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    Jym Dyer

    @SF Guest – The “dramatic decline in business” claim is footnoted with a San Francisco Chronicle story from November 16, 1989, not even a month after the earthquake. The Bay Bridge hadn’t even been repaired, yet. Definitely a case of [citation needed].

    It is clear that Chinatown merchants (again not “C-Town” per se) were concerned that business would suffer, but that did not actually materialize.


    Jym Dyer

    @p_chazz – To put a fine point on it, I do see families taking groceries home on Muni, which is why I expect to see it again. I am not a frequent Muni rider, so I don’t think it’s an especially rare event.


    Michael Smith

    This posting completely missed reporting the problems with respect to what the SFMTA is trying to do. Speeding up buses of course is a good thing. Converting existing traffic signal to Transit Preferential Signals is of course a good thing and should have been done a long time ago. But replacing 4-way stops with traffic signals makes the situation much worse, especially for pedestrians. There are far better, more cost effective solutions.

    First of all, Muni is fudging numbers, like they previously did with schedule adherence (check out previous streetsblog articles on that one!). Stop signs don’t slow down vehicles by 18 seconds. If you go out to a few intersections and time the buses you will find that the a bus is typically slowed down by a stop for only a few seconds (certainly less than the claimed 18 seconds). And if your look at a traffic signal, such as the absurdly placed one at Haight and Ashbury, you will see that the signal actually significantly slows down the vehicles. Note that Transit Preferential Signals don’t always give the buses a green light. The SFMTA acknowledges that the lights will hold a signal green at most only for a few seconds. This means that buses will still often stop of those intersections with traffic signals. And note that the SFMTA never sites a real single study showing their numbers are valid.

    And they talk about “synchronizing” signals for buses?? You can’t synchronize signals for buses when buses stop for an indeterminate amount of time at the bus stops. You can synch them for cars, bikes, and sometimes even express buses. But you can’t do so effectively for even Limited buses such as the 5L and the 71.

    And if you talk to them about their “safety” study you will find that they are comparing apples to oranges. They were looking at very different types of intersections compared to the ones they are now proposing to change. Traffic engineering studies have long showed that traffic signals are significantly more dangerous than 4-way stops due to cars speeding through the signals. Just look at the stats. After the last hearing there was yet another serious collision, this time on Laguna. Was it at a 4-way stop? Nope, it was at Laguna and Fulton where there is a traffic signal (as opposed to Fulton and Haight where there is currently a 4-way stop).

    There are other solutions. For some intersections there should simply be no traffic signal nor stop for the buses. That will allow the buses to go right through the intersection without getting stopped at a red light. If pedestrians want to cross they will still be able to without having to wait. Both pedestrians and transit users win. And for the intersections where can’t remove the stop signs for the buses then it is simply not worthwhile to degrade the pedestrian environment for at the most a couple of seconds time saving for the buses. The SFMTA should concentrate on the cost effective improvements including Transit Preferential signaling where there are already signals, bus bulbs, stop consolidation, dedicated right of ways, turn restrictions, etc. Those are solutions that are known to be effective and worthwhile. Note that those improvements are expected to save MINUTES, yet the SFMTA is concentrating on spending funding on the signals which at most improve travel time by a few SECONDS.

    At the last hearing the consensus was universally to make these other cost effective improvements to the 5 and the 71 and to NOT replace the 4-way stops with signals.

    Wow, you read this far? I’m impressed.



    Exactly. I can’t tell you how stressed I get every time there’s an election and I’m compelled to do all this research (that I don’t have time to do, or necessarily know what the best resources are to check) in order to figure out what the hell I am specifically voting for.


    Greg Costikyan

    The 5 does run very slowly, and I can see how this would improve it. I used to bike McAllister every day, though, and my impression was that streetlights exist at every intersection with a high level of cross traffic, and that stop signs were reasonable, given the low level of cross-traffic on less frequented streets. What about two-way rather than four-way stops, with McAllister proceeding by default?



    The N, at least, is having stop signs replaced with “traffic-calming measures” at several intersections.



    Ah, the “letting the public do engineering” black hole.


    david vartanoff

    Rescue Muni asked Muni to do this on the N,K,L, J and M. over a decade ago. Maybe someday…



    Several precincts in the northern part of Chinatown (probably a majority of the neighborhood overall) are shaded dark brown. I guess some other parts of the neighborhood balanced it out.



    It can also be totally NIMBY to be against Prop L and against specific road changes. I’ve seen the type at pretty much every hearing. They are “avid bikers” or have “lots of friends who ride” but the free car parking right in front of their house or business is critical for them, and couldn’t the city please put the bike lane somewhere else?



    This is why Chinatown is pretty much a ghost town to this day.



    wait, I thought the Sunday meter repeal led to Prop A passing?



    Poor guy’s even further now from his monument!


    SF Guest

    Wikipedia supports my position. C-Town was enraged at Agnos who defied the will of the voters to repair SR 480. C-Town including the Broadway strip were infamous for having major gridlock before the earthquake.

    Wouldn’t you be enraged if the SFMTA doesn’t improve the Muni after passing Props A & B?

    “Prior to the earthquake, the Embarcadero Freeway carried approximately 70,000 vehicles daily in the vicinity of the Ferry Building. Another 40,000 vehicles/day used associated ramps at Main and Beale Streets.

    Merchants in Chinatown had suffered a dramatic decline in business in the months immediately following the earthquake and feared that if the freeway was not reopened they would not recover.”



    And conversely to house those people on the peninsula and south bay would require those communities to densify and build appropriate infrastructure, which, by and large, they’ve refused to do for decades. Despite the writing being on the wall to anyone paying attention for at least 50+ years:
    (My San-Jose-dwelling grandparents and Palo-Alto-dwelling great-grandparents were always proud to point out in later years that they fully supported this in the 50s. Apparently they were in the minority)

    Mountain View, for example, still mostly sees itself as a 1950s-style suburban community, despite Google basically begging MV to let them build some apartments:

    If Google can’t get MV to build anything other than single-family homes, no one can.

    This problem was not caused by today’s twentysomething entry-level professionals baffled by how hard it is to find an apartment. It was (and continues to be) caused by their parents/grandparents and their peers whose majority has for decades perpetuated a paradigm of selfish, provincial NIMBYism and outright head-in-sand denial throughout Bay Area communities:
    This has been a problem since at least the 50s




    Looking at the map only one section out of a dozen or so, depending on your definition, of the outer richmond and outer sunset voted for Prop L. The terra cotta color does top out at 50.7% but I would still count that as a no vote since that range starts at 42%. The vast majority of the city voted no, maybe contrasting colors would be more useful for the map and changing the second highest category to 42-49.9% or something.



    It seems to me that Tuesday’s election results also show how misaligned Mayor Lee and his MTA Board were in their repeal of San Francisco’s successful Sunday parking meter program. As streetsblog has repeatedly pointed out, the actions of Mayor Lee (and the majority of his MTA Board) undermined Muni and emboldened an irrational and vitriolic fringe of the electorate.


    Dave Moore

    It’s can be totally consistent to have been both against Prop L and against specific road changes. Attacking anyone who challenges a change with “because L” is in no way justified. Prop L was bad in pretty much all ways. Non-binding, poorly conceived, bad math, misrepresenting facts. I voted against it for those reasons but especially because of its awful parking arguments, which have been pretty much disproved everywhere.

    But, that doesn’t mean I support every single road change that benefits cyclists. I do support some, but there are plenty that are also poorly conceived with bad math and misrepresent facts. Each should be evaluated on those and other elements.



    You mean those people in Walnut Creek taking BART 30-35 miles to work down that train line?

    To base those folks in SF we’d need to build a lot more office space – which can be at the expense of building more housing. And then we’d be left with empty office space in Mountain View.

    Those commutes are not ideal but can be mitigated by mass transit of whatever form. Or by simply reversing the course Marisa Meyer has decided upon and really encourage telecommuting.



    What is ironic? Perhaps it is problematic that companies are basing themselves down in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View. This is changing. Give it 10 years and folks will be based in SF and everyone can take the BART to work.



    Just emailed that address–thanks!



    Thanks for the updates and dates! With work it can be difficult to make it to things on weekdays during work hours but I’ll definitely keep on checking in and see what I can make it to.

    And yes, Bobby G’s the best :D


    Upright Biker

    You know, when I was very young, “Four Dead in Ohio” was enough to propel a national movement that dramatically altered politics as usual. Why is it that “Scores Dead in SFO” doesn’t seem to have the same resonance for our political leaders?

    Enough people have suffered. Enough people have died. More than enough of The People have spoken, and Ed Lee has got to step up and make good on the promises he made to us to keep us safe while simply walking on our own streets.



    Are these the same people that get on buses and commute 30-35 miles down 101 to work in Menlo Park & Mtn.View ? How Ironic?


    School shame

    Snag all the pictures off of our Safety Zone facebook page that you like. We have police, school buses, City workers all parked in the red zone and even OVER crosswalks.





    Jym Dyer

    @SF Guest – There was in fact no major decline in business, no deep wounds whatsoever. Agnos suggested the Central Subway as a sop to a group of Chinatown merchants (not to be confused with Chinatown itself), but they rejected it. Willie Brown would later respin this as a “promise” to “Chinatown.”



    The third time is the charm…



    Even though the supporters of prop L raised more money than the opponents ($115K vs. $28K), it was still chump change. Realtor groups raised $1.2 million to fight prop G, and big soda raised a whopping $7.7 million to fight prop E.

    I expect that a multi-million dollar campaign supporting prop L might have swung it the other way.

    Too bad for prop L supporters, there are no rich corporations with a stake in seeing free parking provided to entitled drivers at taxpayers’ expense. Ha ha.



    Completely agree, as an architect myself I know first hand the pitfalls of planning by committee.



    As someone who lived in Ingleside for a couple of years I agree. Sure, there will always be some use cases (such as, say, a less-abled person living on a big hill not directly served by a Muni bus line) where driving really makes a lot more sense. I’m not talking about that.

    Truth be told, car-centric infrastructure promotes a lot of laughably pointless driving. Once, while walking home from the 24 Hour Fitness on Ocean Ave–only about a half mile away–my neighbor stopped me and in amazement asked, “you WALK to the gym? Don’t you know the 24 here has parking?! I can give you a ride next time!”

    I hadn’t noticed before that exchange but then observed in subsequent weeks how my (very fully abled) neighbor would drive the same half-mile every day to…the gym of all places. Where he’d spend 30 minutes often doing only very light cardio, then drive home :p

    Countless of these ridiculous trips happen every day by people who do it just because the infrastructure encourages it, not because it particularly makes much sense.

    Meanwhile, the “best” bike improvements in the area are still just “buffers” (by nothing but paint…so, not actually buffered) and even sharrows on a Freeway In All But Name:

    Not 8-to-80



    Thanks for saying that. I agree with your other ideas and as a first step a group of citizens (myself included) in the Portola are working to secure funding for a study to address the Alemany Maze by reconnecting the neighborhoods around it with pedestrian & bike paths. I’ve also been thinking that the 101 right of way that rips through the city could be reimagined as a connector rather than a separator by adding walking paths/bike lanes along the side (fully seperated of course) and perhaps BRT lanes. It would link Vis Valley, Candlestick,Bayview, Portola, Silver Terrace, Bernal. Mission & Potrero directly with SOMA and Downtown by using speedy bus service and a flat and direct bike route/walking path, always seems like a waste that the flat and direct cut through by 101 was only used for cars.



    The map has been misinterpreted as “these neighborhoods supported L” which is a falsehood and should be made clear.



    Look, there is no way to get from Park Merced to the Golden Gate Park on transit reasonably. Ignore the fact that Park Merced is across the street from Lake Merced.

    The craziest thing about car culture in a world of congestion is that it’s opened up the possibility of getting to far flung places that are probably no more interesting that the places nearby, at the cost of hours of time, of money, and sanity.

    I’m not dismissing taking a trip to Yosemite, but I really find it odd the false economies of my neighbors in Healdsburg who make Costco runs to the southern edge of Santa Rosa, paying $15 in gas and 2 hours of their time to save maybe $20 on their groceries, much of which gets spoiled because they save money by buying in quantities they can’t cosume before it goes bad. How will I get to Costco indeed.


    SF Guest

    Is there a difference between being less fervently against it vs. being more fervently against it? Isn’t it enough to say they did not support L?



    Fair point. I didn’t mean to disrespect Portola. My brother-in-law lives there, and I like spending time in the neighborhood, but getting there is always unpleasant due to the hulking 101/280 interchange.

    I would love to see 280 removed all the way back to this interchange so that the two pairs of flyover ramps in the south side of the interchange could be removed. In the nearer term, HOT lanes on 101 would provide congestion free lanes for the 8X to use, which would greatly improve reliability.



    Lots of people who currently think that they “need” their cars can actually do most or all of their trips some other way, and would be better off doing so. The current challenge for the movement is bringing them around. I am sure it can be done.


    John Rogers

    I’d like to see a journalist dig into the Yes on L campaign. Everything I’ve heard from them points to a case of chronic Bikelash gone ballistic. The whole Sunday parking thing was a red herring. The level of cynical manipulation is stunning.


    Jamison Wieser

    Sigh… now you’re just going to be insufferable: reason, truth, and now you’re probably going to start claiming you represent the majority view!

    A majority view based on nothing more than studies, surveys and a majority vote on just about every transit/bike ballot measure that’s been put up for a vote.



    “Support for prop L” – make sure you look at that map. Only the darkest colored areas had a majority for L, and even those it was slimmer than the overall majority against



    They did not support L. They were just less fervently against it.

    This thing went down 62-37



    :-) Dearest Bobby G. We have quite a fun Twitter thing goin on.

    ‘are there any upcoming Folks for Polk activities going on?’ Check our Facebook page for events. It’s mostly quiet now as we wait as EIR hurdles are cleared, thence for the redesign to be presented to the MTA Board sometime Jan. or Feb. Meanwhile, we continue to attend meetings that matter, including with our sworn enemies (not fun but crucial to do). FFP is in the #VisionZero SF Coalition/Task Force and we encourage everyone to be involved w/ that – Tomorrow at 10 am is a Call to Action & Memorial and on 18 Nov. the Van Ness BRT will come before the MTA Board so we’re calling on as many as possible to be there as we expect kickback from the no-to-change types.



    We’re scheduling with the lawyer. If you’d like in, contact at



    I’ve wondered that exact same thing for awhile–now that even NACTO and Caltrans are on board with protected infra and LOS can’t torpedo projects anymore, at what point can the city be sued for negligence for *not* implementing these best (or better) practices when they’re clearly there?

    It seems increasingly there’d be a strong legal case for this. It’s absurd and, well, *negligent* that proven better, safer designs aren’t getting built due to capitulation to a selfish vocal minority.



    As the usage of the 1CA line confirms. It may be more accurate to say that it’s as much a factor of generation and distance in time from time of immigration.



    Thanks! Feel free to use the text–I don’t own any of the images but can cite them:

    –> Video, Michael Andersen, People for Bikes

    –> Polk image 1, “Bob Gunderson”

    –> Polk image 2, SFMTA

    –> Graphic, Copenhagenize

    Also, are there any upcoming Folks for Polk activities going on? Great group!



    Same goes for biking, actually. Same perception: “no one bikes over here, we must own a car”. Simple way to disprove: build bike lanes to encourage more bike riders.



    Yep. And I hate to say it, but planning by committee really, really needs to stop. I know everyone would scream bloody murder at the ‘arrogant bureaucrats’ for actually following through on designs drawn up by the Planning Department, but seriously, when are we collectively going to wake up and realize how ugly neighborhoods affect all of us? Freeways and treeless barren stretches discourage pedestrians via noise, dirty air, and whipping winds, so fewer eyes on the street —> vandalism, crime, blight, economic malaise.

    Keeping housing prices low via civic neglect: An idea born in the 1950s. Time to move on.



    Now that I think of it, I don’t think the issue of Chinese Americans wanting to own cars is really cultural. I think it’s because when they moved here in recent years, they feel like they need to drive to get around because they feel Americans prioritize driving (and I will add that this is true, from family experience). This has been mostly true in the past half century, with car-oriented, non-pedestrian-friendly streets, and it’s especially perceived to be true as they continue to move into car-oriented, transit-poor (by this I mean in terms of passenger crowding, not frequency of buses) neighborhoods like the Portola and VIsitacion Valley. Simply increasing transit access (like frequency and reliability) and making it comfortable will destroy the cultural mentality that Chinese/Asian Americans want cars. In the end, everyone wants equitable access to transportation, but it’s possible that some groups don’t have access to adequate tools needed to advocate for these improvements. Aspiring to own a car isn’t necessarily rooted in culture, it’s part of the social construction of the mainstream.



    Surely the support for Prop L derives from those parts of the city where cars are essential for mobility. That doesn’t necessarily dovetail with affluent conservative areas

    So for instance nobody would regard the far south of the city as conservative or affluent. After all, John Avalos is their Supervisor. But that area is very car-dependant and they are not going to vote to cut off their nose to spite their face.

    People who can easily walk to work should not be seen trying to lecture those who live further out and need their cars, at least with the present transit infrastructure.

    So I do not think the PR battle has been won outside of the central core of that map.