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Posts from the Pedestrian Safety Category

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SPUR Talk: What About the Families?

Daniel Parolek, Susan Exline, Doug Shoemaker, and SF Supervisor Norman Yee discuss how to plan cities and housing that is suitable for families. Image: Streetsblog.

Daniel Parolek, Susan Exline, Doug Shoemaker, and SF Supervisor Norman Yee discuss urban housing that is suitable for families. Image: Streetsblog.

How can San Francisco keep families from moving away? That was the central question of a panel discussion this afternoon hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR). The panel included Susan Exline of the San Francisco Planning Department, Daniel Parolek, architect with Opticos Design, and San Francisco’s District Seven Supervisor Norman Yee. The panel was lead by SPUR Board Member Doug Shoemaker.

Supervisor Yee spoke first, pointing out that San Francisco has the lowest child population of any American city–around 13 percent, while most American cities are at 25 percent and some are at 35 percent. Yee, a former SF School Board member who raised two daughters in Westwood Park, said he’s long asked why developers fail to produce more family-oriented housing. He said it’s great that there’s so much focus on affordable housing, but “Why are we losing all these children?” he asked. Yee pointed out that the city is focused on developing dense high rises but doesn’t imagine that families can be accommodated in them.

“Almost all developers said we know how to build family housing, we build it in other cities… city leadership has said we don’t need family housing here. I’m sorry, but we need to change the discussion,” Yee said. He has been pressing developers to include child care centers in their plans. “I started quizzing them: what else do you think families want? Is it just three bedrooms? If I were a parent, I don’t want to be on the 50th floor without a view of a playground [for my kids].

Daniel Parolek and his firm Opticos developed this illustration of "Missing Middle" housing which is more suitable to families.

Daniel Parolek and his firm Opticos developed this illustration of “Missing Middle” housing that is most suitable for families.

“Yee asked us at Planning to start by writing a white paper about how to make [urban] housing for families,” said Exline. Several panelists described the current situation: generally, young people move into San Francisco, but most–once they have children–move right back out. And that damages the entire city fabric. “Having kids in a city helps the rest of the city thrive as well. There’s a long list of things families need to stay in the city,” said Exline.

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SoMa to Get SF’s First Protected Intersection…in One Direction at Least

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Existing Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure on Division Street | February 4, 2015

Existing Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure on Division Street. Photo: SFMTA.

SFMTA announced late last week that San Francisco will soon break ground on the first protected intersection in San Francisco. From the agency’s web article:

A new type of safer intersection design for San Francisco breaks ground this week: The city’s first “protected intersection” treatment is coming to 9th and Division streets.

Protected intersections use a simple design concept to make everyone safer. Under this configuration, features like concrete islands placed at the corners slow turning cars and physically separate people biking and driving. They also position turning drivers at an angle that makes it easier for them to see and yield to people walking and biking crossing their path.

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Eyes on the Street: Guerrero Park Update

This bronze pony is a highlight of Guerrero Park. Photo: Streetsblog.

This bronze pony is a highlight of Guerrero Park. Photo: Streetsblog.

Back in 2009, Streetsblog informed readers about neighborhood efforts to calm traffic at San Jose Avenue at Guerrero and 28th Streets. There’s little that aligns more closely with the mission of Streetsblog than the creation of small inviting parks that can transform a dangerous traffic sewer into an enlivened public asset. And, thanks to the hard work of advocates, that’s exactly what’s happening–and with more permanent infrastructure in each phase of the project. From the “Pavement to Parks” website:

Vehicle speeding on Guerrero Street, and the area around the intersection with San Jose Avenue, prompted a series of improvements to the neighborhood to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. San Jose Avenue was closed at its intersection with Guerrero Street and is now a two-way “cue street,” providing local access to residents along the block.

The design of the resulting space was developed by Jane Martin of Shift Design Studio who provided services free of charge to the City. Raised planters, made of reclaimed logs from Golden Gate Park and featuring native and drought tolerant plants, are placed along the edge of the plaza facing Guerrero Street, creating a comfortable place for relaxation, contemplation, and more active uses.

It’s almost hard to imagine, but just a few years ago the intersection looked like this:

Just asphalt, paint, and speeding cars. Photo: Pavement to Parks.

Just asphalt, paint, and speeding cars. Photo: Pavement to Parks.

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Market Street Crash and the Sick Roulette that Comes With Bad Design

Robert Allevar, who works in the area, passed through this space shortly before a taxi crashed onto the sidewalk. Photo: Streetsblog.

Robert Allevar, who works in the area, passed through this space shortly before a taxi crashed onto the sidewalk. Photo: Streetsblog.

Motorists who drive through the intersections of Market, Sutter and Sansome Street don’t need to worry. Yesterday’s crash, involving a taxi cab that drove up onto the sidewalk and seriously injured two people, is already cleared up. Not much to see here, except for the remains of a street post and a kiosk that was too big to cart off yet. The SFPD is reporting, via an official statement, that the cab driver “…was having a medical issue when he hit the gas and drove up onto the sidewalk. The driver hit a public bathroom, a newsstand and then hit the [sidewalk] shoe shine stand where the two victims were working.”

The fear of safe streets advocates is that will be the end of it; there are three people in the hospital, but it will just be chalked up as another “accident” that couldn’t be prevented.

As the San Francisco Examiner reported it:

The crash occurred around 3:15 p.m. at Market and Sutter streets when the cab apparently drove up onto a crowded sidewalk, San Francisco police spokesperson Officer Grace Gatpandan said. The cab crashed into two people at the shoeshine stand. All three victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, according to hospital spokesman Brent Andrew. One of the patients, a 40-year-old man, is in critical condition, while the other two men, aged 59 and 66, are listed in fair condition, Andrew said.

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Biking and the Homeless on the Hairball: A Sad Situation for All

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Cesar Chavez bike bridge under the 101. Photo: Dan Crosby.

Cesar Chavez bike bridge under the 101. Photo: Dan Crosby.

Dan Crosby works in tech and cycles to his job in SoMa, using the bike lanes and bridges along Cesar Chavez. Recently, Crosby brought this situation to the attention of Streetsblog: “There’s now a homeless encampment on the westbound Cesar Chavez bike bridge under the 101. There have often been a couple of tents there, but now there’s at least six tents, and a bunch of people standing around, ironically, a pile of bikes,” he wrote in an email to Streetsblog. “Yesterday I had someone exit their tent right in front of me in the very narrow space left for me to pass, and today I had to weave around several people.”

It was just two years ago that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) celebrated these safety improvements to Cesar Chavez and the notorious “Hairball” tangle of freeway on-and-off ramps where the whole mess crosses 101. “Today, we celebrated Cesar Chávez Streets’ transformation into a beautiful, calmer, more livable street, complete with bike lanes, bulb-outs, a planted median and a road diet from six to four lanes,” said a Bicycle Coalition release. And “A Traffic Sewer Transformed Into a Safer Street” was the celebratory headline in Streetsblog.

And now the crown jewel of the project, the bike bridge under 101, is blocked by tents and trash.

This is in no way to detract from the hard work of Fran Taylor, who lead the CC Puede movement to calm the street, reduce the lanes and make it a more livable area. Nor is it a slight to the Bicycle Coalition. Certainly, the road is much better. There are protected bike lanes for long stretches. Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Sunday Streets in the Mission

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Dancing on Valencia yesterday afternoon during the Sunday Streets event in the Mission. Photo: Streetsblog.

Dancing on Valencia yesterday afternoon during the Sunday Streets event in the Mission. Photo: Streetsblog.

Normally, Valencia Street in the Mission is dominated by traffic, double-parked cars blocking bike lanes, close calls, and the occasional injury. But not yesterday; yesterday, Valencia Street was all about games, fun and dancing–and a bit of politics and social advocacy–thanks to Sunday Streets.

Yesterday’s event, the second Mission District event this year, went from 26th St to McCoppin Hub Plaza and cars were banned from interfering with the fun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to bikes, kids on scooters, dancing and all sorts of other fun, lots of people and organizations used the event to get their advocacy and health messages across.

Francisco Siguenza, a nursing student at the University of San Francisco, was volunteering with the American Heart and Stroke Association, taking blood pressure and teaching people the basics of CPR. He sees a natural connection between heart health and street fairs and events. “We can reach communities, but it [the event] is an incentive for people to learn reasons to be healthy, to eat healthy.”

Olga Fedyukova, also a nursing student at USF, teaches a passerby the basics of CPR. Photo: Streetsblog.

Olga Fedyukova, also a nursing student at USF, teaches a passerby the basics of CPR. Photo: Streetsblog.

Heart health was also the reason Jennifer Wade was out collecting signatures opposing the construction of the Warrior’s Arena in Mission Bay. “Mission Bay is surrounded by water on three sides, and I’m concerned about access to UCSF  Medical Center,” she said. Her son has a congenital heart defect and, sadly, an emergency trip to the children’s center there is inevitable. “There will be 225 events a year there [at the planned arena] and traffic is going to be a problem…it’s the wrong fit for an area with a medical campus.”

Jennifer Wade was there gathering opposition to the Warrior's Arena in Mission Bay. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jennifer Wade was there gathering opposition to the Warrior’s Arena in Mission Bay. Photo: Streetsblog.

Of course, wherever large groups of people gather, there’s going to be political activists. Along those lines, Supervisor Jane Kim was on her pink bicycle doing some old-fashioned, handshake-politics–gathering support for her bid for the District 11 State Senate seat. “Sunday Streets is such an important way to build community,” she said. “You can see how crowded it is! People love it.”

Jane Kim was out there doing some old fashioned local politicking. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jane Kim was out there doing some old fashioned local politicking. Photo: Streetsblog.

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Guest Editorial: Eisenhower’s Parking Policies No Longer Work for San Francisco

Street parking on Nob Hill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Street parking on Nob Hill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The last time San Francisco looked comprehensively at how we plan for parking, Eisenhower was president, gas was 25 cents a gallon, and we hadn’t even started building BART. It was an era when cities came to be dominated by drive-ins and drive-thrus, when streetcar lines were were being torn up, and new freeways were bulldozing old neighborhoods. As a result, our city’s parking policy still acts as a viagra for traffic, pollution and unaffordability.

As the City debates a Transportation Demand Management ordinance aimed at taming traffic congestion, now is the time to update San Francisco’s parking requirements, from the ground up. The City has decided it’s time to tackle congestion, and commissioned a survey of research on what works. The research concluded that “available parking is perhaps the single biggest factor in people’s decision to drive. The research shows that just building housing on a transit line doesn’t reduce automobile use, but reducing parking does.” We’re also in the city’s worst-ever housing affordability crisis, and parking requirements are a key culprit in driving up housing costs. Refreshing San Francisco’s parking policy critical to growing an affordable, sustainable city with vital and dynamic neighborhoods.

San Francisco should stop forcing parking on homes and businesses that do not need or want it. Paying for superfluous parking drives up housing and business costs, and worsens the city’s housing shortage and our escalating commercial rents.

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Streetsblog Talks with Jeff Tumlin About Oakland’s Transportation Future

Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, outside a restaurant near Oakland City Hall. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson/Nygaard Consulting. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jeffrey Tumlin, Principal and Director of Strategy at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, has until early next year to put together a Transportation Department, pretty much from scratch, for the City of Oakland.

“A better Oakland starts with better streets today, in every part of our city,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf, in a prepared announcement. “We need a world-class transportation department to take a fresh look at our streets, and provide Oakland residents with safer, healthier and more accessible ways to get around, to and from work and school. Equitably enhancing our streets and adding to the array of viable transportation options in Oakland increases the vibrancy of our urban community.”

Tumlin is charged with setting up the department and putting all those goals in motion, as the interim director of the new DOT. Easy, right? Uh, no. From where Streetsblog sits, it seems pretty daunting. If anybody can do it, it’s Tumlin. He’s famous for his work on planning projects all over the world and his uncanny ability to make the wonkiest transportation stuff easily digestible to the general public. That’s important, considering how many voters–and the politicians who represent them–still think better transportation equals widening highways.

Tumlin asked Streetsblog for a sit down to talk about what he’s up to. And when a rock-star of the safe-streets movement asks Streetsblog for a lunch meeting outside Oakland City Hall, he gets it.

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Streetsblog: So Jeff, what brings you to Oakland?

Jeffrey Tumlin: My charge is actually fairly simple, first thing I have to do is create a DOT for Oakland. There’s currently one employee, that’s me. We need to create an organization. We need all of the details of the organization chart, including how to split administration functions from Public Works and have the resources to adequately staff our administration functions. Do we organize it functionally or by service delivery? Do we organize the org chart according to conventional silos, or do we turn it 90 degrees and organize it by project team or service delivery. Both structures have profound advantages and disadvantages.

SB: 90 degrees–come again?

JT: Is our primary orientation around skill and function area, or is it around service delivery? In a capital project, you can set it up so one group is in charge of planning, another does design, another does operations, and another builds it. And there’s a hand-off that occurs when it moves from phase to phase. Another way of addressing it is instead of organizing a group of people who do nothing but, for example, budgets, instead organize a project team.

SB: So instead of a design department, a planning department, and a bike lane department, you structure it so you have an office for, let’s say, the Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets project, and people from all those specialties are inside that office?

Oakland will be getting more parking-protected bike lanes like this one demonstrated by Bike East Bay. But will the potholls get repaired? Photos: Melanie Curry

Oakland will get more parking-protected bike lanes like this one demonstrated by Bike East Bay. But will the pavement be repaired? Photo: Melanie Curry

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Panel Asks: How do We Get More Diversity in Bike Advocacy?

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SFBC director Brian Wiedenmeier introduced Janice Li, Renee Rivera, Lateefah Simon and Tamika Butler for a discussion about racial equity in the bike advocacy movement. Photo: Streetsblog.

SFBC director Brian Wiedenmeier introduced Janice Li (who moderated the panel), Renee Rivera, Lateefah Simon, and Tamika Butler for a discussion about equity in the bike advocacy movement. Photo: Streetsblog.

Yesterday evening, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) held a discussion about diversity as part of its “Bike Talks” series at the Sports Basement Grotto on Bryant Street. Janice Li, Advocacy Director for SFBC, moderated a panel comprised of Lateefah Simon, President of the Akonadi Foundation, Tamika Butler, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and Renee Rivera, Executive Director of Bike East Bay.

The formal discussion about the lack of diversity in the bike advocacy community was preceded by a social with snacks and drinks. “I’ve been very up-front that issues of racial and economic justice are important to me personally, and I am interested in how the SFBC’s work can reflect those values,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, in a conversation with Streetsblog. Wiedenmeier, in several presentations, has stressed his wish that the SFBC broaden efforts to increase the diversity of its membership. “We have a strategic planning process we’ll be kicking off this fall and I think this event is a great way to begin that conversation with our members,” he said.

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Streetsblog Talks with Scott Wiener

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Streetsblog sat down with Supervisor Scott Wiener in an unofficial district office (Casto Tarts) on Friday. Photo: Streetsblog.

Streetsblog sat down with Supervisor Scott Wiener in an unofficial district office (aka: Castro Tarts) on Friday. Photo: Streetsblog.

On Friday, Streetsblog caught up with District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. Readers may recall that Streetsblog last interviewed the then newly re-elected chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority back in January. Since that interview, much has changed. The mayor has a new Executive Directive on Vision Zero, a new city sales tax initiative is scheduled for the November ballot that will be integral to the budget and transportation investment, and there is a new interim police chief. Moreover, Wiener is now locked in a close fight for the State Senate District 11 seat for San Francisco and San Mateo County with Supervisor Jane Kim. Given all that, Streetsblog thought it was time to get the latest from Wiener.

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Streetsblog: You recently wrote an editorial advocating for late night service on BART and Muni. I know you’ve been working for some time on late-night service options. Do you envision that as bus-only, bus-plus-Muni rail, or do you see a scheme of, say, single-tracking through the Transbay, so it would include some BART service too?

Scott Wiener: Obviously, the easiest late-night transportation expansion is going to be a bus service and that’s been a big focus. Improving the owl service—making it more frequent and expansive; not having to tour the whole city to get home. And we want to increase Transbay late-night service to make it truly usable. We’ve made progress, and there will be more.

I’d absolutely like to see overnight rail service. I’d like to see Muni run the subway later too—at least on the weekends until 2 a.m. In terms of BART—we’ve been struggling for so long. They insist they can’t do 24-hour service.  I’ve heard conflicting things about whether BART has enough of  a “can do” attitude. But they are emphatic about the impossibility of running overnight. So we need to keep a second Transbay tube on track, which will allow for 24-hour BART. Of course, it’s not just about 24-hour capacity; it’s about redundancy. It’s about connecting Caltrain, the Capital Corridor, and getting HSR over to the East Bay and Sacramento.

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