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Bay Area 2040: Envisioning the Future of the Bay Area

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SFMTAs Liz Brisson at the Plan Bay Area open house. Image: Streetsblog.

SFMTA’s Liz Brisson at the Plan Bay Area open house. Image: Streetsblog.

Who says you can’t have everything?

Well, when it comes to transportation infrastructure and planning, economics and tax payers do, for starters. But Thursday evening’s Plan Bay Area 2040 open house wasn’t about holding back. Instead, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) asked the public to chime in and help envision a transportation and planning future for the entire Bay Area. The open house is part of an ongoing effort to create a catch-all road map for agencies throughout the region.

Held at the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium across from the Lake Merritt BART station, the open house consisted of half a dozen information stations, with representatives from a gaggle of area transportation planning agencies, including AC Transit, BART, Caltrans, Caltrain, MTC, and SFMTA, not to mention consultants, who heard public comments and discussed priorities for the Bay Area.

Among them was Liz Brisson, Project Manager, Urban Planning Initiatives Sustainable Street Division for the SFMTA. She was answering questions at the “Core Capacity Transit Study” station, a study project she’s working on. “Transit is bursting at the seams,” she said, adding that means it’s essentially working. But it has to work better to accommodate growth. “We know what we have to do.”

Read more…

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SF Budget: Better Muni and Vision Zero…But November Tax Has to Pass

Additional funding for the Van Ness BRT Project, depicted here, was one of the projects highlighted in the Mayor's proposed budget. Image: SFMTA.

Additional funding for the Van Ness BRT Project, depicted here, was one of the projects highlighted in the Mayor’s proposed budget. Image: SFMTA.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee released his 455-page budget proposal on Tuesday. It includes $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2016-17  for transportation, police officers, and street cleaning, a $700 million increase in funds. The fiscal year runs from July 1 of this year until June 30 of next year.

The transportation section runs from pages 315 to 322–here are some highlights:

The proposed budget includes an additional $15 million in FY 2016-17 and $62.2 million in FY 2017-18 in new transportation funding. Once fully implemented in FY 2017-18, these investments will provide $28.7 million for Muni fleet, infrastructure upgrades, and transit optimization, $9.6 million for equity and affordability initiatives, $14.3 million to support regional transit projects and fleet needs, and $9.6 million to fully fund street safety projects that are consistent with the City’s Vision Zero policy.

Lee was presenting the budget as a step forward for the city’s transit programs and safety initiatives.

“The result is the SFMTA’s first-ever $1 billion operating budget to improve transit performance and reliability. The SFMTA operates the nation’s eighth largest public transit system and it serves every neighborhood,” said Lee in his Proposed Balanced Budget Speech, on Tuesday.

“To invest in the future of Muni, my proposed budget also includes significant investments in capital improvements, including nearly $26 million for new hybrid buses and light rail vehicles, and $5.9 million in street and pedestrian safety projects to move the City closer to its Vision Zero goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities by 2024,” he added.

Lee also noted that the budget maintained funding for Muni’s free programs for seniors, youth, and people with disabilities.

“This budget contains very robust investment in a number of critical transportation needs,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose Proposition B is responsible for much of the growth in the transportation and safe streets portion of the budget. Prop B instituted a city charter amendment mandating annual increases in the share of general funds set aside for transportation, based on population growth. In this budget, Prop. B is “pushing $30 million or more over to transportation,” he said.

Over the next two weeks, the Budget Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will be taking a look at the document and making further recommendations. Read more…

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A Safer Masonic on the Way

Michael Helquist and Dale Danley looking pleased to see Maconic improvements finally happening. Photo: Streetsblog

Michael Helquist and Dale Danley looking pleased to see Masonic Avenue improvements finally happening. Photo: Streetsblog

Wednesday evening some 130 local residents and other interested parties dropped in at the San Francisco Day School to learn about the construction phase of SFMTAs Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project. To quote SFMTA’s own release about the project:

With construction starting in June 2016, the Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project is an effort to improve safety for people walking, biking, taking transit and driving on Masonic Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Fell Street. It will bring a variety of improvements to the corridor including, wider sidewalks, a new median, new paving, landscaping, raised bikeways, better lighting and upgraded sewer infrastructure.

The meeting was primarily to let local residents know what to expect from the jack hammers and traffic delays they will experience from June through late 2017, when construction is scheduled to be completed.

Michael Helquist, an advocate with “Fix Masonic” who helped raise support for the changes over the years, was thrilled. “This took several years of going door to door to build support,” he said. “Safety is my biggest concern.”

And, indeed, this is a corridor that needed it. Also from SFMTA’s data:

From 2009 to 2014, there were 113 traffic collisions on Masonic Avenue between Fell Street and Geary Boulevard. This includes 14 pedestrian collisions and 24 bicycle collisions, including two fatalities.

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SFSU Students Study How to Un-Suck Biking to BART

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Professor Jason Henderson's "Bicycle Geographies" class explores how infrastructure could make cycling from BART to class safe and fun. Photo: ???TK

Professor Jason Henderson’s “Bicycle Geographies” class (seen with additional university staff in this photo) explores how infrastructure could make cycling from BART to class safe and fun. Photo: Nolen Brown

Professor Jason Henderson’s “Bicycle Geographies” class wants the ride from Daily City BART to San Francisco State University’s campus to be comfortable and fun.

And why shouldn’t it be?

After all, it’s only a 1.6 mile trip that should take even a novice cyclist about 15 minutes. Given the proximity to BART, this should be a no-brainer. But thanks to some harrowing intersections, high-speed traffic lanes, and oddly placed and timed “safety measures,” it’s anything but.

“That route probably felt quite calm in a big group with 40-plus people in a group ride,” said Joshua Handel, one of five students in the class, during a presentation to administrators at the school. Handel is referring to a Bike to Work Day ride done earlier this month with staff and students.

“But when one does it alone, there’s a lot of traffic stress,” he continued.  Read more…

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A Time to Remember

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DylanMitchellThree years ago today, 21-year-old Dylan Mitchell was riding his bike east on 16th Street when a garbage truck traveling in the same direction turned on South Van Ness and collided with him. He died at the scene–a scene where flowers were left during Thursday night’s “Ride of Silence.”

Mitchell was one of almost fifty cyclists killed while riding the streets of San Francisco who were remembered that evening. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when one tries to sum up the pain caused by San Francisco’s deadly combination of unsafe streets and twisted priorities, where street parking is given weight over human life and limb.

Riders started to assemble in the Sports Basement on Bryant around 5:30 Thursday night. Despite the nature of the meeting, spirits were generally high. People were there to enjoy the company of other survivors, it seemed, as much as remember the dead. Devon Warner, the event organizer, stressed that everyone “gets used to close calls” riding a bike in San Francisco. Every rider knows it’s just a matter of luck who gets killed and who survives.

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“Make Transit Awesome” Campaign Crosses Finish Line Tomorrow

CampaignBannerTomorrow, Thursday, the San Francisco Transit Riders (SFTR) group wraps up its “Make Transit Awesome” Indiegogo campaign.

A crowd-sourcing campaign is usually not all that noteworthy, except in this case it’s for a cause near-and-dear to Streetsblog readers. The SF Transit Riders have been instrumental in getting things such as transit-only lanes on Mission, encouraging (or perhaps shaming is the right word) San Francisco’s politicians to ride Muni, and getting all-door boarding, which they promoted as a pilot program back in 2011. A whole lot of the Muni improvements we’ve seen in the past few years can be traced back to an SFTR campaign.

SFTRU wants everyone on Muni to get where They're going in 30 minutes or less. Photo: Aaron Bialick.

SFTR wants everyone to get where they’re going in 30 minutes or less. Photo: Aaron Bialick.

And Andy Bosselman, an SF Transit Riders advocate, is a regular voice on the pages of Streetsblog, where he’s written about everything from Clipper card discounts to calling out Mayor Lee for his lack of action on the Transbay Caltrain link. Their slogans are ubiquitous, such as with the “Keep Mission Red” campaign to protect the transit-only lanes from pushback from merchants. They’re also working on a plan called 30-30. “The idea is that anyone can get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in 30 minute by public transit,” said Thea Selby, chair of the groups executive board, at an event that kicked off the campaign. They want to achieve that goal by 2030.  Read more…

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The Taraval Boarding Island Question: Q&A with Katy Tang

Supervisor Katy Tang, at her desk at City Hall. Photo: Streetsblog.

Supervisor Katy Tang, at her desk at City Hall. Photo: Streetsblog.

Last week, Streetsblog brought you an editorial from Katy Tang about the issue of installing concrete boarding islands on Taraval as part of SFMTA’s Muni Forward project. This was in response to a headline in the SF Examiner, that declared “Supervisor Slams Brakes on L-Taraval Changes.”

As Streetsblog readers may recall, business owners were pushing back against the boarding islands because of the potential loss of parking in front of their shops; Streetsblog brought you the story of the rancorous public meeting about it, and other issues, back in February.

Is it true that Supervisor Tang was holding up safety improvements because of her small-business constituents and their objections? Streetsblog had reached out to Tang several times. Finally, Friday, Streetsblog was able to sit down with the District 4 Supervisor and get her perspective, face to face.

STREETSBLOG: The Examiner story was accurate, with the exception of the headline?

TANG: Factually, it was true. It just didn’t tell people all of what was going on.

SB: So what is going on? Let’s pick this up from that infamous meeting with the community at Dianne Feinstein Elementary about Muni’s proposed improvements to the L-Taraval.

TANG: At that large meeting, everyone was yelling at each other and not giving time to hear people. We heard from people that they were confused about what SFMTA proposals were on Taraval.  It’s not just about boarding islands. It might be about transit-only lanes. Parking removals associated with boarding islands. Traffic signals. Stop removals. So it was a whole host of things. You had to look at every intersection to know what’s going on. Because those meetings were just shouting fests, and it wasn’t just that one, there were several, we felt like, you know what? We’re not being productive. MTA wants feedback, and people aren’t providing feedback, they’re just yelling.

SB: So you arranged smaller meetings?
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BREAKING NEWS: SFPD Hits Cyclist in Bike Lane

This video just came in via the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the San Francisco Bike Ride Crew. It’s truly nuts. An SFPD cruiser apparently parked in the right-turn pocket suddenly pulls out, swerves left and hits a cyclist.


Streetsblog will post more information as it comes in, but apparently the cyclist is Tim Doyle, and it seems he suffered some pretty bad injuries, although he was discharged from the hospital after 10 hours in the emergency room.

Here’s Doyle’s description of the crash on a related thread about a different collision between a driver and bicyclist that occurred yesterday, on Market Street.

I got hit by a SFPD car at 5:45pm at 2nd and Mission. At Least I got hit by a cop who didn’t try to flee. He called an ambulance for me. But I did see that a bit of a lie trying to be put into the report that the lights and siren were on. Not true. The cop car was in a parking space alongside 2nd street and without looking or seeing me just pulled out into my lane as I was doing 25mph and I t-boned the cop car. I flew 15 feet through the air and landed flat on my back. Spent 10 hours in the SFGH Emergency Department and was discharged with a few cracked bones and a gnarly right leg wound.

Thank goodness he’s alive. And thank goodness for video so there’s no question of fault. Doyle confirmed directly in an email to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition that he was released from SF General at 4 a.m.

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SF Celebrates Bike to Work Day

Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, gives a rousing speech in front of SF City Hall. Photo: Streetsblog.

Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, gives a rousing speech in front of SF City Hall. Photo: Streetsblog.

San Francisco has come a long way. That was the theme of a rousing speech delivered by Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, at a ceremony this morning in front of San Francisco City Hall. “We’ve seen a 184 percent increase in cycling in the past decade,” she said with her trademark ebullience. “San Francisco is a biking city!”

Bike to Work day, of course, is a chance to grow those numbers and take a look at what still needs to be done to make cycling accessible to all. It brings together advocates and lawmakers and helps them focus on getting more and better bicycle infrastructure everywhere in the city. But for Julia Schaber, a graphic design intern with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the ride had a greater significance: it’s her first ride since a crash on April 7. “I hit the Muni tracks on Ocean and San Jose, behind Balboa Park BART–it’s one of the worst,” she said, referring to the cycling conditions at that dangerous intersection. “I went over the handlebars, went to the ER in an ambulance, and spent about a month recovering.” Read more…

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Let’s Make “Bike to Work Day” a “Check-Up Day” On Bay Area Bike Lanes

A sharrow on a dead end street? Photo: Streetsblog.

A sharrow at the end of a dead end street? Photo: Streetsblog.

Behold, in the photo above, San Francisco bicycle infrastructure, at the end of St. Charles way, where it deadends at Brotherhood Way in Oceanview. There’s a walking path at the end that leads to Brotherhood Way. There’s a large curb.

Exactly what this sharrow marking is supposed to accomplish is difficult to imagine. Perhaps a Streetsblog reader has an idea. Most likely, the sharrow is painted there simply because a crew was told to go paint some sharrows–because, cycling.

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day throughout the Bay Area. It’s an opportunity for everyday cyclists to encourage their bike-curious friends and for new cyclists to ride with a group. It should also be a great deal of fun. Streetsblog California did a great breakdown of all the events in the Bay Area.

It is, of course, all about getting more people into the healthy habit of cycling. But promote cycling all you want, if the infrastructure is sub par, we’re never going to turn cycling into what it could be–a hugely significant and perfectly safe transportation option for everyone, including children and the elderly. You know, like it is in much of Northern Europe. That’s why Bike to Work Day presents another opportunity for Streetsblog readers: let’s use it to take a look at how the Bay Area is doing.

What are you seeing when you ride your bike? Do you see signs of improvement all over? Or are things in your district not advancing the way they should? Send your observations to tips@sf.streetsblog.org or drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter. Let us know, with photos preferably, where is Bay Area infrastructure working? Where is it failing? And what could be better?

Streetsblog will be riding from Oceanview to City Hall tomorrow morning with a commuter convoy. Come say hello.

After the page break, enjoy some examples of our favorite bike infrastructure fails (and a couple of successes).
Read more…