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Fixing the Mess at Geneva-San Jose/Balboa Park

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An aerial view of the study area. Photo: CTA

An aerial view of the study area. Photo: CTA

Last night, SFMTA held an open house at Lick Wilmerding High School to get community suggestions on what to do about the mess of tracks, ramps, road and pedestrian crossings on and around the intersection of Geneva and San Jose, adjacent to the Balboa Park BART and Muni stations.

From SFMTA’s project page:

The SFMTA is studying the area around the Geneva Avenue/San Jose Avenue intersection with the goal of developing short, medium and long-term improvements to transit access and safety for all users. Both Geneva and San Jose avenues are located on the City’s Vision Zero High Injury Network. This study will complement numerous projects underway in the immediate vicinity, including BART’s Station Modernization, the City’s Upper Yard Development and the City’s rehabilitation of the Geneva Car Barn. The study scope was developed in coordination with the Balboa Park Station Citizens Advisory Committee (BPSCAC) and District 11 Supervisor Avalos’ office.

This study will develop conceptual design improvements to address safety issues near the intersection. The analysis will include a focus on passenger access to Muni’s M Ocean View Line, which terminates within the Cameron Beach Yard on San Jose Avenue between Geneva and Niagara Avenues. This study will build upon past analyses and develop recommendations for improvements consistent with known plans.

Streetsblog readers will recall from an earlier post that BART is working concurrently to improve its part of the station (follow that link for more photos of the station and streets). For those not familiar with the area, the Geneva-San Jose intersection is part of a triangle of streets that also includes Ocean Ave. and is a crazy confluence of I-280’s on and off ramps, the K, the M, the J-Church, BART, and a gaggle of bus lines.
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Safety Guerrillas Hit Valencia Street

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"Dragon" hands out cards and builds support for SFMTrA near their newest installation at Valencia and 15th. Photo: Streetsblog

“Dragon” hands out cards to build support for SFMTrA near their newest installation at Valencia and 15th. Photo: Streetsblog

Streetsblog was up before dawn this morning, an invited guest of SFMTrA–the guerrilla group that’s given up waiting for the city to make our streets safer–for a quick infrastructure upgrade to Valencia Street’s bike lanes.

This time three members of the group, who go by the handles Copenhagen, Dragon (who came with a furry dragon suit), and Cone Guy, glued down 11 safe-hit posts on a stretch of Valencia from 17th to 14th, on the north bound side of the street. “We did a busy right-hand turn, where we felt it would do the most good,” said Cone Guy.

A lone, pre-dawn cyclist enjoying the safety additions on Valencia. Photo: Streetsblog

A lone, pre-dawn cyclist enjoying the safety additions on Valencia. Photo: Streetsblog

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Subway Metadata Master Plan

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A "heat map" of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

A “heat map” of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

Yesterday afternoon the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from transportation officials on efforts to design a “Subway Master Plan,” a long-range blueprint for a subway network for San Francisco.

From a release on the meeting from Supervisor Scott Wiener’s office:

Today at the Land Use and Transportation Committee, City transportation agencies delivered a presentation on their work to create a Subway Master Plan. Supervisor Scott Wiener called for the development of the Subway Master Plan last year, and authored an ordinance requiring the policy be developed. At the hearing, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) presented the initial findings – which they have called the Subway Vision — that they have been developing over the last year.

Streetsblog readers will recall that in August the SFMTA and other agencies launched a web page that invited people to draw subway lines and stations where they would most like to see them. The computers then combined the “over 2,600 unique submissions that ranged from a single line to a comprehensive system,” explained Sarah Jones, SFMTA’s Planning Director. “The most consistently drawn lines were in prior plans we reviewed, but also saw some other areas being opened up.”
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Public Gets a Look at BART’s Future

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Rain didn't stop hundreds of BART customers from coming to MacArthur Station to see the new train car. Photo: Streetsblog

Rain didn’t stop hundreds of BART customers from coming to MacArthur Station to see the new train car. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday afternoon, some 1,600 people braved the rain to check out BART’s new rolling stock at an open-house at MacArthur Station in Oakland. BART is doing a total of four open houses. The first one was Saturday, in Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station. From the BART web page:

The Fleet of the Future is closer than ever to becoming a reality for BART riders. Your chance to get an up close look at a test train for the new fleet is coming. BART will hold a series of FREE open house events in October. The Open House events will occur on a station platform at these dates and locations:

  • Saturday, October 15th at Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station 11 am- 4 pm
  • Sunday, October 16th at MacArthur Station 11 am – 4 pm
  • Saturday, October 29th at Dublin/Pleasanton Station 11 am – 4 pm
  • Sunday, October 30th at El Cerrito del Norte Station 11 am – 4 pm

The new train cars will expand the BART fleet and provide much-needed crowd relief.  The goal is to order a total of 1,081 cars, which would increase the number of seats in the BART fleet by 49 percent.

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Ballot Primer for an Election that Will Drive You to Drink

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A standing-room only crowd drank beer and listened to the experts at SPUR breakdown SF's ballot measures. Photo: Streetsblog

A standing-room only crowd drank beer and listened to SPUR’s experts break down SF’s ballot measures. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, over 220 people squeezed into the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association’s (SPUR) downtown S.F. location to hear the organization’s policy experts explain which ballot measures they are endorsing. With 25 measures on the San Francisco ballot this November 8, each of the six SPUR experts spent just a few minutes on each decision–and it still took nearly two hours to get through them all.

Thankfully, they also offered bottles of beer at the door.

Here’s a sampling of some of the most Streetsblog-relevant “yes” recommendations:
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Rail~Volution: All-Things-Rail Conference Comes to San Francisco

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Press-Release-Header-1200x565Some 1,200 planners, engineers, managers and transit journalists crowded into the San Francisco Hyatt Regency this week for the Rail~Volution conference. From the conference press release:

The…conference brings together thought leaders and innovators to discuss the relationship between public transit and land-use, examine best practices in transit-oriented development, and look at how to maintain diversity and inclusion in the face of a changing urban landscape. With 22 mobile workshops and over 75 thought-provoking presentation and discussion sessions, the conference goes beyond the traditional sit-and-listen experience. Workshops will focus on such topics as “Anti-Displacement: Tools for Preserving Affordability Near Transit,” “Hot Topics in Streetcar Systems” and “All Hail Car Sharing! Shared Use Mobility From an Environmental Perspective.” Other sessions include “Two Wheels Are Better Than Four: Expanding Your Network Through Bicycle Connectivity” and “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Smorgasbord: Three Cities Dish on Their BRT Experiences.”

Yesterday morning’s plenary session featured SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. He welcomed the attendees, who came from all over North America. The morning session focused almost entirely on housing cost and supply issues–and transit’s role in solving them. “We can really think about how and what we do can address those challenges,” said Reiskin. “Not to say transportation and planning are magic bullets, but I do think they can and should be part of the solution and we should use a lens of not just how can we make our cities more livable, but can we make our cities more livable for everyone?”

That tack continued with a chock-full-of-data presentation by Kim-Mai Cutler, journalist and columnists for TechCrunch. She explained that Eichler-built, single-family homes were once available to working-class families in the Bay Area. “In 1950, a home in Palo Alto was 1.5 times the median income, or about $9,400,” she said. “Today if you looked at an Eichler, it’s more than $2 million.” Read more…

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A Walk & Roll to School Day Event in San Francisco

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Walk & Roll to School_Natalie Burdick2016-10-05 07.39.04

Mayor Lee, “Vision Zero Hero,” Supervisor Katy Tang, Superintendent Myong Leigh, and others at Walk & Roll to School Day at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in the Outer Sunset. Photo: Natalie Burdick

Yesterday some 13,000 San Francisco children at 95 schools walked–and in some cases rolled in wheelchairs–to school as part of the 20th annual Walk-to-School Day (now called “Walk-and-Roll-to-School Day,” at least locally). The event is intended to encourage kids to walk to school and spend more time walking and playing outside. This is part of a global event, held in early October, that encourages children, parents, and school staff to make their communities safer and more pleasant for walking. In San Francisco, the event is co-sponsored by several Bay Area groups, including  the San Francisco Safe Routes to School Partnership, the Vision Zero Coalition, Kaiser Permanente, and, of course, Walk San Francisco.

Families at one of the schools, Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in the Outer Sunset (see photo at the top), were met by Mayor Ed Lee, District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang, Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh, and other City leaders. Children were entertained by a new safety super hero character–seen above and below in blue hair–San Francisco’s Vision Zero Hero!

From a Walk SF release about the Walk & Roll event:

The San Francisco Safe Routes to Schools Partnership…works to support and encourage families to walk to school every day. Walking, biking, and taking transit to school makes up 44 percent of trips to the 35 public schools that are part of the Safe Routes to Schools program, and Walk-and-Roll-to-School Day kicks off the year-long effort to increase that percentage for the health and sustainability of San Francisco’s children and communities.

Parents cite traffic safety as the most common barrier to walking. The City’s Vision Zero policy is addressing this through two critical campaigns: one addresses speeding, the most common cause of traffic deaths, with the recently launched Safe Speeds SF enforcement campaign, the second raises critical funding needed to build a safe transportation system.

Walk SF’s statement about the second campaign refers to San Francisco Propositions J and K, which will be on the November ballot. J creates a fund for Homelessness and Transportation, and would dedicate money for transit and street safety improvements. Proposition K, meanwhile, will raise the city’s general sales tax by 0.75 percent. “This November, by voting yes on Propositions J and K, voters will have the chance to treat the causes, not the symptoms, of this public health crisis and turn the tide so that families can rely on safe streets,” said Walk San Francisco Executive Director, Nicole Ferrara.

Yesterday’s event, meanwhile, dovetailed perfectly with the efforts of all groups advocating for the needs of vulnerable road users. “In San Francisco, taxpayers spend exponentially more on treating those who have been injured—or worse, killed—by traffic crashes than on safety measures that would protect our most vulnerable community members, especially children,” said Ferrara later in the prepared statement.

And what about San Francisco’s blue-haired super hero? “‘Vision Zero Hero’ is planning to make a come-back to help right the dangerous conditions on our streets and fight for the safety of all,” added Ferrara in an email to Streetsblog.

In addition to the direct dangers presented by automobiles and unsafe streets, advocates point out that children are leading an increasingly sedentary life, setting the stage for health problems in later life, such as heart disease and diabetes. “Approximately 25 percent of San Francisco children are overweight,” says the Safe Routes to School website.

A couple more photos of the event at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, below the break, by Walk SF’s Natalie Burdick.
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SFMTrA Takes it Up a Notch with Glue-down Safety Posts in Golden Gate Park

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Those safe-hit posts were installed by the guerrilla safety group, SFMTrA -not SFMTA. Photo: SFMTra.

These official-looking safe-hit posts were installed by the guerrilla safety group, SFMTrA -not SFMTA. Photo: SFMTrA.

San Francisco cyclists may have noticed a safety improvement at JFK and Kezar, where Golden Gate Park meets the Panhandle. That notorious intersection now has more than paint to segregate cars, pedestrians, and cyclists: plastic, safe-hit posts popped up late last week. And they seem to be working, effectively keeping motorists out of the bike lane.

But don’t thank the San Francisco Rec and Parks Department for installing them. SFMTA? Nope. Is it because of Mayor Edwin Lee’s “Executive Directive” on safety. Guess again.

The posts were glued down by fed-up citizen volunteers. That’s right: it’s an illegal installation.

“We’ve all done our civic duty and due diligence to make things better within the system. All we got was frustrated,” said a member of the San Francisco Metropolitan Transformation Authority, also known as the SFMTrA.

From the SFMTrA website:

The San Francisco Metropolitan Transformation Authority is a collective organization of men and women committed to making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and doing it quickly. We were founded in 2016 in direct response to the deaths of two cyclists on the city’s streets on the same day.

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Was the Turning Point on Taraval a Teachable Moment?

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The contentious "Safeway Stop" on the L-Taraval. Photo: Streetsblog

The contentious “Safeway stop” on the L-Taraval. Photo: Streetsblog

A week ago today, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency decided unanimously to move forward with concrete boarding islands on the L-Taraval. And maybe, just maybe, it was also a concrete turning point towards finally putting safety first.

As Streetsblog readers know all too well, every time SFMTA develops transit improvements as part of its Muni Forward program, the agency encounters enormous pushback. It comes from competing agencies, local politicians, and from a loud minority of angry stakeholders. And whether it’s the Mission, Masonic, or Van Ness, it’s this pushback that gets covered in the mainstream press.

The resulting political pressure causes delays, watered-down projects, and—more often than not—a failure to adhere to the voter approved “transit first” policies dating back to the 1970s. In other words, a minority of self-interested and ill-informed people are given more political sway than the voters. Read more…


Eyes on the Street: The Kinda Raised Crosswalk at Duboce Park

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SFMTA's first raised crosswalk on a through street. Photo: Streetsblog

SFMTA’s first raised crosswalk on a through city street. Photo: Streetsblog

Streetsblog was thrilled to hear about the quiet unveiling of San Francisco’s first raised crosswalk on a through city street, at Steiner and Hermann, across from Duboce Park.

For a safe-streets advocate, raised crosswalks represent a clean break from the auto-über alles perspective that has so dominated our streets. By keeping the crosswalk at the level of the sidewalk, it sends a message: this is pedestrian space. Motorists–yeah you! Slow down! Be safe. Because if you try to race across one, not only are you going to drop your cell phone and spill your latte, but you might even damage the undercarriage of your car.

And unlike a normal speed hump, raised crosswalks slow cars down exactly where they should–where walkers need to cross.

Now, technically, the Duboce Park crosswalk isn’t the first raised crosswalk in San Francisco–but the existing ones are on backstreets, such as Pearl where it meets Market. The handful that exist are in low traffic areas/places where cut-through traffic can be hazardous, such as in the designated “home zone” around Marshall Elementary in the Mission. There’s also one on Nancy Pelosi Drive, but that’s deep inside Golden Gate Park.

And there’s one other that sometimes gets overlooked. More on that below.
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