Today’s Headlines

  • SF Buys Treasure Island from Navy, Despite Rising Sea Levels (KCBS) (Examiner) (SFBG)
  • San Francisco’s Streets Getting Dirtier, Audit Shows (Examiner)
  • SFMTA Won’t Improve Fell ARCO Station Design Until Bike Injunction Lifted (Bike NOPA)
  • Volunteers Walk BART Passengers to Cars at West Oakland Stop (KCBS) (Oak Trib)
  • AC Transit Votes to Cut Service in March (Oak Trib)
  • A Closer Look at Oakland’s DIY Bike Shop, The Bikery (SFist)
  • Mr. Roadshow Ponders New Vehicle Fee to Fill Potholes
  • Marin Headlands Road Project to Begin in January (Marin IJ)
  • San Mateo Man Hit by Caltrain Apparent Suicide (BCN via Examiner)
  • Annual Pittsburg Holiday Car Giveaway (ABC 7) and Prius Raffle for Special Ed (Marin IJ)
  • California Only State Where Auto-Loan Payments Aren’t Decreasing (KCBS)

More headlines over at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • @Caltrain incident last night: SFGate’s headline was “Caltrain Strikes.” I about flipped. It made it sound as thought Caltrain jumped the track and chased someone down. Those conductors already have to go through enough having to watch it all happen and being powerless to stop it.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    The changes to the Marin Headlands seem bizarre. Do we really need a roundabout at the intersection of Conzelman and McCullough? Will bicyclists actually be helped by a bike lane up Conzelman, or is this intended to aid motorists in exceeding the speed limit? Seems like a waste of $9m to me. They could save a lot of money by closing the headlands to cars and never having to pave it again.

  • The ARCO gas station thing. Seriously? Nothing will be done? It’s getting to the point where I am starting to doubt why I bike in this city. Why go through the stress and strain of it all the time?

    I’ve been walking a lot more lately. I just might be over biking here.

    There is no way to say whether the injunction will be over in June. Each time there is a delay we’re told, oh just hold on, next time it will get through. Just a little longer. In the meantime we’ll throw up sharrows. As Bike NOPA pointed out a couple days ago, even the piddly little things that have come in in the past couple weeks (the green bike box namely) have not even been done right and is not really an improvement. If we’re just going to start sharrowing deadly stretches of road for an indefinite and potentially years-longer injunction period, I do not feel comfortable encouraging people to get on a bike in SF.

  • Nick

    I have an on-street advocacy solution to the Oak/Fell problem.

    You get 7-10 people to go on a constant training ride up Fell, turn on Baker, then down Oak for like 20 miles a day.

    The idea is that everyone masses up at the intersection, then safely takes full use of the traffic lane together. It’s practical and it puts political pressure on the city to make changes. Anyone want to pitch it to the SFBC or a racing team?

  • The MTA should start nickel-and-diming the judge with a thousand small requests. If we can’t get the bike plan through in toto, then take each individual, hazardous situation, estimate the people likely to be injured or die that the judge will be accountable for if the status quo remains, and then ask for authorization for the specific improvement that will the avoid the injuries/deaths. Repeat ad nauseam. In the meantime, if a bicylist gets injured by the Gas Station From Hell, can they sue the judge as the liable party since it is clearly obvious that at this point he is the sole person responsible for the danger not being mitigated?

  • the greasybear

    Whenever a criminal motorist shuts down the Fell St. bike lane, cyclists should block the driveway into ARCO. No bike lane, no gas!

  • Taomom, thank you. You’ve said it. The city asked for relief to put the panhandle light in, why not this? So what if we get rejected, at least make Busch’s life uncomfortable with all of this. It has to be one way to influence the final (scratch that) next decision in June.

    (can we get ‘strikethrough’ on here? πŸ™‚

  • zsolt

    Can someone remind me why we insist on “fixing” this situation? As long as cars need to cross the bike lane to get to the gas station, it is going to be a hazard. Would the proper solution not be to put the bike lane on the “right” side of the road? Is there a particular reason it must be on the left side?

  • Zsolt,

    The Panhandle path starts directly off this left-side bike lane two blocks further west. This is the major east/west conduit for bicyclists in the city. If a two-way, physically protected bike lane were created out of a traffic lane on Oak Street, then bicyclists wouldn’t need to go past this gas station and people queuing for gas would only bother the motorists on Fell.

    On further reflection, there are two other options that are within the scope of the city’s power that do not involve the bicycle injunction. One, the city could lower the speed limit for cars on Fell for two blocks preceding the gas station to 15mph to accommodate the traffic hazard created by the gas station. Or the city could shut down the gas station. There are other gas stations in the city, and the convenience of people wanting cheap gas is hardly more important than the safety of hundreds of bicyclists each day. (Anyone have a number of how many bicyclists use that stretch?)

    A couple weeks ago I rode by the gas station and there was the usual queue forcing me into 40 mph car traffic. A woman four or five cars back in line was hollering out, “Hurry up, we’re running out of gas here!” I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, shake my head, or just acknowledge that the universe often speaks in mysterious ways.

  • There is a solution to the ARCO station- get the police out to enforce the law. It is illegal to stop and idle in a traffic lane, it is illegal to stop and idle in a bike line, it is illegal to obstruct traffic. If there is no room to get into the station then around the block you go until you can get in.

    That block could also be turned into a no parking zone with the parking lane being turned into a queue lane for said station (at the station’s expense).

    Of course we could just turn Oak and Fell back into the two way streets they should be and have streets that actually serve the public.

  • Nick

    There was a motorcycle cop and a PCO hanging out at the Fell/Scott intersection today although it was not clear what their purpose was.

    Approximnately 1500-2000 cyclists pass that location each day. Figure, one cyclist every 30 seconds for 12 hours is around 1500 a day. Adjust for warm weather and it goes up dramatically.

  • tNOB

    I am not that familiar with that intersection where the Arco station is, so I looked it up on Google Maps. The Street View picture is truly worth a thousand words.

  • ZA

    ‘The Fix’ seems to me to have two all-traffic-stop lights with go-lights for bicycles on the Fell/Oak routes.

    1. At the left-turn of Scott onto Fell. Traffic lights for all directions of traffic would periodically be solid red for all vehicles and have a green turning light for bicycles. This effect could be further reinforced by painting a cross-hatch across the entire intersection.

    2. A second similar stop point and marked cross-hatch at Fell and Baker near the Panhandle.

    Taken together, the side of Fell occupied by the bike lane would be relatively unimportant so long as a bicycle has a clear window of time to get into position safely.

    The next thing worth doing is building underground residence-rented car parking with a ZipCar pod underneath Alamo Square. Eliminate at least as many spot along the roads and expand bus, cycling, and pedestrian facilities in the entire neighborhood. Keep the pressure to eliminate unnecessary car ownership, but keep the option available for those who can afford it.

    3. But if people are really offended by the traffic of that particular ARCO, one could organize a neighborhood ordinance to set a surcharge on sold fuel, and use that to finance neighborhood improvements. Raise the cost of fuel sold there enough, and fewer cars will go there.

  • Andy N

    I suspect that part of the trouble with the ARCO station is the station’s reliance on separate pump and payment systems. It appears to be one of those (increasingly rare) stations where you must pay at one kiosk, and then return to the pump to operate it, rather than swiping a payment card directly on the pump. I’d also guess that the owners feel that using the old, slow equipment (which is likely paid off) helps them keep their prices lower than other stations with pay-at-pump hardware. Clearly, there are plenty of customers who will tolerate the inconvenient payment systems to save a few cents.

    I’d guess that the separate pay kiosk adds 15 to 30 seconds of time to each transaction, and the delay must negatively contribute to the overall purchase throughput rate. Now, I’m not at all trained in Queueing Theory, but I don’t need a math degree to know that longer transaction duration for a fixed arrival rate results in longer wait times – and in this case, that means traffic backing up onto Fell.

    I very much doubt there’s anything that can or should be done to change the way ARCO handles it’s payment transactions, but for all the ink that’s been spilled over the situation, I’ve never seen the transaction rate of the station itself discussed, and I think it bears mentioning.

  • Andy, I bet we would have more success if we made the ‘payment process’ last five minutes too long rather than 30 seconds faster than it already is. Making it faster would just encourage more people to use the place, neutralizing any gain. You have to imagine that the long lines are discouraging at least some people from buying their crack here.

    But then again… Who’s going to keep you supplied man?!?!

  • Peter Smith

    It’s getting to the point where I am starting to doubt why I bike in this city. Why go through the stress and strain of it all the time?

    because as terrifying and stress-inducing as the experience is, it still beats taking Muni?


    whenever i’m getting the BPTSD, i do the walk/muni thing for a while. it shouldn’t have to be like this. let’s build some more transit lines, at grade, to connect most of the city. that will make reclaiming asphalt for bikes a lot easier.

  • You’re exactly right, on both points, Peter — many of us that cycle in the city do it because we love it, that’s a great thing about cycling. Most of the people who drive in the city couldn’t say that–that they do it because they love it (anyhow, drivers love to cast things in terms of ‘needs.’ πŸ™‚ and we know that that’s usually bogus for most, but not all, people in SF).

    Problem is that a lot of us are also bicycling, often in dangerous and less-than-ideal infrastructure because ‘MUNI sucks.’ So bad or just irriating, slow MUNI ends up functioning like a stick to get the poor, environmentally-conscious, whomever, off the bus or train and onto a bike. Meanwhile, what is the bad MUNI stick doing for those ensconced in the warm embrace of necessary and damn prudent personal car ownership? It’s keeping them in their cars! They already have the damn things, they see no way out of not having them, so they just keep them. A friend of mine was trying to tell me the other day that it is easier and cheaper to drive to Berkeley and back from the city than to take BART. Already this is not true–in terms of real costs–but drivers just don’t see this. Let’s get some real sticks going here–it will make MUNI better, cycling better, and driving much less appealing (than it already is.)

  • that should be: embrace of ‘necessary’ and ‘damn prudent’ of course.