Monday, February 04, 2008

Memo of the Week: Bicycle Plan environmental review update

Below (in italics) is the text of a January 15 memo available on the MTA's website. Recall that back in December the SF Bicycle Coalition had a public tantrum/press conference about the city's delay in producing the court-ordered environmental impact report on the Bicycle Plan.

The memo patiently explains why the EIR is taking longer than the SFBC and its enablers in City Hall expected:

As the first of its kind, this is both entirely new ground in environmental analysis and will be subject to an intense level of public involvement...The scope of the Bicycle Plan EIR is complex and unique compared to many other San Francisco EIRs. This is the first CEQA document in San Francisco to review a City-wide project, and therefore the analysis requires more time. The Bike Plan EIR will analyze the project's impacts not only discreetly[sic] but also on a cumulative basis over a vast geographic area. This demands a complicated and specialized analytical methodology that considers the cumulative impacts of both specific near-term bicycle improvement projects and the long-term continued development of the bicycle route network throughout the City. It is our belief that no such method has been developed previously in this City or elsewhere.

"Intense public involvement" is exactly what was lacking in the way the city tried to illegally rush the Bicycle Plan through the process a few years ago. Hard to believe that our litigation was the first successful challenge to this sort of bad planning, but if so we take pride in that fact. When you look at the long list of bicycle projects at the end of the memo that are "under design," you can understand the scope of the Bicycle Plan and the difficulties the city faces with the EIR. If they fail to properly analyze all these projects---including traffic studies---they will face another challenge in court:

SFMTA is simultaneously working on the design of 56 projects identified in the Bicycle Plan Update (see attached project list). SFMTA will soon begin city-wide public outreach to gather public input on the implementation of these projects. It is our intent to complete the design and community work for each of these 56 projects by mid 2009, the earliest date we expect that the injunction could be lifted. In addition to making each approved project ready for construction, our goal is to have construction crews and materials available to implement these projects as soon as the injunction is lifted.

For the last Bicycle Plan update, the city used the SF Bicycle Coalition for "public outreach," which was improper since that organization is a private interest group with a vested interest in the outcome of the process. It's not clear from this if the city will do that again.

Note too that the city will soon ask Judge Busch to lift the injunction immediately for two projects in the Bicycle Plan:

There are two projects that have safety concerns which SFMTA believes warrants immediate relief from the injunction: the intersection of Octavia Boulevard at Market Street and the intersection of Masonic Avenue at Fell Street. SFMTA and the City Attorney’s Office are preparing documents to request permission from the Court to make specific street changes at these locations as soon as possible.

We of course will challenge this in court, and the city will have to provide Judge Busch with some facts to back up their "safety concerns" about these intersections to justify lifting the injunction.

There are other dumb projects on the "under design" list below, but I had to laugh when I saw number 39: "McAllister Street bike lanes, Market Street to Masonic Avenue." I live on McAllister Street, which has only two lanes; the only way you can put bike lanes on that street is by taking away hundreds of parking spaces that are well-used, to put it mildly, by the people living along this corridor. And most of those parking spaces are directly in front of the large public housing projects on McAllister Street, which are of course almost entirely occupied by black people. This will pose a serious dilemma for "progressive" Supervisor Mirkarimi: Will he support the bike nuts or support retaining much-needed parking for black people in his district? I find it amazing that the city and the bike nuts think it's politically feasible to eliminate all this parking in a part of the city that desperately needs all the parking it can get, black people or no black people.

And then there's number 38 on the list: "Masonic Avenue Corridor bike lanes, from Fell Street to Geary Boulevard." The only way this can be done is by removing a traffic lane or street parking on one of the busiest North/South streets in the city, which will only make traffic on Masonic much worse. Again, I just don't believe that this is politically feasible. Like with the proposed McAllister Street bike lanes, however, I'm going to enjoy watching the city try to do this. I suspect that the city will experience some "intense public involvement" over those and other projects on the list!


Municipal Transportation Agency
Gavin Newsom/Mayor
Rev. Dr. James McCray Jr./Chairman
Tom Nolan/Vice-Chairman
Cameron Beach/Director
Shirley Breyer Black/Director
Nathaniel P. Ford Sr./Executive Director/CEO

Bicycle Plan Environmental Review Update

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) would like to update stakeholders on progress on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan environmental review (Bicycle Plan EIR) process, including enhancements that strengthen the effort and the resulting change in the projected completion date of a Draft Bicycle Plan EIR. SFMTA and our project partners are fully committed to delivering a Final Bicycle Plan EIR in the timeliest manner possible, while still ensuring the best and most legally defensible EIR, in order to allow for the earliest possible release from the injunction and a return to implementation of much-needed bicycle facilities and improvements in San Francisco.

The current Bicycle Plan environmental review process stems from a successful legal challenge to a component of the Bicycle Plan under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This legal decision was the first known successful challenge of a local bicycle plan, and resulted in an injunction by the Superior Court of California (Court) against any further bicycle facility improvements until a comprehensive environmental analysis is completed. As the first of its kind, this is both entirely new ground in environmental analysis and will be subject to an intense level of public involvement.

Bicycle Plan EIR Update
The Major Environmental Analysis (MEA) Section of the Planning Department is the lead agency in charge of preparation of the Bicycle Plan EIR under CEQA. SFMTA is the project sponsor and plays a significant role in the process by developing the Bicycle Plan Update’s specific policies and projects and by assisting the environmental experts (Consultant Team) on the technical analyses of these projects.

Given the scope of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan environmental review and the public pressure to complete the process quickly, and potential continued legal challenges to the Final Bicycle Plan EIR, SFMTA staff are working closely with MEA and the Consultant Team to ensure that the Final Bicycle Plan EIR is the most thorough and legally defensible document possible. Those familiar with EIRs in general know that the nature of the process makes adherence to firm deadlines very difficult. While the entire scope of the effort can be estimated at the start of the process, timelines are commonly adjusted as the environmental process moves forward and projects are developed in further detail. With the unique complexity of framing, describing, and analyzing this project, we do not expect this EIR to differ significantly from others performed for large controversial projects. However, SFMTA and our project partners are committed to delivering the best Final Bicycle Plan EIR in the timeliest manner possible.

The scope of the Bicycle Plan EIR is complex and unique compared to many other San Francisco EIRs. This is the first CEQA document in San Francisco to review a City-wide project, and therefore the analysis requires more time. The Bike Plan EIR will analyze the project's impacts not only discreetly[sic] but also on a cumulative basis over a vast geographic area. This demands a complicated and specialized analytical methodology that considers the cumulative impacts of both specific near-term bicycle improvement projects and the long-term continued development of the bicycle route network throughout the City. It is our belief that no such method has been developed previously in this City or elsewhere.

With respect for the complex and demanding process that an EIR of this scope and magnitude requires, and in full recognition of the necessity for timely completion of the Final Bicycle Plan EIR and lifting of the Bicycle Plan injunction, SFMTA staff has employed all necessary resources to complete the Draft Bicycle Plan EIR by Fall 2008. SFMTA staff are currently working on an amendment to the existing Consultant Team contract to provide additional resources to advance key tasks in the EIR. The most current schedule is attached. Note that one of the purposes of the Initial Study, which is planned for publication next month, is to address certain topical areas of environmental analysis now rather than perform the analysis as part of the EIR. While this takes more time upfront, it typically will save time in the long run.

Bicycle Plan Update
In order to comply with the direction from the Court, and minimize the possibility of legal challenges on the grounds of segmenting the implementation of components of the Bicycle Plan, we are working simultaneously on a comprehensive Bicycle Plan Update. The scope of this updated plan has expanded significantly since the 2005 update because it will include bicycle elements from other planning documents created by other City and County of San Francisco agencies (see attached map) as well as addressing comments raised during the public scoping meeting held in June 2007.

Future Bicycle Projects Update

SFMTA is simultaneously working on the design of 56 projects identified in the Bicycle Plan Update (see attached project list). SFMTA will soon begin city-wide public outreach to gather public input on the implementation of these projects. It is our intent to complete the design and community work for each of these 56 projects by mid 2009, the earliest date we expect that the injunction could be lifted. In addition to making each approved project ready for construction, our goal is to have construction crews and materials available to implement these projects as soon as the injunction is lifted.

There are two projects that have safety concerns which SFMTA believes warrants immediate relief from the injunction: the intersection of Octavia Boulevard at Market Street and the intersection of Masonic Avenue at Fell Street. SFMTA and the City Attorney’s Office are preparing documents to request permission from the Court to make specific street changes at these locations as soon as possible.

We hope that this update has provided answers to most of your questions and concerns. There has been much concern recently about the delayed schedule of the Bicycle Plan EIR. The main reasons for experiencing change to the schedule have been:
1) identifying the discreet[sic] projects that should be included in the analysis so that no
subsequent environmental review is necessary,
2) defining the project for review purposes,
3) the increased scope of the updated Bicycle Plan, as described above, and
4) the continued development of the complex methodology to address this unique EIR.

If you require additional information or have concerns not addressed herein, please contact the SFMTA Bicycle Program Manager, Oliver Gajda, at 701-4467.

DW:NC:BBS
1/15/2008

BICYCLE PLAN EIR TIMELINE
o February 2007: SFMTA formally requests initiation of the environmental review process
for the Bicycle Plan, including a list of specific bicycle projects
o April 2007: SFMTA hires Wilbur Smith Associates to lead Consultant Team
o June 2007: Notice of Preparation and Public Scoping meeting
o December 2007: SFMTA Board of Directors approves expanded scope
o February 2008: Initial Study
o Fall 2008: Estimated Draft EIR completion
o Fall 2008 through Winter 2009: Public comment period on the Draft EIR and
preparation of the responses to public comments
o Winter 2009: Estimated Final EIR completion (which includes the Initial Study, Draft
EIR, and responses to comments) and certification
o Winter 2009: Estimated legislative approval of consolidated Bicycle Plan
o Spring/Summer 2009: Estimated request to Court to release injunction
o Summer/Fall 2009: Estimated implementation of Bicycle Plan projects

BICYCLE PROJECTS UNDER DESIGN
1. 2nd Street bike lanes, Market Street to King Street
2. 5th Street bike lanes, Market Street to Townsend Street
3. Intersection improvements at 7th Avenue and Lincoln Way
4. 7th Avenue bike lanes and sharrows, Lawton Street to Lincoln Way
5. 16th Street bike lanes, 3rd Street to Illinois Street
6. 17th Street Corridor bike lanes, Corbett Avenue to Kansas Street, including connections
to the 16th Street BART Station via Hoff or Valencia Streets and 16th Street, and to
Division Street via Potrero Avenue
7. 19th Avenue mixed-use path, Buckingham Way to Holloway Avenue
8. 23rd Street bike lanes, Kansas Street to Potrero Avenue
9. Alemany Boulevard bike lanes, Rousseau Street to Bayshore Boulevard
10. Bayshore Boulevard bike lanes, Cesar Chavez Street to Silver Avenue
11. Beale Street southbound bike lane, Folsom Street to Bryant Street
12. Broadway bike lanes, Polk Street to Webster Street
13. Broadway Tunnel signage improvements
14. Buckingham Way bike lanes, 19th Avenue to 20th Avenue
15. Cargo Way bike lanes, 3rd Street to Jennings Street
16. Cesar Chavez Street bike lanes, US 101 to I-280
17. Cesar Chavez/26th Streets corridor bike lanes, US 101 to Sanchez Street
18. Claremont Boulevard bike lanes, Portola Drive to Dewey Boulevard
19. Clipper Street bike lanes, Douglass Street to Portola Drive
20. Division Street bike lanes, 9th Street to 11th Street
21. Fell Street and Masonic Avenue intersection and traffic signal improvements
22. Fremont Street southbound bike lane, Folsom Street to Harrison Street
23. Glen Park Area bike lanes: connection between San Jose Avenue and Alemany
Boulevard via Arlington, Bosworth, Lyell, Milton, Rousseau, and Still Streets; and
connection between San Jose Avenue and Monterey Boulevard via San Jose Avenue and
Monterey Boulevard ramps
24. Great Highway and Point Lobos Avenue bike lanes, El Camino del Mar to Cabrillo
Street
25. Holloway Avenue bicycle lanes, Junipero Serra Boulevard to Varela Avenue
26. Howard Street westbound bike lane, short extension at 9th Street
27. Howard Street westbound bike lane, The Embarcadero to Fremont Street
28. Illinois Street bike lanes, 16th Street to Cargo Way
29. Innes Avenue bike lanes, Donahue Street to Hunters Point Boulevard
30. John F. Kennedy Drive bike lanes, Kezar Drive to Transverse Drive
31. John Muir Drive bike lanes, Lake Merced Blvd to Skyline Boulevard
32. Kansas Street bike lanes, 26th Street to 23rd Street
33. Kirkham Street bike lanes, 6th Avenue to Great Highway
34. Laguna Honda Boulevard bike lanes, Plaza Street to Woodside Avenue
35. Laguna Honda Boulevard bike lanes, Woodside Avenue to Portola Drive
36. Market and Valencia Streets intersection and traffic signal improvements
37. Market Street bike lanes, Octavia Boulevard to 17th Street
38. Masonic Avenue Corridor bike lanes, from Fell Street to Geary Boulevard
39. McAllister Street bike lanes, Market Street to Masonic Avenue
40. McCoppin Street bike path, Market to Valencia Streets
41. McCoppin Street westbound bike lane, Gough Street to Valencia Street
42. Mississippi Street bike lanes, Mariposa Street to 16th Street
43. North Point Street bike lanes, Van Ness Avenue to The Embarcadero
44. Ocean Avenue bike lanes, Alemany Boulevard to Lee Avenue
45. Otis Street westbound bike lane, South Van Ness Avenue to Gough Street
46. Page and Stanyan Streets traffic signal improvements
47. Phelan Avenue bike lanes, Ocean Avenue to Judson Avenue
48. Polk Street contra flow northbound bike lane, Market Street to McAllister Street
49. Portola Drive bike lanes, Corbett Avenue to O’Shaughnessy Blvd
50. Portola Drive bike lanes, O’Shaughnessy Boulevard to Sloat Boulevard
51. Potrero Avenue/Bayshore Boulevard bike lanes, 25th Street to Cesar Chavez Street
52. Sagamore Street/Sickles Avenue bike lanes, Brotherhood Way to Alemany Boulevard
53. San Bruno Avenue bikes lanes, Silver Avenue to Paul Avenue
54. Scott Street northbound left turn bike lane, Oak Street to Fell Street
55. Sloat Boulevard bike lanes, The Great Highway to Skyline Boulevard
56. Townsend Street bike lanes, The Embarcadero to 8th Street

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
San Francisco Municipal Railway/Department of Parking & Traffic
One South Van Ness Avenue, Seventh Fl. San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: 415.701.4500 Fax: 415.701.4430 http://www.sfmta.com/

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15 Comments:

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Shoshorobo Hweb said...

"We of course will challenge this in court"

You are a dickless fag Bob. You will lose so soundly when this is all said and done it's going to be pure comedy. Then we are going to sue you to recover the lost taxpayer money you wasted.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not very PC terminology for a SF bike nut. The name is Rob, not Bob. We already won the litigation, moron, which means that the city has to pay our legal expenses not the other way around. But it's no over. When the city completes the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, we will notify Judge Busch of its shortcomings, and he will make the ultimate decision. But the legal fees/taxpayer money issue is already decided: the city lost and has to pay up. The city would have saved everybody a lot of time and money if it had just done the legally required EIR in the first place.

 
At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Shoshorobo Hweb said...

Bob - if you call me a bike nut again I will howl at your window all night long. Judge Bosch is going to pass every last bit of it and likely urinate on you as you shuffle out of the courtroom. Being a failure sure is run, right bob?

 
At 2:48 PM, Anonymous michael anderson said...

Bob,
I truly find it sad that you invest so much of your time on this issue. Your anger against the SFBC and all bike riders(of which I am one) seems to be all consuming. You also seem to equate quality of life in SF with the convenience of driving and parking an automobile. I don't know if you have kids, but go to a school sometime around 3pm, and you'll see a line of cars lined up around the block with their engines running waiting for their kids. It's basically teaching our kids that we as a society are helpless without cars. Walking, biking, public transit...not for these folks.
Your lawsuit is truly spiteful and misguided. When future generations look back at our times they will be shocked at our depletionist ways and that one man was able to hold up bike improvements in our great city of San Francisco for 4 years. Truly sad.

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh Michael, don't be sad! What's truly sad---and, even more, shocking---is the infantile nature of SF's political culture, of which your juvenile communication is a good example. You show no understanding of either the Bicycle Plan or the litigation that forced the city to follow the law and do an EIR before it began redesigning our streets for 2% of the population. Is that a triviality? I'm not angry at all, as it happens, though I admit to a little exasperation when I get comments like this. I also get the impression that you don't have any children. If you did, you would understand how difficult it can be for parents in SF---or anywhere else, in fact---to arrange the logistics of getting the kids to school and home again, while juggling so many other household chores and errands. I had that experience many years ago, and, with my then-wife, was trying to run a small business at the same time. It was difficult, and it would have been completely impossible without a car. The elitist assumption that it's possible for everyone to ride a bike or Muni to do what they have to do every day is just plain stupid.

When future generations look back at SF, they will be astonished at the infantile political culture that brandished bicycles as either a serious means of transportation or as a serious political symbol. So whatever the spandexed assholes at the SFBC and the city want to do to our streets is by definition an "improvement"? What makes you bike morons think you can simply wing it without reading anything? Doe you think your idiotic ideology---I call it BikeThink---somehow gives you automatic insight into anything? It doesn't. In fact, you folks are looking dumber all the time. At the end of this post is a list of all the bike projects the city is considering, and some of them are breathtakingly stupid. Anyone who cares about San Francisco will be interested in that information, but cretins like you actually seem to think you already understand the issue. Wrong again, Michael!

 
At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy, it's a good thing you came along with that lawsuit, otherwise the city would have been able to get going on this a year ago!

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are more bikes in the world than cars; if cars are considered a serious mode of transportation, then so must bikes.

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The city won't be able to "get going" on the Bicycle Plan for more than another year and maybe not even then if the EIR is inadequate. Of course you don't comment on any of the specific proposals on the list, because well-informed discussion is not a strong suit for you bike nuts. Your belief system is what I call "BikeThink," a melange of delusional beliefs and self-righteousness. There are surely a lot of bikes in SF, too, but, funny thing, I don't see very many of them on the streets.

 
At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

Just an observation. I don't think I have ever seen a cyclist dragging bag of groceries or any sort of shopping bag with them on their rides. As a matter of fact 90 percent are male and are wearing those funky spandex outfits. They look to be doing it purely for exercise.It might just be the part of the city I live in, but what are the real numbers of cyclists commuting to work and honestly, do any of them use their bikes to run errands?

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, and if they aren't in full spandex regalia, they are young dudes/babes in knit caps and countercultural togs. SF cyclists and their PC enablers in city government like to pretend that bikes are a serious transportation "mode," but in reality bikes are nothing but a political symbol and/or a recreational accessory. According to the 2000 Census, 1.8% of the city's population commutes by bike, while the Countywide Transportation Plan says that only 1% of us use bikes to get to work. What's remarkable is that the city was well on its way to completely redesigning our streets on behalf of this tiny minority---taking away traffic lanes and street parking all over the city to make bike lanes---without doing any environmental and/or traffic studies beforehand. Our lemming-like politcal leadership is entirely in the grip of the BikeThink ideology. Fortunately, the EIR process will now allow people in the neighborhoods to provide the city some crucial feedback on these misguided plans.

 
At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, and if they aren't in full spandex regalia, they are young dudes/babes in knit caps and countercultural togs."

Does this somehow preclude them from being considered?

 
At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are surely a lot of bikes in SF, too, but, funny thing, I don't see very many of them on the streets."

This has got to be the most incredible statement you have ever made.

 
At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you say:
"What's remarkable is that the city was well on its way to completely redesigning our streets on behalf of this tiny minority---"

I say:

The city was well on it's way to completely redesigning our streets on behalf of encouraging more people to use bicycles---

Two very distinct realities.

 
At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"they'll be bike lanes on Valencia Street over my dead body."

--Department of Parking & Traffic Director in the 1990s

 
At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Tom Young said...

I have been using my bike to run most of my errands, in addition to riding my bike to work most days, for several years now. Saddlebags fit a surprisingly large amount of stuff. When you are shopping for multiple people, it certainly requires you to stop for groceries more often, but if I combine it with a monthly big shop by taxi or by renting a car for a day, it's really not that onerous.

I love to bike, and I do it for the exercise, but I also find life so much simpler without having to drive everywhere. It's been a great lifestyle choice for me.

Our streets are certainly poorly set up for cycling, though. No space is offered to cyclists in most cases, and traffic can be daunting, often dangerous. I think if proper infrastructure was provided, you would see a lot more people making the choice to ride. Maybe not for every trip, but for commuting it could be a great option for many.

I take serious issue with the whole "planning for 2% of the population" argument. Streets engineering has been so focused on cars for so long that it has generally left no space for other modes. Transit functions poorly, and walking and cycling are discouraged, the way we design streets now.

I don't at all think that cars should be removed entirely from our streets. You're absolutely right that the car is the only practical way to go for certain kinds of trips. But I think there needs to be a rebalancing of how we approach transportation planning. Cars have been top dog, and drivers have been unwilling to share, for too long. No one should be forced to drive by a paucity of other options.

 

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