Posts Tagged ‘pedestrians’

How the Magic Word “VisionZero” Has NOT Changed the SFMTA’s Half-Assed Approach to Transportation Safety: “Focus On The Five”

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Here’s the SFMTA’s official six-figure-a-year spokesperson on the topic of when pedestrians can cross a street, from just last year:

“They can start whenever they want,” Rose said.”

Of course this is wrong, as even Paul Rose himself would admit now, after being corrected.

So, why did he say that? Because he, like his employer, has a half-assed approach to safety, and, one supposes, he, like his employer, is mired in politics.

Now do you suppose that Paul Rose was at all interested in examining why he told the peds of San Francisco that it was A-OK for them to violate CA state law? Oh no, not at all. And do you think he checked with anyone before he spouted off? Prolly not.

Like I say, a half-assed approach.

Now we’re in 2015, the era of SF VisionZero 2024, which has the goal, one that nobody actually believes in, but they have to pretend that they do believe in it, of having no more transportation deaths in San Francisco County starting in 2024 and continuing in perpetuity.

It’ll look a little something like this, supposedly:

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Now do you see the beauty in this? By the time SFGov fails to achieve this impossible goal, all the people who glibly made the promise will be out of office, right? How convenient.

The big problem with the approach that SFGov is taking is assuming that traffic deaths are a street design issue, as opposed to a human behavior issue. So most of the emphasis appears to be upon SFGov spending more money, which of course SFGov loves to do anyway.

And the part of VisionZero SF that’s focuses on behavior seems misplaced, for political reasons.

For example, there’s this:

Focus on the Five – Using multi-year collision data, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) is focusing on enforcing the five violations that are most frequently cited in collisions with people walking. The goal is to have half their traffic citations be for these five violations.”

So if the SFPD started handing out tickets for jaywalking, you know, in a big way, that would certainly help with traffic safety, over the long term, to at least a slight degree, but that would take the SFPD away from its “Focus On The Five” goal.

The problem with Focus On The Five is that it ignores Vehicle Code violations on behalf of pedestrians, one supposes for political reasons. In fact, the cause of most pedestrian and cyclist deaths last year in San Francisco was the behavior of the pedestrians and cyclists themselves.

And what’s this talk about “automated enforcement?” How about this, how about hooking up all of the SFMTA’s vehicles to an automated enforcement mechanism that would detect speed limit, stop sign and red light violations using on board sensors and GPS? Then, after Ed Reiskin parks his government-paid SFMTA car or an operator parks her bus, SFPD tickets would be issued, you know, daily. Whoo boy, what are the odds of something like that happening?

So that’s SF VisionZero 2024, a buzz-phrase that means absolutely nothing.

 

 

Double Fantasy: Nobody Actually Believes That SF Vision Zero 2024 Has a Chance of Succeeding, and Yet…

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

…the party line from both SFGov and the SF “Vision Zero Coalition*” is that there’s a chance of eliminating all transportation deaths in San Francisco starting from 2024 and then continuing in perpetuity.

The arrangement looks something like this:

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The way to prevent transportation deaths is to get inside the heads of people to find out what went wrong. The Vision Zero Coalition calls that kind of approach “victim-blaming” and then focuses on traffic bulbs and tree-filled medians.

Here is reality, from 2014:

“The Police Department found that in the 17 pedestrian deaths, drivers were responsible for eight and pedestrians were responsible for nine. Bicyclists were responsible in all three instances when they died.”

One area where SFGov could apply an NTSB-style safety culture approach would be with MUNI operators in particular and SFGov employees in general. But there’s no chance of that happening, I don’t think. So SFGov isn’t serious. SFGov likes to host photo ops, but SFGov isn’t serious.

Oh well.

*All these groups:

Alamo Square Neighborhood Association
California Walks
CC Puede
Central City SRO Collaborative
Chinatown Community
Development Center
Chinatown TRIP
College Hill Neighborhood Association
Community Housing Partnership
Council of Community Housing Organizations
Excelsior Action Group
FDR Democratic Club of San Francisco
Folks for Polk
Friends of Monterey Blvd.
Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association
Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco
Lighthouse for the Blind
Livable City
Mission Community Market
Mission Economic Development Association
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association
OWL SF
PODER
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
SF Housing Action Coalition
SF Bay Walks
San Francisco Unified School District
Senior & Disability Action
sf.citi
SOMCAN
South Beach Mission Bay
Merchants Association
SPUR
Tenderloin Housing Clinic
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation
TODCO
United Playaz
Walk San Francisco
Yerba Buena Alliance

Oh My, It’s ARBOR-GEDDON 2015 – The SFMTA Wants to Kill Hundreds of Healthy Street Trees to Slow Down Traffic on Masonic

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

See this giant, healthy tree at Geary and Masonic? The DPW just put a death notice on it:

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Around its waist, with clear packing tape.

And this sidewalk grove is doomed as well, at the western edge of the intersection above the Geary Tunnel:

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Here’s what the notices look like:

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And here are the smaller, run-of-the-mill trees street to south:

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Chop chop, 300+ (300x, in SFGov parlance) trees, all gone.

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Let’s see here, is the SFMTA’s Grand Unified Plan for the 3000 feet of Masonic betwixt Geary and Fell going to:

SPEED UP MUNI BUSES? Nope. In fact, the Plan will slow down MUNI buses, like part of the Plan is already doing that already, at Ewing Terrace, for example. (The nearby City Target had some mad money so it gave a quarter million to the SFMTA to put in a new light at Ewing in order to gain support for The Plan from a woman who lives on The Terrace.) This plan will slow down MUNI. Simply. Yet somehow, it will “increase access” to transit, by giving people the right to sit longer at bus stops?

SPEED UP THE REST OF TRAFFIC ON MASONIC, THE GREAT CONNECTOR WHAT LINKS THE PARKSIDE, THE SUNSET, AND THE RICHMOND WITH THE REST OF SAN FRANCISCO, CONNECTING BUSH PINE WITH LINCOLN, FULTON, OAK, FELL, TURK, BALBOA, AND GEARY? Oh, Hell no. Masonic will turn into a congested parking lot during the morning and evening drives, ala Oak Street, ala Octavia Boulevard. Buses will no longer pull over into stops – they’ll simply stop and block the slow lane, leaving the solitary remaining lane, the “fast” lane, to temporarily serve as the only way for motorized traffic to travel on Masonic.

INCREASE “ACCESS” TO MUNI? We’ll see. The SFMTA is claiming that rebuilt bus stops will be the big benefit to MUNI riders.

INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PARKING SPACES IN THE AREA? Oh no. In fact, the Plan will remove 100-something 22-hour-a-day parking spaces from Masonic. (For some this is a feature and not a detriment.)

BENEFIT CYCLISTS? Perhaps. This, see below, is what people do these days, for the most part – they ride their bikes on the wide wide sidewalks, going uphill, for the most part, as I’ve been doing for a couple decades. SFGov is free to make this practice legal on Masonic, but it chooses not to. In fact, SFGov is sometimes reluctant to make piecemeal changes, for safety or whatever, because SFGov shuns so-called “chop-shop” projects – SFGov prefers giant pork-barrel projects paid for by, among others, people living in North Dakota. And then, if residents started to think that Masonic was then “fixed,” through small changes, that would lessen the pressure for a big pork barrel project using money from the Feds and Sacramento.  Anywho, most of the coming changes to Masonic appear to favor bike riders, so yes, we’ll be getting separated lanes up and down Masonic. And then, we’ll have less of this:

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We did lose a bike rider to a severely drunk driver a few years back on Masonic. Such an accident would be less likely to occur after the coming changes. [UPDATE: IMO, that is. If you want to say that accidents can happen anyway even after the changes, I’ll agree, but this particular accident involved two people consuming 14(!) drinks at Kokkari restaurant on Jackson and then using Masonic to get to the Avenues out west, and I’ll tell you, the future Masonic would have been easier for this driver to navigate. I mean he made it all the way from 200 Jackson to the 94117 without hitting anything but his brain didn’t have the processing power to deal with the cyclist being where the cyclist was.]

BENEFIT PEDESTRIANS? Perhaps. The hundreds of healthy trees that the SFMTA is going to chop down will get replaced, one supposes, with new trees, planted in an unnecessary, unnecessarily-wide new median, which effectively widens the street, right? Why are we going to get the big median? For aesthetics. For oxygen, cause, you know, trees produce oxygen – did you know that!? I’ll tell you, this truth just blew me away when I found out about it, when I five freaking years old. But the SFMTA had some lady come to one of the meetings to talk about all the extra oxygen molecules that we’d have floating around, OK fine. Of course, the SFMTA didn’t talk about any of the concomitant downsides of spending all these tens of millions of pork barrel dollars from Uncle Sucker, the SFMTA didn’t mention ARBOR-GEDDEN 2015. Anyway, if peds prefer having new trees in a median over older trees closer to them, well, sure, I suppose that peds will benefit. And speaking of severely drunk drivers, we did lose a ped to a drunk driver within recent memory – I don’t think the recent changes would have affected that crime though. And we lost an architect just north of Geary on Masonic owing to her jaywalking to get to Trader Joe’s #100, a few years back. owing to a poorly planned parking situation courtesy of our Planning Department. But the grand mal Plan for Masonic stops at Geary, so the SFMTA doesn’t appear to even to pretend to care about safety on Masonic north of Geary, not at this time.

Oh what’s that, you have questions? Fire away:

ISN’T IT TRUE THAT “THE COMMUNITY” SUPPORTS THE PLAN?

No, not necessarily. Any public meeting that the SFMTA might refer to was packed with activists/urbanists who don’t live in the neighborhood. So a tally from some meeting made up 70% of activist members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition isn’t an actual survey, right? If you want to say that a vote only made up of people who care enough to show up to all the meetings is what we should follow, then be my guest. But any SFMTA focus group meeting about which SFMTA plan attendees prefer doesn’t mean that The Plan is supported by the people who live, work and pass through Masonic, right?

WON’T ALL THE NEW CONGESTION, THE GREAT SLOWDOWN, INCREASE SAFETY? 

We’ll see. We’ll see what the unexamined effects will be, like, where will traffic go instead of Masonic? Will that new traffic in other areas cause new accidents in other areas? We’ll see.

WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE PROPERTY OWNERS DIRECTLY ON MASONIC, DON’T MOST OF THEM SUPPORT THE PLAN? 

I don’t know, maybe. A lot of them aren’t looking forward to all the construction, so there goes a lot of support right there. I mean, what if there was going to be a pork barrel project that was going to “beautify” the area just outside your property and the govmint was going to spend $50K per parcel in your nabe – would you like that? Maybe. And I’ll tell you, there’s a parochial school what costs $30K per year per student that’s in favor of the Plan. I say parochial because people at the school think that way, they think that the school is so so special that of course everybody should come to a crawl when they pass by. The school is the center of the universe, in their eyes, so people traveling by shouldn’t just rush through. The problem with this attitude is that, for the vast majority, GOLDEN GATE, TURK AND MASONIC, the Great Crossroads is not a destination in itself. So, ideally, we’d balance a whole bunch of factors and concerns, we’d actually consult with the people who actually use Masonic now. Those at this rich kids school, those small individuals with parochial attitudes, just don’t care.

BUT WON’T THE PLAN INCREASE PUBLIC SAFETY OVERALL AND HELP GET US TO VISION ZERO 2024?

We’ll see. But by then, it will be too late, and by then, the SFMTA will be more than happy to spend tens of millions of dollars to “tune up” the Big Project. And Vision Zero 2014-2024 is like two Soviet-style Five Year Plans strung together – nobody believes that transportation deaths in San Francisco will “whither away,” but everybody involved acts as if there’s a chance that this fantasy will come true. And you know, there are some countries that have had more success in reducing deaths than so-called Vision Zero countries, right? So what’s so special about that particular name? I don’t get it.

IS IT TRUE THAT SOME PEOPLE ON AND NEAR MASONIC STRONGLY OPPOSE THE PLAN? 

Hell yes. People put homemade signs in their windows. It’s too late though – I can’t think of anything that would stop the SFMTA now.

BUT DIDN’T THE SFMTA SAY THAT THERE WAS NO OPPOSITION TO THE PLAN?  

Yep. The SFMTA lied about that, when its employees filled out some necessary paperwork. I’ll tell you, there’s no way that the SFMTA isn’t going to spend any pork barrel money it can spend. That’s its purpose.

So that’s the update on Masonic.

I live very close by – we’ll have to wait and see if I personally benefit from all this spending. Somebody in the opposition one time asked me if I personally supported the project and I had to think about it. Perhaps it will benefit me, we’ll see. It seems selfish, to me, to dwell on the issue. In any event, the SFMTA gets excused for nothing. This project is a case study of how the SFMTA does what the SFMTA wants to do, which is to spend money and increase the size of … the SFMTA. If you want to get into how the SFMTA is all about safety, well, I disagree with that, but that would be something to debate. IMO, the SFMTA could “increase safety” without it getting any more money than it gets now.

IMO.

Enjoy the coming SFMTA Mass Arborcide – it should be a spectacle.

What Trader Joe’s #100 Needs is Ocean Beach-Style Warning Signs for Its Shoppers Who Jaywalk on Deadly Masonic

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

This is typical, this is routine – people parking on Masonic northbound and then jaywalking across five lanes of traffic to get to Trader Joe’s #100 and then jaywalking again back to their rides

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Why do people do this? Well, ’cause getting from northbound Masonic to southbound, which is the only way to get into the parking lot, is a PITA. Drivers are banned from simply turning left into the parking lot because that would end up blocking half of northbound Masonic, and of course Masonic is the Great Connector betwixt The Avenues and the Place Where People Want To Be.

And even if you get yourself facing southbound, you still have to queue up to get into TJ’s ridiculously small parking lot. Hey, couldn’t they have built an underground garage? Well, sure, but you’d have to talk with the Planning Department about that. And hey, couldn’t they have built parking on the roof? Well, sure, and actually they did but you’d have to talk with the Planning Department about that because the average shopper isn’t allowed to park on the roof.

And actually, the current parking situation is better than before. Our vaunted Planning Department did a very poor job with this project and now we’re left with a kludgy fix that commits part of Masonic to TJ’s shoppers idling and parking and waiting.

So that’s the situation, that’s why people say I-don’t-wanna-deal-with-all-that and simply park on northbound Masonic on the east side of the street.

And that’s fine, that’s legal, but then the shoppers see that northbound Masonic has long stretches when it’s empty (because drivers need to wait at a red for a long time to let traffic on Geary go through) and they see a bunch of stalled traffic on southbound Masonic (because of the shoppers queuing up and also to wait at a red for a long time to let traffic on Geary go through). So they march across 30 MPH Masonic to get to the store.

How many TJs shoppers do this on a busy day? IDK, hundreds. It’s their thing, it’s their routine.

So can you die doing this? Sure. Does TJ’s know about this situation? Sure. I don’t see how they couldn’t be aware. I mean, when you have journalists calling up your store asking about how somebody died, I assume that you’re aware of the situation.

What’s the solution? Well, people’d be safer walking down to Geary and crossing legally, but they all already know that.

You see the problem is that they don’t know how dangerous it is to do what they’re doing.

Hey, you know how many people die at Ocean Beach during a typical year? A lot. So many theat they have a special sign:

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How about similar signs for shoppers at this unique store:

People Jaywalking Have Died Here

How about that?

Unique situations call for unique signs, right?

Are you going to do anything at all, Trader Joe’s #100?

Legal But Foolhardy: Brave Pedestrians Making Cars Stop at the Crosswalks of Lincoln Way

Friday, December 26th, 2014

This road would be a good one to have more traffic signals and less median:

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I’d plan ahead to cross at an intersection with a signal, or I’d wait for a break in traffic, as if I were a jaywalker. I wouldn’t just start crossing the street just hoping drivers would notice me.

Anyway, sometimes all the drivers stop, except one, and that’s when the trouble starts…

Here’s Why the SFPD’s “Focus On The Five” Traffic Enforcement Goal is At Least 40% Wrong

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Here’s your set-up, from The StreetsBlog:

“…only one of the 10 police stations is actually meeting its goal of issuing at least 50 percent of traffic citations for the five most common violations that cause pedestrian injuries.”

But, IRL the the five most common violations that cause pedestrian injuries actually  include:

CVC 21456 – Walk, Wait, or Don’t Walk 

CVC 21954 – Pedestrians Outside Crosswalk / CVC 21955 – Crossing Between Controlled Intersections*

Under the CVC, jaywalkers can either be in a crosswalk (or close enough – if you’re one or two feet away, that might be close enough to be considered “in the crosswalk”) (and, of course, these can be marked or unmarked crosswalks) but doing something wrong (like starting too early or too late or going too fast (running) or too slow (just standing in the crosswalk, for ex.) OR crossing in the middle of a block.

If you look at the math, there’s no way that these violations can be out of the top five.

That’s just one reason why there’s not even a prayer of a chance that SFGov’s “Vision Zero” 2024 can “succeed.” (Oh what’s that, Sweden experimented with VisionZero and it succeeded? Well, not really. Oh what’s that, it was good to try anyway, even though they didn’t get to actual absolute zero, they had a big reduction in injuries? Well, France, among others, didn’t implement Vision Zero and yet it had greater success over a similar time period, right? Oh what’s that, Vision Zero is just a “framing” phrase, a meaningless platitude that pours old wine into new bottles? Well, finally we agree.)

Of course you’re never going to beat drivers Failing To Yield for the number of pedestrian deaths in San Francisco County. But do you think lying about things like Focus in The Five helps your cause?

And are there reasons why it’s far easier to comply with the demands of non-profit pressure groups in the Richmond District as opposed to other districts of San Francisco? Yes there are. Take the same Captain and put him/her in another district and then watch your compliance numbers fall. Why’s that? Do you suppose that the SFPD has a mission, has a job not 100% congruent with “urbanists” straight outta Park Slope and pricey prep schools like Punahou?

Something to think about.

*These are twins, basically. 

The Horrible Pedestrians and Bike Riders of the So-Called Great Highway, Way Out There in the Sunset

Monday, December 8th, 2014

An overly-confident pedestrian is a dead pedestrian, sometimes:

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Oh, here’s the same scene a few blocks up the road:

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Oh, what’s that, jaywalking is merely a “legal construct” and “Vision Zero” 2024 is going to prevent all transportation-related deaths in San Francisco County within a decade?

OK fine.

If You’re Going to Jaywalk Across Masonic to Get To and From the Trader Joe’s, This is How You Should Do It

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Instead of heading up the hill to get back to their ride, these gals walked downhill a few paces and then used congested traffic near Geary to their advantage:

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That’s better than most, of course.

What they’re doing is turning a complicated, deadly game of chicken into a simpler chore of waiting for northbound traffic to get a red and then shuffling across two lanes…

Changes are Coming to Sunset Boulevard Monday: “NEW SIGNALS TO BE ACTIVATED 7/28/2014″ – Near Wawona and Yorba

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Here are what these signs look like on Sunset Boulevard way out there in the Parkside / Sunset part of outer San Francisco County:

After the recent deaths in this area, SFGov appears to be highly motivated to make changes.

The signage around here is still a fucking mess, but one assumes that some of the older signals that are there might now be coming down this weekend when the new signals get turned on.

Here’s the tunnel view heading north as it stands now – how many signs and lights and banners has SFGov put up for drivers to look at here? I’m counting about three dozen and, actually, drivers can see even more further to the left and right of this scene, including an SFPD vehicle seemingly permanently parked on Yorba specifically for you bad drivers to see and react to.

IMO, the modified pedestrian-activated HAWK light experiment, signals that would flash yellow but never actually go red to stop traffic, is a massive failure.

IMO, SFGov continues to expect waaaaaay too much from its drivers (particularly elderly drivers, particularly those who shouldn’t be driving anymore) and its pedestrians (particularly elderly pedestrians).

IMO.

The Unpopular SFMTA Used to Poll Neighbors Before Permanently Installing Traffic Circles, But Not Anymore – Why’s That?

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

I’ll tell you why.

It’s because the SFMTA dramatically overestimated its popularity and the popularity of traffic circles being plopped down in the middle of intersections.

Isn’t that pathetic? It held all these mini-elections and it lost every last one.

So these days, there are no more mini-elections and the SFMTA is free to spin however it wants.

Actually, this new one on Anza is more of a traffic oval:

Here we go:

Traffic Circles Then & Now – In 2003, the SFMTA experimented with removing stop signs and  installing traffic circles at several locations along Page Street. Many residents complained that the circles were unsightly and deprioritized pedestrians, and they were removed. However, in recent years the SFMTA has installed traffic circles with success and community support, using improved outreach, design, and signage.”

See how that works? Instead of trying to win community support the way it did ten years ago, today’s SFMTA simply assumes whatever it does has “community support.” ‘Cause if the SFMTA had any more neighborhood plebiscites about traffic circles, it knows that it would lose once again.

The SFMTA lost those traffic circle votes of a decade ago by like about two to one or three to one. If it wants to say that the reason why it lost so badly had to do with aesthetics or “outreach,” well, that’s one viewpoint. But, gee, maybe the SFMTA simply had/has a bad idea?

The traffic circles the SFMTA installed on Page and Waller were simply horrible from a pedestrian’s perspective. You could hear a car coming from almost a block away, but you wouldn’t know how fast the driver would go through the intersection. You’d count on the driver seeing you and reacting as opposed to the driver knowing that a stop sign’s there and stopping / California stopping.

Traffic circles or rotaries or whatever you want to call them might work in some locations, but plopping them down onto random intersections SFMTA-style so that the SFMTA has yet another project to spend money on was and is a bad idea.