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Posts from the "Valencia Street" Category

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Creating a Safer “Green Gateway” at Valencia and Mission Streets

A vision for Valencia Street's south end at Mission Street, where two right-turn lanes would be converted into stormwater-absorbing plaza. Image: SFPUC

A chunk of roadway at Valencia and Mission Streets would be reclaimed to create a plaza designed to make the corner more pedestrian-friendly and absorb stormwater under a project led by the SF Public Utilities Commission.

The Valencia and Mission Green Gateway Project would widen sidewalks and add greenery and permeable pavement treatments along the southernmost block of Valencia, between Mission and Duncan Street, where it also intersects with the Tiffany Avenue bike boulevard.

Under designs presented by the SFPUC, the SFMTA, the Department of Public Works, and the SF Planning Department at an open house yesterday, the two right-turn traffic lanes on southbound Valencia at Mission would be converted to the permeable plaza, shortening a long crosswalk that currently crosses five lanes. The sidewalk would be expanded out to the existing refuge island.

“We’re making traffic make more sense,” said Raphael Garcia, project manager for the SFPUC.

The southbound end of Valencia would get a narrowed roadway, but an extension of the Valencia bike lane to Mission shown on an initial rendering for the project won’t be included, because that block is not part of an official bike route, according to Adam Gubser, a planner at the SFMTA’s Livable Streets subdivision. Instead, the block will retain two southbound traffic lanes so that Muni buses on the 36-Teresita line, which make a right turn there, aren’t delayed by car traffic waiting to turn, he said. Parallel parking spaces on the east side of the block would also be converted to back-in angled parking spaces to minimize parking removal. Altogether, ten parking spots would be removed for the project.

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Left-Turn Bicycle Lane and Signal Coming to Market and Valencia Next Month

A bicycle left-turn queue will be created in part of the sidewalk on westbound Market Street to the right of the bike lane (where the curb cut is), along with a left-turn bicycle traffic signal. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Construction will begin in October on a fix for the dangerous turn for bicyclists from Market onto Valencia Streets, according to city planners.

As Streetsblog reported last June, a plan [PDF] to install a left-turn bicycle queue lane and traffic signal at the intersection was approved in the SF Bike Plan, but it was unknown when it could be implemented. Ben Stupka, a planner at the SF County Transportation Authority, told the agency’s board of directors yesterday that the SF Municipal Transportation Agency and Department of Public Works are expected to install it next month.

The SFMTA's plan for Market and Valencia. The turn pocket is at the top center of this illustration. "Bicycle signal heads" would be installed at points "C" and "E".

The intersection of Market and Valencia Streets, two of the most heavily-used bicycling streets in the city, saw the second-highest number of car-bike crashes from 2009 to 2011, with a total of 13, according to the SFMTA’s most recent collision report [PDF]. At the top of the list was Market and Octavia Boulevard, one short block to the west, with 21 crashes.

Currently, there are few safe and convenient ways for bicycle commuters to turn from westbound Market onto southbound Valencia. Many bolder riders merge into the vehicular left-turn lane across two traffic lanes, one of which has trolley tracks on it. Otherwise, the only other practical way to cross Market is to walk or ride in the crosswalk.

To provide a smoother link, the project would create a pocket in a piece of the sidewalk (currently an unused curb cut) to the right of Market’s westbound bicycle lane, for left-turners to queue up. Then, on a dedicated left-turn signal phase, bicyclists would cross through an opening that will be created in the existing median island. Similar solutions have been used for decades in cycling cities in countries including Denmark and the Netherlands.

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Sunday Streets Returns for More Car-Free Fun in the Mission

Kick back at Sunday Streets on Valencia and 24th Streets this weekend for the third car-free event in the Mission this year.

Here’s just a taste of all the activities available for kids: REI’s Block of Fun includes a climbing wall, disc golf, and a bike obstacle course. Kids just learning to ride a bike can sharpen their skills at YBike’s Bike Safety Rodeo and the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Freedom From Training Wheels.

Of course, anyone without wheels can get a free bike rental from ParkWide. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are even holding a Blessing of the Bicyclists. There’s also swing dancing, yoga, free massages, roller disco, and lots more.

Next year could hold even more than the four consecutive Mission events this year. Excited?

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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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Get Ready for Four Months of Sunday Streets in the Mission

This weekend kicks off the first of four Sunday Streets events in the Mission every month through August, and organizers will be watching its success to evaluate the feasibility of making Valencia and 24th Streets car-free as frequently as once a month.

The Mission has become by far the most popular route for Sunday Streets, bringing out an estimated 25,000 people last May.

“San Francisco residents, merchants and visitors have enthusiastically embraced Sunday Streets and are consistently asking us for more of these kinds of programs,” said SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin in a statement. “We are proud to introduce a new element to Sunday Streets by testing a regular car-free route through one of San Francisco’s most populated and diverse neighborhoods. During this pilot, we will be looking closely at how we can help create open spaces in communities like the Mission where park space is limited and support the many small businesses along the way.”

Be sure to get out and enjoy a sunny day of music, art, live performances, and all-around car-free fun.

Organizers “plan to do additional outreach during this pilot period, and gather input from residents, business owners, local employees, religious institutions to gauge the impacts and support for the idea of having a regular Sunday Streets route in the Mission (or in another area of the city),” according to the Sunday Streets website.

Love the idea? Be sure to let the organizers know.

And don’t forget, July will have two Sunday Streets events: the Mission route will be held on July 1 and the Bayview/Dogpatch route on July 22.

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KTVU Reporter Documents Own Harassment of Cyclists

Last week, KTVU 2 reporter David Stevenson drove down Valencia Street, yelling at bicycle riders through the window of his motor vehicle, asking where their helmets were. He even brought a camera crew to film it — oddly enough, in the name of bicycle safety.

KTVU's David Stevenson distracts a cyclist from potential hazards like drivers opening car doors on Valencia. Image: KTVU 2

“As twilight descends,” Stevenson told viewers, “the most vulnerable of the crowd dodge dangers on every block.”

“Dangers”… like distracting them by shouting through the passenger window, pointing a TV camera at their faces?

Stevenson’s behavior seemed to border on an offense that’s suable under Berkeley’s new bicyclist anti-harassment law, had it taken place in that city. As a colleague of mine put it, driving down Valencia yelling, “Where’s your helmet?” at bike riders is like waving a loaded gun in the air and yelling, “Where’s your bullet-proof vest?”

At best, Stevenson’s report was a sloppy analysis of bike safety that neglects to field any perspective from bicycle advocates or research the actual causes of bicycle crashes and injuries. The segment simply cited the numbers of bicycle riders killed and injured, then implied that helmets and lights are the most effective solution for preventing deaths and injuries. Stevenson made no effort to weigh factors like driver inattention or speed, which can have deadly consequences. (Speeders are, of course, harder to harangue from the passenger seat than cyclists.)

There’s nothing wrong with the friendly promotion of bike lights as an essential tool for night visibility (though Stevenson did point to bicyclists without lights in daylight).

But if Stevenson had even grazed the tip of the iceberg on the complex debate around bike helmets, he’d find there’s far from any consensus about their efficacy as a safety measure. No doubt, wearing one is (and should be) a personal choice. But for starters, Stevenson might have looked into why the European Cyclists Federation, comprised of 65 bicycle coalitions in 39 countries, actively campaigns against mandatory helmet laws and “shock-horror” helmet promotions that unrealistically depict bicycling as an abnormally dangerous activity. As worldwide Danish bicycling advocate Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize is keen to point out, there’s little evidence to support the notion that riding a bike carries a higher risk of head injury than many other everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, or driving.

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The City’s First Residential Parklet Springs to Life on Valencia Street

'Deep's parklet under construction today on Valencia Street near 20th. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Amandeep Jawa (a.k.a. ‘Deep) might be recognized by many San Franciscans as the man who can turn any street into a party as he glides by on his music-booming “Trikeasaurus.” As an organizer of events that inject life into the street like the San Francisco Bike Party, he naturally jumped at the chance to create a beautiful social space outside his Valencia Street home with San Francisco’s first residential parklet.

“Valencia is not a great pedestrian street even though it’s a great public street,” said Jawa. “I wanted the front of my house to reflect the fact that people come and hang out there. In general, that’s a great thing, and that’s what Valencia’s all about. The parklet is a natural extension for that.”

Affectionately dubbed the “‘Deepistan National Parklet,” it will be the first in the city to front a home rather than a business. It’ll bring more breathing room, a social resting spot, and an abundance of plant life to a skinny sidewalk. With the help of Jawa’s friends and colleagues, its construction is well on its way to completion in time for the grand opening celebration this Sunday.

Jawa decided to create the parklet after he consulted with architect Jane Martin on beautifying the streetfront of his house. She suggested expanding the project by applying for the first round of parklet applications last fall. Jawa loved the idea, and Martin helped him design it.

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This Weekend’s Mission Sunday Streets Will Be Packed With Fun

Flickr Photo: Matthew Roth

A sunny weather forecast promises an ideal Mother’s Day for the thousands of San Franciscans planning to enjoy Sunday Streets in the Mission District. An extended route this year will be filled with live music and activities, and some of the biggest crowds yet are expected to fill Valencia and 24th Streets, one of the event’s most popular locations.

“This route is packed from end to end,” said Sunday Streets coordinator Susan King.  “We actually ran out of programming room to accommodate all the people who wanted to come out and perform and play, which is a great problem to have.”

Families will have the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day dancing, riding bikes, skating, doing Yoga, painting, and watching performances on streets filled with live music at “nearly every other storefront,” said King.

Around 20,000 people are expected to relax and play along 15 car-free blocks of Valencia Street from 24th Street all the way to Duboce, a welcome extension this year to some of the corridor’s liveliest blocks.

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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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Eyes on the Street: Valencia Streetscape Project Nearly Complete

Valencia_striping.jpgThe new striping on Valencia Street. Photos: Matthew Roth
The near total reconstruction of Valencia Street between 15th and 19th Streets in The Mission over the past year has seemed at times maddening to those who use the street, no matter what mode. From ripped up sidewalks to ripped up pavement, the area has been a construction zone for nearly a year now, causing businesses to bemoan the lack of sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to shimmy along the narrow strips of plywood and concrete that has passed for temporary sidewalks, and leading cyclists to dodge construction vehicles while navigating grooved pavement and large ruts.

Soon all that will feel like a distant memory, as the five blocks recently received a smooth layer of asphalt and over the past few days have been striped for a new lane configuration. To make room for the delightfully wide and sparkly sidewalks, the center median stripes have been replaced by two parallel yellow lines, an arrangement that is sure to make the old median double parkers upset.

While the new pavement is pleasant to ride over, cyclists will quickly realize the new lane configuration doesn't provide them with much new space and doesn't diminish the danger of dooring. If anything, the absence of the center median means delivery vehicles are no longer parking in the media and are using the curb for business, which can pinch the bike lane down and reduce visibility. Knowing drivers who used to pass cyclists with their left wheels in the median will also have less space to pass comfortably. Hopefully that will slow them down so they pass with greater care, but I'm concerned it could add to more conflicts.

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