Posts Tagged ‘Municipal Transportation Agency’

Why I Sometimes Ride My Bike on the Sidewalks of Divisadero, and Why You Should Too

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Well the shovel-ready stimulus project on the Div Co (Divisidero Corridor) is nearing completion. Do you see the trees in the widened median and the old-tyme streetlight tops that go from the NoPA to the EaPA? Those are the bulk of the “improvements” that you’re going to notice.

I guess the perfectly fine old aluminum street lights became obsolete or something. And yes, that thing in the median does look like a tombstone. Chestnut Street, here we come:

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Now here’s the beef – what they should have done is just taken out the medians entirely to allow for wider lanes. The problem is that they widened the medians and narrowed the traffic lanes to accommodate trees and shrubbery and nonfunctional whatnot.

Now do you see this cyclist? He’s passing by a truck that’s legally parked on the new Divisidero. Do you think that the slow lane he’s on is wide enough? Of course, arguably, it wasn’t wide enough before but now it’s worse. Why? Aesthetics, that’s why. The drivers in the fast lane need to be near median trees, apparently, they need to commune with nature at 25 per.

Oh, I hear you, “just take the lane,” right? Sometimes I do, effectively. And then sometimes I roll onto the newly-widened sidewalk for half a block or so, late at night when I can see that nobody’s using it. It’s a balance of hacking off the nonexistent peds versus the extant drivers.

(Maybe I’ll get a ticket from the busy SFPD someday, maybe. If I ever do, I’d then consider using Fillmore and McAllister as a substitute.)

Now, if you wanted real stimulus and actual improvements, here’s what you’d do. You’d have the workers take out the medians (the old narrow median was unnecessary as well) and move the light standards to the sidewalks, if that wouldn’t break the bank. Then you’d do a nice repaving, better than the job that’s being done now*, anyway. Then you’d take the rest of the money and give it in cash to the workers – tell them they need to spend $500 per day on whatever they want for themselves and that they need to bring back receipts as proof at the end of each “work” day. That’d be some local stimulus right there. The workers would be happier, and I would as well.   

I realize that we’re talking in terms of, on average, just inches of width-surrendered-per-lane, just inches sacrificed on the Altar of Aesthetics. And I realize that Octavia Boulevard is a far bigger public policy failure.

Anyway, enjoy your so-called “improved” Divisadero, San Francisco.

*Are they done with that, by the way? Take a look at the macadam near the bulbouts at Divis and McAllister if you want – is that a job well done? I mean, is that quick fix a permanent fix with all the remaining grade changes? I mean, they’re going to end up being forced to do the job properly, right? [UPDATE: Turns out that they weren't finished just yet, good on you Synergy.]

The Fruitless Trees of Divisidero – A False Promise of Livable Streets?

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Well they’re finally up, some of them anyway – they’re the fruitless trees of the newly-widened medians of Divisidero Street.

Boy, don’t these new leaveless trees and the the widened median make this body shop sooooo much more livable?

Of course the concomitant lane width reductions weren’t discussed at the time decisions were being made and, I would argue, were actually hidden by the powers that be. Oh well.

In this case, greening the median meant widening it. Does this benefit car drivers, bus drivers or cyclists? No, not at all. So why did we do it? The slow lanes now, in particular, are very narrow considering that big buses (from MUNI but also private employers) are supposed to use them.

Do you see where it says Divisidero Street Streetscape Renewal? What’s being renewed here? Well, let’s take a look at back in the day.

How about 1947? What do you see here? Do you see streetcars and wide lanes and plenty of room for cars and bikes to co-exist? Do you think the pedestrians of ’47 bumped their noggins into each other all the time? I don’t. What don’t you see? A big old median filled with trees and streetlights – that’s what you don’t see. The street lights and trees are off to the side where they belong, not in the middle of the damn street taking up all the space.  

How did our fore mothers and fathers survive with reliable steetcars and wide lanes on Divis? How did they get by, how did they live without a giant median and decimated (and soon to get worse) modern bus service?

The World Wonders.

Plenty of room for the median, not enough room for the #24 Divisidero – your stimulus dollars at work:

Oh well.

Pedestrians Mostly Ignore Powell Street’s Temporarily-Widened Sidewalks in Union Square

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I don’t know, are the sidewalks of Powell so shopper-clogged that pedestrains appreciated the option of walking in the street for part of two blocks this past weekend?

Not that I could tell. The trouble with the execution of this New Idea is that peds needed to enter and exit the pedestrian ”passing lane” twice each block. Oh well. At least this program provided room for the cops to cite drunken Santas loitering about the Gold Dust during SantaCon ’09 on Saturday, so I guess that’s something.

Here’s the concept, from a time when all men wore suits and hats and women wore dresses and skirts every day, and everybody was white, of course. Check out the babe magnet loiterers “walking” or pitching woo or whatever in the road.

Powell Street Is For Lovers and cable cars and police fencing, in this fantasy world:

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The reality:

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See the potted palms? Did it improve your “pedestrian experience” or whatnot? If so, thank Walgreens.

And don’t forget to call up 311 to tell them how grateful you are:

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Anyway, we can tell that at least some peds made use of the extra space by clicking here.

And check out this premature, self-congratulatory video.  

Here are the deets. The term “world class” is only used once, non-ironically. (Feel free to substitute “northbound and southbound” for “east and westbound.”)

UPDATE: Or, in the words of local designer Shawn Allen:

Half-assed temporary projects like this make me embarrassed to live in San Francisco. Seriously, why even bother?

Testify, brother.

UPDATE: The StreetsBlog SF is all over this. Let’s hear from Donna Ficarrotta, Managing Director of the Union Square Association:

Ficarrotta indicated that she had been to the site on Sunday during the rain and that she hadn’t seen many people using the space. ‘I think people didn’t know quite what to make of it. Between the weather and people being in a hurry, I don’t think people really understood what it was for.’”

“A longer-term trial could happen in the spring, said Ficarrotta, up to four weeks, but the details of that depended on feedback from the city and her membership. She was hopeful a longer trial would also attract more use.”

I think if people understood it, obviously they would use it.”

(Perhaps we should wait for a winter / Christmas / holiday / Sol Invictus shopping season when it doesn’t rain and the people aren’t in a hurry and maybe then we can try this again?)

But see how you can tell this woman doesn’t work for any of the numerous City agencies that spent time on this program?  She gave journalist Matthew Roth an Acknowledgement of Reality. How refreshing!

Are peds really so stoopid? Or maybe they’d prefer to walk on the actual sidewalk instead of stepping down into the street? 

Anyway, the deets:

MAYOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES CITY PILOT PROJECT TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE DURING PEAK SHOPPING SEASON
Parking lane closures to provide extra walking space

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced that San Francisco is expanding the walkway for pedestrians in the Union Square area as part of a pilot project under the Better Market Street Program. The Powell Street Pedestrian Improvement Project is allowing more walking space and access along two blocks of Powell Street, Geary to Ellis Streets, to improve and enhance the public’s experience during one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

“This pilot project will create a festive and unique experience for holiday shoppers and tourists visiting the Union Square area,” said Mayor Newsom. “We hope this pilot makes our city more welcoming for shoppers and drives more business to our union square merchants.”

Beginning Friday, December 11 at 2 pm, the east and westboundparking lanes on Powell between Geary and Ellis Streets will close to vehicles. The Powell Street Cable Car line will not be affected by this closure.

Emergency vehicles will have full access and vehicles may continue to use designated white zones. Signs will be posted to direct traffic and pedestrian access. Planters will be temporarily installed and holiday decorations donated by Walgreens will be placed along the walkway to enhance the pedestrian experience. Parking lanes will reopen to vehicles on Monday, December 14 at 9am.

The City will monitor and evaluate this closure over the course of the weekend and provide results of this pilot and future projects in the coming months. Feedback from local partners and merchants will also be collected during this process.

“Union Square is widely known as a world-class destination for its mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and hospitality accommodations. Our hope is that this project will further enhance the visitor experience by providing greater access to pedestrians on what is widely considered one of San Francisco’s most heavily traveled pedestrian corridors,” said Linda Mjellem, Executive Director of the Union Square Association.

This test project is part of the Better Market Street Program; which aims to revitalize Market Street and connect streets by undertaking a series of pilot projects. The results of this pilot and future projects and input from the community and stakeholders will be used to inform the final improvements and long-term design of Market Street.

“Over the next few months, these pilot projects will provide us with the knowledge and the opportunity to collect feedback from people that share this roadway. These coordinated initiatives will help us deliver tangible improvements that are aligned with our vision for a better, a safer, a smarter, and a more modern Market Street,” said Ed Reiskin, Director of the Department of Public Works.

The Better Market Street Program is a collaborative initiative between the City and community partners, businesses, and non-profits including the Department of Public Works (DPW), Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Transportation Authority.

For more information and to learn how to get involved, visit the http://marketstreet.sfplanning.org or call 3-1-1.

The Crushed Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Littering NOPA – Ironic or Not?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Gritty Divisadero Street in the North of Panhandle Area (NoPA) part of the western Western Addition has a bunch of crushed aluminum beer cans strewn about these days. 

Is that a sign that the area needs more attention from the Redevelopment Department or, alternatively, is it a sign that things are on the up because the ironic-beer-drinking post-collegiate crowd has decended upon the area?

I’ve drawn my conclusion, but you, take a look and make the call yourself.

The needlessly-widened medians under construction play host to lots of cans of the PBR:

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(NB: There’s a big hint in there.) Click to expand.

So-Called “Great” Streets Initiative Already Fails at Divisidero Street – An Obsession With Medians

Monday, September 28th, 2009

What’s with DPW’s obsession with medians? I mean is there any median proposal that’s too wide for the Little Eichmanns Speers at the San Francisco Department of Public Works? Perhaps Hitler’s proposed Welthauptstadt Germania had Great! Streets! too wide even for DPW’s taste, but there’s no way to tell.

Valuing Aesthetics over Life, that Hitlerian tendency certainly appears to be alive and well in San Francisco.

The medians are getting wider on Divisidero, so that means less room for cars and bikes and buses and whatnot. Where did all our lane width go?

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As seen on Friday.

Why do we have a median at all on Divisidero? Why not have that street go on a “median diet?” Does Masonic have a median? No, so why Divisidero? What’s the obsession with trees? I mean who cares what light posts look like except architects like Albert Speer (yes those are his light poles - that’s all that’s left from him) and the fascist ivory tower academics who took in six figures worth of your money to promote Octavia Boulevard? Who wants a fourteen-freaking foot wide median on Cesar Chavez? I mean, where does the original idea come from? Did somebody write a book about medians or something? And what do mike foxtrotting architects know about transit safety? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.

Medians? What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Perhaps pedestrians would be better off without the Great Tree’d Median of Divisidero and its concomitant “pedestrian refuge?” Yes.

What’s that? ”The Feds” demand medians since they’re kicking in money? Not sure about that. Are the Bridge-to-Nowhere Feds responsible?  

What’s that? “The Community” demands medians and DPW is just powerless to say no? Really? No, not really. Here’s a phony balongna rationale for The “Renewal.”

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Do you see “sacrifice safety to widen the median” in there? Do you see “narrow the slow lane so cyclists have less room” in there? And who are these 73 people? Are they from all over the city? Any bus drivers in there? Any commuters?

Signs point to no.

Why not just repave the street and do other non-median-widening activities and then pay the workers as if they did widen the median? That way they workers would get paid and The Community would be better off.

Just asking, DPW.

Yet another DPW improvement on the “World Class” Streets of San Francisco. Do you think this genuine SFDPW light standard was built to last with its hollow fiberglass construction? See how it’s held together with a hose clamp and caulk? Isn’t it beautiful?

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And why is every act of DPW automatically labeled an “improvement” even in the design phase? Have any planned “improvements” of the thousands committed by DPW over the years actually turned out not to improve anything? Yes, some. So why call everything you do an “improvement?”  

Divisadero Street Pavement Renovation Project

DPW will reconstruct 14 blocks of Divisadero Street between where Castro and Waller intersect to Geary Blvd.

This project is tentatively scheduled to begin during the summer of 2009 and last approximately 6 months.   This project will include improvements to the curbs, sidewalks and new ADA curb-ramps. 

Please continue to visit our website for project updates as the start date approaches.

For more information please contact:

Ms. Dadisi Najib

Bureau of Construction Management

Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Ph:       (415) 437-7018

Email:   dadisi.najib@sfdpw.org

Yes, it turns out that the “Divisidero Community” are deputised traffic engineers:

Divisadero Streetscape Improvements

Project Background
In 2007, the Divisadero community, in coordination with the Department of Public Works, Municipal Transportation Agency and Mayor’s Office of Economic & Workforce Development, created a visionfor the Divisadero corridor between Waller Street and Geary Boulevard.

Improvements include new bus bulb-outs, median widening with trees, landscaping and irrigation, lighting fixture upgrades, new street trees and site furnishings.

Construction Information

The Divisadero Streetscapes Improvements begin September 2009. For more information about construction, visit Divisadero Construction Information page.

Budget
The streetscape project is funded through a combination of a Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) federal grant with local matching funds to total $3.3 million. Roadway repaving will be funded through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to total $3.2 million.

Schedule
Constructions begins – September 14, 2009 
Complete construction – Winter 2011

For more information:
Transit Improvements (pdf)
Streetscape Improvements-Final Community Workshop (ppt)
Divisadero Streetscape Improvements Fact Sheet (pdf)

Contact:
Kris Opbroek
Great Streets Project Manager
Kris.Opbroek@sfdpw.org

Oh well.

Ästhetik über alles

germa

Bixi, the Bike Taxi, in Golden Gate Park – Testing Out the Canadian Bike Rental System

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

The Bixi short-term bike-share roadshow blew into town today, however briefly, to show us how they do it up in Montreal.

But first things first – a quick report on what our visiting bike-sharing visitors were surprised by in GGP:

1. The summertime cold and wind;

2. The homeless dude with a guitar case who flipped out, attacked a jogger, and had to get taken down by a bunch of Park Rangers and SFPD officers;

3. Noisy raptors circling low overhead; and

4. San Francisco’s famous bicycle built for four. It almost stole the show. See?

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Program Director Andy Thornley with SF Weekly’s Matt Smith et ux, ”quad” liberi, all together on a charming, fully-functioning bicycle. Click to expand:

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So Bixi is just like the Parisian Velib program except the Bixi bikes aren’t as heavy, which is a good thing. But the Bixis are still heavy though. And if you happen to be six foot one and a ton of fun, you’ll find that the frame is strong enough but that the seatpost doesn’t go up high enough. Otherwise the whole program is as you would expect.   

The mise-en-scene today:

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In France, they incentivize people to drop the bikes off at the tops of hills. If a program like this ever gets off the ground in San Francisco, what would it take to deal with stations at the tops of our mini-mountains?

Bienvenue à Montréal!

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It’s enormous work keeping a program like this going. The little monsters of France have effectively managed to steal, vandalize, and otherwise mangle the entire original fleet – at a replacement cost of thousands of dollars each, that’s a tough row to hoe.  

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If you want to make a system like this work in San Francisco, you’d need  a subsidy from the government, the way that MUNI and BART and Golden Gate ferries get subsidies.

And where will people get the helmets they’ll need? Whoops. (In gay Paris, they take a c’est la vie approach to matters like this.)

All in all, I’d rather have a regular bike and a U-lock than a Bixi program membership. But if you can’t find a cab or you just missed your bus, you might like having the option of a short-term bike rental.

We’ll see.

 
City CarShare Cohosts Bike Sharing Demonstration.

Exploring New Trends in Green Mobility

WHAT:   A one-day opportunity for the public to ride bikes from a bike share system. Bike sharing allows people to pick up a bike from one station, travel to their destination and return the bike to any other station in a network. City CarShare will be conducting a survey among participants to get their feedback on the concept, the equipment and their level of support for bike sharing in San Francisco.
 
WHEN:   Sunday, August 2, 10 am- 3:30 pm
 
WHERE:   Golden Gate Park, (just inside the car-free Sunday road closure on JFK Drive at Conservatory Drive East)
 
WHY:   To allow the public to test-ride the bikes and learn more about this eco-friendly mode of urban transportation. Through this demonstration project, the sponsors hope to encourage awareness and increased civic conversation about Bike Sharing for San Francisco as having the potential to build a greener city while encouraging healthy living.
 
SPONSORS:   City CarShare, SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), BIXI (of Montreal)
 
COST   Free

Attention Richmond District – Town Hall Meeting Tonight, Tonight, Tonight!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Tonight’s Richmond District Town Hall meeting with District One Supervisor Eric Mar will be just like this, but with an emphasis on sidewalk landscaping, community challenge grants, community gardens and Pavement to Parks. Tonight’s special guest star will be Adam Varat from the Planning Department.

Get the deets below, courtesy of SF FYI Net.

If the Richmond District were a town, then here’s your Mayor, Police Chief, etc…

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Supervisor Eric Mar – Town Hall Meeting
When: July 8, 2009 – Wednesday
6:30 to 8 p.m.
Where: Richmond District Neighborhood Center, 741 30th Avenue, San Francisco
What: Topics include how you can do sidewalk landscaping in front of your house, community challenge grants for street improvements, community gardens and Pavement to Parks. Adam Varat will provide details on the application process for these types of improvements.
Source and Information: richmondsfblog.com

San Francisco’s Richmond District Town Hall Meeting from Supervisor Eric Mar

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

As expected, yesterday’s Richmond District Town Hall Meeting went off without a hitch at the Rec Center on 18th Avenue. Take a gander to see if you want to attend the next one. And take a look at this very detailed account from StreetsBlog, just posted.

Your Government At Work. District One Supervisor Eric Mar, SFPD Richmond Station Captain Richard Corriea the San Francisco Planning Department, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition - all ready to lend an ear. Click to expand:

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Do you people prefer PowerPoint presentations pertaining to planning? Perfect. (Personally, I’m getting a little tired of euphamistic adjectives dreamed up by department heads – you know if Vladimir Lenin’s New Economic Policy (1921) came out these days, it would probably be called Better Economy with Great New Improvements! Or something like that. Wasn’t horrible Octavia Boulevard supposed to be a “livable street?”) Anywho, MTA “Traffic Calming” Project Manager Adam Gubser was on hand and available at the Town Hall.

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As were Capt. Corriea and Lt. Mark Osuna, both of whom brought pens and notepads along with their sticker-free semi-autos. Keep updated at the Richmond District Police Community Relations Forum, aka “Richmond Forum.”

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And There You Have It.

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Attention Richmond District – Town Hall Meeting Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Yes, it’s time for a District One Town Hall Meeting featuring your Supervisor Eric Mar, your SFPD Richmond Station Captain Richard Corriea (easy to say, tough to spell) and your reps from the San Francisco Planning Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Agency.

It’ll be tomorrow, Saturday, May 30th from 10:00AM to Noon 

Click to avoid a headache reading this thing:

Please join Supervisor Eric Mar, Captain Corriea, and representatives from the Planning Department and the Municipal Transportation Agency as we discuss traffic calming proposals and pedestrian safety. We invite all community members to share your suggestions for better streets, transportation and neighborhood improvements.

For more information please contact the Office of Supervisor Eric Mar at (415) 554-7410 or email at marstaff@sfgov.org

46th Annual Cable Car Bell-Ringing Contest in San Francisco’s Union Square

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

San Francisco’s historic Cable Car bell ringing contest delighted hundreds in Union Square yesterday. It looked like this and this.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and MTA Director Nat Ford enjoy KBLX radio’s stirring interpretation of LL Cool Jay’s Rock the Bells. (Sadly, credit for the song was given to Run DMC.)

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Grand Champion Carl Payne gave in to pleas from the crowd wanting to get a closer look at his humoungous bell ringing ring: 

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Carl Payne’s cable car ring. You can see the words “Champion Bell Ringer” and also the years of his victories on this Super Bowl-style finger bling:

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Yesterday was all about the bell, steampunkish in its own way: 

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See you next year!

Details after the jump: (more…)