Friday, July 31, 2009

Urban Mole

I'll believe it when I see it, but this article about a (purely conceptual) method of delivering packages through city sewers is fascinating. This line from the opening paragraph is especially smirk-inducing:
UPS trucks have nowhere to double-park, and obnoxious bike messengers can’t even ride on pedestrian-jammed sidewalks.

North Beach Library Plaza Opens This Weekend

San Francisco will add a new (albeit temporary) pedestrian space to one of its densest neighborhoods tomorrow when a section of Mason Street in North Beach is closed to car traffic. I won't be in town to see its first weekend myself, but I look forward to visiting soon - and taking pictures.

If you can, stop by the new plaza at Mason and Columbus Avenue, in front of the North Beach Branch Library. The space will be open for two months, until September 27th.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where the Riders Are

Greater Greater Washington, a DC-based transit and livable cities blog, as an awesome set of maps showing the ridership levels at every segment of the DC Metro system.

Apparently WMATA doesn't collect this kind of ridership data, so author Matt Johnson and a friend of his collected the info themselves.

BART does collect this data, and is great about releasing it to the public for analysis and interpretation. Hopefully one of the Bay Area's skilled transit geek cartographers can bust out a local version of GGW's diagram.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oakland's Urban Paths

The image of public stairways in my mind is one of San Francisco's hilly neighborhoods - Twin Peaks, Liberty, Telegraph, Russian and Potrero Hills. But Oakland has hills too, and a group of people working to raise awareness of their Town's own public stairs.

From the Facebook group:
The Oakland Urban Paths is a group of dedicated walkers, planners, historians and fundraisers with a common mission: to raise awareness of the paths and Oakland’s heritage through a variety of activities in partnership with Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) and the City of Oakland.
Oakland Urban Paths is about to undertake an inventory of Oakland's 250+ paths and stairways. The effort kicks off tomorrow at WOBO's volunteer meeting. Deets have been added to the calendar in the sidebar, and listed after the jump

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mission Streetscape Plan Public Workshop #4

Mark your calendars for the penultimate Mission Streetscape Plan public workshop:

AUGUST 12, 2009 - 6:30 - 8:30 PM
The Women's Building Auditorium
3543 18th Street (at Lapidge)

Development Oriented Transit

I read Streetsblog New York's piece on BRT yesterday, and thought about mentioning some arguments in opposition to BRT, but held off.

Good decision, it turns out, since The Overhead Wire can be counted on to make the case against BRT far more passionately than I can. That post and the comments it generated are definitely worth a read, but one remark in particular struck me:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Less Median, More Sidewalk

Work is about to begin on the Valencia Streetscape Improvements project. There are a number of elements of the Better Streets "Plan" that will be installed along the four-block stretch in question, but the biggest single change will be the removal of the 13-foot wide center parking lane median and the addition of 6 to 9 feet of sidewalk (half on each side of the street, of course).

According to Streetsblog, Liveable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich "was hopeful that Valencia could serve as a model for many of the ideas that are in the Better Streets Plan." And indeed we all should remain hopeful that more of our street space is turned over to pedestrian use.
Unfortunately, not all street improvement projects currently underway are quite so admirable.

The project to redesign notorious traffic sewer Cesar Chavez Street will not include wider sidewalks but will instead add 14-foot-wide center median to the expressway. Thus ensuring that cars will continue to speed to and from the "hairball" of on/off-ramps below Highway 101 and the street will continue to divide Bernal Heights from the Mission - albeit under the shade of pretty new trees.

Divisadero will also be "improved" without doing much to address the public pedestrian spaces along the street.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July Sunday Streets

Let's none of us ever buy gas again

I hope everyone had fun at Sunday Streets today. This months fete took the same route through the Mission District as last month's. My impression, however, was that the crowd was slightly different. Last time, there seemed to be more people present along the Easter half, down 24th Street. The crowd then seemed to be simply walking/biking/jogging/what-have-you down the street.

This month, the crowd seemed just slightly smaller but more engaged. I noticed an awful lot of roller skaters, and more people with music systems on their bikes or blasting out the apartment windows above the route.

Last month I left right at 2pm, when the street was reopened to cars. This time I waited until the last possible minute to leave the street. It was a little perplexing to hear the cops yelling, 'The street is now open, please get off the street,' or, 'The street is open, look out for yourselves!' After all, aren't they supposed to look out for us?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

November Street Bond Poll

I was just called (very early on a Saturday) to participate in a poll about the upcoming street repaving bond. From the questions they asked it sounds like they'll be pitching this as a benefit for pedestrians. That's great, and hopefully it actually will fund projects to increase pedestrian safety. But if you want to something about the unfunded pedestrian and transit improvement projects in this city, enforce the traffic laws!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

SF's Own Second Ave Subway

Not down Second Avenue in the Richmond District, naturally. The title refers to the eighty-year-long history of the as yet unbuilt Subway line under Second Avenue in Manhattan.

This map was drawn in 1931, two years after the Second Avenue line in New York was proposed. I have a copy of this hanging in my hallway, so I was surprised when I noticed the other day that it includes a couple lines that transit enthusiasts would still love to see built.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Homonyms Are Not Synonymous

I'll never understand why the hell we even let people store their cars in our parks, let alone do it for free.

Rondal Partridge, Pave It and Paint It Green, Yosemite National Park, mid-1960

Just because "parks" and "parking" sound the same doesn't mean they're interchangeable!

I say charge the hell out of them for the privilege of parking close to our museums and public gardens, dirtying the air and choking our green open spaces with their private vehicles. If they don't like it they can take the bus like a normal person.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

March of Progress

Check out this historic history of the old Key System

Thanks to 38th Notes!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tiny Block of Mason Street Set For Temp Closure

The San Francisco Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation (ISCOTT) agreed today to temporarily close a small portion of Mason Street in North beach to cars. The block in question separates Joe DiMaggio Playground from a small triangle of land, on which the SF Public Library wants to build a larger replacement for its current North Beach branch.

Image: Curbed

Those plans include the permanent conversion of that 150-foot length of Mason Street into public open space in order to connect the new library to the playground next door.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Do You Feel About Van Ness BRT?

The Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Citizens Advisory Committee has a vacancy - they need you to apply for the open spot on the committee!

The next meeting of the VN CAC will be:

Tuesday, July 14
5-7 pm
100 Van Ness Avenue, 26th Floor (between Fell and Hayes)

Public Pedestrian Spaces Yield Happiness

Crappy cellphone pic

Enrique Peñalosa's speech at the Main Library yesterday was time well-spent. If you'd like a summary of his lecture, Streetsblog has a good writeup. In short, he attempted repeatedly to drive home the point that we - in cities across the world, in America and in San Francisco - are wasting our scarce public space by devoting it to private transportation. Our lives would be more enjoyable if we took as much of that space as we can and devoted it to pedestrian space.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free Event for the Great Streets Project

The San Francisco Great Streets Project is hosting a free public forum featuring Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. Peñalosa is famous for de-prioritizing private car use in Bogotá. His most wide-reaching legacies are the ciclovía (emulated most recently in SF's Sunday Streets event) and BRT.

The event is called Sunday Streets to Great Streets. Details after the jump

Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Location: Koret Auditorium, Main Public Library
Street: 100 Larkin St.
City/Town: San Francisco, CA
Cost: Free

Valet bicycle parking provided.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

See, It Doesn't Cost Too Much!

I can always count on The Overhead Wire to link to a news story that pisses me off. I fully recognize that there's a pie-in-the-sky element to my H-Potrero Van Ness subway plan because it is the most expensive option. But it's just damn hard to take such claims of poverty seriously when cases like this are out there.

It's not 'We don't have the money,' it's 'We don't want to spend it on public transit.'