Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clipper Street/Portola Drive area neighbors comment on Bike Plan

A group called the "Clipper Street/Portola Drive area neighbors" has submitted a comment on the Bike Plan EIR. I've never heard of this group despite having lived on Clipper at Grandview for a year, and having lived within 10 blocks of this intersection for 6 years. Google search shows nothing (for reference "Noe Valley Neighbors" shows 265 hits).

Rob Anderson posted the letter on his blog (I feel no need to drop him any link love).

There is a lot of general commentary about the bike plan in similar style to Rob. "We also request that the comment and response specifically disclose the amount of anticipated delay to the nearest second so that the decision-makers and citizens in San Francisco have full knowledge of the actual delay that they will soon experience." Amusing. I request that the City estimate it's budget to the nearest tenth of a penny as well. This line sort of makes the whole letter less than credible - basically making an impossible request to see if a Judge buys the troll. Given the similarity to Rob's style I wonder if the "Clipper Street/Portola Drive area neighbors" are basically a sock puppet.

They then go on to analyze the Clipper/Portola intersection. Clipper from Portola to Douglass is basically a super-freeway, the speed limit is patently ignored as people zoom over the top of Twin Peaks and into Noe Valley - this is the primary route from the West neighborhoods to 101. Not as dangerous as our other Noe Valley internal freeway - Eureka St - because Clipper doesn't have high pedestrian or bike traffic compared to Eureka.

Anyway, they basically claim that traffic will back up on Clipper if a lane is removed. We do own a car and the most frequent place we drive is Tower Market in Miraloma Park - taking us right through that intersection. I also ride through here frequently to get to Twin Peaks for hill repeats or to head to work via Skyline. I don't see the problem. The author asserts that "some cars will queue up for 2 signal cycles". I don't buy it. It goes on to predict lines of cars on Diamond Heights Blvd waiting to get onto Clipper because the cars are backed up from the light. The cars in the PM commute are coming up Clipper, not from Diamond Heights, but generally I don't consider this to be a choke point. Regardless, the flow of traffic through this intersection is moot - all of that traffic is going onto Portola Westbound, where it then hits the REAL choke point - the intersection of Portola and Woodside, where the 280 traffic coming up O'Shaugnessy merges in with the Upper Market/Clipper traffic that came onto Portola.

Their expertise is definitely impugned when they claim that AM congestion would be worse than PM congestion. Having lived on Clipper - I know that all the traffic is basically from the Sunset to the East in the AM, and vice versa in the PM. They claim that traffic backs up 3 light cycles in the AM. If true, it's most likely because Clipper has a longer red cycle because the light is prioritized to get traffic moving from West to East on Portola to Upper Market. After my wife has the baby, I might just have to go analyze the intersection myself on one of my "down days".

The most amusing part of the whole letter? They offer an alternative. Build an underpass of Market at 24th St. 24th St is a 25% grade. So the alternative being offered "a more desirable and attractive Class 1 bicycle facility connecting Noe Valley to the Portola Drive corridor, improving the bicyclists connectivity to the Noe Valley business district", requires cyclists to ride up, and more dangerously DOWN a 25% grade. Thanks buddy! Maybe for effect we can scare up some of the homeless that live on the Cesar Chavez "Underpass of Broken Bottles and Dreams" to style it up!

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