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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