Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bicycle Plan will screw up city traffic

City’s bike plan may[sic] alter traffic
By: Mike Aldax
San Francisco Examiner
6/23/09

SAN FRANCISCO — An ambitious plan to add bicycle lanes to some of The City’s busiest thoroughfares would slow traffic and Muni service, but transit officials say the congestion trade-offs will result in cleaner, calmer streets.

The plan would add 34 miles to San Francisco’s existing 45 miles of bicycle lanes during the next several years, along with parking spots and traffic signals for cyclists and colored lanes on some streets.

The improvements are welcomed by cyclists and environmentalists, who say increasing bike lanes will persuade drivers to hop on two-wheelers, ease congestion and reduce vehicle emissions.

However, an extensive environmental review of the plan facing certification by the Planning Commission this week---an important step toward an official groundbreaking---warns the changes would bring congestion spikes, slow Muni vehicles and shrink street-parking options in key areas.

Twenty-seven intersections, some heavily trafficked, were identified in the environmental review as those in which bike improvements would create an “unavoidable significant impact” to street congestion.

Some projects would eliminate vehicular lanes on busy roads, thus increasing the chance for traffic jams, the report said. Air quality would also decrease, since more cars would be idling in traffic, according to the report.

Four intersections along Masonic Avenue between Fell Street and Geary Boulevard would see greater congestion if bike lanes were added, particularly during peak commute hours. The popular 43-Masonic bus line, which operates along the busy stretch, would be slowed by the increased congestion and by a lane dedicated to cyclists. Similar problems would occur along Second Street between Market and Townsend streets, along with an intersection on Church Street at Market and 14th streets, the report said.

The proposal to add bike lanes to Second Street has raised eyebrows among residents in the area. Second Street connects drivers to the Bay Bridge, but under the plan cars would lose a lane between Market and Harrison streets northbound and Harrison and Townsend streets southbound. There would also be restrictions on left turns and fewer parking spaces.

Jamie Whitaker, a Rincon Hill resident, expressed concern that the Second Street plans would clog roads and endanger pedestrians because ambulances and fire trucks would not be able to reach residences.

Whitaker, who is vice president of the Rincon Hill Neighborhood Association, said he supports a wider bicycling network in The City, but he charged the Municipal Transportation Agency with railroading his neighborhood with bike projects without adequately addressing community concerns.“The [transit agency’s] attitude is you’re either with us, or against us,” Whitaker said.

The transit agency denies the claim, saying it has done adequate public outreach addressing bike plan concerns.“There are some trade-offs, but there are also quite a few design solutions we’ve found as well,” Muni spokesman Judson True said.

But Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, argues the network would calm speedy streets and would have the added benefit of attracting commerce.“I’ve received 150 letters from businesses around The City supporting the plans,” Shahum said, adding that Valencia Street in the Mission district has enjoyed a commercial boom since two of its four lanes were converted to dedicated bike lanes in 1999.

Vehicles vs. bicycles
A report says some intersections in The City would see “unavoidable significant impact” to congestion if the bike plan moves forward.

SoMa
Five on Second between Howard and Townsend
Three on Fifth, including at Bryant, Howard and Brannan
Seventh and Townsend
10th/Brannan/Potrero/Division
11th/Bryant/Division
Fremont and Howard

Potrero Hill
Potrero and 16th

Duboce TriangleChurch/Market/14th

Lone Mountain/Panhandle
Four on Masonic between Fell and Geary

Lower Bernal Heights
Bayshore/Jerrold/Highway 101

Mission
Five at Bryant, Guerrero, Evans, South Van Ness

Diamond Heights

Clipper/Portola

Miraloma
Two on Fowler and Portola and Woodside/ O’Shaughnessy/Portola

Muni lines that would be slowed by new bike lanes, amenities:
9, 10, 12, 27, 30, 43, 45, 48, 52

Source: San Francisco Planning Commission

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28 Comments:

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Car traffic needs to be slowed down, anyway.

Have you seen the way these people drive? Just look at the body count for evidence.

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What about Muni and our "transit first" policy? Do we need to slow it down, too?

 
At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

If that's what it takes to make streets safer for everybody (motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike), then so be it.

Private automobiles present the most significant obstacle to Muni, anyway. When bicycle facilities are improved to the point that even a small fraction of those drivers get sick of sitting in traffic and ditch their cars for a bike, everyone benefits.

Remember that Valencia Street PM bicycle usage increased by 144% in the first year after its road diet in 1999. With respect to effects on public transit, SFMTA's initial report says:

Muni has stated a general opposition to bike lanes along bus routes. Bikes and buses tend to have similar travel times for a given distance and often end up “leap-frogging” each other along the street. This situation is less than ideal for both bus operators and bicyclists. DPT’s policy is to avoid designating bicycle routes on streets with transit routes. However, this is often impossible without compromising the attractiveness of the route for cyclists.

Reading between the lines, I'd say that you've got some serious politicking to do over at SFMTA if you expect the city to rethink implementation of bike plan projects that affect Muni performance.

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Of course that's what you bike nuts thin---including the Bicycle Coalition---because it's all about your goofball hobby. But the MTA board and the supervisors are ultimately responsible to city voters, and it's not clear that they will be ready to officially ditch the city's transit first policy on behalf of a bikes first policy. After all Muni has 686,000 boardings every weekday, and its lagging ontime performance is an ongoing issue in the city. So why would city officials deliberately make it worse by implementing the Bicycle Plan on busy streets? I'm not saying they won't do it, but they'll surely get a lot of negative feedback if they do.

The point you bike nuts don't seem to understand is that cars, buses, trucks (all our goods are delivered by truck), taxis, emergency vehicles, and bikes all have to share the same streets---often two-lane streets. You talk about cars as being the big problem, but if you take away a traffic lane on a busy street, you're going to make traffic worse for Muni, not just cars. That's what the EIR on the Bicycle Plan is telling us, confirming what we've been saying for more than four years.

 
At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That's what the EIR on the Bicycle Plan is telling us, confirming what we've been saying for more than four years."

I'm a little overdue but I'd like to congratulate you on the vindication of your points by the EIR. You were right all along and it was outrageous that it took a lawsuit before the City would actually do a real analysis of the impact of the Bike Plan.

Great work. You're an example for people everywhere who put reality before ideology.

Lex

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6% of SF's transportation is by bike now. Hard to call that a 'goofball hobby'.

And in the future, this number will only increase.

But please kick and scream as much as you want.

 
At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What about Muni and our "transit first" policy? Do we need to slow it down, too?"

No, we need to get more cars off the road, or at least keep them from driving in the MUNI lanes.

Bicycling is about 3x faster than MUNI at this point because our transit vehicles are stuck in car traffic.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I still think most cyclists in SF ride bikes because it's the politically correct thing to do, not because it's a safe and sane way to get around the city. Even if the 6% number is correct---and I doubt that---that leaves 94% of transportation by other means. The city is getting ready to screw up traffic for 94% of the people for 6% of the people. It's not clear that that will be a politically sustainable policy. There will be a lot more people "kicking and screaming" if the city implements the Bicycle Plan.

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

That's rich, Rob. Clearly MTA has realized that this "goofball hobby" just happens to get people across town a lot more quickly and efficiently than Muni ever will (at least, with its paltry funding). That you refuse to acknowledge this simple fact speaks to your unfathomable ignorance. Most the people whom you refer to as "bike nuts" are just normal folks exercising that freedom of mobility which you (rightly) see as one of the advantages of private automobiles.

And for what it's worth, my experience has been that cyclists tend to get involved in the more political aspects of "bike culture" only after they've ridden around the city long enough to recognize the poor state of its infrastructure, and are looking for a way to improve it. Ironically, the confrontational attitude of many cyclists is a direct result of the injunction. Do you think that motorists wouldn't be pissed if the city were barred from paving roads or fixing potholes for two years?

Oh, and emergency vehicles? Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars deal with traffic jams every day; that's why they're equipped with those bright lights and loud horns. Now that you mention it, though, bikes are a lot easier to move out of the road if one needs to get through. Stop trotting out that ridiculous "emergency vehicles" straw man; it's just stupid.

As for sharing the road... You're probably well aware that before the automobile came along streets were primarily the domain of pedestrians. People walked (and biked) wherever they wanted, without the aid (or hinderance, depending on how you look at it) of traffic signals or painted lines. The roads were safe in the sense that very few people got hit or run over by anything (horse-drawn buggies, street cars, or each other). In the 1920s, though, along came cars, leaving a trail of dead in their wake. US city governments eventually ceded roads to motorists in the name of public safety, crippling mass transit and literally kicking pedestrians to the curb in the process.

I think what we're seeing now (and what you're apparently so vehemently opposed to) is a dramatic swing in the opposite direction—an acknowledgement of the needs of everyone else: the walkers, the bikers, the street-side business patrons. Some of the projects involving lane reconfigurations will result in wider sidewalks and more pedestrian space, which encourages people to actually spend time in neighborhoods rather than just using their streets as highways. Your short-sighted dismissal of anything bike-friendly on the grounds that it'll just "screw up traffic" completely ignores the long-term potential that such projects have to revitalize our neighborhoods and make San Francisco a much more pleasant place to live. (Again, have you spent much time on Valencia in the last decade?)

This is about creating and maintaining a safe habitat for humans—not, as you say, at the exclusion of commerce, or to deliberately cripple mass transit. The streets are an ecosystem in which the needs of every organism need to be carefully balanced. Obviously we need roads to drive on, so that people can get around and trucks can deliver our goods in a timely fashion. But we also need streets on which people can walk and bike more safely. Your ideology (and, to a certain degree, CEQA itself) asserts that motor vehicle traffic efficiency is the overriding concern; I respectfully disagree, and I hope for everyone's sake that these projects can be implemented effectively without making it unnecessarily difficult for anyone to get around.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're a long-winded fanatic, Shawn. The "simple fact" about Muni is that, unless the city screws up traffic with things like the Bicycle Plan, it will always be the only real alternative to driving in the city (Muni now has 686,000 boardings every weekday).

"Ironically, the confrontational attitude of many cyclists is a direct result of the injunction."

Bullshit. Many cyclists behaved like assholes on city streets before the injunction, and there behavior hasn't changed in the interim. You crybabies are even trying to convince us that you are somehow victims, too? Big Fucking Boo and a Big Fucking Hoo!

"Do you think that motorists wouldn't be pissed if the city were barred from paving roads or fixing potholes for two years?"

Judging from the condition of our streets, the city is already doing that, which is not only bad for motor vehicles but also dangerous for you bike nuts.

"Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars deal with traffic jams every day; that's why they're equipped with those bright lights and loud horns. Now that you mention it, though, bikes are a lot easier to move out of the road if one needs to get through. Stop trotting out that ridiculous 'emergency vehicles' straw man; it's just stupid."

Like all your crackpot friends, you haven't read the EIR on the Bicycle Plan. After all, you already have the Truth, so why should you have to read anything? The EIR tells us that, yes, implementing the Bicycle Plan is going to degrade traffic on a number of streets, which means it's going to slow down all the traffic. Got it, Shawn? That means that traffic in general is going to be moving slower, including police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, etc. You crackpots are keen about reducing auto use by punishing city drivers, but you've never come to grips with this reality: all vehicles in the city have to share the same roads and the same lanes. Take away a lane for cars, and you also take it away for other vehicles (for example, all our goods are imported into SF by trucks. Take away a traffic lane to make a bike lane, and you make it harder for trucks to do that essential task.)

"Again, have you spent much time on Valencia in the last decade?"

Yes, I'm familiar with Valencia Street, where a bike lane was created by taking away a traffic lane but without taking away street parking. But the result at 16th and Valencia is that that intersection is horrendous---a lot of congestion and conflict.

"This is about creating and maintaining a safe habitat for humans—not, as you say, at the exclusion of commerce, or to deliberately cripple mass transit.The streets are an ecosystem in which the needs of every organism need to be carefully balanced."

And this is high-minded crapola. You may have good intentions---you forgot to mention that you're also saving the planet---but what you're actually doing is screwing up city traffic, which means screwing up "commerce," too, in a city that counts tourism as its main industry.

 
At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

Oh Rob, every the angry rhetorician!

Muni sucks. I actually started biking because the commute between my old apartment in the Inner Sunset and my office in the Mission took too long. Once I realized that I could not only get back and forth in less than a half an hour and get some serious, regular exercise, I was sold. I owned a car at the time and drove once in a while, but parking was expensive and it often took longer to get to work in my car than it did by bike.

I'd never even heard of the SFBC until I brought my bike into a shop to get tuned up and they suggested that I join. Very few of my friends rode then, and I just did it because it was fun and the exercise helped me get in the best shape I'd ever been. But after a while I became curious about the deficiencies of the city's cycling infrastructure, and decided to find out what could be done to improve it. I looked it up on the SFBC site, and found out all about your injunction. That's what prompted me to join. (I've still never been to an actual meeting or volunteered at an event, but the 10% discount at Rainbow more than makes up for my annual membership fee.)

And then I passed the word on to my friends. I tell them all about the curmudgeon who sued the city to halt the Bike Plan, and how the pretenses under which he did so were sound, but that in the end he's just an angry bigot. And they become SFBC members, too, and also appreciate the discounts at local, bike-friendly establishments. We ride to work, the doctor's office, restaurants, and the park; we shop for clothes and groceries on our bikes, without having to hunt or pay for parking; we do so with the satisfaction that we've gotten there by our own locomotion, with bikes that we've built and maintained ourselves, and spent all of that time between destinations breathing fresh air—without having to deal with crackheads on the bus, or having to wait for one to come in the first place.

Victim? Please. I'm empowered by the degree of personal freedom (and yes, responsibility) that riding a bike offers. My experience has been that cycling is a much more desirable alternative to the private automobile than Muni for some people. Obviously we can't all ride bikes, everywhere, all the time. But you're selling our species short if you think that we're all too fragile or otherwise incapable of doing it at all.

And, for the record, you obviously have no idea what you're talking if you think that 16th and Valencia is "horrendous". I live and work a couple of blocks from this intersection, and ride through it regularly. It's perfectly fine, actually, thanks in large part to the fact that there are now dedicated left turn lanes on Valencia.

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh, see the happy bike nut with his wonderful way of life, him, his bike, and his like-minded friends, living happily ever after here in Progressive Land! So what's the problem? You seem to be able to live your smug little way of life unhindered by my dark machinations against BikeThink.

I'm not angry at all, actually, just contemptuous of you and your bike-based religion that you and your comrades are trying to foist on the city. "Muni sucks"? This is the sort of intellectual vacuity that I've come to expect from you folks. I first rode Muni way back in 1961; it worked well then and still works well now. I reckon it's about to work less well if you and your bike twit friends succeed in screwing up our traffic with the Bicycle Plan.

The intersection at 16th and Valencia is in fact quite horrendous. To a hammer the whole world looks like a nail, and you no doubt only see those beautiful bike lanes when you look at that street.

 
At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Cameron said...

Has anyone ever seen this clown Anderson? I'm guessing he's just fat and couldn't ride a bike if he tried.

 
At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

Rob,
Hey, I just visited your blog site for the first time. You are surprisingly adept for being able to sue people over bike lanes! I wouldn't have guessed you would be successful in that, considering your narrow-minded schizotypal anti-cycling fixation. Usually people like you don't get anywhere in life at all. I think you just peaked out and blew your wad.

In summary, yes, hopefully the new bike lanes screw up traffic and take cars off the road. Drivers are very selfish. As a long time commuter, I like cycling much more than driving. You have "alternative" views, which are always welcome in SF, but you might find more like-minded people to huddle and grumble with in Texas. Consider moving. You'll find happiness at Wal-Mart.

Your pal,
Good For You!

 
At 6:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Aren't you going to be late for Critical Mass, Cammy-poo?

 
At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

Hey Rob, what's up with moderating your comments? Did that last one hit a little too close to home?

 
At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I still think most cyclists in SF ride bikes because it's the politically correct thing to do, not because it's a safe and sane way to get around the city."

I ride because it's twice as fast as Muni (at least), I don't have to wait for my bike to show up, I get exercise, it's fun, my bike doesn't add to the air pollution, it's easy to park, and I don't get stuck in traffic.

Pretty good reasons, in my estimation.

"The city is getting ready to screw up traffic for 94% of the people for 6% of the people."

No, what the city is doing is making it possible for the 6% to become 12% and to do so in safer conditions.

Reminder: the city's traffic jams are made up of cars, not bikes.

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You bike nuts always talk about "cars," but in reality city traffic is also composed of trucks---all our goods are imported via truck---buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles. If you screw up traffic for those wicked cars, you're going to screw it up for everyone else, including the millions of tourists who drive into the city every year. Of course you bike assholes can then weave in and out of the traffic jams that you are now creating, thus showing the superiority of your "mode."

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Shawn Allen writes:"Hey Rob, what's up with moderating your comments? Did that last one hit a little too close to home?"

You flatter yourself. Your feeble, long-winded comments are completely innocuous. You're just another crackpot in a town full of crackpots.

 
At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Of course you bike assholes can then weave in and out of the traffic jams that you are now creating, thus showing the superiority of your "mode.""

How is it possible to weave in and out of a traffic jam that you are creating?

 
At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Roquotta said...

Muni's problem is NOT funding, it's bad management, disinterested drivers, and horrid, horrid planning. If Muni had half the budget, and improvements everywhere else, if could run 2x as fast and be a useful system. I'm really tired about hearing it's about money.

Anyway, it's also got nothing to do with bikes. In that regard, looks like we got exactly what we expected regarding your lawsuit. A giant waste of taxpayer money, a report that says what we already knew, and no change in anyone's policy.

Personally, I'm excited about the new bike lane "loop" which will circle endlessly around your block, Rob. Did you hear it's going to be a permanent critical mass?

 
At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, I have a hard time buying that you actually even believe the things you're writing.

It feels like you're just standing your ground on some things you wrote about a few years ago and delivering whatever half-baked notions prop up those ideas.

You used to say that we shouldn't redesign the city's streets for the 1% who ride bikes. Now you say that we shouldn't redesign them for the 6% who ride bikes.

I imagine that in a few years you'll be saying that is was a bad idea to redesign city streets for the 12% who ride bikes (do you still say that there's no increase in bicycle use?).

So when is it a good idea to dedicate some road space to cylists? 50%? 51%? Never?

Ah yes, bicycling is too dangerous an activity for any sane person to engage in, and the city's cycling is driven by prog ideology anyway.

So it's only the insane who cycle, and it definitely is not sound policy to redesign streets for the insane.

What will you do if/when the EIR-predicted traffic delays never materialize? What will you do if congestion actually gets milder?

What will you do when San Francisco is a bicycle city?

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, all!

The mutual vitriol is highly amusing, HIGHLY!!

No matter how much fun you're having pissing on one another, the "debate" over roadway engineering is a red herring.

Sharrows make EVERY street a bike lane.

Like, DUH!

The City is cramped for space, and dedicated bike lanes are provably unsafe, while sharrows are provably efficient and effective traffic engineering techniques. They're also demonstrably safer.

After four years on both sides of the steering wheel cycling for weekend recreational and daily commute in all corners of the city (and all parts of the bay), safely driving bikes and cars in the city, it's a wonder all y'all don't grow up and behave like tall people.

 
At 9:32 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You can't call roadway engineering a red herring if in fact the city is getting ready to take away traffic lanes and street parking all over the city to make bike lanes.

 
At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Joe Dansk said...

I don't even own a bike. I drive my car every day, but this douche Rob Anderson is making me want to go out an buy a bike just to piss him off. Clearly Rob's a short sighted head up his ass dick who has a major chip on his shoulder for tax paying citizens who have the right to be and feel safe on their own city streets.

I'm sorry you don't like cyclists Rob (and frankly they piss me off on many occasions as well as I'm driving through the city... and don't get me started on Critical Mass), but they have the right to be safe just as much as you do.

And ignorant and mocking comments like "saving the world" just make you look like an idiot... yeah, it's so bad to want to do some good. You are a sad sad man if you don't see that.

 
At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bikes aren't bad for transit, on the contrary. Many times people can avoid doing transfer to transfer or having to walk by cycling that "last mile" portion of a trip. Additionally, bicycles can be used during hours that bus service is infrequent or non-existent at all.

The bottom-line should be safety, and keeping motorists at speeds below 30mph will do a lot to better safety for motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit users.

I don't buy the "we shouldn't allocate space to the 6% argument", nor do I support "lets make the 6% safer". To me, every street should be safe to travel, regardless of mode-split. And for certain areas allowing full private motorized traffic just doesn't make sense, you can't have thriving commerce and high speed, high capacity private motorized access in the same spot. That's not what cities are about. In a city choked for space, cars should be the lowest priority– they take up too much space, they are elitist by nature (since not everyone can afford to drive or has the ability to do so), and the pose a significant danger to other modes.

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You went all the way back to a 2009post to make this dumb comment!

Cities aren't "about" traffic, among other things? Cars---trucks and buses---are what American cities are about. And San Francisco in particular is doing very well with its current traffic system.

Where do you get "6%"? According to the MTA in the latest Bicycle Count Report, only 3.5% of all trips in the city are by bike (see page 3).

 
At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Cities aren't 'about' traffic, among other things? Cars---trucks and buses---are what American cities are about. And San Francisco in particular is doing very well with its current traffic system."

Note I say FULL PRIVATE MOTORIZED TRAFFIC ACCESS. Transit is perfectly fine, and trucks do not need access 24/7, only during delivery times. Limited access in residential areas or only allowing buses and deliveries is fine as well. Crying "but we have buses and need trucks for commerce" are not reasons to justify excessively wide streets with high speeds and dangerous histories.

"Where do you get "6%"? According to the MTA in the latest Bicycle Count Report, only 3.5% of all trips in the city are by bike (see page 3)." percentage is irrelevant, I just browsed other comments on here for that figure, perhaps it represents mode share on market, or the peak usage. The point is, to say cyclists don't deserve space (especially when it's a mode of travel far more accessible than a private automobile) is discriminatory.

 

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