San Francisco Converts Some Bus Zones on Terminated Lines to Parking

truck_at_stop.jpgPhotos: Matthew Roth

The San Francisco MTA has an interesting decision to make with bus zones throughout the city now that a number of bus routes were changed or terminated with the service reductions that went into effect on December 5th, 2009. Will the city open the curb space up to cars, potentially adding meters in zones with metered parking regulations, or take the opportunity to experiment with more innovative parking solutions, such as on-street bicycle parking protected by bollards, similar to the Grove Street entrance of the San Francisco Public Library?

According to the Department of Parking and Traffic Signs and Markings
division, as a temporary measure, the agency has scratched out the Bus Stop markings that were on the asphalt and has painted the curb gray at at select bus stops, giving drivers extra parking. The changes effect 62 bus zones, each of which fit approximately two cars. At numerous other old bus stops, the bus zone markings remain in place and the curb is still red.

According to the MTA’s City Traffic Engineer Jack Fleck, the agency has not decided what it will do with the spaces, outside of the temporary gray curbs.

"My understanding is that we are keeping our options open," Fleck said. "Right now, people can park there."

Marc Caswell, Program Manager at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, would like to see the city experiment with the newly liberated spaces before the public becomes accustomed to them as car parking. Caswell and the SFBC have proposed to the MTA that it consider adding on-street bicycle parking, commonly referred to as bike corrals.

In reviewing all the stops, the SFBC has identified six priority locations, five of which are on Valencia Street, one of the city’s most popular bicycle routes. Caswell explained that the five Valencia Street locations are in front of businesses that are common destinations for customers on bicycle, including the bar Zeitgeist, which routinely fills its ample internal bicycle parking space and sees overflow on poles and meters for blocks in every direction.

Anticipating the reaction to the proposal in light of the long-standing bicycle injunction, Caswell noted that adding bicycle corrals to bus zones would not violate the spirit of injunctive relief, which mandates only that there be no removal of publicly-subsidized private auto storage.

Though the MTA has no definitive timeline for such projects nor any public determination of what will happen with the spaces, Fleck said bike corrals were on the table. "I believe we could establish one or two bike corrals as an ‘innovative project’ and be in compliance with the current bike injunction," Fleck said. The agency is also considering extending the red curb by an extra ten feet so pedestrians have more of a buffer at crosswalks and drivers have better sight-lines to see pedestrians.

buggaloos_small.jpgBus zone on Valencia Street in front of Buggaloos

Bus lines cut or altered as of December 5th and the streets with bus zones that could become something other than car parking.

  • 2

Clement Street between 15th Avenue and 32nd Avenue

  • 21

Hayes at Stanyan (Inbound only), Shrader (Inbound only), Cole, Ashbury

  • 26

San Jose between Baden and Ocean
Valencia between Duncan and Market
McCoppin @ Gough
Mission @ Mary

  • 10

Sansome at Lombard
North Point at Kearny/ Embarcadero

  • 12

Broadway between the Embarcadero and Battery
The Embarcadero between Broadway and Mission
Steuart @ Mission (SW corner – terminal)
Harrison between the Embarcadero and 1st St

dosa.jpgBus zone on Valencia Street in front of Dosa and Valencia Whole Foods

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition priority locations near businesses with significant bicycle customer base.

Valencia @ Duboce – Zeitgeist
Valencia @ 15th St – Near Four Barrel Coffee
Valencia @ 20th St – Dog Eared Books
Valencia @ 21st St – Valencia Whole Foods/Dosa/Herbivore
Valencia @ 22nd St – Buggaloos
Hayes  @ Ashbury   – CCSF John Adams Campus

  • ZA

    Wait, don’t tell me, there’s a law on the books somewhere that say the highest-and-best use for public space voluntarily declared unneeded by transit is given to cars? …And an EIR would be needed for Bike Corrals, right? [/headdesk]

  • Ummmm, the city reduces transit service and adds 120 parking spaces and there is no environmental review?? Not quite sure how that fits in with a “Transit First” city.

  • A glaring example of how certain parts of environmental law have been turned on their head. And we have a judge with no practical traffic engineering experience as the arbiter of traffic and environmental impact.

    That’s why we’ve been doing this series on Level of Service reform:

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/10/26/ca-poised-to-reform-auto-centric-level-of-service-environmental-rules/

  • =v= Now that we’ve got all this free parking all over the city, I suppose there’s no longer any excuse for allowing variances for extra parking in the M&O area. Nor anywhere else.

  • “publicly-subsidized private auto storage”

    What more can I say?

  • The new gray curb spaces presumably have no meters (because they aren’t installed) & no time limits; enabling 2 to 3 days of squatting parked cars in a high-demand district (particularly Valencia). A brilliantly wasteful use of street space.

    I would love to do a study of the elasticity of economic activity resulting from adding to the supply of on-street auto parking vs. bike parking. This is a rare opportunity to do this.

  • @Michael Smith : Impacts to parking are considered social impacts and not environmental impacts. So this goes both ways: a project that limits or eliminates parking supply does not have to mitigate it unless it impacts vehicle circulation (but they do have to comply with City code parking minimums). However, a project increasing parking supply also does not need to mitigate the impact to supply unless it causes an impact to traffic and circulation (which it may).

  • Final note: I’m glad that the SFMTA is open to other uses of the space. I think the “trial” mode is entirely appropriate.

  • So once these are converted to parking then we’ll need an EIR to get rid of them right? Easy to create, but impossible to destroy. Good thing we’ll never run out of oil or space to sprawl into!

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    Last week we heard that an MTA paint crew is such a precious resource that it would be unthinkably expensive to zebra-stripe a single crosswalk on Van Ness. Now we know what the paint crews were so busy doing.

  • Nick

    I noticed this at the begining of the year and wondered if the decsion to cut the 26-Valencia was partly influenced by the amount of revenue that could be brought in from the extra meters and fines.

    40 added spaces on valencia could bring in a $1000 a day, not including that gained from tickets. Those spots are prime real estae and worth between $500-750K a year. Around Jan 2nd or so I was walking down Valencia and could have swore that tickets were being issued to cars in the gray zone (is it still an unmetered 2-hour zone?)

    And to go slightly off-topic, a disturbing trend is happening throughout the Sunset District. Red zones at fire hydrants are being cut short by gray paint (illegally) so motorists can fit in an extra car. I think a citywide “Good Roads” style ride is in order to correct this hazard.

  • the greasybear

    Temporary bike corrals on Valencia like that one they recently tried on the Wiggle shouldn’t violate the injunction, right?

  • I have little doubt that the former #12 Folsom bus zones east of 2nd Street in the Rincon Hill neighborhood will grow parking meters soon. With any luck, they would be SFPark meters with demand-based pricing like those used by the Port of SF, but I can’t see that happening.

  • CBrinkman

    Speaking of illegally altered, Potomoc Street at Duboce Park has an illegally altered parking sign allowing cars to block the steps into the park. The red arrow on the no parking sign has been changed from a left arrow to a right arrow with red sticky tape. Two cars park right in front of the steps making it necessary for peds to go around them. I guess just as we have our bike lane DIYers there are car driver DIYers. I need to call the Potomoc steps into 311 again, did it once several months ago.

    Makes me sad that the PCOs don’t use common sense, the two other streets which end at the park are correctly signed and obeyed…why would this one be any different? Why allow one set of steps to be blocked and not the others?

  • Sprague

    These spaces should be off limits to parking and should be used for wider sidewalks and bike racks, where needed (like Valencia St.), or for future fruit tree plantings. The trees would help offset a bit of the pollution from this city’s supersized car fleet. Whatever happens, free parking spaces shouldn’t be created since the easier it is to find parking in SF, the more people choose to drive.

  • chauncey graves

    @ CBrinkman: re Potomac at Duboce Park; yes, call 311 and get a few others to do it too; those calls add up; multiples are noticed. I’ll go by and call myself if the tape is still up. Thanks!

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