Today’s Headlines

  • BART Escalators Running Again After Funding, Maintenance Increases (SF Examiner)
  • Low Bidder for Central Subway Chinatown Station Has History of Cost Overruns (Bay Citizen)
  • BART Riders Share How the Rush Hour Bike Access Pilot Benefits Them (SFBC)
  • The Mission Takes the Lead in Bike Corrals (Mission Local)
  • CoCo Times: BART Delays Caused by “Unholy Trinity” of Problems, Riders None Too Happy
  • Bay Trail Extensions, Gap Closures Coming to Richmond (CoCo Times)
  • When Construction Closes Sidewalks, Stanley Roberts Calls People Walking in the Road “Stupid”
  • Free Oakland Broadway Shuttle Funded Through 2014, Evening Hours Added (East Bay Express)
  • Lafayette BART Transit Village Plan Criticized as “Truly Offensive” (CoCo Times)
  • San Jose Residents React to Plans for Road Diet, Buffered Bike Lane on Hedding St. (Mercury News)
  • Spare the Air Day Declared Today, Fifth this Summer (SFGateABC 7)
  • Stanford Experiments With Off-Peak Commute Incentives (Ars Technica)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • mikesonn
  • Jimmy

    Haven’t we all agreed Roberts is a troll?  Why does Streetsblog continue to link to his videos?

  • mikesonn

    I’m trying to explain to Stanley (via Facebook page – talk about a waste of time) that making someone cross the road twice (across 4 lanes no less) isn’t a “solution”. The city should require pedestrian access at all times.

  • Omitting/ignoring mainstream media won’t make it go away. It’s our job to inform readers of what’s out there.

  • mikesonn

    You can’t ignore him, sadly he has a pretty big audience. And even more sadly, most of his audience are big proponents of “natural selection”. These are the same people operating tons of steel through narrow streets at high speeds. If they think pedestrians “deserve” being hit (and as natural selection suggests: killed) then it’s our responsibility to try to educate them and fight back against Stanley’s windshield perspective.

  • Anonymous

    At some construction sites where the sidewalk is blocked, part of the roadway next to the curb is fenced off to create an impromptu pedestrian path instead of forcing walkers to cross to the other side of the street.

    Seems like there is enough pedestrian traffic here to warrant this kind of treatment, and the real stupidity is in not facilitating them in the first place.

  • Gneiss

    The city should never have permitted that building site to set up the road pattern that they did.  It’s in violation of the blue book, which indicates you can’t block pedestrian access unless you own the entire block, and even then, you need to have uniformed officers directing people where they should walk.  Why MTA is tolerating this rather than given them big fines is beyond me.

  • Mario

    The Civil Grand Jury has issued a report on switchbacks:

    I think the report is quite lame. They compare against other Bay Area agencies that have lower headways (thus lower likelihood of bunching) and against heavy rail systems such as BART and RER that don’t get stuck in traffic. I have experienced switchbacks in other agencies, most recently on the Istanbul trams. Muni is also lame as it can’t cite any research/studies on whether switchbacks actually work. The other agencies’ recommendations are also lame, as they don’t even include line management (one of the recommendations is peak hour short runs, which is equivalent and indistinguishable from a switchback).

    There are two possible reasons bunching occurs:
    1. One vehicle is delayed and so it starts picking up riders from the following vehicle. This leaves fewer riders for the following vehicles, so the following vehicle ends up going faster than scheduled. This leaves more riders for the next vehicle and so on. The proper solution in this case is to prevent the subsequent vehicles from going faster than scheduled and to prevent the delayed vehicle from picking up all riders if the next vehicle is soon behind. Active measures are taken to speed up the travel of the delayed vehicles such as skipping stops, and to delay the travel of the vehicle behind. The goal is to have even spacing between vehicles even if it exceeds the promised headway. This requires active line management, and may anger some passengers, but no passengers will be asked to board the next vehicle. 
    2. One vehicle is so severely delayed (more than a headway) and is blocking the right of way of the vehicles behind. This is true for LRV if one breaks down, and the remaining LRV cannot pass. Switchbacks are entirely ok in this case as the vehicles are one behind another and riders can easily see the reason for moving from one to the other (in fact in this case whether the first or last vehicle is switched back doesn’t matter as they are already bunched). Another solution is to install more bypass tracks. Another solution is to supplement the line with more vehicles in non-problematic areas to handle the existing demand elsewhere in the line. When the problem is resolved, the excess vehicles are taken out of operation.

    In both cases the goal is to localize the delays. Since vehicles are reused throughout the day, one delay can cause ripple effects. Active management to ensure the delay is localized and that the other runs are not affected means that only the riders of the delayed vehicle suffer and other riders don’t.

    There is no indication in the report for which cases switchbacks are used.

  • Joel

    I’m not sure if you’re suggesting the posts to the site are illegal or the site itself is illegal… My interpretation of that law is that it does not prohibit vehicles parked in the driveway (as opposed to on the street “across” the driveway) so long as they don’t block the sidewalk. It also doesn’t prohibit vehicles parked in garages which could be rented out on the site as well. Additionally, the site itself isn’t illegal because websites are generally released of liability for the content their users post (similar to Craigslist, Airbnb).

    If a resident has 3 spaces (two in the garage, one in the driveway), the site could yield them $400-800 for the weekend. A very nice dividend if the resident doesn’t own a car that needs the space.

  • mikesonn

    If you look at some of the posts, they are renting “curb space”.

  • Anonymous

    Stanley Roberts starts with the flawed perspective that all traffic laws are created equal, and deserve the same amount of attention and deference despite their individual impacts on safety. Therefore we get just as many stories about pedestrians jaywalking and cyclists rolling stops as we do about car drivers pulling some seriously crazy moves as a matter of course.

    What his stories fail to identify is that enforcement and education is only one piece of the pie. If everyone miraculously started obeying every traffic law we would still have safety issues, because the rest of the pie is made up with accommodation and equity, and with creating laws which don’t prefer one mode over another.

    Beyond that, the way we engineer our public spaces and our infrastructure has a profound effect on how likely or able an individual is to travel safely and respectfully through and to those spaces, and allows individuals to make conscious decisions about how to get from point A to point B. To concentrate only on legal transgressions within a system designed primarily to accomodate a single mode will of course disproportionately vilify those that the laws and the infrastructure do not favor.

  • The “CEO” tweeted the following…

    “curbside parking is not public street parking it is directly in front of the owners garage, and their right to rent it. Thx!”

  • Anonymous

    Interesting concept. While only the building owner can use the curb cut space it is still public property and they do not own it. Seems to me it would be illegal to rent out something one does not themselves own. Perhaps the city could at least get a percentage of the profits.

  • Wow if they can rent curbside spots, maybe I should just turn my whole street into an impromptu parking lot and make $$$$ this weekend!

  • Anonymous

    Seems like they’re renting out the promise not to call traffic enforcement, which residents of homes with curb cuts have the rights to do. In effect, they’re renting someone the right to block in their driveway. 

  • mikesonn

    @Prinzrob:disqus The city should fine the car parked there then fine the property that rented it out twice as much plus the total earned in rental. Taking a percentage of the profit isn’t nearly enough and somewhat “legitimizes” the activity.

  • Andy Chow

    People who live in the Bay View by Candlestick also rent out their driveway/garage spaces as well during 49ers games.

    This may not be the worse examples, there are web sites out there that essentially promote and facilitate illegal taxi/limo service. I am OK with technologists with big ideas but that they need to respect those who jumped through the hoops and paid high fees so their transportation operation is safe and legal.

  • SteveS

     The problem with the current situation is that the city enforcement policy creates a quasi-legal situation for parking in front of your curb cut.

    What the city should do is enact a yearly use fee for curb cuts which would cover the cost of maintaining the stretch of road the cut is on and the value of the land it occupies. People who pay the fee should then have a full legal claim to park there (or rent the spot), while the city should also make it easy to remove curb cuts and convert garages to more productive uses as an alternative to paying the fee.

  • mikesonn

    Another pet peeve: owners of curb cuts who don’t parallel park in front of their drive way but instead pull onto the sidewalk and not only block their own driveway but also the sidewalk. Never understood a reason to do that outside of just being really lazy and not caring about your fellow citizens.

  • Anonymous

    It’s clearly illegal. The code says “The owner or lessee of property shall be permitted to Park the owner’s or lessee’s vehicle across the private driveway of said property, provided that such vehicle displays a valid license plate registered to the address of that property with the Department of Motor Vehicles”

    In this circumstance, the vehicle being parked would not display a license plate registered to the address of that property, and so would be parked illegally. SFTMA can and should make bank in traffic fines during this event.

  • mikesonn

    Best part, it’s all documented – every location that has “rented” a curb space is on so that should limit the time wasted looking for these scofflaws.

    Also realize, that if this site feels that this weekend is a success, they will roll out this app for the whole city.

  • Abe

    Agreed. There’s plenty of space in the road to prove a walkway if they truly do need to block the whole sidewalk (which I seriously doubt).

  • SteveS

     Is there a reason people are opposed to this app other than the legality? It seems to me like making formerly private parking spaces available to the public is a good thing.

    A city with fewer curb cuts would be best of all, but as long as the cuts are there, having them available for rent is more efficient than having them dedicated to only one car or empty. And if more people were participating in this it would reduce the demand for big parking lots or garages near event venues, and help the traffic after events be more evenly distributed rather than resulting in gridlock from thousands of cars emanating from one point source.

  • mikesonn

    Yes, BUT now you are privatizing and monetizing public space more than it already is. Why not just make every block one big curb cut and have the owner of the adjacent property charge a rental fee for its use? I think, if anything, the discussion of yearly fees/charges for having a curb cut should be examined. It should at least be the cost of a RPP (more if your space takes up more than one spot or if you and the neighbor only leave a little space not big enough to park a car between your cuts).

  • SteveS

     As I said below, I absolutely agree that there should be an annual use fee for curb cuts. This would encourage people to get rid of them and convert parking space to more useful purposes, or if they are kept, pay for the maintenance and valuable space they cost us all.

    It’s also important to recognize that current city law has *already* privatized the use of curb cuts, while forcing the costs of them on taxpayers. I don’t see how the space is any more useful to society if we force it to be empty or only used by the the property owner.

    Given the existing situation and the choice between keeping curb cuts exclusively for the use of one or two cars of the owner of the property, or letting people rent them out to anyone, I will absolutely choose the second. This is more efficient use of the space, and reveals an opportunity cost for people using this space to park their own vehicle.

  • mikesonn

    I see your point and it would move the discussion forward (hopefully) on the cost of “free” parking on our streets. If X property can charge $Y/day, then why can’t the city for the spot right next to it?

  • Anonymous

    @Prinzrob:disqus Well said; I couldn’t have summarized the problem with Stanley Roberts junk reporting any better ….

  • SteveS

    Another thought: curb cuts would be a great place to have ZipCar/City Car Share parking if the law were changed to allow that. You could just give the property owner a special card that would let them move the car sharing car if it was parked when they needed to get out of their driveway.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that we have a fundamental problem here where the city is essentially paying for the curb space but then the owner/tenant makes a profit renting it out and the city gets nothing. This is most certainly not a way to discourage car use; it’s just another externalization of the true cost of driving. So I agree with @cf7cd2a7184954f71ead9aadc77ae732:disqus  in that we need to have owners pay for the spaces in front of their building and then they can do what they want with it. I think, long-term, this would lead to a lot less car-centric streets as not only would the cost of parking go out (now everybody is effectively paying for a “garage” every month), but many people would choose to do something else with their space like create a parklet.

    Here’s a question though: say I’m an owner/renter of property with a curb cut and I decide to rent it out via The customer pays me via the website and then parks in my spot. But then I call DPT and he gets a ticket and towed. What’s to stop this from happening?

  • mikesonn

    @jd_x:disqus There is a “rating” system built into So in theory, the parker would give the “owner” a horrible review. What if the towing/ticket was not the “owner’s” fault though?

  • Anonymous

    @mikesonn:disqus You can’t get towed unless the owner calls it in, and then the DPT officer requires that you be there when they come. I actually always wondered how this worked and finally asked a DPT officer one time. So the only person who could get the person towed is the owner. Well, unless it was for something other than blocking the driveway (but those would just get you a ticket, not towed).

  • I know this may be impractical, but I’m fine with the curb cut being a parking spot for anyone if the owner wants to waive their property access. There would have to be some way to denote that it is a legit parking spot to make it obvious.

    Otherwise the public is just subsidizing what would otherwise not be a parking spot.

  • mikesonn

    The reason we have this problem is because there are SO MANY curb cuts in this city. Everywhere! That also usually leads to an ugly plain blank wall of a garage door reducing the walk-appeal of many streets. North Beach is littered with them. Really sad actually.

  • Anonymous

    The fundamental problem is that we have a valuable resource (land) being treated as if it’s worthless when it clearly isn’t. Sometimes it’s treated as if it belongs to the city (meters), sometimes to the residents of the neighborhood (parking permits), and sometimes to the owner of the house in front of which it sits (curb cuts). There’s no mechanism by which these groups can exchange this valuable commodity, so the result is ugly political battles. This is why meters are so contentious, for example: the city is “taking” the spaces from the residents. Likewise, when a curb cut is installed, it’s not supposed to be a transfer of land rights from the neighborhood to the property owner, even though it obviously is in practice, so people get angry when someone tries to rent it out.

    It’s the “tragedy of the commons”.

    SteveS’s proposal attacks the heart of the problem. Ultimately, the fairest solution is for anybody who uses the space to pay for the space for the time they use, regardless of whether they’re a resident reserving it for garage access, a tourist parking their car for two hours, or a business installing a parklet or exclusive loading zone, with prices set by an SFPark-like system. The big problem, however, is that there are a lot of people who believe that they already “own” those spaces in one sense or another (and they’re not necessarily wrong), and so have every reason to oppose any change.

  • Anonymous