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    Alex Brideau III

    I guess the question I have is why *must* 3 turn lanes exist at this location in the first place? If traffic engineers can make certain streets one-way thoroughfares and others bi-directional, then surely this street’s traffic flow can be engineered so that fewer turn lanes are necessary at this location. If this causes car congestion, then drivers will elect to take alternative routes … in some cases on the fly and in some cases they will rework their commute route. That’s what I do when I encounter a congestion while driving.



    the 49ers is not a one off event. Paul McCartney played Candlestick this month – the last time he played there was 1966. The 49ers have already played 2 home games in the past 10 days.

    It is actually far harder to divert people from driving for their regular commute.

    Interesting. Is that why Caltrain and BART are mostly packed at rush hour, and less packed on off hours?



    There are currently a couple orders of magnitude more sidewalks than bike lanes in SF.



    My mention of the Folsom @ 3d St. example is intended to illustrate the
    prospective safety hazard created by having a pedestrian crosswalk
    directly in front of multiple turn lanes for motorists. Convenience
    should be secondary to safety on that basis

    Get rid of the multiple turn lanes! They are very convenient, but that is not as important as SAFETY!



    Some percentage of car traffic may indeed switch to alternative routes but some may just disappear altogether due to mode switching. It’s not everyone but for the percentage of people who are “on the fence” at any given time about a certain mode for a certain trip, if one mode comes to exceed their convenience thresholds some will switch to other modes.

    Lots of (though obviously not all) car traffic is quite local–people driving to go get coffee or the ATM or whatever just because it’s easy enough and there’s parking. When the ease (or perceived ease) of driving everywhere is diminished there’s less incentive to drive as often for as many trips.

    Also, Braess’s Paradox has not just been observed during temporary closures but permanent infrastructure changes. In fact, I think it’s more associated with permanent changes.



    Talking around, there is a clear factor that tips the balance in favor of the shuttles vs driving or Caltrain.

    They are free.

    How easy is it to get FREE good transit to happen?


    Andy Chow

    If planned properly, traffic for one-off event can be managed, the traffic situations at the recent 49ers games in Santa Clara weren’t too bad because various agencies including transit agencies put all the resources and planned for the capacity.

    Transit ridership jumped sky high during the Giants World Series Parade.

    Nobody was in charge (and nobody gave a shit) for planning and managing the traffic for Paul McCartney. SFMTA could’ve done better with all their experiences with the 49ers. Caltrain and BART could’ve make sure to run trains late enough to connect with Muni to make sure people can get home so they don’t drive.

    It is actually far harder to divert people from driving for their regular commute. They have less tolerance for waiting and making connections than if they’re going to a ballgame, and many individual employment locations aren’t dense enough to have direct transit service.

    Whatever SFMTA’s official policy is, their outcome is half-ass. There may be some sort of “rapid” Muni here or there, but forget about any direct express bus to the East Bay or Silicon Valley if you don’t work for Google or Apple, or any reliable transit to Caltrain for that matter. If you’re an employer or a transportation company that wants to provide more options, do not expect SFMTA to be your partner either.



    reading the rest of this thread – apparently it is still closed because that would inconvenience cars, and that is a no-no. Because there will always be cars. And they can’t back up. And you can take a 3 way crossing detour, so man up.


    Andy Chow

    Not really going away but shifting traffic on different streets. The Braess Paradox can be better explained the situation between the freeway and the local roads. Most people tend to prefer the freeway even when it is jammed while the local roads maintain a predictable (and sometimes faster) travel time. But if the freeway is gone, the traffic would have to be spread on multiple local roads. The story is that there will be consequences elsewhere. Do we want more traffic on streets like Hayes, Page, or Haight streets?

    Sometimes temporary closure of road or transit end up to have less traffic impact than first predicted (like carmageddons or the BART strikes) partly because media coverage help lower traffic demand (like people staying at home rather than going to work on that day) and that there are travel alternatives being promoted. Some BART riders become a permanent AC Transit riders after the strike has ended because they discovered that the transbay buses to be better than BART, but people in general are far more familiar with BART like the freeway.



    A great example of the mindset holding sustainable transportation back…A closed crosswalk can cause a pedestrian up to 2 minutes of delay (sometimes less, but also sometimes more in extreme circumstances). A 2-minute delay affects pedestrians’ accessibility as much as a permanent 2-mile detour on the highway would affect motorists. Can you imagine the outcry? We engineer roads to shave precious seconds off travel time for that mode, why don’t we at least do the same for pedestrians?



    Received a notice the other day about finishing construction on Oak and Fell by the end of the year, presumably the bulb-outs and hopefully the planters to separate the bike lane. That reminds me that I need to dig that out and take a closer look.

    T&A’s does have vehicle storage inside that building. But they pull out the trucks in order jockey them around and prepare for the day or return them in the evening or on shift changes. They do not store there trucks on the street for extended periods of time that I have noticed. They also will pull them out and use the DMV lot for this purpose. Not saying it is right, just an observation from living around the corner from them.



    …and it extends beyond the specific case of Braess’ Paradox. Anthony Downs has written extensively about the triple convergence when we try to engineer our way to greater capacity. None of the analogies mentioned above are applicable.



    “Tough on crime” measures such as the death penalty are rarely effective because consistency of enforcement has a much bigger effect on compliance than the size of the penalty. For example, if murder had a 2-year jail sentence but you were guaranteed to be caught every time, far fewer murders would be committed than the current situation. The time penalty of traffic calming affects every trip you take, so your analogy is completely spurious.

    Similarly, transportation choices for a one-off event like the Paul McCartney concert are completely different to the transportation choices people make for regular trips such as their commute. Very few people would have driven to that concert if they had known in advance what the gridlock will be like; very few people who went to that concert would choose to drive again if they went back to another concert of a similar size at the same venue and alternative transportation options were available.

    When people commute, which is primarily what we are concerned with here, they will generally try all the reasonable options until they find the one that works the best, and then stick with it. If we ensure that driving is always the option that works the best, people will always choose that option. If we help sustainable transportation modes become more convenient, people will be more likely to use them.

    People adapt to whatever you put in place, so it makes sense to put in place whatever is best according to your values. San Francisco has an official policy to promote walking, cycling, and transit, so that is what should be prioritized.



    It speaks to the general mismanagement of public street space in the city. Businesses should, of course, be able to operate here, and many of them use the street in various ways– to store work vehicles, to store vehicles under repair, to set up shop in a food truck, etc. Which is fine– the streets exist to be used, and all these are useful functions.

    The problem is that the city promises anyone and everyone that they can use as much space as they want for a nominal or no cost, save for a limited number of metered spaces. The result is that parking is always packed, and people still feel entitled to free storage, so they just start storing vehicles wherever– traffic lanes, bike lanes, etc.

    It makes no sense to crack down on parking in the bike lane without addressing the underlying issue: the city’s total abdication of responsibility when it comes to effectively managing the (very large) supply of legal parking spaces.

    Fat chance of that, though. In the short term, maybe some planters and physical separation will help.



    Actually, making driving less convenient can indeed make some or even a lot of it quite literally go away, due to Braess’s Paradox:'s_paradox

    Why is this? Because transportation demand does not come just from static unchanging figures of who lives/works in the area but how convenient each mode is relative to your situation and the broader city situation as a whole.

    At any given time for any mode a certain percentage of people is “on the fence” about which to take–at any given time a large chunk of car traffic is not necessarily a foregone conclusion, but is a response to the built environment around it.

    For example, if someone owns a car and wants to go to Walgreens a half mile away and it looks like this:

    Then driving is pretty likely. Why? Multilane road + plentiful free parking + infrastructure hostile to most other modes = “I’ll just drive.”

    But imagine if it were retrofitted like this:

    Sure, there will still be cars. But a certain percentage of people will elect to bike and walk instead (after all, even walking–while technically possible in the first– looks far more pleasant in that second one) who never would’ve before. Imagine if every big intersection looked more or less like that, and the effect grows exponentially.

    By the way, this is true amongst other modes, as well. Honestly, I take Muni a lot less these days than when I lived in SF without a bike. Why?

    –> At the time bike infra wasn’t as good or in most cases evident at all so biking never occurred to me
    –> I realized I often beat Muni on my bike
    –> Muni Metro does not accept my bike on board, as it’s not a folding one.

    Conclusion: the decreased convenience of Muni leading to my mode switches for many of my trips is analogous to the decreased convenience of driving leading to other mode switches for many.



    Let’s not forget that the city has outsourced the maintenance of most pedestrian facilities to homeowners and property owners, who are responsible for upkeep on the sidewalks in the frontage adjacent to the street.



    There are some logical problems here:

    –> The “no one bikes, why build stuff for them?” argument is logically akin to saying we shouldn’t build a bridge because only small percentages of people currently swim across the water.

    –> the city has a goal of 20% bike modeshare. It’s currently at about 3.6%.

    –> btw, those trips that switch to bike will take away congestion from other modes…transit, driving, yes, even pedestrian…this is all interrelated. This false pitting of “pedestrian vs. bike” makes no sense and helps neither.

    –> while certainly not anywhere near perfect, keep in mind walking has had decades of investment and support in the construction of pervasive infrastructure such as sidewalks (even during the craziest auto-centric of eras). Bike infrastructure has been almost nil until quite recently historically speaking. There’s a catch-up game.

    –> far more money is spent on auto infrastructure wayyyy disproportionate to its modeshare. This should be the truly enraging thing.


    Andy Chow

    Slowing traffic down, therefore making driving less convenient, resulting in less vehicle trips… this works just as effectively as death penalty and other “tough on crime” measures… Longer and tougher sentences, therefore increase risk and reducing reward for potential criminals, resulting in less crimes.

    Transportation and traffic is something that can be planned for, but cannot be ignored thinking that somehow “calming” measures can make it go away. Transportation demand is largely driven by the residents and employment in the area, along with other factors (like games, and concerts, etc), and can be controlled with good planning that includes multi-modal accommodation. If you don’t plan for it then you get what happened at Paul McCartney concert not too long ago, and traffic jamming almost on every street.



    $3.7 million of SFMTA’s 2015 budget will go to pedestrian projects. There are more pedestrians than bicyclists. But SFMTA will spend 7 times more on bicycle projects than pedestrian projects.



    Amusingly, we get soft hit posts to separate bike lanes. Meanwhile, on CA-35 above San Bruno there are some pretty damn hard hit posts with a solid plastic curbing that separate the exit from a gated subdivision from the CA-35 roadway, because the drivers exiting the subdivision are afraid they will get hit by the traffic on 35. This of course results in there being zero inches of shoulder and nowhere to go for cyclists riding on 35, speed limit 55 MPH.

    Those hard hit posts would discourage the hell out of drivers messing around and make some serious dents in the car of any driver making a mistake. But really that’s the point, the soft hit posts sort of “show” the driver where they aren’t supposed to go, but if they screw up, the cyclist pays the price, not the driver. Because we can’t you know, make things harder for drivers – see the Hayes Crosswalk thread. This is a “better balance”, right? We can’t put obstacles out there that would be detrimental to the person screwing up.



    Tell Ted and Al’s that the city will stop using their services if they don’t stay out of the bike lane. That should do the trick.



    While cycling through Daly City recently I spotted a Ted & Al’s tow truck parked in the driveway of someone’s house. If their drivers have to store the trucks at their houses when they are not working, that strongly suggests that Ted & Al’s don’t have space to park them all on their property.



    This is something worth bringing up with the new captain of Park Station during the monthly community meeting. The next one is on September 9th.



    Your swimming analogy breaks down when you consider that pedestrian conditions are entirely under the control of city engineers, whereas “no swimming” signs are posted in places where swimming conditions are determined by nature. Building a street that is unsafe for pedestrians to cross is like building a swimming pool that is inherently unsafe, posting a “no swimming” sign, and saying “hey, that’s just how it is!”

    Traffic isn’t a zero-sum game. The decision to make a trip by driving, and the route to take when making that trip, is based on a number of factors of which the primary are cost and convenience. If you make the streets safer by slowing down traffic, you make driving less convenient, and so reduce vehicle trips. You can also push at the cost factor, and introduce congestion pricing to reduce vehicle trips. Both options are safer than allowing traffic sewers on city streets, and much cheaper for the city than paying to underground traffic.



    My guesses:
    1. Ted & Al’s doesn’t have enough space in their property to house all their trucks and are “externalizing” those costs by storing them on public property.

    2. Have you noticed that basically no bike infrastructure projects in San Francisco include real, physical separation (perhaps excepting the ugly fence thing on Cargo Way)? Soft-hit posts are a joke… within a couple years, most will be destroyed, removed, or crushed. This is the MTA sending a message to the cyclists of San Francisco: Your crushed bodies are worth less than dinged fenders or scratched paint on the private automobiles of this city.

    We should be relentlessly haranguing MTA, DPW, your local supervisors for the city to commit to actually finishing the Oak/Fell protected bikeway. It has been delayed to oblivion already. Finish the project!


    SF Guest

    I never stated that pedestrians’ convenience doesn’t matter. My mention of the Folsom @ 3d St. example is intended to illustrate the prospective safety hazard created by having a pedestrian crosswalk directly in front of multiple turn lanes for motorists. Convenience should be secondary to safety on that basis which is why the DPT never opened up that crosswalk since its inception.

    If you really feel a need to have a crosswalk in front of multiple turn lanes then the solution would be to have only one turn lane and/or a dedicated pedestrian-only signal similar to what Chinatown employs.


    SF Guest

    Without a dedicated pedestrian-only signal as aforementioned I would not cross with kids in front of multiple turn lanes with cars for safety reasons. Getting the SFMTA to install a new crosswalk with a dedicated pedestrian signal — good luck with that one.


    Master Flash

    The reason for raising rates id=s to exclude those who won’t.can’t pay the rate. For lower income people this means they’re paying for this infrastructure but can’t use it. Making the poor subsidize the wealthy is draconian, at best. As if the division of classes and abuse by the wealthy weren’t bad enough, this program exacerbates the social dilemma and should be outlawed.



    “…blocking traffic, ignoring traffic lights and stop signs, and generally any other law that they feel like doesn’t apply to them…”

    It’s hilarious that you don’t see how that description applies perfectly to all drivers. They block the box in droves every day in SOMA, they roll through stop signs and red lights (especially on right turns), not to mention speeding, changing lanes without signalling, and texting and driving. (That law doesn’t apply to them ;)

    Every driver breaks multiple traffic laws on every single outing. Is it a problem? Sometimes. Often not. Just like when cyclists roll through deserted stop signs. It works out.



    Walking is new. I see



    “Back here in reality, transportation planners understand that we have a
    long way to go with our transportation infrastructure, but good transportation infrastructure balances travel modes–it doesn’t
    unnecessarily exclude one or another.”

    I despise the word “balance” in this context because it’s been appropriated by those stuck-in-the-mid-20th-century motorists who want to ignore all the costs to society of completely redesigning our cities around cars instead of people in the last century.

    Yes, we need all travel modes. But balance does mean they all should get used equally. You have to consider all the costs and benefits, and the costs of car travel are enormous: air pollution, contribution to obesity epidemic, the death or injury of millions every year in car accidents, horrendous noise, the usage of enormous amounts of limited space (usually for free or subsidized), etc. In fact, the costs to society of the automobile are much greater than all other forms of transit, especially walking and cycling.

    Therefore, in a true balance you prioritize those modes with the least costs and the most benefits which, in order, are: walking, cycling, public transit, and car. The car is thus reserved for uses for which it truly is ideal: carrying really big things, racing someone to the hospital, going to far-away places not served by public transit, etc … note that this does *not* include the primary way we use the car which is with 1.4 people going to work or running errands which could much more efficiently be done with other modes of transit.

    So, back to the issue at hand, we shouldn’t be letting the convenience of cars take priority over the convenience — let alone safety — of pedestrians due to the fact that the latter cost society much less (in fact, nothing since walking is a huge benefit to society!). Never should the car trump the pedestrian in a city let alone in a residential neighborhood of a city. These crosswalks that are blocked to pedestrians perfectly exemplify the wrong balance where a mode of travel which is the least efficient and most dangerous trumps that which is the most efficient and safest.


    Andy Chow

    It beats owning a car in SF and trying to find an on street spot at night, or navigate the region on Muni, Caltrain, and VTA. It is not like people who drive are praising about their experiences on the road during rush hours.

    These companies are doing their best given their ability. None of them owns a private right of way. But while transit agencies that have some private right of ways are too concerned about their own domains and ignoring the commute demands that are larger than their domains.



    “What I care about is that the cars will back up to such an extent that they will interfere with pedestrians elsewhere.”

    I do not understand this statement at all. How does car traffic interfere with pedestrians? Unless a motorists is stopped in a crosswalk (which is illegal anyway and is never okay, traffic or not), then pedestrians are completely unaffected by car traffic since they have separate infrastructure (sidewalks).



    “Has pedestrian rights become that ‘territorial’ whereby someone feels terribly inconvenienced to walk to the opposite crosswalk?”

    You do realize that the entire car-centric design of our cities has been almost solely to make driving more *convenient* (even at the expense of everyone’s — pedestrian’s, cyclist’s, and motorist’s — safety)? Road designs are made or broken by the seconds they do or don’t shave off of the motorist’s trip (see LOS, Level of Service). To then say that pedestrians convenience doesn’t matter is saying pedestrians are second-class citizens because they can just suck it up and deal.

    But digging a little deeper, the fact that a crosswalk is closed represents something deeper than just convenience: It says that the road has been made so dangerous to pedestrians (for the sake of the *convenience* of motorists, mind you) that their safety is more at risk crossing in this particular spot. That is the real problem. No roads in a residential area should be designed so dangerously that pedestrians literally can’t cross at some crosswalks.



    Your logical fallacy is appeal to novelty, the belief that something is better or correct because it is new.



    Yep, and I bet you don’t have kids or do any walking with kids.

    These kinds of intersections do not belong in a dense, “transit-first” city, ever.



    Actually I was referring to 27001 (a), as I had that page open myself. I was just trying to put it into more conversational language (assuming it wouldn’t be read like people were honking like farmers wave, but ‘hey I’m here, and I’m telling you for everyone’s safety’) (along with the mention about different hearing ability and ability to be drowned out) (sorry that wasn’t as clear when written as it was in my head).

    I waffled for a bit about including the link but figured you’d all already have your own favorite CVC bookmarks.


    Richard Mlynarik

    Best wishes to Ms King for continued success. She’s one of the good ones.



    You’re certainly allowed to use the horn to say “hey, I’m here (if you have adequate hearing and aren’t blocking it with something)”

    Allowed? Actually, no. Is this even remotely enforceable? Well, not really, but I wish the SFPD gave a crap enough to try.



    The complete lack of visual distinction between BART station is frustrating. It’s so hard to tell which one is which.

    Meanwhile, in Prague, all the stations have a unique design.



    I cannot speak for the SFMTA, but my vision, and the vision of most livable streets advocates is of cities where EVERY intersection has 4 crossings for pedestrians. Yes, achieving that vision involves sacrifices (often of car delays), and the low-hanging fruit will probably be done first. However, if we are to ever improve the city beyond mere tiny incremental changes, we need to have a good vision of what kind of city we want and continually push for that vision.



    Nature doesn’t “design” anything, unless you believe in the big guy with the white beard beloved of Renaissance painters. What you see are random forces in action. Same with traffic. If people need to get from point A to point B, streets that facilitate that will have more car traffic than those that don’t and that’s why there will be places that are unsafe for pedestrians.



    Dangerous rivers are designed by nature. Dangerous roads are designed by man



    Just because you post a “No Swimming” sign next to a river with dangerous currents doesn’t make you anti-swimming. You might be said to be pro-swimming because you don’t want swimmers to get killed. Same with no ped xing signs.



    “We can’t all bike all our lives. We need workable public transportation – not the present Muni mess.”

    Improving bike, ped and transit infrastructure is not mutually exclusive. People on Streetsblog support all of the above.

    Also, let’s not discount the combinatorial effect–you know all those people who commute the Wiggle -> Market via bike to the FiDi? A lot more than it used to be:

    It’s pretty likely that most of those particular switches to bike modeshare are not replacing car trips (though maybe a few of those, too) but Muni trips. What does this mean? More capacity for people who choose to/must still take Muni buses and metro.

    Sure, Muni still has lots of problems, but you can’t deny the huge cost-benefit tradeoff the green paint + cheap flimsy posts have had. Imagine how much higher bike modeshare would be if we spent just a little more in a few other key places. The truth is, there’s a large reservoir of “Interested but Concerned” would-be bike-riders in SF but many are put off by perceived or real dangerous conditions.

    Sure, you’re not going to get everyone to bike everywhere all the time. No one’s proposing that. But the more trips that do switch to biking the less strain on transit and auto infrastructure.

    “Streetsblog’s focus solely on bikes”

    Huh? This very article that you responded to is specifically about pedestrians. So I’m not sure where you’re getting this “sole” focus from. In fact, of the stories currently on SF Streetsblog’s front page, let’s take a look at some of the titles. At least half aren’t about bikes at all:

    “It’s Time to Rethink Old Stereotypes About Renters”

    “Closed Crosswalks Remain Even in Today’s Walkable Hayes Valley”

    “TransitMix: A New App for Your Fantasy Map”

    “Personal Garages Become Cafes in the Castro, Thanks to Smarter Zoning”

    “SFPD Cites Light-Running Driver in Crash at Speed-Plagued Oak and Octavia”

    How does this is in any way entail a “sole focus” on bikes? Reading this site for 5 seconds you can easily see it’s about the bigger holistic picture of better urban design.


    Luce Morales

    > using your cell phone as a pedestrian is legal.
    But leading a child into a perilous situation that’s foreseeable is. That the aunt was texting or talking on the phone only underscores the extreme nature of her negligence. As to misdirection of blame, I haven’t heard one person anywhere say the driver isn’t also responsible.



    You are again operating from the status quo is by default good, and is innocent until proven guilty. That’s a recipe for keeping a lot of bad crap. This is because you – as “also people” who are in their cars – benefit the most from the status quo as is. So you try as much as possible to put the highest barrier on changing the status quo.



    It is not that hard to get good transit to happen. Google and some of
    the hottest, most profitable Silicon Valley companies are doing it

    As a person who has such a shuttle, everybody complains that the shuttles suck.



    And remember – Doyle Drive money came in large part from outside SF but solely benefits motorists coming to or from SF – cyclists are not allowed on Doyle Drive. I ride up to the bridge all the time, Doyle Drive would save me a mile and be at a lesser gradient. With a decent shoulder it might even be more appealing as Lincoln is frequently stuffed up with non-moving traffic belching exhaust and blocking the shoulder such that I have had to get off my bike, walk around the car on the dirt embankment, then start riding again.



    The previous numbers are lower (for 2013 and 2014) which is where the 1% figure comes from. And, as Murph pointed out below, the problem isn’t the totals going to each percentage of commuters so much as catching up to the 21st century as well as complying to the transit first charter amendment and the city goal bike mode share of 20% by 2020.

    The SFMTA overseas street right of way, but are not responsible for funding all projects that impact cars. I’m not sure where it’s budgeted, I believe for DPW, but street repaving (which benefits all users, but primarily cars) is handled by DPW, and other large projects that are in the billions such as Doyle Drive and the new Bay Bridge are outside of the MTA’s budget. The health impacts of driving such as asthma and collisions come out of our public health budget rather than MTA as well.