Tuesday, December 8, 2015

San Francisco Bike Yield Law - Committee Hearing

For those of you not aware of this whole "Bike Yield Law" thing - it is a proposed ordinance by Supe Avalos that would set a policy advisory for the SFPD to have bikes rolling stop signs be a low priority enforcement activity.

It does not make rolling a stop sign legal. And it does not make enforcing someone buzzing a pedestrian a low priority enforcement. This is in response to the stings in the wiggle, if you see the Stanley Robert's videos all the cyclists getting pulled over are rolling a red in a completely empty intersection. In theory, the SFPD could still run a sting there and claim they were following the spirit of the policy advisory by solely ticketing cyclists who do not yield.

How the sausage gets made. The ordinance starts in committee - in this case land use and transportation. That's a 3 member committee that can block legislation from getting to the whole Board, even if the board would vote 8-3 for it. That's why the Board President is so powerful, the president assigns people to committee. This committee is Wiener/Kim/Cohen. If it passes committee, it goes to the full board, they vote, then they have to re-vote (usually a formality), then it goes to the Mayor for signature to make it law. If the Mayor vetoes the legislation, the Board can override his veto if they can get 8 votes to override.

I watched most of it yesterday. Avalos is the lead sponsor so he ran the show. Wiener and Kim gave statements for it, as did London Breed who showed up to give the statement. Campos and Mar are also sponsors of this legislation - 6 sponsors.

The hearing was very amusing. The SFPD showed up with a spokesman. He gave all these sturm and drang statistics about crazy cyclists. He stated that 30 percent of stop sign collisions were the fault of cyclists. Supervisor Wiener called him out - "You stated that 30% of collisions at stop signs are the fault of cyclists. Is that 30% of all collisions at stop signs, or just 30% of collisions that involve a cyclist, because my understanding is that collisions involving a cyclist at a stop sign are a minuscule component of overall collisions". The cop stammered and said "I see what you are saying" and "I don't have that information". There was another very badly misleading set of stats delivered as well. Greg Suhr deliberately crafted a misleading statement from the SFPD - fortunately Wiener slayed him. Wiener also said "I support cycling, but I don't ride a bike. I have a neighbor who loans me a bike when I need one, which is basically for bike to work day. I ride MUNI. And I know that people riding bikes is really good for MUNI"

Breed on the other hand gave a statement like "Enforcement on cyclists is unfair". I don't think that's very good framing. This isn't about fairness, this is about safety. The cops sitting in the wiggle eating donuts instead of focusing on real dangers, reduces safety.

Bruce Oka, a disability advocate who used to be on the SFMTA board said "this policy is trying to expand the ranks of the disabled". That's why I dislike Breed's framing.

If Oka's premise that enforcement improves cyclists behavior is correct, then we can deduce that enforcement will also improve motorist behavior. So whose behavior do we need to improve? The statistics on injury collision show us - it's the motorists who need to behave better. Let's say enforcement doubled compliance. Doubling cyclist induced injuries/fatalities would be worth it if we also cut in half the motorist induced injuries/fatalities which swamp the cyclist incidents.

Mayor Lee has gone on record that he will veto this. We would need two more votes. Yee has come out against this, which is bad news. My best guess to get 2 more is Peskin and ??? My best guess would be we don't get Farrell and Tang, so we need Cohen but....

The bike yield passed the planning and trandportation committee 2-1, with Malia Cohen VOTING AGAINST. If you live in Cohen's district, let her know you support this law, we'll have to persuade her to override Ed Lee's threatened veto. Ditto for any other supervisor.

Murph

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Self Driving Cars

I am fascinated by Self Driving Cars. I want to do a writeup. One thing I find very interesting is the vast number of occupations that will have huge reductions or vanish, for which I cannot find a simple replacement brought on by this new technology. Here's a quick list.

Taxi Driver. Delivery Driver. Meter Maid. Traffic Division of police department. Ambulance Driver. Paramedics. Doctors and Nurses. Construction workers building parking lots/garages. Parking lot attendant. Auto body shop. Auto repair shop. Car manufacturing. Auto Advertising. Auto Dealer. Construction workers building new roads. Traffic Reporter (sorry Sal Castaneda). Car Magazines.

Curt Krone reminds me of Lawyers. No traffic court, no need for attorneys, judges, bailiffs, processing. Hey - no more DUI jury duty.

Nick Wade reminds me of the entire DMV. Also large parts of the traffic infrastructure is no longer needed, no speed limit signs, exit signs on freeways, etc... If stop lights still exist they sure won't need to be as complex. Do we still install guardrails? Probably in snowy/rainy regions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cycling for dummies

Had to write this down as it was so off kilter.

I was waiting to cross Healdsburg Ave on Mill Street, headed west to east. This is a 5 way intersection with 6 phases as northbound there is also a left arrow phase. A "person on a bicycle" rolls past me into the intersection, during the NB left arrow phase, stopping halfway across the intersection. There isn't really a median, he is just hanging out in the southbound lane of Healdsburg Ave. The light changes to give Southbound HBG Ave a turn, at which point he rolls across the NB lanes to finish his crossing.

The whole thing was pretty disturbing to me as it was super sketchy, this is a high traffic intersection serving the offramps of US-101 among other things. So I'm sort of shaking my head, and I threw in a crazy arm wave, admittedly to point out to the drivers behind me that I agree that what we just witnessed was completely screwed up.

At this point, the driver of a Healdsburg City truck behind and to the right of me (in the right turn lane) said "That guy isn't doing you any favors, is he?" I replied - "Why do I need that guy to do me any favors? He's just some crazy person and has nothing to do with me".

He said "I know but some drivers will see that and make it tougher for you" and I said "I understand that this happens, but it makes no more sense than me yelling at you because some drunk driver ran over a 12 year old kid, right? I just hope that dude doesn't kill himself, know what I mean?" We agreed, he gave me a thumbs up, and we moved on.

I got my green and headed across HBG Ave onto Mill Street, at which point I noticed the same cyclist. There was a line of cars lined up at the light, headed west. So this cyclist dude decides to ride past them going the wrong way in the Eastbound lane which now contains me and two cars behind me. He's carrying a 32 Oz Slurpee, wearing a helmet that has the chin strap disconnected, and...

He's on a rental bike. You know, handlebar bag and a map/etc...

"Sorry man!" - he says.

So this guy, who is apparently "not making things any easier for me" is some tourist from New York or wherever, riding a bike for probably the first time in 30 years. Do the anti-cycling forces hire these guys to go out and do stupid shit in order to beat back bike infrastructure projects? Perhaps it was one of the 30 or so random tourists I saw last week riding across the Golden Gate Bridge with no helmet and carrying a selfie stick with a go-pro on it.

I'm not taking any of this bullshit about cyclists being some monolithic faction - a "community" or "culture" if I have to be associated with this nimrod and have someone in the comments sections justify running over cyclists intentionally because he saw some random tourist trying to juggle a big gulp while salmoning into a screwed up intersection.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Robert Schiro - a.k.a. Bob Schiro of Los Gatos is a plague on society

Several Years ago, Robert Schiro of Los Gatos hit cyclist Ashley Nelson and left her to die on the side of the road.

Here is a newspaper clip of his sentencing

Well, old Bob got out of the pokey, and raised the ante. Here is a post from Ashley as seen on the Noon Ride Facebook Page

Got ready to go for a run this am, then got am email about the man who caused my brain injury by hitting me with his BMW then running. He was sentenced to prison but got out. This is how the email went.... As it was most likely inevitable…Bob Shiro made an appearance in the village recently…causing quite a stir, which involved a wrecked car, lots of sheriffs and an arrest. He tried to go into the Plumed Horse and was asked to leave, he did have a few drinks at Casa de Cobre and then was told to wait while they called a taxi for him as they did not want him driving since he was so drunk. He left anyway…tried to get into a car that was not his (a small sedan) finally realized he was actually driving a Cadillac Escalade SUV (you can see how easy it would be to mistake the two right?!?) and got his keys to work in the SUV. He then started to drive away but hit the car in the parking space in front of him (another SUV which belonged to the owner of the 5 th Avenue second hand shop) but he couldn’t figure out what reverse gear was and decided just to floor the Cadillac in drive and force the other car forward enough to get out of his parking space. All the while people in the restaurants and the valets were yelling and screaming at him to stop and chasing after him. They got his license plate number, gave it to the sheriff, that they called when he started to drive off and they got involved. Alice, who is part owner of Casa was asked by the Sheriff’s to come along with them to identify him, as they knew from the license plate who it was. They know where he lives of course, so they drove Alice up to his house on the hill where the scene got even more interesting. Bob, making it home by some miracle without killing someone, could not figure out how to open the electric gate at his driveway, so what does he do, yes of course he floors the car and runs down the security gate at his house, thus causing a lot of damage to both the gate and his car. So much so that the air bags deploy and all his tires are punctured. So quite a scene to say the least. But of course Bob is not going to go easy is he…he tries to say his girlfriend (the Russian gold digger) was driving but even she is having none of that. The Sheriff of course know he was driving, they have a witness, Alice who states categorically that yes Bob is the one who got drunk and drove off after hitting the parked car, etc. The Sheriff told Alice that they have been watching Bob and waiting for a chance to arrest him again to get him off the streets as they know he is a danger to himself and others. I hope this gave them the ammo they needed to do just that.

A tale of two drivers.

The scene - riding North on Grove Street, Healdsburg, Ca. Speed limit, 35 MPH. One lane in each direction, with a row of sparsely used parking on each side.

The parking on Grove presents a nasty issue for cyclists - in the presence of unaware drivers. Generally the road presents itself to drivers as a super wide arterial - because the unoccupied parking makes the lane appear almost double wide. So surely the cyclist should be way over to the right, alongside the curb and out of the way of traffic. The problem with this is when you now approach a parked car, the cyclist has nowhere to go. Technically, you should ride as if there were a full line of cars parked on the road, just as if they were parked there, riding just to the left of the door zone. In practice, if there are no cars parked, I might just ride in the parking area in order to allow drivers unimpeded passing. I consider this being courteous in the lack of a safety hazard.

But if there is an occasional car parked alongside the road, it's important to establish lane positioning early, so that you don't end up approaching the parked car from behind while a driver begins their pass. An aware driver would sense that you will need to move laterally to the left to pass the parked car (with enough room to avoid the door zone) and slow to allow you your pass. In practice, most drivers don't see the upcoming merge that you will be making, and in many cases don't even see that you are there. So you need to establish position early such that the driver sees you.

Of course, just because the driver sees you occupying the travel lane, does not imply they will understand *why* you are "In the middle of the road!" instead of over there in that "perfectly good shoulder" which is not a shoulder, it's a row of parking spaces (a surprisingly large amount of drivers would call this row of parking spaces "the bike lane"). As such, some subset of drivers will get angry at you for being in the road instead of over to the right, oblivious to the fact that "over to the right" is blocked by a parked car.

On a recent trip down Grove, I saw two parked cars roughly 100 feet ahead, did a shoulder check, saw the lane was clear, signaled my intention to merge into the lane, established position, and roughly the point where I was passing the two parked cars, the driver behind me signaled their displeasure by laying on their horn, then making a rapid acceleration to pass in the oncoming travel lane. Anger issues and discourtesy.

On a later trip however, I encountered a very aware, excellent driver. Further down Grove the parking disappears to add a middle lane to allow for turns in either direction off of Grove. Here, I ride on the shoulder but in this case I needed to merge into the middle of the lane and then further left into the turn lane in order to turn left into my health club. I made a shoulder check and saw a car approaching from behind and decided to wait. I looked back again and the driver had slowed - this was a very situation aware driver. The driver noted me do my shoulder check and realized that I was probably preparing to make a left, and slowed to allow me to make my merge across. I signalled, merged, then gave the thumbe up to the driver, who returned the thumbs up as they passed on the right.

Situational awareness and courtesy. Not dead.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Richard Hall - a person with opinions from Marin - wrote a blog post and sent me the link.

The article is called Cyclists Disregarding Red Lights a Major Cause of Accidents

He goes on to describe this and gives us some statistics he gleaned from the San Rafael Police Department. He then comes to the following conclusion:

This reinforces the need for two programs here in San Rafael: - SRPD enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists, at red lights and stop signs.

Interesting. Let's look at his statistics. He starts off with a set of statistics that show that there were 30 cyclist/motorist collisions from March 2013 to March 2014. The stats indicate that 50% of the accidents were the fault of the cyclist. Thus, "Cyclists disregarding red lights are a major cause of accidents at red lights."

Of course, this stat is for all accidents involving cyclists and motorists, not just the ones at red light. He does then go on to give the stats for bike/car accidents at red lights. There were two . And they were both caused by the cyclist. So the question going back to his original premise - does two accidents equal "Major Cause of Accidents"?

We don't know. The fact that both bike/car accidents were caused by cyclists means they were the ONLY cause, not just the "Major" cause ... of bike/car accidents at red lights. The sample size is pretty small, and one could pick nits with that, but the real reason that Hall's conclusion is bogus is because he didn't give us the numbers for Car vs. Car accidents at red lights. If cyclists caused 100% of the two bike/car accidents, but motorists ran into each other thousands of times, the primary cause of any accidents at red lights would be cars (I think it's safe to assume in a car vs car accident at a red light, a driver of a car was at fault).

There is this conclusion, at least amongst anonymous (and Richard Hall) internet comment board members that cyclists are doing all sorts of crazy things. So Hall has made the conclusion that we need to crack down on the rampant cyclist misbehavior. To prevent two collisions annually, a stat which is based on one year's statistics. And maybe by magic this specific program will do something about the other 13 collisions that apparently didn't happen the red lights that SRPD will be focusing on.

Any police department has limited resources, and they should be targeted at what causes the most problems. Hall has cherry picked the data and is looking for who causes the most problems in a specific circumstance, but police resources should be focused based on overall data, not just for one kind of circumstance. This is even before we discuss the magnitude of damage caused by the offender, with motorists causing a lot more damage per incident like driving through the front of a restaurant.

Thinking about that last link, maybe I need a blog post "Motorists Disregarding the Front of the Building a Major Cause of Accidents" and show that 100% of car vs restaurant accidents are caused by Motorists, ergo the SRPD needs to enforce traffic laws for motorists, at the front of Home Cooking Restaurants. Admittedly the sample size is small, but in 2103 it happened again the ever popular Motorist Careens down Sidewalk, Guide Dog saves Pedestrian, Car smashes through Store Window That gives us two pieces of Car on Building violence in 2 years in San Rafael alone.

Please, SRPD, think of the buildings!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Will compliance with laws get better cycling infrastructure?

In any debate on the internet about cycling, eventually some random person from outside the usual suspects for the given forum will chime in with their theory on cyclists and stop signs. Namely that no cyclists ever stop for stop signs.

This will then be followed with a rebuttal from someone who is a standup citizen when they are sitting on their bike, claiming that they stop at all stop signs, and that they hate the other N-1 cyclists who do not stop at stop signs. And that if only all cyclists obeyed these laws, then non-cyclists (a.k.a. drivers, or "cars") would respect the cyclists and cyclists would get more bike lanes.

This is, of course, a bunch of junk. History is littered with examples of populations that got short shrift and were told that if only they behaved, they'd be treated better. Don't believe it for a second.

Humans are inherently selfish, it appears, as well as short sighted. It doesn't matter how well cyclists behave, they won't get overwhelming support for bike infrastructure unless they specifically pay every penny for it without any subsidy from non-cyclists. Those non-cyclists of course, aren't asking for subsidy at all!

To make my point clear, let's reference another example that is tangentially related. The Golden Gate Bridge is considering raising their toll from the current $6 to $8. The toll for the bridge pays for maintainance of the bridge as well as subsidizing the fares of people who ride the ferries and buses operated by the Golden Gate Bridge District.

Unlike the hordes of stop sign running cyclists, whom are observed by the aggrieved gas-tax paying motorists as being scofflaws who hate civil society, bus and ferry riders are a genial lot, slogging their way onto shared transportation and pretty much not getting in anyone's way. It's nominally clear to almost anyone that the riders of the buses and ferries are reducing traffic by their choice to not drive over the bridge, so generally this group should be viewed as one that has a positive behavioral profile. Except for the fact that they are leeching off the toll paying public for their party-extravaganza on the crowded buses and ferries, of course!

I've ridden those buses and seen US-101 in Marin at rush hour. Without the people on transit, it would be a disaster. And the Bridge District, who runs these things, knows it.

"We're famous for the bridge," he said. "But in reality, we're really operating a regional transportation service."

The district's 2003 mission statement calls for it to provide transportation services within the Highway 101 corridor. Its buses and shuttles, officials say, take about 25 percent of the vehicle traffic off of the bridge.

"If you think traffic is untenable now, imagine it with 25 percent more cars," Mulligan said.

But don't tell that to the suffering motorist paying for the party

But many commuters don't think it's right that their bridge tolls should be helping to pay for someone else's bus or ferry ride.

"For people who don't ever use the buses or ferries, it seems a little ridiculous," said Simon Myatt, a 23-year-old Santa Rosa resident who crosses the bridge at least twice a week. "I know that, as a community, we need to stick together, but it's not exactly fair."

It is often noted that there are ancillary benefits to cycling usage - lower traffic, reduced competition for parking, reduced wear and tear on roads, reduced pollution. But these can be murky to someone not adept at looking at the big picture. But for the roadways from San Rafael to the bridge, there is no question that the fleets of buses and ferries are making the driving commute possible. Doesn't matter. No matter how much benefit the driver recoups out of their tolls via providing an incentive for others to take the ferry, the fact they are putting a penny into a ferry service that they don't directly use is "unfair".

Same goes for bikes. So spare me the argument that some crackhead riding the wrong way down Market Street is the reason you don't get a bike lane.