Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Our SFMTA, Which Wants All Cars Off of Eastern Market, Will Impose a Brace of Turn Restrictions in 3 Months – “Safer Market Street”

Friday, March 6th, 2015

IDK, if you asked me what would make a safer Market Street, I’d say, “Well, how about banning all them buses and taxis?” Oh, that’s not practical, huh?

But it would leave us with a safer Market Street though.

The actual SMS plan, I’m not so sure about:

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Anyway, this would seem to slightly improve your north-south flow across Market, but the SFMTA isn’t a mental health agency so there are some issues it’s not equipped to handle…

MTB Legend Gary Fisher Calls for Ouster of Ed Lee – The Mayor’s Misstep on Polk Street – Small Biz vs. Big Urbanism

Friday, February 27th, 2015

[UPDATE: It begins. The lily-white urbanists vent against Asian-American optometrists on Yelp. JUST ONE STAR FOR YOU, DR HIURA! GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR!]

Let’s see if I can pay off on the headline here.

Here’s MounTain Biking (MTB) legend Gary Fisher on appointed Mayor Ed Lee:

“OUT! This guy can not get away with this, are we this stupid?”

And here’s what GF was riffing on:

SFMTA Cuts Block of Polk Bike Lane Fought by Visionless Mayor’s Optometrist

Now mind you, this is from an “urbanism” advocacy outfit straight outta Park Slope, so I’m sort of wondering why the Mayor’s handlers even let him make off-the-cuff remarks on this topic. Here’s the offending graf, which one assumes is properly transcribed:

“I’ve heard from many different groups,” Lee told Streetsblog. “I know we want to make the streets safer, make it bike-friendly, small businesses don’t want to lose parking for their constituents… I can’t have a particular position on it except to endorse the most balanced approach that they have because there’s issues that should not be in conflict. We shouldn’t promote bicycle safety over pedestrian safety over cars and parking. I think they’re all going to be important.”

First of all, why would you even have your executive speaking directly with activists in the first place? It’s like sending President Nixon out to the Lincoln Memorial at 4:00 AM to talk with the hippies about the Vietnam War. Second of all, Ed Lee can’t even handle a little Question Time at the Board of Supervisors without having the questions submitted in advance and without having an underling type up a reply for him to read into the record, so why would you have him give the bad news to the activists themselves? The StreetsBlog isn’t an SFGov-funded non-profit like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition or the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, right?

And Ed Lee thinks he’s playing it safe with all this talk of a “balanced” approach, but look at what he says – he’s literally saying, “We shouldn’t promote bicycle safety…” Now that sounds like a complete sentence if you quote only that part. But the Mayor’s talking about cyclist safety vs. ped safety, so I’m not sure what he’s talking about. I was thinking the design of the SFMTA-designed “bulbout” at the deadly southwest corner of 6th and Folsom could be an example of this, but I don’t think this was on Ed Lee’s mind. Frankly, I don’t know what the Heck he was talking about.

So all that leaves Mr. Mayor wide-open for castigation. I’m not sure how much pull any one particular optometrist has on the SFMTA (check out this doc – it’s amazing*), but this coincidence allows a reference to SF’s VisionZero 2024 to come into the headline. Ed Lee ends up seeming like an out-of-touch Mr. Magoo:

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I don’t know, if you’re pushing a “balanced” approach, but you don’t have an exec who can talk right, because he’s out of practice, because he was appointed to his position so he never really needed to get into practice, it seems foolish to afford advocacy journalists a chance at actual journalism.

But that’s what happened here, on the topic of Polk Street.

Wow.

*Wow, these people with bidnesses in Polk Gulch are mostly American millionaires, but look how they self-describe: 

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Click to expand

And what about the poor guy who can only describe himself as “European?” Poor little feller.

And I’ll tell you, I’m shocked at the amount of time SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin has spent on the back-and-forth about a single solitary block of SF when his primary mission should be sweating the details of getting MUNI up to par…

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.

 

 

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.

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. 

What Should Be the Speed Limit for Bicycles on Golden Gate Bridge?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

I don’t know. Some consultant came up with 10 MPH a few years back, but that idea wasn’t good for business, or something like that.

Now here’s a sign that tells you how fast you’re going, anyway:

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Sometimes, I just don’t know…

OMG, It’s UBER for Kids! – Introducing SHUDDLE – And the First 100 Drivers are 100% Women?

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Well this SHUDDLE operation is news to me.

Artist’s conception of a young Joe Montana as Shuddle user off to his art class or whatever:

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(And I’ll bet she doesn’t have a hammer hidden under the front seat. I’m thinking in a fight over a disputed routing choice, he’d have the muscle mass but she’d have the reach – that’d be a toss-up, I’d give even odds. But what are the chances of something like that happening in the first place? The screening process at Shuddle would appear to be more stringent than Uber, by about one or two orders of magnitude.)

We’ll see how this one goes – it might sound like a dream come true to a lot of parents in town..

Trendy Lingo Update: “CRO” – SF Now Has a “Chief Resilience Officer?” – Come Meet SFGov’s Overpaid Patrick Otellini

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

When I first heard the neologism Chief Resilience Officer, I figured things out pretty quickly – I thought about earthquakes in the 415, fine.

And then I thought, “What’s the angle? How does this concept put money into the pockets of the members of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s political faction / machine?”

And I couldn’t think of an angle, so I thought maybe this could be a rare case of SFGov just trying to do its job, you know, sans politique.

And then I looked into it and came away mostly disappointed. I’ll tell you why below.

But you reporters out there should get on this new CRO business – it’s terra incognita, locally. [UPDATE: Whoops, I missed this one.]

So here it is:

Meet San Francisco’s Patrick Otellini, the world’s first Chief Resilience Officer.

And here’s his headshot:

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And here’s the rah rah SFGov, born-and-raised blather, redolent of Supervisor Mark Farrell:

“I am unapologetically pro-San Francisco. Four generations of my family currently live here and I love this city. San Francisco’s work regarding resilience has been substantial. This work has been developed by the community just as much as it has been by City Hall.”

Is Dude running for office? It sure seems that way. But IRL, SF is the most corrupt big American city west of Chicago, so how does that square, cadre? STRIKE ONE. Moving on…

And oh no, SPUR! Is Dude a member of SPUR, that infamous outfit responsible for Urban Renewing the Fillmore, you know, because it was the trendy thing to do at that time? Take a look:

“San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) released a report called ‘Resilient Cities’ a few years ago, which has become the roadmap for resiliency planning in San Francisco.”

Turns out that Dude is a card-carrying Member of SPUR. STRIKE TWO.

And what does this Brownie-youre-doing-a-heck-of-a-job-type job pay? Like how many hundreds of thousands of dollars per year? The answer is two:

“Total pay & benefits: $183,397.91.”

More or less. I mean, that was Dude’s pay package last year when he was only Director of Earthquake Safety, so you gotta figure he’s gotten a big bump to go along with the new CRO title, right? What’s that, not really? He’s still just another SFGov MANAGER IV but now with a shiny new title? OK fine, it’s old wine in a new bottle. Let’s call that BALL ONE.

But what’s this, IRL what you are actually is a long-time, politically-connected “building permit consultant and expediter?” Mmmm… STRIKE THREE!

Speaking of which:

OTELLINI PAUL MR., INTEL CORP., CEO, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123 - $51,800.00
OTELLINI PAUL MR., INTEL CORP., PRESIDENT, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123 - $2,000.00
OTELLINI PAUL, INTEL, CEO, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123 - $1,000.00
OTELLINI PAUL, INTEL, CEO, SANTA CLARA, CA 95054 - $40,000.00
OTELLINI PAUL, NONE, RETIRED, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123 - $50,000.00
OTELLINI SANDY, N/A, RETIRED – ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123 - $25,900.00

Which then yields this. [Welcome to Scion Country Safari, Africa USA.]

So, Brownie, bring on the earthquake-related ruckus, bring on the blather, the Newspeak, fine. Maybe you’ll be appointed Supervisor, and then maybe Mayor, someday.

But be sure to count your lucky stars, to say your prayers every night to Thank Goodness you live in a town where Scion/Expediter is a career path…

How the SFPD Parks to Buy Just One Thing at Trader Joe’s #100 on Masonic

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Which is sort of funny.

At first I thought this could have been part of traffic enforcement, but it turned out to be a quick TJ’s run.

And this was after the officer beeped (not with a regular car horn, but with the loud, low growling noise that these cars can make whatever that’s called) at a pedestrian, for some unapparent reason, unless it was a routine beep to say Here I Come On The Sidewalk, Look Out Peds!

In mitigation, the officer didn’t park in a stall at the mostly-unused Lucky Penny parking lot at Geary, seen camera right.

And this technique is a lot more efficient than queuing up for a space at the badly-engineered TJ’s lot.

And this parking job didn’t block traffic at all.

Anyway, I’ve never seen this before – it’s kind of a funny way to park, IMO.

Cf. ” Mayor Ed Lee Can’t Stop Parking Illegally.”

Transit First for Thee/

But Not For Me!

An Eye-Opening Lecture for Recreation and Parks Employees About the Importance of Not Driving On The Grass

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Let’s take a peek through the open door:

The part of this lecture that I overheard appeared to do a good job about hammering home the rule about RPD workers not driving* park vehicles on the grass.

Here’s your context, from last year:

Woman killed by SF truck identified as outrage grows – Vivian Ho and Kurtis Alexander

*There might be an exception if there’s also a spotter in the cab of the pickup, IDK.