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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…

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San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Names New Executive Director

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Say hello to Brian Wiedenmeier, the SF Bike Coalition's new executive director. Image: SFBC

Say hello to Brian Wiedenmeier, the SF Bike Coalition’s new executive director. Image: SFBC

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Board of Directors has selected Brian Wiedenmeier as the organization’s next executive director. Wiedenmeier is not a newcomer to the SFBC. He spent the last two years as the organization’s development director. “Brian’s professional accomplishments and experience really stood out throughout this hiring process,” said Brianne O’Leary Gagnon, president of the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Board, in a prepared statement. “He’s committed to people biking and the city of San Francisco.”

From the SFBC’s announcement:

Wiedenmeier moved to San Francisco ten years ago from Minneapolis, where he went to college, and joined the SF Bicycle Coalition as a member the following year. He bikes both as his primary means of transportation as well as for recreation. In addition to the long rides Wiedenmeier often takes on mornings and weekends, he just completed his second 545-mile AIDS/LifeCycle Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles last week.

“It’s really important to me not only that we continue improving biking in San Francisco, but that we do so in every single neighborhood of our city,” Wiedenmeier said, in the coalition’s announcement. “If you live in the Tenderloin, the Bayview, or the Excelsior, I want you to know that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is here to help improve your streets to meet your hopes and needs.”

Readers will recall a few months ago Streetsblog did a Q&A with the SFBC’s interim executive director, Margaret McCarthy, when she was appointed after Noah Budnick’s departure amidst a contentious board election. McCarthy resumes her role as program director through July. Afterwards, she plans to leave the SF Bicycle Coalition’s staff.

Streetsblog will be conversing with Wiedenmeier soon to get details on where he hopes to take the organization. We wish him the best of luck in the new gig. Given the challenges of bringing safe bicycle infrastructure to San Francisco, he will have his work cut out for him.

His official start date will be Wednesday, July 6.

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This Week: Bringing Back Main Street, Hub Project, Pride Parade

sblog_calendar1Here are this week’s highlights from the Streetsblog calendar:

  • Monday tonight! Mission Community Hearing. Supervisor David Campos and the SFMTA are holding a public hearing about tweaking the design of the Mission Street Red transit-only lanes. This is in response to complaints by local merchants that the lanes are hurting their bottom lines. SFMTA and the Supervisor’s office will hear suggestions from the public. Attendees will be required to submit a speaker card. When called, speakers will be given two minutes to address the hearing. Monday, tonight, June 20, 6 pm at the Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission Street, SF.
  • Tuesday Enlivening Our Main Streets. Once-forgotten downtown main streets in towns across the country are being revitalized. But reversing a declining downtown or a crumbling commercial corridor is a more complicated problem than just finding money. How do you build community, activate empty storefronts, and make main streets better places to live, work, and play? Join SPUR Oakland for a afternoon discussion of what it takes to make a vibrant downtown. Tuesday, June 21, 12:30 pm. SPUR Oakland, 1544 Broadway. Free for SPUR members. $10 for non-members.
  • Tuesday Bikes, Wrenches, and Brews at Berkeley REI. Hang out with fellow bicyclists at the Berkeley REI to learn bike maintenance in a laid-back setting. Bring your bike, grab a complimentary brew, some grub, and a wrench. REI staff will instruct in basic bike maintenance. Tuesday, June 21, 6-8 p.m. Berkeley REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley.
  • Wednesday San Francisco Pride Parade Decorating Party. Stop by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition office to help create decorations and build a float for participation in the 2016 Pride Parade. Wednesday, June 22, 6-8 p.m. SF Bicycle Coalition Headquarters, 1720 Market Street, SF.
  • Wednesday Market Street Hub Workshop. This second workshop on San Francisco’s plan for the Hub will focus on street, open space, and public realm improvements that build on the initial concepts in the Market & Octavia Area Plan. This workshop will be an opportunity to learn more and share your ideas on how the area’s streets and public spaces can better serve community needs. Wednesday, June 22, 6-8 p.m. Red Cross Building, 1663 Market Street, SF.
  • Thursday Women Bike Happy Hour, Oakland. This is a regular thing, each 4th Thursday of the month. Spend some quality, off-the-bike time with other women who bike and drink. Any level of rider and all women, trans and femme folks are welcome. Bring your bike-curious friends. Bike parking provided. Thursday, June 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Woods Bar & Brewery, 1701 Telegraph Ave, Oakland.
  • Saturday César Chavez: From Traffic Sewer to a Safer, Greener Neighbor. Join Walk San Francisco for a walk led by CC Puede’s Fran Taylor and guest speaker Bonnie Ora Sherk of A Living Library to explore place-making activism and local hydrology on César Chávez Street, on the southern edge of the Mission. The mostly flat, two-mile walk will start at St. Luke’s Hospital and make its way along César Chávez past Bryant and on to the infamous freeway exchange known as the “hairball,” with a stairway climb there for a view from Bernal Heights. Saturday, June 25, 10-noon. St. Luke’s Hospital 3555 Cesar Chavez St, SF. RSVP required. Free for Walk SF Members. $10 for non-members. Walk will proceed rain or shine, barring high winds or dangerous weather.

Keep an eye on the calendar for updated listings. Got an event we should know about? Drop us a line.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Plane Crashes onto BART Hayward Facility (SFGate, SFExaminer)
  • The Search for BART Mystery Glitch Continues (SFGate)
  • Will the Fort Mason Tunnel Ever Reopen to Transit? (SFExaminer)
  • Dueling Views on Affordable Housing (Hoodline)
  • The East Bay Bike Party (SFChron)
  • Amtrak Adds Another Train from Oakland to Bakersfield (SFBay)
  • Police Donate Bikes to Cycles of Change (EastBayTimes)
  • San Mateo Updates Below Market Rate Program (DailyJournal)
  • Menlo Park Commission to Review Two Huge Plans (Almanac)
  • Bill Walton Takes BART to Warriors Game (SFGate)
  • Old Headline on the Old Freeway Fights (SFChron)

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

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VTA Sales Tax With Massive Highway Expansion Program on November Ballot

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) hopes to use $350 million in new sales tax revenue to widen Highway 85 with new express lanes, free for buses and carpools but charge a toll to solo drivers. Image: VTA

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)’s half-cent “Envision Silicon Valley” transportation sales tax is now headed to the November 8 general election ballot in the county, after receiving the unanimous approval of the transit agency’s Board of Directors on June 2.

The new sales tax would fund a massive highway expansion program, spending $1.85 billion on expressway and highway projects over the next 30 years, along with $1.5 billion to extend BART to Santa Clara, $1.2 billion to repave streets, $1 billion for Caltrain upgrades, $500 million for VTA bus and light rail operations, and $250 million for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

“I love driving my car, and I think 97 percent of our population does as well,” said VTA Board and San Jose City Council member Johnny Khamis at the June 2 meeting. “More than 52 percent of this budget is dedicated to transit and less than 48 percent is dedicated to roads. In the meantime, 97 percent of population uses roads, whether you’re on the bus, or a car, whether it’s hybrid or electric, or on a bicycle, you need a road. We don’t float on air.”

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: Ghosts of Motordom’s Past and Future

This week we’re doing something a little different with the podcast. It’s the morning plenary from last month’s Live.Ride.Share conference in Denver. You’ll hear Jill Locantore of WalkDenver introduce University of Virginia Professor Peter Norton, author of Fighting Traffic, who discusses how automobiles were sold to the public at the beginning of the motor age. Following Norton is Gabe Klein, former transportation director in Washington DC and Chicago, who talks about how cars are changing and what that means for streets and cities.

Norton starts at the 5-minute mark and Klein starts at 28:15, then questions from the audience and an open discussion come at 1:02:15.

Streetsblog USA
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What Gun Violence and Traffic Violence Have in Common

Traffic deaths vs. gun deaths in the U.S. Graph: Violence Policy Center via Transport Providence

Traffic deaths and gun deaths in the U.S. Graph: Violence Policy Center via Transport Providence

The horrific mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando has prompted some soul-searching about America’s ability to take significant steps to curb gun violence. Congress did nothing to control guns after dozens of young kids were massacred at Sandy Hook. Will the loss of 49 innocent lives finally lead officials to take action?

The problem of gun violence has recently inspired a number of analogies to traffic fatalities, which also claim tens of thousands of lives in America each year. President Obama said at a recent forum that gun violence can be systematically reduced through public policy, citing the reduction in traffic deaths as proof that it can be done. It’s true that traffic deaths have declined significantly in the last few decades (though they spiked upward in 2015), but what the president didn’t mention is that, like gun deaths, America’s traffic fatality rate remains sky-high compared to peer nations.

James Kennedy at Network blog Transport Providence says both gun deaths and traffic deaths require political action:

More Americans are killed each year by cars than by guns (though that number is merging, and guns may come out on top soon). For some on the right, this is a statistic that undermines the seriousness of the gun problem in this country, but it’s really more a statistic that speaks to how bad the car problem is. So, in America, we have two tools that we haven’t figured the institutions out for: cars and guns. Other countries have done very admirably with these.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Balboa Park BART Station to Close on Weekends (SFExaminer)
  • Another Mission District Development Approved (Socketsite)
  • ‘Fix It’ Team Gets Earful About Street Trash and Deficiencies in Castro (Hoodline)
  • Bay Area Car Usage Down (TransportXtra)
  • A Look at BARTs New Seats (SFist)
  • Thief Steals from BART and Gets Away on BART? (EastBayTimes)
  • Catalytic Converter Thefts From BART Parking (EastBayTimes)
  • Atherton Installs Safer Crossing After Pedestrian is Killed (AlmanacNews)
  • But no Place is Safe from Reckless Motorists (NBCBayArea)
  • Editorial: Fix Deadly San Rafael Intersection (MarinIJ)
  • Editorial: Sonoma Marin Train Board Does Not Understand Ticket Pricing (MarinIJ)

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

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Book Review: Planning Rock Stars Write Case-Study Bible for Livable Cities

Jason Henderson talks about his new book, co-written with Nicole Foletta, about designing car-free and car-lite cities, at Green Arcade Books. Photo: Streetsblog

Jason Henderson talks about his new book, co-written with Nicole Foletta, about designing car-free and car-lite cities, at Green Arcade Books. Photo: Streetsblog

A wise man once said there are few if any urban planning problems that haven’t been solved somewhere on earth–the challenge is just finding the best stuff to copy. That’s the approach of Low Car(Bon) Communities: Inspiring Car-Free and Car-Lite Urban Futures, a new book by Nicole Foletta and Jason Henderson, published by Routledge. Foletta is Principal Planner with BART, with experience working in Europe. Henderson is a geography professor at San Francisco State University and Streetsblog contributor.

The 157-page volume starts out explaining why it’s so urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and why the key to that is discouraging car use and car ownership. It identifies the concept of “car free” and “car-lite” communities–cities that are designed in such a way to not just make cars unnecessary, but to discourage their use by closing some streets to traffic and restricting parking.
Screenshot from Jasons book

This, of course, is quite the opposite of how most American cities, San Francisco included, were planned in the post-war environment, where governments built wide roads, freeways, and ramps and provided so much free parking it’s practically viewed as an inalienable right. But Foletta and Henderson make a compelling case that this has to change immediately. “The World Bank frets that the lack of a universal cooperative global climate policy will result in temperature rises exceeding a disastrous four degrees Celsius within this century–perhaps as early as 2060,” the authors write. “Meanwhile, transportation is not only 22 percent of the global total, bust is also the fastest growing sector for global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The authors argue that cities around the world must, therefore, study the best examples of what works to reduce automobile use. Planners must then figure out how to emulate whatever they can from cities that have the lowest transportation-derived CO2 emissions. Using pictures, maps and charts, the book attempts to lay out some universally transferable strategies.
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