Streetsblog Wants Your Photos to Highlight Street Dysfunction

Scott and Oak Streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Editor’s note: Happy New Year, everyone – I am elated to kick off 2012 as your new editor! There’s a lot of ground for Streetsblog to cover this year, and I am thrilled to take it on and explore the issues that matter most to our readers.

Streetsblog readers are no doubt familiar with the reckless driving and inconsiderate parking that endangers and inconveniences other people on the streets. The consequences of poorly designed streets and inadequate traffic enforcement are all around us. It might be a car blatantly blocking a sidewalk, bus lane, or bike lane. Or the aftermath of a crash that hurt a pedestrian or cyclist, or damaged a bus stop.

We want your photos, short video clips, and other eyewitness accounts to help us paint a picture of the danger and dysfunction on the city’s car-centric streets. Nothing makes the case for the street redesigns and policy reforms that Streetsblog writes about quite like a telling image of the everyday headaches we often take for granted. Streetsblog will run any picture or video that conveys the need for change, but we’re especially interested in the following:

  • Cars blocking crosswalks, sidewalks, and dedicated lanes for buses and bikes
  • Drivers failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Video that captures the routine delays on Muni, like vehicle breakdowns, car congestion, excessive stops, and long dwell times

If you see something on the street that catches your eye, send your photos, videos, and stories to tips@sf.streetsblog.org.

  • Sorry, I tried to capture all these incidents but I ran out of space on my camera.

  • Do you just want San Francisco examples?

  • Aaron Bialick

    Feel free to send examples from other Bay Area cities if you’ve got ’em.

  • Dave Moore

    I can’t wait to take a photo of a bicyclist taking a photo of a car while riding through a crosswalk backwards.

  • Realist

    I’ll send you some pictures of bikes on side-walks and running red lights. Or the bicyclists failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks… I think we need to get away from the holier-than-though attitudes and look at our city and transport needs/infrastructure equitably. Or at least reasonably.

  • EL

    Ironic that the request for photos showing “cars blocking crosswalks, sidewalks, etc.” and “street dysfunction” has a photo of Scott/Oak and Scott/Fell where a lot of bicyclists ride on the wrong side of the street and turn left onto Fell on a red light, even though the MTA has installed a green left turn arrow.

  • insincere j

    Dear new editor,

    I hope you strongly consider the comments from EL, Realist, and Dave Moore below, and take a more neutral stance when it comes to private automobiles (and drivers) being ridiculous. Clearly, the impacts of pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit ridiculousness are equivalent in quantity and scale to that of drivers. Also, there are simply not enough media outlets (or money) to support individual drivers making irresponsible decisions, which are encouraged by our current street system.

    Likewise, you might want to drop Mike’s Bikes advertisements until they start selling, or at least servicing my poorly parked car… (Lastly, I hear GM has a pretty big ad budget right now.)

  • Wish I’d had a camera last night when a cyclist on the sidewalk stopped to scream at me for being in HIS way….

  • mikesonn

    Yeah, me too. Don’t know how you keep running into these people but I have yet to. Odd.

  • I’m not sure why exactly that green left turn arrow was put in on Fell, because I always see the arrow turn green as I wait back on Oak for the traffic light.  The green arrow then disappears before I even get a green on Oak. If I pedal really, really fast (for me, anyway), I can make the solid green light on Fell but sometimes not. If I get to Fell and it is red (I do ride in the bike lane), I get off my bike, become a pedestrian for half the crosswalk and then get on my bike again twenty feet later. Pretty silly, but that’s what’s legal.

    I am usually riding in this area in the morning or early afternoon. Perhaps the green arrow timing works in the evening? For me it is completely useless.

    The way to eliminate bicyclists violating the law here is to disallow left turns off Fell onto Scott and to have a constant bike green left turn from Scott onto Fell except when traffic is coming southbound on Scott. Or make Scott one-way going north for cars and bi-directional for bikes between Haight and Fell.

  • Anonymous

    The green arrow is mostly for cars being able to get the left safely/quickly, San Francisco cyclists generally ignore the light (a friend visiting from Seattle pointed out Seattle cyclists would expect a ticket for running that light when we rode through)

  • doogiehowsah

    Ummm, okay, next time a right-turning psychopath in an SUV barrels towards me in a crosswalk, I’ll reach for my camera, instead of running to get out of the way.

  • Anonymous

    What happens to submissions? Will you publicly post them for everyone to see?

  • Aaron Bialick

    If you wouldn’t like it posted, let us know, but otherwise we are looking content that could be used for a story.

  • Elsakabob

    I know you won’t like this one, but I work downtown and have nearly been hit by cars, but also by bicyclists going through red lights and almost hitting me as I walked legally across the street. A person was killed near my office a few weeks ago due to a bicyclist running a red light. Please, let’s be honest and fair.

  • Anonymous

    I was hoping that all of the submissions would be made available to the public, instead of only a few that you pick to publish.

  • MPetrleis

    This is an excellent idea, but it should be expanded to include photos of all the bikers putting pedestrians at risk of injury by riding on the sidewalks. Have you tried to walk on Market near Valencia, on the side of the street where Delessio Cafe and Flax are located, on any afternoon and not get hit by a biker? Let’s not pretend only folks who drive autos are part of the street dysfunction we need to address. Plenty of bicyclists riding on sidewalks give good bikers a bad rep.

  • MPetrelis

    Back in October, the Mission Local ran a story about bikers on sidewalks and the naivete of the head of a supposed pedestrian safety group shone through brightly. Instead of getting real about this menace, she claimed never to have seen a biker riding on a Valencia sidewalk. Obviously she doesn’t hang out much on that street if she’s truly never seen such an occurrence. Oh, and don’t bother ticketing bad bikers, she says. Redesign the streets! Um, must we wait for years and millions of dollars to be found before addressing the danger now of bikers on sidewalks??

    http://missionlocal.org/2011/10/bikers-peddle-into-pedestrians/

    Walk San Francisco’s executive director, Elizabeth Stampe, wants the
    city to think bigger than citing offending cyclists, and redesign the
    streets. She believes that other city streets should be put on
    Valencia’s “road diet” of wider sidewalks, bike lanes and timed
    stoplights. According to Stampe, any car or bike that travels on
    Valencia will hit nothing but green lights — as long as they’re ambling
    along at 13 mph.

    “It makes cars travel at a much safer speed. A more human speed,” Stampe said.

    Stampe has yet to observe someone riding on the Valencia sidewalks
    since its bike and pedestrian-friendly redesign. Of the 771 bicycles
    counted at 17th and Valencia in the city’s 2010 Bicycle Count Report, 10
    –- 1 percent –- rode on the sidewalk.

  • mikesonn

    What city do you work in? Not anywhere in the bay area.

  • Richard Mlynarik

     Have you tried to walk on Market near Valencia, on the side of the street where Delessio Cafe and Flax are located, on any afternoon and not get hit by a biker? 

    Yes.  Many many times.  Thank you for your valuable contribution.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    Scott/Fell where a lot of bicyclists ride on the wrong side of the street and turn left onto Fell on a red light, even though the MTA has installed a green left turn 

    Sure.  I do that all the time, being careful to check for Gascon’s doughnut boys.  I do first whatever is safest for me and for my fellow human beings, secondly what makes interactions with other human beings progress as pleasantly and efficiently as possible, and lastly what the letter of the law says.

    I keep out of the way of motorists, I don’t hit anybody, nobody hits me.  I do what makes things work.  Here’s something to get you really frothing at the mouth: I freely confess to stopping at and then rolling though red lights on a bicycle, for no other reason than to allow cars to turn right.  SOMEWHERE A CRIME IS BEING COMMITTED!

    Do you enjoy peering furtively out of your blinds, seated with your laptop and binoculars at the ready, waiting the opportunity to STOP AND REPORT TRANSGRESSIONS?  Sounds great.

    PS Watch out for falling meteorites.  They pose a grave danger to the innocent pedestrian, and never obey traffic signals.

  • Anonymous

    Go there and yell at them. The sidewalk riders are not on this blog. And contrary to apparent opinion, there is not a monthly meeting of the secret cyclist cabal where we discuss whether or not to ride on sidewalks.

    If, however there is a monthly goober meeting, both yourself and the people riding bikes on the sidewalk are probably in attendance, and you can bring it up then.

  • Elsakabob,

    Please do let us know about the person killed by your office a few weeks ago by a bicyclist. Last August, in a terrible tragedy, a woman named Dionette Cherney was killed by a bicyclist here in San Francisco. Dionette was the only person to be killed by a bicyclist in San Francisco in the last five years. (In 2009, 13 pedestrians were killed by cars in San Francisco; in 2010, 17 pedestrians were killed by cars in San Francisco; in the first half of 2011, 7 pedestrians were killed by cars in San Francisco.)

    As far as I can discover, Dionette was the only pedestrian in the entire country who was killed by a bicyclist in 2011. (In the US, on average more than 4000 pedestrians are killed by cars each year.) If you have additional data, it would be very helpful to know about. Perhaps you could post a link to newspaper coverage of the death? I agree that being honest and fair is very important.

  • guest

    I’d like to see some photos of the Bar Tartine valet service (Valencia between 16th and 17th) around the dinner hour. They keep cars cycling through a legal curb spot but drivers pull up and block the bike lane while they hand over the keys. The other night I was there, the bike lane was blocked more often than not — 5 cars in 10 minutes. Really surprised the valet company is allowed to operate like that.

  • mikesonn

    Saimin, you can also add them to the Streetsblog San Francisco group in Flickr (look to the right of this comment to see “Eyes on the Street”).

    Or go here:
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/streetsblogsanfrancisco/ 

  • basho

    I bike through this intersection every day, in the evening, and my experience (as I’m sure for anyone else who passes through here) is that the majority of cyclists cut left onto Fell on the red. I’m not one of those fundamentalist law worshippers that Richard Mlynarik is describing, but in my opinion cutting across before the green arrow isn’t really worth it. The way the lights are timed from Scott and Oak, once you get a green on north-bound Scott/Oak, you have time to get to Scott/Fell, and wait about 5 to 10 seconds for the green arrow. Those who race through and cut across early end up at Fell/Divisadero at the red light. Those who wait a few seconds for the green arrow arrive at Fell/Divisadero at the same red light and a few seconds later we all cross Divisadero together.
    Cutting across on the red puts you at risk of getting hit by a left turn from Fell; which as far as I know hasn’t happened in a while, but I have seen a few close calls. And every so often, police set up east of this intersection to give tickets to cyclists who cut early. So, maybe compared to the other risks of cycling in the city, these 2 risks aren’t very significant, but if you just end up at the same red light and save zero time, what’s the point?In order to go from Scott/Oak to Fell/Divisadero and hit the green, you’d have to cross Oak on a red light, possibly make the red light left at Fell, then pedal hard to make the green through Divisadero. It’s a combination of risks that I feel isn’t worth it; I just want to get home safely and quickly within reason. Some cyclists (even those who can barely manage to get faster than walking speed) seem to think they need to take every advantage at every intersection to shave seconds off their time. To me, this section of the wiggle connecting to east-bound Fell is an example of traffic engineering that has significantly improved (but I didn’t say it’s perfect) safety and usability for cyclists. 

  • guest