Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quote of the Day

Regarding the letter about parking in Menlo Park ("A better deal," Dec. 25): I could park for free in Modesto, too, but why would I want to? -Jeff Doane via SF Chronicle

Monday, December 28, 2009

Going... Going...

Some awesome pictures of the big old warehouse at Third and Mariposa Streets on the edge of Dogpatch and Mission bay. The old building is being systematically dismantled so that the site can become the new home of a UCSF hospital. The way they're taking it apart it almost appears to be fading away.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wider Sidewalks on Valencia


City workers have been tearing up four blocks of Valencia Street for the Valencia Streetscape Improvement project for about six months now, and concrete results are now underfoot. The first blocks of wider sidewalks have opened and Pedestrians can now enjoy the extra space as well as the safety of some new corner bulbouts. Click through for a larger picture; you can follow the white line of the crosswalk to see the difference between the old sidewalk width (foreground, South of 17th Street) and the new (North, across 17th Street in the photo).

It's clear that there remains some more work to be done on these first blocks: pouring more concrete, installing street furniture, and planting a row of new trees in what was once the parking lane. And work has yet to begin on most of the blocks in the project area (Valencia from 15th to 19th).

But two blocks are open and usable right now, and the rest will follow before you know it. Go out and see for yourself what a difference a few feet can make.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

M is for Muni-only

My monthly commuter benefit arrived in the mail today, and with it was an extra special reminder that the cambios significantes to which we're all still adjusting will soon be joined by a new fare increase in just over a week.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reconnecting the Grid in Potrero Hill

According to Curbed SF, the plans for replacing the Potrero Terrace-Annex housing projects on the Southeast side of Potrero Hill call for re-establishing the street grid on the hilly property.

The maps above compare the street grid as it was planned from the 19th century and the streets that exist today. The map on the left was made in 1907, but doesn't differ significantly from earlier maps. North-South streets were named for states, and East-West streets were named for the original counties of California (most changed to the numbers they currently bear when the Potrero Hill grid was merged into the existing grid of the Mission District in 1895. The weird little jogs many streets make as they cross Harrison show the boundary between these two almost-aligned grids).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2010 Sunday Streets Schedule Announced

Streetsblog reports that the city has announced the schedule for 2010's Sunday Streets events:
  • March 14: Embarcadero, starting at Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39, south to China Basin and Terry Francois Blvd.
  • April 11: Along the Great Highway, coinciding with World Health Day's “1,000 Cities, 1,000 Lives” international event, as one of thousands of cities hosting simultaneous car-free events worldwide.
  • April 18: Bayview, along 3rd Street from King and 4th (Caltrain Station) to Bayview Playground.
  • May 23: Bayview, in conjunction with the 3rd Street Corridor Project and Bayview Merchant’s Association’s “3rd Street Festival.”
  • June 20: Mission, along Valencia and 24th Streets.
  • July 11: Mission.
  • August 22: Great Highway/Golden Gate Park.
  • September 19: NEW: Western Addition, exact location TBD.
  • October 24: NEW Civic Center/Tenderloin, exact location TBD.
-Streetsblog SF

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(Long) Quote of the Day

When was the last time you heard anyone calling for a freeway to be profitable? (Or, for that matter, even unsubsidized?) When did we build our airports and overpasses to provide the best ROI? No, we build all these other transportation projects to provide the most public benefit possible. According to the CA-HSRA's own Business Plan, the way to do that is to set fares at 50% of airfare, producing nearly double the ridership in the first year, and around 30% more by 2035. This gets the most people off our roads and out of our airports as possible, and moves more people by clean, renewable electricity than any other option studied. Fares at 50% of airfare keeps the train operations sustainable while providing the most return-on-investment for the taxpayers, the citizens of California, who asked for this thing to be built. As far as I'm concerned, that ought to be the only criteria evaluated, and Wall Street can suck it. -Riding in Riverside

Monday, December 14, 2009

Breathing Room

Powell Street near Union Square was the latest street to get a temporarily more livable trial project over the weekend, just in time for the holiday shopping rush.

The parking lanes on both sides of the street were removed to create an expanded pedestrian walkway from the cable car turnaround to Union Square (the block of Powell between the turnaround and Ellis Street is already pedestrian- and transit-only).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

gay marriage and parking: a generation from now we will look back at this time period in disgust and shame. -Anonymous commenter on Curbed SF

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cambios Significantes

As we wrap up week one of "the most significant changes to Muni's network in 30 years" (ZOMG!!!1!!) I thought it was worth remarking on what those changes have meant. News reports and my Facebook News Feed have largely agreed that the changes were without significant disruption.

Muni deserves congratulations for pulling that feat off. Even loyal Muni riders love to gripe about every little thing, so it's almost inconceivable that there would be this little grumbling. Muni win.

That said, however, there are a couple of bad side effects of the changes that have made me spend more time on the corner than I'd like to during this cold snap.

The above picture was taken at 2nd and Brannan Streets. It's where I've always waited for the bus, so I was sad to see this sign announcing the stop had been removed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Birthday :-)

Today marks the 1-year birthday of this blog! It started with a post of my first Pedestrianism video, chronicling my walk to work through SoMa. I had initially intended to give this blog the same name as the video but, since another blogger.com user had already claimed that URL, I went with Pedestrianist. One year and some 200 posts later, here we are!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Space in the Heart of the City

Rachel Gordon has a piece in today's Chronicle Comical on a plan to do something with Hallidie Plaza, that expansive void in the middle of downtown SF.

I imagine anyone with any amount of urban awareness has had their own ideas of what to do with this space as soon as they first laid eyes on it. It's clear the first time you visit that the plaza is just not working right. Crowds choke the area around the cable car turnaround and pedestrians avoid the relatively broad walkways along the old Bank of America building and along Market Street. BART and Muni riders hurriedly pass through the sunken area in the middle, and the area West of Cyril Magnin is an afterthought if it's thought of at all.

And any amateur urbanist's bright ideas for the plaza would probably be an improvement. The plan discussed in Gordon's article, which is apparently being seriously considered by the city, calls for that Western segment to be decked over and converted to a reservoir. That's a very practical use of the existing volume, and it would improve the plaza, to be sure. One disadvantage is that the plan would cut off access to the Powell Street Station from West of 5th Street. Riders coming from, say, the Warfield theater would need to cross either Market of 5th Street to get underground.

I confess to having my own daydreams of what Hallidie Plaza should look like. I can't say I've ironed out the details yet but in response to Gordon's article I'd like to mention some things I think are important to consider in any overhaul plans, vaguely in order of importance.