Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

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. 

Ed Reiskin Refuses to Comply with the SFMTA Citizens Advisory Council, So Let’s Run a Trial on Masonic Ourselves

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Here’s the Citizens Advisory Council’s recommendation that Ed Reiskin, operator of America’s slowest and least efficient big-city transit system, has refused:

“Motion 140122.01 – The SFMTA CAC recommends that the peak hour restrictions be repealed on Masonic Avenue between Geary and Fell Streets, with the objective to measure traffic impacts on the 43 Masonic prior to the implementation of the Masonic Avenue street design project.”

Why did he do that? Well, because a “success” for him is the SFMTA spending the money it’s been given to spend. So why should he do anything to interfere with that when he’s in the red zone already?

Anywho, you can read what he has to say about a test-run after the jump.

In view of this dysfunction, let’s run a Masonic “streetscape” trial of our own, shall we?

Let’s start here, northbound, on the 3000 foot stretch of Masonic that will soon be changed: 

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See the bus? It’s stopped at a bus stop, let’s imagine. That means that Masonic will be down to one lane inbound, you know, temporarily, during the morning drive. How will this affect traffic, do you suppose? How many minutes will it add to your commute each way, each day? Mmmm…

Since we’re imagining, imagine a large median filled with trees on either side of the double yellow line. Now is that for safety or for aesthetics? The answer is that it’s for aesthetics. Compare that with the SFMTA’s disastrous, expensive, deadly 105-foot-wide Octavia “Boulevard” / I-80 on ramp. Yes, it’s has a vegetated median as well. So, is “safety” the SFMTA’s “number one goal?” No, not at all. Its real goal is expanding its payroll and spending ever more money. So of course if you pressure it to do things you want done, like planting trees in the middle of the street, which, of course, has nothing to do with safety, it will happily comply.

Will any commuters benefit from these soon-to-come “improvements?” No, not at all. These changes are going to slow the commute way down and that will impede people in cars and MUNI buses. Did the SFMTA do any “outreach” to / with commuters? Nope. It didn’t feel like it. The SFMTA prefers to host meetings packed with “urbanists” and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition employees and members. Do these people represent “the public?” No, not at all. Yet the SFMTA claims do have done public outreach.

How will these changes to Masonic, the Great Connector, affect the surrounding area? We’ll just have to wait and see. If, later on, you raise any issues with the SFMTA about the negative effects of all their changes, they’ll be all, well, expand our budget even more and we’ll redo the project again to fix this and that.

Of course, the way to run the trial run would be simply take away all the parking spaces for a day or so, right? So what you’d do is just simply shut down the slow lanes as a test. This alternative would satisfry (mmmm, Satisfries…. R.I.P) at least some of the objections that Ed Reiskin, operator of America’s slowest and least efficient big-city transit system, mentioned.

Would Ed Reiskin want to try this alternative trial? No, not at all. (See above.) Mr. R will be happy to ignore all the complaints only after the tens of millions of dollars have been spent.

Do I think that a bunch of people riding MUNI and driving cars every day, tens of thousands of people, are going say, wow, my commute has really slowed down after all these changes so I’m going to join the handful of souls on bicycles huffing and puffing up this big hill? Nope. Some might, of course, but it won’t be any kind of meaningful number.

And do I think it’s honest for SFMTA employees to tell higher authorities that’s there’s no public opposition to these changes? Nope. Oh well.

All right, that’s the thought experiment. It looks like this one’s going to go like a bunch of other SFMTA-created initiatives, you know, like the ideologically-driven traffic circles,  the absurdly-wide Octavia “Boulevard,” the crazy re-striping of the east end of JFK Drive – they’ll just look at them all and then pat themselves on the back and hand each other awards for these “accomplishments,” these “successes.”

[UPDATE: Oh yeah, a couple people asked me if I approve of this project. And like, I live a block away, but it won’t really affect me, myself, I don’t think. Seems selfish to think now-hey-what-about-me, anyway. What ended up happening  with Octavia is that they really biased the lights in favor of Octavia, so people have to wait to a long time to get across the whole 105 foot width. So maybe it’ll be a 90-second wait to get across Masonic when all is said and done? IDK, it’s hard to predict how much the SFMTA is going to mess things up with this arbor project, this tree planting diversion. So, what will the affects be? Will commuters abandon Masonic? How will they get around instead? IDK]

On It Goes…

Now, as promised, a note from Ed Reiskin, after the jump

(more…)

Big Sugar Causes a Traffic Jam on Chestnut Street on the Eve of the Prop E Vote, Same As Any Other Day

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Let’s take a look here, aging Rolls Royce* on the left and lots of stalled cars ahead, starting at the 2000 block of Chestnut – this is just another day in the Marina Landfill:

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Oh, here’s the culprit:

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And here’s the payload, trying to hide behind a passerby.** Hey, take your time, Coca Cola!

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Do the vaunted “planners” of San Francisco have a plan for this kind of thing? Oh no, you all just don’t want to deal?

Don’t you think this kind of situation lowers your credibility, Planners?

And oh yes, Prop E 2014 itself. Well, all the money coming in from out of town certainly has had the effect of making certain local institutions look foolish, that’s fo sho. There are pros and cons to it, of course. Direct intake of liquefied sugar certainly can be a factor in getting the diabetes, but there are others too, right? Perhaps Dr. Scott Wiener will help you work on those after the election…

*That would be your Old Marina, you know, Facie Terraemotus. Now make sure you don’t say nothing bad about Saint Joseph DiMaggio, the Patron Saint of the Marina, in front of Old Marina – they’ll get super pissed off. But, you know, before Joltin’ Joe had left and gone away, he was known for being a big jerk on Chestnut Street. Yelling at barbers for no reason, stuff like that. There’s an appointment system, Joe – what makes you so special? Anyway, area Supervisor Mark Farrell remains a big fan of DiMaggio, for some reason… 

**That would be your New Marina, you know, Post Terraemotus.

The Trouble with Moving to a Place on MUSEUM WAY and then Getting Testy During THE MUSEUM’s Busiest Four Hours of the Year

Monday, October 27th, 2014

The problem with doing that is that you end up looking like this noticeably-irritated turkey in the Nissan:

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Cf. living on AIRPORT DRIVE and complaining about airplane noise.

Cf. living on Lombard Street and complaining about how all those tourists make you not want to go on living any more…

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…

Octavia Boulevard Update: Anybody Who Claims This Short Road Has “High-Speed Motor Traffic” is Lying

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Simply.

Now if you want real “high-speed motor traffic,” well then look to the 280 freeway.

But if you want a poorly-designed glorified freeway offramp with lots of slow-moving bumper-to-bumper gridlock, well then Octavia is your bingo.

See? This is typical. Traffic has been jammed up here starting about a week after this road opened. This is exactly what low-speed traffic looks like: 

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A note to advocacy journalists who think it’s their job to lie:

No it’s not!

Lying hurts your case. Lying doesn’t help your case.

 

Chicanery in the Presidio: An Actual Street Chicane Has Been Put in to Slow Down Drivers in a Housing Area

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Here we go:

chicane is an artificial feature creating extra turns in a road, used in motor racing and on streets to slow traffic for safety. Chicane comes from the French verb chicaner, which means “to quibble” or “to prevent justice.”

And here’s an example of one, in the Presidio on Washington Boulevard near Nauman Road by base housing:

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(One assumes that area fire departments would simply drive over these chicanes on Washington Blvd. in an emergency)

Someday I’ll drive through this chicane in a car – it’s on my bucket list.

Well, Here It Is – Here’s Your Newly-Repaved Kezar Drive, July 2014

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

For the life of me, I can’t tell the difference between the bad, terrible, bumpy old Kezar (seen in the background) and the new, wonderful, freshly-paved Kezar (seen in the foreground), you know, except for the color.

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