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?

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VTA’s Controversial “Bus Only” Lanes Up for Debate

Hearings begin on Thursday in Mountain View to discuss a controversial plan by Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority to create dedicated bus lanes throughout parts of Silicon Valley, despite fears that the “bus only” lanes will actually increase traffic on residential streets…

There is plenty of criticism, however. On the article page of the Mountain View voice, several people chimed in to say the bus lanes, would just steer more traffic onto local streets.

One online commenter with the screen name of “PROTEST” wrote: “How GREAT would it be to have an organized protest of this plan, with people blocking the right lane of (El Camino Real) in key spots from SJ to Palo Alto. That would be an epic visual and a very strong message. The ensuing temporary traffic snarl would also show everyone what daily life would be like with a closed lane(s)on (El Camino Real)… (more)

Commuter Shuttle Pilot Launches Today

San Francisco’s Commuter Shuttle Pilot program launches today. Approved in January, this 18-month pilot will test sharing a limited network of specifically selected Muni zones with permitted commuter shuttles. For the first time, commuter shuttle pick-up and drop-off locations will be regulated.

The SFMTA has created a network of zones for permitted shuttles to use. The designated network of is comprised of shared Muni zones and Commuter Shuttle permit-only white zones. Check out the pilot network as a map or in list form.  Signage on shelters or bus poles indicates which zones are included in the pilot network.

Commuter shuttles with permits will bear placards on the front and rear of their vehicles. Placards include unique 5-digit number that will help SFMTA resolve questions and complaints.

Feedback is important!
Please let us know if you see:
·         Shuttles using stops outside of the network
·         Unsafe behavior
·         Shuttle use of restricted streets
·         Locations where conditions are improved

Please provide location, time, direction, placard number, photograph (if possible) to help us follow up appropriately.

Use the 311 e-form to submit feedback.

In the Know provides brief updates on agency issues, initiatives and key projects in the news.

RELATED:
Pilot charging commuter buses to use Muni stops hits the streets
First day of pilot program allowing shuttles at Muni stops sparks protest

Oakland merchants seek help as bus lanes limit car traffic

By Will Kane : sfgate – excerpt

You can’t sell dishwashers to people who ride the bus, Oakland merchant Vincente Soto said.

And when Oakland closes half the lanes of car traffic along International Boulevard from downtown to the San Leandro BART Station and replaces them with a bus-only transit lane in the next few years, Soto said his customers won’t be able to drive to his store, or find parking.

“My customers will be competing with residents for the parking spaces around here,” Soto said through a translator. “The residents will be taking my customers’ spaces.”…

Transit advocates say the bus lanes, called bus rapid transit, or BRT, will speed the commute along busy, congested International and offer a local, neighborhood alternative to BART… (more)

This sounds like a familiar argument used everywhere for establishing BRTs. How many alternatives do people need or want? The locals contend with fears that the rents “might go up.” You can bet on that.

 

Protesters block Silicon Valley shuttles, smash Google bus window

By Sean Hollister : theverge – excerpt

The Google bus is a symbol of inequality

One of the perks of working at a major Silicon Valley company is a shuttle ride to work. But as housing prices rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, angry activists are targeting those shuttles to protest the region’s gentrification. In Oakland, protesters attacked a Google bus today, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board…
One of the perks of working at a major Silicon Valley company is a shuttle ride to work. But as housing prices rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, angry activists are targeting those shuttles to protest the region’s gentrification. In Oakland, protesters attacked a Google bus today, smashing a window and distributing fliers reading “Get the fuck out of Oakland” to Google employees on board.

My Gbus got hit by protesters in Oakland and they broke a window. pic.twitter.com/VGCyhBLgyd

— Craig Frost (@craigsfrost) December 20, 2013

And in San Francisco, demonstrators blocked an Apple bus, holding signs and even carrying a wooden coffin bearing the message “Affordable housing.”
“We want the ruling class, which is becoming the tech class, to listen to our voices and listen to the voices of folks that are being displaced,” said one SF protester…
These aren’t isolated incidents. Just last week, some of the same San Francisco activists protested another tech industry bus at the same street corner, though an alleged Google employee at that rally turned out to be a fake. A small group of protesters also smashed a Google bus pinata back in May

Catherine Bracy gave a speech at the Personal Democracy Forum that does a good job of explaining the current economic inequality in Silicon Valley, and some reasons why the Google bus might inspire a certain degree of hatred. You can watch it here. (more)

If you think people are upset now, wait until the Federal unemployment checks stop coming. The pitchforks are out and will not be going away soon.
The best explanation we have seen so far for why the anti-eviction folks are attacking the buses came from someone on the local news who said, “We want the folks on the bus to join us in protesting the problems.”
Media can easily ignore the poor folks in the Mission who are losing their homes, but they can’t ignore anything that threatens the tech industry. Next trip to the Bay Area Obama might want to talk to the leaders of the protestors and listen to their concerns as well as the CEOs of Silicon Valley.

 

RELATED:
Via pandodaily
Source Craig Frost (Twitter, 1)(2)(3)
SF and Oakland, activists block tech buses to protest displacement
Indy Bay
ReutersKQED
oakland san francisco politics shuttle bay area bus protest transportation gentrification silicon valley Google

SFMTA Headquarters Evacuated After 34 Sickened By Mysterious Substance

: excerpt

San Francisco firefighters are still searching for the source of an irritating substance that caused breathing problems in more than 30 people and triggered the evacuation of a city building this afternoon.
The building at 1 South Van Ness Ave., which houses San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s headquarters and other city offices, was evacuated at 3:07 p.m. after occupants reported breathing some sort of irritating substance, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said… (more)

Could it be somebody protesting the gridlock and disappearing parking spaces, or someone who opened their SMART parking meter bill, or a rider who can’t find the bus they used to take to get to work, or a food truck worker who got a parking ticket while serving lunch? The possibilities are endless.

Honking Cab Drivers Demand San Francisco Ban On Ridesharing Services

by Sasha Lekach, : sfappeal – excerpt

With horns blaring, a long line of taxicabs circled San Francisco City Hall this afternoon, with cab drivers demanding that the city ban smartphone-enabled rideshare services.
As their colleagues circled the block, dozens of taxi drivers gathered on the steps of City Hall to call for the regulation of rideshare companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.
One of the rally’s organizers, Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, called the startup companies “unfair competition.”
He said, “legal cabs are getting screwed,” citing a large drop in taxi ridership since the companies began operating.
The taxi drivers are asking city officials and the California Public Utilities Commission to step in… (more)

 

Local Cabbies Worry Taxis Will Become San Francisco’s Next Endangered Species

By Coburn Palmer : sfweekly.com/thesnitch – excerpt

It was an unusual sight outside City Hall today — empty cabs and lots of them!
If you’ve visited San Francisco for even a few hours on a Saturday night, then you already know how irksome it is to try and track down a taxi. Well, driving a taxi is no walk in the park either. Cabbies gathered today outside City Hall to honk away their own frustrations about the most controversial issue plaguing that community: taxi medallions.
The drivers’ complaints specifically target the SFMTA’s policy of selling permits, also known as medallions, for $300,000, on top of charging drivers to process credit cards from fares. In addition, the SFMTA is ignoring the recommendations of the Taxi Advisory Council, drivers claim… (more)