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SFMTA Open House Gets Feedback on Bike Lanes and More

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SFMTA took public comment on three different streetscape projects Monday night. Photo: Streetsblog.

SFMTA took public comment on three different streetscape projects Monday night. Photo: Streetsblog.

Some 30 residents of the Western Addition, Lower Haight and Hayes Valley neighborhoods (plus some interested folks from outside the area) showed up Monday night to the auditorium at John Muir Elementary School to learn about SFMTA’s plans on three different, but related, projects: the Western Addition Community-Based Transportation Plan, the Lower Haight Public Realm Plan, and the Page Street Green Connections Project. From SFMTA’s release about the meeting:

  • The Western Addition Community-Based
    Transportation Plan’s overall goal is to
    improve the community’s transportation
    options and enhance access to more
    employment and education opportunities.
  • The Lower Haight Public Realm Plan is
    working to develop a community-based
    vision that will complement and enhance the
    neighborhood’s public spaces.
  • As part of the Octavia Boulevard
    Enhancement Project, the Page Street Green
    Connections Project is about making Page
    Street a more walkable, bikeable, and
    sustainable corridor in the Hayes Valley
    neighborhood.

Streetsblog readers can follow these projects and make comments via SFMTA’s web page. Two things immediately stood out. On a table at the center of the room, SFMTA had left the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) manual. The cover features what is now widely accepted as the preferred design for bike lanes: make them protected, either by bollards, curbs, planters, or–in this case–parking.
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Via Streetsblog California
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Bike Month in the East Bay: Where Bike to Work Day Began?

Some of the Bike to Work Day "Energizer Stations" that will cheer on bike riders on May 12. For a complete map, go here.

Some of the Bike to Work Day “Energizer Stations” that will feed and support bike riders on May 12. For a complete map, go here.

It’s generally acknowledged that Bike to Work Day was started by the League of American Bicyclists—then called the League of American Wheelmen—in 1956. Rumor has it (can anyone confirm this?) that in California the first Bike to Work Day event took place in San Diego circa 1993.

What’s indisputable is that Bike East Bay, then known as the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, kicked off its first Bike to Work Day in 1994 and, in the 22 years since then, the event has grown ever more popular amid a rapid increase in bike commuting. In Oakland alone, bike commuting has tripled in the last twelve years, according to the U.S. Census.

National Bike to Work Day is officially May 20, but the Bay Area celebrates it on May 12. San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Marin each celebrate their own versions of Bike to Work Day (more on that later). But the East Bay celebration covers the most territory, from Richmond and Concord in the north to Fremont and Hayward in the south, and reaching east to Dublin and Pleasanton. The map above shows just a portion of the 130 “energizer stations” in the East Bay where volunteers are ready to cheer on bike commuters. Bike East Bay partners with a wide range of other organizations, among them 511.org, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, and local cities, to put together goodie bags to hand out to riders, feed them coffee and pastries, and offer bike safety checks along popular commute routes.

Bike East Bay has given out some version of these goodie bags for more than 20 years. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Bike East Bay has given out some version of these “musette” bags for more than 20 years. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

A pancake breakfast in downtown Oakland and no fewer than eight after-work parties (details below) make the East Bay’s Bike to Work Day one of the biggest such events in the state.

On top of all that, this year East Bay cities will celebrate four ribbon cuttings at brand-new bike facilities during the second week of May. This must be a record, and if the Fulton Street lanes really are finished on time, they probably will have a record for fastest completion of new bike lanes. The ribbon cuttings will happen on:

  • Telegraph Avenue, Oakland: May 10, 9 a.m., at the corner of 20th and Telegraph. The City of Oakland will hold a ceremony to officially open the new parking-protected bike lanes that run between 20th and 29th streets.
  • Grand Avenue, Oakland: May 12, 7 a.m., 1221 Grand Street. The new Grand Avenue configuration includes a long-overdue road diet, buffered bike lanes, and back-in angled parking. Paint is being applied now, and the lanes should be completed before Bike to Work Day. After this early ceremony, ride your bike with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to the pancake breakfast at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
  • Fulton Street, Berkeley: May 12, 8 a.m., Corner of Bancroft and Fulton. In response to a bad bike crash three months ago, Bike East Bay and other advocates stepped up the pressure to fix this two-block-long section of “disappearing bike lane” and got a commitment from the city to remove some parking and put in protected bike lanes. Final designs will be submitted to the City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 10. If they are approved—and most observers expect them to be—the lanes will be painted the following day, and officially opened on Bike to Work Day. Afterwards, bike riders can join a ride to City Hall to continue the Bike to Work Day celebration there.
  • 

Christie Avenue, Emeryville: May 12, 9:30 a.m., Corner of Shellmound and Christie. This short two-way cycletrack completes a much-needed connection between the Bay Trail and the bike path on the Bay Bridge. It’s now possible to ride a bike all the way from Richmond to the Bay Bridge path with minimal interactions with car traffic, or do a “two-bridge loop” that takes in the bike and pedestrian bridge near University Avenue in Berkeley. It’s been open for a few months, but officials saved its official ribbon cutting for Bike to Work Day.

After-work parties in the East Bay on May 12 include: Read more…

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One Year Later: Assaulted Cyclist Reflects

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Anthony Ryan near the spot where he was attacked by a raging motorist. Photo: Streetsblog.

Anthony Ryan near the spot on Phelan Avenue, in front of City College of San Francisco, where he was attacked by a raging motorist. Photo: Streetsblog.

Last year, Streetsblog brought you the story of Anthony Ryan, a middle-aged art instructor who teaches at several San Francisco colleges. He was on his way home one evening from a job at San Francisco State, around 9 p.m. this time last year, when he suddenly found himself in mortal danger at the hands of a motorist who was determined to harm him. You can review the details here.

The end of the attack was caught on video and detectives tracked down the assailant by the license plate. The man driving the car was eventually convicted of assault. But the incident still troubles Ryan. Streetsblog has covered several stories about cyclists who have been harmed or threatened, either intentionally or because of irresponsible behavior. But it’s important to remember that the physical and psychological pain and disruption from these incidents, even when there aren’t serious injuries, lingers. All the more reason that the core causes are so important to address, both with law enforcement and better infrastructure.

That’s why Streetsblog sat down with Ryan to reflect on the incident and the trial and prosecution, one year later.

Streetsblog: How often do you ride your bike?

Anthony Ryan:  Every day, basically. Even when I take the bus and BART to Diablo Valley College, where I teach in Pleasant Hill, I bring my bike for the last half-mile and to get around campus.

SB: I understand the road rage incident in 2015 wasn’t your first life-and-death experience on a bike?

AR: Yes, I had a crash in 2011. I was in a crosswalk at Victoria and Ocean and someone ran the red and hit the front of my bike. And I was launched and landed on my face.

SB:  You ended up in the hospital and had your jaw wired, is that right?

AR: Yes. I was cited for unsafe movement.

SB: What! Did you challenge that?

(Shook his head)

SB: Why not?

AR: I was talking with a lawyer for a while. I had minimal liability from the driver and then I was battling with my insurance company. I had a $100,000 bill from SF General and spent close to two years fighting Anthem Blue Cross, getting them to pay. Pretty typical.

SB: What did the lawyer do?

AR: She actually really helped with the insurance company and didn’t get any money for herself out of that.

SB: But you didn’t go after the driver? I guess that’s hard if the police cited you. Did you talk with your Supervisor about the police?

AR: I was in touch with the Bicycle Coalition. They said to file a complaint with the Office of Citizen’s Complaints. I didn’t pursue that. Read more…

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SF Bicycle Coalition’s “Bike Talks” Series

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Janice Li, Advocacy Director for the SF Bicycle Coalition, and BART District 8 Director Nick Josefowitz lead Monday's evenings talk. Photo: Streetsblog

Janice Li, Advocacy Director for the SF Bicycle Coalition, and BART District 8 Director Nick Josefowitz led Monday evening’s talk. Photo: Streetsblog

Monday evening, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition held the second of its first three scheduled “Bike Talks,” a series it plans to continue to foster discussion and help shape its advocacy.

Here’s how the SFBC describes the meetings:

Here at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we know our members love to dig deep on the details of the policies that guide our everyday lives. We are excited to start Bike Talks, a series of policy-focused discussions to engage our membership more deeply in our organization’s advocacy work. Each discussion will have a theme and bring in members and experts on the topic to grow the dialogue.

Monday night’s discussion, which featured Nick Josefowitz, BART director representing District 8 (which includes parts of San Francisco) and father of new baby twins, focused on the future and past of BART and how it can be more accommodating to cyclists. Remember it was less than three years ago that bicycle advocates scored a major victory when BART finally dropped its ban on bikes during rush hour. That was part of a shift in BART’s management and philosophy, explained Josefowitz. “We’ve gone from a board with a suburban vision of BART, where everybody drives to a station, finds free parking, and then takes a Cadillac, armchair-style BART into downtown,” he said. Josefowitz said the new BART cars will have smaller, more subway-style seats to carry more people. “It took ten years of advocacy by TransForm, Bike East Bay, and SFBC, but now the general managers, executives, planners—everybody at BART realizes we do not want to double down on suburbs and cars, because there is a better way of doing things.”

Read more…

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Steal a Bike from this Guy?

Solis demonstrating a flying side kick while traveling in Hawaii. Photo: Albert Li

Solis demonstrating a flying side kick while traveling in Hawaii. A thief might want to think twice before trying to steal this guy’s ride. Photo: Albert Li

San Francisco native Ramon Solis was working out with his class at Quantum Martial Arts on 20th Street and Mission on Wednesday night when he heard a loud grinding sound coming from the street. “I am deaf in one ear but I still heard an angle grinder. It was 7 pm so it was too late to be a public works project,” he recounted. He ran to the window and saw a guy hunched over his expensive racing bike, which was locked to a rack outside. Sparks were flying.

It was just last week that a video made the rounds of a brazen thief who walked right up to a bike on Valencia, took out an angle grinder, and cut off the lock–with sparks flying–while onlookers did nothing. It was enough to make any cyclist sob. We get hit, cars and trucks continually park on the bike lanes, and to add insult to injury, apparently our bikes can get stolen with impunity. In fact, it’s not even the first time for Solis. A few years ago, he walked out of a building on Market Street just in time to see a thief pedaling away on his bike. The incident was captured on video and became part of a television news story. That bike wasn’t recovered. Read more…

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San Francisco Needs to Get Out of the Car Storage Business

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Free private automobile storage on transit routes makes for inherently dangerous conditions. Image: Wikimedia

Free private automobile storage on transit routes makes for inherently dangerous conditions. Image: Wikimedia

Marco Salsiccia is a blind resident of the Sunset District. Last month, while stepping off an L-Taraval train at a stop without a boarding island, he got his cane stuck in the wheel well of a car as it illegally passed the train. His cane snapped in two. The motorist stopped briefly and then took off. Salsiccia emailed his San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang about the incident:

Today’s situation could easily have been much worse. I could have been injured, maimed, or even killed. If this happened to me, I imagine similar—if not worse—things have occurred to others in the highly-trafficked area.

Indeed, worse things have happened. Salsiccia had his foot run over by a driver a few years earlier while he crossed Taraval from Safeway (fortunately, he only suffered some bruising). As Streetsblog previously reported, SFMTA data shows that 22 people have been hit getting off trains on Taraval just in the past five years.

Streetsblog reached out to Tang’s office to get her take on the rate of improvements on Taraval under SFMTA’s Muni Forward program. Streetsblog will update this post if a reply is received. But this was part of her reply to Salsiccia’s email:

Please know that there is currently an intensive planning process happening to plan for future safety improvements along the L-Taraval, including proposals for boarding islands. Along with that have been other ideas for how we can properly train/educate drivers about slowing down near trains where passengers are getting on/off the trains, and stopping behind the train when this occurs.

If that seems a bit wishy washy, there’s a reason. As previously reported, there’s resistance to boarding islands because they require taking away (or relocating) street parking. And this gets local merchants up in arms.

Read more…

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Proposed East Bay Bike-Share Sites Announced

Proposed bike-share stations near downtown Oakland.

Proposed bike-share stations near downtown Oakland.

Note: This story has been corrected since it was originally posted. Thank you to sharp-eyed readers.

Bay Area Bike Share released a map of proposed sites for bike-share stations in the East Bay today. Proposed sites for expansion into San Francisco and San Jose have already been released, but these are the first ones for Berkeley, Oakland, and Emeryville. The total number of bikes planned in the three cities is 1,300, with 800 of them in Oakland and 100 in Emeryville, to be rolled out by the end of 2017.

Phase 1, about 25 percent of the final East Bay expansion, will include 350 bikes at 34 stations.

Proposed bike-share stations near the UC Berkeley campus.

Proposed bike-share stations near the UC Berkeley campus.

A map of the initial proposed East Bay hubs, available here, shows them mostly sited along a spine between downtown Berkeley and downtown Oakland. Five stations surround the UC Berkeley campus’ south and west sides, with another located across from Berkeley High School and the downtown Y, and a seventh a little further south on Telegraph at Blake street.

From there, the corridor of proposed sites generally follows Telegraph Avenue, incorporating BART stations and outlying hubs along 40th Street into Emeryville and on the western side of Lake Merritt.

Amtrak stations are left out of the first phase, though, and so are the West Oakland and Rockridge BART stations.

It looks like a good start, if your destinations are all near Telegraph or in downtown Oakland. With luck, further expansions to connect these hubs to other destinations will come sooner than later.

Having bike-share available close to the new Telegraph Avenue parking-protected bike lanes will be a game-changer for that area and we hope it will create some urgency to finish the new facilities further towards Temescal.

What do you think? Are these in the right places? Bike-share needs a somewhat dense network of hubs to be useful, but it’s also necessary to put the hubs in places near where people want to go. Is this a good start?

Bay Area Bike Share is still accepting suggestions for station locations here. Comments can be made here, or at local public libraries, which will be presenting information about the expansion at the following times:

From April 26 through May 9, during regular open hours:

  • Berkeley Library

    • Central Branch, 2090 Kittredge St
    • Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave
  • Emeryville
    • Town Hall, 1333 Park Ave (through May 11)
  • Oakland Library

    • Main Branch, 125 14th St
    • Asian Branch, 388 9th St

Also on May 3 from 4 to 6 pm, at the Temescal Branch Library, 5205 Telegraph in Oakland.

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Eyes on the Street: Telegraph Avenue Gets Green Paint

Telegraph Avenue in Oakland is finally getting its long-awaited separated bike lanes.

Crews were out adding the first touches of green paint. In the next week or so, they will continue painting the section of Telegraph between 21st and 27th, Oakland’s first experiment with parking-separated bike lanes.

Workers pull up stencils on green lane markings. All photos: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Workers pull up stencils on the new green lane markings. All photos: Melanie Curry/ Streetsblog

Bike East Bay will have ambassadors on the street starting next week to greet people and help them figure out the new parking configuration, which will be a foreign concept to many. Instead of parking along the curb, cars will be parked to the left of the new bike lane, which could take some getting used to.

The lane markings are extended in some spots through the intersection.

The lane markings are extended in some spots through the intersection.

 

The bike lane will continue through the bus stops, with a buffer to the left for passing when safe. The box below the word "bus" will be painted green.

The bike lane will continue through the bus stops, with a buffer to the left for passing when safe. The box below the word “bus” in the photo above will be painted green. The white car on the right is parked in what will become the bike lane; you can see parking marked to the left of the buffer there.

 

RoadChanges

Indeed. The new lanes will take about a week or so to finish, according to the city of Oakland.

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Plans and Programs Committee Crunches Numbers on Street Improvements

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Emily Stapleton, general manager at Bay Area Bike Share, updates the Supervisors on the Committee. Photo: Streetsblog.

Emily Stapleton, general manager at Bay Area Bike Share, updates the Supervisors on the Committee. Photo: Streetsblog.

This morning in City Hall, SF County Supervisors London Breed, Mark Farrell, John Avalos, Aaron Peskin, and Katy Tang heard updates on bike and transit projects from the SF County Transportation Authority, SFMTA and Bay Area Bike Share (they also heard a bit from the usual public-meeting gadflies, but that goes without saying).

With Tang as its chair, this panel makes up the Plans and Programs Committee of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board. First on the agenda was filling two vacancies on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project. Clearly, residents are keenly interested in the goings on, as there were 31 candidates who threw in for the voluntary position, although only a handful showed up to address the committee directly. Ultimately, the decision on who would fill the open spots was tabled and the committee went on to hear about allocations of Prop K and AA funds.

Anna LaForte, Deputy Director for Policy and Programming for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, talked about the spending they want to do from the Prop K transportation sales tax and the Prop AA Vehicle Registration fee. Prop K, approved by San Francisco voters in November 2003, currently generates about $100 million annually. On the agenda this morning: the “Treasure Island Mobility Management Program” which will study building a new ferry terminal on Treasure Island to give residents an alternative to the bus and Bay Bridge. She went over seven projects including adding bulb-outs at 25 intersections at priority locations on “Pedestrian High Injury Corridors” as identified under Vision Zero. The idea here is to add permanent, concrete bulb outs in places where there’s currently only paint.

The SFCTA wants to authorize more expenditures on "Bulb-outs", or curb extensions, like this one at 7th Ave. and Irving Street. Image: Google Maps

The SFCTA wants to authorize more expenditures on bulb-outs, or curb extensions, like this one at 7th Ave. and Irving Street. Image: Google Maps

Now, even for the most die-hard transportation policy wonk, committee meetings set up to discuss the minutia of funding allocations can be dry. But Streetsblog readers should be glad for this work, because without the bucks and staffers at the different agencies crunching the numbers on all these specific disbursements, we’d get no bulb outs, no bike lanes, and no street improvements.
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Planning for the Future of San Francisco’s Hub Neighborhood

Map of the HUB. Image: SF planning department.

Map of the HUB. Image: SF planning department.

About a hundred planners, developers, neighbors, and interested citizens crowded into a conference room at One South Van Ness yesterday evening for a presentation from the San Francisco Planning Department on their plans for the area immediately around the intersection of Market and Van Ness, also known as the Hub.

The Hub, of course, got its name back in the 1800s, when four trolley lines converged there. And, as John Rahaim, Planning Director for San Francisco, reminded everyone at the start of the meeting, it remains a major transit hub for bikes, Muni trains and buses, and BART.

“We felt it was time to take a fresh look at this portion of the plan,” he said to the group, noting the the Hub neighborhood is also part of the larger Market and Octavia Area Plan adopted in 2008.

So why is the planning department paying special attention to the Hub and, in effect, creating a plan within a plan? Rahaim said they hoped to move more quickly with this area that is such a focus of activity, with its many transit lines, including dedicated Bus Rapid Transit coming to Van Ness, and its proximity to the Opera House and Symphony.

“We felt this part of the plan needed another look to create new open spaces and improve sidewalks,” he explained.
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