Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Distracted Driving Summit - Today and Tomorrow

Thank you Mr. Solomon for the note in my inbox alerting me to a summit that US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is hosting on distracted drivers.

From the Secretary's blog, the Fast Lane:
So today, we’re kicking off a two-day summit that’s going to look at this deadly epidemic from every angle.

We’re bringing together top experts in safety, transportation research, regulatory affairs, and law enforcement to help us identify, target, and tackle the fundamental elements of this problem.
Watch the webcast of both days' events here, or the live-blog at the Fast Lane.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Better Market Street

The six-week trial program to reduce car traffic on Market Street begins today. So far, according to the folks as SFist, things are pretty alright.

I'm stuck in an office in SoMa, so I have no eyewitness account to add. Any comments with your own experiences are appreciated!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Middle of the Road

When Jim Hightower says, "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos," he's talking about centrism in American politics, but I'm instantly reminded of the real-life streets down which we all travel. Armadillos are rare in San Francisco, of course, but yellow stripes are also missing from far too many of our streets.

The city of Minneapolis is about to return two of its downtown streets to two-way traffic after nearly 30 years of one-way flow. Those streets, like many in downtowns across the country, were converted to one-way couplets by auto-centric traffic engineers in the middle of the last century.

Their goal was to squeeze more cars through older, narrow streets as fast as they could. And that's exactly what happened. The problem is that the fast, thick traffic along these one-way streets has proven to be dangerous to vulnerable road users, especially pedestrians, and has often pushed away much of the street life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

9X becomes 11X

According to the Ex, Muni is slightly rerouting the last bit of the 9X to touch down in the sliver of Daly City near the Cow Palace. And with that change, they're going to call it the 11X.

Not sure why the designation change was necessary, but this extra extension makes a lot of sense for this heavily-used downtown feeder express. The new terminus at Geneva and Schwerin streets is technically in Daly City, but that's something of an arbitrary distinction in this part of town. In addition to the operational improvements that the Examiner article mentions, the extra few-block-jaunt will connect downtown SF to a new pool of residents near the Cow Palace.

Of course, it only makes perfect sense for the T-Third to be extended past this stop and down Geneva to the Balboa Park-plex. But this is a small step in the right direction, all the same.

Quote of the Day

The pedestrian is the indicator species for a healthy, vibrant community. - Beth Osbourne, Deputy Assistant Director for Transportation Policy USDOT (via

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Breathing Room in Chinatown

Via Curbed, apparently pedestrians in Chinatown are getting some much-needed space along Wentworth Street. Nice!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy World Carfree Day!

Who knew?! Thanks to Streetsblog for pointing out that today is World Carfree Day. According to its organizers,
World Carfree Day was established in 2000 as a grassroots movement by the World Carfree Network to coincide with the European Mobility Week. It has grown to involve official and unofficial participants in over 1,000 cities in 40 countries. -World Carfree Network
So if you haven't already - and, so we can still be friends, I'll assume you have already - ditch the car and take the BMW (BART, Muni and Walk) around town today. You couldn't ask for better weather!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

After all, people don't come to San Francisco to watch other people drive their cars around. -Tim Holt

Happy Park(ing) Day!

Check out this map of SF's newest limited-time-only parks! If you see any cool ones in your 'hood, walk around and take some pictures. Upload them to Flickr if you want.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sad News, Everyone

Thanks for the Alert by Walk SF's Facebook page. The SF Appeal has good coverage of a woman who was hit and killed this morning at Fell and Broderick Streets.

While details are apparently hazy since the crash was so recent, the Appeal reports that, according to police spokeswoman Sgt. Lyn Tomioka,
Apparently, another car had stopped (for the woman) at the intersection and this vehicle went around it.
If true, that's a pretty clear violation of CVC Section 21951, which states:
Whenever any vehicle has stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.
According to the Examiner's writeup, 'San Francisco Police Officer Barcena' described this as "not an arrest situation." But the Appeal quotes Sgt. Tomioka as saying that prosecutors "could weigh charging him 'because the driver is required to drive with due caution.'"

My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the victim of this driver's negligence.

Friday, September 11, 2009

16th Street Upgrades?

If you've been down 16th Street lately you've probably noticed these new poles being installed. They seem to be replacements for the poles that currently support Muni's overhead wires (for the 22 and 33 lines) rather than utility poles.

I haven't been able to Google up any info on this project, but I suspect it might have something to do with Muni's planned (TEP) re-routing of the 22 down 16th to Mission Bay.

Anyone have details?

The Origins of the Sidewalk

Just found out about a great SoCal pedestrian blog via Streetsblog LA. Brush up on your party trivia with this interesting history of the sidewalk.

OMG, Walk SF is on Facebook!

So become a fan already!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Eagerly Awaiting the New market Street

Even if it is just temporary. As you've probably heard by now, five city agencies have announced that they will change the traffic patterns on Market Street on a trial basis starting September 29th and lasting at least six weeks, according to the Chronicle Comical.

The traffic changes to be made during this trial are notably stronger that the SFCTA had proposed back in May. The new configuration will leave a virtually car free road Eastbound, East of 8th Street.

Bridge Work Time Lapse

God bless Facebook, bringer of Internet distractions:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Preview the New Showplace/Potrero Hill Plaza

I hope everyone's enjoying their big car-free weekend!

I took a minute to check out the progress on SF's next Pavement to Parks pedestrian plaza at 16th and 8th streets. Work on what the Planning Dept calls 'Showplace Triangle' is ongoing, but one can already get a sense of the final product.

Some pics and descriptions after the jump.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big Weekend

Well, today's the day. Caltrans closed the Bay Bridge last night and the whole region clenched in anticipation of Carmageddon this morning - the first weekday commute without bridge access in just under 20 years.

Many folks expected the areas around the bridge approaches to see light traffic, and they are. But as it turns out, traffic was lighter than usual everywhere this morning, including the other bridges expected to absorb some spillover traffic. The traffic guy on KRON this morning relayed an anecdote from a Dumbarton Bridge toll-taker who said it seemed like a Sunday morning.

Clearly, an awful lot of the trips people make across our bridges are not necessary. To me, that indicates our transportation policies make driving too appealing an option for transbay travel. The moral of today's story is that the subsidies of driving across the water ought to be minimized. Obviously the sky won't fall if you can't drive across the bridge.

On a related note, BART wants to know how and why you're riding this car-free weekend.

And this year's last Sunday Streets will take over the Great Highway again. Looks like a beautiful weekend in the walkable neighborhood!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Then and Now - Pine and Hyde

What a difference 50 years can make to the quality of our streets. Below are two photos of the intersection of Pine and Hyde, looking West

Left: 1954 ; Right: 2009

The image on the left is from Walt Vielbaum via the Market Street Railway blog. MSR's caption:
Downtown-bound O'Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car No. 57 swings 'wrong-way' from Hyde into the oncoming traffic of Pine Street, (1954). The overhead neon sign warns motorists that an eastbound cable car is invading the one-way westbound street for two blocks, before it turns south on Jones Street. This mechanism was set up when the City made Pine one-way. Downtown interests longed to do the same with O'Farrell Street where two automobile garages were being built. The pressure for a one-way downtown street grid helped doom this fabled cable car line, which shut down two weeks after Walt Vielbaum took this great photo. -Market Street Railway
It's interesting to see what's changed and what has stayed the same. The buildings on three of the four corners are still there, but are now fronted with trees. The St. Francis Memorial Hospital has replaced Thomas Coffee Shop on the Southeast corner.

Traffic is still one way, now unperturbed by that pesky cable car.