Expect congestion next three years: Lombard, Polk, and Van Ness construction projects to run simultaneously

By Susan Dyer Reynolds : marinatimes – excerpt

In San Francisco, where extensive construction work has taken over the city’s neighborhoods and business districts, it seems almost absurd to attempt three enormous, overlapping projects on and around three major Northside thoroughfares, but that’s exactly what the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has planned. Here’s the latest news on the Polk Streetscape project, the Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement and Bus Rapid Transit project, and the Lombard Street Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative… (more)

The author wants to know how you feel about these plans so let her know. Also let the city officials know. Save Polk Street has a letter here you can sign if you like:


Future of Polk Street to be decided Tuesday – maybe

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.

SFMTA Planner Denies Plans to Create Evening Tow Away Zone along Upper Polk St

Press Release January 24, 2015

Luis Montoya, SFMTA lead planner of the Polk Streetscape Improvement Project, faced concerned residents and merchants in a closed door meeting Thursday in preparation for the upcoming January 30th Public Hearing to approve the agency’s long awaited project plans. Community members were alarmed to read that the MTA is proposing a morning and evening daily tow away zone for the implementation of a “temporary floating” bike lane from Pine to Broadway as posted on public notice posters wrapped along utility poles in their neighborhood.

Further questions and concerns grew from a report released from the planning department detailing the project’s exemption from an environmental impact report and the proposed plans including raised cycle tracks from Pine to Union, the removal of parking along the entire eastern side of Polk St, and the removal of up to 250 parking spaces at project completion. The report suggests the desire for future implementation of a full‐time raised cycle track along the east side of Polk St from Pine to Broadway (and permanent parking removal).

In response to these questions, Mr. Montoya commented that the posters were misprinted and there are absolutely no plans to implement a PM tow away zone along upper Polk St from Pine to Broadway.  He went on to comment that the report from the planning department is not his preferred proposal he will present at the public meeting on January 30th, but the planning department’s own interpretation of the project plans and data collected. How the Planning Department concluded the PM tow away zone he could not say. He did confirm his agency’s intention to implement the morning tow away zone despite minimal ridership numbers the SFMTA has recorded along northbound Upper Polk St on weekday mornings, and denied the SFMTA is planning to present a plan that calls for the removal of all northbound Polk St parking to create a raised cycle track from Pine to Broadway St  He added that his plan will remove approximately 150 parking spaces along the 1.3 mile Polk St. corridor (in addition to the hundreds of spaces being removed for the Van Ness BRT project), not the 250 listed in the Planning Department report.

At the conclusion of the meeting he asked the group for their trust and support despite the inaccurate and misleading public notice posters and planning department report, and left with a permanent marker in hand to personally alter the posted public notice signs.  On Friday a majority of the posters had been removed entirely, again questioning the agency’s accountability to the community in providing appropriate public outreach.

The Polk Streetscape Improvement Project public hearing will be held Friday, January 30th at 10AM in Hearing Room 416, City Hall.

This sounds like a real comedy of errors. Could this have anything to do with the Planning Department being overwhelmed with work requests? Time to slow down.

Parking-First “Save Polk Street” Crowd Attacks Van Ness BRT

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

“Save Polk Street” has aimed its parking-first agenda at Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit. A couple dozen speakers protested the project an SFMTA hearing last week, distributing fearmongering flyers [PDF] claiming that removing some parking and banning left turns would “kill small businesses,” back up car traffic, and make the street more dangerous.

The long-delayed Van Ness BRT project was already approved two years ago by the boards of the SFMTA and the SF County Transportation Authority. Last week’s hearing was on specific street changes [PDF], like removing parking for station platforms and pedestrian bulb-outs. No action was taken by the hearing officers, but the street changes are expected to go to the SFMTA Board of Directors for approval in October…

Save Polk Street, a group of car-obsessed merchants, successfully watered down plans for protected bike lanes on Polk in favor of preserving parking. The group has ignored statistics – like SFMTA studies showing that 85 percent of people arrive on Polk without a car, or a count of 4,300 parking spaces within a block of Polk between Union and McAllister Streets. Only 1,900 of those parking spaces are on-street, and on-street spaces along Polk and Van Ness make up a fraction of the total.

Most of the complaints about Van Ness BRT were about removing parking and banning left turns, and claimed that transit doesn’t need the estimated 30 percent speed increase. Some also complained about removing five of 16 bus stops to streamline the route…

The changes at the hearing are expected to be approved at an SFMTA Board hearing on October 7.

Why the Van Ness BRT is bad flyer:

We shall see in November who is the minority when the voters decide whether to continue funding SFMTA projects or stop them from further traffic disruptions, such as the Van Ness BRT, by voting Yes on L: http://www.restorebalance14.org/



Stop the Van Ness BRT. Let your city, state and federal representatives know that you oppose any changes on Van Ness. “Van Ness (and Lombard) are considered part of the Federal and State highway system. They are designated as 101 because they form the official link where 101 ends to where it resumes at the GG Bridge.”


The 2013 Streetsie Awards, Part 2

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Today we bring you the second and final round of Streetsblog San Francisco’s 2013 Streetsie Awards, highlighting the best and worst in livable streets from the past year. This round will start out with a focus on the worst…
NIMBYs of the Year
Save Polk Street blew the other NIMBYs out of the water this year. Perhaps their most notorious stunt was to invite out-of-towners to pack a neighborhood meeting and fight for car parking on Polk, safety improvements be damned. The merchant group’s leaders spread fear to galvanize opposition, making up stories about failed bike lanes in other cities…
Unfortunately, Save Polk Street’s fearmongering partially succeeded, persuading the SFMTA and Supervisor David Chiu — purportedly a champion of safer streets for biking — to roll back safer bike lanes in favor of parking in the Polk plan. The project still has to be approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors, which wants the option of a full bike lane pilot, but the current proposal is a far cry from the original vision of parking-protected bike lanes along this vital corridor…
Most Frustratingly-Delayed Project
Geary Bus Rapid Transit was originally supposed to open in 2012. The current opening date of 2018, believe it or not, was an improvement over the previous one of 2020. But the currently proposed plan will only have center-running transit lanes in the Richmond(more)

The 2013 Streetsie Awards, Part 1




Polk Folks Poke Back

marinatimes – excerpt

Folks for Polk, a citizens group supporting the redesign of the Polk Street corridor to improve the pedestrian, biking, and mass transit arrangements on the busy commercial and residential street, issued its final recommendations for the project. Undeterred by the release by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) of the “preferred alternative” plan for the Polk Street Improvement Project (see Marina Times, “News Briefs,” August 2013), Folks for Polk presented in December the results of a series of meetings with residents and issued its own summary of the preferences expressed in those meetings.
Its recommendations get more specific than the City agency’s summary; they include environmental-focused details for the “bulb-outs” at street corners and real-time transit information screens at various locations on the busy street. Folks for Polk’s recommendations can be found online at www.folksforpolk.org.
http://www.folksforpolk.org/static/pdf/prefRecs.pdf (more)

If you can change the plans to take away more parking and traffic lanes, you can change the plan to add more. It is not too late. Let the supervisors know how you feel about the Polk Street plan and SFMTA plans to cut traffic on major regional traffic corridors, like Van Ness, Potrero, Geary, Market Street, Masonic, Cesar Chavez, and 19th Avenue.

Polk St. plans make room for parking

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco transportation planners hope to calm a rebellion over a proposal to reduce the number of parking places on Polk for bike lanes by designing options to preserve more parking.
The plan originally envisioned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency included an option for a continuous bike lane, separated by a buffer or barrier, from Union Street to McAllister Street. That option would have eliminated about 18 percent of the parking on the busy commercial thoroughfare and sparked an outcry from merchants who said it would hurt their businesses…
“What we heard from people was that they wanted to see an option that didn’t include bike lanes and wouldn’t remove parking,” said Luis Montoya, project manager…
Merchants were pleased to see an option that eliminates bike lanes and saves most parking places using “sharrows” – painted symbols on the street that are intended to remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists… (more)

SFMTA Drops Protected Bike Lane Proposals for Most of Polk Street

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog.org – excerpt

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency has taken protected bike lanes off the table for 14 of 20 blocks of Polk Street under its latest design options [PDF]…
the SFMTA’s most ambitious proposal for Polk between Geary and Union Streets only includes bike lanes that, depending on the block, would run either curbside (without parking) or in the door zone — the kinds of bike lanes that only make a relatively small percentage of people feel comfortable enough to ride… (more)

Save Polk Street likes Plan “A”. It remains to be seem what they will get, though the cyclists are unhappy with the latest design choices.

New Polk Street plans kinder to parked cars

Revised options for Polk Street that exclude bike lanes gain support from merchants

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

A revamped Polk Street proposal that would include safety upgrades at intersections but few improvements for cyclists has garnered support from residents and merchants.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages traffic policies, outraged merchants along the bustling corridor this year by proposing to reduce parking in favor of more access for cyclists. Following the backlash, the agency came back with six new options — three each for portions of Polk Street north and south of Geary Street.
Option A for upper Polk — the densest area of the corridor — has gained backing from the Save Polk Street Coalition, a group of merchants and neighborhood residents.
Dan Kowalski, owner of Flipp, a furniture store on Polk and Green streets, said many cyclists he talked to said they’d be satisfied if the corridor was repaved and markings were made clearer — upgrades both included in Option A…
Spokesman Paul Rose said the SFMTA will analyze feedback collected from an open house meeting last Saturday and another hearing scheduled for today before making recommendations on the Polk Street overhaul… (more)

So get to that hearing if you care about Polk Street.

SF Shop Owners, Bike Advocates Battle Over Polk Street Bike Lane Proposal

KCBS – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco’s Polk Street is filled with restaurants, bars and shops and a new transportation plan is drawing the line between merchants and bike advocates.
Polk Street is due to be repaved in 2015 and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking at ways to improve flow and make the corridor more safe for everyone…
The MTA has held several informational meetings on the issue and will be hosting two more later this month, on April 27 and April 30… (more)