The group itself puts it best here :
> "The SFMTA is glacially slow to install pedestrian and bicyclist safety infrastructure, yet was able to remove our simple safety improvements within a week," the group said in a statement sent to SFist. "We call on SFMTA to immediately replace these pedestrian safety improvements with protection at or above the level installed by SFMTrA."
Everyone who walks or bikes in SF can atest to the truth of this statement firsthand. Progress _is_ being made, but it's frustratingly slow.
I'm kind of shocked that this would be allowed in Amsterdam, one of the most bike-friendly cities on the planet, considering how easy it is for bicycles to get their wheels stuck in the tram tracks while trying to cross them, and what a hazard trams are to bicycles and pedestrians.
The risk of injury is further aggravated by many of the pedestrians being drunk, stoned, or high on a large variety of substances easily available in the city, and many of them being tourists who are unfamiliar with the city and not used to expecting random trams popping out of the middle of nowhere while they're walking down an otherwise pedestrian- and bicycle-populated street.
Source: lived here for 40 years.
This is one of the reasons to use a mountain-bike in the city.
Unless you're too drunk to learn.
Nevertheless, I grew up in a city with trams and never had an encounter with tracks in that way. Maybe roads, cycleways, and tram tracks are better separated than in Amsterdam. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a place where I could accidentally ride a bike along the tram tracks; it's either far away from them or crossing them, neither of which is dangerous. Of course, cars are still a problem, especially with cycleways that are part of the road and not separated in any way.
Edit: in fact, I was previously thinking of writing to SFMTA to thank them for placing them (!!).
Now that this has happened I guess they might react a bit differently to correspondence about it.
Also, I feel like SFMTA may not be super-great about responding to correspondence about specific intersections and traffic design (which is not to say that they don't read it or don't think about what people have to say); I've written to them twice about 17th and Sanchez after someone I know had an accident making a left turn onto the Muni Metro tracks, and I never got a reply.
Try tweeting if you haven't already. I tweeted regarding the intersection at 17th and Harrison (before they improved it a couple months back) and they actually created an issue in their tracking system to address it.
The account to tweet at is apparently @SF311. Here's the thread: https://twitter.com/andrewmbenton/status/710485661267075072
It's worth pointing out (because, for some reason, the coverage of this dude and his I-5 sign never emphasizes this) that when the sign was 'caught', Caltrans examined it, found it appropriate and to-spec, and left it up.
If I showed up with a group of people and a couple of thousand dollars for an earmarked public works project, how might it be received in different places?
"Against our budgeting laws?"
"Contrary to our notions of democracy or equity in public spending?"
"Improper in public administration terms because it results in overhead or management costs that can't be properly accounted for or budgeted?"
If your street qualifies for speed lumps, but has not been funded by the City, you may pay for installation yourself. The cost will include design, construction and inspection of the City, speed lumps. Your street must meet all qualifications including two-thirds majority approval through the ballot process. Your neighborhood must have the funding and obtain approval from the Department of Transportation before speed lumps may be installed. The cost of a speed lump and associated signage is approximately $3,000.
Also, unlike what some commenters think, this doesn't really go against democracy. The cities where these groups work have embraced Vision Zero at least on paper, so they're generally for these sorts of improvements. Government just tends to move slowly, and they often have to deal with NIMBY groups that are more concerned with keeping as many parking spaces as possible in their neighborhood than public safety.
It definitely goes against democracy and civility.
Maybe it's for the better, maybe it's for the worse - but a small group of people taking it upon themselves to decide for everyone else how a city should operate is a very tricky place for any society to be.
Maybe most people don't want something.
Maybe it makes rescue workers jobs difficult by blocking traffic in a certain hot spot.
Maybe the situation is more complex than one would imagine (i.e. some lanes radically affect the flow of traffic, screw up incoming/outgoing traffic/lane changes).
I can think of quite a few things that 'civic vigilantes' could do that would be way, way out of bounds.
It would be nice if SF could elect a mayor that could improve efficiency as opposed to simply encouraging people to make up their own policies.
taking it upon themselves to decide for everyone else how a
city should operate
I ride my bike to and from work pretty much every day in SF, and I readily admit that adding these markers most definitely does interrupt and disrupt traffic flow.
The fact of the matter is, sometimes delivery vehicles and service vehicles need to stop and block traffic. They tend to pull over as far as possible to the right, so as not to impede auto traffic. Often this means pulling over into the bike lane. (Note that when there is no bike lane, these vehicles block the right-most lane of auto traffic and cars just go around without getting too hot and bothered. But I digress.)
Erecting the markers prevents this behavior in many instances. You can decide to be in favor of the new bike lane markers, but you can't pretend that the added markers aren't a unilateral alteration to traffic flow that does have an effect.
The delivery/service vehicles choose to block the bike lane instead of blocking a lane of traffic.
This gets complicated quickly once you factor in total impact and so on, but I just want to point out that a person on a bike doesn't necessarily deserve less priority than a solo driver, for example.
Plus there's the fact that blocking the bike lane is indeed illegal as noted by the other commenter. Although I sometimes think that we don't really know how bad it would be if all delivery drivers had to comply with all parking laws - maybe we'd all be starving in the nicely flowing streets due to a lack of food.
Cars, OTOH, just have to stand there and wait, and it doesn't take many minuted for a major gridlock to form.
And that's why I think it's reasonable to block bike lanes over car lanes. Why you have to block anyone is maybe the more important, but much harder question.
The whole point of bike lanes is that mixed traffic with bikes and cars is highly dangerous for bikes. Frequently blocked bike lanes that force cyclists to suddenly merge into car traffic defeats the point of having the lanes in the first place.
Not to mention, there's an implicit assumption on your part that we're universally talking about confident, healthy adult cyclists. Do you think it's cool to push pre-teen cyclists in traffic? What about grandma? A parent with kids on their bike?
If we just accept dangerous infrastructure and behavior, biking for transportation will always be an activity only for the tiny minority of people who are highly tolerant of physical danger.
When you try to choose the lesser evil, there are no "cool" options.
I think the real problem here is that SF streets are so overcrowded that basic delivery has to be done by blocking live traffic lanes.
There are few places in SF where a car can pass a vehicle that's half in the car lane and half in the bike lane where the car couldn't also pass if the illegally parked vehicle was completely in the car lane.
A car has to go from one lane to another lane.
I'm afraid to get doored. I'd be stuck in between car and raised sidewalk with nowhere to go. Whenever possible, I pass such vehicle using opposite (or 2nd) car lane.
Passengers/workers getting in/out vehicles or loading/unloading vehicles frequently stand on bike lane during process. Or put their stuff on bike lane. Which is totally fine by me, they do what they gotta do.
I'd rather have them parked in bike lane and pass it in car lane. IMO it's safer and less stressful both for them and me.
but i really feel for the delivery guys. if they park on the right they have angry bike riders screaming at them and shooting past them at high speed when they are trying to work. if they park in the middle of the street they have to somehow negotiate pallet jacks full of food across active traffic.
so sure, lets make it harder for single occupancy vehicles. they use the most resource and are arguably impossible to sustain going forward. but the bikes are directly in conflict with deliveries, contractors, busses, subway riders, and pedestrians. how do we deal with that?
I haven't seen a transit system yet where bikes are allowed to ride on the rails in underground tunnels, so I don't see how bikes are directly in conflict with subway riders?
How are bikes more in conflict with pedestrians than cars already are?
I don't know if everyone would necessarily be safer if vehicles who decide to stop did so by blocking a lane of auto traffic while leaving the bike lane clear. It would introduce a visibility issue which would prevent cyclists from seeing anyone walking in front of the stopped vehicle to and from the curb, for instance.
I'm furious for my own safety when drivers block the bike lane on Fell St. Cars are pouring down the hill at 40mph+ and not expecting a cyclist to take the lane, yet cyclists don't have a choice when their only other infrastructure is blocked by a selfish driver.
Yes, parking in San Francisco sucks. We can all agree on that. But, if you're going to park illegally, use a driveway. It's way less dangerous than blocking a bike lane, and it inconveniences fewer people too.
I'm not sure what part of Fell St you are talking about, since the only part with a bike lane that I'm aware of is the section between Scott and Baker and there's no hill on that part. But I think you probably mean the section leading up to the left turn merge at Divisidero where there's also a lot of cars waiting in line for the gas station on the corner. I do sympathize, since as a cyclist myself I don't find that to be very safe either.
I guess I don't understand the part that makes you "furious for my own safety" though. You have the power to be safe in this situation. Just stop behind the blocking vehicle until it's safe to go around. The traffic light at Scott will eventually be red, which will block the traffic on Fell "pouring down the hill at 40mph+".
My own frustration with my fellow bicyclists' behavior is that a lot of us seem to think we deserve to never have to stop for any inconvenience ever. That we for some reason deserve to never have our feet touch the ground.
Sometimes traffic slows or stops in front of you. Sometimes you have to wait until it's safe to go around. Automobiles do this all the time and don't often complain by slamming on the horn or endangering themselves and others by suddenly swerving and taking the lane. Those that do take those actions in response to the minor inconvenience that is stopping and safely waiting are rightly derided as jerks.
I do find it funny the number of illegal lefts onto fell from bikers, when most get caught at the divisidero light anyway. I feel bad for the driver who inevitably is going to hit a biker there.
How's that working out for them.
So putting other people in danger while breaking the law is okay as long as you're doing it as a part of your business?
Why is it okay for them to block the bike lane, but not okay to block the car lane?
- Never take a taxi, Uber, or Lyft unless both ends of your trip have parking or passenger loading zones available?
- Never have food, a package, or mail delivered unless your building has a dedicated cargo loading zone?
- Never shop at a store or eat at a restaurant which lacks a dedicated cargo loading zone?
Short term double parking is okay because living in a dense area would be totally infeasible if no one broke that law.
That being said, these are probably completely fine. But there's lot of reasons why having a process for infrastructure changes makes sense. At the same time, I applaud SF for being pragmatic about it and accepting of these people while working toward a long term solution.
This already happens, unless you imagine that we are voting on every single issue such as new stop signs or changed traffic flows?
The actions these groups are taking line up with city goals. Not only that, most of the time they're upgrading infrastructure that already exists, not creating something entirely new.
a small group of people taking it upon themselves to decide for everyone else how a city should operate is a very tricky place for any society to be
Well, unless you're very cynical :)
good thing we don't have small groups of organized opposition showing up to these things and blocking progress while calling themselves "concerned neighbors" or "neighborhood coalitions"
oops no wait thats whats happening now.
neighborhood watch groups DO NOT supplement police.
Police supplement neighborhood watch groups. Police are only necessary when civilian management fails.
Is this a Sarcasm? :)
Nice, HN commenters.
Recent Uber/AirBnB threads have had plenty of negative sentiment, and there is clearly support for the cycling activism in this thread. You can cherry-pick comments to support whichever sweeping narrative about HN commenters you want.
Luckily, you can usually take the Hudson River Greenway by cutting all the way west. It's a more pleasant ride, but does take you out of your way, and once you get above 59th street, has limited access eastward and not a lot of signage to that effect.
If I don't mind pedaling through traffic, I'll take Sixth. If I'm angry and want to stay that way, I'll take 8th. If I've got time to kill, I'll take the greenway.
If you learn the traffic pattern of your route, you can reduce your concern primarily to red light runners.
If there is no bike lane. Take the whole lane.
in a collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian there is an almost equal potential for harm for both the cyclist and the pedestrian. the rates of rapid deceleration are just as forceful as the rate of acceleration.
the pedestrian could potentially be struck with a metal part of the bike. an almost equal potential exists for the cyclist to be injured by a metal part of the bicycle hitting the ground or a parked car before the cyclist does.
So while i'm sure that your close encounter with a scofflaw
cyclist was scary, it was just as dangerous for you as it was for them.
edit: I misunderstood. Yes, if the bike lane is contraflow of course use it that way. Everyone expects bikes from the "wrong way" in that situation. It's all about minimizing surprises to anyone in or near the street.
See also: http://gothamist.com/2016/02/04/sixth_ave_bike_lane.php
And in any case, here's what it tends to look like in a lot of places: https://goo.gl/6nGUfz
* Open car door with a guy probably unaware of any bicyclists coming up behind him. I would 100% have to go into traffic to avoid him, to make sure he doesn't step back and elbow me.
* A truck half in the bike lane. I'd probably risk just riding up against it, since I can see them unloading - unless they're standing right next to the bike lane.
* Lady getting into a taxi cab. I have to either stop and wait, or cross an entire lane of traffic to go around them.
* Black SUV up ahead is also parked - in the intersection - doing god knows what with a passenger: http://goo.gl/3jYdOb
* http://goo.gl/gCkKVT Fresh Directly In The Bike Lane
* http://goo.gl/1cXmLX Goodbye, bike lane, and good riddance.
Now, you can say I cherry-picked the bad examples, and you'd be correct. But I cherry picked them by going down 6th Ave in Google Streetview. These are all examples I would run into on my daily bike commute. These aren't once-a-week or once-a-day examples; if I rode down today and counted, I'd probably see more examples of things that directly impact my safety.
Here are two incredibly unsafe types, but for some reason the one's being installed right now in the Bay Area at least:
I just don't get it.
You can also go one better with the bike lanes, with a kerb between the road and the lane: http://portlandtribune.com/images/artimg/00003517543605.jpg (Copenhagen).
In fact, the street in your first picture (also Copenhagen) has been improved, with this arrangement on one side: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,12.5605277,3a,75y,218... -- it looks like some parking has been removed to achieve this.
But indeed, Schutzstreifen next to parked cars often have the problem that you either have to veer into traffic (or traffic veers into you), or get doored (I don't recall that it's mandatory to keep your distance to parked cars, though, it's just in your own best interest). Even though motorists are required to keep 1.5 m distance to you there, very few do, since apparently the dashed line implies that you're safe enough from them ...
Going out and painting new lanes, that is stepping things up a notch. That will get police involved. That will create liabilities should any accident occur due to your new lane designations.
Speed bumps, chicanes and chokers have become very common in france over the last 10 years or so. They used to only be found in centers of pretty large cities but these days you can find them on any old "local" country road.
These are more historical remnants, new codes don't really allow for that but if a village was there at the time people still mostly used horse-drawn carts (which was very common until post-war) they weren't going to tear down all the houses to build the road.
It leads to interesting situations e.g. A380 parts heading to the final assembly line near Toulouse go through Levignac, some parts have inches of clearance from the houses.
(The signs are extremely clear on the approach to this.)
The city has a ton of work to do, but it is really picky about how it is done and how it gets paid for. If it planned out the work out in advance, community organizations like the SFMTrA could claim the low hanging fruit and comply with the official requirements. If it fails inspection the city can tear it down just like they are doing now.
Actually, I bet I can guess the answer.
Personally I'd say it's more of a reaction to the often glacial pace of government action. Cities like SF, Seattle, and NYC have embraced Vision Zero's safety-oriented goals in theory, but are moving very slowly indeed to meet them.
These groups are actually helping the city meet their own self-imposed targets. How does that translate to "fuck democracy"? More like "fuck overly bureaucratic processes" if anything.
Like Tullius mentions, these are improvements that should have been installed by the government (and may be eventually), but which aren't due to incredibly untimely bureaucratic processes.
Maybe the guerrilla group should try and tackle some of the regulations and laws rather than point the finger at the SFMTA?