Uber and Lyft get the last laugh – all the way to the bank

SF City Hall and SFMTA used Uber and Lyft to kill taxis and attempt to remove cars. Now the ride-shares outnumber Muni. They created the Monster. Let’s see how they tame it.

A collection of photos of SF streets by zrants

RIDE-SHARES TECH BUSES OR TAXIS AND PRIVATE VEHICLES: SFMTA welcomed ride-shares as their allies in their attempt to drive SF residents out of their cars. SFMTA removed and privatized on-street parking. Planning removed off-street parking from future developments giving developers a huge windfall in profits. Developers did their part by offering Uber and Lyft credits instead of on-site parking, jacking up the demand for car-shares. The demand for car-shares, created by the parties in their haste to eliminate private cars, is driving the number of car-shares and increasing regional traffic as the car-share drivers are coming in to drive us around the city. Don’t even get us started on the tech bus problems that are effecting everyone around the Bay Area not just SF.

PARKING OR TRAFFIC: The parking problem for some is eliminated, but, there are more cars driving around NOT PARKING than there were before the parking was eliminated. Given the choice between parking and traffic, which is worse? You are going to have one or the other. Decide City Hall and clean up your act.

RETAIL OR DELIVERY: Instead of private people running their own errands shopping in their own cars, and bringing their purchase home, we now have delivery services running those errands for us and double parking of delivery trucks all over town. You do want that pizza hot, don’t you? You can’t expect your new computer, TV, or stove to be delivered by bike. Those come by truck now. Instead of mail once a day, we have multiple deliveries a day from multiple sources, adding both traffic and double parking to our streets. We have replaced retail jobs with delivery jobs. Is that the kind of neighborhood and city we want to live in? Where we interact by digital media instead of human contact? How many jobs may be eliminated by robots?

LOCAL SERVICES OR REGIONAL: We find that we have more traffic than ever pouring into the city. Many of our service companies, such as repair and construction crews used to work out of local warehouses and parking lots have been forced out and must now drive into the city to serve us. This jacks up the price of those services, many emergency in nature, electricians and plumbers, PDR and other businesses reliant on vehicles. Now your plumber must commute in to stop that leak. This leads to more damage and more costly repairs. Don’t even think about getting that roof repaired or your sidewalk attended to with any haste. Fast, cheap or reasonable remodels are a distant past memory.

PLAYING THE GREEN CARD: For those of you who have not followed the history of this anti-car movement, we may direct you to the beginning, which started with a treatise and the uniting of a number of non-profits that run the city. Details are too many to address here now. There was an idea that by stuffing people into large dense cities you could somehow reduce greenhouse gases and save the planet. One the way to that perfect future plan, an amazing happened. The car manufacturers cleaned up their cars and the engines got more efficient, so we are using less fuel and polluting less in our cars. The cost of gas is also going down, as the demand diminished. Many alternate fuels are coming on the market. Thus the green card is no longer sufficient to fight cars.

PLAYING THE SAFETY CARD: This brings up the need for a new reason to remove cars. Cars are dangerous. To prove that, most of the state and federal requirements for safety such as lane width, road signs traffic laws, have been altered to the point where few people even know what they are any more. This is called chaos. This is how the SFMTA really makes its mark on our city. No one creates chaos and hatred among the people on the streets like the SFMTA. They are geniuses at playing the safety card against us. Everything they do is geared to confuse and annoy us. Starting by turning our perfectly normal streets into battlefields of zones based on some strange markings that no one understands. They blame each accident on the lack of safety on that corner and target it for change.

PLAYING THE CHAOS CARD: Now that we have animosity on the streets and mass confusion because of rules and regulations no one understands and confusion over the street markings, SFMTA decided it is time to really stir things up by “calming” our straight, easy to navigate and see lanes into movable targets. The days of warning when lanes are merging are over. If you don’t pay attention to the lanes curing in and out of bulbouts, parking, bike and red lanes, you are in trouble. All your attention must go to following the lanes and it is hard to pay attention to the lane changes and the pedestrians, bikers and others who think they have “the right of way” all the time. People who don’t live here can’t wait to leave. They are completely confused.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS: It is one thing to design streets for everyday experience and assume that the power to the Third Street rail lights that “manage” the merging traffic on and off of rail lanes will always works, but, it is another to deal with the reality of unexpected emergencies and power outages. We understand that decisions have been made to ignore the warnings of our emergency respondors in favor SFMTA “specialists” and “experts” on how the emergency vehicles will deal with the realities of emergencies as they arise and become stuck in traffic, or, worse yet, cannot reach fires in high rise properties due to the fact that they have been downsized. According to then Supervisor Wiener, the Fire Department should purchase smaller vehicles capable of handling the narrow streets. Someone must be held accountable when there are repercussions to these short-sided decisions.

THE AFTERMATH: In the haste to remove cars from SF streets, SF invited in the newest tech and anti-car planning teams they could find. They failed on all counts. By any metric or measurement you care to name, the entire program is a failure. We have a much worse regional traffic problem than before. We have a lot more vehicles on our streets.

We have many infuriated drivers and Muni riders, removed off-street parking and building owners are offering Uber and Lyft credits to lure in tenants of those parkless housing developments. Why should anyone be surprised that Ubers and Lyfts are replacing the traffic the city used them to eliminate.

WHO DETERMINES THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY: The public needs to speak up and let City Hall know how they feel about these issues. The plan is flawed and it is up to us to demand an examination of the flawed plan. Hearings are being called. We will be alerting you to those hearings. Please write letters and come to speak out at the hearings if you can. What is your solution to solving this problem?

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Despite SFFD Complaints, SFMTA Board OKs Upper Market Parking-Protected Bike Lanes

by Carrie Sisto : hoodline – excerpt

Clogged traffic on Masonic before they cut out any lanes.

Despite objections from fire department officials, San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s board voted yesterday to approve new parking-protected bike lanes and other changes to the roadway in the Upper Market area.

“The item was passed unanimously with the understanding that we would work with SFFD to develop a plan that includes the features of the project, while ensuring that first responders have the necessary access,” SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose told us.

Easily-installed improvements like painting new protected bike lanes should be installed this year, but large-scale construction improvements like adding bulb-outs and islands will occur in 2019… (more)

This is not about traffic laws or safety regulations. This is about science and physics and the fact that no two objects can occupy the same space at one time.
I just witnessed a traffic jam on 18th Street with a fire department ambulance stuck in traffic. It was being held up by what appeared to be a school bus coming from the opposite direction.
The totality of the traffic and anti-traffic flow tactics being unleashed on SF streets is the problem. Left unchecked, a fire can double in size, or so fire department personnel have claimed. Do you really want to second guess the Fire Department when they tell you they can’t serve the public under these circumstances?
If you think it is more important to promote traffic nightmares that hamper emergency vehicles and stop traffic flow, I hope you are prepared to take your friends and family who need assistance on your bike to the hospital next time they need help because the ambulance you count on may not make it in time.

 

As Bus Rapid Transit Construction Begins, Prepare For Van Ness To Become A Daily Nightmare


Construction kicks off this month on the long-awaited, much-debated Van Ness BRT (bus rapid transit) project, in which the heavily trafficked boulevard is going to lose the two center lanes of traffic to bus lines. The move is a reversal of what happened in the middle of the last century, when the two center lanes had been used by streetcars, whose tracks were removed to make way for more automobile traffic. And as the SFMTA explains, both Van Ness and nearby Polk Street will be undergoing multi-year construction projects within weeks, which will mean the shutting down of two center lanes on Van Ness and a lot of sluggish trips up both streets if you make the mistake of letting your Uber/Lyft driver take them.

The traffic lane closures along Van Ness, which will allow for construction equipment and the removal of the median as well as 193 trees, will primarily occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, the SFMTA tells us, however there will be night and weekend work at various times too, because: traffic. Also, most left turns off of Van Ness will be disallowed.

The Polk Streetscape Project doesn’t involve the closing of any traffic lanes, but will involve a large amount of daytime upheaval and construction all along the street — in addition to the removal of 106 parking spaces along the corridor and 28 on side streets, essentially meaning you will never park near here again. It’s good news for pedestrians and cyclists, however, as the improvements include “sidewalk corner bulb-outs, to shorten the crossing distance, ADA-compliant curb ramp upgrades; Muni bus stop optimization, such as bus stop consolidation or relocation, bus bulb-outs for easier boarding, and left and right turn lanes to improve traffic flow; raised cycle tracks, green bike lanes… high visibility crosswalks, [and] better visibility at crosswalks.” They also promise a “well-lit plaza atmosphere, widening of the existing sidewalk, decorative asphalt, raised crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and [the] planting of palm trees.”

Meanwhile, it seems like the fight is likely over for preservationists making a last-ditch effort to save the crumbling, history trolley poles/lampposts along the corridor, which were installed in 1915 and were once known as the “Ribbon of Light” (see historic photo here). All but a couple of the poles are set to be removed and replaced with modern steel-tube urban lamps…(more)

If this upheaval doesn’t convince people to vote Yes on L and No on J + K nothing ever will.

 

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)

SF plans nearly $40M in transit improvements ahead of proposed Warriors arena in Mission Bay

By :

San Francisco is banking on nearly $40 million in transit improvements to help usher in a proposed Warriors arena in Mission Bay, a plan The City is confident will mitigate the impacts of adding thousands of visitors to the neighborhood at a given time.

But opponents who argue the arena will create detrimental traffic congestion and permanently scar the neighborhood are nonetheless ready to take their battle to the courtroom or potentially the ballot box to prevent construction of the waterfront arena.

The draft environmental impact review for the arena, released Friday by city planners, outlines the potential results of adding an 18,064-seat arena and office, retail, parking and open space on about 11 acres of waterfront land at Third and 16th streets, across from UC San Francisco’s new hospitals and research centers.

While traffic and transportation have been among the greatest concerns from those opposed to the arena, as well as impacts on the adjacent hospitals that opened in February, a number of major efforts to the tune of nearly $40 million will reportedly curb congestion on the roads…

According to the EIR, the event center would be used for some 225 events per year, with events ranging in capacity from 3,000 to 18,500 patrons.

Transportation improvements include purchasing new Muni light rail vehicles, allowing crossover tracks for light rail vehicles to pass on the T-Third line, and extending the adjacent Muni platform near the arena.

Installing changeable message signs and cameras for real time traffic management, as well as other capital investments, are also in the works, said Peter Albert, urban planning initiatives manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The City is also confident there will be no significant impacts to emergency vehicles at UCSF children’s, women’s or cancer hospitals.

However, the Mission Bay Alliance group led by former UCSF officials vehemently against building the arena in Mission Bay, isn’t convinced such efforts will make a difference.

The alliance is not affiliated with UCSF, which supports the project. “The streets can’t handle that level of traffic,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for the alliance.

The alliance has hired a team of experienced land-use attorneys who are combing the EIR to determine whether it complies with the California Environmental Quality Act that ensures all aspects of the environmental impact are studied and properly managed.

There are also talks of putting a measure on the ballot next spring to stop the arena… (more)

How dumb do we look? Does anyone think the SFMTA can spend $40 million dollars wisely to do anything? Anyone who thinks that adding a few buses and moving them around and adding more traffic signals will move another 3,000 to 18,500 people efficiently on constricted roads and sidewalks, is nuts. They can’t even move people along the streets now and they plant to take out more traffic lanes?

Walking tour highlights efforts to cut traffic fatalities in S.F.

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

The walking tour that departed from the steps of City Hall on Tuesday morning traveled a route not frequented by double-deck tour buses, and it took in destinations not typically sought out by sightseers.

The group of two dozen or so, most wearing suits or dresses, strolled north to Golden Gate Avenue and then through the Tenderloin, passing the crowd gathering for lunch outside St. Anthony Dining Room, then stopping at Sixth and Market streets before heading up McAllister Street to a restaurant near Civic Center.

The visitors, from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, were part of a state and federal delegation to learn what San Francisco is doing to make its streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the Vision Zero program.

San Francisco began its version of Vision Zero, an international traffic safety program founded in Sweden, early last year after a surge in fatal pedestrian collisions in the city in late 2013 and early 2014. The program aims to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city by 2024 using a combination of physical changes to streets, education programs and traffic enforcement…

Sixth Street changes

Standing at the corner of Sixth and Market, MTA Vision Zero project liaison and Tuesday’s tour guide Neal Patel described it as one of the city’s most dangerous intersections. He said the city wants to narrow four-lane Sixth Street to a single lane in each direction in 2017 when environmental studies are completed, even though it feeds traffic to the Bay Bridge.

“Will there be traffic impacts?” he asked. “Yes, there will.”… (more)

Question from a reader: “. . . What’s going on around here?  How is this going to make 6th Street safer?”

Answer: Ask the Fire Department and other emergency supporters how they feel about the bulbouts and street diets if you can get anyone to talk to you about it. There is a strange silence coming out of the City Departments as they battle over turf and funds. No one is talking.

SFMTA plans to reduce speed limits on city streets

KTSF – excerpt

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee holds a hearing on the report to outline plans to reduce speed limits on city streets proposed by the SFMTA. Nam Kwok finds out more about the plans and community sentiments… (more)

At least some of the media is covering this story. You would think speeding is the least of their worries, since they created the traffic jams, but, I guess they need more revenue. What better way to get it and punish drivers than to lower the speed limit.

Bay Area Traffic Congestion Is Worse Than Anywhere in U.S. Except L.A.

San Francisco has the second-worst congestion in the United States, according to a new report. On average, a driver here with a 30-minute commute spent 83 hours stuck in traffic in 2013. Only Los Angeles is more arterially clogged.

Tom Tom, a firm based in Amsterdam that sells GPS-based navigation and mapping products, released its fourth annual traffic index on Wednesday. The survey looked at congestion levels on highways, freeways, local roads and city streets.

The index compared travel times during non-congested, or free flow, times with travel times in peak hours. For San Francisco, the congestion level of 32 percent means that, on average, a driver in San Francisco experienced 32 percent extra travel time on an average trip compared with non-congested situations at the quietest times of day. The delay per hour for a driver in a peak period was 34 minutes.

The numbers translate into lots of wasted time, motorist bile, air pollution and probably higher blood pressure.

“As the economy gets better, as more people are working, as more people have more discretionary spending, they drive a lot more,” said Michael Cabanatuan, who covers transportation for the San Francisco Chronicle, on KQED Forum Wednesday…

San Francisco, which moved up from third place in 2012, registered 48 percent congestion in the morning peak and 66 percent in evening rush hour. The single most congested day of the year was Nov. 22, 2013. Nobody knows why, although that day was the Friday before Thanksgiving week began, which is typically a chaotic period, with lots of comings and goings…. (more)

When are the citizens of San Francisco going to realize that the SFMTA is not to be trusted to fix the problem they created? Removing parking is a huge contributor to the gridlock. We need oversight and accountability and you can insist on this by signing this petition and voicing your concerns in the comments to the recipients:
Restore Parking Oversight of SFMTA

 

Hearst Corp Seeks to Rip Out Annie Alley Plaza to Make Room for Cars

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

The Hearst Corporation filed an appeal last month in an attempt to dismantle the Annie Alley street plaza so drivers exiting its parking garage could take a more direct path to Mission Street.

In November, the alley exit along Mission, between Third and New Montgomery Streets, was turned into a place for gathering and events that opened to popular fanfare. But the pop-up plaza apparently surprised and irked some higher-ups at Hearst with enough pull to hire a lawyer to get it taken out on the company’s behalf, even though the company was involved in creating the plaza.

A hearing for the appeal is scheduled at the Board of Permit Appeals on February 11…

“While the Hearst Corporation supports open space, the Annie Street closure as part of the pilot plaza program has generated unintended and dangerous consequences in an already congested neighborhood,” said Cepkauskas. ”The actual traffic impact in the immediate vicinity has been much greater than forecasted by the preliminary traffic study, and everyone is very concerned about the traffic and pedestrian safety issues caused as a result of this street closure, especially during rush hour.”…  (more)

This is a good reason to test run these projects rather than put in permanent alterations.

Rapid Bus Lanes Coming To San Francisco’s Van Ness Ave.; Expect Less Parking Space

By Barbara Taylor : cbslocal – excerpt

AN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The plan for San Francisco’s first Bus Rapid Transit project is moving forward. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) board of directors has approved major changes that will eliminate traffic lanes and parking along busy Van Ness Avenue in an effort to make the thoroughfare more efficient…

The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018… (more)

“The construction is set to begin in winter 2015 and should take two  years to complete with the changes expected to go into effect in 2018.”
You know this is a lie. The changes will take effect the minute construction begins.

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