Tuesday, December 06, 2011

More advice for the Examiner

One thing the new owners of the SF Examiner---and the Chronicle, too, for that matter---could do to help their readers is provide more online links, especially for government reports and documents. When Examiner reporter Will Reisman recently wrote about the city's "transit first" policy ("In transit-first San Francisco, cars still rule the road"), he relied on the useful MTA Transportation Fact Sheet for a lot of his information. Alas, he didn't---or couldn't---provide readers with a link to the important document, which I got from SF Streetsblog.

Since reporters like Reisman go to the important meetings and have access to public officials---his phone calls are more likely to be returned than mine---they often have access to documents the rest of us, whether bloggers or interested citizens, don't have. They can empower the rest of us by providing links to crucial documents on city issues.

We can take a lesson from the late, great I.F. Stone, whose newsletter I read religiously in the 1960s and 1970s: "Go into the bowels of government where the really good sources are. They are good public servants, very often breaking their hearts with frustration.They're the best kind of source...I made no claims to inside stuff. I tried to give information which could be documented, so the reader could check it for himself."

Even though the official City Hall policies are often foolish and city government can seem bloated and dysfuntional, there are "good public servants" doing good work. Another document that shows that the MTA is making our streets safer over time is its annual "collisions" report on all injury accidents on the streets of San Francisco, the latest version of which is here.

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At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traffic is slower and accidents are down.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No. You clearly didn't read the report I linked, which, on pages 4 and 5, tracks accidents over a ten-year period, showing a consistently lower trend.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously didn't read the Examiner today. Traffic around the Bay Area is slower.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You apparently didn't read the Examiner article you refer to. Traffic is slower regionally because there's more of it, apparently because the economy is picking up.

What the report I linked is talking about is injury accidents on the streets of San Francisco over a ten-year period.

By the way, there's some dumb analysis in the Examiner article comparing auto speed with slower Muni, failing to note that autos don't have to stop to pick up passengers on every other block.

And an obtuse quote from a MTA official about the need for "dedicated transit lanes" in SF. There are very few city streets that can spare a whole lane to be set aside for Muni buses. There's just too much traffic and too few lanes to do that.

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muni isn't twice as slow only because it has to start and stop for stops. Dedicated (and enforced!) bus-only lanes would greatly speed up Muni.

If the city's policy is transit first, then cars lose out. Have to prioritize transit with lanes and signaling.

Aren't you a Muni advocate?

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Buses have to share the streets with cars, trucks, and emergency vehicles. Please list the streets in SF that can spare a lane for buses. Geary and Van Ness. The others?

What you bike people have always been in denial about: the biggest threat to an ontime Muni is the Bicycle Plan and its bastard offspring.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have got some serious issues. I'm not a bike person, I'm a Muni person. So get off it.

Stockton could use a Muni only lane as Muni is continually stuck in traffic. All the LRVs could use signal-prioritization on all their routes. Market could use some "blocking-the-box" enforcement and 3rd could use some enforcement of the BUS ONLY lane already in place.

Stop reduction will help, but it is messy politically. Enforce what we have now and you'll see improvements.

Unless of course, you are pro-car Rob Anderson.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The only Muni line that runs on Stockton is the #30. Stockton is way too busy to take away a traffic lane; that would only make it much worse for everyone else---including delivery trucks---to negotiate the street. Chinatown must be one of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in the country. There's just no way around that reality.

I guess I have to say it again: if you make traffic worse for cars, you're also going to make it worse for Muni. The city has already essentially banned cars from Market Street. I ride downtown on Muni regularly, and there are no longer any serious impediments to Muni lines on the downtown section of Market Street.

Yes, eliminating bus stops is "messy politically," since the whole point of a bus system is to pick up passengers at bus stops. But it can be done here and there. The city eliminated some unnecessary stops on Divisadero---at Fulton and Eddy Streets---which has helped moving the #24 line on that street.

I haven't owned a car in more than 20 years. I rely on Muni to get around. As I've pointed out before, if you screw up auto traffic, you risk screwing it up for Muni too, since buses share the streets with those wicked autos.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, eliminating bus stops is "messy politically," since the whole point of a bus system is to pick up passengers at bus stops. But it can be done here and there.

Let's get rid of all the stops near Rob's house.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

"The only Muni line that runs on Stockton is the #30."

Wow, you are more ignorant than I originally thought. Three lines run on Stockton, through the densest neighborhood on the West Coast and also the one with the lowest car-ownership rate in the city/state/region/possibly nation.

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

Injury collisions are going down to a reduction of cars in the city.

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of trends...

A gallon of gas cost $3.63 a gallon on average in the South and East Bay on Wednesday -- down 20 cents from a month ago. The price of crude stood at $102 a barrel, up more than $10 a barrel over than same period. What's going on? We're driving less. The most recent state figures are through August and gas consumption fell 1.7 percent from the same month a year ago. This was the sixth straight month that we used less gas compared to 2010.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Depends on what you mean by "we." According to an Examiner story cited in an earlier comment, there are more people commuting in and to SF.

According to the DMV, there are more than 461,000 motor vehicles registered in SF, which is up from 451,000 in 2000.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Wow, you are more ignorant than I originally thought. Three lines run on Stockton..."

I'm talking about Stockton Street through Chinatown, not Stockton downtown. List the Muni lines besides the #30 that use Stockton through Chinatown.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

30, 45, 8x southbound. 30, 45 northbound.

Have you ever been to Chinatown?

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Very good, Mike, though you list the #30 twice. The only part of the #45 line I'm familiar with is on Union Street, and I've never ridden the #8. Still a transit-only lane in the Chinatown part of Stockton Street seems implausible.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

I list the 45 twice as well because the 30 and 45 go north and south on Stockton (south of Columbus) and the 8x only uses it going south.

Rob, if it doesn't need a transit lane, then why is it getting a $1.7B subway? It's getting a $1.7B subway because the private auto traffic is too important to move. No one is suggesting that deliveries be banned as well; if there was no private auto traffic, then deliveries wouldn't be a problem at all.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

If pigs had wings, they might be able to fly.

Why is Chinatown getting a subway? That's a pretty naive question, Mike. The short answer: Willie Brown and Rose Pak made a deal when the Embarcadero freeway overpass was torn down to compensate Chinatown merchants for the loss of that direct link to the neighborhood.

As the Grand Jury report pointed out, if the subway was going to be built---a very big if---it should have gone under Montgomery Street. That would take care of all the people who work in the financial district and still be close enough to Chinatown to help their tourist trade.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to an Examiner story cited in an earlier comment, there are more people commuting in and to SF.

And it attributes slower speeds to more cars - not more bike lanes. They didn't get the memo from you!

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

I really doubt you've ever even been to Chinatown.

Your "history" may be close to true, but the only way you can stop the Central Subway is to provide an alternative. And, Mr LOS, the status quo is not an alternative.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Sometimes the best "alternative" is to do nothing, and the Central Subway is worse than nothing because it drains $200 million in transit money that could/should be used on the existing Muni system. Still waiting for a substantive discussion of the "auto-trips-generated" (ATG) system that's supposedly superior to the present LOS system for doing traffic studies. Of course ATG is just a ruse to exempt bicycle plans and other anti-car projects from doing genuine traffic studies.

The other commenter insists that "we're driving less," and when I show him that's clearly not true---at least in and around SF---he wants to change the subject to bike lanes, which is okay with me. I'm not the only one who's found that the Bicycle Plan will make traffic worse in the city. Check out this Examiner article from more than two years ago.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Yes Rob. What this city needs is for us to duke it out, mano-a-mano, over LOS v ATG!


Rob Anderson cries LOS and tries to hide his love for cars behind a thin veil of Muni-sympathy as "bike-nut" extraordinaire Mike Sonn uses ATG to make children late to school and grocery stores impossible to find a parking spot at.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You claim to be a Muni supporter, but fail to defend the Central Subway project---a political deal disguised as a transportation project---that is draining away millions of dollars that should be going to Muni. And now you fail to defend ATG, the anti-car movement's bogus substitute for genuine traffic studies.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

"You claim to be a Muni supporter, but fail to defend the Central Subway project---a political deal disguised as a transportation project---that is draining away millions of dollars that should be going to Muni."

Rob, what are you talking about? That comment doesn't make any sense.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You must be losing it, Mike. All that carbon monoxide you inhale while riding your bike is taking a toll on your mind.

Only yesterday you wrote, "Rob, if it[Stockton Street] doesn't need a transit lane, then why is it getting a $1.7B subway? It's getting a $1.7B subway because the private auto traffic is too important to move."

The Central Subway is not really a transportation project. It's the result of a political deal and of course a boondoggle that provides a lot of union jobs for that important Democratic Party constituency.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Yeah, the problem is me.

I've been against the Central Subway, very vocally, for many years now. I work with SaveMuni.com on a regular basis and have been for years. I was going to their meetings when it was just 6 of us sitting around a table.

I know you like to put labels and opinions onto people you think you disagree with, but you have jumped it on this one.

And whatever the reason the Central Subway got momentum is irrelevant now. It is being sold as a transportation project and as such, transportation alternatives need to be given. Your stick in the mud way of thought is outdated and won't further whatever goals you think you have. Stockton is broken and the status quo, while better than the CS, isn't going to work and the only true way to win Chinatown residents over is to offer solutions.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Look, you suggested in an earlier comment that the Central Subway was justified because of the traffic problem on Stockton Street. You then accused me of not making sense when I referred to that comment.

Yes, the project is being sold as a transportation project, but it's still a bad project. Those of us who continue to oppose the project are now "sticks-in-the-mud"? Why soft-peddle your opposition now? Besides, there's still the related Downtown Terminal project that's going down the drain with high-speed rail.

It would be good for the city if the Central Subway project is cancelled and the terminal project is redesigned, since high-speed rail will never arrive and depart at the terminal that has been designed.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

I'm soft pedaling my opposition? Wow.

I'll keep actually doing something to stop the project while you sit on your soap box.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What are you doing? Can we have some specifics?

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

I need to justify myself to you.

I'd rather you just go on thinking I'm a bike-nut, it'd be easier on you.

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What exactly does does "doing something" mean? Is it so clandestine that you can't tell us? I don't see you as a terrorist, Mike. I of course don't want to be an enabler, but you could strap on an explosive vest, get on your bike, and attack autos at car lots and wherever the Death Machines are gathered. And you can in fact be both a bike nut and oppose the Central Subway. Tahoe Murph too shares your anti-subway and bike-centric views.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike is doing nothing. Rob is actually doing something - blogging!


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