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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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Eyes on the Street: First Phase of Second Street Makeover

SFMTA is putting in some initial improvements before 2nd Street's big makeover begins in the Fall. Image: SFMTA

SFMTA is putting in some initial improvements before 2nd Street’s big makeover begins in the fall. Image: SFMTA

As the photo shows, SFMTA is making some quick improvements to the 2nd Street bike lanes. This is a temporary fix, intended to be replaced once a full-blown makeover starts this fall.

It was last August that Streetsblog brought you news of the project to rebuild 2nd Street with protected bike lanes, bus boarding islands, pedestrian bulb outs, and other safety features. For now though, the painted improvements will run between Market and Howard streets, with new restrictions on left turns from 2nd to Folsom, Mission and Harrison. The final project should be completed in mid-2018.

While Streetsblog is often critical of city agencies for not going far enough, it’s nice to see things moving in the right direction on 2nd. And, no, this isn’t an April Fools joke!

2nd Street will look like this sometime in Mid-2018. Image: SFMTA

If all goes to plan, 2nd Street will look like this sometime in Mid-2018. Image: SFMTA

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Crash on Valencia Displays Failings of Safety Compromises and Half Measures

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Yesterday, Streetsblog reader Adam Long was riding along Valencia when he heard screeching brakes and commotion behind him. He had his camera on his helmet and, although he didn’t catch the actual collision, it’s pretty easy to see what happened from the video he put together and submitted to Streetsblog’s tips line:

Once again, the video demonstrates the utter folly of engineering bike lanes between street parking and moving traffic on a busy street. No amount of driver training is going to fix this entirely. There are always going to be cars swerving obliviously into and out of the bike lane. There will always be doors flung open. Double parked cars will always block the lanes. In fact, Long has an entire video channel dedicated to that bit of futility. As to enforcement, everyone’s seen police officers roll right past cars and trucks parked on bike lanes. And on those rare occasions when there aren’t regular trucks and cars in the bike lanes, the enforcers themselves block them.
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Bike Advisory Committee Works for Better Bicycling in San Francisco

The Bicycle Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting discusses safety and infrastructure. Image: Streetsblog.

The Bicycle Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting discuss safety and infrastructure. Members: Marc Brandt (D3), Ilyse Magi (D9), Paul Wells (D10), Bert Hill (D7), Diane Serafini (D8), Melyssa Mendoza (D5), Casey dos Santos-Allen (D11). Image: Streetsblog.

Streetsblog checked in with the dedicated volunteers of the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) on Monday evening at its monthly meeting. The BAC was created by an ordinance back in 1990. The group consists of appointees representing each of the supervisorial districts. It advises San Francisco on matters related to bike safety and infrastructure. The chair is Bert Hill, who is also a veteran Bicycle Education Instructor with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC). In a pre-meeting interview with Streetsblog, Hill said he wants more attention paid to roads where cyclists generally don’t ride. His argument is that some roads are so intimidating that cyclists avoid them almost completely, so they don’t get considered in the criteria for which roads get bike safety treatments in SFMTA’s plans. “Is the criteria that you have to get someone killed to get checked off as requiring a bike safety project?” he quipped.

Once the meeting got underway, around 6:30 p.m., the committee heard from SFMTA about its plans to hire a vendor to assist in bike safety education. Next Libby Nachman, program coordinator for the SFBC, addressed the committee about several projects, including this year’s upcoming “bike to work day,” which will be Thursday, May 12. “We will celebrate with commuter convoys from every district, ending with a press conference on steps of City Hall,” she told the BAC. The committee also celebrated the planned addition of more bike cars on Caltrain. “The addition of third bike car is something we fought hard for and we won last year,” said Nachman. “It will significantly increase capacity for bikes on trains.”
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If You’re Requiring Parking by Transit Stations, You’re Doing It Wrong

The city of Waterloo, Ontario, is in the process of building a new 12-mile light rail line called Ion Rapid Transit. Now the most pressing question is how to make it a success.

Image: Tritag.ca

And so is more mandatory parking! Image: Tritag.ca

Mike Boos at TriTag says the transit line should have no trouble meeting ridership forecasts, with bus routes along the corridor already carrying nearly as many passengers as initially projected. But one lingering concern is the city’s policy of mandatory parking. Waterloo still requires new residential and commercial development near light rail stations to include a minimum number of parking spaces. Boos says the city should be doing the reverse:

Parking supply may have a bigger impact people’s choices to take transit than proximity to rail stations [1]. If part of the cost of car ownership is simply hidden as part of the cost of a home, office, or retail space, it’s easier to decide to own and drive a car in spite of good transit being nearby. The default of having abundant free parking everywhere handicaps decisions to walk, bike or take transit.

A level playing field would mean that there’s an extra cost and effort to find a space for your car, so you might think twice about owning an extra car, or using it to go to work or shop.

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Mission Street Transit Lanes: What About the Bikes?

Right lane transitways on Mission leave no place for cyclists. Image: SFMTA

Right lane transitways on Mission leave no place for cyclists. Image: SFMTA

Earlier this week, the SFMTA sent out a release with a progress report on the “Red Lane” paint (actually, a thermoplastic adhesive) they are applying, clearly marking lanes for Muni Streetcars and buses (and taxis):

Early signs indicate success. Preliminary data shows transit-only lane violations dropping by more than 50 percent on some segments of 3rd Street. On Geary and O’Farrell streets, the red lanes have reduced Muni travel times by 4 percent despite traffic congestion increasing on the same segments by 15-18 percent.

But what about bikes?

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Milestone Reached in Bay Area Bike Share Expansion

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Proposed locations were announced for some 700 new bike share stations. Image: Bay Area Bike Share

Proposed locations for new bike share locations were announced today. Image: Bay Area Bike Share

Back in January, Streetsblog brought you news of a major expansion of the Bay Area’s Bike Share system, growing the network from 700 to 7,000 bikes. Motivate, the company that manages the system, held a series of meetings to get input on good locations for the share stations. Today Motivate, along with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), released preliminary maps for locations in San Francisco and San Jose (with East Bay Locations to follow). The maps show 72 new stations in San Francisco and 13 new spots in San Jose.

“This first phase of expansion alone will triple the size of our successful and popular bike share pilot,” said Ed Reiskin, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Director of Transportation, in a prepared statement. “We’re looking forward to working with Motivate and our regional partners to grow the system citywide and bring the joy of bike sharing to all San Franciscans.”

In a week defined by BART meltdowns and a revenue set back, advocates for safe streets welcomed this milestone. “We’re excited to see Bay Area Bike Share serving more San Franciscans of all backgrounds and neighborhoods in the years ahead, as they build what will be our city’s first new public transportation system in over 40 years,” said Chris Cassidy, Communications Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

And SF District 11 Supervisor John Avalos had this to say: “The expansion of Bike Share has the potential to transform how people get around San Francisco and put us on the path to becoming a truly transit-first city”—but, he cautioned, “only if we can make it affordable to all San Franciscans. I hope to work with Motivate to expand their low-income discount program.”

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SF Mayor’s Veto of Increased Transportation Sustainability Fee Stands

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 Left to right: Thea Selby of the Transit Riders Union, Peter Cohen, Council of Community Housing Organizations, Margaret McCarthy, SFBC, Supervisor John Avalos, Peter Straus, Transit Riders Union, and Calvin Welch, Human Services Network at a presser pushing to override Mayor Lee's veto. Image: Jeremy Pollock.

Left to right: Thea Selby of the Transit Riders Union, Peter Cohen, Council of Community Housing Organizations, Margaret McCarthy, SFBC, Supervisor John Avalos, Peter Straus, Transit Riders Union, and Calvin Welch, Human Services Network at a presser pushing to override Mayor Lee’s veto. Image: Jeremy Pollock.

Supervisor John Avalos, backed by safe streets and transit advocates, and Supervisors David Campos and Jane Kim, made a push today to override Mayor Lee’s veto of a proposed increase in the Transportation Sustainability Fee (TSF) on large commercial developments. But the override only got six votes rather than the eight required.

The proposal would have increased the one-time fee on large commercial projects by $2 from $19.04 to $21.04 per square foot (and that only applies on the portion above 100,000 square feet, if the project is large enough to qualify). It also requires commercial projects in the pipeline that have not received Planning Commission approval to pay half of the difference between the new TSF and the previous fee.

The TSF was a huge step forward, requiring developers to pay a fee for for impacts on transportation infrastructure brought about by the workers and residents they bring to the city. The proposed increase, meanwhile, would have generated an estimated $2.4 million a year along with $30 million in one-time revenue for the SFMTA.

“Mayor Lee’s veto of the TSF ordinance preserves a backroom deal with developers and forces tax payers, Muni riders, and workers to subsidize the increased transportation impacts of big developments,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “The SFMTA will be forced to make up for the gap in revenue through increased fares and fines or further defer much-needed maintenance and capital projects.”
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Five Eclectic Questions for Streetfighter Janette Sadik-Khan


Right before former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan set off on a multi-city book tour for Streetfight (along with co-author Seth Solomonow), I was able to get a few minutes to ask her five eclectic questions in Washington Square Park.

Want to know the story behind the appearance of hundreds of cheap lawn chairs on opening day in car-free Times Square? We asked her. Want to know if she has a crush on David Byrne? We asked her that too! Want to know her favorite color jellybean? Well, we didn’t ask her that.

But we think you’ll enjoy our quick, engaging conversation that’s saturated with footage from the Streetfilms vault from Sadik-Khan’s 2007-2013 tenure at NYC DOT.

Streetsblog USA
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Five Strategies for Equitable Active Transportation Planning and Advocacy

Cross-posted from the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

Photo: John St. John via Flickr

Photo: John St. John via Flickr

It started as a lively discussion on the Bike Equity Network — a listserv for mobility and equity advocates working within walk/bike advocacy and planning — related to a Washington Post article that examined the notion of bike lanes as symbols of gentrification. The online conversation that transpired was rich, frank, and underscored the need to bring the conversation to a broader audience in a more interactive format. So this month, the Alliance hosted a highly anticipated Distance Learning Webinar: “Active Transportation & Anti-Displacement.”

Co-facilitated by Dr. Mike Smart, Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, and featuring insight from several equity leaders, the webinar was a timely and candid conversation that provided Alliance members an opportunity to hear diverse perspectives from and ask questions of advocates working within academia and advocacy — and future planners in Dr. Smart’s class.

Special thanks to Dr. Mike Smart, as well as our presenters:

Listen to the full recording on SoundCloud here and read a summary of the main takeaways below. Also catch some of the conversation that happened on Twitter via hashtag #MobilityEquity. Enjoy!

Acknowledge that bicycle infrastructure is wrapped up in larger development processes spurring gentrification, which has in many cases been done on purpose.

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Can In-Law Units Help Solve SF’s Housing Woes?

A new proposed ordinance will allow more "In-Law" Units in Existing Housing. Image: Pixabay.

A new proposed ordinance will allow more “In-Law” Units in Existing Housing. Image: Pixabay.

There seem to be two points of view on San Francisco’s frustrating housing situation: either the tech industry is to blame for increasing demand or it comes down to NIMBY homeowners hoarding housing stock and preventing new development. Or maybe it’s some combination of the two?

Clearly, there’s a desire to keep San Francisco looking like San Francisco; nobody wants to tear down Painted Ladies and build high rise condos in their place. And there’s room for the condo towers elsewhere. But what if there were a way to create 33,000 new housing units in San Francisco, quickly, without any heavy construction or changes to neighborhood aesthetics?

In-Law units, also known as “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ADU) aren’t necessarily the most glamorous solution, but in a city with the median price of a one bedroom at $3500 per month, the highest rent in the nation, maybe it’s time to let the market add inventory–even if it includes garage and basement apartments.

Currently, ADUs are permitted only in District 3 and District 8. So Supervisor Aaron Peskin has a simple proposal: if someone has a house with a shed, or a garage, anywhere in the city, and they’re willing to add windows, doors, and whatever else they need to get that extra space up to code, then let them turn it into an apartment. “This legislation is intended to spread density more equitably throughout the city and has the potential to create upwards of 33,000 new permanently affordable units, based on the city’s own projections,” said Peskin, in a prepared statement.

“We are not creating new construction or subdividing an existing address–we are only creating new opportunities for housing within the existing space,” explained Sunny Angulo, Legislative Aide to Peskin. “Examples would be a shack in the backyard, a garage or a basement unit that could become a dwelling with the addition of windows.”

According to the 2010 Census, San Francisco is already the most densely populated city in California and the Bay Area is the second most densely populated urban area in the US, after New York City. That density, if properly managed, can be a great thing for encouraging a more walk and bike-friendly lifestyle. “Supervisor Peskin’s legislation aligns with SPUR’s agenda to address the housing affordability crisis in San Francisco,” said Gabe Metcalf, Executive Director of SPUR, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association. “The legislation will add and preserve affordable housing supply to a desperate market.”
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