Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

The Difference Between a Serious Safety Organization Like the NTSB and Our SFMTA – “Toward Zero” vs. “Vision Zero”

Monday, March 16th, 2015

(Remember Gavin Newsom’s Vision from 2004 of Zero homeless people on the Streets of San Francisco by 2014? How did that work out? Oh, there are more now? Oh

So now we have a New Vision Zero – SFGov has banned all transportation-related deaths and injuries in San Francisco starting in 2024 and continuing in perpetuity.

Compare that with our NTSB, which is a serious safety organization. It wants us to move Toward Zero. See?

See the difference? One goal is attainable and the other is pie-in-the-sky from the get-go.

Hey, what’s the SFMTA’s record of turning tax and feepayer money into transportation safety? Not so hot, right? The SFMTA is good at creating more “work rules” for its employees, but it’s not so hot on its actual core functions.

And how is the SFMTA going to change to do better, to “achieve” its impossible to achieve goal?

Nothing. It’s planning on doing the same old same old, a “streetscape” project here and another streetscape project there, political district by political district.

Hey, does the NTSB have politics? Yes, yes it does, unfortunately. But it’s not mired in le politique the way our SFMTA is.

And here’s a bonus – the chances of any particular NTSB worker killing me on the streets of San Francisco are remarkably low. Compare that with the chances of me getting killed by an SFMTA employee are what, 20-30%, you know, assuming I get killed on the streets of San Francisco.

So why not this, SFMTA? Why not take Vision Zero 2024 SF and start with SFGov employees, starting now?

You see, SFMTA, transportation safety isn’t a problem with the lack of “safe” streets, it’s a problem with the behavior of people.

The way you’re trying to do affect the behavior of people is the most convoluted imaginable. Sorry.

Anyway, if you changed your project’s name to Toward Zero, you’d have a chance at success.

If not, then you don’t.

Wild Wild West: What Happens When the Traffic Signals at Sloat and Great Highway Start Flashing Red

Friday, March 6th, 2015

This was the  the cause of a lot of the problems the other day – the light at Sloat and Great Highway flashing red. So traffic backed up into Lake Merced:

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In most towns, the cops would care about something like this, but in SF it’s up to the SFMTA to care, and it doesn’t really care, so bike riders heading north didn’t know where to go – they went all over, on the sand, on vegetation, on the sidewalks. and lane-splitting was an option as well:

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These guys heading south had to pick up their road bikes and carry them for a while after being forced into the sand:

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Speaking of which, this MUNI bus looked abandoned in the dunes. I think operators park them here to allow car drivers to use the traffic circle to get back to the intersection, cause, you know, its wheels are to big to get caught in a little sand, right? Well…

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…this ride here got totally stuck in a just a little sand. It was sad. (Photos altered to protect the embarrassed.) Help seemed to be far far away as cars behind got blocked in the circle:

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Do you need to hang a left to get a nice free parking space? Sure, what’s a few lanes of stalled traffic?

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And then there’s just your normal Great Highway, with horrible pedestrians in between crosswalks…

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…and improperly in crosswalks:

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And there’s the sand again, always the sand:

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Or no sand  – I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t dream of ever being on this side of the line, but perhaps that’s a quarter century of SF County living talking, IDK. So really, you don’t want to use that bike lane up there, or that other one to the right of you, huh? OK

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And the live aboard RVs – they’ll get hidden away come nighttime of course.

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That’s life out west, where every day is Do What You Feel Day.

SPUR, the Urban Renewal people, have a plan to “renew” this area. IDK, they’ve had a pretty bad record over the years and decades, right? And they seem to love SFGov’s current Willie Brown orientation.

Anyway, they have a roadshow to sell  people on their ideas. You should check it out sometime to see the promised Bright New Future, the promised New Gold Dream.

SFPD “Horse Mounted Officers” in Traffic – A Herd on Kearny – What’s Changed in 166 Years?

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Of course back in ’49, you know, 1849, some people were still calling Kearny Street La Calle de la Fundacion – it was the start of the grid system of streets we know today.

Anyway, not much has changed since the founding of the SFPD 166 years ago – a time-traveling gold miner from back then would have no problem understanding this aspect of The Future: 

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Click to expand

Mounted Unit

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.

 

 

New Traffic Signals on Masonic will be Easier for Out-Of-Town Drivers to See, One Supposes

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

The new lights here at Fulton haven’t been turned on yet:

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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

Here’s How the SFMTA “Manages” Traffic on Fulton Near Divisadero – This Kind of Jam Didn’t Happen Before

Friday, January 30th, 2015

But it happens now:

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Part of the blame has to do with Octavia Boulevard, and of course Fell and Oak aint what they used to be.

Anyway, this is what a “complete” street looks like.

I thought there might be an accident or construction on the other side of Scott up the hill, but no, it was clear as a bell over there.

Remembering 2012, When the SFPD Picked Up Enforcing Traffic Laws on Market Street, One Bike Rider at a Time

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

It looked like this:

In the 80’s, 90’s, and early aughts, bikes were practically invisible to cops on Market Street, except for the occasional* Commute Clot / Critical Mass event. But these days, the SFPD seems to consider enforcing traffic laws on bike riders a higher priority,** for whatever reason.

Anyway, back in the day, you’d just have to sit and wait for your ticket to get written up, but nowadays you can play Tetris on your iPhone to make the minutes fly by, as you can see.

Cops generally prefer to give tickets to car drivers for various reasons. One of them is that the protest rate is many many times greater from cyclists than drivers. So the theory that this recent push to enforce traffic laws on bike riders came from the top down sounds right to me.

*And especially except that time in ’97, when Mayor Willie Brown decided to “do something” about CM. A hundred-something people got ticketed / detained and had their bikes impounded, most of them getting penned in at Sacramento Montgomery for running a red light.

**Think it was in 2012 or 2013 that I got detained by two Crown-Vic driving SFPD on Market near 6th. Pretty sure it was just after the #5 Fulton line was rerouted to take McAllister almost all the way to Market, and I’d noticed two #5’s jammed up in front of the Hibernia Bank building along with three marked and two unmarked Crown Victorias within a block or so.  I was thinking, well, this certainly is unusual so it looks like the cops are dealing with something around 7th and Market, maybe involving the buses, so I’ll just keep on moving inbound by taking McAllister all the way to Market and then I’ll cross over Market after the SFPD radio car goes off east on Market. Except the car slowed down waiting for me to cross over to the right side of Market. I couldn’t understand how I was getting all this attention from the SFPD. Anyway, flashing lights, a request from a rookie for my “license and registration” (I looked at his partner, who sort of chuckled – I don’t think the rookie had ever pulled over a bike rider before),  a quick warrant check for me, an admonishment to use the correct side of the road, and I then I was off again. And all the while, some photographer guy recognized me and started taking pictures from a traffic island. (He never sent them to me, oh well.) I’ll tell you, I moved to the Tenderloin back in the 1980’s and I’d been California stopping at stop signs and red lights around and on Market for more than two decades before I got any kind of attention from the SFPD. And I thought, oh, things are different now… 

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?

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.