SF’s Vision Zero: intuitive, radical, and failed

By : sfgate – excerpt

Vision Zero, San Francisco’s declared goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024, has failed so far. 25 people, including 12 people walking and 3 biking, have been killed on our streets this year, compared to 24 by this point in 2014, when the goal was set.

Like many of the most powerful and attractive ideas, Vision Zero is radical but also deeply intuitive: Of course people shouldn’t die on our streets. It’s not just that they shouldn’t die—they don’t have to die. Sweden, where Vision Zero was created in 1997, has cut pedestrian deaths by half and now has a rate of traffic deaths less than one fourth that of the United States…(more)

This is not news. Ed Reiskin admitted this months ago. The US government has come up with studies showing that a huge uptick in deadly accidents are being blamed on apps. Convincing people to go back to defensive behavior might be a better approach. Everyone needs to look where they are going, not assume they are going to seen.

Geary bridge demolition meets resistance as bus speeding project moves forward

sfexaminer – excerpt

If The City were to tear down a pair of Geary Boulevard pedestrian bridges, it would be a loss for local children, seniors and the community.

That’s the opinion of a group of detractors led by Karen Kai, who sits on the advisory board to the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program Parent, Teacher and Community Council in Japantown.

The bridges allow walkers to safely cross Geary Boulevard’s eight lanes of traffic, but may be torn down under a plan to speed up Muni’s 38-Geary bus.

Kai volunteers at the nearby Rosa Parks Elementary school. The idea of children crossing Geary Boulevard without the bridge, she said, would be “scary.”

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, as it is called, is now moving forward with input from people in the community, like Kai, following a hotly contentious meeting Thursday at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority presented the project’s draft environmental impact report to about 200 community members. Some were business owners worried construction would create a dip in customers, others were residents worried for loss of parking… (more)

Gov. Brown gives green light to motorized skateboards

By Bill Hutchinson : sfgate – excerpt

Move over bicyclists, e-boarders now have the legal right to share your lanes.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation reversing a 38-year-old state ban on electric motorized boards, giving riders of such mobility devices the same street cred as cyclists.
The legislation, signed by Brown on Sunday, will go into effect on Jan. 1.
But e-boarders aren’t shredding with joy just yet. The law gives municipalities the right accept all, part or none of the new rules.
“In places like Oakland where skateboards are banned on roads and many sidewalks, e-boards could also be banned,” said Ryan Price, campaigns director for the California Bicycle Coalition.
The law will give cities the choice to give operators the green light to roll on any “public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail,” according to Assembly Bill 604, introduced by Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto… (more)

The cables used by ‘cable cars’ are fraying, prompting car ban on Powell

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

More than 55,000 feet of taut steel cables run underneath San Francisco.

That constant stream of woven metal puts the word “cable” in cable cars. Now, those cables are fraying more often than ever before.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is moving fast to fix the problem. Its solution is to ban private autos on Powell Street, where the cable cars run.

“We’re doing this because of safety,” said Ed Cobean, senior operations manager of SFMTA’s cable car division.

The plan is called the Powell Street Safety & Improvement Pilot. If passed by the SFMTA Board of Directors on Nov. 3, by Thanksgiving private autos would be banned on Powell between Ellis and Geary for a year and a half.

The linkage between traffic and frayed cables is complex… (more)

North Beach Meeting on Sidewalk Bulbs Gets Tense; SFMTA to Paint Demos

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

A public meeting in North Beach became tense yesterday as residents and firefighters opposed to basic street safety measures continued to assert that sidewalk bulb-outs are dangerous. To appease skeptics, the SFMTA announced that the bulb-outs planned at four intersections on Columbus Avenue will be tested first by installing painted “safety zones” in August. Construction of concrete versions will begin next year…

The bulb-outs “being proposed for Columbus Avenue are not that scary,” said D3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, who told attendees she convinced the SFMTA to implement the painted versions as a trial. “We’ve been looking at all these really carefully… modifications were made, and what we’ve got now is kind of a river stone that’s been smoothed over by all kinds of forces.”…

It was the second recent meeting about bulb-outs held by North Beach Neighbors. At the first meeting on April 30, Hoodline reported, members of SF Fire Fighters Union Local 798 protested life-saving curb extensions claiming they hinder fire trucks. Since that meeting, the union’s president also sent a letter [PDF] to SFFD Chief Johanne Hayes-White calling the department’s approvals of bulb-outs “very troubling.”…

A few people remained unconvinced, however, and raised their voices. Here’s one of the arguments between an opponent and SFMTA planner Oliver Gajda, about whether it’s safe to assume that trucks can turn around bulb-outs without conducting a field test:

Firefighter Tony Rivera also repeated an anecdote to scare people about the prospect of wider sidewalks that he told at the April meeting, according to Hoodline.

At Columbus and Union Streets, where the block of sidewalk along Washington Square Park was extended last year to make the bus stop more efficient, Rivera said he became alarmed when his six-year-old son bent down to pick up a penny at the curb.

“The bus came by — I didn’t realize I was now standing in traffic,” Rivera said. “Before, there used to be a buffer of cars. There should be a warning saying that you are now much closer. If you’re a little kid, or my mom who’s 93 — she needs glasses — she cannot tell that she’s standing right in the way of a vehicle.”

He also complained to Gajda that taxpayers have to pay for the curb extensions, and that he didn’t get a notification about them. “It’s wrong, man. You don’t live in the neighborhood, I do… I think it’s bullshit.”

Rivera said he “has to drive a car,” and that if bulb-outs remove more parking spots, “I’m not going to go there and help our neighborhood because I’m going to be driving around, distracted. It’s going to be crazy.”

Daniel Macchiarini of the North Beach Business Association has continued to fight the 2010 Columbus Avenue study that recommended more space for people. He claimed that the SFPD told him there haven’t been any pedestrian injuries since 2013, except for one “criminal” one, at the intersections set to get bulb-outs, which will “destroy small businesses.” He said SFFD only approved the bulb-outs because of “pressure from the mayor’s office.”

Macchiarini also said that SFMTA staff hasn’t returned his emails over the years requesting statistics on pedestrian safety to explain “why we’re doing this.”…

While SFFD has shown signs of softening its opposition to bulb-outs and narrower roadways, SFFD Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi said the agency’s stance has never changed. As he explained in January 2014, “it’s hard to pinpoint” what has slowed emergency response times, but the department has “shut down” or watered down safety improvements nonetheless.

After showing stats and pictures of broken fire truck components caused by hitting “obstacles,” he said he couldn’t say how many of them were caused by bulb-outs. He said, however, that SFFD would like to see more daylighting and bike lanes, as long as they’re not protected by “hardscape” structures… (more)

People Behaving Badly: wiggle referee quits

By Molly Martinez : kron4 – excerpt – (video clip)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Stanley Roberts caught up with the self-appointed “wiggle referee,” who was reluctant to speak with KRON4.  The wiggle, for those unfamiliar, is a particularly dangerous intersection for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Stanley also gets accused of trying to sell papers… (more)

San Francisco Removing Dozens Of Parking Spaces In ‘Daylighting’ Plan To Improve Pedestrian Safety

cbslocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – It’s getting harder for drivers to park in San Francisco, and it’s not just because of increased traffic. Some parking spots are actually disappearing, in the name of safety.

The Tenderloin is a tough neighborhood in just about every respect, and that includes parking. But in recent weeks, finding a space has become even tougher. “We call it daylighting,” said Tom Maguire of the SFMTA.

Daylighting is a fancy word for removing the parking spaces at busy pedestrian corners. The curb gets painted red at the former parking spot, the meter disappears. What’s left is what the city calls a safer intersection…

Frustrated drivers say they’re all for safety, but they’re also quick to point out that visibility is a two-way street. Joseph cited as an example pedestrians who are looking down at their phones. “Hey, you need to be paying attention to where you’re walking in society, period,” he said.

The city says safety comes first, and that means daylighting will come to a few more neighborhoods. “Places downtown, South of Market, in the Mission,” Maguire said… (more)

S.F. Truck Drivers Are Getting Sent to Pedestrian School

By Rachel Kaufman : nextcity – excerpt

Driving in San Francisco is not easy. The streets are narrow and hilly, lost tourists stumble out into the street, and there are plenty of cyclists (including bike-share users, who may be newer to cycling and thus less familiar with the rules of the road). Now picture driving a truck in San Francisco….

“There’s a lot of confusion on city streets,” Knox White says, “especially as we are reengineering them and redesigning them in new ways. We’re stepping away from, ‘There’s a bike lane or not a bike lane.’” Instead, the city has green-painted bike lanes, “regular” lanes, sharrows and more. “There’s a lot of confusion out there … . People could use some understanding of what to expect from bicyclists or pedestrians. Sometimes they do things, even if they’re not supposed to, that are surprising.”…

“I think the key takeaway for me is as we are doing these new, innovative things, most of which are great to have, we have to be really careful that we’re bringing people along,” Knox White says.

One thing is certain: It might be tough to get around in a truck in San Francisco, but they’re not going anywhere any time soon. Says Smith: “If we don’t bring stuff, people don’t live.”.. (more)

Oh My, It’s ARBOR-GEDDON 2015 – The SFMTA Wants to Kill Hundreds of Healthy Street Trees to Slow Down Traffic on Masonic

sfcitizen – excerpt

SPEED UP MUNI BUSES? Nope. In fact, the Plan will slow down MUNI buses, like part of the Plan is already doing that already, at Ewing Terrace, for example. (The nearby City Target had some mad money so it gave a quarter million to the SFMTA to put in a new light at Ewing in order to gain support for The Plan from a woman who lives on The Terrace.) This plan will slow down MUNI. Simply. Yet somehow, it will “increase access” to transit, by giving people the right to sit longer at bus stops?

SPEED UP THE REST OF TRAFFIC ON MASONIC, THE GREAT CONNECTOR WHAT LINKS THE PARKSIDE, THE SUNSET, AND THE RICHMOND WITH THE REST OF SAN FRANCISCO, CONNECTING BUSH PINE WITH LINCOLN, FULTON, OAK, FELL, TURK, BALBOA, AND GEARY? Oh, Hell no. Masonic will turn into a congested parking lot during the morning and evening drives, ala Oak Street, ala Octavia Boulevard. Buses will no longer pull over into stops – they’ll simply stop and block the slow lane, leaving the solitary remaining lane, the “fast” lane, to temporarily serve as the only way for motorized traffic to travel on Masonic.

INCREASE “ACCESS” TO MUNI? We’ll see. The SFMTA is claiming that rebuilt bus stops will be the big benefit to MUNI riders.

INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PARKING SPACES IN THE AREA? Oh no. In fact, the Plan will remove 100-something 22-hour-a-day parking spaces from Masonic. (For some this is a feature and not a detriment.)

BENEFIT CYCLISTS? Perhaps. This, see below, is what people do these days, for the most part – they ride their bikes on the wide wide sidewalks, going uphill, for the most part, as I’ve been doing for a couple decades. SFGov is free to make this practice legal on Masonic, but it chooses not to. In fact, SFGov is sometimes reluctant to make piecemeal changes, for safety or whatever, because SFGov shuns so-called “chop-shop” projects – SFGov prefers giant pork-barrel projects paid for by, among others, people living in North Dakota. And then, if residents started to think that Masonic was then “fixed,” through small changes, that would lessen the pressure for a big pork barrel project using money from the Feds and Sacramento.  Anywho, most of the coming changes to Masonic appear to favor bike riders, so yes, we’ll be getting separated lanes up and down Masonic… (more)

We are speechless. Comments to the Chronicle and letters to the Mayor might be most appropriate. Removing mature trees that need no watering and planting new ones that require a lot of water to establish themselves, is bad any time, but quite offensive during a drought.

S.F. traffic fatalities dip, but not bad behavior

By Heather Knight : sfgate – excerpt

Last January, this column proposed a rather modest, practical citywide New Year’s resolution: “However you traverse the city’s streets — be it in a car, on a bicycle or using your own two feet — calm down. Look around. Pay attention. Be considerate.”

After all, 21 pedestrians and four bicyclists were killed on the city’s streets in 2013, the highest total since 2001.

So how’d we do? Like probably most resolution makers, the city did a little bit better — but not a whole lot.

In 2014, 17 pedestrians and three bicyclists died, according to the San Francisco Police Department. Nine people on motorcycles or in cars also died.

Last year, we griped about the inconsiderate behavior of all users of our streets where speeding, honking, blowing through red lights and stop signs, swearing, showing off a certain finger, using a cell phone and just being completely oblivious seem increasingly to be the norm.

Police Commander Mikail Ali keeps records of all the traffic collisions and deaths and said the majority of them share something in common.

“A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior,” he said…

He shared a Police Department list of the circumstances behind each traffic death in San Francisco in 2014, and it’s true. The behavior — by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — is often downright shocking.

The list also makes clear that while many city drivers are awful, the collisions are not only their fault. The Police Department found that in the 17 pedestrian deaths, drivers were responsible for eight and pedestrians were responsible for nine. Bicyclists were responsible in all three instances when they died…

“This is not Star Trek, where some invisible force field is going to be created around people by the likes of city government,” he said. “The public has to do its part, and that means adhering to the rules of the road.”

He said he’s told constantly by people that they cross streets against the light or commit otherwise seemingly minor infractions.

“It’s kind of like playing Russian roulette,” he said. “Eventually something bad does happen.”… (more)