Today’s Headlines

  • Congestion Pricing Likely Headed to SF Supes Next Month (SF Examiner, Biz Journal, SF Gate)
  • EPA Issues Guidelines That Give States Discretion Regulating Industrial Emissions (LA Times)
  • AC Transit Backs Off on Service Cuts in Light of New Labor Agreement (SF Gate)
  • Jean Quan Wins Oakland Mayor’s Race (SF Gate)
  • Leland Yee Tosses Hat in the Ring for SF Mayor (Mercury News, Calwatch, Fog City Journal)
  • SF Public Press: “Huge Development on Fringe of SF Bay Sparks Debate Over Smart Growth”
  • Grassroots Coalition Forms to Help Caltrain Find Funding Solutions (Palo Alto Patch)
  • Roadshow Writer Advocates Mandatory Helmets for Bicyclists (Merc)
  • State Ethics Agency Launches Investigation of Ca. High-Speed Rail Officials (LA Times)
  • BIKE NOPA: “Masonic Boulevard Plan Promises a Park and Plaza” to Make Neighbors Proud
  • Woman Charged in Hit-and-Run of LA Cyclist Gets 90 Days in Jail (LA Times)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Re: Mr. Roadshow and Cycling.

    Disgusting. A cyclist is killed because of unsafe road design and his solution is helmets for all ages. He comes to this conclusion after writing a helmet did nothing to save the life of the person killed recently on the 280-alpine road interchange. Can’t he advocate for safer bike infrastructure instead of blaming the victim? Maybe he should get out of his Prius for once.

  • I can’t see that congestion pricing is going to fly. People are going to flip out, and collecting the tolls is going to be complex and costly. Seems to me it would be better (and far less controversial) to reduce congestion by:

    1) Raise parking rates significantly at city garages in congested areas
    2) Slowly reduce the amount of on street parking in congested areas
    3) Tax all private car parking spots in congested areas (because they induce congestion) except for carshare parking
    4) Get Muni to work properly (reliable, safe and pleasant) and provide safe and pleasant bicycle infrastructure in congested areas
    5) Create a massive PR campaign that coaxes people from suburbia to come to San Francisco by BART or Caltrain. Maybe at Christmas have specially decorated, happy shopping shuttles from Caltrain to Westfield/Union Square?

  • I thought Mr. Roadshow was supposed to be one of the moderate voices that this blog sometimes holds up as an example as a sign that rationality exists *somewhere* in the nexus of the freeway commuting crazy crowd… The guy who wrote in for this column lost his daughter, who was cycling, and his response is to write about how he cannot stand having to wait for cyclists when he drives Highway 1 in Marin??? That just seems really gross and bizarre. I think this guy needs a therapist and not a freeway columnist.

    -J

  • icarus12

    Taomom, I like nearly all your ideas for reducing congestion. And I think you are right that people will flip out over congestion pricing of this magnitude. Basically we need TRANSIT First in SF to mean building and maintaining transit first, before we restrict automobile usage.

    I have been amazed since moving back to my hometown (SF) at how the opposite dynamic is in place. Car-driving is discouraged BEFORe there are reasonable alternatives in place. Hence, most people still drive in the City or into the City because transit is SLOW, inconvenient, time-consuming, and unreliable. It is also crowded, dirty, and unpleasant. Whenever I use it, I can’t wait to get back on my bike or into my car.

    Recently I was in Munich. I had access to a car but used it zero times. Why? Because the subway system and streetcars were so fast, frequent, clean, and reliable, that I got to my destination in the SAME TIME as if I had driven. You can take a bike on it. You can take your dog on it. If you live there year-round, you can buy a 12 month pass for your whole family for the price of 10 months. For shorter stays you can buy “partner tickets” that allow you and your pal to ride for four days on just one ticket. There are all sorts of ways to ride. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than driving.

    It seems to me that Munich, like London and Singapore and other cities first put into place a huge transit system, and only thereafter made it really, really expensive to drive. That seems the fair and practical way to go.

  • Icarus, you’re right, in particular about needing to really improve MUNI metro (rail) service in SF. But what about the large proportion of MUNI travelers that use buses? How do we make this mode faster without making any physical changes to streets (that slow down cars) and doing things like congestion zones to make these buses faster? When it comes to buses & cars, the chicken and the egg question is just a deferral and stall tactic for making real changes. And there is a little bit of an avoidance on your part in your comment above that in SF bus-car interactions and loads are key.

  • While congestion pricing can raise money for transit, it really isn’t going to do that much to speed it up. If Muni was serious about providing faster service, they’d be deploying physically separated transit lanes. Once you’ve done this, the amount of congestion among private vehicles becomes irrelevant to transit service.

  • icarus12

    Hi Justin,

    I realize many people are just stalling when they say that we should build the transit system first before restricting cars. I am not one of these folks. I think you can have transit-only lanes for the buses, raised or separated from car traffic on the main lines. That will slow cars down, but I am okay with that as long as it’s for a good cause. What struck me most about the congestion pricing alternative were two things both related to its lack of efficacy:

    1) It was HOPED that it would cut traffic by 12% and speed transit by 25%. That really sucks as a goal. Transit should be able to get places as fast or faster than cars. Take all the lanes you want, my friend, but get me on that bus/train across town in 20 minutes.

    2) The revenue was HOPED to be in the several tens of millions of dollars and very punitive to drivers, but the improvements in transit times were not great enough to lure anyone out of their car. Only the financial cost of driving was affected.

    Together, I think the “improved transit” would be so inconsequential and the costs to drivers so irksome that we would find an exodus of people. Visiting or living in San Francisco’s core would become something precious and rare.

    When it’s too slow or too expensive to get somewhere, a large percentage of people don’t go. Look at the artificial toll rate on the Bay Bridge as an example. I never drive to Emeryville or Berkeley (or take Bart there) unless there’s a movie, a library, or a business I can’t find in SF or the Peninsula. If we put in congestion pricing in NE San Francisco, say goodbye to the vitality of many businesses there.