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Two Hit-and-Run Killings Last Night Plus Another Death This Morning

Three more people killed while cycling in the Bay Area in just the past 24 hours. Photo: SFBP Community Vigil Ride.

How many more vigils are needed before we get real change to our streets? Photo: SFBP Community Vigil Ride.

Editor’s note: it’s positively numbing that I can’t finish writing a piece about two cycling deaths in 24 hours, when a third cyclist is killed, this morning, this time in Pleasanton

Wednesday evening, word came down that a woman was killed in Golden Gate Park while riding her bike. And in a separate incident, a woman was killed in SoMa at 7th and Howard Streets.

The names of two three more beautiful people will be added to the sites visited in the next Rides of Silence. Speeches will be given. There will be vigils.

Two three more families and groups of friends will endure unbearable absences. For them, the agony never ends.

And yet, the legislative priority is to slash fines for motorists blowing through red lights.  Tone-deaf law makers boast about making it easier for law-breaking drivers to restore suspended licenses. And every time hard-fought safety measures are put in, our politicians and city planners cow to angry motorists clamoring to roll them back.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, in a statement, put it this way:

We know what our city’s streets need; we need the SFMTA to deliver. Ultimately, we need leadership at the top, and Mayor Ed Lee is failing as a leader. Where we need transformative safety improvements and transformative leadership, we have vague promises and a void of action… We need protected bike lanes on JFK Drive. And across SoMa, we need physically protected bike lanes and intersections. These crashes were preventable, and the city should urgently act to see that such tragedies are not repeated.

San Francisco State University geography professor, writer, and Streetsblog contributor Jason Henderson summed it up too:

There are too many cars in the city and it is too easy to drive them fast and violently. Every day I observe it getting worse. Every single day is worse than the previous. This is a political problem with a political solution. Golden Gate Park could and should be completely car free. South of Market should have fully-separated and wide cycletracks on every street. But the SF mayor-BOS-SFMTA-SF Planning Commission simply pander to angry motorists and give them more parking.

Read more…

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Menlo Park El Camino Real Bike Lanes Delayed Again

This proposed expansion of El Camino Real to six lanes at Ravenswood Avenue was cancelled in early May, freeing up $1 million for other transportation projects in Menlo Park. Image: City of Menlo Park

This proposed expansion of El Camino Real to six lanes at Ravenswood Avenue was cancelled in early May, freeing up $1 million for other transportation projects. Image: City of Menlo Park

Menlo Park’s plans to fix El Camino Real’s safety hazards were postponed yet again by a city council that is now split on whether to go ahead with the installation of even a bike lane pilot project. Proponents continue to demand that the city take action to prevent injuries suffered by residents in traffic collisions.

“The goals of Menlo Park roadway infrastructure changes should be to serve more people and to make our roadways safer for everyone,” said Bicycle Commission Chair Cindy Welton at the May 3 City Council meeting. “Our status quo street design that we’ve inherited is not working. No one is served by our high collision rates.”

Citing concerns the city is making too many safety improvements too fast, and under continued pressure from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to cancel the ambitious project altogether, the council voted to postpone it until after the city installs bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue later this year. A total of 112 car parking spaces will be removed for the Oak Grove bike lanes.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Two Cyclists Killed in Separate Incidents (Hoodline, NBCBayArea, SFGate)
  • More on Mission Street Red Carpet Lanes (SFExaminer)
  • Comparing BART and the Nations Rail Systems (Marketplace)
  • Adjustment in the SF Housing Market? (SFChron)
  • Housing Prices Peak (SFBay)
  • Possible In Law Unit Ballot Measure? (Socketsite)
  • Forum Talks Transit and Traffic in Marin (KQED)
  • Seven Year Sentence for DUI Murders (SFGate)
  • Bill to Authorize High Speed Rail Bond Sale for Caltrain Upgrades (KCRA)
  • Editorial: Don’t Reroute Caltrain Transbay Extension (SFExaminer)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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Streetsblog Talks With SF Bicycle Coalition Incoming Director Brian Wiedenmeier

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BriansmilingEarlier this week, the SF Bike Coalition announced it is tapping its development director, Brian Wiedenmeier, as its new executive director. Wiedenmeier takes the reigns from Margaret McCarthy, who had served as the organization’s interim director during a search to replace Noah Budnick, who resigned last year.

Streetsblog sat down with Wiedenmeier to find out more about him and his goals for the organization.

Streetsblog: So why bike advocacy?

Brian Wiedenmeier: I associate cycling with joy and freedom, I began riding a bike as a child and as someone who grew up in a small town in the Midwest. It’s not cool after 16, so I bought a car to get to my job. But when I went to college at the University of Minnesota a car was not something I could afford, so I started biking again out of necessity. But then I realized what a freeing, amazing thing it was–this simple machine that let me experience the city in a new way.

SB: Tell us about cycling in Minnesota.

BW: Minneapolis is a great city that’s blessed with a network of fully separated bike paths that run through parks. And they have the midtown Greenway which is an old piece of rail infrastructure, a freight line that ran in a trench through the city. It’s been re-purposed exclusively for the use of bicycles and pedestrians. It’s a magic thing with bicycle on-ramps and off-ramps that get you cross town in no time flat.

SB: But you decided to move to San Francisco. How was that, cycling-wise? Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Columbus Wins $50 Million “Smart City” Grant. What Put It Over the Top?

Columbus has been chosen to help pioneer innovation in transportation technology. Image: Columbus

U.S. DOT chose Columbus to model how new technologies can improve urban transportation. Image: City of Columbus

U.S. DOT announced the winner of its $50 million “Smart City” grant yesterday, and Columbus, Ohio, bested finalists San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Denver for the prize. Many other cities had applied for this federal funding to demonstrate how new technologies can improve urban streets and transportation.

In its application, Columbus focused on improving job access for low-income residents via shared cars and autonomous buses. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland considered the winning bid from the perspective of his city’s close-but-no-cigar application. Here’s what he thinks set Columbus apart:

Though many of the elements of Columbus’s proposal are similar to Portland’s ultimately unsuccessful one — a multimodal mobility app, electric vehicle charging stations — two things jump out as being absent from Portland’s proposal:

• Local Columbus companies pledged $90 million of their own investment in smart transportation technology as part of the matching-fund total.

It’s hard to say how much of this is just clever repackaging of money that would have been spent anyway, but it’s a very impressive sum. Portland’s application drew lots of letters of support but no local financial commitments like that.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • SF Fails to Get National Smart City Grant (SFExaminer)
  • Hsu Confirmed for SFMTA Board (SFBay)
  • SFMTA May Roll Back Turn Restrictions on Mission (SFExaminer)
  • SF Transit Dream Map (SFGate)
  • Delay on Affordable Housing Vote (SFGate)
  • More Details on Twisting Transbay Tower (Socketsite)
  • Housing Market Continues on Hot Streak (Socketsite)
  • The Caltrain Atherton Quiet Zone Fight (Almanac)
  • Advocates Urge Safety Measures at Deadly San Rafael Crossing (MarinIJ)
  • Did Presidential Politics Trump SF Smart City Application? (SFGate)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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Mission Madness: How Effective is the Big Meeting Format for Outreach?

SFMTA's Matt Brill addresses a boisterous crowd on Mission Street. Photo: Streetsblog

SFMTA’s Matt Brill addresses a boisterous crowd about Mission Street. Photo: Streetsblog

Roberto Hernandez, the “Monarch of the Mission,” didn’t put down the microphone when his two minutes were up. Heavy set, with his trademark fedora, he had already gone several minutes past the cut-off alarm, shouting about how someone with seven children can’t possibly ride the bus, reminiscing about riding a bike before there were bike lanes in San Francisco, and generally cursing SFMTA and the Mission Street transit-only “red lanes” that he connected with the ills of gentrification. At least, that seemed to be what he was saying, in addition to something about lowriders. It was difficult to understand, thanks to all the boos, hisses, and cheers, with roughly half the crowd shouting, “your two minutes are up!” or “cut off his mic” and the other half shouting, “Let him speak!”

It’s a scene that seems to play out every time SFMTA holds one of these large community meetings about whatever fill-in-the-blank project. Someone will take over the mic, break the rules, and whip the room into a lather.

But Monday night’s meeting was especially bad.

It must have been 85 degrees at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. That’s probably because 200 people crammed into the space to support–and bemoan–the SFMTA’s transit-only “red carpet” lanes installed last March on Mission. Or maybe the heat was from the smoldering rage, seemingly intensified by the thudding noise from a dance class above that vibrated throughout the meeting room, which is also an art space.

That said, before the raucous meeting officially got underway, Streetsblog was able to talk one-on-one with a few of the attendees and presenters.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Caltrans Bicycling/Walking Survey Closing Soon, Draft CA Plan This Fall

Support Streetsblog California today. Click on image to make a donation.

Support continuing coverage of Caltrans and statewide bicycle and pedestrian issues on Streetsblog California. Click on image to make a donation.

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Caltrans is developing the first-ever statewide effort to provide guidance on bicycle and pedestrian planning

As part of the process to develop the first-ever statewide bike and pedestrian plan, Caltrans has been collecting general information from people about their current walking and bicycling experience. The survey, available here, closes on June 30.

So far the department has collected about 2,500 responses from around the state. The information will be used to help formulate a draft California State Bike and Ped Plan, with the completed plan due in February 2017.

While at the State Bike and Ped Plan website, sign up for updates on the next phase of public outreach. A webinar about the plan is being put together for some time in late July or August. When the draft plan is released this fall, there will be “another round of public engagement,” according to Scott Forsythe, who is managing the effort for Caltrans.

The plan’s website is also due for an update in the next few weeks.

So far Caltrans has held ten regional workshops—well, nine, with the tenth happening in Eureka tomorrow—with local agency partners to gather feedback about coordinating on bike and pedestrian issues. The regional workshops gathered about 170 representatives from cities, counties, metropolitan planning organizations, health departments, and law enforcement agencies. Bicycle and pedestrian advocates were invited to attend as well. See earlier SBCA coverage of a recent state plan workshop in Los Angeles.

The regional forums were an “early outreach effort,” according to Forsythe. A summary of the input from the forums will inform the draft plan. Then, in the fall, “there will be further opportunities for public input to the plan. We’re still looking for the best way to reach out to get the most effective input,” said Forsythe.

Currently Caltrans is developing draft objectives for the plan, with the help of a technical advisory committee made up of representatives of about forty planning agencies, state agencies, and advocates. The advisory committee “is a good cross section of California,” said Forsythe. “It includes representatives from urban areas and rural areas, mountain communities, coastal communities.” The advisory committee provides feedback on the draft objectives, and will help with developing strategies to meet those objectives and performance measures to evaluate whether they are being met.

The plan’s objectives are based on the six goals already developed for the statewide California Transportation Plan 2040. “There was an extensive statewide effort to develop the CTP goals,” said Forsythe, “and they apply to this plan.”

The goals in the CTP are a good start for a bike/ped plan. They are to: Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Killer DUI Motorcyclist Gets Probation (SFChron, SFBay, Hoodline)
  • A Look at Commuting Patterns in the Bay Area (SFist)
  • Lifting Height Limit for Housing in the Mission (Socketsite)
  • More on Plane that Crashed on BART Hayward Yard (SFChron)
  • More on Bike Party (SFChron)
  • More on BART Voltage Spikes (SFist)
  • Sonoma Marin Train Will be First in Nation Completely with Positive Train Control (MarinIJ)
  • Spare the Air Day (Almanac)
  • Santa Rosa Transit Village (MarinIJ)
  • San Mateo Focuses on Highway Interchange as Transportation Funds Tighten (SMDailyJournal)
  • Burlingame Discusses Housing on Bayfront (SMDailyJournal)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

Streetsblog USA
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Beyond Fitness: The Social Benefits of Open Streets Events

Milwaukee's Ciclovia was planned in part to help bring together different groups in a Hispanic neighborhood. Urban MIlwaukee

One goal of Milwaukee’s Ciclovia is to bring neighbors together in public space. Photo: Urban Milwaukee

It’s a beautiful thing to witness just how much neighborhood streets can change when you remove car traffic. As open streets events, modeled after Bogotá’s Ciclovia, have spread across the U.S. in the past several years, they’ve brought not just opportunities for physical activity, but a joyful new way to use streets as public spaces.

In Milwaukee, this year’s Ciclovia overlapped with the city’s Pride parade. Writing at Urban Milwaukee, Dave Schlabowske of the Wisconsin Bike Federation says the combination of the two events underscored how open streets are about so much more than biking:

Our Ciclovía ended at 4 p.m. and I packed up the van with the now empty bike racks and put them back in the basement of our office. Pedaling home from our office after such a successful day, I kept reliving the smiles of all the cute kids, the infectious beat of the Zumba, and generally basking in a day that made me proud to work for the Wisconsin Bike Fed and be part of such a wonderful, healthy, community building event. It was one of those days I couldn’t imagine living anywhere but Milwaukee.

Then I got home and my wife told me the news about the mass shooting in Orlando. I was shocked. I can’t believe our event and the Pridefest Parade overlapped and yet I had no idea of the horrific attack on the LGBT community the night before. It took me awhile to write about this. At first I felt guilty for being so self-absorbed that I missed learning about the biggest mass murder in our nation’s history while busy with a “bike event.”

Read more…