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Posts from the Bicycling Category

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SFMTA Shows Off Vision Zero Upgrades, Promises Quicker Implementation

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin leads state and national transportation officials on a tour today at deadly Market and Sixth Streets. Photo: SFMTA

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin leads state and national transportation officials on a tour today at deadly Market and Sixth Streets. Photo: SFMTA

Several top officials from state and national transportation agencies were in town today to see some of the SFMTA’s latest street safety measures. Meanwhile, local street safety advocates continue to push the SFMTA to pick up the pace on delivering pedestrian and bike safety infrastructure.

At a City Hall committee hearing yesterday, SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire reported on some solid steps the agency is taking to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that holds up street safety fixes.

While the reforms are “definitely a work in progress,” Maguire told Supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener that the SFMTA has adopted new processes and hired new management to speed up the delivery of safer streets.

“There does need to be a bit of a culture change and a raised expectation that we do need to be doing more, better, faster within MTA if we’re going to reach the Vision Zero goal,” Maguire said.

In recent weeks, he said, project managers at SFMTA and SF County Transportation Authority have attended an “intensive training course” focused on rolling out a “capital project control system,” so that managers at both agencies “are on the same level.” The SFMTA is also hiring a project delivery director to “re-engineer and streamline the project delivery process across the entire Sustainable Streets Division” while “providing a single point of accountability.”

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Streetsblog USA
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10 Tips for Cities Ready to Replace Car Parking With Safe Space for Biking

Former parking spaces in Boulevard de Maissonneuve, Montreal. Photo: JasonParis

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Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

A curbside parking spot is just 182 square feet of urban space. But for advocates of better American bike infrastructure, few obstacles loom larger.

Right now in San Diego, a long-brewing plan to add better pedestrian crossings and a continuous protected bike lane to the deadliest corridor in the city is fighting for its life in large part because some merchants on four commercial blocks don’t want to risk removing any auto parking.

Before and after plans for University Avenue in San Diego.

The merchants aren’t wrong that private parking spaces have commercial value to nearby properties. But bike lanes, street trees and better sidewalks would have commercial value too — and creating San Diego’s first comfortable crosstown bike network would also bring value to the entire city, not to mention lessen retailers’ dependence on car parking.

For cities everywhere, converting on-street parking spaces into anything else is one of the greatest challenges in urban planning.

Though it’s probably never been done without a fight, many cities have succeeded. Here are the best approaches we’ve seen from North America and beyond.

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Why Townsend Street Needs Protected Bike Lanes at 4th and King Station

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Anyone who uses Townsend Street’s eastbound bike lane to commute to Caltrain is sure to run into a litany of obstacles: Taxis, shuttles, private autos, and Muni buses obliterate the poor bike lane in the fight for curb space. (Much of the curb is reserved as a taxi stand.)

Sam McCandlish sent in this video, filmed by a friend of his, showing the chaotic scrum faced by bike-to-Caltrain commuters. The often-impassable conditions cause some people to resort to riding on the sidewalk. In 2011, the SFPD targeted sidewalk riders at the Fourth and King station while ignoring drivers blocking the bike lane.

In the video, a few Bay Area Bike Share users can be seen walking their bikes in the bike lane in the opposite direction to get through the mess. Fourth and King is the busiest bike-share hub in the city at peak commute hours.

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Via Streetsblog California
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Caltrans: Don’t Forget, California’s Highways Were First Built for Bicycles

“Did you know the movement to create a state highway system came not from automobile drivers or manufacturers, but bicyclists?”

As part of Caltrans’ 125th Anniversary, the agency is creating a video series about the history of the state’s agency. The first video highlights Caltrans’ current shift away from auto-centric planning to multimodal planning by acknowledging that the push for safe bicycling in California actually predates the state’s transportation agency.

In the video Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty defends the agency’s history as “trying to move people and moving goods” before getting into how exciting the new plan for multimodal planning is.

“We need to be looking at transportation a little bit differently than we did in the past. It needs to be a multimodal, integrated transportation system so that people can move around the state as efficiently as possible,” says Dougherty, ending his interview.

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Streetsblog USA
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Leah Shahum Launches “Vision Zero Network” to Raise the Standard for Cities

Leah Shahum, former head of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will head up the Vision Zero Network. Image courtesy of Leah Shahum.

Leah Shahum, former director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will head up the Vision Zero Network. Photo: Melissa Balmer

Vision Zero — the idea that we should no longer accept traffic deaths and serious injuries — is gaining momentum as a framework for thinking about city streets and transportation, as more American cities adopt the goal of ending traffic fatalities.

But what actually constitutes a Vision Zero policy? What are the best strategies to dramatically reduce traffic violence? Which cities are doing it right, and which are talking the talk without walking the walk?

A new organization, the Vision Zero Network, seeks to help American cities adopt the most effective street safety policies. The organization launched today under the leadership of Leah Shahum, former executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, with support from Kaiser Permanente.

The purpose of the Vision Zero Network will be two-fold, says Shahum. First, the group aims to connect officials in leading Vision Zero cities to facilitate the sharing of best practices. Second, it will establish benchmarks to determine whether cities are backing up the rhetoric with real policy action.

“We really want to make sure that there’s a meaningful standard to being a Vision Zero city,” said Shahum. “And that’s not the reality so far. Because this concept is so new.”

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Via Streetsblog California
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CA Senator Drops Mandatory Bike Helmet Bill, Asks for Study Instead

Now Damien doesn't have to burn this picture. Photo: Gary Kavanagh

Now Damien doesn’t have to burn this picture. Photo: Gary Kavanagh

The mandatory bicycle helmet bill, Senator Carol Liu’s Senate Bill 192, has been dropped—or rather amended. Instead of requiring bicyclists to wear helmets, it calls on the Office of Traffic Safety to conduct a study of bicycle helmet use.

Liu’s office released a statement, first reported by former Streetsblog San Francisco editor Bryan Goebel, explaining the decision.

The bill was amended to create a comprehensive study of bicycle helmet use in California and evaluate the potential safety benefits of a mandatory helmet law. Carol believes in consensus-driven policy, and there were too many conflicting opinions about helmet use. A study will provide the data needed to guide us to the next step.

This is good news, on many fronts. There is no more threat of a mandatory helmet bill, which would have had all kinds of unintended consequences for bicycling in California. The silly requirement for bicyclists to wear high-visibility gear after dusk is also gone. And a study of bicycle helmet use may actually get people to stop harping on the subject of helmetless bicyclists.

“CalBike asked her to pull the bill,” said Dave Snyder, of the California Bicycle Coalition.
“I think [Senator Liu] expected more support from the bicycle community, but instead she got near unanimous opposition.”

Another possible benefit of a study of bicycle  helmet use: this could be the right time to revisit the unhelpful youth helmet law.

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SFPD Finds Owner of Car in Wiggle Hit-and-Run That Injured 3 Cyclists

SFPD has located the owner of the Jeep Cherokee that was driven in a hit-and-run crash that injured three bike commuters on the Wiggle late Thursday afternoon, though police don’t believe the owner was driving at the time.

At around 5:30 p.m., the driver, described by witnesses as a Hispanic woman, plowed through three people on bikes at Scott and Fell after she rear-ended the driver of a Mini Cooper on Fell. The driver reportedly turned left into the oncoming left-turn bike lane on Scott, plowing into the three cyclists. The driver then slammed into a parked car, which was wedged into a garage, as she escaped.

The car, registered in Alameda County, was abandoned in South San Francisco, where police recovered it later that day, said SFPD spokesperson Grace Gatpandan. The owner was found on Friday and taken in for questioning. Police couldn’t confirm if the car had been stolen.

According to police and witness reports, two of the victims suffered minor injuries, and another was thrown nearly 20 feet but is expected to survive. Kevin Dole, a member of the SF Bicycle Advisory Committee, said soon after the crash he arrived at the scene, where an “older man” being tended to by paramedics who was in “pretty bad shape.”

D5 Supervisor London Breed said the crash “is really sad… It’s important that we continue to aggressively move forward to make changes to our infrastructure so that we can do everything we can to hopefully prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future.”

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Streetsblog LA
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City of LA’s First Parking-Protected Bike Lanes Come to Reseda Boulevard

New parking-protected bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

New parking-protected bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, the city of Los Angeles installed its first ever parking-protected bike lanes. They’re on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge, part of the mayor’s Great Streets Initiative.

As of this morning, the project is roughly one-quarter complete. The new protected lanes, also known as cycletracks, are mostly complete on the west side of Reseda Blvd from Plummer Street to Prairie Street. The full one-mile protected lanes will go from Plummer to Parthenia Street.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-April.

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Standard bike lanes put cyclists between parked cars and moving cars. These protected lanes flip the parking and the bike lane, so cyclists are next to the curb, and parked cars and next to moving cars.

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Nearly every other pole along Reseda Boulevard features this sign explaining the new striping.

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Market Street Bike Count Off to a Record-Breaking Start in 2015

The Market Street bike counter tallied 97,302 people rolling by in March — the highest monthly total yet. Last year, the monthly count rose steadily until October, so bike ridership on Market is expected to keep breaking records. April could be the first month to break the 100,000 threshold.

Throughout March, typical weekday ridership ranged between 3,200 and 3,900 bikes on eastbound Market between Ninth and Tenth Streets.

A design tweak at the beginning of the year that led the counter to more accurately capture bike trips explains a large chunk of the increase this year. But safety improvements have certainly helped SF’s busiest bicycling street continue to flourish as well. A bigger boost could come when turn restrictions for cars between Third and Eighth Streets take effect starting in the summer.

“At this pace, 2015 is looking like the year that San Franciscans will top off the ‘bike thermometer’ on Market Street and hit over a million rides,” said Noah Budnick, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “The bits and pieces of improved infrastructure there are a down payment on a street that will be transformed.”

As city agencies shape the Better Market Street redesign, “Mayor Lee must meet this ever-growing public demand for more and better bicycling by rebuilding Market as a world-class street that is the backbone of a connected, convenient and enjoyable network of safe streets for biking,” said Budnick.

San Franciscans may take the throngs of bikes on Market for granted, but Los Angeles Times reporter Laura J. Nelson was stopped in her tracks today when she tweeted this photo across the street from the counter:


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SF’s Freeway-Like Streets Increase the Risk From Distracted Drivers

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Image: Zendrive

Image: Zendrive

Distracted driving in SF is no accident. A new map of cell phone use by drivers in SF reveals where drivers are most likely to use a mobile device, increasing the risk of crashes and injuries, and the pattern is unmistakable.

There’s one thing that streets with high rates of distracted driving have in common: They’re designed like freeways.

According to the map created by Zendrive, which “measures driving safety using only the sensors on a driver’s phone,” the streets with the most mobile device use by drivers were overwhelmingly designed as routes to freeways, leading to on-ramps and off-ramps, especially along the Central Freeway that divides the South of Market and Mission districts.

Sections of Duboce, Folsom, Eighth, 10th, and the interchange at Brannan and Division Streets all ranked in the top 10 of distracted driving streets.

Also high up the list were Fell and Oak Streets and 19th Avenue, which act as surface highways. Fell and Oak whisk west side drivers to and from the Central Freeway, and have synchronized traffic signals so drivers don’t have to worry about stopping often.

It stands to reason that wide, multi-lane streets designed to lull drivers into “cruise-control” mode fail to keep their attention. As Tom Vanderbilt wrote in his book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, “The relative ease of most driving lures us into thinking we can get away with doing other things.

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