Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Dear God this is frightening.

Noe Valley's Pavement to Parks Drama

There's trouble a-brewin' high in Noe Valley. The intersection of 24th and Noe Streets was chosen by the Planning Department to be the site of an upcoming Pavement to Parks pedestrian plaza. In a bold move, Planning is planning to close a section of Noe Street at the Intersection to create a broad plaza in an area of Noe Valley that sees some really intense pedestrian traffic.

A few neighbors weren't too happy when they got word of the plans, however. They're trying to push Andres Power, manager of the Pavement to Parks program, to scrap the plaza design. Power has responded by drafting a second option for the intersection. Instead of a plaza, they could build a "parklet" (bulbout) on either side of the street, keeping Noe open for cars.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty will be holding a community meeting to gauge public support for the two proposals on April 8th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Philips Church Community Room (725 Diamond).

There's a group of neighbors working to demonstrate support for the full plaza. You should join their effort, if you're so inclined, and attend the meeting next Thursday to let Mr. Dufty know you support Noe Plaza.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do Us a Favor

When forced to fill an unprecedented budget deficit over the last year, the SFMTA took some rare, if wobbly, steps toward bringing in new revenue from drivers in addition to their go-to fare hikes and service cuts. The political resistance to charging drivers bent slightly when confronted with the sheer size of gap, and for the first time the MTA Board was seriously considering charging more to park in SF.

Well now Governor Schwarzenegger has agreed to a (dubious) gas tax swap that will give the SFMTA $36 million dollars for Muni. My first reaction was not 'Hooray, no more service cuts or fare hikes.' It was 'Great, there go the revenue measures.' I had hoped I was wrong, but it's looking like the MTA staff is considering just what I was afraid of. Lame, lame, lame.

Walk to School

Via Streetsblog.net, an elementary school in Milton, Ontario has a new policy banning parents from driving their kids to school. Not sure why it costs $125,000 to ban parents from driving, but apparently it's been working well so far.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SFTRU Ramping Up

Dave Snyder of the newly formed San Francisco Transit Riders Union sent out the group's first email to its members. If you haven't already joined their ranks yet, you can do so by filling out the form at muniriders.org (they also have a Facebook page). SFTRU is planning its first member meeting for this Thursday, March 25th.

Read the email message after the jump.

Stop Go

I spotted this bus stop driving away down Brannan Street this morning. It turned right on 5th and looked like it was about to turn right again onto Townsend as I walked away. I have no idea which line it could have been from because the numbers had already been removed from the sides.

It could either be from a stop that's been removed as part of the incessant service cuts we've seen, or one that's been replaced with a new solar bus shelter. (Only one of of the new shelters, deep in the Fog Belt of all places, seems to actually have solar panels. But hey, Clear Channel got their money already, aren't Public Private Partnerships the best?!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Support of the Versatility of Pedestrian Space

If I didn't read the Chronicle Comical I'd probably have a very poor understanding of how visiting suburbanites view San Francisco.

You may have noticed I like to walk around this city, and I consider myself to be very familiar with its pedestrian realm. The sidewalk is my primary point of view, almost all of my interactions with public space are on the sidewalk.

And I'm not afraid of people sitting or lying down on it.

Streetsblog posted a piece on the Newsom-Gascon sit-lie law, which generated some controversy. And I'm glad they did because this law will directly affect the public space that Streetsblog and all livability advocates fight for. The law as proposed would prohibit behavior that's beneficial for such spaces because, ostensibly, the SFPD currently lacks the tools to deal with the bad behavior of a tiny few.

The proximate motivation for this law is a group of street kids on Haight who are harassing passersby. Gascon has told the Bay Guardian that he knows these street kids wouldn't be harassing anyone if cops regularly walked up and down Haight Street. So he acknowledges that adequate tools already exist to keep the peace. This law is not necessary to protect the citizens of the Haigh-Ashbury neighborhood, nor is it likely to be effective without the same increased police presence that Gascon says would solve the problem on its own.

Alley Love in Seattle

Seattle's Crosscut has a nice piece on that city's alleys. Alleys can provide a great pedestrian experience, and Crosscut gives some good examples around the world (including Maiden Lane here in SF) and discusses a design competition with the goal of improving the local alley environment and public awareness thereof.

SF has several dense pockets of narrow streets or alleys. Western SoMa, the Mission District (or what used to be the Mission District) near 16th West of Mission, The Mission District surrounding 24th and Mission Streets, and Hayes Valley come to mind. I'd like to see some minor improvements made to these pockets of walkable urbanity, and I'd like to see new pockets in areas of the city slated for future development.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunday Streets: Embarcadero 2010

At the risk of jinxing it, Sunday Streets has an impressive track record for weather. Following are some photos I took at this past weekend's street opening:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First 2010 Sunday Streets is This Sunday

My how time flies. The first of this year's 9 Sunday Streets events is already upon us! Check out a car-free Third Street/Embarcadero from Mariposa Street to Fisherman's Wharf this Sunday, March 14th, from 10am-3pm.

That's right! This year's events will last an hour longer - until 3pm! See you there! (map after the jump)

New Parking Meters on Brannan

I spotted these on my walk to work Friday. When I took this picture the North (Northwest, geographically) side of Brannan Street between 7th and 8th was dotted along half its length by the poles you see, while the other half had fresh holes drilled in the concrete. This entire block now has the poles which, based on their height and spacing, seem to be harbingers of parking meters to come.

I hope DPT plans to collect the money they're entitled to from these meters.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Save Muni

Dozens of Transit advocates and concerned citizens showed up bright an early at the Women's Building on 18th Street for the Save Muni Summit. The goal, according to the organizers, was to identify solutions to the problems that prevent Muni from meeting the transportation needs of the city of San Francisco.

Most people at the meeting came because of their involvement in one of a large number of organizations that signed on as co-sponsors of the summit. That's to be expected, but several commenters noted that the makeup of the group was not reflective of Muni's ridership. Indeed, more than one person who stood in front of the room to speak described themselves as 'lapsed Muni riders,' meaning they no longer ride the system.

The hour and a half or so of public comment was the most insightful. Commenters were encouraged to keep their statements positive and constructive, rather than to generally gripe about Muni service. I wasn't able to catch a lot of the names, but I tried to jot down as many of the ideas proposed, which you can read below:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SFPD To Begin Ped Safety Campaign

We could all use some good news amid the SFMTA doomsday nonsense. According to KCBS, the SFPD is starting a year-long program to increase pedestrian safety in San Francisco.
With a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the police traffic detail along with a civilian crime prevention unit are educating people and enforcing traffic laws. -KCBS
Imagine that, enforcing traffic laws. But before you get too excited, this is apparently what Captain Steve Tacchini means by 'enforcing traffic l
One of the things we see is people stepping off the curbs before the lights change, trying to run across against the reds, trying to catch Muni running up to buses or not looking for vehicles making right turns.
That last one is a gem. Mr. Tacchini doesn't seem to remember the section of the Driver Handbook on how to make a right turn (if he's interested in a refresher, I have a couple extra copies he can borro
To make a right turn ... Stop behind the limit line. Look both ways and turn when it is safe. Do not turn wide into another lane. Complete your turn in the right lane.

Right turn against a red light–Signal and stop for a red traffic light at the limit line or at the corner. If there is no sign to prohibit the turn, you may turn right. Yield to pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other vehicles moving on their green light. (emphasis mine)
But if you don't particularly feel like doing that we'll cite the pedestrians you threaten, apparently. Nice.

Bike NoPa reports that 14 motorists have already been cited new Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle, so here's to hoping that the upcoming yearlong campaign is lighter on the blame-the-roadkill nonsense than Mr. Tacchini's statement in the KCBS article.

In any case, Michael Helquist of Bike NoPa advises:
To report crosswalk incidents or red light running:call SFPD at (415) 553-0123 (for non-emergencies)