Tuesday, July 08, 2014

What "Transportation Balance" is about

San Francisco Transportation Policies
Bill Bowen
SF Gate

In 1999, San Francisco voters approved Proposition E, which enabled the consolidation of the bus/light rail agency that we all call Muni with the Department of Parking and Traffic. This created the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, with a charge for city to implement policies to put "Transit First."

Since then, transportation policy has been set by the agency's governing board, whose members are appointed by the mayor. By law, a majority must be regular riders of Muni.

The loudest voices? The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and those who envision a "car-free" city, despite the fact that 79 percent of households have a motor vehicle and nearly half of those commuting to work do so by car.

The failed effort to dissuade people from using cars falls into two categories:

Don't build it and they won't come: With San Francisco growing by 10,000 residents per year, the strategy is to force people out of cars by making parking impossible. Where construction codes once required a developer to provide at least one parking space per apartment, new apartment building often offer far fewer. Thousands of parking spaces have been eliminated as new buildings rise on empty lots. Bicycle lanes now take an increased portion of the streets. No new public parking lots have been built in nearly 20 years. New proposals would dedicate 1,000 existing parking spaces to ride-share vehicles and "parklets."

Make car ownership so expensive that most residents will give up the convenience: Rates for city-owned parking garages, parking meters, residential parking permits and parking tickets have all had double-digit increases. There was a move---which will be temporarily suspended---to begin Sunday parking meter enforcement. "Peak-demand period" meter rates were introduced. The transit agency has called for tripling the vehicle license fee charged by the state by adding a city surcharge in order to raise another $100 million per year from motorists. Fees on cars exceed user fares as a source of funding for the public transit system. Some of this cost for motorists is just the normal behavior of an inefficient agency; some of it is social engineering.

We may have reached a tipping point. A $500 million bond measure to purchase new transit vehicles and re-engineer the streets to be more bus- and bicycle-friendly---with less parking and fewer lanes for cars---is proposed for the November ballot.

At the moment, Mayor Ed Lee does not support the VLF surcharge. Both it and Sunday parking meters will be back.

There is, however, a coalition of neighborhood activists, small businesses, first responders, disabled advocates, parents, churchgoers and just plain folks emerging under the banner of Restore Transportation Balance with a set of policy prescriptions:

--Limit hours for parking meters.

--Freeze parking rates.

--Require neighborhood agreement for meter expansion.

--Use a portion of any new revenues to build parking garages where neighborhoods want them.

--Direct that any re-engineering of traffic flows should aim to achieve safer, smoother flowing streets.

--Enforce traffic laws for all modes of transportation, including bicycles.

--Provide representation for all modes of transportation on the Municipal Transportation Agency Board.

Past efforts to reform the agency or establish performance standards for public transit have fizzled. Yet there is hope. The majority of San Francisco households have cars, despite the 15-year campaign against them, and value their convenience, safety and freedom. These residents constitute a solid political base. Join us.

Bill Bowen is a member of the Restore Balance 14 Steering Team. For more information, go to www.restorebalance14.org.

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At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cars have killed 126 people in SF in the last 6 years. keep it up

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By eliminating traffic lanes, the City has increased travel times for motorists, Muni riders, and first responders alike. This has contributed to greater congestion on our streets, thereby increasing greenhouse‚Äźgas emissions."

where is the evidence to support this?

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Evidence = using eyeballs. Come on, you really think that the changes haven't increased congestion? Are you that naive?

My commute involves traveling the length of Cesar Chavez, which recently had bicycle lanes installed and a traffic lane removed in each direction. What used to take me 1-2 minutes to travel now takes me 5-6. That's a 300% increase. There's your evidence. You'll have trouble finding many official reports that detail this because the city has decided not to measure such paltry things as Level of Service (the time it takes to get from A to B). In fact, the bike coalition was lobbying hard to get the government to not use it because it spoils the bike utopia narrative. Let me ask you this, what evidence is there that the often used refrain of bicycling advocates saying that if you install bike lanes it will actually REDUCE traffic is true? Bicycle people have proved less than nothing and are driving all the change.

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chavez changes were not about bike lanes. It was about the road being a suck on that neighborhood. The bike lane was just a way to reduce the traffic lanes to reduce the impact of the freeway on the surrounding environs. Or do you not support neighborhoods being able to determine their own outcomes?

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll have trouble finding many official reports that detail this because the city has decided not to measure such paltry things as Level of Service (the time it takes to get from A to B).

Lie - that is a requirement of CEQA.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whooooooa i guess this is what the special interest coalition "Restore Balance" is about: http://sfist.com/2014/07/09/signature_fraud_allegation_fly_over.php

Breaking laws again just like you do on our streets every day

lying to people to get them to sign a petition is not a good strategy

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Those are nothing but allegations at this point. Of course Streetsblog hates the very idea of this initiative, so they hope the DA will find a problem with the petitions.

At 8:18 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The citizens of San Francisco should decide what they want their city to look like, and how they want it managed. They don't need a handful of unelected geniuses deciding the fate of a city they've invested their lives in. It's called democracy. If the people of SF don't want cars, or places to drive them, or park them, then let the people vote on that concept. Parking fees and fines are REGRESSIVE flat taxes forced on working people, no matter how little they make, who are desperately trying to stay in a city that wasn't so mean, and so rich, just a few years ago. Techies with trust funds and stock options aren't impacted by in the same way by any of these oppressive measures. Leave poor people alone one day a week.


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