City transportation staffers enjoy the astroturfed plaza created on the Stevenson Street alley as part of the Twitter building’s renovation. Photo: Jessica Kuo
A plaza is bustling with life several months after its creation on a segment of the Stevenson Street alleyway at 10th Street, next to the Twitter offices.
The “Market Square” plaza is a privately-owned public open space built as part of Twitter’s office construction and renovations. That intersection of the mid-Market, SoMa, and Civic Center areas was relatively dead just a few years ago before unoccupied buildings and lots were filled by condo buildings like NEMA and tech companies like Twitter and Uber. Occupying the floor of Twitter’s building next to the alley is “The Market,” a grocery store and food hall complete with tech-salary prices.
Today, the plaza serves as a gathering space filled largely with a mix of tech workers and city government employees coming from nearby offices to enjoy some coffee. (Is there any more effective way to populate a pedestrianized alley than by opening a Blue Bottle?)
Stevenson’s previous iterations, as seen in 2007 (left) and 2012 (right). Photos: Google Street View
SFPD officers were posted at the bottom of the hill on Page Street at Octavia Boulevard this morning ticketing bike commuters who squeezed to the left of stopped cars. Freeway-bound drivers routinely queue up to turn right, occupying several blocks of Page’s only eastbound traffic lane.
“It’s adding insult to injury,” said Jason Henderson, a board member of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association and author of “Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco.”
“Bicyclists don’t want to be doing that,” Henderson said. “It’s because the city has shirked its moral responsibility and left bicyclists to fend for themselves at that intersection.”
Squeezing to the left on Page, where the oncoming westbound traffic lane is mostly empty, has been normal for years and hasn’t been known to cause any crashes. The SFMTA has actually proposed a partial center-running bike lane on Page to legitimize the behavior as part of street improvements on and around Octavia.
A typical queue of cars on Page Street at Octavia Boulevard. Photo: Aaron Bialick
SF agencies opened a newly re-aligned freeway ramp yesterday that lands on Fremont at Folsom Street. The ramp fix came in at a cost of $5,274,000, nearly twice the original estimate of $2,883,900.
The design of the original Highway 80 off-ramp, installed after the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway to whisk drivers from the Bay Bridge into east SoMa, was widely considered a mistake.
The purpose of the realignment project, as stated by the SF County Transportation Authority, was to change “the off-ramp configuration to function better as a gateway into a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood,” as well as to reduce the footprint of the ramp to make room for a building development.
The old ramp configuration, which shot car traffic diagonally into the intersection of Fremont and Folsom, represented the type of 20th-century freeway engineering that has made for deadly intersections along Highway 80 through SoMa. The ramp forked as it touched down, consuming additional land and encouraging drivers to merge onto Fremont without stopping.
The new ramp doesn’t split in two, instead landing mid-block at a perpendicular angle to Fremont, where there’s now a traffic signal.
The ramp fix was originally supposed to wrap up in January, but crews discovered that the soil was more heavily contaminated than expected with lead and motor oil [PDF], much of it likely from the heavy motor traffic passing by. That drove up the costs, along with “unexpected” changes in Caltrans engineering standards, planners said.
33rd Avenue at Cabrillo Street in the Outer Richmond. Photo: Google Street View
Updated 6/22 with the name of the driver.
The SFPD has filed misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges against the truck driver who killed 61-year-old Rose Kelly in a crosswalk in the Outer Richmond yesterday afternoon. It’s now up to District Attorney George Gascón to follow through with the prosecution.
Kelly was walking east in a crosswalk on Cabrillo Street at 33rd Avenue when she was hit by a GMC truck driver at 1:21 p.m, SFPD told the SF Chronicle and Bay City News. Kelly died from chest and head injuries at SF General Hospital.
Kelly was killed at an intersection with four-way stop signs, where pedestrians always have the right-of-way in a crosswalk. [Update] SFPD officials confirmed that the charges were filed against the driver, Bing Zuo Wu, a 62-year-old SF resident.
Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Ferrara said the organization “sends our regards to the family and friends who are mourning the loss of Rose Kelly, who was killed by a large vehicle driver who failed to yield.”
“It’s a stark reminder that large vehicles result in more severe crashes than smaller vehicles,” Ferrara noted, pointing out that the SFMTA is in “the final stages of developing a large vehicle training curriculum” announced in February. “It’s in the best interest of companies that use large vehicles to require that all employees take this training.”
The SFMTA originally proposed extending King’s striped bike lanes (one of its 24 Vision Zero projects). But the agency instead decided to remove all bike infrastructure on the street until concrete changes can be made.
The existing bike lanes are narrow and disappear suddenly, which “is not comfortable for people biking,” said SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose. “By directing people to bike on Townsend or the Embarcadero Promenade, we can improve safety for people biking and reduce confusion in the area.”
“In the long-term,” said Jose, the agency “will be examining how biking can be improved in the area through the larger-scale Embarcadero Enhancement Project,” which could bring protected bike lanes along the waterfront years down the road. In the meantime, the agency’s “goal is to encourage people biking in the area to use Townsend when appropriate.”
The SF Bicycle Coalition isn’t fighting the removal of King’s painted bike lanes. But Communications Director Chris Cassidy said it “highlights the importance of protected bike lanes on Townsend.”
Construction on the project was previously expected to start this year, according to a city staff presentation from last June [PDF]. At the time, an interim version of the streetscape redesign would have included only a protected bike lane in the eastbound direction, with three lanes for cars, converted for two-way traffic.
The plans are now set to be constructed in 2016, and they’ve been upgraded “because of Vision Zero,” according to Paul Chasan of the Planning Department.
“The new design calls for a two-lane street and a cycle track, which is going to make it a much safer pedestrian environment,” Chasan told a supervisors committee at a recent meeting. (“Cycle track” is the city’s term for protected bike lanes.) “It’s going to make it a high-quality space.”
With the upgrades, 28 riders will have roomier bus stops and faster service. Photo: SFMTA [PDF]
Muni’s 28-19th Avenue will get a speed boost from bus bulbs and stop consolidations approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors yesterday. The upgrades, part of the Muni Forward program, are expected to be constructed starting in the fall of 2016 and completed by 2018.
On 19th Avenue, the 28 currently stops on nearly every block, and buses must pull over to the curb to reach passengers, then wait for a break in traffic to continue. If they’re lucky, bus riders won’t hit a red light soon after.
Under the approved plans [PDF], the 28 will operate like it does on Park Presidio in the Richmond: Stops will be spaced every other block, and sidewalk extensions will let the buses remain in the traffic lane while they stop — no more merging in and out. In addition, stops will be moved to the far side of five intersections so buses can clear traffic signals before passengers board. Signals will also have transit priority to reduce the amount of time buses wait at reds.
Riders who squeeze onto the 28 — many of whom are SF State University students — can expect their trips to get quicker and less crowded. Between Lincoln Way and Junipero Serra Boulevard, local buses would speed up by 20 percent on average, or 5 minutes in each direction. The 28 local’s average speed of 9.2 MPH would increase to 12.2 MPH.
“I’ve always felt like a lottery winner when I see a 28-[Rapid bus] pull up,” said SFMTA Board member Joél Ramos. “That route is so painfully slow.”
The 28-Rapid, which already makes fewer stops, would speed up by 1.5 minutes in each direction, and its hours would be extended. The rapid currently runs during a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon. Under the new plan it would operate continuously from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m (however, that’s a reduction from the previous proposal of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.). 28-Rapid buses would no longer stop at Lincoln Way or Sloat Boulevard, though local buses would.
STREET PARKING BELONGS TO HAYES VALLEY RESIDENTS NOT TO FOREIGN (CANADA– GETAROUND—ZIPCAR HERTZ A DELWARE CORPORATION EXEMPT FROM PARKING TICKETS
At the risk of taking this all too seriously, a quick Google search reveals that Getaround, which lets people rent their cars to their neighbors, is based in San Francisco, though its vice president of marketing was born in Canada (A-HA!). ZipCar is based in Boston, and owned by New Jersey-based Avis, not Florida-based Hertz — but we digress.
No word yet on whether the car owners who take up the other 99 percent of Hayes Valley’s curb spaces are 100 percent native San Franciscans with a legitimate birthright to free parking.
A public meeting in North Beach became tense yesterday as residents and firefighters opposed to basic street safety measures continued to assert that sidewalk bulb-outs are dangerous. To appease skeptics, the SFMTA announced that the bulb-outs planned at four intersections on Columbus Avenue will be tested first by installing painted “safety zones” in August. Construction of concrete versions will begin next year.
A sidewalk extension on Columbus Avenue at Washington Square Park. One man complained yesterday that “there should be a warning saying that you are now much closer” to motor traffic. Photo: SFMTA
The Columbus bulb-outs were approved months ago, and have already been heavily watered-down during a planning process that’s lasted years. The SF Fire Department signed off on them as safe for turning fire trucks.
The bulb-outs “being proposed for Columbus Avenue are not that scary,” said D3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, who told attendees she convinced the SFMTA to implement the painted versions as a trial. “We’ve been looking at all these really carefully… modifications were made, and what we’ve got now is kind of a river stone that’s been smoothed over by all kinds of forces.”
“Nobody that I know is particularly freaked out by what we ended up with,” she added. “But just to make sure, we’re going to paint these on the street. And if somehow, something comes up with the templates, and the reviews, and the tens of hours of community meetings that was not brought to our attention, I guarantee I will go and fix it.”
It was the second recent meeting about bulb-outs held by North Beach Neighbors. At the first meeting on April 30, Hoodline reported, members of SF Fire Fighters Union Local 798 protested life-saving curb extensions claiming they hinder fire trucks. Since that meeting, the union’s president also sent a letter [PDF] to SFFD Chief Johanne Hayes-White calling the department’s approvals of bulb-outs “very troubling.”
Unlike the first meeting, officials from SFFD and the SFMTA made presentations and answered questions on the issue, which seemed to quell fears among some attendees.
A few people remained unconvinced, however, and raised their voices. Here’s one of the arguments between an opponent and SFMTA planner Oliver Gajda, about whether it’s safe to assume that trucks can turn around bulb-outs without conducting a field test:
Firefighter Tony Rivera also repeated an anecdote to scare people about the prospect of wider sidewalks that he told at the April meeting, according to Hoodline.
At Columbus and Union Streets, where the block of sidewalk along Washington Square Park was extended last year to make the bus stop more efficient, Rivera said he became alarmed when his six-year-old son bent down to pick up a penny at the curb.
The “Alemany Maze,” the deadly Highway 101 and 280 interchange in the southeast city, could get a safer crossing for walking and biking. Funding to study a walking path and bike lanes through the junction was approved this week by the SF County Transportation Authority Board of Directors, comprised of the Board of Supervisors.
The study, set to be completed by next June, will look at creating a “multi-modal pathway” where residents already cross the “nasty mess of ramps” to reach the Alemany Farmers Market, SFCTA planner Colin Dentel-Post told an SFCTA board committee this week.
“People currently use an informal pathway and dangerous, unsignalized crossings through the interchange,” he said. The maze “creates a barrier between the surrounding neighborhoods, including the Bernal, Portola, Bayview, and Silver Terrace neighborhoods.”
The $100,000 approved for the study was requested by D9 Supervisor David Campos. Campos was apparently swayed by the Portola Neighborhood Association to push for a safer crossing, according to a recent post by Chris Waddling at D10 Watch.
Waddling, chair of the SFCTA Citizens Advisory Committee representing District 10, lauded the advancement of the project: