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    Did we follow the golden rule when deciding to blow 5 trillion dollars on the Iraq war? No? Oh well, at least we got a nice head rush out of it (briefly). So there’s that.


    Upright Biker

    that’s it.



    Mayor Lee: “Holy crap – Prop L got the crap kicked out of it and Mark Leno is talking about running for Mayor!”



    Just today around 4:30 there were 3 traffic motorcycle cops in front of Twitter ticketing cars who go straight on Market instead of turning onto 10th.

    Less than a half a block away at Market and 9th I was almost hit by a car turning right in front of me in a crosswalk.

    Does SFPD take vision zero seriously? Seems to me they will take the easy ticketing instead of actually holding drivers (and pedestrians) accountable at dangerous intersections.



    A U T O M A T E D E N F O R C E M E N T.

    Srsly, sometimes robots are cool.


    Black n Pink Fixed Gear

    Yes. This. Thank you.

    The only occasional car trip works for so many people in other developed countries. People don’t need the individual automobile nearly as much as they think they do. Break free. It feels wonderful.


    Mario Tanev

    Because that’s a decade away and won’t do anything for people who live in North Beach or the Marina or don’t want to do a long walk when they transfer to the Market St subway.



    Why is Muni planning to spend any money on 30-Stockton improvements south of Pacific when we’re already spending billions on the Central Subway to serve that corridor?



    Sebra Bereaves.


    Makayla Oxley

    There are numerous guests to GGPk from outside of SF who never get observed. They also may be confused about what the striping is about. And that’s because it is both complicated and uncertain, especially in the section around the Sunroom. Further western it is (perhaps) less challenging, since there is less visitors.




    I’m willing to bet that if L had gone the other way, even just by 51% in favor of it, we’d go check out another local blog to see the Drudge siren flashing with the word “Mandate” under it in 36 point type, in all caps, italicised in red and underlined. All in comic sans of course.


    Dave Moore

    The bus must end up stopped by a light sometimes, right? I know they will have some control over holding the green, but still there will be occasions when the bus has to wait. I don’t see any estimate that shows negative impact on the bus travel time because of this. I just see the 18 seconds per stop sign gained.



    I’m not sure why officers have claimed that the law is unenforceable. There are other moving violations that are somewhat subjective like reckless driving. Police officers are comfortable writing tickets for reckless behavior that endangers other motorists. This three foot law is just a new law limited to reckless aggression directed towards bicyclists.

    Why do we even need an objective measurement if the officer’s judgement is considered valid?

    In practice the 3′ law is applied in the cases cited above because there was car->bike contact and therefore proof that the 3′ margin was violated.



    L got its ass kicked and kicked hard. Deal with it, losers!


    Chris J.

    From the right angle (e.g. directly behind the car and bicycle), even a simple photo could robustly determine the distance. It doesn’t matter that the situation is “dynamic.”



    It’s not that simple. A police radar speed gun works because it only has two objects to work with – the gun and the vehicle. Since the operator knows the distance to the vehicle, the speed can be computed via the Doppler effect.

    But in your case, there are three objects – the radar source and the two moving objects. That makes the technology much more complex, and you might need to triangulate to get a true measure, meaning two sources.

    Likewise, a photograph would only provide a two-dimensional representation of a dynamic three-dimensional situation and I would expect a lot of challenges to any ticket issued thereby.

    Now, a policeman on a bike could use a simpler device to detect the distance of a passing vehicle, and then report that to a police car ahead. But that’s a lot of work and I think the populace might question the use of that many resources for a low-level citation.



    18 seconds strikes me as a low end estimate for delay to a bus at a stop sign. It assumes that there’s no queue at the stop sign. If there’s any queue the delay can get much longer. This means that service will tend to be worse during peak hour, exactly when it needs to be better. It also helps account for Muni’s terrible on time performance, though there are numerous contributors to that.

    MTA could prioritize the bus route by moving to 2 way stop signs. But a signal is a more pedestrian-friendly solution than a 2 way stop sign. The pedestrian gets some protection crossing the main street, at the cost of waiting a little while for the light to turn red.

    Muni’s a comprehensive, frequent system, but it definitely needs to speed up routes like the 5.


    Chris J.

    Regarding the 3-foot law, I remember an earlier article quoting police officers saying that it “can’t be enforced.”

    Last week an idea occurred to me. In the same way that we have “radar guns” for measuring the speed of vehicles remotely, it seems like it would be possible to have a device that can measure the distance between two objects remotely. Theoretically, it seems that even a photo taken at the right angle could suffice — combined with knowing the make and model of the car. Knowing the make and model of the car would let you look up the width of the car, which could then be used to determine the scale of the photo (three feet would be some fraction of the car’s width, etc).

    Alternatively, radar could be used to determine how far away the objects are. Has this idea ever been suggested in the context of the 3-foot law, and is anything like this already out there?



    My two cents worth is these are great improvements to speed up Muni service and to improve pedestrian safety. Motorists tend to respect red lights whereas stop signs are often treated as mere suggestions. And since the 5 Fulton is an important crosstown route, the rather minor changes proposed here certainly serve the common good. Signalized intersections have benefits for cyclists, too, by allowing for a more consistent speed of travel. These proposed changes to McAllister seem to come up short at the Van Ness, Polk, and Larkin intersections – where McAllister will continue to be extremely wide. Those busy intersections sorely need pedestrian bulbouts on most or all of their corners.



    Why would someone jog on the side of the street opposite the park when they can jog on the park side and avoid cross-streets almost altogether?



    Europe is not all roundabouts ;) In fact, in a country with pretty good transit and hands-down the best bike infrastructure–the Netherlands–non-roundabout intersections are still far more common. Two-way stop signs do exist, though they’re smartly avoided when possible on bike routes. In fact, one use case for them there is indeed to force drivers to give way to through bike traffic when shark’s teeth/yield signs have unfortunately been disobeyed by too many drivers:

    To reduce car speeding on through routes there are various strategies, including:

    –frequent speed bumps
    –police enforcement
    –visual narrowing of roadway
    –one-way roads alternating flow every block (except for transit/bikes)
    –periodic dead-ends for cars–even on relatively main streets–but never for transit/bikes. Example below:

    To get from the NW corner of the screenshot (Jodenbreestraat) through the Muiderstraat and on to Plantage Middenlaan in a car is not straightforward, but transit/bikes/pedestrians can easily get through both directions:



    I’m with the SFMTA on this one. For traffic flow, signals are better than stop signs for intersections with higher traffic volume, as a queue of cars can clear the intersection in one light phase without having to keep stopping and starting. On this particular road, keeping the traffic moving means keeping the 5 moving.

    With traffic lights, you also have the option to program them to give a longer green to the “major” street (McAllister) to prioritize east-west traffic; you can’t do that with four-way stops. This is in addition to any gains that might be made through transit signal priority.

    It is the case that traffic lights are slightly worse for pedestrians than four-way stops, as pedestrians don’t queue up at an intersection and cross one at a time; they bunch up at the curb and all cross as soon as it’s safe. So traffic lights just keep pedestrians waiting longer with no real benefit to them.

    However, in this case I think the need to speed up the 5 is greater than the need to minimize pedestrian delay. I understand that you might feel differently if you live in the neighborhood, but I also think that the people who travel through the area on the 5 should also have their needs taken into account.


    Jym Dyer

    Thanks for catching that, whoops.

    I have long wondered about the S.F. exemption for alleys, since it is rarely indicated on street signs. I know Balmy Alley is an alley because of its fame for murals, but for the most part we’re left guessing. (Of course, there’s widespread ignorance about pedestrian right-of-way in unmarked crosswalks anyhow.)



    I think you mean the opposite of what you typed there. Assuming that, I’m also concerned about making pedestrian movements illegal by installing signals.

    One obvious compromise would be installing signals at every other intersection so the legality of crossing would not be changed.

    Checking the law before contradicting you, I just learned the California definition of “alley” (which effects the presence of unmarked crosswalks) mentions San Francisco by name and allows the city leeway in designating roads that would not usually qualify as alleys. Wonder if there is a list?


    Also, I’m pretty concerned about transit priority signals on Mission. The pedestrian countdown runs down, people stop crossing, then notice the light is still green and resume crossing. This seems more dangerous.



    It is different. Market Street is a commercial street east of 10th Street, while Fulton, McAllister and Haight are residential for much of their length. What if you lived on a street with a forced right? You would have to make a right and three lefts to get home. Seems like this would create more problems than it solves..



    You say: “there is no way to get from Park Merced to the Golden Gate Park on transit reasonably” – what about the 28 bus?



    Funny that. I would have off-hand thought that these corporations, while maybe not so directly concerned with SF, might regard SF as a leading battleground. If they can defeat alternative transportation movements in SF, they can defeat them anywhere. Perhaps this is an indication that the corps don’t actually expect this battle elsewhere, regard SF as an outlier (“let the hippies have their bikes” kind of thing) and that they aren’t worried that SF will lead a charge for revising transportation priorities.



    I’d like to see who spends more time waiting / light / car: Sunnyvale or San Francisco? I’m still guessing Sunnyvale, even with attempts at synchronization, which obviously can’t work for all directions at every intersection. The other issue with Peninsula lights is the ubiquity of left-turn phases, which reduce the fraction of time available for any given vehicle direction, not to mention pedestrians.



    This will probably have a greater effect on affordable housing in SF than any number of propositions about taxing house sales.


    Jym Dyer

    Under California law it is illegal to cross the street midblock between intersections unless the intersections are signalized. That is this state’s legal definition of jaywalking. So I would say that this approach fails to encourage the pedestrian experience.


    Michael Smith

    I didn’t know that. Thanks for the info.


    Jeffrey Baker

    And in Mountain View the pro-housing candidates swept the election for the three open city council seats.



    I forgot to clarify that this treatment already exists at Powell and California. It’s a four-way flashing-red (stop) intersection until a cable car comes along. When a cable car comes along, the intersecting traffic is stopped (solid red) whereas traffic running parallel to it continues to operate (although I think to my understanding when a cable car crosses the intersection, traffic all four ways are held).



    Traffic lights are faster if buses have priority, i.e. they automatically request and get a green light. With this system, buses don’t have to stop at intersections anymore because the stoplight is always green for them.

    It’s not only the stop that counts, but also the time lost at decelerating and accelerating, which can easily amount to SFMTA’s 18 seconds figure.



    People 10-15 years from now in San Bruno will look back on this result and say “why didn’t we do this sooner?”


    Dark Soul

    Did SFMTA say Stoplight reduce delays when traffic lights present??? ..i dont think so.. Stop sign only requres few second to stop then to go.

    Drivers/Buses can stop at a STOPSIGN,which can take around 3-10 seconds compare to Traffic Light can take up to 60 seconds or more. (Guessing the numbers)



    I was in SF the weekend before Election Day, and was well aware of the “L? NO!” spirit among the transit oriented folks. I didn’t vote on the matter, because I live in LA County, but it looks like the people of The City had their priorities straight. Our big fight was in 2008, when Measure R was passed by a bit over 67% (meeting the 66.66% requirement for a tax increase), allowing us go move forward with a number of major transit projects.



    You could make the same argument for Market Street. We’ve just pushed private traffic off Market onto other surrounding streets. How is this any different? After all, just like the traffic pushed off Market, where there is the Fulsom and Howard couplet, we have Oak and Fell, two blocks away from Haight or Hayes Street.

    As for lots of spurious tickets being sent, the enforcement would include someone looking at the violation before it got sent to a person, which would allow SFMTA to see if it was a taxi or not. And what I’m talking about it through traffic – people could still get onto the street, just not from the particular direction they wanted to, just like disallowing left turns during certain hours on Masonic.



    The problem with restricting private vehicles from certain blocks around there is that it merely pushes that extra traffic onto the surrounding streets. If you look at the east-west streets around this area, you have bus routes along Turk,Fulton, Hayes and Haight. So you’d push traffic onto the only other four east-west streets there: Page, Golden Gate, McAllister and Grove, which would expect a doubling of traffic. You also have more un-necessary traffic on the north-south streets that connect them and, since the Panhandle blocks many of them, you increase the mess on the already busy Masonic and Stanyan.

    Those east-west streets are two-way (except Fell and Oak) and so not wide enough to enable a bus lane or, in the case of Turk which is wide enough, it’s not necessary.

    Finally you would have to allow lots of exceptions for access: cabs, delivery trucks, senior transport etc., so enforcement by camera isn’t a good option as you would be sending out many invalid tickets.



    One option the city could pursue, of course, is to restrict private vehicles along segments of the transit routes for the 6, 71, or 5 by creating forced turns before congested blocks.This has been a very effective strategy on Market, and would make the streets where the buses run safer by de-prioritizing private vehicles.Additionally, these forced turns could be restricted to certain hours, say between 8-10 AM and 4-6 PM to accommodate the need to increase transit speed during commuter hours.

    To those that say this would require too much traffic enforcement, posting cameras like those used on the Bay Bridge or Golden Gate bridge on these blocks could be used for automatic enforcement rather than posting police officers.

    The fact that SFMTA is only considering traffic signals rather than tabling the intersections and changing to 2 way stop signs, or having blinking reds which change to green for transit vehicles or pedestrian access shows how the long hand of the more conservative DPW influences traffic planners in the city. They are also the same people who like nothing better than to waste street space by adding expensive to maintain center medians in our roadways rather than parking protected bike lanes. Remember, each traffic signal costs the city some $400,000 to install. Then, there is the annual $10,000 per year to maintain them. All moneys of which flow into DPW’s coffers.


    Michael Smith

    Note that in my original comment I have proposed that the SFMTA follow other more cost effective and beneficial solutions that are not the status quo.

    And as I said in my other comment, the 18 second infographic is not based on measurements. Saying that you think it is “more probable” is not as useful as going at and measuring the delays.


    Michael Smith

    Their report unfortunately shows that the SFMTA has not yet done their job.

    First, the 18 second number. It was originally 30. After mentioning to them that when I measured delays it was much less than that they clarified that the 30 seconds was for streetcars (which we aren’t talking about here!). For buses it was only 20. Well, great. Measuring things and questioning their numbers moved things in the right direction. After more prodding they have lowered the number to 18 seconds. But that number is a guestimate made on bad assumptions. It assumes that the buses will also be slowed by cars, which is often not the case at the intersections in question. That brings it down to about 10 seconds, which is still a bit higher than what I measured. Plus as I previously mentioned, their numbers don’t take into account the time that buses will have to stop for a traffic signal, which will still be quite significant.

    Key thing here is that they should measure the real world situation at the intersections in question and also take into account when buses get slowed by signals, even Transit Preferential ones. They have not done so.

    Their safety numbers are even worse. They looked at a few intersections where 4-way stops were replaced by a signals. Not only were these intersections not directly comparable but they had a shockingly small amount of data.. They could have easily compared many comparable intersections. Of the pedestrians who are killed or seriously injured, what percentage to you think are at 4-way stops instead of traffic signal intersections? Yes, almost none. Pedestrian advocate we have long advocated for stop signs instead of traffic signals for relatively lower volume roads because the numbers show they are safer.


    Michael Smith

    I like this idea. Unfortunately the SFMTA will argue that it is unusual and people often don’t do well with unusual intersections. Some might not appreciate the difference between a flashing red, to be treated the same way as a stop sign, and a solid red, which means that one must stop because cross traffic has a green light. If someone misinterprets the light it could cause a serious crash.

    But I think it is certainly worth studying.


    Michael Smith

    I mistyped. I indeed meant Laguna and Haight as the intersection with the 4-way stop that the SFMTA is proposing replacing with a signal.


    David Marcus

    Hey, for the record I support the SFMTA’s plans! I was just trying to track down a second source for the 18 second figure.



    The key to that traffic flow in the suburbs is phased signals. So while you might sit for two minutes at a red, and it’s annoying, when you do get a green and yu maintain a reasonable speed, you catch a whole string of green signals and can make good progress.

    SF only does that on a few major through roads like Pine/Bush, Fell/Oak, Franklin/Gough etc. And of course that cannot work on every street by definition.



    Mario, it’s true that Europe doesn’t have 2-way and 4-way stops. That’s a peculiarly American thing as far as I know.

    But they have roundabouts and traffic circles in place of 4-way stops. And “Give Way” signs in place of 2-way stops.

    The advantage of both of those mechanisms is that, when traffic is light, you don’t have to stop at all. Easily the most frustrating thing about a Stop sign is when visibility is good and there is no cross-traffic, but you still have to stop and start.

    Wherever possible, let the traffic flow. I’d support giving traffic circles another shot.



    There is no intersection of Fulton and Haight. The streets run parallel. Did you mean Laguna and Haight?



    Dave: That doesn’t sound unreasonable. Prop L covered general policy but did have specific measures as well. You can oppose those perfectly reasonably (as did I), but when it comes to specific actions, it makes sense to judge each one on its merits rather than blindly bowing to policy… although policy issues should be the default guiding principle.


    Mario Tanev

    A lot of pedestrian and transit advocates like to give Europe as an example that has done all of the following well:

    1. Transit is prioritized
    2. Pedestrians are safe
    3. The pedestrian experience is encouraged.

    It is very clear (or at least, it’s in SFMTA’s interest, so that’s why they’re pushing it), that transit will be helped by this change, so check.

    It seems some people are arguing with the pedestrian safety aspect, but SFMTA data seems to show that pedestrian-involved accidents will be reduced (perhaps by discouraging pedestrians due to delay, so see below).

    The third argument is the one people are passionate about. But look at Europe – there are almost no stop signs there and while smaller streets have no traffic devices at all, major street gets free flow, the equivalent of a two way stop sign. That means that crossing a major streets requires a bit of a walk. Yet, a lot of Europe does indeed have an inviting and safe pedestrian experience. So we’re overplaying the importance of stop signs in this.

    Last, I should mention that I did question with my supervisor and SFMTA the third signal phase installation at 30th and Dolores. My observation was that pedestrians used to cross less on red before, that J ran smoother and so on. Couple that with the death that happened there recently so I probed the SFMTA again. It seems their data does show fewer left-turn accidents, so I just don’t want to quibble with that.

    The phenomenon of what’s happening here is really a very familiar phenomenon in the workplace: micromanagement. The populace is the ultimate manager (many levels removed), but also the one with the minimum visibility and very selective interest in what the report has done. A good manager sets up a good structure (by voting for establishment of SFMTA per say), asks occasional questions (say, how did you arrive at the 18 seconds number) to get better informed, but when a report says they’ve done their job, the manager needs to trust that until evidence to the contrary arrives or fire the report if the manager doesn’t trust them with the basic stuff.