other work in the area, including the installation of traffic lights at two nearby intersections, won’t be compromised or canceled as a result of the mistake… (more)

Wow! The Supervisors and SFMTA have no problem fixing their mistakes when it comes to serving tech buses. They should be just as ready to fix their mistakes on Mission Street that have reeked havoc with the merchants and residents there.

It is as important to serve the needs of local San Francisco businesses and residents as it is to serve those in Silicon Valley.

Why the SF Fire Fighters supported Yes on L

by Zrants

SF Streetsblog, the SFMTA mouthpiece, put out derisive messages about the SF Fire Department’s objections to installing six-foot bulb-outs near intersections. Fire Department officials claim they needed more space to maneuver around corners, and requested the sidewalks be limited to five feet wide. An excerpt from the article is below.


 

Dismissing SFFD’s Irrational Protests, SFMTA Approves Bulb-Outs at School
By Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The SF Fire Department continues to make increasingly bizarre claims in opposition to sidewalk bulb-outs and narrower roadways. Last week, the SFMTA Board of Directors dismissed SFFD’s protests against six-foot bulb-outs at E.R. Taylor Elementary School in the Portola neighborhood. According to SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, one of SFFD’s claims was that fire truck drivers would be ticketed by the SFPD for entering an oncoming traffic lane to make a wide turn.

The SF Examiner reported on the dispute yesterday, though the paper didn’t question SFFD’s claims about the supposed hazards of six-foot bulbs (SFFD pushed for five feet). According to the Examiner, SFFD spokesperson Mindy Talmadge said “the department has been ‘vilified’ for voicing concerns on pedestrian safety.”…

Following an SF Examiner op-ed penned by Walk SF calling on SFFD to support sidewalk extensions, the department issued a statement responding to what it called “allegations being made by special interest groups.” Although SFFD’s Talmadge told the Examiner yesterday that “we don’t want to be the cause of a pedestrian fatality,” the December statement indicated that SFFD officials don’t comprehend how sidewalk extensions improve pedestrian safety.

“We haven’t seen pedestrians being hit by vehicles on sidewalks because the sidewalks are too narrow,” said the SFFD statement from last month. “Proposals such as these cannot possibly make our streets, pedestrians and bicyclists safer.”

SFFD Fire Chief Johanne Hayes-White also made the erroneous yet unchallenged claim in a recent Examiner article that 74 percent of pedestrians were at fault for their own injuries, though she later said she was “misinformed.” SFFD also tried, unsuccessfully, to quietly nix a provision in a piece of legislation last year that allowed the city to approve street widths of less than the state guideline of 20 feet. At hearings on pedestrian safety issues, Hayes-White and other officials have neglected to comment on these matters, though a representative is scheduled to make a presentation to the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee tomorrow evening… (more)


 

This anti-Fire Fighters attitude explains why the Fire Fighters supported Yes on L. They are as tired of dealing with the SFMTA and staff as we are. Since when are street designers experts on what emergency responders need? Who wants to slow emergency vehicles to save pedestrians two feet of road to cross? How many seconds does it take to walk two feet anyway? This from the agency that wants its riders to walk longer distances between bus stops. Where is the logic in this?

San Francisco to Study Lowering Speed Limit to 20 mph–or is That an Increase?

By Stephen Frank : capoliticalreview – excerpt

San Fran is geographically a small town, with lots of traffic lights, winding, narrow streets and bike riders that own the roads. Try driving on the 101 freeway, being forced to then drive city streets to the other side of town and then get back on the 101 freeway. The traffic lights are not synchronized so you are forced to stop at almost every block. Yet, some feel good people—folks that want to feel good rather than do good, want to have a city wide 20 mph speed limit. Though almost impossible to drive even that fast, these folks think it will stop pedestrian deaths. We only wish we could drive 20 mph.

I have a better idea. Get the bikes out of the streets so cars don’t swerve into each other avoiding them. Synchronize the traffic lights so traffic can flow and you save gas and save the planet by not having cars idling, waiting for the light to change. Bottom line, these folks need to get a life—and let the rest of us live… (more)

By Bryan Goebel : KQED – excerpt

With growing concern about pedestrian safety in San Francisco, and the city getting on board with a plan to end all traffic deaths within 10 years, Supervisor Eric Mar wants to study lowering speed limits to 20 miles an hour, especially on streets with high collision rates.

“My hope is that as our Vision Zero process for San Francisco moves forward with engineering, enforcement and education, that we also look at policy changes like lowering speed limits, to save lives and make our streets safer,” said Mar. Vision Zero is a plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024. Under the plan, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has identified the most troubling intersections and plans to undertake quick “cost-effective” measures to improve pedestrian safety… (more)