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Eyes on the Street: New Muni Signage, Route Names, and Maps in Action

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“14-Limited” buses fly the new flag, “14 Rapid.” Photo: Jessica Kuo

The SFMTA launched its “Muni Forward” wayfinding upgrades this weekend with new shelter features, sign posts, and changes to some bus route names. In the most sweeping change, the former “Limited” buses can now be seen rolling with the new “R” mark for “Rapid.”

Photo: SFMTA

The SFMTA is installing new Muni stop sign poles, which include solar-powered lanterns that light them at night, featuring the new route designations. The new, more legible Muni map can also be found at a growing number of stop shelters and stations.

It’s all part of the launch of Muni’s largest service increase since 1980 under Muni Forward, which officials promise is “long term, focused and systematic.” The service increase, the first of three waves, provides more frequent service for about 165,000 daily riders along nine of Muni’s busiest routes, including the 38-Geary, 5-Fulton, and 14-Mission. Much of the boost goes toward express and rapid services.

Muni riders can also expect to see new 60-foot-long hybrid electric buses, which were unveiled last week. to roll out soon. Aside from neat features like the ability to run on battery for up to seven miles if the power poles detach from overhead wires, the SF Chronicle reported that on the inside of the buses, Muni’s effort to “eradicate negative and threatening messaging” is visually evident. The buses do not feature the familiar statement, “Information Gladly Given But Safety Requires Avoiding Unnecessary Conversation.”

SFMTA officials cut the ribbon on the first newly-upgraded shelter on Geary Street in the Tenderloin. Photo: SFCTA/Twitter

Some SFMTA planners are pretty excited about the new map. Photo: Jessica Kuo

Streetsblog USA
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You Can Help Make State DOTs Accountable for How They Spend

States have prioritized maintenance. Will new standards help? Image: Smart Growth America

States have failed to prioritize maintenance instead of expansion. Will new standards help? Image: Smart Growth America

Pressure is mounting on the president and Congress to keep roads and bridges from falling apart by increasing transportation funding. But a big part of the problem is states, which receive the lion’s share of federal transportation funds but opt to spend most on new roads, instead of maintaining existing infrastructure.

Between 2009 and 2011, states spent just 45 percent of their highway money maintaining the 8,822 miles of roads that they control, according to Smart Growth America. Meanwhile, they poured 55 percent into road expansions. Some states spent more wisely and some spent more irresponsibly. The worst spent upward of 90 percent of their budgets on new construction during that time period.

And that’s always been their prerogative. Most of the tens of billions of dollars in federal funding that flows to states every year comes with few strings attached. The system is also opaque: Determining how states spend their money is extraordinarily difficult.

How can people demand better from their state DOT if they can’t tell what their DOT is doing? Advocates see greater transparency as an important tool for change, and they’re fighting to implement strong new federal standards to grade state DOTs on safety, maintenance, and other key indicators.

MAP-21, the transportation bill enacted in 2012, included provisions for U.S. DOT to hold states to a new set of performance standards. Now, two years after passage, policy makers at the agency are beginning to define those metrics. For the most part, the law doesn’t penalize failure to hit targets, but its reporting requirements could compel state DOTs to be publicly accountable for their decisions — provided they’re stringent enough.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Is Your City Making Full Use of Existing Transit Investments?

In Chicago, fewer people are living near transit, even though rising rents say demand is high. Graph: Metropolitan Council

In Chicago, fewer people are living near transit, though rising rents indicate demand is high. Graph: Metropolitan Council

Chicago’s rail transit infrastructure has a lot of unused capacity, Yonah Freemark wrote last week on the blog of the Metropolitan Planning Council, and making use of it might be cheaper and easier than expanding the system.

Some of Chicago’s most transit-accessible neighborhoods are barely growing, but rents are rising fast, Freemark reported, an indication that additional transit-oriented housing could be supported. Unfortunately, zoning laws limit new construction in these areas, says Freemark, so countless would-be transit riders move to the suburbs or other regions, outside the reach of transit service.

Inspired by that article, David Levinson at Streets.mn looked at how much additional capacity there is on Minneapolis’s new Green Line — one of the biggest transit success stories of last year — which carries about 38,000 riders daily. Depending on how you calculate capacity, there’s actually quite a bit to work with, says Levinson.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA Launches “Muni Forward” Service Boosts, Route Name Changes (SFBay, KRONKTVU, CBS)
  • More on the 22-Day Muni Riding Challenge: Sup. Breed Commits, No Word From the Mayor (Examiner)
  • SFMTA Looks to Improve Residential Parking Permits: They’re “Worth a Lot More Than $110” (Chronicle)
  • Litigant Argues State Bill AB 61 Will “Give Away” Bus Stops to Private Shuttle Companies (48 Hills)
  • Hairball, Alemany Maze Highway Interchanges Could Finally Get Some Attention (D10 Watch)
  • Some Inner Sunset Meeting Attendees Find More Space for Transit, Peds “Hard to Accept” (Hoodline)
  • A History of SF’s Precursors to Taxis, When Cars Were Still “Unfamiliar and Frightening” (Taxicab)
  • BART Board Member Wants Posters to Raise Awareness That There is a BART Board (SF Chronicle)
  • East Bay Groups Push for Free AC Transit Passes for Low-Income Youth (East Bay Express)
  • Another Person Hit By Caltrain (Mercury); Agency Questions Effectiveness of Fences in Palo Alto (PA)
  • Driver Distracted By Highway 92’s Scenery Crashes Head-On Into Another Driver in San Mateo (CBS)
  • More Updates on Bicycle-Related State Legislation From Cyclelicious

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Not All City Hall Electeds Up to the Challenge of Riding Muni for 22 Days

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Six supervisors did not hesitate to commit to the SF Transit Riders Union’s challenge to ride Muni for 22 days starting on June 1, but five supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee haven’t signed on. The split is a good indicator of who supports transit at City Hall — for the supervisors who have a record of legislating to improve transit, riding Muni every day is no biggie, and some do it already.

Supervisor John Avalos, one of six supes to get on board with SFTRU's 22-day Muni riding challenge, tweeted a photo early.

Supervisor John Avalos, one of six supes to get on board with SFTRU’s 22-day Muni riding challenge, tweeted an early selfie.

Supervisors David Campos, Jane Kim, Scott Wiener, Julie Christensen, John Avalos, and Eric Mar committed to the challenge at Tuesday’s board meeting. Mayor Lee and the other five supervisors have either declined the challenge or haven’t responded to Streetsblog’s request for comment.

The 22 days represent the 22 years since SF voters approved Prop AA, an advisory measure which stated that “city officials and full-time employees [shall] travel to and from work on public transit at least twice a week,” according to SFTRU:

22 years later, this policy agreement has never been acted on, and now is a chance to make up for lost time!

When they regularly ride public transit, city officials better understand the rider’s daily experience and prioritize funding and planning a more reliable, robust, and visionary transit system to support it. This is an opportunity for our city officials to promote their own commitment to public transportation, showcasing that they care about the future of Muni.

Here are SFTRU’s guidelines for the challenge:

Participating officials will tweet while riding, walking to, or waiting for transit every day for those 22 days, posting it to Twitter with an optional photo using the hashtag #OnBoardSF. If they don’t take transit for one of those days, they will tweet their reason why with the same hashtag.

Supervisor Wiener said he’s been a daily Muni rider for 18 years. “I’m lucky that I live in the Castro,” where “we have really strong transit access.” But he plans to up his game and “try some of the lines that are a little bit more challenging.”

“I should assume everyone is doing [the challenge] unless otherwise stated,” Campos said on Tuesday. “So count me in.”

Supervisor Kim said she “will be participating,” but that since she lives within walking distance of City Hall, “it would actually be very hard for me to take Muni versus walking. So I will do my best to go take Muni for a stop.” Supervisor Christensen said she walks and takes Muni most days. “In addition to riding Muni, I’m also trying to expand it,” presumably referring to her push to extend the Central Subway.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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CA Legislative Update: Bike Lights and Three Feet for Safety

bikeatCapitollabel2Here is our regular roundup of California legislation of interest to livable streets advocates. As always, let us know if we missed anything in the comments.

  • Freshman Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) has listened to feedback and amended his bike light bill, A.B. 28. It started out badly, requiring a flashing white rear light on bikes at night, which would have been a recipe for disaster and confused everyone. That was quickly changed from a white light to red, in keeping with standard practice on all vehicles. Now it has been improved further. As currently worded, it would allow bicycle riders some flexibility in how they make themselves visible at night: they could use a red light, either solid or flashing, or the currently required red rear reflector.
  • Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals) has been working on a bill to clarify last year’s Three Feet for Safety Act. His district sees a lot of bike riders out enjoying the hilly rural routes, as well as drivers now confused about when it’s okay to pass safely. The early draft of A.B. 208 was an amendment to the current law about when bicyclists must pull over to let other vehicles pass. That change turned out to be unnecessary, as bikes are covered by the standard slow-moving vehicle rule, to wit: if there are five or more vehicles lined up behind a vehicle moving slower than the “normal flow at that time and place,” the slower vehicle, be it a truck, car, or bicycle, shall pull over to let the vehicles pass. Right now A.B. 208 makes a minor clarifying amendment to that part of the code. It should be heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee next week.
  • Senator Fran Pavley’s (D-Agoura Hills) bill to increase the number of stickers allowing low-emission vehicles access to carpool lanes, SB 39, passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee 9 to 1, and now moves on to the Committee on Appropriations. The bill’s supporters say that these stickers are necessary to encourage people to buy electric vehicles, but others have pointed out that there are already many other incentives for doing so. And free passes to the HOV lane may slow traffic there, thus removing the incentive to carpool.
Streetsblog USA
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Avoid Bikelash By Building More Bike Lanes

Market Street, San Francisco.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Here’s one reason the modern biking boom is great for everyone: more bicycle trips mean fewer car trips, which can mean less congestion for people in cars and buses.

But there’s a catch. A recent study shows that when bicycle use rises but cities don’t add bike lanes to put the new bikers in, traffic congestion actually gets worse.

In some situations, it gets a lot worse.

A study measured travel delay on a street with bikes but no bike lanes

NE 47th Avenue, Portland.

HOOOONK.

It’s happened to most regular bike users; it happened to me last week. Biking to meet friends at a restaurant, I had to pedal two blocks uphill on a street without bike lanes. As I started to push up the slope, a man zoomed his car around me, straddling the two lanes and laying on his horn as if I’d done something wrong.

I’d love to be out of your way too, I wanted to tell him. But this parking lane would have to go.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Texas DOT Is Planning to Tear Down a Highway — Seriously

The Pierce Elevated Freeway, near downtown Houston, has been proposed for removal. Photo: TexasFreeway.com

The Pierce Elevated Freeway, near downtown Houston, has been proposed for removal by Texas DOT. Photo: TexasFreeway.com

This may be the best evidence yet that attitudes about transportation are beginning to change in Texas’s major cities. As part of a plan to redesign and reroute Interstate 45 in the heart of Houston, TxDOT — that’s right, the Texas Department of Transportation — is proposing to tear down a short segment of the Pierce Elevated Freeway near downtown.

Over in Dallas, Patrick Kennedy at Street Smart is feeling a bit jealous. He thinks there’s a lot to like about this plan:

Looking at the details, the removed Pierce Elevated doesn’t unlock a lot of land, but it does reposition a TON of underdeveloped sites along both sides of it. It doesn’t do a lot to reconnect the grid underneath it where the grid is already well connected between downtown and Midtown. Everything between is an absolute gold mine for infill where they can harnass their growth and focus it inward towards a more sustainable future.

Along the west side of town, they’re boulevarding, parkway-ing if  you will, the segment between the Buffalo Bayou and downtown. This will probably have a more significant impact from a grid interconnectivity standpoint.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • SF Chronicle Op-Ed From Ed Reiskin and SFDPH Chief: Vision Zero is “Preventative Medicine”
  • Wiggle Advocate Cancels “Refereeing” of Right-Of-Way Violators After Stanley Roberts Shows Up
  • Uber Driver Who Ran Down Man on Bike Forfeits Drivers License (KTVU)
  • More on the Boy Hit By Driver in Bayview (Appeal), Woman, 25, Hit at 7th & Townsend (Appeal)
  • Richmond Students Get Police Escort for Bike and Roll to School Week Ride (Richmond SF)
  • Van Ness to Partially Close to Cars Again This Weekend for CPMC Hospital Construction (SFBay)
  • McCoppin Hub Re-Opens With Earth Day Event After Being Fenced Off for Two Weeks (Mission Local)
  • Petitioners Make Their Case Against Muni 33-Stanyan Re-Route to El Tecolote
  • SPUR Workshop Attendees Explore Better Design for Transit Wayfinding
  • New AC Transit Buses to Have Air Conditioning (Mercury News)
  • Walnut Creek Conquers Drivers’ Biggest Unknown: When the Traffic Light Will Change (NBC, ABC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Correction: Initial Upgrades on Polk Don’t Include Separate Bike Signals

Polk Street this week, where the SFMTA is striping interim bike lane improvements that don’t include separate bike signals. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Streetsblog erroneously reported last month that four Polk Street intersections would get signals to separate bike traffic from turning drivers by May. The signals are not in fact part of the first round of improvements on Polk.

I misinterpreted an announcement from the SFMTA that the initial upgrades would include “dedicated and separate space for southbound cyclists and right-turning vehicles.” I assumed this was a reference to intersection configurations in the final plan for Polk, which include separate bike signals. I apologize for the error.

Signals to separate curbside bike traffic and right-turning drivers are still part of the Polk plan, but the timetable calls for them to be installed during the construction phase beginning next year and wrapping up in 2017. The interim upgrades, which are being installed now, do not include the signals.

The short-term changes will stripe a bike lane between the through-traffic lane and a right-turn lane (like on 8th Street in SoMa). That will provide right-turning drivers a pocket to wait in instead of blocking the bike lane after merging across it. The striping is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

“The separated space on southbound Polk for right turning vehicles and through bicyclists is a measure the SFMTA was able to implement quickly to increase safety now,” said SFMTA Livable Streets spokesperson Ben Jose. “The improvement addresses the definitive and repeated right-hook crash patterns we see at southbound Polk and Turk, Eddy, Ellis and Geary.”

Installing the bike signals will “require complex technical work,” he said, which will be done in conjunction with sewer replacement. In total, pavement work on Polk is expected to take about a year.

“The final design will flip the vehicle right turn lane with the bike lane,” said Jose, “with a continuous bike lane running curbside at intersection approaches, where there will be a right turn signal phase for cars and a separated through phase for people biking.”