To Win the War on Cars, San Francisco Weaponizes Real Estate

by : wired – excerpt

I’ll start with the bad news, because I think you can take it: You can’t beat San Francisco traffic. As long as people want to live in this idyll by the bay, tech companies set up shop off Market Street, and bars offer expensive drinks made with fruit shrubs, cars and tech buses will choke its roads.

“Anecdotally, the only major cities unfettered by congestion are terribly declining Rust Belt ones,” says Marlon Boarnet, an economist and urban planning researcher with the University of Southern California. (Think Detroit, Buffalo, Youngstown.) “In our most thriving cities, we can’t make the congestion vanish because the cities are thriving.” San Francisco’s booming so hard, the only place in the US where you’ll find worse traffic is Los Angeles.

What San Francisco believes it can do, however, is improve life in the city by making it easier to get around without a car. This week, its Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance requiring developers to stock new residential or commercial projects with more alternative-transport perks than ever before. This is no all-out war on vehicles, but rather an attempt to cut down on the number and length of car trips the natives take each day.

And if it works, San Francisco’s data-driven approach could become a template for other American cities hoping to turn big talk about transportation innovation into big action, and big results…

You’ll have to be patient: This program won’t bear serious fruit for 10 to 20 years, given the pace of development. The first projects built under the new rubric won’t get off the ground for another 18 to 24 months. But San Francisco planners say they’re already getting calls about the ordinance from other cities interested in taking this approach for a spin. And for the family that gets access to an in-apartment storage spot for their car-share friendly car seats (two points!), the lifestyle changes will happen a lot sooner. Too bad they’ll still have to find ways to entertain toddlers while stuck in traffic… (more)

The SFMTA and City Hall have been spinning this wait for results for over 10 years and so far the traffic and congestion both on the streets and on the buses has gotten worse. Taking care of the citizens is an afterthought in the rush to turn San Francisco into a innovative world class city built by and for robots.

The public transit systems are already at capacity. The SFMTA and BART solution is to cram more bodies in to the buses and trains by removing the seats, making it harder for many who rely on public transit to take it.

They really want those old and infirm people to leave and make room for the young and wealthy they think are on the way. This is creating a class war in what used to be the most liberal city in America. San Francisco housing is for sale to the highest bidder.

Today they announced approval of the Traffic Demand Management (TDM), and the sheriff evicted a 100 year old woman from her home. She is being thrown out like trash onto the street. Older people generally don’t survive such a move for long so many see this as a death sentence. Expect a protest at City Hall.

Last time the SFMTA came begging for tax dollars the voters refused to cough it up. Some indication of disgust with that department and an awakening of the populace that no longer blindly trust SFMTA and City Hall.

Merchants, community organizations sue to block Geary BRT project

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project has been in the works for more than a decade, but a newly filed lawsuit wants local courts to “slow down” the project.

An environmental lawsuit against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco County Transportation Authority project was filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, taking aim at the controversial project that is intended to improve public transit from the northwest side of The City to downtown.

The SFCTA declined to comment, and the SFMTA could not be reached for comment…

The suit was brought by San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, a nonprofit touted by Geary Boulevard merchant David Heller, a staunch opponent of Geary BRT.

“This action is brought to stop a grave error in judgment from taking form as a bus thruway [sic],” the claim states, “which destroys the quality of life and economic health of the Richmond District of San Francisco.”… (more)

There are a lot of people who oppose the Hybrid Alternative Geary BRT, the mess on Van Ness, and the Red Lanes on Mission. We need a break from constant changes on the streets and musical chairs with bus stops. We need a return to civility, but it is hard to be civil when you are stressed by having to deal with constant change. We need a moratorium on disruptions. This suit is a strike against maximum change and disruption, in favor of a cheaper, less damaging alternative. Who wants to spend an extra $300 million dollars and endure years of turmoil when you don’t have to?

Don’t let SFMTA run uncontrolled

letter to the editor : sfchronicle – excerpt

Regarding “Commerce disrupted” (Letters, Jan. 3): The author’s comments about San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency changing lanes, parking, etc. throughout the city is right on! The association has taken on a life of its own over the years and appears to be able to do whatever they wish without any public input or supervision. Who handed them the keys to all the city streets? The heart of the city is the neighborhoods. Everything should be done to protect and promote the neighborhoods, as they are what makes the city unique. San Francisco is not a shopping mall. Politicians are already mistreating the residents by renting out publie streets and venues to corporate interests without regard to the inconvenience shouldered by the taxpayer. Stop the SFMTA’s ability to do as they wish without adequate consideration and input from the residents and small businesses.

Catherine Brady-Brown, San Andreas

A Warning to People Who Bike: Self-Driving Ubers and Right Hook Turns

By Brian Wiedenmeier : sfbike – excerpt

Before the surprise launch of Uber’s autonomous vehicles on San Francisco streets this week, I rode in one. I can tell you firsthand: Those vehicles are not yet ready for our streets.

I was at one of the demonstrations covered in the SF Examiner, along with others who Uber hoped to impress with their new technology. None of us were told that just two days later, Uber would be releasing this technology on our streets on a large scale. I did tell Uber some things about the shortcomings of that technology, however.

In the ride I took through the streets of SoMa on Monday, the autonomous vehicle in “self-driving” mode as well as the one in front of it took an unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane. Twice. This kind of turn is one featured in a 2013 blog post that is known to be one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike resulting in serious injury or fatality. It’s also an unsafe practice that we address in all of the safety curriculum we offer to professional drivers, including the videos we consulted on for Uber as recently as this fall.

I told staff from Uber’s policy and engineering teams about the safety hazards of their autonomous vehicle technology. They told me they would work on it. Then, two days later, they unleashed that technology on San Francisco’s streets. Your streets…(more)

RELATED:
What was Uber’s endgame in the first place?

Look What the Fog Rolled in

Paris Marx : bolditamlic – excerpt

Why Uber’s Expansion Plans Would Make City Life Unbearable

Uber’s riders earn an average of 70% more than the median income. If Uber were subsidized, the wealthy would reap the benefits.

Public transit is indispensible in any urban environment. It provides people from all walks of life an affordable way to move around the city. It reduces the need for cars, resulting in less traffic and lower carbon emissions. But with the encroachment of Uber and other ride-hailing apps, are the benefits of public transit in jeopardy?

Uber’s growth has been exponential as its footprint has expanded globally. The company has spent more on lobbyists in California than Facebook and Apple did combined — all to ensure that it isn’t subject to regulations that apply to other transportation companies.

While some local authorities continue to fight Uber’s predatory expansion, others are embracing it. In September, Dublin became the first municipality in California to subsidize Uber rides for residents, following similar deals with towns in Florida that cover 25 percent of Uber fares to train stations and 20 percent of fares for other rides…

When public authorities subsidize Uber, it’s wealthier residents who get the largest benefit — the very people who least need subsidized transit…(more)(more)(more)

 

 

City CarShare’s Getaround Transition Causes Headaches For Longtime Members, Disabled Users

by Teresa Hammer : hoodline – excerpt

On Thursday, car-sharing company Getaround announced a new partnership with Bay Area car-sharing nonprofit City CarShare and its owner-operator, Carma. As the Chronicle reports, City CarShare will remain in business as an independent nonprofit, but it will lease its fleet of approximately 200 vehicles (and associated parking spaces) to Getaround, which will take a commission.

Representatives for both companies said the arrangement would benefit City CarShare’s 20,000 active users, allowing them to take advantage of Getaround’s superior technology (which allows locking and unlocking of cars with a smartphone) and lower, monthly-fee-free prices.

But many consumers we spoke to aren’t happy about the way the company handled the changeover—which happened almost overnight, and has particularly impacted disabled members who rely on CityCarShare’s wheelchair-accessible vans to get around town… (more)

The enterprising sector of the SFMTA has taken over from the public service sector and someone needs to take a look at this department’s financial dealings. A lot of people who signed up for CityCarShare quit using it because it was to expensive. What does the department do with a loser? Expand it or merge it in typical corporate fashion. And who is there to oversee the program and protect the consumer? No one. If this ends up in court like many other disputes with the SFMTA, whose side will the City Attorney take? We are looking at discrimination on so many levels it boggles the mind.

Red Lane Experiments

Where does the SFMTA get the right to put Red transit-only Lanes on Mission Street and how do we get rid of them if we don’t like them?

Caltrans CTCDC, (California Traffic Control Devices Committee) authorizes “experiments” on public streets. One of the Geary merchants attended one of their meetings on March 3, 2016 and expressed his concern over the red lane experiments. Since that meeting, many San Francisco citizens have written letters to the CTCDC opposing them.

Authority Questions : It seems that SFMTA does not have the right to just paint the streets red at will. The right to conduct experiments on our public streets is granted by CTCDC and comes with conditions, including requirements for timely execution and analysis of the effects of the tests.

Questions regarding the tests areas: When CTCDC Chair Greenwood inquired as to whether the installation of the red transit lanes had expanded beyond the areas approved by the committee Mr. White replied that the installation had been used specifically in the 24/7 lanes rather than the part-time lanes. I’m Not sure what that means, but, he went on to say the only place where the lanes had been expanded beyond those shown on the map was Market Street from Fifth to Third, for consistency.

Why did Mr. White fail to mention the red transit-only lanes on Mission Street south of 16th Street?  According to the map and list of allowable streets I have seen, this portion of Mission Street is not included in the experimental areas. We are looking forward to a December 6 meeting with the CTCDC in Sacramento. More on that later…(more)

Dangerous plan afoot to narrow and slow 16th Street traffic access to Mission Bay

The other day as I walked down 16th Street to the BART station I witnessed a traffic jam on 16th Street and shot some photos as the drama unfolded.  There was a repair truck stopped in back of the bus and three people directing traffic around it. There is a single East facing lane on 16th Street now and two West facing lanes so traffic may pass the broken bus without too much trouble now.

As you can see by looking at the photos, the traffic builds up rather fast when a lane is stopped. An ambulance came up 16th Street while I was there and it was directed around the stopped traffic, but stopping the other lane, but, I realized how difficult it would be to maneuver traffic around a broken bus if there was a BRT or separated lanes as the SFMTA plans for 16th Street.

Separated roadways, swerving traffic in narrow lanes do not slow traffic down it makes drivers mad and creates obstacles for the buses and larger vehicles. This is not a safe way to manage traffic.

Please stop this insane constant construction and destruction of our streets! Vote Yes on L and tell the SFMTA to back off. Leave the bus stops and return the service they cut. Stopsfmta.comStopsfmta.com

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Sunset Tunnel’s crumbling interior may end $19 million renovation

The cost of building San Francisco’s Sunset Tunnel has just grown by $3 million more, after the discovery of a crumbling interior inside the tunnel has the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency doling out even more money to see if the project is salvageable.

The Sunset Tunnel tracks for the N-Line were built in 1928 and are now used for the city’s N-Judah light-rail vehicles.

A report from the SFMTA has found that the during the tunnel’s renovation last winter, the conduit began to crumble and exposed “live feeder cables,” adding that there is a “high probability of hidden damages” that might cause the Muni to stop operating in the location for good… (more)

Looks like SFMTA has more important things to do than they can keep track of. Why are they spending money on Red Lanes and BRTs when they need to shore up tunnels and bridges? It boggles the mind sometimes where the priorities lie. If they can’t take care of this problem a lot more people will start driving again.

L-Taraval changes head to SFMTA board

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Contentious changes along Muni’s L-Taraval route could get decided Tuesday.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday are expected to vote on a final proposal on the L-Taraval Rapid Project.

Residents and merchants have been at odds with transit officials on proposed improvements including adding boarding islands at some stops, and removal of other stops altogether…

The original proposal had called for boarding islands at all L-Taraval transit stops that did not have them, but transit officials comprised with businesses to instead pilot a program for six months that does not remove any parking on Taraval at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues.

Instead of transit boarding islands, a large sign will get placed to warn drivers that they must stop to allow for passengers to board and disembark trains, along with a painted white solid line in the traffic lane where vehicles must stop behind the train. Both treatments would be placed along Taraval to match the configuration of a two-car train.

Additionally, painted markings will also be present in the traffic lane to warn drivers ahead of time of transit stops ahead…

Documents from the transit agency said transit officials will work with merchants to develop an education campaign alongside working with the San Francisco Police Department on enforcement at these five transit stop locations during the evaluation of the pilot.

New flashing lights on trains when the doors open will also be part of the pilot, to bring more attention to drivers that they must stop.

The pilot changes will be installed in Fall 2016. If there is not at least a 90 percent compliance rate of drivers stopping where they are supposed to, or if there is a collision with a pedestrian and vehicle during the six-month evaluation, officials will pursue boarding islands at those five locations, SFMTA documents said…

Paula Katz, a resident in the Parkside neighborhood, started a petition to save all of the L-Taraval stops, which she has submitted to the transit agency. She said the removal of the transit stops would put a burden to riders especially for the elderly who shop at places like at Safeway on Taraval and 17th Avenue.

Early implementation

SFMTA documents show the transit agency wants to carry out specific positions of the project earlier than what was originally proposed.

Officials plant to start the transit-only lane early, with signage and painted symbols, but no red paint. Officials said they will monitor the effects of traffic flow and congestion for one year to due to concerns from the community that a loss of a travel lane would cause traffic congestion.

Painted clear zones will also be implemented early at locations where the transit agency are proposing boarding islands. Vehicles would shift to the right as if there were a boarding island present at 10 locations. Parking spots at those locations would no longer be available.

The public can still give public comment on the final proposal of the L-Taraval project at the SFMTA’s Board of Directors meeting Tuesday at 1 p.m. in room 400 of City Hall… (more)