Today’s Headlines

  • One Man’s Vision: Develop Housing on SF’s Roadways, Leaving Narrow Pedestrianized Streets (Vox)
  • SF Chronicle’s John King Provides a Photo Tour of SF’s Parklets (SFGate)
  • Hole Opens Up on Haight Street at Masonic Avenue (Hoodline)
  • Caltrain Ridership at a New All-Time High; 71 Percent Increase Since 2010 (SM Daily Journal)
  • Another BART Train Smokes at 24th (ABC); Uber Prices Surged During Yesterday’s Rail Break (SFist)
  • BART Rail Fixed Permanently, Broken Piece Sent to Lab (Examiner, KTVU); System Needs $4.6B (CBS)
  • Weekend Closures: BART Between Fruitvale and Colisuem, San Mateo Bridge (SFGate)
  • Santa Clara Water District Postpones Bike Path Closure for Bike to Work Day (Cyclelicious)
  • Palo Alto Celebrates Revamped California Avenue With Road Diet, Bike Lanes, Wider Sidewalks (PAO)
  • Mini Cooper Found on Rocks of Yerba Buena Island Was Reported Stolen From Berkeley (CBS)
  • Alameda Planners Note the Difficulty of Estimating Seconds of Delay for Drivers in 20 Years (Alamedan)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Wonder what that rail testing lab is like… maybe Streetfilms should do a “CSI: BART” piece 🙂

  • Food for thought: if the city sold some of the wider streets like Van Ness, Geary, etc. to housing developers, they might be able to generate enough revenue to build a cut & cover subways under the new buildings.

  • 94110

    From the 2015 Caltrain ridership report: “Weekend ridership shows a (sic) increase on Saturdays but an (sic) decrease on Sundays”.

    Looks like their bad grammar might be a copy and paste issue from their 2014 report: “Weekend ridership shows a decrease in riders on Saturdays but an increase in riders on Sundays”.

    Looks like sampling one weekend doesn’t give useful information.

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/_Marketing/pdf/2015+Annual+Passenger+Count+presentation.pdf

  • Gezellig

    Ridership report by Mad Libs? 😀

    “Weekend ridership shows a riders on Saturdays but a in riders on Sundays.”

  • SFnative74

    Good idea. Geary seems like a good example – you can probably lose the median and two lanes if you replace the buses with a subway and get 20% of the drivers to use a fast subway instead. There are other wide streets that are under-used, like Sloat, Junipero Serra, 12th Street between Van Ness and Harrison, some of the streets in the area between 7th Street, De Haro, and 16th Street. The city can be smart about selling off some of this real estate and bank the funds for a key transportation project or two (like a well-designed/located subway that will be needed when we cram another 150,000 people into this city and everything above ground grinds to a halt).

  • Gezellig

    I love Steve Dombek’s idea–I remember someone talking about that recently at one of the SFTRU events.

    SF is–to put it very mildly–cautious about radical street changes yet it could be piloted if a block or two here and there were found where car ownership is already relatively low and nearby transit options are relatively or very good.

    Also, just as a pragmatic thing to garner more local support, maybe some further policies would help sweeten the deal for potential NIMBYs:

    –> including a kickback to current owners on the street (and/or renters if feasible?) from the resulting developer profits

    –> Guaranteeing that a certain % of the new space would be small but vibrant public spaces (as in the width of Patricia’s Green but typically shorter in length, adjacent to new buildings).

    –> Guaranteeing that a certain % of the new units would be, say, rent-controlled

    –> Guaranteeing that a certain % of developer profits would go towards local infrastructure improvements in transit/biking/walking.

    –> Allotting space for new carshare stations to minimize the temptation for new owners to bring cars.

    –> As a last resort (if the parking-removal wars are raging), replace the former on-street parking spaces with equivalent underground spots in or near the new development. (I’m torn about this).

    Maybe those wouldn’t all work but, hey, as long as we’re “thinking outside the stroad” might as well consider other innovative strategies like those, as well, as a pragmatic ways to kill the typical anti-change arguments.

    After all, SF sits on a lot of very, very valuable land with its wide ROWs so there could be a lot of money in this that could go towards mitigating the anti-change complaints.

  • From the Palo Alto/California Ave story — Merchants Take Note! :

    “Among the merchants who attended the ceremony were Jessica Roth of European Cobblery and Terry Shuchat of Keeble and Shuchat Photography. Both had initially opposed the plan to reduce lanes on California Avenue, predicting that it would lead to traffic tie-ups. Roth marked the occasion by thanking the area’s neighbors, clients and customers for continuing to patronize the businesses throughout the construction period, which has taken just over a year.

    Shuchat, who at one point participated in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the project, acknowledged that the merchants’ fears didn’t come to pass and that when it comes to traffic, “it’s all working out fine.”

    “I was one of the many many merchants who was 200 percent opposed to this project,” Shuchat said. “Now that it’s been completed though, I really like it.””

  • Bruce

    This is the same argument that the Peninsula folks in towns like Menlo Park and Palo Alto use to argue for building a Caltrain tunnel. There is simply no way the revenue generated would cover the cost of constructing the tunnel itself. Tunnels (especially in a city as dense as SF) are REALLY expensive.

  • SFnative74

    Many merchants were also against the original Valencia road diet project to add bike lanes back in 1998/1999. When it went in as a trial though, almost every naysayer or doubter came on board. Looking at Valencia now, it seems to be doing pretty well! What merchants eventually got, is that you don’t want thousands of cars driving past your businesses at high speed or trying to get somewhere else. You want people to see your business, and they won’t do that if they’re going 30mph or using your street as a commute route. And since all your business is eventually by pedestrians, you want them to feel safe and comfortable so they stroll down the street and pop into your business.

  • I’ve heard of a potential plan to build a CalTrain/HSR tunnel, but this is the first I’ve heard of financing it by selling the land on top for housing. Could you provide more info on that?

  • thielges

    A similar phenomenon is occurring during San Jose’s Lincoln Ave. road diet. At first many Willow Glen merchants were reflexively opposed to the change. But then after reviewing actual results from other road diets many changed their opinions. And now that the experimental configuration is in place even more merchants and local residents are on-board with the road diet.

    There are still some hold outs though who just cannot fathom the idea that reducing auto lanes is an improvement. They’re almost dogmatic in their beliefs even to the point of tearing apart the observed objective results and claiming that the city has a conspiracy to obscure the “truth”.

    Fortunately most people are keeping open minds and are waiting for the final experimental results to guide their opinions. Here’s the preliminary report, it looks quite positive towards the road diet: http://willowglenroaddiet.com/pdf/lincoln-avenue-road-diet-trail-preliminary-data.pdf

    BTW – The road diet StreetFilm has circulated widely to help residents and merchants understand what a road diet is and how the community can benefit. http://www.streetfilms.org/mba-road-diet/

  • So maybe we stop calling them “Road Diets” and start calling them “Merchant Corridor Revitalization Initiatives.”

    That should whet their appetites…

  • This kind of predictive failure is a broader problem for humans, described entertainingly by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert in “Stumbling on Happiness”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Stumbling-Happiness-Daniel-Gilbert/dp/1400077427
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/books/review/07stossell.html?pagewanted=all
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stumbling_on_Happiness

    Basically, we’re all pretty terrible at forecasting how happy/unhappy different things will make us in the future. I think there are lessons in there for those of us in the planning/transportation fields, but I haven’t fully formed them yet.

  • Both had initially opposed the plan to reduce lanes on California Avenue, predicting that it would lead to traffic tie-ups.

    What traffic? California Ave has been pretty much dead ever since Printers Inc. went under.

  • davistrain

    Good idea, if a bit wordy–“diet” has overtones of “deprivation”, “cutting back”, “nobody’s idea of fun”, and even “punishment”–not good marketing ideas.

  • aslevin