Sunday, July 31, 2011

Screwing up Fell and Oak: The fix is in---again

Illustration by Jim Swanson

The answer to the question in the head---"Does SF really want to engage car drivers?"---in the recent Bay Citizen story on the city's plan to screw up Fell and Oak Streets: No, of course it doesn't. The city has gotten away so far with ignoring the interests of motorists, drivers of what the bike zealots call "Death Monsters." In fact those who drive in the city are treated by the folks who make our traffic policy as the enemy, to be thwarted, ticketed, and soaked financially at every opportunity. (The city extracts a lot of money from drivers---more than $180 million a year just from parking tickets, parking meters, and parking lots.)

Scott James, who wrote the heretical story, is the first San Francisco reporter to ask that question of city government. I laughed at James's faux-naive question, which was like asking a robot a question it's not programmed to answer:

Sixty-seven thousand vehicles travel Fell and Oak streets daily---the streets are the de facto crosstown freeways---but when I spoke to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Monday it was clear the agency doesn't have any plan yet to gauge the opinions of those drivers. Transit officials seemed perplexed when I asked the question.

Just like they had no intention of doing any environmental review of the 500-page Bicycle Plan before the successful litigation that forced the city to do an EIR.

Let's do the numbers: 67,000 vehicles use Fell and Oak Street every day. 32,000 vehicles use nearby Masonic Avenue every day, along with 12,000 passengers on the #43 Muni line. That's a total of 99,000 vehicles a day on streets in that part of town where the bike zealots and the city want to "calm," that is, jam up traffic.

James rightly challenges the bogus outreach by the Bicycle Coalition on the plan to screw up Fell and Oak. The Coalition also got $250,000 from Caltrans and the city to do the public outreach on the Bicycle Plan. Guess how that campaign turned out?

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At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott James and Rob Anderson as Harry Reid and Barack Obama in "the crazy minority fucked us over" - coming to a theatre near you.

You anti-bike people need to learn to organize better, if all you can hang your hat on is "we succeeded in making them do an EIR - and when it was done they built the bike lanes anyway".

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

They haven't been built on Fell and Oak yet. Or even on Masonic. Remains to be seen whether the rest of the city will allow you to screw up traffic for 99,000 people every day.

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nor does anyone seem to be engaging commuters on the 16X express bus. The Muni ride is already 40-45 minutes from the Outer Sunset to 4th and Market.

Please SFBC, don't increase our work commute downtown.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's actually City Hall that's responsible for the plan, though the Bicycle Coalition functions as if it's a city department, even though it's a special interest group that's openly stated it wants to hinder and/or reduce motor vehicles in the city. Anything that makes it harder to drive in the city gets their support.

I wonder too about outreach to the people who live on or near the Panhandle, a neighborhood, like many in the city, where street parking is scarce. And then there's the matter of curb cuts for the buildings that have garages facing the Panhandle.

The city really needs to do a full EIR on the Panhandle plan and the plan to screw up traffic on nearby Masonic Avenue.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing at some point SF will totally restrict autos from traveling from south to north through the City, on either 19th Avenue, Van Ness...truly a restriction on Constitutional "Right to Travel".

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The anti-car bike people would surely like to do something like that, but both 19th Avenue and Van Ness are also state highways. They would have to get the state to sign off on a radical plan.

A more likely strategy for the anti-car movement: create gridlock downtown with dumb developments like the Treasure Island project, which will then make the Congestion Pricing idea seem more sensible.

Hard to tell what the city can do to deal with the inevitable gridlock caused by the stupid Parkmerced project, since it's next to a state highway.

But both these awful development projects are a consequence of the dense development, "smart growth" theory that's giving these projects a thin patina of intellectual respectability. Sooner or later there will be a day of reckoning when SF will learn that there's no free lunch when it comes to traffic management.

The previous limits on population density were put in place for a good reason: when you allow too many people to occupy a relatively small space you degrade the quality of life for everyone in that space. San Francisco---which thinks it's so special!---seems eager to validate that commonsense notion yet again.

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why there's nobody in Manhattan - too many people!

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1800 daily boardings of the 16 AX/BX, far less than daily cyclist counts on Fell/Oak. Why keep Fell screwed up for the sake of the Minority?

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait for them to close all those curb cuts. That is where all the street parking has gone. Maybe I'll be able to find parking again.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Manhattan has a good transportation system, including an extensive subway system, and it's no longer economically feasible for SF to build one.

Curb cuts for parking in the homes and buildings on Fell and Oak often lead to more than one parking spot in garages or backyard lots. Hence, you lose a street parking space, but you take more than one car out of competition for street parking.

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 9:21am:

Do you have daily boarding counts for the 16X? Both the 16AX and 16BX are discontinued lines. I contacted the MTA about a month ago for 16X ridership figures, but haven't gotten a response (surprise).

Also, looking at daily totals is disingenuous. The 16X runs brief but very intense periods during rush hour only. Do bicycles even outnumber Muni 16X commuters from 7-9 inbound on Oak and from 4-6pm outbound on Fell? Show me the data.

Part of the 16X's raison d'ĂȘtre is to take some of the burden off the N-Judah at rush hour. Ruin the 16X commute and a couple thousand ex-16X riders may attempt to squeeze onto the saturated N right at peak time. Perhaps N-Judah commuters should also be brought into the discussion.

A compromise could surely be found, but as I posted previously, no one is reaching out to the 16X commuters. Unfortunately, our politically-disconnected voices have not and seemingly will not be heard.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Manhattan has a good transportation system"

Does this imply we don't? Every time the cyclists say "We bike because MUNI sucks", you say "MUNI works perfectly fine".

So which is it? Do we have a good transportation system, or one so bad we need to support biking?

Answer? Ad Hominem attack!

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"A compromise could surely be found..." Wrong! Street design in SF is a zero-sum game, since space is limited. The only way you can make a separated bike lane on either Fell or Oak is by taking away a traffic lane or street parking.

The city needs to do a complete EIR on any changes it proposes for these important east/west streets, and it needs to include its plan to fuck up Masonic in the study. If it doesn't do that, it's inviting more litigation.

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that a promise or a threat?

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regards the 16AX. The argument that the 16X carries a lot of people 7-9 AM 4-6 PM has a direct counterpart in that bike lanes are used all day long, and weekends. The road capacity is there to service 15% of 5 days of the week, cyclists use it 24/7.

Perhaps the answer is a bus/bike only lane on Fell/Oak. Services the buses at peak, and bikes 24/7. I would support that wholeheartedly.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the 16X's raison d'ĂȘtre is to take some of the burden off the N-Judah at rush hour. Ruin the 16X commute and a couple thousand ex-16X riders may attempt to squeeze onto the saturated N right at peak time. Perhaps N-Judah commuters should also be brought into the discussion.

--> You are aware of the N-Judah bus express?

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Don't forget that, as per the City Charter, "transit first" has been amended to include bikes in the definition: "Bicycling shall be promoted by encouraging safe streets for riding, convenient access to transit, bicycle lanes, and secure bicycle parking." (Section 8A.115, Transit First)

That means no matter how badly creating bike lanes affects Muni service, it still conforms to the city's "transit first" policy.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Every time the cyclists say "We bike because MUNI sucks", you say "MUNI works perfectly fine".

You bike nuts don't seem to understand the function of quotation marks. They're supposed to indicate a direct quotation, not some crap you make up to score points. I've never written anything like "Muni works perfectly fine."

Muni works for me, but I'm retired and don't have to commute downtown anymore. It would work a lot better for everyone if it had enough money to restore recent cuts in service. It doesn't have enough money because our "progressive" city government is pissing away $100 million on the Central Subway and $100 million on the Taj Mahal-like terminal project.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You never said "MUNI works perfectly fine" but you did say "MUNI works fine". Fine.

Now you are saying it does NOT work fine if you have to commute, and there is no money to fix it. If it is so screwed up and we can't fix it, then it is incumbent upon us to give better options, like bike lanes on Fell and Oak. This won't screw up MUNI - by your statement it is ALREADY screwed up and not salvageable.

OR - we could dedicate an entire lane of Fell/Oak to bikes and buses only - solving BOTH problems for 2 constituencies that are currently NOT getting "fine" service.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Welcom to Rob Anderson's Reading Disability Clinic, where remedial readers---especially cyclists---get help with their congnitive problems. What I'm saying is that, since I no longer have to use Muni to commute, I'm not the best judge of how well it functions. It works fine for a retired guy who doesn't have to be anywhere in particular at a specific time.

There is money to fix it, but City Hall is wasting hundreds of millions on goofball projects that will provide little payoff to regular Muni passengers.

Typical that you don't know that there's only one bus that runs by the Panhandle, the 16X, a commuter express, not a regular line. The "two constituencies" you refer to don't add up to much, compared to motorists---67,000 a day---if City Hall once again caters to your obnoxious minority.

The assumption behind the movement to screw up Panhandle traffic is that for some unexplained reason Page Street on the south and Hayes Street on the north aren't good enough for the bike people to get to the wiggle from that part of town. That's simply untrue. Both streets provide easy access, and of course cyclist can now use both Oak and Fell Streets if those two streets don't appeal to them.

It's all bullshit, as usual---e.g., Masonic Avenue---and there's no good reason to screw up traffic for cyclists on the Panhandle. The idea can only be understood in the context of the ongoing jihad against motorists in San Francisco led by the Bicycle Coalition.

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's simply untrue. Both streets provide easy access,

For a bike? Have you tested it? If not, shut the fuck up, you are woefully unqualified to make such a broad statement. Fortunately you are qualified for exactly one thing - to be ignored by the City!

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I've lived in this part of the city off and on for almost 50 years and know the streets well.

Getting to the wiggle from either Page or Hayes is easy. Coming back from the wiggle, many cyclists might have to push their bikes for one block between Divisadero and Broderick on Page Street and a block on Scott between Fell and Hayes.

Those cyclists who don't mind the traffic as much can continue to use Fell and Oak Streets. There's no safety emergency, since there's no indication that there are more accidents on Oak and Fell.

You bike zealots just think you can get this done now, that City Hall will allow you to screw up traffic for the 67,000 motorists that now use those streets every day. Maybe. We'll see.

As long as it was only me writing about this issue, I was a lot easier to ignore than Scott James, who writes for a publication that has a much larger circulation than I do. He's alerted the people who live in the area and the city at large about what you're trying to do, which is bad news for you crackpots.

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

I love how Rob thinks all cyclists meet in a smokey back room to plan the city's destruction.

Hey asshole, some of us just want a safe and convenient way around the city. There is no ulterior motive.

And asking people to get off their bike and walk a block or two? That is your solution? But asking drivers to slow slightly (2-4 sec delay) while speeding through residential neighborhoods borders on jihad?

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Another remedial reader---and juvenile thinker---checks in. Screwing up traffic on city streets to benefit cyclists has always been your explicit motive, which is not in question. It's how you go about doing it that's been sneaky and, on the Bicycle Plan, actually illegal. Where have the meetings on the plan to screw up traffic by the Panhandle been held and who participated?

What you call "safety and convenience" for cyclists can only come at the expense of the 67,000 people who use Fell and Oak Streets every day. There's no good reason to do that, since cyclists are using those streets now, and they can use nearby Hayes and Page if the Panhandle traffic makes them nervous.

The Bicycle Coalition has made its anti-car motives perfectly clear over the years, as if the convenience of the minority they represent should trump the interests of the overwhelming majority of city residents who don't ride bikes.

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are in need of a serious history lesson. Once educated, maybe you'll be able to have a conversation worth participating in.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah thats right. SF should cater to the top .05% of the wealthiest people in the world. Do you have any idea how much the external costs are of automobile driving? Why do you think gas costs so much more in Europe? The gas costs the same, they just actually tax it so the money goes back to the people who deserve it. Its pretty typical of car drivers to think they are the center of the world, whizzing by pedestrians, as if they weren't pushing a machine that could potentially end people's lives! They don't need to care about anyone on the street, or even talk to people on the street, because they have their money and the safety of remaining in their car, disconnected from the world. Here's a big FUCK YOU DICK HEAD from the rest of the world for all the greenhouse gases, toxic air pollution, pedestrians and cyclist killed every year, annoying honking, valuable resource depletion and for making this country so reliant on such an unsustainable mode of transit that fuels wars around the world. Prius's and other electric vehicles and biodiesel are no exception. The minerals to store this energy took massive amounts of energy to extract and is probably polluting villages nearby with waste runoff and sedimentation of streams. Biodiesel takes more energy to make than it puts out! Oh but thats right. You are just a poor victim motorist just trying to drive your car while these annoying people without cars are in your way. Go ahead and delete this, at least I know you read it.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As reported in today's Chronicle, a woman pedestrian who last month crossed the Embarcadero WITH THE GREEN LIGHT and was struck by a bicyclist has died. No name of the cyclist. "Prosecutors will decide whether to file charges..."
Nah, the bike nazis don't run this town! Whatever gave you that idea?


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