Monday, September 30, 2013

BRT meeting in the avenues

Letters to the editor from the September edition of the Richmond Review:

Thanks for publishing Supervisor Eric Mar's letter announcing his town hall meeting about Geary BRT on the 31st. I told my 15th Avenue neighbors about it and suggested they confirm the time---it was a good thing as the show got started earlier than Mar had said.

It was quite a show; like a spread out of Sunset Magazine with banner illustrations and mockups of the best in show favorite, "Alternative 3 Variant: Consolidated Service." We on the back bench had to smile as more than half of the allotted time was handed off to paid staff presenters. The straw like contenders were "dissed" as we were shown their faults---our hosts knew no one would ever accept eliminating all curb parking to allow bike lanes on Geary. The neighbors started chaffing with questions but got the "let's be civilized and keep with the program" from a disembodied voice.

Keeping with the divide and handle program, the hosts started to coax impatient questioners into smaller groups stashed around the "Y." Our heroine was heard demanding to know why the presenters wanted to keep the neighbors from hearing everything that was being asked? Were they afraid we'd know what faults were found or suggestions our neighbors made? Feedback was easier, more personal handling of concerns was the answer.

Many left, but others stuck around to see if it was to reinforce the predefined outcome---was it confusion or disarray in the "hood"?

And it was smaller in the groups; self-interest is always an outcome when brought down to personal experience. Divide the problem, divide the questions and there is no coming together to find common good for all of the neighbors.

A retired bus operator in one back bench group motioned to the pretty pictures of the best of show and pointed out the need for more room for lines and shelter, not to mention visibility that would find drivers at fault from accident-favoring designs. So many mockups were for other projects that didn't fit Geary. And the snickering wasn't muffled when the ubiquitous double-parked trucks were not there.

Dividing the story, limiting the possibilities, dividing the audience, and limiting the answers are ways of getting controversial big projects past skeptical locals. Show them the need to eliminate the underpass of Geary at Fillmore to distract through an obscure and convoluted problem in another district, but say nothing about the left turns for arterials that are turning some Richmond blocks into cloverleaves for the big streets.

Parse the big traffic question into individual problems and solutions that fly under the radar, then do another and be sure to distract the locals from seeing that something ugly is being put together a piece at a time right under their noses.

We had a great ferry system in San Francisco up to 1935. We got a Bay Bridge that moved cars on the upper deck and trains on a lower deck "Key" system. The boats got beached to rot near Sausalito; we got sold on autos and the trains got pulled from the Bay Bridge and all of the western paths to the Ocean. Now we've paid a lot more to replace the "Key" with an under the bay BART and have a smaller scale ferry system that's got half the capacity we once had. Now, we're being told we had it right in the first place with the streetcars going west.

I mentioned SFMTA accountability and lines of appeal to Supervisor Mar. How about an SFMTA board that's elected by district? He disappeared before there was a bad smell.

David W. Dippel

Regarding the BRT options being considered that include bus-only lanes along the Geary Blvd. corridor---please don't!

I travel by car twice daily along Mission Street, between Van Ness Boulevard and Third Street, in SOMA, with its bus-only lanes in either direction. Every Muni #14 bus I see along that route is either traveling in the car lane, rather than the bus lane, slowing traffic in the car lane while leaving the bus lane wide open, but unavailable to cars. Or, in those cases where Muni is actually using the bus lane, it is straddling both lanes, making it nearly impossible for cars to travel safely in either lane.

I often see trucks far larger than Muni buses traveling our city streets, and they manage to stay within a single designated lane. How difficult is it for Muni to do the same, rather than forcing vehicles to cross over into oncoming traffic in order to safely pass a slow moving bus that can't manage to stay in a single lane? I see this dangerous driving practice by Muni drivers all over the City.

Francesca Wander

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At 11:42 AM, Anonymous sfthen said...

Last May a group from SF, Wiener, Mar, Avalos, SPUR, SFBC, the usual crowd, was given a Potemkin village tour of Mexico City's BRT and Bike-Share because that's what they want to duplicate here.

But none of them had the acumen to get out on their own and see the real transportation system:
the Mexico City subways
the Mexico City freeways

That's what SF will be like when they get done meddling.

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

Every Muni #14 bus I see along that route is either traveling in the car lane, rather than the bus lane, slowing traffic in the car lane while leaving the bus lane wide open, but unavailable to cars.

This happens for one reason, and one reason only. Private cars parked in the bus only lane.

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Rick B. said...

I agree with anonymous, I've never seen a 14 bus driving in the car lane and leaving the bus lane wide open...that simply makes no sense. I ride the 14 and it is constantly blocked by private vehicles in the bus lane. I've never seen the bus spontaneously exit an otherwise open bus lane.

As far as BRT, we absolutely need efficient transit to the northwest side of our city, and the 38 ain't cutting it. sfthen's photos aren't far off from the scene on the 38 daily.


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