Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quintin Mecke: RoboProg

As I've already pointed out, Quintin Mecke is a knee-jerk San Francisco progressive. He doesn't deviate from the progressive party line on a single issue. Let's call him "RoboProg" for his mindless adherence to SF progressivism as set forth by the SF Bay Guardian, the Green Party, and the SF Bicycle Coalition.

What should be of concern to even a lot of city residents who think of themselves as progressives is the Bicycle Coalition's latest list of priorities, as illustrated in Mecke's campaign literature: "Unlike the Mayor, I am firmly committed to adding bike lanes on 2nd St, 5th St, 7th St, Bayshore Blvd, Cesar Chavez, Illinois St, Masonic Ave, implementing bicycle boulevards, and dedicating 1% of City transportation funding to bicycle facility improvements." (Interesting to note that the 1% isn't fleshed out with an actual dollar amount. Gee, I wonder why?) 

RoboProg of course didn't think of these streets on his own; he got his marching orders from the questionnaire that the SF Bicycle Coalition sent out to the candidates.

Even the Bicycle Plan---the creation of the SF Bicycle Coalition and its enablers in city government---raised serious questions about putting bike lanes on these streets. A few examples:

2nd Street, Market to Townsend:

Second Street generally has two lanes in each direction with parking on both sides of the street. The street serves residential and retail uses. The street is 52' 6" wide between Market and Harrison Street, and between King and Townsend Streets, and widens to 62' 6" between Harrison and Townsend Streets. To allow for the installation of bike lanes, one travel would need to be removed in each direction in the 52' 6" wide section, and one of the four travel lanes would need to be removed from the section south of Harrison, except between Townsend and King Streets...In 1998, the DPT[Department of Parking and Traffic] studied the potential installation of bike lanes on Second and looked at the impacts of lane removal to provide bike lanes. The lane removals were reviewed, but not approved by the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation (ISCOTT). The project was reviewed by the Parking and Traffic Commission, who also voted against the project...Loss of capacity on 2nd Street may result in severe congestion in some sections...Muni operates the 15, 9, 71, and 10 bus lines on Second Street. Due to lane removal, bus service will likely be affected because of the reduction in capacity (San Francisco Bicycle Plan, Network Document, Appendix 9A).

5th Street, Market to Townsend:

According to DPT's Level of Service Analysis conducted in 1998 of what is described here as Option 1[removing one lane in each direction], the reduction of a travel lane on Fifth Street would result in a Level of Service "F" at Mission, Howard, and Harrison Streets, indicating that the demands of the intersection exceed capacity. The impact of travel lane reductions to traffic operations on Fifth Street should be studied further, as a lane removal is likely to create severe congestion along sections of the street...Muni operates numerous bus lines on Fifth Street. Due to lane removal, bus service will likely be affected because of the reduction in capacity (San Francisco Bicycle Plan, Network Document, Appendix 9A).

Level Of Service (LOS) analysis measures how long traffic takes to move through intersections. LOS "F" is the worst traffic rating possible, i.e., a traffic jam. Of course the SFBC and its enablers---including Ross Mirkarimi---in City Hall want to completely do away with LOS analysis, which will allow them to jam up traffic on any street in the city to make bike lanes.

Masonic Avenue, Fell Street to Geary Boulevard:

Creation of a sidewalk bikeway on Masonic Avenue has been suggested but not pursued due to concerns raised in the California Highway Design Manual and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines...Masonic Avenue as is, with sub-10' wide lanes, No Left Turn restrictions at various times of the day, peak period tow-away lanes on both sides of the street, minimal unused capacity, and lack of parallel arterial, makes the removal of a motor vehicle lane and installation of a bike lane very difficult without severely disrupting traffic and transit flow along the street. However, this street may be an ideal candidate to install an Integrated Transportation Management System to allow for lane removals without significantly decreasing the capacity of the street and degrading current levels of transit operations. Further study is required (San Francisco Bicycle Plan, Network Document, Appendix 9A).

Since state law and the ADA prevent the city from putting bike lanes on Masonic's sidewalks, that leaves removing traffic lanes as the only option. As we all know, it's harder to go North-South in SF than it is to go East-West. Removing traffic lanes on Masonic---a major North-South artery in the city---would be stupid, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. 

Even though RoboProg won't be elected mayor, the SF Bicycle Coalition and the city will still try to implement the projects on the wish list---and a lot of others in the Bicycle Plan but not on this short list. Unfortunately, Mayor Newsom routinely gives the bike people whatever they want; he even appointed Leah Shaum, head of the SFBC, to the MTA board.

The city's bike people are like religious fanatics: Convinced of their own rectitude, they will keep coming at us. They are determined to screw up our streets and jam up our traffic---for our own good, of course. You've been warned!

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