‘People Plan’ Could Speed Bike, Ped, Transit Improvements on Embarcadero

Mayor Lee on the Embarcadero yesterday with Board of Supes President David Chiu, SFMTA CEO Nat Ford, and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Photo: Aaron Bialick

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has unveiled the People Plan [pdf], a document laying out strategies to meet the quickly approaching challenges of bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city’s waterfront for the 2013 America’s Cup yacht race.

Transit advocates see it as an opportunity to boost sustainable transportation and build out some long-term improvements that will benefit transit and bike riders and pedestrians on the Embarcadero.

“Whatever we do, whatever we build, whatever we improve, has got to be an improvement that benefits all San Franciscans for future generations to come,” said Mayor Lee. “We’re looking at transportation and the infrastructure that we invest in with a future that will not only handle the 200,000 people a day, the millions of people that come here, but will benefit our city in the long run.”

A new sense of urgency should compel city agencies to implement changes prioritizing transit, bicycle, and pedestrian trips to the Embarcadero if the city is to avoid inundating the streets with gridlocked private automobiles during the series of events. The initial draft of the People Plan outlines how that could be done.

It recommends fast-tracking improvements such as an extension of the F-line to Fort Mason, the creation of a bike sharing system and secure parking stations, the transformation of Fisherman’s Wharf with the Public Realm Plan, and new wayfinding signs for biking and walking routes. An evaluation of bike lane improvements along the Embarcadero, as well as prioritizing other projects in the Bike Plan, are also listed.

“This event is not only going to have a big impact on the waterfront, but we’ve also got to make sure roads going to and from the waterfront are inviting, comfortable, and convenient for people on bike, on foot, and on transit,” said Andy Thornley, program director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. He noted that much of the bike improvement suggestions came from the Mayor’s Office without any urging from advocates.

Short-term strategies include increasing Muni frequency along key routes as well as restricting automobile access to create temporary bus-only lanes. The city could get a taste of bus rapid transit with protected transit lanes and limited stop service along the Van Ness corridor.

Streets being considered in the plan for restricting automobile access to improve the flow of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit vehicles. Image: Office of Employment and Workforce Development.

Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), has urged the city to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the America’s Cup. Among SPUR’s recommendations is a two-way bikeway proposal called “Embikeadero.”

“The [People Plan is] a good start, but I hope by the end of the process we find a way to get some more long-term public transit benefits as a result of this effort,” said Metcalf. “I hope we come up with a way to run real E-line service along the whole Embarcadero, not just temporary service. I also hope we extend the E/F-line to Fort Mason and leave a legacy from this event that will benefit us for generations.”

On top of improving the main connections for bike access to the waterfront on Market and Polk Streets, Thornley highlighted the need to look at new possibilities for expansion of the city’s bicycle network. “Battery and Sansome are very exciting opportunities to make wonderful bikeways to bring people from Market Street to the waterfront and back,” he said. “A little bit of effort there, and we could have some really great bike corridors.”

Although the main America’s Cup events will take place in 2013, a series of initial races will start in 2012, raising the level of urgency and providing opportunities to experiment with traffic changes, noted Thornley.

“Right now, we’ve already sort of begun having these kinds of trials with Sunday Streets,” he said.

Supervisor Mirkarimi speaking. To the left sit speakers from Livable City, the SFBC and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • mikesonn

    “Short-term strategies include increasing Muni frequency along key routes as well as restricting automobile access to create temporary bus-only lanes.”

    I see the 30 Stockon is highlighted. Think they’ll push through a transit-only Stockton St (or just the tunnel which would pretty much eliminate thru-traffic)? Might prove that the CS isn’t needed after all.

  • taomom

    First off, on days of the races, close off not only the indicated area (solid green line) to private cars, but also a large portion of the Embarcadero. Require anyone offering public parking within a mile of water from GG to the Bay Bridge (including all city meters) to charge at least $10/hour or $50 per day. This includes Sundays. (The only people who would pay a lower rate would be people who have monthly parking contracts.) Announce these rates far and wide so that everyone knows that if they bring their car to the city they will be paying an arm and leg for storing it. Make it high enough that even for a family of four, driving a private car will clearly be the most expensive method of getting to the city. If people still drive to the city, raise the rates higher.

    Then publicize all the other ways people can get to the city, including bringing their bikes on BART, GG Transit, the ferries, and Caltrain. Promise (and keep the promise) of frequent Muni service meeting other transportation modes and bikes at bike sharing stations etc. Emphasize how pleasant and flat the bike ride along the Embarcadero is. On weekends, provide family fare day passes so groups of up to four people traveling together can access two modes of transportation (Caltrain + Muni, GG Transit + Muni, Ferry + Muni, BART + Muni, etc.) for twenty dollars total for the day. Put in temporary bike parking racks along the waterfront by the thousands.

    The message needs to be that San Francisco loves you but not your car. Even on an average day, San Francisco can’t comfortably handle all the cars people from the suburbs want to bring here. Offering transportation alternatives, while essential, is not enough. If people perceive that driving is their cheapest option, the cars will come.

  • ZA

    Second what Taomom wrote, and add that BART will have to get ready for the masses of people who will figure out that it’s the best way to get to Embacadero.

  • Anonymous

    how about completing the bike lane on polk? Seems like this is an awful lot of infrastructure for the embacadero while ignoring the route a lot of us will actually take to get out there…

  • Anonymous

    Bike lanes and transit improvements are good, but I can’t seem to imagine Ellison and his buddies getting on bikes.

  • Caleb

    Improvements to signal priority for the F line would be a wonderful start to improving access and mobility along this part of The Embarcadero. The equipment is there, it just needs to be configured properly. Faster runs = more capacity. Also, I must also register my agreement with what taomom has said here: all these improvements are moot unless parking is priced accordingly.

  • I didn’t include it, but there’s a parking management component in the plan that simply says they will use SFPark to match parking prices with demand.

  • mikesonn

    There are so many things the MTA can do to improve Muni right this minute. However, pretty “reports” and fancy press conferences are the managerial method of choice.

    And I’ll 3rd the parking prices. I don’t think SFPark is going to be enough though with how slow it sounds like things will change. Plus, it isn’t just garage parking that will be the issue, it is on street parking as well. If someone driving thinks there is a small chance they’ll get an on-street spot for cheap, they’ll keep right on driving in. If anything on-street parking should be priced higher then a garage because of the convenience and we should encourage people to park in the garages.

  • Anonymous

    I think they overlooked the exit plans of the attendees…. All of us living in SoMa need to get a bit belligerent on the SFMTA about their Agency’s prioritization of moving vehicles through our neighborhoods over pedestrian safety. And we need to get our new Southern Station Captain Orkes to recognize cars blocking the box while they line up to get on the Bay Bridge or other freeways is not acceptable. In Rincon Hill, the trouble spots are 1st and Folsom and Main and Harrison – we need a pedestrian exclusive cycle to help pedestrians safely cross these intersections. If a pedestrian exclusive cycle is okay for the conventioneers on 4th at Howard and at Folsom, we deserve pedestrian safety prioritized over the movement of cars in our neighborhoods too. Here is a video I put together after recording just 10 minutes of activity at Main and Harrison, on March 30, 2011 between 6 p.m. And 6:10 p.m.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wp07o7OqxE

  • Dave

    Your youtube video is private

  • Dave

    Your youtube video is private

  • Dave

    Your youtube video is private

  • Dave

    Your youtube video is private

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