Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Smart" growth, bicycles, and Jason Henderson



Jason Henderson's latest production is a letter (below in italics) from the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) to the MTA Board of Directors in support of the latest "improvements" to lower Haight Street

After what the HVNA and the city have already done to that unfortunate neighborhood, their credibility is non-existent, but eliminating the jog over to Page Street from Haight Street that Muni buses now make seems innocuous in itself---I can't recall why it was necessary in the first place---but the context presented by bike guy Henderson is revealing, since it shows how the city's delusional "smart growth" policy dovetails with the anti-car, bike agenda.

The HVNA "endorsed the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhood Plan, which includes transit first proposals like this. Our neighborhood is poised to add thousands of new housing units and residents in the next decade, and it is imperative that transit, walking, and bicycling infrastructure be capable of absorbing this new growth."

When last heard from, Henderson was wringing his hands over the future traffic problems the Market/Octavia area faces. But the Market and Octavia Plan he and HVNA support rezones more than 4,000 properties in the middle of the city---eliminating backyards, setbacks, density standards, and height limits---to encourage 4,440 new housing units and 10,000 new residents in the area. Think traffic is already bad in that part of town? The M/O plan makes no provision for the traffic all those new residents will bring to the area. Instead of the citywide standard of one new parking space for every new housing unit, the M/O Plan mandates maximums of from .25 to .75 parking spaces in new developments, which will create a massive shortage of parking in the area, which is why the Bicycle Coalition supports the M/O Plan.

"Transit first"? The M/O Plan provides no money to help Muni to handle all those new residents. Let them ride bikes! (I warned the city about this problem six years ago.)

"Removal of the bus from Page Street, which will incrementally bring the city closer to making Page Street a bicycle boulevard, also called-for in the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan."

This is what really interests Henderson: turning Page Street over to the bike people by restricting access for cars, which means the city has to first get Muni lines off Page. Both the bicycle boulevard plan and traffic circles for Page Street were added to the M/O Plan after the city certifed the Plan's EIR, which is how City Hall and the bike people operate---in virtual secrecy in poorly-attended committee meetings. Recall that traffic circles on Page Street have already been tried, were clearly unworkable, and were rejected by both the people who live on Page Street and the fire department. But they're back, whether we like it or not! Like religious fundies, the bike people keep coming at you. 

Henderson suggests another anti-car measure:

"We also urge your staff to reconsider how discontinued bus stops and other curb parking restrictions are evaluated...HVNA encourages the SFMTA to consider bicycle parking and parklets when a bus stop is removed or a bus line re-routed. Not all of the newly-freed space should go to automobile parking."

Henderson also sits on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Market and Octavia Plan, with bike guy Robin Levitt. Along with the HVNA, the CAC has been promoting "smart growth" development in the Market/Octavia area.

SF Citizen wrote about the return of the traffic circles.

My post on traffic circles in 2007.



October 13, 2011

Dear Chairman Nolan and SFMTA Board of Directors,

The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) enthusiastically supports the proposal to reintroduce two-way bus service on Haight Street. Attached at the end of this letter is an additional endorsement by the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhoods Community Advisory Committee.

The SFMTA’s proposal to two-way Haight Street between Octavia and Gough/Market has come a long way and will greatly improve public transit for upwards of 20,000 daily bus passengers, especially at peak commute times. The HVNA has a long history of supporting the reintroduction of two-way bus service on this street. HVNA advocated for this idea multiple times during the Transit Effectiveness Project public input process, and we endorsed the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhood Plan, which includes transit first proposals like this. Our neighborhood is poised to add thousands of new housing units and residents in the next decade, and it is imperative that transit, walking, and bicycling infrastructure be capable of absorbing this new growth. This proposal is a step in that direction and is especially warranted given that it is multi-modal. We are especially pleased that the proposal includes these measures:

A new transit-only lane eastbound on Haight Street between Octavia and Gough/Market Streets, which will dramatically improve travel times for bus passengers, especially during commute hours.

A new center bus lane on Haight Street between Laguna Street and Octavia Boulevard which will enable the bus to by-pass queues of cars making the right turn from Haight Street to Octavia Boulevard.

Restrictions on right turns from Octavia Blvd to Haight Street, and forced right turn from eastbound Haight to Octavia Boulevard.

Pedestrian improvements on Market and Gough.

Parking removal on Haight between Octavia and Gough/Market to be replaced by over 14 parking spaces re-allocated from bus stop removal and other street reconfigurations on Haight, Laguna, and Page Streets.

Removal of the bus from Page Street, which will incrementally bring the city closer to making Page Street a bicycle boulevard, also called-for in the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan.

In addition to supporting the above measures, the HVNA urges SFMTA to also consider rethinking the southbound travel lane on the east side of Gough between Page and Haight/Market. This lane should be replaced by on-street parking, and a tow-away zone introduced on the west side of Gough.

We also urge your staff to reconsider how discontinued bus stops and other curb parking restrictions are evaluated. While it is considerate to provide some of the new curbside space for parking, HVNA encourages the SFMTA to consider bicycle parking and parklets when a bus stop is removed or a bus line re-routed. Not all of the newly-freed space should go to automobile parking.

Overall we are pleased with SFMTA’s handling of some neighbor’s concerns, and believe that extensive public comment and outreach has resulted in a very good, albeit incremental, improvement to Haight Street bus service. The proposal to reintroduce two-way bus service on Haight Street has long-standing community support and meets many of the city’s transit first and livability goals. It benefits three modes of transportation---transit, walking, and bicycling, and benefits users of these systems that live throughout the city. We urge you move forward with this project expeditiously

Sincerely,
Jason Henderson

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