Carmageddon cometh - Page 4

San Francisco needs to radically rethink its transportation system to avoid gridlock

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Students from the Bicycle Geography class have been learning how to make San Francisco more bike-friendly.

Here's one small additional idea for raising seed money: In the wake of the Google bus controversy, the SFCTA, SFMTA, SF Planning Department, and City Attorney's Office should assemble a crack team of California Environmental Quality Act experts and send them (on Caltrain and bike share!) down to comment on every large-scale suburban office project proposed in Silicon Valley. For example, Mountain View, where Google has its campus, is effectively displacing part of its transportation and housing responsibility to San Francisco.

As part of the CEQA mitigation for these suburban office projects, San Francisco ought to be demanding that Google/ Mountain View contribute to paying for the Transbay Terminal and electrifying Caltrain (a separate fund would be directed to affordable housing as mitigation for displacement). This is a similar line of reasoning to the May 1 lawsuit against the Google bus pilot, but it draws in those responsible for the poor planning in suburban sprawl. Regardless, the city ought to take a look at a CEQA mitigation angle for addressing the impacts these suburban decisions are having on the city.

 

PRAYING FOR ENLIGHTENMENT

One last point about transit finance: I sure hope Mayor Ed Lee, his political advisors, and all those religious ministers who complained about paying for metered parking on Sundays (see "Politics over policy," April 22) have a plan to advocate for the November ballot proposals to help finance Muni.

They sold out sustainable transit advocates, their biggest ally on the November ballot initiatives, and have offered no rational explanation for their strategy, just an emotional hunch that somehow some people can't cope with Sunday metering, and that making it free again will convince them to support increased public transit funding.

I imagine there is a well-thought-out campaign strategy, whereby every Sunday between now and November, the mayor is visiting all the churches in the city, and cajoling the ministers to use their pulpits to enthusiastically preach the merits of increasing the vehicle license fee (as well as approving a related general obligation bond).

After all, the VLF is a progressive tax — the more expensive your car, the more you pay. The older and cheaper your car, the less you pay. And bringing in $73 million annually would contribute to making God's green earth cleaner, and help transport God's children safely to work and on their errands. Praise the Lord and free parking on Sunday! Amen.

Street Fight is a monthly column by Jason Henderson, a geography professor at SF State and the author of Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco.

Comments

What a crock this article is. Listen, not everyone in the city is able to safely ride a bicycle, or even want to, ok?
I, myself, am handicapped to the extent that it is unsafe for me to even attempt to ride a bicycle. Add to that the elderly, and you must realize that bicycling or walking is not, repeat not, an 'alternative'.
Yes, you can opine that the city can/should 'provide' alternative means, but a solution like that is years, if not decades in the future.
And, yes, it is safe for me to drive as the physical limitiations I have do not preclude me safely operating a motor vehicle.
And, yes, I yeild the right of way to pedestrians and bicylists when it is legal for me to do so, which is more than I can say for many bicylists I encounter both on foot and behind the wheel.

Posted by The Dude Abides on May. 07, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

Handicapped people need good ADA friendly transit and occasionally a car.
Able-bodied people can get around without cars.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

You cannot expect balanced views from a self-described car hater.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

You don't even need to drive, The City will pay for someone and come pick you up. Let the professionals drive, you sound too angry to be trusted on the roadways.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 11, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

I think cycling is a terrific alternative, for those who are able to. However, a large percentage of cyclists believe that the laws do not apply to them, which makes drivers hate them. If cyclists can be made to obey the law, the whole mess could settle down, and more people would probably be willing to cycle.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

Let's use Fastrak toll tags to issue speeding tickets -- if you travel a distance more quickly than the posted speed limit allows, BAM! you get a big fat ticket. As a cyclist, that would sure make me hate motorists less. Let's do it!

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 9:10 pm

Then time the lights, then issue red light tickets to bikes.

Thanks for playing man child.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

Sounds great!

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:09 pm

Sure! Zero tolerance for all road users! Turn signals, speeding, double parking, tailgating, stopping in the middle of an intersection when traffic's backed up -- all those "little things" that everyone does all the time, let's crack down. Also more cell phone stings like Santa Rosa just did.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

bags onto a bike, travel 150 mlles, and set up camp?

Didn't think so.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:35 pm

Because that is completely relevant to urban transportation.

Posted by Odm2 on May. 08, 2014 @ 12:16 am
Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:42 am

The system is flawed. Anybody think that the SFMTA will be able to get it together in 2030 when they can't make it work in 2014? Time for any overhaul of the SFMTA.
Send your complaints to the city officials and demand reform:
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/fix-the-mta

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 1:27 am

Why is everyone involved in this effort anonymous?

If this is something "we all agree on," why are its promoters hiding?

Posted by [Redacted] on May. 08, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

Hey Jason

The traffic gridlock and parking scarcity that you speak of has been engineered by some of your car hating friends who have been using their tax exempt non-profit status to prevent the construction of parking garages around the city.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040606152053/http://livablecity.org/campaig...

These [Carfreeliving] organizations use their tax exempt non-profit status for lobbying and supporting and opposing political candidates with anti-car views. These organizations have deliberately interfered with the free and fair operation of San Franciscos parking market and driven up consumer prices across the city. The obvious manipulation of San Francisco’s parking market was deliberately designed to bilk taxpayers and boost revenue for both the SFMTA and the lobbying groups who are funded by them. 

http://web.archive.org/web/20021119090925/http://www.livablecity.org/cam...
The vast majority of residents in the city are not buying your big bag of bullsh*t about carmageddon. It's good that the Restoring Transportation Balance initiative will be on the November ballot with the $500 million bond and the vehicle license fee, since it will mean the Fall political campaign will include for the first time a discussion of both the transportation money the city is squandering and its anti-car policies.

http://sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/Nov2014/Nov2014...

Posted by Sfparkripoff on May. 08, 2014 @ 2:55 am

Hey Jason

The traffic gridlock and parking scarcity that you speak of has been engineered by some of your car hating friends who have been using their tax exempt non-profit status to prevent the construction of parking garages around the city.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040606152053/http://livablecity.org/campaig...

These [Carfreeliving] organizations use their tax exempt non-profit status for lobbying and supporting and opposing political candidates with anti-car views. These organizations have deliberately interfered with the free and fair operation of San Franciscos parking market and driven up consumer prices across the city. The obvious manipulation of San Francisco’s parking market was deliberately designed to bilk taxpayers and boost revenue for both the SFMTA and the lobbying groups who are funded by them. 

http://web.archive.org/web/20021119090925/http://www.livablecity.org/cam...
The vast majority of residents in the city are not buying your big bag of bullsh*t about carmageddon. It's good that the Restoring Transportation Balance initiative will be on the November ballot with the $500 million bond and the vehicle license fee, since it will mean the Fall political campaign will include for the first time a discussion of both the transportation money the city is squandering and its anti-car policies.

http://sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/Nov2014/Nov2014...

Posted by Restoring Transportation balance on May. 08, 2014 @ 2:56 am

Jason, Jason, Jason. Bicycle facilities out to SFSU? Maybe there should be some sort of special plan for bicycles, a Bicycle Plan, that had a list of bicycle projects to make the City more friendly to cycling? How about an advocacy group to help craft that plan and to move it forward? If we had that, then I'm sure that these policy makers at the MTA and the advocates would have long since dealt with creating safe bicycling routes from BART to SFSU in fewer than 15 years mind you!

Of course these advocacy groups would never, ever, advocate for more housing along overburdened transit lines that don't connect regionally to speak of, because that would just add more load to ovderburdened systems and that is not sustainable.

The MTA is like a junkie jonseing for a fix. They will do or say anything no matter how preposterous to get their next fix. The problem is that the MTA has a demonstrated track record of taking new revenues and shunting them as far away from transit as possible or to corrupt projects like the CS.

There is no coherent opposition to revanchist politics in San Francisco because these craven, corrupt agencies such as the MTA and Planning court the advocacy groups with access and contracts, neutralizing them politically as effective counterfources to corporate power, and once numbed, turns around and screws them royally.

The real world consequences of these policies are borne out on the ground daily. The eruption of craptacular condos in our neighborhood with the nonprofits eyeing the "community benefits" money, the remaking of Market Street and the shunting of impact fees to glisten up your now-gilded neighborhood of Hayes Valley.

All of this new development, new residents and more cars combined with this structural disinvestment in transit and no ambition on how to scale transit to population translates directly into more pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths.

There are no quick and easy liberal fixes for this. Forcing these moving parts into proper operating position is going to require stepping on toes, raising sharp elbows and not playing nice with power. I don't think that the livable transit advocates have it in 'em to challenge the MTA and clearly the nonprofity housing types fold like chairs on command. There are reasons why we cannot articulate a coherent political response, to structural corruption and dysfunction, which is all that should be of concern here.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 5:40 am

are that they just are not popular enough.

Jason is clueless but I do not see you as being any better

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:44 am

is that a quote from Pinochet?

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 11:26 am
Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

Time and again I've been proven to be ahead of my time, the laggards tend to catch up to where I was eventually. Not being a single issue silo, I see the big pictures and I see them over time. The reason why I am despised is that I call them as I see them which ain't pretty when people get caught in consequential lies.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

Why does the world ignore me, when I'm always right about everything?

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 8:46 am

political failures with ever more elaborate excuses about how we are all doing what he always said.

Even though the city is blatantly taking a very different direction than his anti-growth, NIMBY, anti-development non-policies ever advocated.

It's really sad. He should just go to a bath house and lick some hairy balls or something.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 8:58 am

I'm a MFT by trade, and I can tell you that at a minimum, Marcos has Aspergers syndrome.

Posted by Becky Backside on May. 12, 2014 @ 6:42 am

You're an anonymous internet troll.

Posted by marcos on May. 12, 2014 @ 6:59 am

And yet, the war on Google buses continues.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 9:06 am

I biked to work today (first time ever) and I passed an elderly (likely 65-70+) man, on his bike, holding a cane in one hand. Better infrastructure makes biking accessible to a lot more people. Even though this rider was possibly slightly impaired in walking, he was able to travel on his bike, clearly, pedaling around at a speedy pace!

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 10:47 am

you need to be fit and healthy. It's an elitist activity

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2014 @ 11:19 am

I bicycle every day. The vast majority of San Franciscans can bicycle. You are an elitist.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 11, 2014 @ 12:29 am

Ditto, dude. When I've just eaten, I simply hoist my ride onto the Muni and use it as a bicycle ski lift and bike down to wherever I'm headed. If it rains too hard, all I have to do is jump on the BART to be whisked back home from work.

Posted by marcos on May. 11, 2014 @ 7:29 am

The density of cars must be stated in regard to the number of cars per square yard of roadway.

Anti-car bias is so often misguided that I have a strong hunch that SF does not win that prize if a logical means for establishing density is used.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

@lillipublicans - It's faulty reasoning to simply dismiss something as "bias" and expect to be taken seriously for a "hunch."

I remember reading in the 1990s that San Francisco had the second highest density of cars per square mile, though I don't recall the source (it was on paper, possibly a publication of the Northwest Environment Watch). This was before the big garage-building boom of the dot-com years, not to mention the illegal pavings of front yards to park even more cars. So it's not hard to see how S.F. could have taken the #1 spot.

Regardless of this particular detail, it has been well-documented for many years that S.F. has the 2nd highest population density in the nation, after New York. It makes no sense for the 2nd highest populated density to have to compete with the space taken up with the #1, or #2, or even the #10 spot for density of cars. Especially given our geographical constraints on all four sides.

Posted by Jym on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

San Francisco has a high population density and therefore a high density of roadways. The density of cars per square mile of city area is not a valid gauge of *traffic* density. Hello?!

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

The density of cars per square mile represents store of demand on the road system.

Posted by marcos on May. 08, 2014 @ 7:49 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on May. 09, 2014 @ 3:21 am

(And I rarely find that I can say that).

Vehicles per square mile is a useless measure because it makes no distinction between, say, downtown SF and a square mile of scrub in Nevada with no roads.

The significant metric, at least if you want to measure vehicular congestion, is vehicles per road-mile. or perhaps even, per lane-mile.

A major reason why people do not understand why SF has a lot of infrastructure for vehicles is because it is not just a city per se but is really part of a much larger conurbation - the Bay Area.

Many trips involve more than one county, and 50-mile commutes are not unusual. With those kinds of distances, walking, biking and even taking a bus can become inappropriate.

SF needs to be able to absorb the traffic from outside the city

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 4:08 am

of city area does not substantiate the illogical claims made in undiagrammable sentences you follow your support for the premise with.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 09, 2014 @ 7:14 am

Back to the dictionary, my friend.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 7:33 am

Does anyone diagram sentences anymore? Could anyone ever?

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 8:12 am

He is right - San Francisco is full!
Of course we have high car density - It comes with high population density.
We are in the pockets of the developers getting rich off high density development.
We don't have decent public transit or infrastructure to support it - just bad busing
We have the developers and anti-car lobbyists and coalitions with disproportionate influence - Now this "sky is falling" nut case.

If he is a teacher - he should go teach his children (all bikers) to obey the traffic laws and learn to share. These bicycle anarchists are dangerous on the roads and to the city as a whole.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 8:26 am

Why anyone listens to the drone of transit "experts" is a mystery.

I fully get America is full of religious idiots who are anti-intellectual and hate book learning, the problem in this case is our dreamers. On display another type of born againer trying to convince us of the genius of their true belief.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 9:10 pm

Biking is nice when the weather is nice, not as much when it rains. Still, I do agree with the idea of really improving transit. That being said, I would vote against many of the funding measures and will vote against the upcoming ballot measures. Not because I don't want to see these sorts of improvements come to pass, but because the SFMTA is the absolute worst agency to build, operate, and maintain this new expanded system. The author hit the nail on the head - the Central Subway is already a debacle, corners are being cut on the new Transbay Terminal as it's already behind schedule and over budget. Zeus knows how much the new SF General will cost us.

San Francisco doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a problem spending money wisely and managing projects well. We don't maintain anything, so we have bond measure after bond measure to replace things the city should have be doing over time and budgeting for. $400M for the new firefighting system. $500M (to start) for transportation. Not to mention the ones for new libraries, parks, and roads. We really can't budget for this or maintain anything for $8B a year?

So progressives, here is what I would say to you. Take suggestions like this, on other issues as well. Go to a bunch of constituencies (not just the ones you typically reach out to) and come up with good, solid, actionable plans. Develop realistic funding strategies. Then, most importantly, find candidates with good experience in managing and budgeting. If you can show competence as well as idealism, you might just start doing better in elections...

Posted by robco on May. 09, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

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