Skip to content

Recent Comments

RSS
  1.  

    jd_x

    Great points, but this isn’t quite correct:

    “I will also point out that acceleration kills just as much as speed. If you punch the accelerator even coming from a dead stop (as impatient drivers in San Francisco are wont to do) you can kill someone even though technically you weren’t speeding.”

    It’s the speed of the vehicle when it hits you that matters, regardless of how it got to that speed. For example, if you got hit by car going 10 mph that was breaking from 40 mph that would feel no different than one that hit you also at 10 mph that was accelerating from 0 mph. However, in the latter case, after the car hits you it is more likely to hit you again (unless the driver immediately stops accelerating and/or brakes or you get knocked sideways out of the car’s path), so this is one reason getting hit by an accelerating driver could be worse.

    But none of this takes away from the basic point, one that is often overlooked, that really fast acceleration is dangerous because the vehicle can easily lose control. Further, almost by definition, really fast acceleration means aggressive/reckless driving which in turn corresponds to increased likelihood of an accident. I’ve always thought it would be appropriate to have some governor on cars which limits their *acceleration*. In fact, engines are way overpowered to begin with because we have this insane idea that a 4000 lb vehicles needs to be able to accelerate at ridiculous levels. We have a whole culture where car makers brag about their 0-60 mph time when there is absolutely no reason these numbers should matter to the degree they do. There is absolutely no *need* for anybody to have an engine that can get them from 0-60 mph in less than 10-15 seconds. This is just part of our culture’s addiction to the car at the expense of safety and rationality.

  2.  

    coolbabybookworm

    There are two ends to the spectrum, but driving in a city is different than a train on tracks with right of way or vehicles on a highway with restricted access. Being aware of errant pedestrians in San Francisco seems reasonable to me and if I’m driving the speed limit I should be able to stop my car in time to at least minimize the impact if not completely avoid it.

    If a pedestrian crosses illegally and is hit by someone texting who is at fault? Which is worse, crossing illegally or driving and texting?

  3.  

    coolbabybookworm

    Where is the record of near accidents kept?

  4.  

    p_chazz

    I would prefer to delay taking any action against the driver until at least a cursory investigation had been conducted. The driver’s record can easily be checked to determine if he or she has a history of accidents or near accidents. It shouldn’t take six months to determine that.

  5.  

    roymeo

    We have 2 ends to the spectrum here:
    Driver not paying attention striking someone that has right of way, such as a driver blowing a red light.
    Pedestrian stepping out into traffic from behind an obstacle without looking in a place one would not expect, such as mid-block between 2 controlled intersections, where even an aware driver is unable to brake quickly enough.

    I agree that the 2 are different…I don’t think we ought to pull the license from every transit driver that has someone jump in front of their train.

    About a month ago in Oakland I had to brake suddenly when a car on the Brush St frontage road blew through a very red light past stopped cars in all the other lanes at 10th St. I was able to stop in the 1st lane, he flew by in the second. The driver behind me was turning right onto Brush and didn’t notice the emergency stop and ended up striking me, but luckily everyone was ok (other than the people behind me for that last mile I rode with me ass hanging out of my bike shorts). I didn’t blame the guy who hit me, I blamed the guy who caused the accident. (Especially when he showed up 10 minutes later claiming to be a witness.)

    (Had I been 1-2 seconds earlier to the intersection, I’d be dead. Had I been driving a car I’d probably be dead for I wouldn’t have been able to stop that quickly. Had I not been there, the driver behind me probably would have been dealt a glancing blow.)

    I’m pretty sure the second guy was legally at fault since he struck me. I’m not sure if the driver of the silver sedan CA 6ABW033 was legally at fault, but he was the root cause and the menace. That’s the one who should have his license pulled for a month (after some sort of non-biased trial).

  6.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    You’re no Bob Gunderson.

  7.  

    coolbabybookworm

    That shouldn’t be an obstacle to determining whether or not a crime has been committed and that the driver is not a threat to themselves or others. People who drive for a living have a greater responsibility to drive safely.

  8.  

    p_chazz

    It doesn’t need to be a punishment in order to have a punitive effect.

  9.  

    p_chazz

    Actions over which they have no control = a pedestrian who darted out between two parked cars on a dark street or a bicyclist who blew through a late red.

  10.  

    dat

    Well DUH Polk St. has more bicycle crashes then we thought. It’s all a part of the vast conspiracy of under-reported “solo-falls” that the shadowy cabal of social engineers led by the evil Bicycle Lobby(TM) doesn’t want you to know about! Like this is news to any of us. You can read about it in The Study. Wake up Sheeple!

  11.  

    Nicholas Littlejohn

    We all know energy has gotten a lot cleaner and is getting better each day. I’m sorry you had to live next to a peaker plant..that was probably for midday load..air conditioning and such.

    Electric buses don’t use much energy in comparison and the Stanford ones are charged at night with otherwise wasted energy and wind, which is perfect as it produces a lot at night.

  12.  

    coolbabybookworm

    It’s not a punishment to revoke a privilege, especially until the police have fully investigated and the DA have looked at the case in the event that someone has been killed and cannot share their side of the story.

  13.  

    EastBayer

    “over which they have no control”?

    (Most) cars don’t drive themselves…

  14.  

    p_chazz

    It has a punitive effect if the person depends on his or her vehicle for a living; a professional driver, or a sales person who has a territory to cover.

  15.  

    p_chazz

    This smacks of the zero tolerance rules to ban weapons in schools that lead to an A students getting expelled because her mother inadvertently sent her to school with her father’s lunch bag, which had a steak knife to cut a piece of cold chicken. The intent of the rule is good, but it can do serious harm to an innocent person. What if the person involved in a collision where he was not at fault depended on his vehicle for his living? A 30-day suspension of his drivers license would impair his ability to make a living.

  16.  

    thielges

    Are people “darting out” a common enough occurrence that we even need to consider a serious possibility? Maybe I live a charmed existence but I do not recall ever having a pedestrian dart out in front of me to the point I’ve had to slam the brakes.

    I have seen pedestrians methodically stride mid-block into traffic, staring down drivers, almost daring drivers not to stop. They might be belligerent drunks looking for a fight. But even mild alertness on the part of the driver can avoid contact.

    By far the most common sudden encroachments into a travel lane are car doors that fling open without any warning.

  17.  

    Andy Chow

    Your definition is user fee (gas taxes, etc). My definition includes non-transportation specific revenues generated from transportation activities. I am not denying that driving is subsidized, but drivers are also providing the subsidy, more so than cyclists who don’t own cars.

    Review acknowledges that there’s no agreement on accounting methods: http://www.uctc.net/papers/313.pdf

    Businesses that offer free parking, or casinos offering free shuttles, do so because they know it will bring in customers and thus revenue. May be if the business is located in SF Union Square, that may not be an issue, but not in the suburbs where all your competitors have free parking. Are you suggesting them somehow being economy irrational?

    Is automobile socialism? In a way it is true. Compared to the railroads, highways are almost always publicly owned and toll free. Highways were developed during the Progressive era when the public disliked the railroad tycoon culture. They see highways as a pushback against the railroads.

  18.  

    Andy Chow

    They do it because they want choices in employment and upward mobility. Don’t preach it to me, preach your message at the DMV where people are standing in line for hours trying to get their licenses. That they will be economically better off even with a lower paying job because they don’t have to afford a car.

    The things that I have heard many times on transit is that many of them want to get car someday and mostly because it shortens their commute. Part of the improvement in quality of life is more time for work, leisure, or rest.

  19.  

    SFnative74

    License suspension needs to become more common a result of negligent driving. Right now, all you have to do is stop, call the police, and say it was an “accident” and off you go. Taking 6 months off from behind the wheel would be a good thing for our more reckless drivers, to see things more from the other side of a windshield perspective. And in a city like SF where getting around without a car is not hard to do, it makes sense to make this more common.

  20.  

    Jym Dyer

    My point is that there are numerous sources looking at the costs and revenues, I even listed some, but anyone who’s been involved for over a decade should already be conversant in this. Proceeding from an unsupported premise (“I don’t agree”) is a waste of time.

  21.  

    Karen Lynn Allen

    Just to be clear, I am advocating no criminal charges for a driver involved in a fatal crash, no fines, just the temporary revoking of a privilege that is *not* a Constitutional or god-given right. If the revoking of the driver’s license after a crash-caused fatality is automatic, even accidents that one could say are “caused” by bicyclists and pedestrians, will magically evaporate because motorists will magically start seeing the kid before they get to the street, intersections will be daylighted and the city will get serious about fixing designs of the most dangerous streets because drivers (not pedestrians and bicyclists) will finally be howling about them.

    If you drive under 20 mph in highly dense pedestrian areas you are highly unlikely to kill someone even if you hit them. So under my proposed shift in societal values, (where hitting someone doesn’t draw a penalty, just a death does) just drive slowly and cautiously and you have need have no worries about losing your license. As it stands, there is no penalty for drivers who kill unless they are drunk. (And there are basically no penalties for drivers in San Francisco who drive drunk unless they kill because their crimes are almost without exception plea bargained down to dry reckless. It’s a great money-maker for the lawyers involved!)

    Any professional driver (anyone who drives as part of his/her job) who can’t drive without killing people ought to find a different line of work. It’s that simple.

    I will also point out that acceleration kills just as much as speed. If you punch the accelerator even coming from a dead stop (as impatient drivers in San Francisco are wont to do) you can kill someone even though technically you weren’t speeding.

    As a society of drivers, we hold non-drunk drivers almost entirely unaccountable for the death and destruction they cause. We routinely blame victims (non-drivers) for causing “accidents”. Drivers are just unlucky; it could’ve happened to anyone. Non-drivers are inherently erratic/rash/reckless/suicidal/immature/irresponsible/low status/unworthy/impetuously and maliciously liable to risk their lives in order to get some poor unsuspecting driver in trouble. (After all, if they were an upstanding, responsible adult they’d be driving a car!)

    But cities/countries where the driver is considered at fault in all crashes have much, much lower crash rates and crash fatality rates. Again, I’m advocating no criminal charges, no time in jail, no fines. Just enough of a consequence that drivers will become cautious and make not killing anyone their primary objective in any trip they take.

  22.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    Wow those SMART shelter designs are awful. Why do transit agencies hate riders? Don’t build a platform with a roof that covers only 10% of the platform, unless you hate your riders. It’s pretty simple. Don’t put a bunch of crap all over the platform, and keep your riders out of the rain.

  23.  

    Jym Dyer

    Uh-huh. By way of context, I used to live on Potrero Hill on an electric bus line, right by where the dirty diesel-powered peaker plants were fired up. We fought for air quality standards for decades. Now electricity comes from somewhere else (rainbows perhaps) and we can all pretend it’s totally clean.

  24.  

    coolbabybookworm

    It’s not a punishment to remove a license in the case death, just as it is not punishment to revoke a gun license in the case of death. No one here is advocating jail time or imprisonment which would be punishment.

  25.  

    p_chazz

    Penalizing a driver for the actions of another as Karen Lynn Allen did is inherently unjust. There is no objective, however desirable, to which principles of justice and fairness should be sacrificed.

  26.  

    gneiss

    Many of the stories told by motorists who claim that a person “darted out into traffic” or “crossed their bicycle in front of me” have another subtext that we forget about, which is that the design of our roadways and the culture of primacy for automobiles in our public spaces that we have in our country make these kinds of incidents a statistical inevitability.

    If the speed limit was 20 mph on many of our city streets, drivers would have plenty of time to see that person “darting out into traffic”. If we created enough safe crossing for people so they didn’t feel like they needed to jaywalk midblock we’d have many more legal ways for people to get across the street. Or, if we had fewer stop lights that encouraged long swaths of empty pavement for people to accelerate to the next stop light, like on Geary, or if our culture didn’t treat cars like mobile living rooms, but the dangerous machinery that they are.

    There are many things outside of penalizing motorists that can be done, and no one here is arguing that someone should loose their license if the crash wasn’t their fault.

    As it stands now, however, we rarely sanction drivers for killing and injuring people even if they break traffic laws. How is this at all helping to encourage a culture of safety on our streets?

  27.  

    coolbabybookworm

    “I find it unconscionable that you could suggest penalizing drivers with the loss of their license because they killed a pedestrian who darted out between two parked cars on a dark street or a bicyclist who blew through a late red.”

    “I find it unconscionable” sounds like a scenario where you give the driver 100% impunity, not that you give 100% of drivers impunity.

    Driving is a privilege and that privilege should be revoked in the case of death, at the very least until the investigation is complete and a court can determine if the driver is fit to drive.

  28.  

    Jamison Wieser

    If anyone’s going to borrow anyone else’s rhetoric, SF could follow Seattle’s lead and reduce the speed limit for traffic, but not for transit.

    This link refers to a segment of Seattle’s light-rail system where the trains have a dedicated right of way in the median and I can imagine something very similar here where Muni lines have their own, separated lanes like the N-Judah on some of the surface or Van Ness BRT will have.

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2015/02/24/vision-zero-wont-slow-down-link/

  29.  

    Jamison Wieser

    Vision Zero is being adopted by cities around the world to reduce the “number of injuries and deaths caused by reckless, careless drivers.

    Were motorists more careful (just this last Friday a mother and child were hit by a driver in an SUV running a red light) and were not the leading cause of death for children under 5 for four decades then Cities like SF, New York, San Mateo, Seattle, Portland, Boston, San Mateo, etc. wouldn’t need to adopt a Vision Zero policy.

    The most cursory of Google searches turned up this site stating that the three states which have decided to take safety seriously have seen a significant improvement.

    The three U.S. states that have adopted the model – Minnesota, Utah, and Washington – all have experienced a 40 percent or more reduction in traffic fatalities.

    http://americawalks.org/u-s-cities-embrace-vision-zero-to-eliminate-pedestrian-fatalities/

  30.  

    murphstahoe

    They got priced out in part by taking thousands of dollars and lighting a match to it by buying a car.

    Oh – but the car enables them to get a better job? You say these are “lower-middle class folks” – if so then that car has not enabled them to get a job worth the thousands they spend on car related expenses, they would be better off with a job that pays 15% less but does not require that they spend 30% of their take home pay for transport. Having a car is what keeps them in the underclass.

  31.  

    murphstahoe

    Cool story bro

  32.  

    Upright Biker

    It is not. I have no idea how you could make such a leap of logic.

    Bicycling can and should be safer, but as an activity, it is not dangerous. Bicycling in unsafe conditions is more dangerous than bicycling on dedicated/protected lanes, and that’s why we need more of them.

  33.  

    peternatural

    If you’re focused and paying attention, you can actually spot that maniac lurking between the parked cars getting ready to dart out. If you’re daydreaming while eating a bagel, not so much.

    “Did he dart out?”
    “Yes, officer. There was nothing I could do! Hey can I borrow a napkin?”

  34.  

    Nicholas Littlejohn

    These electric buses actually save communities tens of thousands of dollars apiece in diesel and related noise, health issues. Stanford will soon have 23 electric buses.

  35.  

    p_chazz

    It may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t drive a car and I voted no on L. I draw the line at penalizing drivers for actions over which they have no control. Such talk only serves as red meat for hardcore activists.

  36.  

    p_chazz

    Show me where I said there should be 100% driver impunity. You can’t because I didn’t . In fact, I began by sayimg punishments for negligent drivers should be increased.

  37.  

    Anthony R

    What if in your fantasy scenario of 100% driver impunity said driver was speeding or impaired by drugs or alcohol, still no penalty?

  38.  

    Andy Chow

    For more than a decade I have involved professionally and non-professionally in advocacy and encouraging use of alternative transportation. But I also not pretending that the automobile culture has been thriving because it has been a very profitable one: for automakers, oil companies, governments that invested in building more parking and roads, and businesses providing free parking for employees and customers.

    The user fee may not be paying for all the costs (let’s face it, there’s no user fee at all for ped and cyclists), but governments and businesses believe that increased businesses and tax revenue help cover the extra cost for providing it. It is kind of like free shuttles offered by Indian casinos to bring customers from urban areas. The casinos lose money on fares, but make up by extra revenue from gamblers.

    While there are externalities, but there’s no political consensus on their recognition, whether it is global warming, environmental impacts of fracking, road injuries, oil wars, etc. Values are also subjective. You may think that road safety is important, but others believe in mobility and access to jobs and education.

    In the United States, we generally don’t like to nickel and dime people, so certainly policies that encourage people to make economically rational choices (like paid parking) very difficult to implement. In one sense, while environmentalism itself a liberal value, measures like congestion pricing go against other liberal values of keeping the cost as low as possible and not making profits from public goods.

    I think there are many reasons to support transit, cycling, and ped improvements, even for those who drive. But I don’t agree with the assertion that cyclists are subsidizing drivers because the cost of streets and roads are not completely user funded.

  39.  

    jd_x

    Slowing down doesn’t happen because people cry out to “slow down” or because campaigns are run to lobby drivers to slow down. Drivers slow down when they are severely punished for not slowing down (even when they don’t actually hit somebody) and the roads are designed so it’s really difficult to speed. This idea that we can keep saying “slow down” and it will make a difference needs to end. This is just a cop out to avoid the systemic problem we have where we have designed our streets so that motorists can move quickly at the expense of everyone else, that pedestrians and bicyclists are overexposed to thousand-pound vehicles with hundreds of horsepower and distracted drivers, and that there is weak punishment, if any, of motorists when they act recklessly.

    Finally, it’s not just about speed but about distracted driving and intentionally reckless/aggressive/selfish driving. All these things need to be addressed in a systemic way; we don’t need more people opining for drivers to slow down. That has never changed anything and never will and deflects attention from the underlying root cause of anachronistic, car-centric urban design. We need city planners and SFPD to actually do something.

  40.  

    Andy Chow

    Cities get some road monies from the state’s fuel taxes along with other funding source. Auto dealers may be a large sales tax generator but not every cities appreciate having these kinds of businesses.

    For some fun reading, take a look at this from Caltrans on transportation funding: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/eab/fundchrt_files/Transportation_Funding_in_CA_2014.pdf

  41.  

    the_greasybear

    You neither represent nor speak for ‘all but the most rabid activists.’ Your anti-bike extremism and Internet trolling places you squarely outside the San Francisco mainstream, as shown
    at the polls in November.

  42.  

    p_chazz

    While the punishment for negligent drivers should be increased, I find it unconscionable that you could suggest penalizing drivers with the loss of their license because they killed a pedestrian who darted out between two parked cars on a dark street or a bicyclist who blew through a late red. It shows the inherant unreasonableness of your position and your deep antipathy toward automobiles. It only serves to discredit you among all but the most rabid activists.

  43.  

    Scott

    Congrats to San Mateo! Let’s hope they can see this through relatively quickly!

  44.  

    Karen Lynn Allen

    People run red lights on Geary with astonishing frequency. I can think of no other street in San Francisco where I’ve witnessed more red light running than the stretch of Geary from Arguello to 34th Ave or so. (And I don’t even live in the Richmond.) I am cautious crossing Geary even when driving a car, and triply so when riding a bike.

    Street design is a factor, enforcement is a factor, but the lack of consequences to drivers involved in crashes is also a factor. If every driver involved in a crash that resulted in fatality were to automatically lose their license for six months *no matter who was at fault* (double that for a professional driver) then people would drive with a great deal more caution around those not encased in three thousand pounds of steel. Yes, pedestrians and bicyclists do crazy things at times, but they generally have a high incentive not to get themselves killed. Drivers, however, have little incentive beyond basic morality not to kill.

    On a recent trip to Stockholm, I was amazed at how careful and considerate drivers were of pedestrians and bicyclists. The second they saw you, they slowed down and gently rolled to a stop, and then waited patiently while you crossed. (As opposed to San Francisco where drivers accelerate to stop signs and red lights, slam on the brakes the last ten feet, if they stop at all, and then roar past the second you are no longer in front of their car or make turns nosing through streams of crossing pedestrians.) Drivers in Stockhom never ran red lights, they never even made a turn faster than 8 mph. We walked four to five miles a day there, and not once did I ever feel threatened by a car. Not once. When I walk or bike in San Francisco I feel threatened by a car at least once every twenty minutes.

    Stockholm had some separated bicycle infrastructure in places (more than San Francisco) but not everywhere. They also had more than a mile of lovely pedestrian-only streets which were filled with a huge number of pedestrians. But the basic design of their main arterials was not that much different from San Francisco, and there were tons of people out and about walking at all hours which presumably gives lots of opportunity for car/pedestrian collisions. And yet the crash fatality rate in Stockholm is one-seventh of San Francisco’s. I am pretty convinced that it is their driver behavior that is the true difference. Not to mention the courteous drivers made Stockholm a stress-free pedestrian paradise even in the depths of cold, dark December. It’s amazing how relaxing and pleasant not having to constantly fear for your life is. The sun setting at 3pm and having to pay $15 for the cheapest glass of a wine in a restaurant were a little daunting, but the walking was a fabulous.

  45.  

    Gezellig

    Sometimes I like to try my hand at comedy ;)

    Though, hey, there *is* a GGT>Muni Clipper transfer discount!

  46.  

    murphstahoe

    LOL

  47.  

    Gezellig

    As for SMART Clipper plans, I wonder if there will be discounts for switching to/from GGT lines (whether ferry or bus).

  48.  

    Dark Soul

    75% Away from being an excellence on performance….One example, one time there was 5 – 29 Sunset`s in the same direction, while opposite direction have a huge wait time.

  49.  

    Gezellig

    Just because flying is comparatively safe doesn’t mean we ignore known measures to make it even safer.

    http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/injury-facts-chart.aspx

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safest-form-of-transportation/

  50.  

    SFnative74

    I thought he said that about Valencia St back in the late 90s.