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Posts from the "Green Wave" Category

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Bikes Now Get Green Waves Along Folsom, North Point, Fulton

A “green wave” sign on Valencia Street. Photo: Bryan Goebel

The SFMTA has recently re-timed traffic signals to give green waves for bicycle riders on three street segments: North Point from Stockton to Polk Streets, Folsom from 15th to 24th Streets, and Fulton from Laguna to Steiner Streets.

With Bike to Work Day set for tomorrow, the SFMTA reviewed its completed projects in a press release today. It did not mention two other street segments announced in September: Arguello from Lake to Clement Streets and Potrero Avenue, from Alameda to 25th Streets. It’s unclear if those segments have been implemented yet, but so far six streets are known to have green waves in the city. The first three streets to get bike-friendly signal timing were Valencia, 14th, and 11th Streets.

On all two-way streets that have received green waves, the signal timing works in both directions for bicyclists traveling at a “moderate pace,” usually around 11 to 15 MPH, according to the SFMTA.

If you’re riding in for Bike to Work Day tomorrow morning, a rally will be held on the steps of City Hall at 8:30 a.m.

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Eyes on the Street: Bike Lanes on Cesar Chavez, Green Wave on 11th

Eleventh Street. Photo: Mark Dreger

Two bicycling upgrades were spotted in the eastern neighborhoods this past week: Preliminary striping for bike lanes on western Cesar Chavez Street and a “green wave” on 11th Street in west SoMa.

Cesar Chavez as seen last Wednesday. Photo: @dfro78/Twitter

The unprotected bike lanes being installed on Cesar Chavez are part of the ongoing rehab on the section west of Hampshire Street. A photo posted on Twitter last Wednesday shows temporary striping on fresh asphalt, and it’s unknown when permanent stripes will be laid down.

Construction on western Cesar Chavez was originally set to finish this summer, but the Department of Public Works website currently says it will be completed in the winter.

Meanwhile, the new green wave signal re-timing on 11th Street spotted by Mark Dreger comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise. The only other known green waves installed in SF so far are on Valencia and 14th Streets. The SF County Transportation Authority approved funds in April for green waves on five other streets, but 11th wasn’t on the list, and I couldn’t turn up anything on the project. The other five green waves are scheduled to be installed by next March, according to SFCTA documents [PDF]:

  • Arguello from Lake to Clement
  • North Point from Stockton to Polk
  • Folsom from 15th to 24th Streets
  • Fulton from Laguna to Steiner
  • Potrero from Alameda to 25th Street

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these projects.

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SFMTA: Valencia Green Wave Glitch Should Be Fixed by Tomorrow

Photo via Mission Mission

For a few weeks now, bicycle riders accustomed to Valencia Street’s “green wave” signal timing have noticed that the system seems out of whack. Many say they’ve been hitting red lights where they’ve normally been able to breeze through the synchronized signals at 13 MPH without stopping.

Well, it’s not your imagination. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose confirmed that “there is a sync problem on Valencia.”

“We are identifying the location of a break in the signal cable along the street and we hope to have this addressed in the next two days,” he told Streetsblog yesterday. So, if all goes according to schedule, it should be fixed sometime tomorrow.

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SFMTA Installs Second Green Wave for Bikes on 14th Street

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Photo: Google Maps

The SFMTA recently implemented its second green wave on 14th Street, re-timing traffic signals for more bicycle-friendly speeds from Dolores to Folsom.

Following the success of SF’s first green wave on Valencia Street, the 14th Street project was installed in March, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose, adding that the agency is still “evaluating and tweaking it, if necessary.”

“This is a pilot because it is our first downhill green wave, but we do not see it as temporary,” said Rose. “Once we feel that it is working as intended, we will install signs stating what speed the signals are timed for.”

SF Bicycle Coalition Communications Director Kristin Smith said the organization “is very pleased to see the ‘green wave’ tool used on more and more of San Francisco’s key bikeways.”

“It’s a simple but powerful way to prioritize bike traffic and make bicycling even more convenient and comfortable,” she said. “Of course, it’s not just good for bike traffic — by pacing traffic to a human speed, green wave streets are safer for everyone.”

Next month, staff from the SF County Transportation Authority plans to propose “four to six potential new Green Wave corridors along the existing San Francisco Bike Network,” according to an agency document [PDF]. The SFCTA board is expected to approve $71,000 in Prop K sales tax funds in June to plan and implement them, and the document says they could be completed between April and October of next year.

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Green Wave Becomes Permanent on Valencia Street

Photo: Bryan Goebel

Valencia Street’s nearly two-year-old Green Wave signal re-timing aimed at prioritizing bicycle traffic speeds continues to please street users, city leaders, and advocates alike. What started as a temporary pilot will become a permanent institution this week with the installation of four new Green Wave signs along the corridor.

“Green Waves are the most recent example of the SFMTA finding innovative ways to further improve cycling in San Francisco,” said SFMTA CEO Nat Ford.

Following examples in cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Portland, the signal optimization keeps vehicles traveling at a steady cycle-friendly 13 mph from 16th to 25th streets while garnering benefits for all users.

“The Green Wave signals and the safer, calmer speeds are another step in the right direction for Valencia Street, which is already a thriving commercial corridor thanks to its wide sidewalks and bike lanes and plentiful on-street bike parking,” said Renee Rivera, acting executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

All-green lights provide a great convenience for bicycle travel, effectively removing the strenuous stop-and-go movement that often encourages passing through red lights. Along with pedestrians, cyclists also experience a much safer environment as motor vehicles travel at minimally fatal speeds as well as reduced noise and air pollution.

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In the Door Zone: If You See Something, Should You Say Something?

The Valencia Street bike lane on a normal sunny mid-afternoon. The hazards abound, but is it my responsibility to say something to careless cyclists? Photo: Matthew Roth

The Valencia Street bike lane on a normal sunny mid-afternoon. The hazards abound, but is it my responsibility to say something to careless cyclists riding in the door zone? Photo: Matthew Roth

I ride my bike along Valencia Street nearly every day from my home to City Hall or some other assignment and I love the relatively slower pace of traffic that resulted from the bicycle green wave signal retiming last year (way to go Janel!). Without fail, however, my heart rate rises when I come upon someone riding in the door zone of Valencia’s lanes, which happens every single day I ride. I have visions of a door opening and the person getting maimed, or worse. Maybe it reflects my own obsessive mental state, but I’ve literally had dreams where the cyclist in front of me gets into serious trouble when a door swings open, leaving them no time to safely maneuver around.

What’s even more astounding, I’ve witnessed a door-zone rider weave around a door that has opened ahead of them and right back into the door zone. Does the thought not register in their minds that the same door could just as easily fly open without warning?

As Joshua Hart so capably argued in his piece on the failure of bicycle lane design in San Francisco, the city is partly to blame for designing lanes that encourage riding too closely to cars. Valencia is particularly bad, because the whole street has been re-configured for safety for vulnerable users, save the bike lanes. Because there is only one stripe to the lane on the left-hand side, it gives the impression the lane is particularly large, though the actual safe area in the lane is only about two feet on the left. It’s even worse on the newly constructed sections between 15th and 19th, where the lane narrows even more at the intersections.

Then again, I assume if the SFMTA were to realistically stripe the safe portion of the lane, it would lead to an outcry from the public for “shrinking” their bike lane.

So should I say something to the riders? I’ve rehearsed the speech in my head a thousand times. “Hi, I don’t mean to intrude, but did you know the single most common cause of injury by drivers to people riding bikes in San Francisco is dooring? You should move over.”

To which I expect, “Hey buddy, mind your own business!” or some other pleasantry.

What do you think? Should I say something? Do you?

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Lessons from Copenhagen for Bicycling in the Bay Area

_1.jpgBicyclists -- and blue bike lanes and physically separated bikeways -- abound in Copenhagen, where biking makes up 37 percent of the trips to work and school. Photos by Leah Shahum

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of dispatches from Copenhagen and Amsterdam from Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition who is on sabbatical in Europe. 

More than 1,000 bicycling leaders from nearly 60 countries are gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark to oooh and aaah, share and compare, and, above all else, challenge ourselves to step it up back home.

For a dozen of us from the Bay Area, the Velo-City Global Conference is a chance to experience the much-praised Copenhagen bicycling environment and to bring home ideas and inspiration at a time when our own region could be on the cusp of awakening to the benefits of great bicycling cities.

"In the Bay Area, people are starting to realize that this is the future, in terms of our development. And cycling is an integral part of that," says Corinne Winter, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

In presentations from biking advocates from Europe, North America, South America, and Asia, it is clear that cities are now considered the most vital frontier for increasing and improving bicycling, particularly as more people move to urban areas.

"Cycling is the most obvious way to encourage more mobility no matter which corner of the earth you come from," says Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, Copenhagen's Mayor of the Technical and Environmental Administration, who spoke to the eager crowd. "Copenhagen is just a drop in the ocean…but the power of our example is not to be missed. Cities need to look beyond their national borders and raise the bar worldwide."

Copenhagen clearly takes its role seriously as a pioneering bicycling city and wants to serve as a model for the rest of us. The numbers are impressive: 37 percent of Copenhageners ride bicycles to work and school, though the city's leadership is not satisfied with this and aims to increase that to 50 percent by 2015. More than 350 kilometers of physically separated bikeways grace the city's streets, and plans are underway to expand the already-impressive bicycling network with more dedicated bike space and improved intersections.

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Valencia Signals Re-timed to Improve Traffic Flow and Safety

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As Streetsblog San Francisco reported last month, cities around the world have timed their traffic signals to favor slower moving modes, and now San Francisco has started a trial on one of the busiest bicycle routes in the city, Valencia Street.

On Thursday February 19th, the MTA re-timed six traffic signals from 16th to 21st, a pilot for a few weeks that will enable the agency to gauge the real-world impacts of reduced speeds on traffic flow.

The main goal is to improve vehicle flow and calm traffic to prevent energy intensive starting and stopping. The slower synchronized timing will also likely prove to be a great convenience to cyclists along the route.

Motorists are already seeing a benefit. Initial studies show the re-timed signals improve overall travel time by more than a minute during peak commute hours. Additionally, motorists will save gas and reduce pollution if they drive at a steady 15 mph pace.

In 2002, Portland, Oregon implemented a citywide traffic signal optimization project, which saves motorists over 1,750,000 gallons of gas and 15,460 tons of CO2 each year. It cost $533,000, paid for by the Climate Trust of Oregon carbon offset program. The majority of streets in downtown Portland are timed at 12-15 mph for pedestrian safety and optimal traffic flow.

Untitled_2.jpgUK DOT statistics on vehicle/pedestrian collisions

In Amsterdam, both trams and buses save time from signal re-timing. On average trams move 1.5 minutes faster and buses 3 minutes faster.

This is expected to benefit pedestrians as well. Studies show the severity of pedestrian injuries in crashes with cars increases exponentially with only slight increases in vehicle speed. Pedestrians face a 5 percent chance of dying when hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, though that figure jumps to 45 percent for a vehicle going 30 mph and 85 percent at 40 mph.

Flickr Photo: pbo31 

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Accomodating Bike Speeds by Re-timing Signals on Valencia Street

As the cyclists in this video point out, re-timing signals for bike speeds (Green Wave) would make roads safer for all street users on Valencia Street. Before even mentioning re-timing signals, this was many cyclists' top request to improve their journey.

Recently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) found that during peak commute times vehicles run more efficiently when signals are timed at the speeds they actually travel during congestion -- 12 to 15 mph -- rather than the current 25 mph. Major bike streets in Portland, the Netherlands and Denmark have been timed for bike speeds and now it is time for San Francisco to ride the Green Wave! For more information read my previous SF Streetsblog article on the topic.

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Market/Octavia Debate: Safety by Numbers or Safety in Numbers?

2792852796_3914807463.jpgA blue bike lane in Copenhagen.
Though Superior Court Judge Peter J. Busch ruled the MTA will not get an immediate exemption to the bike injunction to remove the eastbound segment of the bike lane at Market and Octavia because he didn’t think an “adequate case has been made that there's a public safety crisis,” when the hold on the bike plan is lifted as early as this spring, the agency will likely try to remove the lane anyway.  

So will the changes improve safety for bicyclists?  That answer depends on how you look at it and highlights a recurring international debate among transportation engineers and cycling advocacy groups: Are segregated bicycle lanes safer for cyclists than shared lanes?

The MTA argues its plan will increase safety, citing among other examples a report from Copenhagen, Denmark, which details equivalent lane markings to the current Market/Octavia design and the proposed design (PDF, pg 30):
One type continues all the way up to the intersection, the other type stops at a distance from the intersection. Experience shows that the shortened type of cycle track results in the fewest casualties, whereas cyclists feel more secure on the type that continues all the way up to the intersection. Both types may be supplemented with a blue marked crossing, which significantly improves safety.

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