Today’s Headlines

  • City Controller’s Report Finds Muni’s On-Time Performance Fell to 56 Percent Last Year (SFGate)
  • SFMTA Continues Citywide Installation of Zebra-Style Crosswalks (SF Appeal, NBC)
  • More on the Late-Night Transit Report: Lack of BART Transbay Service of Chief Concern (SF Appeal)
  • TransForm to BART: Focus Money on Maintenance, Put Funding Measure on Ballot in 2016
  • San Ramon Assemblywoman Proposes Bill to Ban BART Strikes (SF Examiner)
  • A Ride on AC Transit’s New Double-Decker Bus on a Test Run From Fremont BART to Stanford (SFGate)
  • Woman on Bike Killed by Driver in East Oakland (SFGate); Man Killed on Hwy 880 in Milpitas (SFBay)
  • Third Person Struck by Caltrain in 24 Hours: Woman on Foot Struck in Palo Alto (NBC)
  • Residents Say Drivers Often Stop on Menlo Park Caltrain Tracks Where Woman Was Killed (KTVU, ABC)
  • Many Cities Don’t Want to Give Up Car Lanes for El Camino Real BRT, Except San Jose (KQED)
  • Siemens Displays High-Speed Train Model in Sacramento to Gain Traction for CAHSR Bid (SacBee)
  • SacBee Op-Ed: Like CA High-Speed Rail, the Golden Gate Bridge and BART Saw Strong Opposition

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Prinzrob

    I like the concept of the double-decker AC Transit transbay buses, but adding more seats but not any additional bike capacity makes it even more difficult for multi-modal commuters to rely on. The older transbay coaches has a luggage bay that could store more bikes, but all of the newer buses only have the two spaces on the front rack. I gave up even trying to make bike/bus trips after getting bumped a number of times, and I’m sure that I am not the only customer they’ve lost due to this.

  • 94110

    Has BART ever studied/published/commented on what changes would be necessary to single track through the tunnel during maintenance?

    Seems like the kind of project that’s “impossible” until you find out it would cost less than one infil station, way less than an extension, and less than a penny on the dollar compared to a second Transbay.

  • Gocurrey

    Both stories about the Caltrain-car collision talk about a pedestrian crossing making it difficult for drivers. I suspect this is just car culture, it’s-everyone-but-the-drivers’-fault rhetoric, but I don’t personally know the intersection (other than being stuck on a train once after a train ahead collided with a vehicle). Can anyone who knows the area explain why pedestrian crossing = I must drive on railroad tracks?

  • murphstahoe

    Ravenswood runs East/West (sort of, anyway) across the tracks. As you head East across the tracks, a short distance to the East of the tracks. at Alma, there is a pedestrian crossing. To cross this as a pedestrian (unless this has changed), there is a box of orange flags on each side of Ravenswood, you grab a flag and sort of wave it to indicate that you are going to cross and carry the flag to the other side. Pedestrians have the right of way.

    If there was a traffic light there, you would not try to cross the tracks unless the light was green and the roadway across the tracks was clear. In the current setup, you could start to cross the tracks and then see the orange flag and stop.

    I suspect that in this case it was actually a car (or two) ahead of the deceased woman who saw the flag and stopped, and she started proceeding across the tracks before the other side was clear, but perhaps assuming that there was no reason to expect the car in front of her to stop – because the flag can come out unexpectedly as opposed to a traffic signal which has a predictable pattern.

    (edit). The sequence W->E is 1) tracks 2) Alma 3) crosswalk.

    A pedestrian grabbing the flag could result in a car crossing the tracks and seemingly having additional room in front of them before the crossing pedestrian, but it could be considered proper practice to stop just after crossing the tracks to leave Alma clear for motor vehicle traffic to cross Ravenswood while the pedestrian is crossing at the crosswalk. There is room for only 1 car between the tracks and Alma. The following car might assume that the car in front of them will be continuing forward since Ravenswood has the right of way over Alma.

  • Mario Tanev

    Please don’t use the name “continental” crosswalk. It’s like “continental” breakfast. What in the world does that even mean? Ladder may be more intuitive, but assumes the bounding box, which a lot of these crossings don’t have. So why not use the name assigned to it when it was invented? It’s a zebra crossing. The ladder is just a variation of it to allow painting a zebra when an old-style bounding-box crossing existed (the added value of the bounding box is questionable. Why do we have to invent new names?

    Plus zebra holds some fancy to it. It piques the imagination for those who don’t know the term. Who wouldn’t want to see a zebra, crossing? Continental and ladder crossings sound boring yet still unknown to most in America, why do I care about them?

  • Andy Chow

    The fact is that there is a street intersection adjacent to the track. If the traffic is green but moving slowly, a car may be just following another car ahead. If the car in front of you wants to turn right and if there’s a pedestrian crossing the street, normally the rule is that the car turning would stop before or when turning and the cars following would have to stop. If that intersection is next to the crossing then cars could get stuck on the track behind another car yielding to pedestrians while making a turn.

    If that happens, you can’t back up or go forward. While any car shouldn’t be stopping on the track. But if you see green and traffic is moving, you generally don’t stop before the track, nor expecting a car in front of you suddenly stop because of waiting for pedestrian before turning.

    The Ravenswood crossing is a problem for trains and pedestrians because of the park and library on the east side and downtown on the west side. The pedestrian crosswalk through Ravenswood does not use standard traffic control methods (like stop sign or stop lights). Instead it uses orange flags. I don’t know whether it reduce the risk of cars being trap or is contributing to it (providing another reason cars to stop suddenly and trap cars behind them).

    If it is determined that cars turning right is the reason that the car following got trapped, I think moving a crosswalk at Alma about 15 feet back would significantly cut the risk of right turning cars holding up cars behind for pedestrians.

    At those intersections, left turns are generally prohibited so that such traffic movements don’t hold up cars behind.

  • 94110

    Looks like the FHWA has repurposed the term Zebra to mean something different. Too bad we don’t have names like the UK which has Pelican, Puffin, Toucan and Pegasus.

  • Mario Tanev

    Ok, engineers, bureaucrats and advocates can use different terms if they want, but this is an issue that transcends them. The public needs to be educated and enthusiastic about this. Having the public understand the nuances (slanted or not slanted, with bounding box or not), is too much. And the downside is that the public doesn’t understand either of them.

  • aslevin

    These are car-centric excuses. I live nearby. There is no excuse for driving onto the tracks when you can’t see for sure that you can clear them. People do it on a regular basis and it is stressful just to watch.

  • aslevin

    “”Right when you get across the tracks, the cars have to stop for a pedestrian,” Jessup said. “So even on a green light, you could be caught on these tracks.” this is BS. don’t cross if you can’t clear.

  • theqin

    While that is true, we should do everything we can to avoid fatal accidents whether they are pedestrians or car drivers. Telling people not to stop on the tracks is like telling people not to speed or bicyclists not to cross against a red. People are going to do it anyway, we should design streets to prevent problems, not rely on telling people “you shouldn’t do that.”

  • aslevin

    Agreed. Grade separation is needed there, and the city’s current policy to require a below-ground design (underpass or trench) will I suspect delay the decision and implementation.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Bike share has made this a non-issue for me.

  • murphstahoe

    I understand and agree – it’s nonetheless important to see and understand the behavior and react to it. Just like we might have to put in protected bike lanes because drivers who should be capable of not running over a cyclist come up with reasons (SMIDSY) that they run them over anyway.

  • murphstahoe

    Bike share is great. I rode it from Caltrain to 21st Amendment last night. Of course then I tried to ride it to Lucky 13 and had to switch to MUNI 🙁

  • Andy Chow

    Easy said than done. Unless the traffic is slow to stop and go, most people don’t keep enough distance to clear a two track crossing when a car ahead suddenly stops for whatever reason. That’s why certain vehicles are required to stop at a rail crossing before proceeding (buses, hazmat trucks) especially considering that these vehicles are much longer.

  • aslevin

    I dunno, I find it terrifying to be stopped on the tracks so I never ever do it.

  • Dont worry guys, just because Muni’s performance is low our Mayor and the Board of Supervisors have free vehicles, gas, and parking. They’ll be just fine.

  • I describe them as “Abbey Road style” crosswalks because it 1) seems more universally known than “ladder” or “continental” and 2) avoids the niggly little technical differences by providing a general term. Otherwise “Zebra” would be my choice too.

  • My understanding is that the woman was heading southwest on Ravenswood (toward El Camino Real). So at least for this incident, the crosswalk at Alma Street would not have been a factor.

  • Andy Chow

    The luggage bay bike storage was installed at the time when it was illegal (because it exceeds the maximum vehicle length of 45-foot) to put in regular front loading bus racks on those buses. The law has since changed. luggage bay bike storage is time consuming requires a lot room on the sidewalk to deploy. For double deck buses, interior racks can be installed. Even without those racks, a lot of bus agencies allow bikes inside if it is not too crowded.

  • Prinzrob

    I agree that the cargo bay bike storage is not ideal, but was just making a point that reducing bike capacity at a time of booming bike commuter numbers is not a good strategy. I checked out the double decker bus in Oakland today and commented that they needed to increase the front rack bike capacity from 2 to 3 spaces (now legal) and add interior hooks for 4 to 5 bikes, just as AC Transit is doing for their East Bay BRT project.

    Regarding bikes on board, AC Transit operators are typically very hard nosed about it. They usually turn away any bicyclists when the front racks are full, sometimes even late at night with near empty buses, against the guidance of their own bike rider policies.

  • I wonder if a mandatory helmet law will put bike share out of business.

  • Andy Chow

    Not too long ago I saw 5 to 6 cyclists waiting for a very late 800 bus on Market Street. I left before the bus showed up, so I don’t know whether the bus took everyone of them or some getting bumped.

  • Jeff Gonzales

    Then take away their license and $10000 fine if they ever stop on railroad tracks. Deterrence and revenue.