Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The MTA at work at the Pittsburgh junket

Joe Was's column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that I posted the other day was in reaction to this conference that brought the country's anti-car folks together to tell themselves how wonderful they are and what great work they're all doing "to create great public places, to restore the environment, and to build what will soon be a world class active transportation network." Driving motor vehicles is not an "active" transportation mode, you understand. Only riding bikes and walking qualify.

San Francisco was well-represented at the conference/junket:

The MTA's Mike Sallaberry, a "Senior Engineer" at the MTA, led a seminar on "Level of Service F for Grade A Streets" (page 15):

Relying solely on Level of Service criteria for street design, which evaluates vehicle congestion, leads to poor outcomes on many of our roadways. LOS F, far from a failure, creates opportunities to reallocate roadway space for more livable street designs. In this session, learn about projects in Cambridge and San Francisco that overcame opposition and generated community support in prioritizing better bicycling and walking over vehicle capacity during the peak hour of travel.

The LOS F rating for an intersection is the worst possible rating, the equivalent of a traffic jam. If traffic jams in the city are "opportunities," where does that leave Muni vehicles? Out of the mud grows the lotus! What Sallaberry and the folks who attended the Pittsburgh conference mean by "livable" is creating impediments to motor vehicles whenever possible.

Like to hear more about how "San Francisco overcame opposition and generated community support" for Sallaberry's notion of "reducing vehicle capacity" on city streets, which, by the way, will delay the buses his agency is supposed to be making move more efficiently through city streets. Does delaying Muni's "vehicle capacity" on city streets make San Francisco more "livable"?

As we know, managing a functional Muni bus system is now a secondary consideration at the bloated---more than 5,000 employees!---MTA bureaucracy. Redesigning our streets on behalf of cyclists and traffic "calming" is now that agency's priority.

(Back in 2008 Sallaberry came to my neighborhood with a Power Point presentation of a dumb plan to remove scarce street parking on Divisadero to make a "transit lane" for the #24 Muni line during commute hours. His plan was rejected unanimously at that community meeting.)

On the same page of the conference agenda, we learn that a representative from the city's Bicycle Coalition was a "presenter" at a seminar to tell those in attendance about "a multi-year initiative to transform San Francisco's flatter streets" with "networks of protected bike lanes."

Oliver Gajda, "Senior Planner, Livable Streets" for the MTA and someone from New York lectured on "Vision Zero for Pedestrian Safety: New Thinking from San Francisco and New York" (page 17): "Find out how San Francisco and New York City are achieving their ambitious goals to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities..."

I wonder if Gajda mentioned the December, 2012 UC study that found San Francisco has been significantly under-counting cycling accidents in the city? That's one way of reducing the number of traffic injuries on city streets: don't count them all!

Still waiting for the MTA to officially acknowledge the study and issue their annual Collisions Report, though Ed Reiskin recognized the problem back in March. Nothing but silence from the MTA since, except for Gajda's boasting about the city's "New Thinking" on safety at this conference. (The last Collisions Report was released way back in August, 2012.)

Another MTA "Senior Planner," Matt Lasky, lectured on "A Strategy for Long-Term Bike Parking in San Francisco." In light of the Transportation Balance initiative on the November ballot, maybe the MTA should have one of these overpaid guys start doing a long-term study of parking for cars and trucks in San Francisco.

The conference had seminars on getting more children to ride bikes, since they understand that all cults have to indoctrinate the next generation:

"From WTF to WTG (Way to Go): Risk, Safety and Getting Past No"

One of the top barriers to getting more children to embrace walking and biking as a daily activity are the real and perceived traffic and personal safety concerns of their parents. Learn about risk perception, safety concerns and getting past the ''the world is a different place these days,'' and ''it is too dangerous out there'' viewpoints, with the goal of creating approaches that can influence decisions and perceptions.

Yes, how do you get parents to change their "risk perception" of the obvious danger of allowing their children to ride bikes in the city? San Francisco is already trying to do that. Leah Shahum wants to solve that "perception" problem by redesigning our streets so that even six-year-olds can safely ride bikes on them (Shahum doesn't have any children).

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At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent Post Rob! I wish we got this type of information from SFGate, Examiner, or other "news" outlets.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Not every road and every thoroughfare needs to be turned into a public plaza. Roads were invented to get goods and people from A to B, and all other concerns *in places already designated as roads* are secondary.

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

New York shares with San Francisco a type of
Vision Zero for Pedestrian Safety where bicyclists that kill pedestrians get off scott free and the deaths may not even count against the "vision" since it's only cars that kill.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

A story in this morning's NY Times covers the same story and adds some familiar quotes:

"Jamie O’Reilly, a dog walker with two Labrador retrievers and a Catahoula in tow, said she was intimidated by the packs of racing cyclists. “They are horrible,” she said.“They scream obscenities at tourists who have one foot in the road.They are like a gang.”

Strava was mentioned as an incentive for these punks to speed through NY City. Recall that Strava was implicated in how/why Chris Buccherre killed pedestrian Sutchi Hui in 2012.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I asked the MTA about this conference:


I'm writing about that Pittsburgh conference that was attended by some MTA employees. Is there a press release on that subject? How many MTA people attended? I noticed that Mike Sallaberry, Oliver Gajda, and Matt Lasky are listed on the conference program. Anyone else?

Rob Anderson

No press release was issued by the SFMTA. A total of ten employees attended.


At 10:00 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Ten people from the MTA flying to a four-day conference in Pittsburgh, plus room and board. Wonder how much that junket cost city taxpayers?

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Tumbleweed said...

@sfthen: You are joking, right?

Two cyclists have killed cyclists in recent memory (Randolph Ang and Chris Bucchere) - both were prosecuted.

"Sixty percent of the 238 motorists found to be at fault or suspected of a crime faced no criminal charges during the five-year period, CIR found in its analysis of thousands of pages of police and court records from Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

When drivers did face criminal charges, punishment often was light. Licenses rarely were taken away. Of those charged, less than 60 percent had their driving privileges suspended or revoked for even one day, an automatic penalty in drunk driving arrests.

Forty percent of those convicted faced no more than a day in jail; 13 drivers were jailed for more than a year. By contrast, those charged in accidental shootings often serve lengthy jail terms, according to media reports."



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