Skip to content

Streetsblog.net No Comments

After Traffic Count Drops Off a Cliff, Albuquerque Rushes to Widen Road

Traffic has taken a nose dive on Albuquerque’s Osuna Road. So why is the city so anxious to widen it? Image: Urban ABQ

Given limited budget resources and competing demands, what makes some transportation projects rise to the top of a city’s wish list? Dan Majewski at Urban ABQ says that in his hometown of Albuquerque, there doesn’t seem to be much sense to it.

For example, one of the projects in line for funding locally is the $7 million widening of Osuna Road — where, as shown in the above graph, traffic has declined precipitously. Writes Majewski:

Osuna is an interesting road. It starts as a major arterial with an interstate highway off-ramp and eventually dwindles down to a minor neighborhood street. During the early 2000s, traffic counts were increasing dramatically, but recently, they have dropped to early 1990s levels.

According to the regional TIP (transportation improvement program), Osuna is listed as an approved project. The TIP goes through a hypothetically public process, though mid day meetings, which are not heavily advertised, hardly count as such.

[Above] is a chart of traffic counts on Osuna Road between I-25 and 2nd Street, the segment which the City of Albuquerque is trying to expand.

Read more…

No Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • Ten Injured After Ferry Crashes Into Pier 41 (ABC)
  • SF Transportation, Affordable Housing Advocates Work Towards Alliance at SFBG Forum
  • SFPD Says it Has Plainclothes Officers Out to Address Violent Bike Thefts on Panhandle (Hoodline)
  • Transit Bulb-Outs Completed on Columbus Ave at Washington Square Park (@Muni Forward)
  • Obama Visit Snarls Muni, Car Traffic in SoMa (SFGate)
  • Owner of 100 Van Ness Tower Wants to Turn Bike Parking Into More Apartments (SocketSite)
  • “WunWun” Startup App Delivers “Almost Anything” by Bike Without Delivery Fee (SFGate)
  • Berkeley Enjoys Another Bustling but Mellow Sunday Streets on Shattuck Ave (SFGate)
  • VTA Replaces Car-Centric “Level of Service” Planning Metric With “Transportation Impact Analysis”
  • San Jose Mayoral Candidates Debate Transit, Sprawl Issues (Business Times)
  • Alameda County Deputy: 3-Ft bike Passing Law Hard to Enforce; Cyclists are “Unpredictable” (Mercury)
  • “Transportation Balance”: If Only Cyclists Were Surrounded by a Metal Cage (Vox)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

24 Comments

SFMTA Proposes New Car Restrictions, Extended Bus Lanes on Lower Market

This post supported by

The SFMTA has proposed prohibiting private auto drivers from turning on to mid-Market Street and extending its transit-only lanes. Image: SFMTA

Last week, the SFMTA presented its proposal to ban private auto drivers from turning onto Market Street, between Third and Eighth Streets. The move would be complemented with extended transit-only lanes, plus a new system of wayfinding signs aimed at keeping drivers off of Market.

The new plans, named “Safer Market Street,” would be implemented over nearly a year, beginning next spring, and would represent a major step towards a car-free lower Market – a longtime goal of many livable streets advocates, and some city officials.

“These improvements have been long desired by people traveling regularly on Market Street,” said SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum. “It’s clear that tens of thousands of people’s commutes, shopping trips, and any other kind of travel will be significantly improved when the most commonly used travel modes are actually prioritized on Market Street — walking, bicycling and taking transit. This will be a real example of SF leaders living up to their commitments, both to Transit First and Vision Zero.”

As we’ve reported, city studies have shown that lower Market already sees relatively little car traffic, and most drivers only travel on the street for an average of two blocks. Many of them seem to be either searching for parking (which doesn’t exist on the street) or simply lost. Since the implementation of requirements for eastbound drivers to turn off of Market at Sixth and Tenth Streets, Muni speeds have increased, even if some drivers still ignore the signs.

Although SFMTA board member Malcolm Heinicke and other proponents have pushed for a full ban on cars on Market, rather than a step-by-step approach, the proposed turn restrictions would leave only a few places where drivers could turn onto Market east of Tenth. The street would still be open to taxis, commercial vehicles, and people walking, biking, and on transit. The restrictions are seen as a precursor to the Better Market Street makeover, which could make most of the thoroughfare car-free once it begins construction in 2017.

SFMTA officials have long held off on proposing additional car restrictions, citing traffic flow complications created by the construction of the Central Subway. The agency is apparently now ready to move forward.

Market Street, looking east at Seventh Street. Photo: Sergio Ruiz/Flickr

Read more…

1 Comment

Committee Punts San Jose Sidewalk Cycling Ban to City Council

Seniors, most in favor of an ordinance to prohibit cycling on sidewalks in downtown San Jose, wait to address the city’s Transportation & Environment Committee on Monday afternoon. Photo: Andrew Boone

After hearing over an hour of public comments on Monday afternoon both strongly supporting and opposing a ban on cycling on sidewalks in downtown San Jose, the city’s Transportation and Environment Committee chose not to recommend to the City Council any ordinance that would restrict sidewalk cycling. Seniors, speaking in favor of banning cycling on downtown sidewalks, far outnumbered younger residents, who urged enforcement against reckless cycling rather than an outright ban.

“This March, our friend Ms. Nee was walking in the morning and was hit by a bike, and she died the next day,” said former Senior Citizens Commissioner Margaret Young, who also described a September 2013 incident in which another senior was hospitalized after being struck by bicyclist while waiting for a city bus. “I’m asking you to protect our seniors. Give us a safe sidewalk and a safe San Jose.”

“The [Senior Citizens] Commission strongly urges an ordinance prohibiting bicycle riding on a defined section of the streets in downtown San Jose,” said Chair Joyce Rabourn. ”There are signs all over the place, ‘Walk Your Bike’, and they totally ignore it,” complained downtown resident Ann Webb.

Despite the signs, San Jose’s existing ordinance regulating sidewalk cycling does not prohibit it, but states instead that the operator of a bicycle shall, “upon approaching a sidewalk or the sidewalk area extending across any alleyway, yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians approaching on said sidewalk or sidewalk area,” (San Jose Municipal Code 11.72.170).

Buses and other vehicles often park in and block San Fernando Street’s buffered bike lane, which is partly located in the door zone of parked cars. Photo: Richard Masoner

The ordinance, suggested by Department of Transportation (SJDOT) Director Hans Larsen, would prohibit anyone over age 12 from riding a bicycle on the sidewalks along a total of ten miles of city streets in the “Greater Downtown area.” Most of those streets have bike lanes, except for busy Santa Clara Street, which has five lanes, no bike lanes, and no plans for bike facilities. The proposal would also set a citywide speed limit of 5 mph for bicycling on any sidewalk.

Opponents of the ban at the meeting agreed that fast bicyclists should ride in the street, but that motor vehicle traffic is a much greater hazard, and that a ban would punish bicyclists who ride on sidewalks to avoid unsafe traffic conditions.

“I’ve been hit while riding in the street three times by cars — once I was in a bike lane,” said downtown resident Melanie Landstrom. “It’s dangerous to be shoving bikes into the street.”

Read more…

Streetsblog USA No Comments

U.S. DOT Releases New Guidance to Make Streets Safe for Cycling

Last month in Pittsburgh, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled a new federal initiative aimed at reducing pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. Despite declining overall traffic fatalities, people walking and biking are being killed more often on American streets, a disturbing trend that U.S. DOT wants to reverse.

Protected bike lanes are in the toolkit that FHWA recommends to reduce cyclist fatalities. Photo: Carl Sundstrom via FHWA

Now we’re beginning to see what the feds have in mind. This week, U.S. DOT released a new guide for transportation professionals it calls Bikesafe. The online resource includes recommendations for state departments of transportation and local governments on how to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Bikesafe contains a list of 46 “countermeasures,” including chicanes, protected bike lanes, roundabouts, and “visual narrowing” of the roadway. Under protected bike lanes (FHWA calls them “separated bike lanes“), for example, the guide advises planners to pay particular attention to driveways and intersections and to “make full use of signing and marking to improve awareness and guidance of the facility through these conflict zones.”

In addition, the guide includes a primer on how land use decisions affect bicycling safety, how complete streets serve to improve safety, and other big-picture elements of sound bike planning. Another component is supposed to help agencies identify the proper intervention for specific safety problems they encountered.

Caron Whitaker, vice president of government relations at the League of American Bicyclists, said national advocates are pleased that this initiative is focused on infrastructure solutions — like better bike lanes and traffic calming — rather than education alone. Whitaker also likes that the proposal laid out by Foxx calls for requiring state DOTs and FHWA field offices to study bike networks and establish strategies for improving safety.

No Comments

Friday Jobs Market

Looking to hire a smart, qualified person for a position in transportation planning, engineering, IT, or advocacy? Post a listing on the Streetsblog Jobs Board and reach our national audience of dedicated readers.

Looking for a job? Here are the current listings:

Executive Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
As a sixteen-year-old organization, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is like many teenagers: we’ve come leaps and bounds since our founding in 1998, and we know that our greatest growth lies ahead of us. We’re looking for a leader who will direct our team to achieve more for bicycling in LA than we ever have before.

21st Century Transportation Campaign Director Based in Boston, DC, or Chicago, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
We’re hiring a Transportation Campaign Director to lead our national transportation campaign to advocate against spending so many public dollars on unnecessary highway expansion and to advocate for better public transit, biking and walking infrastructure, and repairing the roads we already have. Led by Millennials, Americans are driving less than they used to, but government policies haven’t caught up with the times. We aim to change that.

21st Century Transportation Field Organizer Based in Boston, DC or Chicago, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Our Field Organizer will work with our people around the country on the transportation campaign, setting them up for campaign tactics or reaching out to the media, public leaders and civic organizations yourself. You will sometimes need to travel — recruiting new groups to join a coalition, speaking in a church basement or town hall to win a new endorsement, organizing a news event or rally, meeting with an editorial board, or doing whatever else it takes to urge our public officials to do the right thing.

Transportation Digital Organizer, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Denver, CO
The Public Interest Network is hiring five digital organizers ready to protect the environment and restore our democracy. One of these organizers will be focused on our 21st Century Transportation campaign. This is an entry-level position for recent-college graduates ready to turn their online skills into political action. We’re looking for people who are eager and ready to learn new skills, want to work hard, and who won’t be satisfied until they win.

Communications Manager, Congress for the New Urbanism, Chicago
CNU seeks an experienced communications and marketing professional to provide leadership on all aspects of CNU’s communication issues, including, but not limited to, developing and editing written materials, marketing events, managing CNU’s social media, and coordinating with the press.

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Ad Nauseam: Use Any App You Want While Driving — Because Safety!

Here’s the latest in wishful thinking about distracted driving. A new application called “Drivemode” wants to make it easier for you to use all your mobile apps while you’re behind the wheel — but don’t worry it’s safe! Because, at least theoretically, you don’t actually have to look at your phone.

That’s the marketing message in this spot, which goes against study after study demonstrating that even hands-free devices still lead to a dangerous level of distraction while driving. Backed by “entrepreneurs from Zipcar and Tesla Motors along with various industry specialists,” Drivemode is still in beta testing and doesn’t appear to be in imminent danger of lulling millions of motorists into thinking they can safely drive and use Instagram, though it does have some slick marketing and won an obscure award for Android apps in September.

Meanwhile, an AT&T app that goes by a nearly identical name, DriveMode, is actually pretty great. The AT&T app can be set up to automatically respond to texts whenever you’re in motion exceeding 25 mph, with a message that says you’re driving and will respond when it’s safe.

Streetsblog.net No Comments

Progress on Parking Reform Could Make DC More Walkable and Affordable

A few key changes to the DC zoning code could help make housing more affordable, streets more walkable, transit more convenient, and healthy foods more accessible. Years of debate and delay have watered down the reforms somewhat, but they still represent substantial progress. And now it looks like they will pass.

New zoning rules will cut parking requirements in half near metro stops and frequent bus corridors. Photo: Virtual Tourist

Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth files a status report at Greater Greater Washington:

The DC Zoning Commission has been deliberating on the zoning update this week. The commissioners embraced most of the DC Office of Planning’s proposals while even rejecting at least one of OP’s recent steps backward.

Buildings near transit (including priority bus corridors) will be able to have half the parking that’s otherwise required if they are willing to forego residential parking permits. Homeowners will be able to put accessory apartments inside their houses without a special hearing, but will have to go through one to use a carriage house. And corner grocery stores will be able to open in residential row house areas if they sell fresh food.

This is a major milestone in the grueling zoning regulations revision process that began in 2007 just after the DC Council adopted the 2006 Comprehensive Plan. Opponents of the update repeatedly asked the commission and the Office of Planning and for more outreach, more meetings, and more delay. In response, officials stretched out the process and added dozens of meetings, fact sheets, and hearings throughout the city. But the process now has an end in sight.

After a few more discussions, a new draft zoning code will be prepared for the city and presented for public comment. These reforms sound like no-brainers to help increase the number of housing units available at lower prices and reduce the share of valuable transit-accesible land consumed by parked cars.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Indy thinks that Indianapolis should hesitate to gloat about all the riders Pacers Bikeshare is attracting six months after opening. ATL Urbanist reports that Atlanta’s MARTA will use elements of tactical urbanism to incorporate public feedback into the redesign of two stations. And FABB Blog shares new data showing how residents of metro DC are flocking toward transit hubs.

6 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • Three Cyclists Attacked by Bike Thieves on Panhandle (HoodlineSFGate); SFBC Calls for Enforcement
  • Assembly Candidates David Chiu, David Campos Spar Over Record on Transit Funding (BAR)
  • More on the Pedestrian Safety Measures Touted on Walk and Roll to School Day (SF Appeal)
  • Uber, Lyft, Yellow Cab Each Receive “F” Rating From Better Business Bureau (Biz Times)
  • 1940 Proposal Would Have Replaced Cable Cars with Open-Top Buses (Curbed SF)
  • SFMTA’s Ed Reiskin, Sup. Jane Kim Urge Caltrain and CAHSRA to Build Compatible System (GC)
  • Caltrain to Repair Bridges for Seismic Safety (Examiner); Palo Alto Trench Could Cost $1B (Mercury)
  • GG Bridge Bus Workers to Strike Next Friday (ABC, KQED, SF Examiner)
  • SFBG Interviews BART Board Director James Fang, Challenger Nick Josefowitz
  • SPUR Report Says Boosting Regional Transit is One Key to a More Inclusive SF (CityLab)
  • BART Board Approves Funding For Construction of Pittsburg City Center Station (CBS)
  • Transit-Rich Uptown Oakland Makes APA’s List of “Great Neighborhoods” (Biz Times, SFGate)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

2 Comments

SF Officials Tout School Zone Safety Upgrades on Walk and Roll to School Day

Mayor Lee squeezes down a SoMa sidewalk with students headed to Bessie Carmichael Elementary School yesterday. Photo: Richard Carranza/Twitter

On another record-breaking Walk and Roll to School Day, Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials held a press conference to tout recently-completed pedestrian safety measures on streets surrounding Bessie Carmichael Elementary in SoMa, and three schools in the Avenues. Almost 90 schools and 14,000 children citywide were estimated to have participated in the event — over 85 percent of SF Unified School District students.

“Today reminds us: children deserve to walk to school safely, not only on Walk and Roll to School Day, but every day,” Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Schneider said in a statement.

Bessie Carmichael Elementary, located at Fourth and Harrison Streets next to a highway 80 on-ramp, is surrounded by some of the city’s most dangerous, freeway-like streets.

“This is not just any kind of traffic on the streets. This is freeway traffic,” said Fred Rutger, who said he’s been injured three times by hit-and-run drivers during his eight years as an SFMTA crossing guard for Bessie Carmichael Middle School, located at Harrison and Seventh Streets, three blocks away from the elementary school and next to a different set of freeway ramps. Each driver who hit him had made an illegal right turn from a far traffic lane, he said. There are no signs telling drivers headed to and from the freeway that they’re entering a school zone.

The SFMTA completed installation of 15 MPH school zones at 181 schools in 2012, but a Walk SF press release pointed out that “Bessie is one of a handful of schools in the city which do not qualify for slower 15 mph school zones, as state law precludes these slow zones on wide, fast streets where they’re needed most.”

Plans for a road diet on Sixth Street are in the works, and painted bulb-outs were recently added on street corners. The SFMTA also plans to add a signalized crosswalk at Sixth and Minna Streets this month, among other smaller improvements that don’t have a timeline yet.

Rutger said he’s been hit at Seventh and Folsom Streets, which he called one of the most hazardous intersections. The SFMTA recently re-timed traffic signals there to give pedestrians a head start, which could mitigate the danger somewhat, while students and parents wait for a more substantial transformation of the car-dominated intersection. Some pedestrian bulb-outs and daylighting are planned, but it’s unclear when they’ll come.

In a statement, Mayor Lee pushed Prop A, the $500 million general obligation bond to fund transportation improvements — which was originally supposed to be on the ballot alongside a vehicle license fee increase until Lee abandoned support for it.

“Walk and Roll to School Day grows every year, as more and more families choose to walk, bike or take Muni to school,” said Lee in a statement. “Whether they are in the Sunset District or in the heart of SoMa, we want every student to be safe when they are walking to school.”

Read more…