Tuesday, April 26, 2011

City is going to screw up traffic on Hayes Street

Flattering picture of Octavia Blvd.: Elizabeth MacDonald

This is how the Market and Octavia Plan describes what the city is going to do to Hayes Street:

Reorganize east-west traffic in Hayes Valley to reduce pedestrian conflicts and eliminate confusing Z-shaped jogs of one way traffic. One-way streets encourage fast-moving traffic, disrupt neighborhood commercial activities, and negatively affect the livability of adjacent uses and the neighborhood as a whole. 

Construction of Octavia Boulevard makes it unnecessary for one-way Oak Street traffic to be routed east of Van Ness Avenue via Franklin Street, or westbound Fell Street traffic to come from the east via Hayes Street and Gough Street. This reorganization will greatly simplify traffic patterns, make street crossings for pedestrians safer, and return Hayes Street to a two-way local street, which is best suited to its commercial nature and role as the heart of Hayes Valley.

But the EIR on the Market/Octavia Plan found that "...in order to maintain acceptable intersection level of service operations, the [two-way] Plan could not be implemented on Hayes Street. Unless the existing street configuration is maintained, implementation of the Plan would result in a significant and unavoidable impact."

Not making Hayes Street into a two-way street was one of the few mitigations offered by the EIR on the Market/Octavia Plan to offset the inevitable traffic-snarling consequences of the radical zoning changes to thousands of properties in the middle of the city to encourage 10,000 new residents in the area. 

The M/O Plan is based on the half-baked "transit corridors," dense development theory that the Planning Dept. uses to justify its aggressive, pro-development policy.

The anti-car folks at Streetsblog think screwing up traffic on Hayes Street is a great idea:

It’s a reminder that the dominance of car traffic in our cities, in reality, isn’t necessary. Rather, it is generated by building streets and freeways that favor moving motor traffic at the expense of neighborhood livability and other transport modes. When those conditions change, so does behavior...In the city’s most famous example, the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway, doomsday warnings of paralyzing traffic jams failed to come to fruition. More recently, replacing a piece of the Central Freeway with the much less domineering Octavia Boulevard was found to reduce car volumes by 40 to 50 percent.

The anti-car folks like to conflate the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway with the removal of the Central Freeway in Hayes Valley, but the two were different in important ways: the Embarcadero was never primarily a residential area, and Hayes Valley always was and still is; the Embarcadero already had a wide boulevard that covered the length of the waterfront, whereas the city, after several ballot measures, had to convert Octavia Blvd. into a surface expressway to handle all the former freeway traffic that used to travel over the neighborhood.

True, Octavia Blvd. now carries only 40-50% of the traffic (45,000 cars a day) that the Central Freeway overpass used to carry (90,000-100,000 cars a day). But those 45,000 cars are now going through the heart of Hayes Valley on a surface street. This is somehow considered a great traffic management triumph in San Francisco, primarily because city progressives---which of course includes the anti-car movement---refuse to admit how awful Octavia Blvd. now is: perpetually jammed with traffic to and from the freeway on Fell and Oak Streets.

The Octavia Blvd. traffic spills over onto other neighborhood streets, which, especially during commute hours, gridlocks that part of town for much of the day.

But the MTA directors offer some typically stupid, smug comments for people stuck in traffic and residents in the area strangling on carbon monoxide and diesel fumes:

“I think there are a lot of neighborhoods that, when this works out, will realize that we don’t have to have streets that sit 24/7 to handle 50 minutes of traffic twice a day,” said [Cheryl] Brinkman. “We can’t continue to add and facilitate automobiles on our streets. We’ve got to continue to re-engineer our streets to make them pleasant and work for everyone.”
“I know that most of us, me included, don’t like change at first,” said [director]Oka. “But once the change is there, unless it directly adversely affects a major part of our constituents or our city, I think we have to maintain a safe environment for our pedestrians and for people who use our streets who don’t have cars. We are, in fact, a transit-first city. Let’s act like we are.”

Wrong! San Francisco---aka, Progressive Land---is really an anti-car city, not a transit first city. Does anyone think that a two-way Hayes Street will do anything but slow down the #21 Muni line?

It's simply a lie that adding to that area's traffic woes will make Hayes Street "pleasant and work for everyone." Brinkman is a bike nut appointed to the MTA board by Mayor Newsom. For her and the anti-car movement in San Francisco making it difficult to drive in the city is an end in itself.

Official city policy strives to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to drive in the city, even as the city okays massive development projects that will bring a lot more traffic to the city's neighborhoods.

From the Chronicle's "City Insider," April 21, 2011:

Two-way street: Since the 1950s, Hayes Street has been among the one-way thoroughfares designed to speed up traffic, but a plan approved by the Municipal Transportation Agency would slow it down.
The agency's Board of Directors has approved a plan, two years in the works, to make Hayes Street a two-way street between Gough Street and Van Ness Avenue. When the change could take place was not immediately clear.
The shift is intended to slow traffic and treat the section of Hayes Street like the neighborhood commercial district it has become. Neighbors and businesses in the area tend to like the traffic shift, but some drivers, including taxi drivers, say it will cause chaos and gridlock by eliminating a quick route across town.
"From what I'm seeing, there isn't a real solution to where cars will go," said Malcom Heinicke, the only agency director to vote against the plan.
Director Cheryl Brinkman said she believes traffic will adjust to the changes and that the city needs to realize that streets are more than commuter speedways.
"I'm getting more and more calls about reducing the impact of rush-hour traffic on neighborhoods," she said.
- Michael Cabanatuan

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At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong! Anderson is really an anti-pedestrian blogger, not a cars-first blogger.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous MOE said...

Poor poor Rob. I think we can just chalk this all up to the fact that San Francisco was perfect the year that you moved here.

By the way, did you raise hell when they they proposed charging to park your dinosaur? I'd love to see your ranting cave painting about that one.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"...San Francisco was perfect the year that you moved here."

No, we were just waiting for you young twits to arrive to make your "improvements."

I haven't owned a car in almost 30 years. I walk and use a fast-pass to get around. Of course slowing down the #21 line will be a great improvement for everyone---except Muni passengers in our Bikes First city.

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous MOE said...

Perhaps you should've voiced your opinion for an option with a dedicated bus lane rather than digging your heels in and opposing any change.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your comment sounds superfically reasonable, but it's uninformed. There's only one bus line that runs on Hayes Street, and it runs only every 10 minutes. There aren't enough lanes on the street for a "dedicated bus lane."

But Brinkman knows better, which makes her statement about making Hayes Street work for "everyone" a lie.

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's only one bus line that runs on Hayes Street, and it runs only every 10 minutes. So this will be no big deal to MUNI riders.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous MOE said...

OK so then it's perfectly suited for a bike lane when not being used as a bus only lane. It's a nice straight shot into the commercial core of Hayes Valley from Market St.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The whole point of the proposed changes to Hayes Street is to slow traffic down as an end in itself. It's not going to make that part of Hayes better for anyone. The EIR on the Market/Octavia Plan---the two-way Hayes proposal is part of the M/O Plan---told us that implementing these changes is going to have a "significant impact" on traffic in the area. The EIR recommended not implementing the two-way Hayes plan.

If it's going to slow down auto traffic, it's going to slow down the #21 Hayes bus, but to what end? Who benefits? Only the crackpot anti-car movement that relishes making motor traffic worse in San Francisco as an end in itself. The changes are supposedly going to make it safer for pedestrians, but there's no evidence that there are more pedestrian accidents on that part of Hayes. It's all bullshit.

No one is talking about a bike lane on Hayes Street or a transit-only lane.

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The whole point of the proposed changes to Hayes Street is to slow traffic down as an end in itself."

Once upon a time I was shopping for houses in Glen Park. One house looked great, and was priced very reasonably compared to houses a block away. I couldn't quite figure out why it hadn't sold. Then I figured out it backed onto 280.

This is true pretty much wherever. A house on Cesar Chavez is worth much less than one on Precita, because the high speed traffic on CC makes it an unpleasant place to be compared to Precita, one block away.

Maybe the great Rob Anderson doesn't care if he lives on a street with heavy 35 MPH traffic instead of 20 MPH traffic, but you are in the minority. There is a very clear, factual basis for this claim - houses on streets like CC, Fell, Oak, 19th, are worth substantially less than comparable houses one block over from the higher speed heavier traffic - because people prefer calmer streets.... unless they are in a car on that street and in a hurry.

So we have to decide, what's more important, more pleasant streets or faster travel times. This is a matter of opinion, not fact. Even if you could say "slower travel time hurts the economy", the person who wants a more pleasant street might say "So what, I'll eat ramen noodles instead of steak but I'll do it in peace".

Right now, the prevailing opinion is "calmer streets". No matter of grousing on your part can change that. If the majority actually disagrees with that, they will say so in an election. As of now, that's not the case.

You lose. End of story. The changes are going in. All over the place.

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

The "prevailing opinion" in SF has been skewed by district elections. City voters have never had a chance to vote on the Bicycle Plan, not to mention Critical Mass. That's no accident, since our "progressive" political masters understand that city voters might very well reject the whole anti-car agenda, which is the only issue they have left.

Several neighborhoods have already experienced---and protested---the implementation of the Bicycle Plan. First there was the upper Market Street area, where the city took away metered parking in front of small businesses to make bike lanes in 2006.

Next was the Ocean Avenue area, where again the city took away street parking on a commercial strip to make bike lanes.

And the latest implementation on 17th Street. The weird thing about this one is that the SFBC sent merchants on the street a congratulatory letter for being on a street with a new bike lane!

This sort of thing and the continuous drip, drip, drip of bad behavior by individual cyclists on the streets of the city make your "traffic-calming" movement of very dubious popularity in SF.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

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At 11:58 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

*EVERY* Supervisor voted for the Bike Plan. Are you saying that if we had citywide elections that NONE of them would have been elected, instead we would have Rob Anderson and 10 other "intelligentsia" who would have voted it down?

Your premise would indicate that in one or two districts that have heavier voter turnout diluted by the districts, that an anti-bike, anti-livable streets Supervisor would win. Hasn't happened.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why should I be "bitter"?

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

All I'm saying is that there's never been a citywide vote on the Bicycle Plan or the city's anti-car policies. Of course district elections skews the politics of the city to the left. That's why city progs couldn't find a serious candidate to run against Newsom in 2007 and why Avalos will get buried in November.

If Avalos, Chieu, and Herrera make the anti-car case to the citywide electorate, voters will have a chance to make that choice.

What I hope for is that at least one of the candidates comes out in clear opposition to the Bicycle Plan, Critical Mass, and City Hall's anti-car policies so that voters finally have a chance to voice their opposition.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12:52 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Any voter who puts bike policy in their top 2-3 priorities for the new Mayor is a moron... e.g. Rob Anderson.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I don't know why you *should* be bitter - but you are... why is that?

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Murph and the other bike nuts think I'm an angry old man because I criticize the great, planet-saving bike movement. How could I not be? Electing Mirkarimi to the BOS for another term has been bad for the city; he's been even worse than I feared, and my expectations already were low based on his awful first term.

Speaking of the Murk: he's running for Sheriff, but all anyone from the law enforcement community needs to do to beat him is campaign on his goofball, left-wing radicalism. He supported anarchist Josh Wolf over a cop who had his skull fractured during that famous demo in the Mission; he voted for a resolution urging Philadephia to give cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal another trial; he supports Critical Mass; he indulges in pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric when talking to other lefties, etc.

On the other hand, the country elected Obama President on the same day, which I was/am very pleased with. Except for his dumb high-speed rail policy, he's been a good President.

Sonn's point about District 2 is wide of the mark. Assuming you take democratic principles seriously, what needs to happen on the Bicycle Plan, Critical Mass, and all the anti-car policies that are now so fashionable with the Trendies: a citywide debate and campaign that thoroughly examines these policies and their implications not only for traffic policy but for the city's economy.

That's never happened, and it won't happen if the progs in City Hall can keep it from happening. They've been successful in avoiding a real debate on those issues so far, though they were tripped up with the litigation against the Bicycle Plan, when they tried to sneak it through the process illegally. But we busted them.

Oh, that bitter old Rob Anderson floated a major turd in the prog's punch bowl!

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure Rob's never had a problem with cars parking on the sidewalk. However, those damn fixies will ruin the city!

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear how you think you are right and the Economist is wrong.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What exactly are you referring to? Note that the Economist story doesn't mention Hayes Street or Octavia Blvd., which is what the post is about.

I don't oppose investing in infrastructure, except for projects like the Central Subway and the high-speed rail proposal. Caltrain has a $30 million deficit, and Muni is chronically underfunded, but the federal government is pushing a pricey high-speed rail boondoggle and SF in pouring scarce transit dollars in the Central Subway, which is a consequence of a political deal, not from a sensible estimate of the city's real transportation needs.

And the article's positive reference to China's infrastructure investment is outdated, as its high-speed rail system is overbuilt, underused, and unsafe.

How the city is spending the money it raises from parking meters, parking tickets, and parking lots---$180 million a year---on projects like the Central Subway and an over-designed terminal even as many of our streets are in serious need of repaving.


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