Monday, January 03, 2011

The Bicycle Plan comes to Ocean Avenue

Bike lanes draw ire of Ocean Avenue merchants

Will Reisman
San Francisco Examiner
12/31/2010


Shopping at the Wiley’s Liquor store on Ocean Avenue used to be easy. Park your car, pop a few quarters into the meter, run in and grab some provisions, then leave.

In recent weeks, however, that simple excursion has become a lot more complicated, much to the chagrin of shop owner Senait Afewerki.

As part of the citywide bike plan, new cycling lanes have been installed on a six-block stretch of Ocean Avenue, taking away on-street parking spots in the Ingleside and Excelsior district neighborhoods.

Since the bike lanes were added in October, Afewerki said business at her convenience store has fallen by 15 percent. She also said that motorists who unknowingly park in the bike lanes have been quickly slapped with a $105 citation. “No one can park in front anymore,” Afewerki said. “Our customers come here and then drive away because they’re afraid of getting parking tickets.”

With the street meters gone, motorists are now parking illegally at other places, notably in the lot at the Ocean Avenue Veterinary Hospital near the liquor store, which takes away spots from the center’s clients, said Sylvia Morrison, the site’s administrative coordinator.

The new bike plan aims to add 34 miles of cycling-only lanes to city streets, part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s initiative to transition residents to more sustainable modes of travel.

Renee Rivera, acting executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition, said cyclists have applauded the new upgrades on Ocean Avenue. The lanes instill a sense of safety for cyclists, and make it easier for them to get to destination points, Rivera said.

However, public transit options are limited in the Excelsior and Ingleside neighborhoods, leaving cars as the preferred mode of travel for many residents, said Supervisor John Avalos, whose district includes Ocean Avenue.In January, Avalos plans on meeting with merchants and planners to discuss the issue of lost parking spaces on Ocean Avenue. He said he hopes to find a reasonable compromise, such as some sort of shared-parking plan at the Beep’s Burger lot, at the corner of Ocean and Lee avenues, which is rarely full.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the agency is also working with the community to find parking alternatives that make up for losses to the commercial district.

Until a parking agreement is reached, merchants on the corridor said they will continue to lose business because of the new bike lanes.

“This is a huge inconvenience for us,” said Mary Toong, who runs Bay Circle Printing on Ocean Avenue. “Our customers are parking three blocks away just to run in and pick up a stack of papers.”

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26 Comments:

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She also said that motorists who unknowingly park in the bike lanes"

More proof that cars make you dumb. How do you "unknowingly park" in a bike lane? There's a 6 inch wide stripe there - what do they think it's just graffiti from one of Rob Anderson's punks with guns? Not to mention the words BIKE LANE and the big picture of a bike.

No wonder Rob thinks bikes will never take hold - he's fully aware that SF's motorists are probably just too friggin stupid to learn how to ride one.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh yes, you bike jerks are so smart and everyone else is so dumb. Bikes of course have already taken hold with your demographic---a minority of arrogant young punks who of course would never be so uncool as to own a small storefront business that relies on street parking for its customers. Those business owners must be stupid, too, right?

In spite of protests, the city did the same thing to the merchants on upper Market Street five years ago, rushing it through the process to get it done in time for Bike to Work Day.

 
At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And in case anybody thinks this stuff doesn't have any real affect on local merchants, think again. I have been a customer of the Ocean Avenue Veterinary Hospital for nearly ten years. Until recently, I never once had a problem parking in their small (5 car? I think) parking lot.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to take my dog in. The parking lot was full. I drove around and around and eventually found street parking two blocks away, but was late for my appointment as a result. There were no customers in the waiting room and I concluded that most of the cars hogging their private parking spaces did not belong to customers or employees of the veterinary clinic.

As a result, I am considering finding a new doctor for my pet. It's too inconvenient to go to Ocean Avenue if I am not going to be able to park easily. This means the loss of a long-time customer, through no fault of the business. Blame it on the city (and on the scofflaws who park in spots they shouldn't.)

 
At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't think it's dumb to not be able to figure out that the big BIKE LANE paint means that's a bike lane?

That's pretty much first grade stuff...

 
At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"eventually found street parking two blocks away"

Perhaps this is why you need a vet. You consider walking 2 blocks a horror. Maybe if you walked your dog it would be more healthy.

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This is just the sort of impact that those of us who forced the city to do an EIR on the Bicycle Plan predicted and which the EIR confirmed. If you're going to take away more than 50 traffic lanes and 2,000 parking spaces to make bike lanes, it's going to have a negative impact on traffic and on a lot of people and businesses.

We've been vilified as mean-spirited obstructionists, and City Hall has proceeded as if implementing the Bicycle Plan was going to be a win-win deal for everyone. In my younger days, my then-wife and I had a storefront business in Northern California, which taught me a lot about how much parking can mean to small businesses.

Our political leadership talks about supporting small business, but they have been totally oblivious to the impact the Bicycle Plan can have on neighborhood business.

 
At 9:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"You don't think it's dumb to not be able to figure out that the big BIKE LANE paint means that's a bike lane? That's pretty much first grade stuff..."

Which puts you in kindergarten. The question is whether a bike lane should be there in the first place.

 
At 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps this is why you need a vet. You consider walking 2 blocks a horror. Maybe if you walked your dog it would be more healthy."

Ah, another idiot who can't read and decides to invent a new spin on what was written. I never said that walking two blocks was a horror. I walk miles every day. But I live a long way from Ocean Avenue, there's no option but driving to get there with my pet.

The horror was having to spend 20 minutes driving around looking for a parking space, before finally finding one, because cretins had occupied all of the (supposedly) dedicated spots for the vet. Had my dog's situation been an emergency, this could have been truly tragic.

My dog's health is fine, as is my own, thanks for asking. We both get plenty of walking.

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

Of course the Bicycle Coalition is happy with the new bike lanes on Ocean Avenue: "Ocean Avenue: COMPLETED! Ocean Avenue is sporting brand new bike lanes and sharrows from Alemany to Lee. This project adds almost a mile of new and comfortable bike space, providing critical links to the southwest part of town!"

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"because cretins had occupied all of the (supposedly) dedicated spots for the vet."

So the answer is not - "enforce the parking at the vet", it's "Get rid of the bike lane".

Lovely.

 
At 11:51 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the bike lane never should have been created in the first place.

 
At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, and when a car parks in a bike lane and a cyclist has to move into the adjacent lane, it's not "that car shouldn't block the bike lane and force the cyclist into traffic" it's always "that cyclist should get out of the road and out of my way".

Or when a driver gets a ticket for parking in a bike lane it is done "unknowingly" when clearly there is paint on the ground whether you agree with it or not.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He shouldn't be going to a vet so far from his house in the first place.

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Streetsblog didn't see fit to list this Examiner story on its Today's Headlines feature for either yesterday or
today.
Gee, I wonder why not?

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suggest it to Bryan. He'll put it up. Or put it in the comment section since you'd probably rather jab at Streetsblog then make it a better forum.

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Suggest it to him yourself. I doubt that it was an oversight.

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The horror was having to spend 20 minutes driving around looking for a parking space, before finally finding one, because cretins had occupied all of the (supposedly) dedicated spots for the vet. Had my dog's situation been an emergency, this could have been truly tragic."

It sounds like you should be complaining to the vet then, since they're not enforcing the rules in their (supposedly) dedicated spots. Rather than complaining on some guy's blog, why don't you contact the vet and let them know that your business depends on being able to park in front? (Also, are you really sure that local merchants aren't taking those spots?)

Complaining on the echo chamber of the internet will get you nowhere. Try contacting people who can take your concerns under consideration and act on them; but know also that those concerns are actively being weighed against thanks and praise from cyclists who use those bike lanes every day. I'm sorry that people parking in those spots inconvenienced you, but your blame is misdirected. The cause of your inconvenience is people parking where they shouldn't, and that's a problem much more easily solved than reconfiguring the street—because, presumably, the safety of cyclists interferes with your personal convenience.

There are many alternatives to driving everywhere. Perhaps you could've saved time by calling a cab (or a friend) and having them drop you off. Expecting convenient parking, though, is nobody's mistake but your own. Hundreds of thousands of people get by perfectly fine in this city without cars, for just some trips or entirely; with a little planning you can too.

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok Rob. Since you can read between the lines but no one else can, I'll just take your word for it.

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Hundreds of thousands of people get by perfectly fine in this city without cars, for just some trips or entirely; with a little planning you can too."

The moral of the story: the bike people know what's best, even though they don't know anything about you. They can even help you to see the light---you can too!---and get rid of your car!

According to the city's latest Transportation Fact Sheet, of the 324,588 households in the city, only 98,265 have no motor vehicle, which means there are 226,323 households in SF that are not living carless. That won't stop this minority of fanatics---with a lot of help from City Hall---from continuting to impose their redesign of our streets on the rest of us.

 
At 7:15 AM, Blogger Lex said...

According to the US Census Bureau in 2009, the latest year available, 46% commuted by car, 32% took mass transit, and only 3% of people in the city commuted by bicycle.

3%.

http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-context=st&-qr_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0801&-ds_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_&-CONTEXT=st&-tree_id=309&-keyword=san%20francisco&-redoLog=true&-_caller=geoselect&-geo_id=16000US0667000&-format=&-_lang=en

 
At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People do more then go to work and back.

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Corndog said...

Note the phrase, for just some trips. If everyone who lived in a household with one or more cars drove for every trip the streets would be choked with traffic for most of the day every day.

Apparently, suggesting any alternative to driving—even taking a cab—is blasphemy on this blog. And look, there's "Lex" using commuting statistics to counter an argument about people parking in bike lanes to drop their dog off at the vet. Let the echo chamber ring!

 
At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Amber said...

I am a driver and a bicyclists. I live about 10 blocks from Ocean Ave. I often drive to businesses on Ocean Ave because that area isn't safe to ride.

With the new bike lanes, I will be happy to hop on a bicycle a ride instead of driving. There are lots of shops in that area that I would like to check out but don't because as I driver I am often "hopping out and hopping back in my car." With a bike, I could actually explore it more and get off my butt.

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 of the "removed" parking spots were actually a red, tow away zone, that was being used as defacto drive in parking for the liquor store.

Pop a few quarters in the meter? There is NO METER.

What BS.

 
At 9:36 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Being able to drive up to your liquor story is of course a lot more important than a bike lane.

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger M said...

I was clipped yesterday on Ocean Avenue by a driver who had the whole other lane to pass; and insisted on blaring his horn while doing so.

This fact aside, I believe bike lanes shouldn't be placed along busy, retail corridors; but on quieter, safer adjacent streets (like Holloway in the case of Ocean Ave). Riding on 18th between Mission and Castro during rush hour is suicide, that's why the bike lane is on quieter 17th St (then why aren't you using it?)

Bike lanes are good, but not if they forsake local businesses in the process.

 

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