Today’s Headlines

  • Driver Injures Man on Bike at Hwy 80 Offramp at Fifth and Harrison Streets (SFGate)
  • More on the SFMTA Bicycle Count Report (SF Examiner, BCN via Bay Citizen)
  • More on the Second Street Funding Diversion (SF Examiner)
  • SFMTA Director Joél Ramos: Parking Pricing Crucial to Funding Muni Service (City Insider)
  • East Bay BRT EIR Released For Public Review, Community Meetings Planned (AC Transit)
  • SFMTA Looks to Issue 50 New Part-Time Taxi Permits (CBS 5)
  • Bike Thefts Bedevil BART Commuters (SFGate)
  • UC Davis Student Brennan Morrow 19, Killed by Driver (SacBee)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • mikesonn

    Several mentions of “community opposition” to the 2nd St plan in the Examiner article. Did I miss something?

  • Don’t neglect this sensationalist piece from SF Weekly: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2012/02/randolph_ang_dionette_cherney.php. It features some nice gems such as:

    “But it seems bicycle activists want it both ways. They want to break the law for their convenience and then require everyone else in cars to obey it. I can hear the screams from bike-riding readers. What about the lawbreakers in cars? They’re certainly out there but not to such a high percentage as law-breaking bike riders.”

    And we all know that when a pedestrian or cyclist is killed by a car, SF Weekly rushes to their editorial defense. Which is why this next quote seems sincere:

    “In my mind, he needs to do some time if for no reason than to send the message that breaking the law and killing people in San Francisco is not to be tolerated, whether you do it with a bicycle, car, or bus.”

  • Anonymous

    Streetsblog: link for “UC Davis Student Brennan Morrow 19, Killed by Driver” doesn’t work.

  • TL

    Naw, I’m okay with not linking to that link bait.

  • I know, calling it link bait and then linking to it is hypocritical on my part.

    But attention needed to be called to it anyway. 

  • Aaron Bialick

    Woops, the last letter of the URL was cut off. Fixed it.

  • mikesonn

    SFWeekly, giving the Examiner a run for free rag not fit to use as TP.

  • Things are changing, perhaps faster than we realize.  (Certainly faster than politicians realize.) 

    The graph below shows the Four Week Average of US Product Supply of Finished Motor Gasoline through February 3rd 2012. (Basically, the EIA’s tabulation of the amount of gasoline sold in the United States. It is published weekly.) The amount, as you can see,varies seasonally, but even so, the latest number, 8,038,000 barrels per day, is the lowest since February 2001. (This does not include diesel or other oil products.) Demand has fallen off a cliff the last few weeks, probably due to high gas prices/bad economy pricing people out of driving. (VMT is also falling, but the data for VMT is not published as promptly as this data.)

    If demand hadn’t fallen so drastically, gas prices right now would be substantially higher.  And this is with economic difficulties and high gas prices in Europe also pricing people out of driving there as well. 

    One of the implications of this is that the government is going to collect much less in gas tax revenues than they think they’re going to collect.

  • mikesonn

    You mean the gas tax that hasn’t gone up in nearly 20 years?

    But seriously, thanks for posting the data. And not so seriously, “Drill, Baby! Drill!”

  • peternatural

    One possible reason for the recent decline in vehicle miles traveled: young people these days just aren’t that into driving.

    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2012/01/vehicle-miles-driven-decline-possible.html

  • There were bike lanes planned for 2nd Street in the original bike plan. Some area residents didn’t like the way they were designed, and showed up to the hearing on the EIR. A lot of “I support bike lanes, I support bike lanes ON SECOND STREET, but I just don’t like this design”. I believed a large percentage of that group (though some of them were jumping on the bandwagon who would prefer no bike lanes).
     
    Clearly they were unaware that pulling that project out of the bike plan meant “this means that you won’t get any work done on that street.” Rookies.

  • Eagerly awaiting SFWeekly story on the driver getting jail time.

  • mikesonn

    5th and Harrison collision was with a cyclist and:

    “The driver of the 1978 Ford pickup stopped and cooperated with police, Andraychak said. No arrests have been made, and the names of those involved were not released.”

    Surprise!

  • Guest

    Collision occurred 40 minutes before sunrise, and the cyclist had no headlight.  Not saying the cyclist is at fault, but they didn’t make themselves visible.

  • mikesonn

    Turning left in front of traffic is illegal. This isn’t the first time it has happened to a cyclist (last one had a light and there was no ticket).

  • The Greasybear

    Back in October a motorist turned left in front of me (and a couple cars), and we all had headlights on. The cars were able to skid to a stop, but I couldn’t avoid crashing my bike. Four months after surgery I’m still unable to ride. Motorists are very badly behaved in this city, in large part because they know SFPD is biased in their favor and won’t cite them if they break the law and harm a cyclist or pedestrian. This happens all the time.

  • mikesonn

    Sorry to hear that Greasybear. Hope you make a full recovery.

    EDIT: What was the outcome from your crash? Did the driver get a ticket? I assume their insurance is paying some (hopefully all) of your bills.

  •  @KarenLynnAllen:disqus  your graph is showing supply not demand. Every economic metric is showing growth, meaning demand should be increasing. Supply is decreasing, which is why we’re looking at 2008 level gas prices instead of 2009.

    A recent article noted that oil companies just eliminated 50% of their east coast gas refining capacity.

  • Gneiss
  • The Greasybear

    mikesonn, the driver got away.

  • Jass, This graph (as explained by the US Energy Information Administration) “approximately represents consumption of petroleum products because it measures the disappearance of these products from primary source.” It very much shows the real demand at the current price. There is more oil available on world markets. If Americans were willing to pay more for gas, we could price out the Europeans, Chinese, and Indians, and more oil would get shipped to us and we could consume more. So what we see is precisely demand dropping due to high prices.

    Now, as to whether oil companies would purposefully decrease the amount of oil they are selling when prices are at a multi-year high is interesting indeed. The fact is, no matter what prices have been since 2005, the amount of crude oil for sale has been slightly but steadily decreasing, as was predicted would happen long ago by Peak Oil theory. This reduction in crude has been made up somewhat with what the industry calls “other liquids” such as biofuels and natural gas liquids, but these are not oil and they do not have the energy content of oil so conflating them with oil obscures what is really happening to supply. In addition, most oil-producing countries have allowed their own internal consumption of oil to rise (generally to placate their restive population that shares little in the wealth the oil creates) which results in even less oil available for sale on the world markets. Indonesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are all classic examples of this. In Nigeria, the entire oil industry was almost shut down through strikes when the government contemplated reducing the enormous subsidy they give to gasoline.

    The fascinating thing about refineries is that due to their inability to respond quickly to overcapacity (due to shrinking demand) during the month of December US refineries actually *lost* 6 and half cents on every gallon of gasoline they sold! Some should have shut down sooner! (See  http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/  and scroll down to bottom )

    As to economic metrics, food stamp use has increased in almost the same proportion that gasoline sales have decreased. The official unemployment number has dropped solely because massive numbers of out-of-work people have been dropped from the official “unemployed” ranks.The share of working-age people in the US actually working is at the lowest level now that it’s been for 29 years.  Median household income has dropped more in the past two years than it did in the preceding two (which, in theory, were the two years of the recession.) 

    Though I would like to think that dropping gasoline demand is due to a sudden epiphany in environmental consciousness or new-found enthusiasm to improve personal health, I tend to think it is actually a very good indicator of how squeezed the average person is feeling economically. The irony is that the more we insist on our way of life based on cheap gas and the longer we wait to make the inevitable transition to an oil-free economy, the further we will impoverish our population, destroy our environment, and devastate our economy, all while believing ourselves victimized by oil companies and speculators when the situation was both predictable and within our power to avoid.

  •  Greasybear,

    I, too, am very sorry to hear about your bicycle crash. A hit and run is especially despicable. As a bicyclist, left-turning cars scare me the most because I know (as a driver) left turns at a congested intersection require a complex amount of information processing that many (maybe even most?) drivers are barely able to manage safely in good conditions. Since other cars are the biggest objects posing the most danger, they are what any driver will pay most attention to. When a gap in traffic arises, the temptation is to go for it. To make the gap often requires substantial acceleration, rendering any crash impact even worse. It sounds like the driver in your situation didn’t even look for a gap.

    I see so many near misses. I think driver behavior is indeed an issue, but the larger problem is that the vulnerability of the human body to 3000 pounds of accelerating metal just doesn’t work in a dense city. We can either have lots of people living and working in a few square miles and few cars, or we can have lots of cars in a large space and relatively few people.  All energy and pollution and health issues aside, mixing people and fast-moving cars in the same space is like expecting an egg not to get crushed when you throw a brick at it.

  • 94103er


    All energy and pollution and health issues aside, mixing people and fast-moving cars in the same space is like expecting an egg not to get crushed when you throw a brick at it.
     ”
    Tomorrow’s pull quote, Aaron!

  • Anonymous

    Will Reisman didn’t do his job on this article and phone any neighborhood folks. Let’s rewind to 2009… Pedestrian safety advocates like myself were concerned about the effects on pedestrian safety on the streets east and west of 2nd from banning left turns all up and down 2nd street. SFMTA Oliver basically said tough crap… we’re doing this and really don’t care to listen to what you have to say about it (my paraphrasing). And you know the rest… SFMTA Board did listen to neighbors concerns about the one-way communications by SFMTA staff, tabled 2nd Street Bike Plan project, and told SFMTA staff to sincerely talk with the community.

    I recall a single meeting in Fall 2009 following the Board’s tabling of 2nd Street where a couple guys from SFMTA came to a SBRMBNA meeting and mentioned a possibility to really redo 2nd Street more completely (more than paint). They said there’d be many community meetings … just stay tuned. And then there was silence and no communications from SFMTA to the neighborhood about 2nd Street in 2010 and most of 2011 (and even then, it was basically the community inquiring about whats going on?)

  • Anonymous

    Continued….
    So, after hearing nothing for a year and a half or so, I just happen to be asking about pedestrian safety improvements on 2nd at Townsend, and the SFMTA person’s reply mentions the 2nd Street Streetscape Plan in passing. what? Huh? what the what what?!?

    Now, when DPW gets streetscape plans from SFMTA, they basically just build it. My neighbors, still not aware of what’s going on because no one felt the urge to follow the SFMTA Board’s 2009 direction to perform more community outreach re:2nd Street, called up DPW and asked what the heck is going on. DPW discovers they’ve been handed a plan by SFMTA that had not been vetted at all by the community.

    Now, the SFMTA and/or DPW could have made an effort to meet last summer when they realized theyd ignored us again.

  • Anonymous

    continued …
    Since neither department seemed to want to deal with it, the 2nd street plans drowned yet again. THis sucks, and The Examiner article incorrectly saying that there was neighborhood opposition as if we’re anti-bike lane is incredibly lame on the part of Wil Reisman. The reality is we weren’t told anything, and surprised to learn anything was finalized and going to DPW for construction to begin. The SFMTA Board set the expectation there would be earnest community outreach before they did anything.

    I think it’s inaccurate to say there was community opposition to these plans because we were never presented the plans! Do they still contain the ban on left turns? I have no idea… No communication from the SFMTA. How can we oppose something we’re not even presented? We simply phoned up and said, “hey, we were supposed to have the opportunity to talk about this, what the heck?”

    I hope this gives us a fresh start…. Community members and Bicycle Coalition have already set a date to start the conversation together.

    We’re one of the most sane, rational neighborhood groups in the City …. I don’t know why someone at SFMTA couldn’t pick up a phone in 2010 or 2011 and say, “i’d like to talk about this awesome opportunity we have to improve pedestrian and bike safety and hopefully mitigate car congestion all in one swoop.” Frustrating.

  • mikesonn

    @jamiewhitaker:disqus Thank you for the inside scoop. I follow your work in SoMa and am always impressed with your dedication. Thank you for that. You are indeed fighting an uphill battle down there. Also why I posed the question, it didn’t add up that there was “community opposition” because I figured I would have heard something out of your corner long ago if that was the case along with a rational list of alternatives or fixes.

    Keep up the good work and hopefully the SFMTA will get the ball rolling again sooner than later.

  • marcos

    It seems like the MTA is trying to build the case to get charter reform passed that kicks off the current directors, creates a new way of choosing directors (election by district like in AC Transit, anyone?) and sandbags their revenue measure for this fall.

    Director Joél Ramos (he’s supposed to be the new blood, right?) had the audacity to call our neighbors rude, folks who are willing to pay for curbside parking but resented a the MTA doing zero outreach to residents, resented robotic MTA staffer saying its is my way, SFPark or else, not even the option for the highway, and resented a pro-forma “public hearing” that gave zero consideration to public testimony, we might as well have been in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Taken together, that was a rude awakening to our neighbors because they were treated rudely by MTA staff.  We had to organize to raise a political ruckus to be heard.  Rudeness in the first instance is excused and responding in kind is somehow a faux pas?  Gimme a break!

    We need to go through the MTA budget line by line with a fine toothed comb to figure out how many of those six figure salaries are warranted.  The MTA has to make good on undoing its pilfering of $26m in Prop A moneys every which way including $11m to the SFPD traffic company where two officers alone at commander level are pulling in north of $250K.  The MTA needs to be taking policy steps to plug those sieve holes and end transit funding fungibility, to ensure that dollars currently spent on transit stay in transit even when new dollars are dedicated to transit.

    I went to my first MTA Board meeting in years on Tuesday.  Again, it was like going back in space and time to the Soviet Union.  Staff ran the board, there were zero critical questions from directors, only cheerleading.  The MTA needs independent directors, not sycophants.  The idea of taking politics out of policy is a distraction.  Politics is how we allocate scarce resources in a democracy.  Policy needs to be insulated from corruption, where scarce resources are allocated to vested interests that do not represent the democratic polity.

    On one hand, I want the MTA to succeed, most all of the MTA’s critics want rapid, reliable and inclusive transit service.  On the other hand, we know that Prop E has had 12 years to make good, and that what we’re seeing is an agency run by and for the Mayor’s office and its interests to the exclusion of serving San Franciscans.  This is why the MTA continually takes steps that slow transit service for the benefit of the politically connected while pushing policies that demand the least able do and pay more to ride transit. 

    The MTA cannot succeed under Section 8A of the Charter as written.  In a democracy, it is the people who always have the last word, and the MTA is giving San Franciscans of every stripe every reason to pull the plug on Prop E.

  • Sprague

    Karen,
    Your understanding of the economics of oil is impressive.  Any interest in running for office?

  • mikesonn

    In San Francisco, meter parks you!

  • marcos

     Do you all actually believe the ideological dogma that market price for essentially monopoly commodities is determined solely by supply and demand?

  • marcos

     @mikesonn:disqus “In San Francisco, meter parks you”

    No, that would be in the Jetsons.  BTW, where is my jet pack anyway?  They promised me one in 1969, and all we’ve got are the picture phones.

    I’d imagine that there would be a similar movement arising against jet packs from the anti car zealots if the jet packs we were promised every came into the mainstream.

  • mikesonn

    You got the SFPark thing off the table, settle down. “Soviet Union”? Hyperbole much?

  • marcos

    @mikesonn:disqus the “SF Park thing” is still on the table.  We merely await the General Secretary and his pliable Politburo’s dictation of policy.  Actually, the proletarians are brewing up their own counterrevolution, with intent to impose upon the vanguard party our own democratically run soviets.  Will we see the General Secretary respond as Trotsky did to the Kronstadt?  Time will tell, hopefully we will not end up with Vladmir Putin and the Kleptokrats.

    We will also see how SFPark plays against the new TSP/TSF, where all projects but those on transit corridors, Planning/Building Inspection originated or otherwise, are to be exempted from CEQA transportation analysis to determine whether they delay transit based on the flimsy notion that development projects and changes of use are assessed a mitigation fee.  #CEQAFAIL.

    The “public hearing” was reminiscent of so many MTA “outreach” projects, where there was a proposal in that was barely modified in the proposal out ratified by the show trial court.  The Bike Plan Update of 2004, for instance, had a set of projects proposed, a $500K+ “outreach contract” that went to the SFBC, which produced, you guessed it, the same crop of projects out as went in.  Either staff had an uncanny ability to read what the public wanted through the ethers, or the public outreach project was, in assembly language terms, was a NOOP, “no operation,” or a fall through instruction:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOP

    Another example of a bureaucracy pissing on one’s leg while claiming that it is  raining.

    Contrary to Ramos’ impolitic misreading of the neighbors, folks acknowledge that the era of free street parking is over.  There might be a role for meters curbside as well.  The rub is in the details and sussing out those details requires cooperation between the agency and residents and businesses, not Stalinist dictates.  Good thing that the MTA has no gulags.

  • mikesonn

    “Good thing that the MTA has no gulags.”

    From how loud you and yours have been screaming, you’d think the SFMTA was fixing to chain you to a parking meter and throw quarters at you.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn:disqus What part of the political process in a democracy are you not understanding?  What part of involving those most directly impacted by decisions that impact them in the decision making are you missing?  Does it completely escape you that in a democratic politics, to impose decisions on people that they do not support risks a backlash on policies we all agree on?  Do you think that a referendum on SFPark would fail, do you think that an initiative ordinance to disband SFPark would fail?  Are not not grasping the errors made by sustainable transportation advocates in the past?  Do you insist upon repeating those errors over and again?  Do you ever consider, even for a moment, that you might be wrong?  What is it like to be uniquely availed of the Right Answers and as such immune from criticism?  I wish I was that smart.

  • mikesonn

    I still haven’t seen or heard a clear concise rebuttal to the SFPark Mission Bay plan. All I’ve heard is “we’ll pay for parking but not like this” or some other crap. No block by block look at the plan explaining what is acceptable and, more likely, what is not.

    Also, because the neighbors screamed and yelled (strangely absent when Muni had cut after cut during the Newsom years), the SFMTA tabled the plan until further discussion can be had. That sure sounds like a democracy to me, not some Soviet Russia [see: hyperbole].

    So give a decent break down of the plan and a well thought out proposal for what would be better or just shut the hell up about it already.

  • marcos

     @mikesonn:disqus there was no organized objection to the Mission Bay plan and it is going forward.   SFPark is not shelved.  The objection was in the Dogpatch which was designated the MB parkshed and that is being held back for further work.

    I yelled and yelled when Muni cutbacks and fare hikes happened.

    Do not tell me to shut up when I’ve drawn ring after ring around you logically. 

    We are working with the neighbors to figure out what a community process will look like, how to gather data on how to implement parking controls in our mixed use neighborhood.  That takes time and we will not be held to the MTA’s arbitrary schedule.

    Remember, if this goes to the ballot you lose and you lose big time because you are afraid of the voters because you really don’t like the voters and they get that.

  • Sprague

    In a perfect world, all decisions would be made democratically.  But in our world, most of the citizenry does not have the time to figure out all of the matters that need to be decided upon.  That’s why there are commisions with appointed or elected members.  Having lived in another democracy, in Austria, I must say that their government was much better able to deliver improvements to their citizenry than ours is.  In Vienna, subway and streetcar lines are extended, bikeways are built and parking is removed (or moved underground) and the society benefits, progresses, and moves on.  Here the status quo is bolstered by NIMBYism and pretty much nothing gets done and nothing changes.  This might be convenient and it may even be democratic, but it sure ain’t sustainable for our planet.  Our city could be so much better if reforms and changes would be embraced.

  • marcos

    @2c232dd069922070a01c69ae4849c3fa:disqus we do not live in either a perfect world or Austria, we live in the western US that was barely settled when Europe had already invested heavily in transit and where post-WWII corrupt interests demolished what transit investment there was.  Californians of a century ago afforded the people democratic constitutional rights to check corruption of the political process.  Referendum and initiative are two of those which are very live in this discussion. 

    I get it, I grew up in NYC where we drove in auto-oriented Queens but always took subways to get into Manhattan.  But the deeper we look into the MTA the more corruption and waste we see that diverts dollars from the provision of rapid, reliable and timely transit into corrupt fluff.

    You can continue to curse the night or you can light a candle, but dismiss democratic participation by citizens in the events that impact their lives as NIMBYs at your peril.  There is consensus in a non-auto oriented culture for change.  Here in an auto oriented culture with democratic tools at our disposal, it requires political work, not zealots issuing diktats. 

  • Andy Chow

    I am not surprised over the postponement of SFPark decision. I hope that this would be a lesson for SFMTA and meter supporters of how to approach the issue and knowing where the meters are appropriate or not.

    The problem with SFMTA and meter supporters is that they all come from the ideological angle of either anti-car or that somehow if parking is restricted and priced, then more folks would choose not to drive. On the other hand, the opposition are more or less come from self-interest angle, that they don’t want to pay for parking and other hassles related to paid parking (the act of feeding the meters, risk of getting fined, etc). In a democratic society, self interest is a valid argument against pubic policies.

    What SFMTA didn’t discuss much, or didn’t study much, is whether or how the parking meters would improve the parking/transportation situation specifically in that neighborhood. Even if SFMTA believes meters are good for the city as a whole, but if they don’t benefit the specific area, residents and businesses in the area will not support it. The same thing goes for the revenue associated with parking meters. SFMTA doesn’t have a plan for transit improvements specifically for the area.

    I am not surprised that residents and businesses find for quote from Joel Ramos insulting. What they believe is that SFMTA sees parking meters as a general revenue source to fund things that are not for the neighborhood. The meter opponents can easily ask why they should pay for their parking to fund Muni when there are so many riders boarding through the back door and not paying their fare?