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Posts from the "Golden Gate Park" Category

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SFMTA to Ban Cars on Kezar, Stanyan, Haight Street for 4/20 This Sunday

Upper Haight Street, Stanyan Street, and Kezar Drive will be closed to cars for 4/20. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The SFMTA announced that cars will be banned on several major streets for the 4/20 gathering on the east end of Golden Gate Park this Sunday.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., cars will be banned on Kezar Drive, Stanyan Street between Frederick and Oak Streets, and Haight Street between Masonic Avenue and Stanyan.

Drivers swarming the area for the event — many from out of town and not necessarily in their sharpest state of mind — typically create a traffic mess in and around the eastern park. Illegal parking is rampant, Muni is brought to a halt, and sidewalks fill up. The car closures, the first of their kind for 4/20, could help simplify traffic flow, keep transit moving, and provide ample room for wandering.

Muni buses will be allowed through the pedestrianized streets, the SFMTA said, but “personnel from SFPD and SFMTA will determine to re-route Muni buses as crowds grow. Muni bus re-routes will be expected to begin at approximately 3 p.m.”

Supervisor London Breed and SFPD Chief Greg Suhr also held a press conference Wednesday to tell 4/20 revelers to keep things under control, promising a crackdown on parking violations.

Since 4/20 falls on a Sunday this year, the de facto Sunday Streets network will be complemented by the weekly car closure on John F. Kennedy Drive.

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29-Sunset to Get Muni-Only Left-Turn Lane at Lincoln and 19th Ave

A draft plan from 2007 for a left-turn Muni lane (bottom) at Lincoln Way and 19th Ave./Crossover Drive. The SFMTA says the project will finally be implemented by this summer. Image: SFCTA

Muni’s 29-Sunset line will get an exclusive left-turn lane this summer at Lincoln Way and 19th Ave., allowing buses to skip an egregiously slow detour around the block, which it currently makes before heading north into Golden Gate Park. Left turns at the intersection are currently prohibited, and will remain so for other traffic.

A northbound 29 bus seen crossing Lincoln on to Crossover Drive after completing a loop around the block. With the new left-turn lane, the bus will be able to reach Crossover directly. Photo: MuniDave/Flickr

Ride the 29 northbound today, and you’ll experience how frustrating it can be — at Lincoln and 20th Avenue, the bus turns right, then left onto a congested block of Irving Street, then left again on to 19th, then it makes a stop at Lincoln before heading into the park, where 19th becomes Crossover Drive. The whole thing takes anywhere from three to seven minutes, according to the SFMTA.

The new left-turn lane will untie this time-consuming knot, allowing Muni to make a direct left turn on to Crossover, where the existing stop at 19th and Lincoln will be moved into Golden Gate Park.

This improvement, which is notably not part of the Muni Transit Effectiveness Project (it precedes the TEP), has been in the works for at least seven years. SFMTA planner Cheryl Liu explained in an email that it faced a series of delays, including being “placed on hold” when the agency made budget cuts in 2009:

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Great Highway Re-Paving to Come With Minor Bike-Ped Upgrades

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The Great Highway, the motorway that divides Ocean Beach from the Outer Sunset and Richmond, is set to get some bike lane and pedestrian improvements north of Lincoln Way as part of a nine-month re-paving project started this week by the Department of Public Works.

The 6-foot painted bike lanes planned between Lincoln and Cabrillo Street would be an addition to the original SF Bike Plan [PDF], which only called for bike lanes north of Cabrillo and along the length of Point Lobos Avenue. Last Friday, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency gave preliminary approval at a public hearing to extend the lanes south to Lincoln past Golden Gate Park, and the project is expected to receive final approval from the agency’s board of directors at an upcoming meeting.

While much more remains to be done to create a safer, less car-dominated Great Highway (see SPUR’s long-term vision, which includes fewer traffic lanes and a two-way, protected beach-side bikeway), the bike lanes and pedestrian refuge islands will provide some improvements in the meantime.

SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum praised the SFMTA’s adjustments to the Bike Plan, calling it “a great example of city staff working together to layer bicycling, walking, and traffic calming improvements into a repaving project, so that the benefits are tripled.”

“If this project is approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors, we will have a much more ‘complete street’ along this section of the now-intimidating Great Highway, and all road users will benefit,” she said.

The road space for the bike lanes will be created by narrowing the Great Highway’s four traffic lanes. Point Lobos Avenue, which runs by the Cliff House, will go on a road diet under the Bike Plan, with two of its four traffic lanes replaced with median space and a buffered bike lane in the northbound direction. The southbound, downhill traffic lane is only slated to receive sharrows.

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SFMTA Report: JFK Protected Bike Lanes Have Calmed Park Traffic

Speeds have dropped by two to three miles per hour for cars and bikes, according to a new SFMTA report.

John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park is a bit calmer since it was reconfigured for San Francisco’s first parking-protected bike lane – and a majority of people like the change, according to a preliminary report [PDF] recently released by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency.

Since JFK was redesigned, average speeds are down by two to three MPH for both bikes and cars, the report says. The perception of safety for bicycling and driving went up significantly, though for walking, it went down a few percentage points.

“It’s having a calming effect in Golden Gate Park overall,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “Given the environment of a park, that’s a good thing to see.”

The bike lanes are the first in the city to be placed between the curb and parked cars, separated by a buffer zone — a configuration that other cities have employed to help more people feel safe riding bikes. Although traffic counts won’t be reported until the release of the SFMTA’s final report early next year, they’re expected to show a significant jump in bicycle ridership. Shahum said the SFBC has heard strong anecdotal evidence that the lanes are attracting new riders who didn’t feel comfortable riding between parked cars and moving cars under the old configuration.

“If anything, Golden Gate Park should be the ideal location for people who are new to bicycling or who want to build up their comfort level,” said Shahum. “I think it’s really great to see that the JFK Drive bikeway is having that positive, intended impact.”

When the redesign was first implemented, it saw its share of complaints, especially as drivers adjusted to the novelty of parking away from the curb. In the SFMTA’s survey, conducted through interviews in the park and online submissions, 87 percent of respondents now say they understood the configuration.

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Wheelchair Pedestrian Critically Injured at JFK and 8th Ave. in GG Park

Photo: Aaron Bialick

We should never have to report about a traffic injury in Golden Gate Park, but as long as cars are allowed, there will be stories like this one.

A man in a wheelchair was critically injured by a car driver Tuesday evening on John F. Kennedy Drive near 8th Avenue in Golden Gate Park. The crash was reported at 8:31 p.m., according to Bay City News as published by SF Appeal. The driver, a 27-year-old man, reportedly stayed at the scene, and there’s no word yet on whether he will be cited. The man’s injuries are considered life-threatening, the SFPD told BCN.

In a comment on Streetsblog, Andy Thornley said he came upon the scene of the crash about ten minutes after it occurred, where he saw “lots of emergency vehicles and EMTs treating someone on the ground” and “a wheelchair in the road, on its back, wheels in the air.” An SFPD officer told Thornley that “the person in the wheelchair had been behaving in an ‘aberrant’ manner, weaving in and out of the roadway with cars dodging him, people had already called the police a couple of times to report him before he was finally hit by a car.”

We have a request into the SFPD for more info on the crash. We’ll update this post as we learn more.

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The Outside Lands Transpo Crunch: Bringing 65K People Per Day to GG Park

For the fifth year, San Francisco’s transportation system will absorb one of its largest floods of travelers when 65,000 daily attendees descend upon Golden Gate Park this weekend for the three-day Outside Lands music festival.

With festival goers traveling from near and far, promoters have tried each year to curb the number of people arriving by car, providing shuttles, bike valet and rows of bike racks, while “strongly encouraging” visitors on the event’s website to come by means other than driving.

Still, with many driving from across California and beyond, thousands of cars will inundate the park and the surrounding neighborhoods, and Muni vehicles will be packed. Although little data on mode share is available from the organizers (they’re apparently slammed preparing for the event), a representative said they expect close to 20 percent of people to come by shuttle or bike. That leaves about 52,000 people either driving, taking transit, or walking to Golden Gate Park.

Despite shuttles provided to and from Civic Center, as well as extra Muni service, the N-Judah, 5, and 71 lines are expected to be packed throughout the day. During the first event in 2008, Muni added 118 buses over the weekend, according to SFist, which reported that some riders waited 45 minutes just to board. This year, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said Muni will add limited-stop buses on the 5-Fulton from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. each day of the event, as well as inbound N-Judah Express buses on Friday night from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Rose said Outside Lands organizers “have offered to fund at least some of the extra service,” though the specific plans for service haven’t been finalized yet. Muni staff will also sell off-board tickets at the Civic Center and 4th and King Caltrain stations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to speed up boardings.

Outside Lands’ distant location from downtown (its name derives from the formerly undeveloped expanse of dunes) means it lacks the advantage of being within walking distance of BART and Caltrain, which other major events enjoy.

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As SFMTA Adds Finishing Touches, JFK Bike Lanes Remain Awesome

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Photos: Aaron Bialick

Three months after San Francisco’s first parking-protected bike lanes were striped on John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, the street continues to thrive as a calmer, safer place all users. The flocks of people using the lanes this summer appear to include more families than ever, and by and large, drivers and pedestrians seem to have adapted well to the new configuration.

The SFMTA finally completed some finishing touches last week to improve the connections between the new lanes and the Panhandle, which had been delayed. An SFMTA staffer said there had been mix-ups in the street painting schedule.

The initial confusion and complaints among drivers using the new arrangement, which places parked cars to the left of the bike lane, seem to have dissipated. In May, the SFMTA stenciled “No Parking” markings in the buffer zones to deter drivers from parking where the road narrows and there is no room for parked cars. The measure appears to have been highly effective, and the remaining illegal parking seems mostly limited to the area around weekly evening events at the de Young Museum and Academy of Sciences.

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New Bike and Pedestrian Signal Activated at Page and Stanyan Streets

Photo: Aaron Bialick

A new bicycle and pedestrian traffic signal was spotted in action at Page and Stanyan Streets last Friday, one month after it was installed.

People can already be seen making use of the dedicated crossing time, riding and walking to and from the entrance to Golden Gate Park. Previously, crossing four-lane Stanyan meant they had to wait for cars to pass or risk stepping out in front of them, counting on drivers to yield (as they’re legally required to).

The signals appear to change fairly frequently in coordination with the other signals along Stanyan, and they did not include push-activated pedestrian buttons. A bicycle sensor should also be in the ground, according to the project plans, though there aren’t any markings for it yet.

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JFK Protected Bike Lanes Get Seal of Approval From the Bike-Savvy Dutch

The SF Bicycle Coalition's Andy Thornley leads the Dutch-orange bike caravan on John F. Kennedy Drive. Photo: Aaron Bialick

This year’s celebration of the Dutch Queen’s Day in San Francisco was a bit special.

When the event’s 100-or-so celebrants traversed the city by bike in the second annual “Market-to-Mill” ride (Market Street to the Dutch windmill in Golden Gate Park, a.k.a the Bay to Beach route), the orange-clad caravan traveled through San Francisco’s first bicycle lanes designed with a Dutch standard of safety in mind.

Bart van Bolhuis, Consulate General of the Netherlands, told Streetsblog that riding the new parking-protected bike lanes on John F. Kennedy Drive felt like cycling in his home country. “Especially biking with 100 people dressed up in orange,” he added.

Bart van Bolhuis, Consulate General of the Netherlands. Photo: Aaron Bialick

A key feature of the JFK bikeway, Bolhuis pointed out, is the buffer area which separates bicycle riders from the door zone and provides space for people getting in and out of their cars. Most conventional bike lanes in San Francisco place riders in the path of opening car doors on one side and passing cars on the other. Drivers also make regular incursions into the bike lane to maneuver into parking spaces or double park. That creates an obstacle course that’s too stressful for most people to ride in. By placing bicyclists to the right of parked cars, JFK is the first street in San Francisco designed to accommodate car parking while eliminating those hazards.

“People have to feel safe on their bikes, and these kinds of bike lanes are very helpful,” said Bolhuis. “The most important thing is that it will create safety, and the feeling of safety, for other kinds of bicyclists as well — mothers with children, elderly people — and that’s something we have to establish in this city, not only for the brave, but also for the people who want to bike in nature, or to school.”

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It’s Not That Hard to Find People Who Like the JFK Bikeway

Just a hunch: Might the kids riding in front of Stanley's camera like the new bike lane? Image: KRON 4

Much has been made about the “strangeness” of San Francisco’s first parking-protected bike lane in Golden Gate Park, which employs the type of design that other American cities are increasingly using to improve safety and raise bicycling rates.

As someone who lives next to Golden Gate Park, I’ve been going out of my way to ride on John F. Kennedy Drive almost every day since the easternmost section was installed a few weeks ago. The sense of safety and dignity that the protected bikeway affords is highly enjoyable. And day by day, as more drivers grow acclimated to the new arrangement and fewer block the bike lane, I’ve watched a growing number of children and casual bicyclists enjoy riding on a calmer, quieter street in a space that truly belongs to them.

Callie, 7, gives the new bikeway a thumbs-up. Photo: Aaron Bialick

There are ample signs that drivers are getting used to it. In fact, after crews striped the second of three sections yesterday between the de Young Museum and Stow Lake Drive, I found all the cars parked where they’re supposed to be.

Still, floating parking lanes are new to San Francisco, and some members of our local media just can’t resist sensationalizing this transitional phase, focusing on the initial complaints of a few people who aren’t used to it yet. When KRON’s Stanley Roberts went out to JFK Drive last week, he seemingly ignored the swaths of riders, young and old, who use the reconfigured lane. “It was hard for us to find someone who likes it,” he told viewers.

Well, it wasn’t hard for me as I made my way along JFK Drive yesterday. Pretty quickly, I found Colleen and her 7-year-old daughter Callie, who live in the Inner Richmond and regularly bike in the park twice a day. They said the new separation from cars makes them feel safer.

“I think that once the car drivers get used to it, it’ll be easier,” Colleen said. “Right now, they’re confused, and once they understand they’re not supposed to park in the bike lane, it’ll be good.”

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