Fell and Baker are Still Unprotected

tldr: Please donate to SFMTrA so that we can continue to work to protect this intersection in the face of city government inaction. 

We have said this before and we will say it again: The City of San Francisco has yet to take any action to protect the dangerous intersection of Baker and Fell. A senior resident of the Mercy Family plaza was struck and killed in the crosswalk here on October 4, 2017.

Since then, SFMTrA installed a safety pilot to slow down speeding cars in this intersection and shorten the crossing distance. And less than a week later the City and County of San Francisco removed this pilot without any plans to replace it. 

So this raises the question: will the city of San Francisco take any urgent action at this crosswalk?

We're calling for City leadership to quickly take action to protect this vulnerable intersection. We have watched with admiration as the Oakland Department of Transportation has begun piloting such "quick fixes," but San Francisco still spends years planning short-term, interim upgrades.

How can SFMTrA help advance this conversation? Paint.

As we've said to several folks recently: we've started experimenting with paint. And we'd like to pilot a specialized painted crosswalk design for this dangerous intersection.

Please donate to SFMTrA-- as always with these special projects, donors will be invited to join in this installation.

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Time to Make Protected Bike Lanes In Golden Gate Park

We have been watching with interest as the SFMTA works to create safe, protected bike lanes around town. But as things go into the ground we can't help but notice the design flaws. So we're seeking your help to install and document what a complete solution looks like on the streets of San Francisco.

We would like your help installing protective posts in Golden Gate Park. Please help us spread the word and donate. Why is this necessary? Time and again, we see that initial designs are failing to protect vulnerable road users, and the City of San Francisco is failing to take action to address these flaws:

So we would like to ask for help CREATING and DOCUMENTING a solution to this problem.

Let's Make Golden Gate Park's Protected Bike Lanes actually, you know, protected.

Our best guess is that SFMTA deciders have never ridden these lanes, or have never been to any of the countless cities that have solved this problem with removable soft hit posts. So, we would like your help installing protective posts the for several lengths of the JFK drive bike lane. Our estimate is that this can be done with 50 posts, at a cost of about $1350.

We need your help documenting this pilot

Our second best guess is that SFMTA will remove our installation shortly after we install it. Why? We are not entirely sure, but this has been their recent pattern: hastily and arbitrarily removing common sense solutions that benefit biker and pedestrian safety. 

That's why it is important to have your help installing, documenting, and spreading the word about what more complete solutions look like. We'll be asking all who donate to this campaign to join us for installation and photographic documentation.

Please help us! Spread the word and donate

Please include your email with your donation and we will invite you to help with the installation very soon.

Making Protected Bike Lanes Work In Golden Gate Park

It has been nearly one year since Heather Miller was killed on her Bicycle in Golden Gate Park by a speeding car. Since then, the city has moved ever so cautiously to make improvements in the park. To the city's credit, they have installed 5 removable posts and 10 speed bumps.

But safety in parks is not being improved quickly enough or substantially enough. We can't help but notice the speeding cars still cutting through Golden Gate Park. And there is an epidemic of cars blocking the city's showcase "protected" bike lane:

We make reports to Recreation and Parks, to the SFPD, and to the SFMTA. And yet the cars remain, un-towed and un-ticketed. We wonder - why cars are given such deference in a city park?

We have some ideas about how to improve this situation. But before we take action, we'd like to make some suggestions to city officials. Consider it a challenge, before our patience wears out.

1. More clearly mark parking information in Golden Gate Park. We sympathize with drivers who don't understand this confusing street design. We note that curb paint is faded and there are few labels on the street surface about where cars are allowed and prohibited.

2. Enforce parking (and speeding!) regulations in Golden Gate Park. Initially issue warnings and distribute informational materials to inform drivers that they are parked illegally. But then move on to ticketing and towing to keep space clear for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

3. Install posts and curbs to protect the bike lanes. We are well aware that the department of Recreation and Parks Department wants to preserve a wide, unencumbered roadway for special events like the Bay to Breakers and the San Francisco Marathon.  But we believe that removable posts (like those that were installed at Stanyan and JFK Drive on the edge of the park) should be used much more widely in the park to keep bicyclists safe and keep the bikeway clear of cars.  Every other city is doing this better than San Francisco. 

Can the city of San Francisco make bikes and pedestrians first priority in Golden Gate Park? If they can't, we have some ideas too. Donate to the SFMTrA.

 

Posts on Folsom/13th become official. The rest of Folsom (and Howard) should be next.

Over the last few weeks, SOMA cyclists may have noticed a change on Folsom at 13th St.: yet another of our installations became official. On Wednesday, November 16th, SFMTA created a buffer and installed white safe-hit posts to protect a short stretch of the bike lane from vehicle intrusions.

Our first intervention at this location was in July, when we placed orange cones along the bike lane. Then, in early October we returned and installed safe-hit posts at the same location. After the press covered our work, the city removed our posts and replaced them with nothing. Almost 100 SFMTrA supporters wrote letters to SFMTA and other city officials, asking them to replace the posts on Folsom and 13th and rapidly increase installation of street safety infrastructure around the city. 

Thank you to everyone who wrote a letter; your passionate calls for action worked. Piece by piece, we are making it safer to walk and bike the streets of San Francisco. This type of safety infrastructure is cheap and simple and could be used to create miles of protected bike lanes each month while full, permanent street transformations are developed.

We want to applaud the city for this fast safety improvement. But as always, we demand more.

A vision for rapid transformations in SOMA.

The Folsom St. bike lane from 13th St. to 2nd St. can be transformed into a parking protected bike lane in just a few months with nothing more than posts and paint. This is happening across the country. Below is one example of a parking protected bike lane recently installed in Chicago.

Folsom St. in SOMA is dangerous for all road users. It is effectively a surface highway with many lanes of fast-moving motor vehicle traffic. Car speeds in SOMA often reach 40 and 50 mph, significantly above the 20 to 25 mph that is recognized as a safe speed for bicycle and vehicle commingling. Even worse, this bike lane is almost completely unprotected. Drivers often park in the bike lane, and sometimes even drive in it, putting cyclists at risk and forcing them into fast vehicle traffic.

The solution is simple: move the bike lane to the curb, install a painted buffer with posts (as shown above), and then allow drivers to park between the car traffic lane and the bike lane. This could happen in months, but current timelines indicate improvements to Folsom and Howard won't begin until some time between 2020 and 2022.

Starting next month, the SFMTA will begin the public planning process for Folsom and Howard redesigns. Please show up on December 8th or 10th to tell the SFMTA to install inexpensive and quick parking protected bike lanes on Folsom and Howard while their normal planning processes create long-term street transformations. 

SFMTrA will continue to show San Francisco how easy it is to make our streets safer. We cannot afford to wait until 2022 for safer streets in SOMA. 

The Failure of the Market St. Raised Bikeway

On Wednesday, November 2nd, SFMTA installed safe-hit posts along their raised bike lane demonstration on Market St. between 12th and Gough streets. While this is a win for SFMTrA, which publicly called for and funded our own safe-hit posts for this stretch only months prior, SFMTA should have solved this problem long ago. Our streets are in crisis and SFMTA wasted a year and significant financial resources for a bike lane that offers no additional protection from the original lane.

We believe SFMTA’s addition of safe-hit posts on Market St. Raised Bikeway demonstration is wholly inadequate given the enormous cost and wasted time to create this temporary solution. We demand more. We call on SFMTA to:

  • Provide a higher level of protection for bicyclists than our group of concerned residents has regularly provided. 
  • Immediately test permanent bollards, planters and sidewalk-level raised bike lanes to protect the Market St. cyclists.
  • Redesign the mountable raised bike lanes on Masonic, Polk and 2nd Streets before they are built.

One year ago, in November 2015, SFMTA removed the safe-hit posts and green paint on this stretch of Market St. to test out four types of raised bike lanes. The demonstration was built to gather feedback and evaluate the potential designs and to inform a "seamless implementation" of raised bike lanes about to be constructed on Masonic, Polk and 2nd streets.  

However, even though best practice abroad calls for raised bike lanes to be level with the sidewalk, all of SFMTA's test sections were designed to be mounted by vehicles. SFMTA claims this is so that paratransit vehicles can park in the bike lane to unload passengers on the sidewalk. But with a sidewalk level with the bike lane, paratransit vehicles could unload directly onto the bike lane.

As many expected, the Market St. Raised Bikeway was immediately filled with parked vehicles and derided by cyclists, but SFMTA never responded to these well-documented concerns.

Though the evaluation period was scheduled to be complete in the Spring of 2016, SFMTA still has not released their results. But when they presented to NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) in September, they said that "if used, raised bikeways should be at sidewalk level or separate from roadway with parking, landscaping or other buffer.” SFMTA further admits that "raised bikeways are much more expensive than bikeways separated with paint and plastic posts."

Their evaluation of the Market St. Raised Bikeway is not being used to influence designs on other major street redesigns that have been in the works for years. Masonic, Polk, and 2nd St. are all slated to receive two inch tall mountable raised bike lanes. These raised bike lanes will come at a huge expense to taxpayers and provide no meaningful protection for cyclists. 

SFMTA has also spent four years planning and constructing a mountable raised bike lane on a short stretch of Valencia St. This lane, when complete, will be protected by a line of parked cars between the bike lane and the travel lane. Using a barely raised bike lane to prevent cars from infringing on the lane is a huge waste of limited resources. Cheaper solutions are just as effective and could be implemented on a much wider scale than one half block.

SFMTA spent an entire year to replace the Market St. Raised Bikeway with something functionally equivalent to what was originally there. Mountable raised bike lanes are not protected bike lanes. While we believe the safe-hit posts provide an affordable and quick fix, they are not a permanent solution. A mountable raised bike lane with safe-hit posts does not provide adequate physical protection, especially given the very high costs. These lanes do not prevent a reckless driver from harming people on bikes.

SFMTA claims they don't have funding for a city-wide network of protected bike lanes, so why are they wasting money on mountable raised bike lanes that have no additional benefits to inexpensive and quick-to-implement paint and safe-hit posts? For the price of these mountable raised bike lanes, SFMTA could provide miles of additional bike lanes protected by bollards, curbs, or planters.

We demand more. We demand drastic transformation of our streets to keep vulnerable road users safe.

The SFMTA removed safety infrastructure on Folsom St. and they need an email from you!

Yesterday, the SFMTA removed our safety infrastructure from Folsom and Division, and we need your help to demand that the city make this bike lane - and all our streets - safe for everyone.

Folsom east of Division. This simple protected bike lane was keeping cars out of the bike lane & keeping bicyclists safe

Folsom east of Division. This simple protected bike lane was keeping cars out of the bike lane & keeping bicyclists safe

Within hours of our work being featured on the front page of the Chronicle, the SFMTA removed posts on Folsom at Division that protected cyclists at a busy intersection for weeks. To add insult to injury, the SFMTA worker blocked the bike lane with his truck while removing our posts.

SFMTA truck blocks bike lane. There is a systemic blindness to pedestrian and bicyclist safety at SFMTA

SFMTA truck blocks bike lane. There is a systemic blindness to pedestrian and bicyclist safety at SFMTA

Over the past few weeks, SFMTA has prioritized removing our safety infrastructure over adding new infrastructure. They’ve removed safety features on Crossover, Geary, Valencia, Scott, and now Folsom. Sadly, just yesterday a cyclist was hit in the Valencia bike lane and was hospitalized. It is clear that the organization in charge of San Francisco street safety doesn’t take the welfare of our cyclists and pedestrians seriously.

Today's Ask:

Please email the city leaders we’ve listed below. Feel free to use our template or write your own message. We want the city to know that (1) the posts on Folsom made you more safe (2) you want those posts to be replaced with something as good or better, and (3) that you demand immediate safety improvements while long term street transformations are developed.

Your overwhelming support keeps us going strong - thank you so much! Until the city steps up, we will continue to install infrastructure to transform our streets into safe places for all. Please forward this email to others who care about street safety in San Francisco.

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Send your email to these addresses:

ed.reiskin@sfmta.com 

jane.kim@sfgov.org 

scott.wiener@sfgov.org 

norman.yee@sfgov.org

mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org

gillian.gillett@sfgov.org 

MTABoard@sfmta.com 

luis.montoya@sfmta.com 

tom.maguire@sfmta.com

mari.hunter@sfmta.com

megan.wier@sfdph.org

SFMTrA@gmail.com

mohammed.nuru@sfdpw.org

Suggested Subject: 

I feel unsafe biking on Folsom St. When will you replace the protected bike lane?

Email Body:

I was distraught to hear that you removed the SFMTrA’s posts that protected the bike lane on Folsom at Division.  I and many others ride this route and the posts improved the safety of my commute; I did not have to swerve into traffic around cars parked in the bike lane at this busy intersection.

Why are you prioritizing removal of effective safety infrastructure and lagging on putting it in?  SF signed on to Vision Zero in 2014; Mayor Lee signed an Executive Directive mandating city departments to expedite Vision Zero measures; Supervisors Kim, Wiener, and Yee are members of the TA’s Vision Zero Committee; and San Francisco has both a Vision Zero Task Force and a Vision Zero Coalition.

However, our streets have become more dangerous than ever: with 20 traffic fatalities in the first eight months of 2016, and at least 5 people hit each day on our streets, we’re on track for the worst year in a long time.

The glacial pace, low calibre, and small scale of pedestrian and cyclist improvements demonstrates that SF isn’t living up to its commitment to Vision Zero and the promise to eliminate serious crashes by 2024.  We need fast, effective, and widespread street transformations now!

We demand immediate safety improvements across the city while long term street transformations are developed. When will you install a protected bike lane on Folsom with something as good or better than the posts that improved safety for the past few weeks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posts and paint: a simple transformation of Valencia St.

Today we installed the beginning of rapid street safety improvements to the Valencia street bike lane, northbound from 17th to 14th. What we installed today on Valencia is just a taste of what this street could be. With just paint and posts, we can transform Valencia St. to work for all road users: rideshare, delivery trucks, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

valencia transformation

We want to see our city move much faster to address the urgent need for safe streets and to achieve #VisionZero. The transformation of Valencia can happen one block at a time over weeks not decades. It can be done for tens of thousands of dollars not millions. And it can serve our shared desire for safe and pleasant city streets.

With new classifications of street space, simple paint re-striping and adding protective white posts, we can engineer safe biking conditions for people age 8-80, calmer driving speeds for pedestrian crossings, and safe loading zones for automobile users and delivery vehicles. This can be done quickly while a permanent, fully protected street redesign is developed.

Eventually, these lanes should get true physical protection, like curbs or a raised lane like what has recently been installed at Valencia and Cesar Chavez. While we will withhold judgement until the project is complete, we applaud the move towards more dedicated, protected lanes. But we can’t wait years to feel safe bicycling. We're showing that we can make these changes quickly and cheaply.

In fact, citizens are willing to donate money to see this change! Citizens have donated over $8,000 to us in the last few months to pay for street safety materials. San Francisco citizens are self-taxing because they want to see the transformation of our shared living and moving environment in their lifetime. Going for walks through San Francisco with their aging parents. Meeting for coffee with an exciting new love interest or friend. Biking with their child to school. Staying fit and improving everyone’s air quality by biking to work.

Please help us buy more posts and rapidly transform more of the streets you use by donating here: PayPal | credit card. And follow along at @SFMTrA.

Why our Crossover Drive installation matters

Editor's note: we wrote this piece about the small plastic posts that we have twice installed as a pilot to show how the City of San Francisco might use similar tools to slow down traffic in Golden Gate Park. Both times our installations were removed within days. We demand urgent action by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks and SFMTA to make this crosswalk safer. We are waiting.

This tweet says it all.  But let’s go deeper.

This parent knows a dangerous road when she sees one.  Mothers and fathers are particularly aware of car speeds given the danger they present to children. 

Our San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is responsible for the safety of parents and their children as they walk across this community. The best major cities around the world (Melbourne, Copenhagen, Paris, Munich, etc.) have been urgently re-engineering their streets to put people first. San Francisco and the United States are very, very far behind.

Making our streets safe for people will take a lot of work. Our country hasn't had an urban public space transformation this great since the 1950s when we designed streets simply to fit as many cars as possible.

Our goal with SFMTrA is to show how quick and easy street transformations can create immediate safety improvements. Additionally, we want to pressure our city agencies to embark on the massive and urgent effort needed to re-engineer our streets for a world where not every citizen makes every daily journey in a personal car.

The first principle of safe street design is engineering for slow car speeds.  Speed limits don’t work.  Random speed enforcement doesn’t work (and is a poor use of our police force's valuable time).  For 50 years our city streets have been engineered for high vehicle speed and volume. Our streets must be re-engineered for slow speeds.  Best practices include narrowing travel lanes, adding turns, alternating street surfaces, etc. You can learn more about safe street design here.

Back to Crossover Drive. We care about the safety of people, whether they are walking, biking, taking public transit, driving a car, or riding as a passenger. The pedestrian crossing on Transverse (visible below) was in need of urgent transformation.

What's wrong with this pedestrian crossing? Wide travel lanes. Multiple travel lanes. No stoplight or sign. Roads like Crossover Drive are engineered to communicate to drivers that our streets are made for speeds of 50 miles per hour. Streets like Crossover Drive sent the wrong message to the driver who killed Heather Miller in Golden Gate Park and the driver who killed Kate Slattery on a four lane, one-way surface highway in SOMA this summer.

If you look closely at the street , you can see that the SFMTA did a paint treatment to claim back road space for pedestrians — but paint doesn't do enough. We have to redesign our roads to be physically more narrow. Poorly designed car-first roads such as this are the direct cause of high car speeds through a space where people are meant to walk, bike, and play, and are indirectly responsible for the death of Heather Miller.

You can see the city made the easiest (both in cost and political capital) attempt at improving this crossing. They painted yellow paint in the left lane ahead of the crosswalk. This is intended to tell cars the left lane is no longer a driving lane and they must merge into a single lane to cross the crosswalk. Guess what — drivers don't stay between the lines. Over and over again, drivers have proven that paint doesn’t work.

Crossover Drive needs to be re-engineered. The city could block the yellow painted area with a curb: drivers pay attention to curbs. They could raise the crosswalk; this would function as a speed hump to slow vehicles as well as make pedestrians more visible.

But until that happens, a few simple changes can improve safety. What we have now done twice with $120 and 20 minutes of effort was one quick step that made this crossing safer. These posts made this intersection more visible, communicated to drivers that they can’t be in the yellow hashed lane, and caused drivers to slow down when nearing the crosswalk.

crossover drive crosswalk posts sfmtra

Crossover Drive is one of many streets in San Francisco that desperately needs to be redesigned for people, not motor vehicles. And our work is only one example of many strategies that can be used to make streets safer. We need our city leaders to act quickly and do more for street safety.

Help us transform more San Francisco Streets into safe places for walking and biking by donating: PayPal | credit card.

Another Night of Street Safety

Tonight we took a box of 25 pristine traffic delineators out into the San Francisco evening.

First, we restored the posts that went missing in Golden Gate Park earlier this week. That looks a lot safer for folks strolling and biking through the flagship park in San Francisco.

The SFMTA has the right safety approach by attempting to narrow the car lanes from 2 to 1 at the crossing. But drivers don't always respond to paint and we always want to be safe. So we added posts in the cross hatched "no car" area that helps reinforce what the paint was intended to do.

crossover 2.png

 

An experiment on Folsom

And then we tried an experiment that we've been talking about for a while. SOMA is one of the most dangerous parts of San Francisco to walk and bike, and we wondered if we could show what things might look like with a protected bike lane pilot.

We frankly can't understand why the nice folks at SFMTA don't make Folsom and Howard parking protected bikeways, but this is the best we could do with our limited budget. 

We believe that a generous spacing between posts 1) makes the presence of the bike lane much more prominent and safer for bikers and 2) allows plenty of room for automobile drivers to access their free curbside parking. It's a win-win.

Let us know what you think - send us your feedback on Twitter (@SFMTrA) or via email (SFMTrA@gmail.com). And obviously let our elected officials know that you care about more experiments in the name of Vision Zero. If you want to stay updated on our work, sign up for our new mailing list at the bottom of this page.

Statement on Removal of Pedestrian Safety Projects by the SFMTA

The SFMTA is glacially slow to install pedestrian and bicyclist safety infrastructure, yet was able to remove our simple safety improvements within a week. We started this organization because we want to make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. We want the SFMTA to rapidly implement quick, simple improvements and rapidly develop plans for drastic street safety transformations. Instead, the SFMTA focuses on removing pedestrian safety improvements and not only refuses to enforce, but actually supports dangerous practices such as Sunday double-parking.

Also upsetting is the SFMTA’s comment that these posts would fall over and block the path of bicyclists. The Crossover Dr. and Geary/Leavenworth installations were pedestrian focused safety pilots installed on crosswalks, not installations along bike lanes. There are (sadly) no bike lanes within blocks of either of these locations. Numerous road users commented that drivers were moving more slowly and the crossing felt more safe. San Francisco citizens demand more safety improvements like our Crossover Drive and Geary/Leavenworth pilots from the SFMTA, more quickly.


We call on SFMTA to immediately replace these pedestrian safety improvements with protection at or above the level installed by SFMTrA.

Late Night Transformation

Yesterday we received a new order of traffic posts, and could hardly wait for the sun to go down.

We installed the new posts at these locations:

  • The Crossover Drive crosswalk in Golden Gate Park
  • The dedicated bike lane on the Wiggle at Scott and Fell
  • That pesky stretch of Folsom at Division
  • Geary and Leavenworth crosswalks

Trying Something More Durable

While we love the psychological impact of orange cones (drivers intuitively slow down around them), we have noticed that our orange cone installations get pretty banged up after a day or two. Cones get knocked over or removed, and their impact dissipates over time. 

So we decided to test out a new tool this week.

Introducing the humble delineator

The traffic delineator, sometimes called a safe hit post, or soft hit post, is a more permanent tool to keep cars out of bike lanes and mark pedestrian crossings. 

We ordered some beautiful delineators from the nice folks at Traffic Safety Warehouse, and made sure to also buy adhesive butyl pads to stick them in the ground.  

And then we decided to make the entrance to Golden Gate Park safer.  So odd that this isn't already a protected bike lane, but we figure this is a good start.

 

We were super happy with how this turned out. We'll let you know about how durable these posts are.

Our Projects

Golden Gate Avenue

Folsom Bike Lane At Division

7th and Howard

6th and Mission

Market / Gough "Raised" Bike Lane

JFK Drive / Kezar

Valencia Street Bike Lane