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Safety Guerrillas Hit Valencia Street

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"Dragon" hands out cards and builds support for SFMTrA near their newest installation at Valencia and 15th. Photo: Streetsblog

“Dragon” hands out cards to build support for SFMTrA near their newest installation at Valencia and 15th. Photo: Streetsblog

Streetsblog was up before dawn this morning, an invited guest of SFMTrA–the guerrilla group that’s given up waiting for the city to make our streets safer–for a quick infrastructure upgrade to Valencia Street’s bike lanes.

This time three members of the group, who go by the handles Copenhagen, Dragon (who came with a furry dragon suit), and Cone Guy, glued down 11 safe-hit posts on a stretch of Valencia from 17th to 14th, on the north bound side of the street. “We did a busy right-hand turn, where we felt it would do the most good,” said Cone Guy.

A lone, pre-dawn cyclist enjoying the safety additions on Valencia. Photo: Streetsblog

A lone, pre-dawn cyclist enjoying the safety additions on Valencia. Photo: Streetsblog

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Subway Metadata Master Plan

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A "heat map" of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

A “heat map” of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

Yesterday afternoon the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from transportation officials on efforts to design a “Subway Master Plan,” a long-range blueprint for a subway network for San Francisco.

From a release on the meeting from Supervisor Scott Wiener’s office:

Today at the Land Use and Transportation Committee, City transportation agencies delivered a presentation on their work to create a Subway Master Plan. Supervisor Scott Wiener called for the development of the Subway Master Plan last year, and authored an ordinance requiring the policy be developed. At the hearing, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) presented the initial findings – which they have called the Subway Vision — that they have been developing over the last year.

Streetsblog readers will recall that in August the SFMTA and other agencies launched a web page that invited people to draw subway lines and stations where they would most like to see them. The computers then combined the “over 2,600 unique submissions that ranged from a single line to a comprehensive system,” explained Sarah Jones, SFMTA’s Planning Director. “The most consistently drawn lines were in prior plans we reviewed, but also saw some other areas being opened up.”
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Ballot Primer for an Election that Will Drive You to Drink

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A standing-room only crowd drank beer and listened to the experts at SPUR breakdown SF's ballot measures. Photo: Streetsblog

A standing-room only crowd drank beer and listened to SPUR’s experts break down SF’s ballot measures. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, over 220 people squeezed into the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s (SPUR) downtown S.F. location to hear the organization’s policy experts explain which ballot measures they are endorsing. With 25 measures on the San Francisco ballot this November 8, each of the six SPUR experts spent just a few minutes on each decision–and it still took nearly two hours to get through them all.

Thankfully, they also offered bottles of beer at the door.

Here’s a sampling of some of the most Streetsblog-relevant “yes” recommendations:
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Rail~Volution: All-Things-Rail Conference Comes to San Francisco

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Press-Release-Header-1200x565Some 1,200 planners, engineers, managers and transit journalists crowded into the San Francisco Hyatt Regency this week for the Rail~Volution conference. From the conference press release:

The…conference brings together thought leaders and innovators to discuss the relationship between public transit and land-use, examine best practices in transit-oriented development, and look at how to maintain diversity and inclusion in the face of a changing urban landscape. With 22 mobile workshops and over 75 thought-provoking presentation and discussion sessions, the conference goes beyond the traditional sit-and-listen experience. Workshops will focus on such topics as “Anti-Displacement: Tools for Preserving Affordability Near Transit,” “Hot Topics in Streetcar Systems” and “All Hail Car Sharing! Shared Use Mobility From an Environmental Perspective.” Other sessions include “Two Wheels Are Better Than Four: Expanding Your Network Through Bicycle Connectivity” and “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Smorgasbord: Three Cities Dish on Their BRT Experiences.”

Yesterday morning’s plenary session featured SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. He welcomed the attendees, who came from all over North America. The morning session focused almost entirely on housing cost and supply issues–and transit’s role in solving them. “We can really think about how and what we do can address those challenges,” said Reiskin. “Not to say transportation and planning are magic bullets, but I do think they can and should be part of the solution and we should use a lens of not just how can we make our cities more livable, but can we make our cities more livable for everyone?”

That tack continued with a chock-full-of-data presentation by Kim-Mai Cutler, journalist and columnists for TechCrunch. She explained that Eichler-built, single-family homes were once available to working-class families in the Bay Area. “In 1950, a home in Palo Alto was 1.5 times the median income, or about $9,400,” she said. “Today if you looked at an Eichler, it’s more than $2 million.” Read more…

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Was the Turning Point on Taraval a Teachable Moment?

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The contentious "Safeway Stop" on the L-Taraval. Photo: Streetsblog

The contentious “Safeway stop” on the L-Taraval. Photo: Streetsblog

A week ago today, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency decided unanimously to move forward with concrete boarding islands on the L-Taraval. And maybe, just maybe, it was also a concrete turning point towards finally putting safety first.

As Streetsblog readers know all too well, every time SFMTA develops transit improvements as part of its Muni Forward program, the agency encounters enormous pushback. It comes from competing agencies, local politicians, and from a loud minority of angry stakeholders. And whether it’s the Mission, Masonic, or Van Ness, it’s this pushback that gets covered in the mainstream press.

The resulting political pressure causes delays, watered-down projects, and—more often than not—a failure to adhere to the voter approved “transit first” policies dating back to the 1970s. In other words, a minority of self-interested and ill-informed people are given more political sway than the voters. Read more…

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Guest Editorial: Safety Must Come First on Taraval

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Concrete boarding islands (right) make streets safer than letting people board in the middle of the street (left). Photo: SFMTA

Every day 29,000 Muni riders and countless walkers travel on Taraval Street, one of the city’s 12 percent of streets responsible for over 70 percent of traffic deaths and life-changing injuries. On average, every five and-a-half weeks someone is hit while walking on Taraval.

This afternoon, walkers and MUNI riders will have a once-in-a-generation chance as the SFMTA Board of Directors considers a proposal to reshape this deadly street into a safe place for everyone.

But whether the SFMTA will deliver a life-saving project, or a watered-down conciliation that will continue to put our fellow community members’ lives at risk, is yet to be seen.

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Vision Zero Committee Hears Radio Spot and Other Efforts to Curtail Speeding

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Supervisors Yee and Campos at the Vision Zero Committee of the Transportation Authority. Photo: Streetsblog

Supervisors Yee and Campos at the Vision Zero Committee of the Transportation Authority. Photo: Streetsblog

Note the ‘call to action’ at the end of this post.

Thursday afternoon, Supervisors Norman Yee and David Campos, commissioners on the County Transportation Authority Vision Zero Committee, heard updates from SFMTA officials on plans to install safety infrastructure and increase educational awareness on the dangers of speeding. They also discussed Mayor Ed Lee’s Executive Directive to, among other things, install speed humps in Golden Gate Park and protected bike lanes South of Market. Safety advocates also spoke, keeping up the pressure on city agencies to follow through on promised improvements.

John Knox White, Transportation Planner at SFMTA, gave a detailed update on the status of the Vision Zero Communications Outreach Program. “We’re trying to change San Francisco’s culture,” White told the committee. “We’re trying to change to a culture that embraces public safety.” Read more…

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BART Board Candidates Discuss Future of Bay Area Transportation

The SF Transit Riders Brian Stokle moderated a discussion among BART board candidates for District 9 and 7. Photo: Streetsblog.

The SF Transit Riders’ Brian Stokle moderated a discussion among BART board candidates for District 9 and 7. Photo: Streetsblog.

Yesterday evening, the San Francisco Transit Riders held a “BART Board Director Candidate Forum” at the Mission Pool & Playground Clubhouse in the Mission District.

From the SF Transit Riders:

We are hosting the forum for the candidates to introduce themselves and respond to SFTR and public questions. This is an important time in BART’s history. Its aging system is facing the challenges of ever more crowded trains. With these BART Board elections and the $3.5 billion BART bond to improve safety and increase train reliability on the same ballot, there are many issues to discuss at the forum.

Thea Selby, chairwoman of the SF Transit Riders, spoke with Streetsblog prior to the event. She explained that the forum was intended to help educate the voters about what each candidate stood for, without her organization taking sides. “To my knowledge this is the only educational forum,” she said. It was also part of “Transit Week,” a push by the advocacy group to change perceptions of riding the bus as something people only do when they don’t have a better alternative. “We want to remind transit riders they can be proud of producing less congestion and pollution and helping San Francisco meet its climate change goals,” she said.

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Push Continues in City Hall for Safer Bike Infrastructure

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Supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim and David Campos hear testimony from SFMTA to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee about efforts to accelerate street improvements. Photo: Streetsblog.

Supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim, and David Campos hear testimony from SFMTA to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee about efforts to accelerate street safety improvements. Photo: Streetsblog.

Note the ‘call to action’ at the end of this post.

Yesterday afternoon, some 30 officials, police officers, advocates, and other members of the public joined the regular meeting of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at City Hall to discuss how to get protected bike lanes installed quickly on San Francisco’s most dangerous streets.

“It is incredibly frustrating to our city and residents to continue to see people killed and injured on our streets,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, “Are we working with the urgency that we need to take?”

The people killed whom Kim was referring to were, of course, Kate Slattery and Heather Miller. They died while riding their bikes in San Francisco on the evening of June 22. Over a month later, Mayor Ed Lee issued an Executive Directive instructing “SFMTA to deliver near­-term safety improvements on 7th and 8th Streets in the next nine months” and the SF Recreation & Parks Department “to deliver near­-term safety improvements to reduce speeds and vehicular through-traffic on JFK Drive in the next six months,” among other things. The hearing was part of an ongoing effort to check up on and make sure agencies followed through.

“It’s not just engineering. And it’s not just enforcement. It’s those two plus education,” explained Tom McGuire, Director of Sustainable Streets for SFMTA. “We believe you should be able to ride safely if you’re 80 or eight or anywhere in between. Kate Slattery and Heather Miller remind us we’re not there.”

Indeed, San Francisco is not there, but the question Kim and other members of the panel and public demanded to know is, “Why not?”

Patrick Traughber and Jay Harris wait patiently for their turns to speak. Photo: Streetsblog.

Patrick Traughber and Jay Harris wait patiently for their turns to speak. Photo: Streetsblog.

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SFMTA Wants Your Help Planning San Francisco’s Subway Future

A rendering of Muni's new rail cars, coming soon. Image: Siemens.

A rendering of Muni’s new rail cars, coming soon. Image: Siemens.

Now’s your chance to go full transit geek.

SFMTA has launched its “Subway Vision” web page as a first step in developing a long-range transportation plan for the next fifty years. Or as they explained it in their release:

We want you to help draw the San Francisco subway map of the future.

We’ve teamed up with the San Francisco Planning Department and other city partners to launch a new website where you can help shape the city’s plan for future subway — our Subway Vision for the next fifty years. It’s part of the foundation we’re laying for an effective, equitable and sustainable transportation network for the future of San Francisco.

To get this right, we need your input on priorities – whether it’s extending the Central Subway to Fisherman’s Wharf, building a second Transbay Tube for BART into Mission Bay or extending the Market Street subway across the city to allow for longer trains.

Streetsblog took a quick and dirty stab at it (see the results below).

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