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    I don’t think you’re grasping the whole Induced bit. When you build out for people driving in SOV’s from their sprawling ranch homes which need 8 lanes in each direction, that’s what you’ll get. But I’m not a lecturer or book on the topic.



    Anyone who drives ten minutes to save a half cent in sales tax, and isn’t making a huge purchase such as a new car, is not acting in their financial interest.

    Likewise, anyone who drives 400 miles to save 9.5% in sales tax, and isn’t making a huge purchase such as a new car, is not acting in their financial interest.



    After the first PBA go around with public outreach, which resulted in public conflict and push back, they are trying again, hoping with this update to appear more approachable. What remains is still a orchestrated event designed to prevent opposition to the MTC/ABAG view of the future, and channel participants into their “scenarios”. Classic Delphi Technique methodology.



    I’d build up the east-side of SF to Manhattan/Hong Kong densities, but the voters won’t have it.



    If the sales tax prop passes in SF in November then the sales tax rate in SF will leapfrog that in San Mateo, so I’d guess there will be more ten minute trips down 280 to Serramonte, not less.

    Or more road trips up I-5 to the malls of Medford, OR, where there is no sales tax.

    Or more non-Amazon on-line purchases, ditto.



    Yes, we’re pushing the boundaries of capacity. The most pragmatic options are to build more infill housing, retail, and commercial space. This is currently happening all over the bay area. One of the side effects of increased density is reduced distance between various endpoints for typical trips because more options are popping up within a fixed radius as the area’s density increases. That makes less glamorous but more efficient options like walking, biking, and bus transit more viable which in turn counteracts the increase congestion from increased density.

    To move more people we can cheaply allocate lane space to more efficient modes. Not glamorous or ideal, but it gets the job done. Eventually you reach a density where better transit like subways make financial sense.

    Part of the solution is a matter of residents adapting their lifestyle. For example today there are thousands of kids who commute dozens of miles daily to private schools and after school activities. That’s just plain silly and a waste of both kids and their parent’s time, especially when that daily journey passes right by closer alternatives that are just as good.

    Shopping habits can change. Delivery services and finer grained shopping alternatives will crop up to address the needs.

    Our current lifestyles have a lot of room to improve efficiency without sacrificing quality.



    Do we sprawl even more? Do we infill and build high in SF, where the roads cannot be widened, slapping down all the NIMBY’s, and build several Central Subways?

    Those are pretty much the two alternatives, with various shades of grey in between. Which one do you choose?



    what’s the alternative?

    Maybe San Francsiscans will stop shopping at Serramonte and start shopping in their neighborhood again. Communism, I know.



    Your problem is that you’re equating “new people” with “new vehicles”. The former is pretty much inevitable, the latter is not.

    Let’s say you have 1 million people in a metropolitan area, 80% of trips are made by private auto, and the freeways are at capacity at peak times. Now let’s say that you add 100,000 new residents, but you choose to massively invest in biking, walking, and transit, and you choose to locate those residents in dense urban areas where such modes are viable alternatives to driving. Most of the new residents and some of the existing residents choose biking, walking, and transit as the best ways to get around. The drive alone mode share drops to 73%, which means that the number of drivers on the freeways remains constant, and no increase in road capacity is needed.

    Now let’s imagine that you increased road capacity instead of biking, transit and walking, and encouraged new residents to live in the suburbs rather than the urban core. Most of the new residents and some of the existing ones will switch from transit to driving, because at least initially the new freeway capacity will make driving more attractive. You might move the mode share to 87% driving, which means that you now have 150,000 extra people driving, far more than the 100,000 you planned for. So pretty soon you need to widen the freeway again. That’s induced demand, and it continues until you can no longer keep widening the freeways because it’s too expensive or simply impractical. This is where LA got to 20 years ago, and they’ve been smart enough to to start trying to move the needle back the other direction, albeit very slowly.



    “How does that help anyone?”

    When it’s coupled with buildout of transporation alternatives (bike networks; improved pedestrian environment; transit improvement; car-sharing; innovation of new first/last mile ideas) or transportation reduction (development near transit).

    Granted, these improvements have to happen on a much grander scale than they are currently, and you’re right – traffic will surely get worse before it gets better. But two key realities drive the political will that has developed to make the change anyway: 1) given anticipated regional growth, cars (and their lanes) alone can’t deliver people fast enough to where they will need to go; and 2) the fact is there’s no way to build out the alternative transportation systems sufficiently quickly to avoid this pain. Partly because these modes are often fighting for the same road space as cars; partly because there’s a behavioral lag in commuting patterns (people don’t show up in new bike lanes alI at once; the numbers grow over time); partly because multiple rounds of improvements in the network are needed to maximize the payoff; and most importantly because of funding bottlenecks.
    The change to a less car-dependent solution has to happen – there’s just no other way. And worse traffic is simply a temporary side effect of the too-long transition period – a period made slower and more painful by those who oppose these projects.

    One subject that I don’t hear discussed as often as I’d like is the encouragement of various villages or town centers within a city, with all the necessary services so there’s less need to jump in a car.

    We live in interesting times…


    Andy Chow

    The yard can be built without the station, and you would only run trains to/from the yard as necessary, not every 7-15 minutes even with just a couple of people on the train. It is estimated that portion would cost $7-13 million a year on operating cost, similar amount can be used on Caltrain to enable 15 minute BART-like service all day.



    I can see how that happens in areas where the development is new and where we can actually sprawl, widen roads etc. In fact I find it interesting how traffic often gets worse the further away from SF you go. Pleasanton and Walnut Creek are often jammed.

    And yes, if we add an extra lane to a section of 101 then another section becomes congested, and that process never ends. In LA I-5 has about 20 lanes at one point and it still gets jammed. Houston has a 24-lane freeway, I’ve heard.

    Even so, what is the alternative? Assume that more people are coming here anyway, and projections show SF at over a million by 2030 and the Bay Area to 10 million later in the century.

    Do we sprawl even more? Do we infill and build high in SF, where the roads cannot be widened, slapping down all the NIMBY’s, and build several Central Subways? It’s easy to criticize what we’ve done but, absent a better plan or putting a fence up around the Bay Area, what’s the alternative? Bearing in mind that the voters have to agree both in principle and to be taxed to pay for it all.



    “So which is it? Too much traffic or not enough?”

    You really don’t need to think too hard to find the answer. Streets and roads are built incrementally. It is not like they were created all at once on Day Zero. This is a big interconnected piece of infrastructure.

    So when a project triggers LOS rules, those rules apply the limits of that project. Once the project is done there is no congestion within the project bounds. But it does induce traffic and causes congestion elsewhere in the streets network.

    Take 101 for example. Every time we throw a few hundred millions to upgrade an interchange or half mile segment, traffic is fine within that segment once the project finishes and the K-rail is removed. But has there ever been a time when no 101 segment between SJ and SF is uncongested during the rush hour?





    The history of building out infrastructure in this growing country has been that, no matter how much over-capacity we build into it, eventually it proves to be inadequate. If our population stops increasing then that may cease to be true but, right now, the US is growing faster than Europe, with no sign of that changing. And the Bay Area is growing much faster than most of the US.

    So when we design roads it isn’t just a matter of designing for peak times but also designing for future growth. That is what planning and transportation departments are supposed to do, based on projections of population and economic growth.

    Is that growth in demand “induced”? Maybe, to some extent. But it’s also structural, systematic and will happen anyway. It’s just a matter of time.

    And if we stop planning and building for growth in this way, and instead just build to current demand, then what? LA-style traffic jams 24 hours a day? How does that help anyone?



    Only traffic that mattered to the engineers…



    Can’t you ‘aim to have an empty street’ yet have induced demand foil those plans and fill it up? That’s the pretty much discovering the definition of induced demand by backing into it.



    Turlin appears to be contradicting himself though. He claims that a road designed in this way “is like aiming to have ‘an empty street'” but then goes on to claim that ” thanks to induced demand, traffic has only gotten progressively worse.”

    So which is it? Is traffic too much or not bad enough?

    More generally it isn’t necessarily a bad idea to design for maximum stress. Taking his example of planes, they are designed for the worst cases of turbulence, wind shear, lightning strikes and other perils, and we are generally glad that they are. Bus and train schedules are designed for peak hours. Sidewalks are often not busy – so are they are too wide?

    While the design of your local hospital should take into account peak demand if it has to deal with accidents and trauma victims. Prisons can’t be designed for a slow Tuesday but rather a bad Saturday night.

    In any event the genie is out of the bottle now. We live in a city that is 100 miles across in any direction, and where transit barely exists outside of the core. There are over 5 million vehicles registered in the nine Bay Area counties – about the same as the population.

    Being car-free, or even car-lite, might be a worthy dream but it’s not a practical reality unless a massive earthquake means that we have to start over from scratch.



    The motivation for the Santa Clara endpoint was to set BART up for future northward expansion along the Caltrain ROW. Now that Caltrain is breaking ridership records and HSR wants to use their line to access SF, the chances of BART replacing Caltrain on the peninsula are slim to none, and turning back north after serving Diridon becomes increasingly pointless. BART should instead think about heading west from Diridon to Cupertino if they have an eye on future expansion.


    Joe Linton

    Great article. While there are lots of crappy rules/laws/processes/etc. that uphold excessive car-centricity (for example, most zoning, all parking requirements), I’ve come to think that LOS is among the most pernicious lies that really prop up car-centricity. The sooner we stop justifying anything via LOS the better.


    Joe Linton

    There was never a day when the only traffic that mattered was motorized… that was a lie propagated by vested interested, carried forward by engineers.



    when you say more expensive, how long until we amortize out the construction…



    I think the motivation for the Santa Clara station is to enable endpoint operations. There’s a large brownfield space right next to the existing Caltrain station that was expected to become a maintenance yard for Bart. I’m sure Bart could operate without a Santa Clara Yard: most existing endpoints don’t have any extra facilities. But it might mean more expensive long term operations due to increased non-revenue movements.


    The Overhead Wire

    Folks might also be interested in the podcast we did on LOS last year with Jeff and others at posted at Streetsblog USA.



    Or look at it as a ruse to kill BRT


    Andy Chow

    ‘Conspiracy theories erupted, on the assumption that Santa Clara was being cut from the BART plan. But nobody in their right mind would want that.’

    I want that, because building a redundant rail line is not the luxury that we have. We have already asked FTA to contribute many millions to upgrade and electrify Caltrain, and we think that FTA is going give millions again to build a rail line that completely duplicates existing service, station for station, when there are many more transportation projects worthy of funding throughout the Bay Area and the country? Give me a break. This article may make sense as long as the fact that it duplicates Caltrain is not mentioned at all.

    Actually no one with the right mind would expect that somehow this portion would not be dropped. VTA already has a history of cutting transit projects. If FTA tells them to drop it, would VTA say no? Would Mercury say no?



    “Although ostensibly designed to protect the environment…”

    I don’t think that LOS began life as a metric to be used to measure environmental impact. Yes, later on CEQA co-opted LOS. But originally the intent of LOS was as a metric to help traffic engineers measure how well auto traffic flowed, reducing delays, and making driving more productive and pleasant. This was back in the day when the ONLY traffic that mattered was motorized. It was also the period when unwalkable suburbs were created: no sidewalks, long distances between destinations, etc.


    Jamison Wieser

    Consider this.

    It isn’t even really BRT anymore, but the Geary BRT plan is the only thing on the table right now. As soon as the plan is approved, the SFMTA wants to jump right in with some of the changes that require little construction, like red lanes and stop consolidation.

    Also, Geary BRT has funding.

    There is a Geary Surface/Subway line in the SFMTA’s draft subway plan, but that’s just draft with a hope to start construction by 2025 and figure on ten years of more of construction.

    You can look at Geary BRT as a band-aid, or the interim solution for the next 20-25 years until the subway is finished.






    Upper Manhattan has similar problems. A combination of bad behavior and subpar city services, yes, but more importantly a lack of anyone bothering to clean it up. If the building supers, janitors and businessmen turn a blind eye then it becomes socially acceptable. Very frustrating.



    It’s worse than that. It is fundamentally dishonest for Wiener to claim that this tax proposition is “for SFMTA” when in reality it is, as Roger notes, not earmarked for SFMTA at all but just goes straight into the General Fund.

    And the reason they do this is because then it needs only 50% plus 1 majority rather than 2/3 majority. And it would never get 2/3 support.

    That is why they are trying for a charter amendment as well, to ring-fence transportation funds. And while that might be seen as a good thing, it means that they must raise far more money than they actually need.

    Example. If 10% of the General Fund is earmarked for SFMTA, then to raise 10 million for SFMTA, they have to raise 100 million in total.

    And even then there is no guarantee that the 10 million won’t just go to cover overruns in the cost of Central Subway or the TransBay Terminal, and not improve day-to-day operations.

    The city is playing games to try and do an end-run around Prop 13, and it stinks.


    SF Guest

    The more taxes we keep giving the more they keep asking. Vision Zero street improvements are merely an excuse to reach further into our pocketbooks. Have the fatality rates dropped since its implementation?

    Prop B created a void in the general fund to fund Muni. Can anyone not expect that void to be addressed with further taxes including another tax for the Muni?


    Frank Kotter

    Hey Jimbo, I’m entering my late 30’s and have a feeling my testosterone levels are not quite what they were when I was 25. Can I come and hang out with you once in a while with the hopes some of your excess rubs off on me.

    A manly man you are, Jim. Roar!



    A 0.75% hike in one go is a lot. It will take our sales tax rate to 9.5%, one of the highest in the nation. And when you consider how high prices are in this city, sales tax revenues are correspondigly higher as well.

    At minimum I’d prefer the sales tax hike to be broken into two separate voter initiatives. Many people may support money for transport but not for the homeless, or vice versa.

    And wasn’t the entire point of Wiener’s Prop B initiative to divert more funding to transport so that begging propositions to the voters would no longer be necessary?

    Sales tax revenues increase with general inflation anyway. To increase sales tax revenue by almost 10% in one go is excessive, and of course sales tax is very regressive.

    Moreover the Muni farebox recovery rate is pitiful. The malaise goes deep and throwing more money at it with existing management and unions in place is throwing good money after bad.

    I can’t vote for this either. I want to see meaningful reforms to Muni’s working practices and cost structure before I support more subsidies.



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    unless they dump Geary BRT and consider using the money for a geary subway instead, neither I or most of my inner richmond neighbors will vote for this. this much money for small incremental bandaids is not worth it



    vision zero should be thinking of underground subways. vision zero on streets is an impossible vision. i would like to think we could eradicate drugs by 100% in our society but we cant.



    I live in the Outer Mission. It’s amazing the amount of dumping and graffiti along Alemany, in and across from Cayuga park. This is even since the the park was remodeled. I cannot imagine what it was like before the remodel and the restrictions on parking RV’s along that stretch of road. I think folks are just lazy and they know, because of the way 311 and DPW cleans things up, they can get away with drive-by dumping and not get penalized. Even if we had security cameras the culprits would likely not get prosecuted. Neighborhood groups have worked hard to help clean things up but it’s an ongoing problem that has apparently has no solution. How many times can you volunteer to clean up someone else’s garbage before you just give up in frustration?
    We have a neighbor 2 doors down that smokes outside his house and flicks the cigarette butts onto the sidewalk. What is the thought process that makes someone consider that OK? It’s just a small bit of garbage? What’s the harm? Well, every house downwind of him is gifted with cigarette butts caught in their greenery, corners of their stairways, driveway doors… etc. One of these days I will pick up every piece of trash between my house and his and put it at the top of his stairs by his front door with a little bow on top of the pile.



    In Oakland, the biggest problem areas I’ve seen are near homeless encampments, clothing donation boxes, parks, and overfull city trash cans. This indicates to me that it’s an organizational problem on the city’s part more than anything else. Empty the trash cans on time so people have a place to throw their trash; fine collection box owners for bags left outside boxes; send cleanup crews with police escorts to remove the mounds of accumulated & dumped trash at homeless encampments.

    As far as composition of the trash, tobacco litter is far and away the culprit: cigarette butts, plastic cigar mouthpieces, cellophane cigar wrapping. The staggering volume of these products makes me marvel at the utter lack of regulation. If the cities, counties, state, and manufacturers all know (and they do) that these items comprise the bulk of litter items, why do we permit the sale of items we know will clog our drains, pollute our waterways, and leach toxins into the water & soil? Since the companies have shown no corporate responsibility on the issues, I would guess it’s well within a city’s rights to pass an ordinance banning the sale of products that all parties understand to impose significant maintenance problems & cost on city infrastructure & environment. I think that’s about the only action that could force manufacturers to finally take responsibility for their products’ end of life impacts.

    I wonder how the loss in tobacco-related sales taxes would weigh against savings in maintenance costs and environmental remediation?



    Got it, good to know! Didn’t know that park existed.



    That’s right on the way up to San Bruno Mountain if that interests you.



    That East Bay Times op-ed on Oakland paving conditions is predictably off-base. There’s just so much blatantly incorrect in that piece, it’s hard to know where to start.

    The one-way to two-way conversion idea is a good one, the rest of the article is a mess.


    Ted King

    Bingo. The apartment hunter is referring to a border sector that ranges from Cayuga (S.F.) to Lincoln Park (Daly City). The supermarket on Alemany (cross street Farragut) is the Pacific Super, Asian in emphasis, decent prices, and they had a hot food counter near the south exit in the past (been a couple of years since my last visit).

    The problem, as I recall it, was partly the freeway, partly the border, and some homeless / car campers. One bad spot was near the 7-11 at Alemany and San Jose. Parts of Alemany from San Jose north to the Safeway (near Onondaga) were dead zones with some illegal dumping. The foot traffic tended to avoid Alemany because it was a ‘stroad’. Plus, Mission Street was close by and more interesting.


    Roger R.

    There’s a small park, also called “Lincoln Park,” between Templeton and Acton, just southeast of Mission.



    I don’t relate to someone slapping my car because I watch where I am going and I don’t park in the bike lane so it doesn’t happen. Guess that’s just too much to ask for some


    SF Guest

    If you firmly believe he would retaliate in such a manner why would anyone confront someone with violent tendencies to let him know he violated your right-of-way which is the point he’s making? You clearly don’t relate to someone slapping your car, but perhaps you would relate if someone slapped your bike.



    Street sweeping mostly only sweeps the gutter though, not the sidewalk, which is where I tend to notice the most litter. DPW crews do targeted hand sweeping on sidewalks (and they have special sidewalk sweeping machines along Market, where you never know what you’re going to find), but cleaning up litter on sidewalks is primarily the responsibility of property owners.

    In any event, this is apartment-hunting in San Francisco. If you find a place that meets all your criteria, litter alone is a bad reason to reject it.



    I grew up in the neighborhood (born 1993) and do not recall of any street sweeping occurring on any of the streets that I talked about at any point in my life.