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.

Advertisements

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.

 

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.

Two-mile-long Van Ness bus lane project faces two-year delay

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The two-mile-long Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project is facing an almost six-month construction delay.

“The project has been delayed due to an increase of wet weather since the project started,” said Paul Rose, a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson, “as well as contractual challenges in getting a utility contractor on board.”

Left turns along Van Ness Avenue between Mission and Lombard streets were eliminated when construction began in 2016 to create bus lanes which are intended to speed up buses for thousands of Muni riders… (more)

As some of us have noted, there is a shortage of competent experienced contractors and construction workers due to the unreasonable number of government projects. There are no more construction workers to do any more work.

It doens’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the “new economy” education system is producing too many hackers and computer geniuses and not enough talented plumbers and electricians to meet the demand for the fast-paced development City Hall expects.

Unlike software contractors, who can fake results an blame the hardware, it is hard to fake an electrical or plumbing system. If the city wants to be in the construction business they need to train more construction workers to work in the real world instead of the virtual ones.

Hopefully City Hall will figure out soon that there is no point in digging any more holes until they fill the big ones causing all the damage to our city. Do us all a favor. and “FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED BEFORE DIGGING UP ANY MORE STREETS.”

Political muscle and dealmaking got Prop. E passed

By Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview and sunsetbeacon – excerpt

Political muscle and deal-making got Proposition E passed, which created the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The proposition was on the November, 1999 ballot.

According to an article in the SF Examiner, SF Mayor Willie Brown worked hard during a re-election year to muster support for Proposition E. The work paid off. The SF Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to put the measure on the ballot. Supporting the plan was a combination of progressive and moderate supervisors: Tom Amman, Alica Becerril, Amos Brown, Leslie Katz, Barbara Kaufman, Mark Leno, Gavin Newsom, Mabel Teng, Michael Yaki and Leland Yee. Only supervisor Sue Bierman voted against the plan.

In the ballot pamphlet supporting their position, the 10 supervisors said, “Proposition E will make Muni much more accountable for service delivered. It will take strong steps to reduce traffic by finally making transit a real alternative to the automobile, and it will ensure Muni is fully funded to meet the City’s transit needs for years to come.” None of those goals have come to pass…

If political muscle can create it political muscle can kill it. Make sure you grill all the supervisor candidates on how they plan to take back public control of the agency and then hold them to their promise.

Proposition E is a SF Charter revision, which means it is a part of the City’s guiding document and can’t be changed without a vote of the people. It had the support of many of the city’s political leaders, including SF Mayor Willie Brown, state Sen. John Burton, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Assemblyman Kevin Shelley and the Democratic and Republican parties. They all called for improving bus service in the City, but they gave up control over the agency responsible for performing the task, changed the city’s Transit First Policy to be hostile to private vehicles, and created a super-organization responsible for thousands of employees – without supervision from any elected officials. No one is held accountable at the SFMTA…

Prop. E also gave the SFMTA the power to tax, which it tried to do in the November 2016 election by requesting a half-cent sales tax increase for transit projects that the agency refused to spell out. Trust us. Just give us the money, the SFMTA said. The voters, in their wisdom, said “no!”  Prop. E was passed by San Francisco voters on Nov. 2, 1999, by a 61- 39 percent vote… (more).

I you want an excuse for owning a car, you need to look not further than the fires in the north to see why a car is you best refuge in a disaster. All these thousands of people in shelters got there by private vehicle. The public transportation system is the first to close down during a crisis event that requires mass evacuations, and who wants to carry you life in a backpack? In the event of an emergency, your vehicle is your emergency vehicles and possibly your home for a while.

RELATED:
Transportation Madness

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/

SF households may lose parking permits to free up spaces citywide

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Can’t find a parking spot near your home in The City? You’re not the only one.

To ease neighborhood parking woes, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is undertaking its first major overhaul of residential parking permits since they were established in 1976.

But first, the agency is starting small.

The SFMTA Board of Directors will consider on Tuesday approval of a pilot program to slash the number of residential parking permits per household in two neighborhoods — northwest Bernal Heights and the Dogpatch — which may become law citywide by 2019.

Under the original parking permit rules still in place today, The City grants more parking permits than there are spaces available, SFMTA staff told reporters Wednesday…(more)

 

San Francisco Considers Surge Parking Prices

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A new plan proposes bringing surge parking prices to San Francisco.

In time, parking rates could go as high as $8 an hour in some areas under the plan.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehey said, “It just starts out with the assumption that everybody in San Francisco is rich.”…

The idea is that people will move faster if they are paying more for parking and thus free up parking spaces… (huh?)

Karnilowicz said, “I don’t see how it is going to make the turn overany different, just because you are increasing the price.”

And John Nazzal, owner of the Marina Deli, which is located in one of the neighborhoods where they tested the new pricing, agrees.

Nazzal said, “A lot of my friends and customers tell me that the reason they don’t come in anymore is that they don’t want to spend $2 or $3 to get a sandwich.”

It should be noted that in San Francisco, parking is a moneymaker. The city took in about $38 million from parking meters last year. Which begs the question: How much of this is about making more money?… (more)

Say no more. The SFMTA wants more money and is trying to convince us they have our best interest at heart. That would be a first.
Get those letters to the Mayor, SFMTA Board and the Board of Supervisors. Let them know you support the merchants and residents and visitors who are being gauged already by the high prices in this city. SFMTA doesn’t need any more money to use against us. They are creating the problems to begin with and we don’t trust them to fix the problems they are creating. There was a vote a few years ago that stopped the spread of parking meters into the neighborhoods. It is time to revisit that action again.