Posts Tagged ‘accidents’

A Winning Strategy to Pass Up Stalled Traffic When Getting To Horrible Octavia Boulevard – This Always Works

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Now, it seems absurd, but Oak Street’s bottleneck at horrible Octavia Boulevard shows no sign of ending.

Let’s see here, Lane 1 is (oddly) devoted to parking 24/7, Lane 2 is for through traffic going from the east side to the west side of town, Lane 3 (seen with the pickup truck driver* sitting trying to nose in) is for people who want to park for a bit while waiting to sneak in over to Octavia Boulevard, Lane 4 is for the long line of stalled cars waiting their turn to get to Octavia, and, oddly, Lane 5 is dedicated to parked cars most of the time.


Click to expand

This is the most dysfunctional block of traffic in San Francisco. Who designed this? (Traffic engineers? Prolly not)

Oh well.

*Oh yes, he made it in eventually, saving himself about three minutes or so compared with queuing up back at Oak and Webster. Hurray!

Octavia Boulevard is Our Fork-Tailed Doctor Killer – “Livable Streets” Gone Awry – What Can We Do?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Let’s see, where to start with horrible Octavia Boulevard.

Oh, here we go, with some bold, confident words from all the way back in 2003:

“The replacement freeway and Boulevard were charged with ensuring a level of service comparable to the previous structure and configuration. This has been achieved…”

In no way, shape, or form does the newish Octavia Boulevard have a level of service comparable to the old Central Freeway.

And, BTW, did the Central Freeway block Fell, Oak, Page, Haight and Market? Nope. Does Octavia Boulevard? Yep, every day, all the time.

(This is an example of misplaced confidence, of the hubris.)

Now, what kind of signal timing does it take to accommodate a 3000-mile-long freeway ending on Market Street. Well, let’s take a look here. Do you notice that Market street peds have about four seconds to begin the journey across Octavia during the 95-second cycle? Why is that? I mean, that means that any given ped on Market has over a 95% chance of having to stop and wait for all those cars on Octavia to go by. Is that fair? Now, what about cars and streetcars and bikes and buses and whatnot heading outbound on Market – do you think it’s much better for them? Well, it’s not. Just 20-something percent of the traffic signal cycle allows traffic to flow uphill on Market at the Octavia Intersection. Why are the lights so biased in favor of the cars driving through on Octavia, you know, as opposed to Market Street?

Check it (oh yeah, that’s some homeless dude coughing at the end there, not me.)

Now, the term “fork-tailed doctor killer” used to be the nickname of the Beechcraft Bonanza, you know, the plane what killed Buddy Holly on the Day That Music Died. But that whole V-Tail sitch got addressed and now, Beech makes those Bonanzas with regular old straight tails. So let’s recycle this phrase and use it for Octavia Boulevard, why not?

Here’s the fork of the tail:

Now, how can I justify blaming the whole “Boulevard Movement” fad of the aughts for an famous accident that killed that UCSF doctor if the UCSF van driver ran a red light? Well, take a look at this:

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See? Sometimes half the lanes of Oak have a red light and the other half have a green. Does that make sense? Well, if you’re struggling to make pathetic Octavia work and you don’t want traffic routinely backing up to Golden Gate Park, well then you yourself would be tempted to do whatever you could to help Octavia flow.

Does this unorthodox design factor in human nature, you know, the nut behind the steering wheel? No, it doesn’t. The fact is that car drivers, those sheeple, follow the pack. If the car to the right goes, then they want to go.

Of course, drivers should do better, but we need to factor in their behavior when we design roads, right?

What we shouldn’t do is to let Hayes Valley insiders, that very small but very influential group, to design anything for the rest of us.

And BTW, why on Earth are left turns allowed on inbound Market onto Octavia? Could it be for the convenience of those Hayes Valley insiders?  Check it out. You’d think that Hayes Valley types would be satisfied with being able to make a left at the prior intersection or the next intersection, but no, traffic on Market has to wait on a dedicated signal for a dedicated lane of drivers.

Does that make sense?

Why not this? Why not narrow Octavia dramatically and just give up on the whole boulevard experiment? Just take out the frontage roads and all that on-street parking and those medians and that would be a good start on “completing” the Horrible Octavia Experiment, turning it into a “Complete Street.” Even the Great Designer of Octavia admits now that the boulevard is too wide.

And let’s get rid of that left turn lane that was built just for the NIMBYs of Hayes Valley. Why should Market Street, the more important one, take a back street to Octavia, which is basically a glorified freeway onramp?

And why not give people on Market Street half the time of the light signal and then the people on Octavia the other half? Wouldn’t that be more fair?


Or, we can continue to value higher condo prices and “trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques” over everything else in this world:

“Before the destruction of the Central Freeway, condominium prices in the Hayes Valley neighborhood were 66% of San Francisco average prices. However, after the demolition and subsequent replacement with the new Octavia Boulevard, prices grew to 91% of city average. Beyond this, the most dramatic increases were seen in the areas nearest to the new boulevard. Furthermore, residents noted a significant change in the nature of the commercial establishments in the area. Where it had been previously populated by liquor stores and mechanic shops, soon the area was teeming with trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques.”

WTH: Huffington Post “Bay Area Street Safety” Blogger is Fronting for a Plaintiff’s Law Firm?

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

All right, work with me here. There’s a new blogger on the HuffPoSF. Check it:

“Ben Buchwalter lives in San Francisco’s Mission District and writes a blog on Bay Area street safety.”

But then you click over to the so-called “Bay Area street safety” blog only to see that, en realidad, it’s an “Accident Attorney’s Blog” for an oddly-named law firm.

R.I.P. Lionel

Now, that blog has some curious entries complete with curious phrases, like “clear safety dilemma” used twice in three paragraphs.


At Least Our Poorly-Designed, “Livable Street,” P.O.S. Octavia Boulevard has Traffic Cameras – Do They Run 24-7?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Do you know how painfully cheap it is to record on video a problematic street intersection 24-7 in this day and age?

Well the City & County doesn’t, that’s for sure.

Anyway, here’s your red light camera at Oak and Octavia – perhaps it will prove useful today.

Here’s another view, from back in the day:

Horrible Five-Block Octavia Boulevard Claims Another Victim – Is This the Best Way To End the 3000-Mile Long I-80 Freeway?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Details of today’s accident on hated Octavia Boulevard can be found here, from Henry K. Lee and Nanette Asimov.

Looking south from Fell:

Click to expand

The UCSF shuttle van:

How did Octavia boulevard end up being so gosh darn wide? Even The Creator, who likes wide, says that Octavia ended up being too wide in Her opinion.

Why are there parked cars and trees and medians all over dangerous Octavia Boulevard? Why don’t we get rid of all that and focus on safety instead?

Oh well.

Say Cheese! Here are Your Fairly New Red Light Cameras of Poorly Designed Octavia Boulevard

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Or that’s my guess, anyway, based on where this one’s pointed and the two white lights that are all set to go flash flash like a camera speedlight.

Check it out at the dangerous intersection of Oak and the hated, 133-foot wide(!) Octavia Boulevard:

Click to expand

Hey, the people who run Octavia Boulevard – are they the same people who run MUNI?

Looks that way…

Here Comes the SFMTA, the People Who Run MUNI, to Save Us From Alcoholic County and State Workers on Masonic Avenue

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

This isn’t my “preferred option,” but it’s the preferred option, so there you go.

Click to expand

How much will this cost?

Tens of millions, before overruns. $50,000,000 per mile or about $50,000 a parcel depending on how you look at it.

Who’ll pay for it?

Local, state, and federal taxpayers, just like the Bridge to Nowhere (let’s do something for Alaska) and the Chinatown subway (let’s do something for District 3).

Why does the public hearing notice enumerate the dozen-and-a-half parking spaces to be added but then leave out the hundred-something parking spaces that will be taken out?

Because this is a political document written by a politician.

Well, is there a cheaper, safety-only option to go along with the SFMTA’s “preferred option?”

Not that I’m aware of. Safety improvements have been held hostage over the years on account of this big maghilla project. The Project Director will tell you that if you ask him.

Do you have something against wide medians filled with trees that can never ever, ever, ever be removed for any reason at any time in the future, the likes of which can be found on Octavia and Divisadero?


Any advice for cyclists in the mean-time?

Yes. Cyclists should stay the hell off of Masonic between Turk and Fulton. Use the wide, underpopulated sidewalks, and, if you want, run the red light at Golden Gate to get a head start on traffic going downhill to Fulton.

Are Older Drivers a Menace on the Roads? RAND Corporation Says No – Are “Autonomous Cars” in Our Future?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Our RAND Corporation has a spirited defense of older drivers posted today. Check it:

“Many stop driving in part because they fear they might injure someone else. But the reality is that older drivers themselves are almost six times more likely to be injured in an automobile accident than are drivers ages 25-64. Thus, older drivers face a much greater risk of being harmed from the actions of younger drivers than the other way around.”

So, take that, South Park:

A scene from Grey Dawn

And it looks like cars that can drive themselves is In Our Future:

“Promoting technological innovations, such as autonomous vehicles, that promise to reduce accident rates overall while simultaneously providing older individuals who can no longer drive safely an alternative means of transportation, is likely to have the single greatest impact on the safety and well-being of older drivers and passengers.”

O.K then, learned something new today…

Study from San Francisco Firm Shows Hybrid Drivers Violate Laws and Crash More Than Average Drivers

Monday, October 11th, 2010

San Francisco’s very own “auto insurance analytics company” down there at 388 Market Street, Quality Planning, thinks you drivers of gas-electric hybrid vehicles have issues. They’re saying stuff like, “Hybrid drivers show shameful lack of social responsibility.”


Try this on for size:

“Studies by auto insurance analytics company Quality Planning, collision publication “Mitchell Industry Trends Report” and the Highway Data Loss Institute found that:

Hybrid owners drive 25 percent more miles than owners of gas-powered cars.

Hybrid owners receive almost two-thirds more traffic citations per mile than their all-gas counterparts.

Hybrids are involved in more collisions than non-hybrids

Who knew the Toyota Prius can be as dangerous as its design inspiration, the deadly triggerfish?

Check out that article and see what you think. (And try not to chuckle when you read the Honda CBR rider’s comment about Priuseses…)

Medians are the New Traffic Circles – Final Masonic Avenue Meeting Tonight – Point Counterpoint with Rob Anderson

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

[UPDATE: The meeting’s done – it’s going to be Gateway, Boulevard, or nothing. Your choice.]

Remember the traffic circle imperative that was foisted upon us seven years ago? Oh man, did that ever suck. But, there were studies that showed how magical and great traffic circles would be. So the experiment began.

Everybody knows that it was a massive failure, but somehow the welcomed death of the Waller and Page Street traffic circles was “sad,” or something, for some people:

“Coalition project manager Josh Hart, however, acknowledges the circles may need some fine-tuning to better protect pedestrians and bicyclists. ‘People should give them a chance,’ he said. ‘It would be really sad to see this experiment fail.’”

No fine tuning was needed as fine tuning wasn’t the problem. The problem was the traffic circles themselves.  

That’s your history lesson for the day.

Now, forget about traffic circles where they don’t belong – the new flavor of the month is the median filled with trees. It’s the latest thang. You’ll see them on troubled Octavia Boulevard, Divisadero and, soon enough, Cesar Chavez.

One problem with medians is that they take up space. And, if they have trees installed, the other problem is that the blessed trees can never be moved or cut down or nothing.  

Speaking of which, we’re going to get a median on Masonic Avenue. Find out all about it at the meeting tonight at Richie Riche’s alma mater on Golden Gate if you want.

The wide sidewalks of Masonic attract pedestrians from all over town. The early-morning shame walkers, not that there’s anything wrong with that, surely appreciate all the elbow room:

Now, the new medians wouldn’t necessarily be so bad but the property owners of Masonic have encroached upon the insanely-wide sidewalks and there are a bunch of trees that Forever Never Shall Be Moved that hem in the traffic lanes. So, even though a huge number of parking spaces will be removed, a good portion of that freed-up space will go for the median.

Oh well.

And now, on to Point Counterpoint with Rob Anderson. (If he has an MI over it (but I don’t think he will), I’ll take it down.) That’ll be it for now.

The last “community workshop” meeting on exactly how the city is going to screw up traffic on Masonic Ave. will be held on Sept. 30.


That the city is in fact going to deliberately screw up/”calm” traffic on Masonic is already a forgone conclusion.


Why is the city determined to screw up traffic on Masonic, which now works well for Muni’s #43 line and more than 30,000 vehicles every day? Because the city’s cyclists find riding on busy Masonic “scary”, and what the city’s bike people want they get here in Progressive Land.

I’d say that the bulk of the push comes from area NIMBYs. 

Since the last meeting, a cyclist was killed when he was hit by a motorist at Turk and Masonic. The bike people have shamelessly used that accident to push the city to screw up traffic on Masonic,


even though the accident happened late at night,

Objection, relevancy. What does it matter the time of day?

was caused by a drunk driver,

Yep. Your opponents would consider you quite rude for mentioning this fact, Rob, as it’s EXTREMELY OFF-MESSAGE.

and had nothing to do with the design of Masonic Avenue.

Disagree. It had something to do with the design of Masonic 

The city lists among its bogus “objectives” for Masonic Avenue (below in italics) to “improve transit operation.” That’s simply a lie, since the #43 Masonic bus—the only Muni line that operates on that part of Masonic—now runs well between Geary Blvd. and Fell Street, the part of Masonic the city and the bike people want to screw up.

I don’t think that “the bike people” specifically want to screw up transit, but yes, that very well might be the result. I think the current approach from the City is to talk about “access” to transit, like “improved” bus stops and whatnot.  

Also on the list is this nonsensical objective: “Improve pedestrian and non-motorized access to transit.” Since “motorized access to transit” makes no sense, “non-motorized access” simply doubles down on the nonsense.

I thought of what “motorized access to transit” could be but now I can’t remember what that was. Agree it’s a stupid phrase.

Even though the city’s own numbers show that there are few accidents on Masonic, it includes safety as one of its objectives: “Reduce the number of vehicular collisions, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists.”

I’m all for fewer accidents, regardless of the current level. The problem is that aesthetics is the primary concern of this effort on Masonic. Somehow, aesthetics will lead to safety is the thinking.

The #43 line now carries more than 12,000 passengers a day, and Masonic efficiently handles more than 32,000 vehicles a day. Hence, the “calming” of Masonic on behalf of a minority of cyclists will screw up traffic for more than 44,000 people a day on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition and an unknown number of cyclists who might use the new bike lanes after Masonic is “calmed.” This is how politically correct traffic management is done in San Francisco, where anti-carism is the ruling orthodoxy.

I’m not sure how things will shake out, exactly. The primary losers will be the people who park on all the spaces that get taken out. I think you might be off by an order of magnitude about how many people ride busese on Masonic on any given day. The stat I say was lass than 2000 bus riders per day on this stretch of the #43. Could be wrong about this tho…
That’s part 1, here’s part 2:
That’s pretty funny.
Michael Helquist … of Bike Nopa has filled the vacuum and appointed himself Anti-Car Demagogue in Chief.
As is his right, of course.
Helquist has adopted Masonic Avenue as a cause, issuing a series of hysterical bulletins
packed with disinformation
about a street that now efficiently handles more than32,000 vehicles a day and on which Muni’s #43 Masonic line carries 12,000 passengers a day. This major north/southcity traffic artery does this with few accidents and little danger to anyone—cyclists, pedestrians, or motorists—according to the city’s own numbers. Helquist is pushing the hysteria to a fever pitch now that the final city-sponsored community meeting to determine exactly how it’s going screw up the street is this Thursday evening. One of Helquist’s recent propaganda bulletins contains a bit of cluelessness and unintentional comedy in a statement by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano: Option C offers the type of sweeping changes needed to make Masonic a safer, calmer, and more livable street, one that would better serve pedestrians, cyclists, MUNI, drivers and the surrounding neighborhoods. In doing so, the plan would enhance the entire Masonic Avenue corridor in much the same way that the redesign of Octavia Boulevard did for the Hayes Valley area. Since Ammiano now spends most of his time in Sacramento, he and John King may be the only people in the city who haven’t noticed that Octavia Blvd. is a complete traffic and planning fiasco,
Yep. Octavia is a disaster. It’s FUBARed beyond all recognition.
perpetually jammed with freeway traffic to and from Fell and Oak Streets, with more than 45,000 cars a day creeping through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood.
The latest numbers have it as a little higher than 45k per day. As high as 60k sometimes.
If you think Octavia Blvd. has “enhanced” the Hayes Valley neighborhood, you’re going to like what Ammiano, Helquist, the Bicycle Coalition and the city are determined to do to Masonic Avenue.
Believe it was the voters that made the call to tear down the perfectly fine, earthquake-retrofitted Central Freeway remnant we had. Michael Yaki, of all people, had the right idea but he was ignored…
The Option C plan Ammiano refers to takes away street parking on Masonic to make bike lanes, thus rendering obsolete the present system that removes street parking during commute hours to create extra lanes when traffic is heaviest. Plan C means that there will soon permanently be only two lanes in each direction, which means a perpetual traffic jam like Octavia Blvd. and, by the way, slowing down the busy #43 Muni line.
I don’t think Masonic will be get as bad as Octavia. The issues on Masonic will be focused on the morning drive north and the evening drive south.  
How’s that for “transit first”?
It’s not transit first at all, of course, as you know.
In reality we now live in a Bikes First city, where our Muni system—the only realistic alternative to driving for most city residents—takes a back seat to the bike people’s anti-car agenda, which is also the city’s official policy, as Mayor Newsom announced two years ago. If the city is going to slow down traffic on Masonic, it’s also going to slow down a Muni line that carries more than 12,000 passengers a day—to create a street that the city’s bike people feel “comfortable” riding on. What could go wrong with that?
Again, I feel that the bike people are not the prime movers in this movement.

The City and County of San Francisco invites you to the third and final: Masonic Avenue Street Design Study Community Workshop September 30th, 2010 Thursday 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

San Francisco Day School 350 Masonic Ave.(Enter on Golden Gate Avenue)ADA Accessible
Meeting Information: Come join us for the third and final community workshop of a new street design study for Masonic Avenue, focusing on the area between GearyBoulevard and the Panhandle, with the goal of calming traffic on Masonic Avenue and improving access and safety for all modes of transportation.
The City wants to hear your input on ways to improve this important corridor so that it safely and efficiently accommodates the needs of all users. To this end the SFMTA, along with the Department of Public Works and the Planning Department, have conducted two community workshops on June 15 and August 10, 2010 to identify how Masonic Avenue can be redesigned to achieve this goal.
Based on the input received from community members in the June 15 workshop, four options were developed. At the August 10 workshop, these four options were presented and a survey was conducted to gather community input on various elements of each option. Since that time, City staff has been working on combining preferred elements to develop two refined options which will be presented at the upcoming workshop.
Proposed changes to the Masonic Avenue corridor being discussed include:
Addition of a median and other traffic calming features
Improved pedestrian crossings
Addition of bike facilities Partial or full removal of existing on-street parking
Increased landscaping and tree planting
Enhancements to transit stops
Removal of daytime tow-away restriction
During this third meeting, city staff will give a brief presentation on existing conditions, review the options presented at the second meeting as well as the results of the survey conducted, and present and solicit comments on two street design options.
The goal of this last meeting is to gather input on the most favorable/practical option.
About the Project
The primary goal of the Masonic Avenue Street Design Study is to identify how Masonic Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Fell Street can safely and efficiently accommodate the needs of all roadway users, including but not limited to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and Muni. Objectives:
1. Engage representatives of all constituencies within the community who would be impacted by changes to Masonic Avenue including, but not limited to, residents on Masonic Avenue, residents on side-streets, merchants, school representatives, bicyclists, Muni passengers and pedestrians.
2. Improve transit operation.
3. Improve pedestrian and non-motorized access to transit.
4. Increase the safety of pedestrian crossings.
5. Increase motorist compliance with traffic rules and regulations.
6. Reduce the number of vehicular collisions, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
7. Support neighborhood vitality by creating a more inviting and accommodating public realm. Contact Javad Mirabdal415.701.4421