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Bike Coalition Strategizes a Safer SoMa

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SFBC's South of Market committee strategizing how to make the neighborhood safer. Photo: Streetsblog

SFBC’s South of Market committee strategizing how to make the neighborhood safer. That’s Remi Ray, Charles Deffarges, Katie Brenzo, and Moses Nakamura. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, the South of Market Committee of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) met at their Market Street office to discuss advocacy tactics for making sure SFMTA follows through on Mayor Edwin Lee’s Executive Directive on safety in their neighborhood. “They’re hoping to get this in the ground by May of 2017,” said Charles Deffarges, community organizer with the Bicycle Coalition. He pointed to SFMTA designs, projected on a screen for the group, of 7th and 8th streets, with physically protected bike lanes. “This design is not all the way there, but it is a first phase,” he said.

Streetsblog readers will recall that on the evening of June 22, Kate Slattery and Heather Miller were killed in separate incidents in San Francisco. Slattery died at the intersection of 7th and Howard streets. A month later, under intense pressure from the Bicycle Coalition, the mayor issued an “executive directive on safety.” Part of the directive was specific to the area where Slattery was killed, instructing “SFMTA to deliver near­-term safety improvements on 7th and 8th Streets in the next nine months.”

That process is now under way. Streetsblog covered an open house back in September, where SFMTA got feedback on designs for 7th and 8th. Now the Bicycle Coalition is focusing on longer-term planning for Folsom and Howard Streets. They want to keep up the pressure and make sure safety measures are put through before any more cyclists are hurt or killed. SFMTA is holding open houses on the designs on Thursday, December 8, and Saturday, December 10.

“My hope is we can figure out exactly what we want to achieve through this open house,” said Deffarges. “Our overarching goal for Folsom and Howard is to have the best streets possible–how do we use these upcoming open houses to leverage that goal?” Read more…

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SPUR Talk: Update on Geary Corridor Bus Rapid Transit

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A look at a short segment of Geary that will get true "BRT" upgrades. Image: CTA

A look at a short segment of Geary that will get true “BRT” upgrades. Image: CTA

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (CTA), along with SFMTA, is completing its final environmental review for “Bus Rapid Transit” and other street improvements on Geary. Last week, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) held an update/discussion about this busy corridor.

As many Streetsblog readers already know, the planned improvements are primarily in response to the overcrowding on the 38 bus, which runs the length of Geary to downtown San Francisco. “At 52,000 daily riders, it’s pretty crammed,” said Colin Dental-Post, Transportation Planner with CTA. “They’re stuck in traffic, so adding additional buses doesn’t necessarily work out…buses are so frequent they just bunch up…which results in further delays.”

CTA's Colin Dentel-Post, TransForm's Joel Ramos, Kevin Stull of the Geary CAC, and Nicole Ferrara of Walk SF. Photo: Streetsblog

CTA’s Colin Dentel-Post, TransForm’s Joel Ramos, Kevin Stull of the Geary CAC, and Nicole Ferrara of Walk SF. Photo: Streetsblog

True enough. And as readers are no doubt aware, Geary has long been eyed as a corridor badly in need of transit improvements, going back to old BART plans that had a line going under Geary before turning up to the Golden Gate Bridge for a trip to Marin County. But every rail and subway proposal has fallen by the wayside. Read more…

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Remembering Victims of Road Violence

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The walk ended in front of City Hall in San Francisco. Photo: Streetsblog

The walk ended in front of City Hall in San Francisco. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday afternoon, advocates from Walk San Francisco joined the newly formed “Families for Safe Streets” and others, for a walk of remembrance for traffic victims. The walk, with a crowd of nearly 100 participants, started at 16th and Mission and followed a circuitous route through some of San Francisco’s most notorious intersections, concluding with a vigil in front of City Hall.

From Walk San Francisco’s release:

At a time of year when most people are making plans to spend time with family to celebrate, other families will face empty seats at their Thanksgiving tables. On November 20, these families announced their newly formed group: the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA) Families for Safe Streets. Members of SFBA Families for Safe Streets have lost loved ones, care for loved ones severely injured, or suffer from nearly life-ending traffic violence themselves.

Family members from across the Bay Area affected by traffic violence led a walk through a number of San Francisco neighborhoods alongside City and State leaders, doctors and nurses, and community members all wearing yellow to honor victims and call for safe streets. They carried signs with “Crash Not Accident,” to shift both public and policy-maker thinking that erroneously assumes traffic crashes are inevitable. Family members and friends held pictures of their loved ones to bring awareness to the real lives ended or affected by traffic crashes.

Read more…

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Muni Driver Mistakes his Bus for a Train?

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Spotted Sunday morning. Photo: Daniel Pifko

Spotted Sunday morning. Photo: Daniel Pifko

This happened on Sunday morning near the intersection of Ocean and Junipero Serra. The bus has since been removed from the K-Ingleside tracks. Streetsblog got this photo via a tip. It’s unclear how the bus ended up on the tracks. Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA, only said that, “The operator of the bus drove on the tracks at that location. We had to get a tow truck to remove it. Shuttles provided service through the area to West Portal.” Read more…

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SFMTA Gets Input on Plans for a Better Embarcadero

The current green striped, door-death lane on Embarcadero. Photo: Streetsblog

The current green-striped, unprotected lane on Embarcadero. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency held an open house, at Pier 1 on the Embarcadero, to get public feedback for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project. From the SFMTA website:

The SFMTA, Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Planning Department and San Francisco Public Works Department are collaborating on a planning project that will increase safety and comfort of travel along The Embarcadero. Working with the community, the Embarcadero Enhancement Project seeks to develop a Complete Streets conceptual design and cost estimate that includes a bikeway along The Embarcadero from AT&T Park at King Street to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. A bikeway is a bicycle facility that is physically separated from moving or parked vehicles and pedestrians.

The meeting was split into two spaces to showcase and discuss two alternatives for the street. In one room, seen in the first photo after the break, was a “complete streets” plan that would put a curbside, protected bike lane on both sides of the Embarcadero. The other plan is exploring a bi-directional lane on the seaside promenade.
Read more…

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SPUR Talk: Running Public Transportation Like a Swiss Watch

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Andrew Nash explains how railway technology has to be modernized to put the customer first. Photo: Streetsblog

Andrew Nash explains how railway technology has to be modernized to put the customer first. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, Andrew Nash and Ulrich Leister, transit consultants from Europe, explained to an audience at SPUR’s Oakland location what California needs to do to make its transit and intercity rail as user-friendly as it is in Switzerland and Denmark. “The most important thing is the service,” said Leister a railroad consultant and CEO for the North American operations of SMA, who is also working to help California develop its statewide rail projects. “And that the product is something to be used by the public.”

That may seem obvious, but Leister explained that transportation agencies get too focused on vehicle types and moving trains and forget that the customer just wants to get where they want to go, easily, consistently, and quickly. “It’s hard to make public transportation as flexible and easy to use as the private car, but on reliability, time and money…public transportation can outperform,” he said.

He said that agencies need to design infrastructure according to customer needs. For example, it’s nearly impossible to give anyone a direct ride on one vehicle type from point A to B. That means transfers have to be fast and simple. So in Zurich, which he used as an example, the priority is facilitating seamless transfers throughout the system, through a “hub-pulse” approach.
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Election Reflection: The Bay Area Needs More Bridges to the Rest of America

Let's focus on making this already great city even better. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Let’s focus on making this already great city even better. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Streetsblog editors from New York, Washington and Los Angeles have tried to make sense of what happened on Tuesday, and what it means to the livable-streets movement.

Much of my family is from Pittsburgh. Like San Francisco, it is a beautiful place, bounded by water, with hills, great, walkable neighborhoods, and bridges. Pennsylvania was a battleground state. One of my best friends from Pittsburgh, Jim, wanted nothing to do with either political party; he didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

For sure, Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric brought out the worst in America. But Trump didn’t win on racism and misogyny alone.

It’s understandable why many in the rust belt want nothing to do with the political establishment. Pittsburgh was a steel town. Not too long ago, people had good, union jobs and lived in modest, comfortable houses. Over time, however, the steel industry went off to Asia in search of cheap labor.

There was a joke in rust-belt cities: “would the last one to leave please turn out the lights?”

In fairness to Pittsburgh, it has managed to diversify its economy to some extent. But it’s a shell of what it once was.

That said, a few years back, an airline advertised a special, direct flight from Pittsburgh to Paris. Jim and his wife had always dreamed of visiting. It was their first trip overseas.

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SPUR talk on Local Measures: BART Bond Passes, Mixed Results on Others

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Alex Clemens and David Latterman hosted a packed house at SPUR's SF center. Photo: Streetsblog

Alex Clemens and David Latterman hosted a packed house at SPUR’s SF center. Photo: Streetsblog

This afternoon, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), hosted a post-election analysis of local races and measures with political consultants David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics and Alex Clemens of Lighthouse Public Affairs.

Clemens started off his presentation and summed up the mood in the room with a single word: “sh*t!”

That was all they had to say about the national election, at least at the start of the presentation. They quickly moved on to a breakdown of San Francisco’s complex ballot, with its 25 measures and several local races, some of them not yet definitively decided at the time of the presentation.

“Turnout was 53 percent so far, but will get to around 76 percent as the last ballots are counted,” explained Latterman. He said that’s the largest turnout since 2008. Read more…

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More Carnage, More Data…and More Excuses from the City

Another crash on Market Street. Photo: John Rogers

Today’s crash on Market Street. Photo: John Rogers

Another cyclist was hit this morning on Market Street, between 7th and 8th, reported Streetsblog reader John Rogers. Details are still coming in. “Market is still a full-on traffic free-for-all, and the danger faced by the thousands of cyclists that ride the central street of our city everyday remains a travesty,” he wrote to Streetsblog in an email this afternoon.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Director Barbara Garcia of the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported on a recent analysis of trauma patients in the city.

From the Department Director’s statement:

People injured in traffic collisions comprise 50 percent of the patients seen at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Trauma Center–exceeding all other categories for cause of injury including falls, cuts/pierces, firearms, and assault

In other words, SF streets are literally a public health menace, like diabetes or guns. “This analysis puts into perspective the pervasiveness of traffic crashes in our society and the urgent need to invest in proven strategies to prevent crashes,” was the response of Nicole Ferrara, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco.

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A Note of Caution on Tech and Privatizing Transit

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Is our new ride-hale tech tempting us to repeat past mistakes? Driveless cars has been a dream of road planners since the Interstate Highway System was first envisioned. Image source unknown.

Driverless cars have been anticipated by road planners since the Interstate Highway System was first envisioned. But is the near-realization of this dream tempting us to repeat past mistakes? Image source unknown.

At a recent SPUR meeting, an audience member asked why cities continue to invest billions in long-term projects, such as the Central Subway, when ride-hail services such as Juno, Lyft, and Uber Pool have rendered urban rail more or less obsolete. This sentiment is reflected in a recent piece in the Atlantic by former Los Angeles Times writer Alana Semuels, entitled: “The End of Public Transit?” She wrote about her experience riding Chariot instead of Muni:

Why should anyone use public services if the private sector can provide the same service more efficiently? On an individual level, after all, the private bus was much more pleasant and not much more expensive. On the government level, privatization could save money. Privatizing public bus services could save $5.7 billion a year, according to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March.

The piece brings up some interesting thoughts, which have been discussed in Streetsblog as well. It’s worth a read–certainly, transit agencies such as BART and SFMTA should be, and are, discussing collaboration with private transportation providers.

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