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).
“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, 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:
Click to expand
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?
“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.”
It’s hard to see how 40 entire avenues are in there, but that must be the case:
The OfficeMax in the corner marks Arguello and way at the end you can see the 40′s in the Outer Richmond, where Point Lobos Avenue breaks off from Geary Bouelvard.
Can you see how all the lights are red at the same time going outbound? Does that encourage drivers to drive as fast as they can to see how far they can get before all the lights turn red again? Discuss.
“With the change in timing, motorists travelling south from Geary to Fell will find generally that when they exceed the 25 speed limit, they’ll get more red lights.”
Mmmm. I guess how many red lights you get depends on whether you start traveling “south from Geary” from southbound Masonic or eastbound or westbound Geary. So let’s test SFMTA’s claims from the next intersection, the one at Anza and Masonic in Mervyn’s Heights.
Let’s see how many red lights you get as punishment for exceeding 25 MPH, shall we? The answer is zero, none, no red lights, ningunas luces rojas, mi amiga. You’ll get a green at Turk, Golden Gate, Fulton, Grove, Hayes and then Fell. See?
So that’s strike one. (I’ll tell you, taxi drivers and Sunset District denizens and late-night MUNI bus drivers would just looooove to transition betwixt the Bush/Pine corridor and the Fell/Oak corridor by using the Masonic corridor at an even 25 MPH.)
(I’m thinking if cab drivers would have anything to complain about, it would be hitting a red light at Anza after coming down Masonic through the green at Geary. The light at Anza used to favor southbound traffic coming from the Trader Joe’s area and now it does not. But that has nothing to do with whether you drive at 15 or 25 or 35 – these days, you’ll hit a red at Anza irregardless.)
Here’s strike two:
“Only the southbound signals have been adjusted since two-way traffic, as on Masonic, poses too many traffic engineering problems to make bi-directional adjustments.”
Now, how on Gaia’s Tierra Verde can you adjust the southbound signals without adjusting the northbound signals? Helloooo, McFly!
And let’s see here, how can we get a strike-out? Oh, the SFMTA conducted a poll of people who showed up to the let’s-plant-more-trees-on-Masonic meeting and then asked them, hey, do you think we should plant trees on Masonic with Other People’s Money, with money that fell from the sky? Well, guess what? Most of the people who showed at the let’s-plant-more-trees-on-Masonic meeting at the Rich White Kids private school supported the idea of planting of more trees on Masonic. Surprise, surprise.
That’s strike three.
Now of course the SFMTA has the power to make changes to take out parking spaces to improve the safety situation on Masonic right now, but the people in charge over there feel that that would lower the chances of getting approval to spend eight figures of OPM and years and years to plant trees on Masonic and move existing trees or cut them down or narrow the sidewalks or take out some parking spaces to improve safety
For some reason the SFMTA has a strong focus on aesthetics.
I’ll tell you, there are three things limiting the speed of drivers on the one-way, multilane twin streets of Fell and Oak.
1. Speed limits (oh maybe not, let’s scratch that one out);
2.Traffic congestion (particularly during this era of that albatross hanging from the metaphorical neck of The Boulevard Movement and The “Livable” Streets Movement, monstrous, needlessly wideOctavia Boulevard); und
3. The timing of the synchronized traffic signals.
There’s not a whole bunch of documentation on this action, documentation that I can find anyway. (You can play too, just try to find something at the SFMTA or SFGov.org websites.) But I seen them workers messing with the signals boxes lately, so allow me to jump to the conclusion that something is afoot.
Soon, you’ll have a chance to read the signs these hectoring hula hoopers regularly hold at Fell and Masonic:
Will this affect drivers all that much? We’ll see.
Certainly, there will be a period of adjustment as there was when lights were re-timed on the similar matched set of Turk and Golden Gate.
Will some drivers jump on the gas and then the brake at every light, aggressive taxi driver style? Oh yes.
Will the residents of the west side be happy? Oh no, not if they notice.
Anyway, brace yourselves. This should be a done deal by the end of the month.