Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Millbrae Ave Collision

I finally decided to post this. The key actual takeaway for readers - if you are involved in a traffic incident - GET A POLICE REPORT. No matter what.
Here you go. I was headed to SFO for a meeting about their bike lanes. In retrospect it seems ironic we were having a meeting about those lanes when the real death trap is Millbrae Ave.

I decided to get off the train at Millbrae and save two bucks. Could have gone to San Bruno and saved some headache. I actually started from Rollins to save the hassle of the train track crossing. I hit the red light at the exit from 101S - in retrospect maybe I run the light to get a "free" crossing of the overpass.

I set up in the far left lane. There are three lanes crossing the freeway and they are marked - South McDonnell (where I was headed), "local traffic" (meaning the roads to the hotels), and the right lane is for the heavy traffic to 101. I was "following the lane markings" as well as avoiding having to cross the freeway onramps. The light turned green and I headed across - dead center of the left lane, the only legal lane for where I was headed.

I regretted having the cross bike which was slower to get off this overpass and slowly just decided I am just trusting my fellows on the road.

A driver coming from Millbrae who had clear view of me for several hundred feet nonetheless did not register my presence. He was also headed to S. McDonnell (which basically goes to airport service buildings - I rarely see cars headed this way). Shortly before reaching me he decided to get on 101 N instead and looked away from where his car was headed at 30 MPH to see if the right lane was clear (note this implies he needed to change lanes twice in a hundred feet or so). He looked forward again, saw me, hit his brakes but hit me anyway. I bounced off the hood and back onto the pavement. My right shoulder sublexed but went back in quickly.

He was frantic, I told him to back off. He started to grab my bike and put it in his car and I said we have to wait for the police. After some debate I relented to clear the road and instructed him to pull over so we could call the cops. He said "can't we just handle this ourselves", and I said "I'm getting the feeling you are a pretty nice, decent guy. But you are a very bad driver. And we cannot let emotion take over - injury accident means we get a police report - period. Not personal - just protocol". He said "I was a good driver until today" and I said "never confuse luck with skill" then told him to take a deep breath and let's be thankful together we both see another day.

The cops and ambulances showed up anyway. Drivers on the overpass called it in before we could.

Refused transport to the hospital. I self-diagnosed as "can wait until urgent care in the AM and will go to the SFO meeting". He was relieved but I said you weren't paying for it unless you were uninsured, and your rate increase won't be affected by a thousand dollars here or there. He fussed a lot about his financial situation and I said "you were 3 yards from bankrupt and in jail - this too shall pass."

I'm going to call and let him know my medical status either way but financially it all goes to his insurance. And I'll be following up with the Millbrae cops to get a copy of the police report to see if there is any fault determination.

Rear wheel destroyed, frame bent. "Luckily" since I expected to be locking the bike outside I had my poorly size CX bike and not my custom Seven. BoxDog is writing it up.

SFO on the other hand - those guys are GREAT. They had taken prior feedback, had great suggestions to address everything, and took our newer feedback. I am 95% sure all the soft hits will be gone. Super nice guys and very willing to listen and probably react.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Caltrain Fare Increase coming?

If you pay $10 for a product, and someone else pays $10 for a product, and the seller starts charging that person $12 but you still pay $10 - do you feel like that product is now less expensive for you? Caltrain does!

There is a disturbing note in this week's agenda for the Caltrain JPB meeting. It's basically a fare increase.

We need to let them know we dislike stealth fare increases, use this handy email link to send a message to Caltrain customer service, copying the Caltrain board and staff at the same time.



SUBJECT: CALL FOR A PUBLIC HEARING FOR CODIFIED TARIFF CHANGES
ACTION
Staff Coordinating Council (SCC) recommends that the Board schedule a public hearing at its February 2, 2012 Board meeting to consider changes to its Codified Tariff.
SIGNIFICANCE
Setting the public hearing will allow staff to schedule community meetings to solicit input from customers and the general public on proposed changes to the tariff. Proposed changes include (1) elimination of the 8-ride Ticket; (2) increasing the cost of paper One-way tickets, Day passes and Zone Upgrade tickets, which will result in a less expensive Clipper cost for these items; (3) increasing the Go Pass price; and (4) lengthening the sales period for monthly transportation passes and parking permits. Further details on the proposed changes will be provided in advance of three community meetings in January.
BUDGET IMPACT
Holding a public hearing will not impact the budget.
BACKGROUND
In response to customer fare media usage, and in the spirit of Metropolitan Transportation Commission Resolution 3866, staff will propose the changes described above.



As described, this is a fare increase for people using 8 ride tickets. Paper ticket users would also see a fare increase, but it could be mitigated by getting a Clipper Card. But the population that rides Caltrain 3-4 roundtrips per week, currently getting a nice discount via 8 ride tickets, would see a fare increase of 15% if they buy one way tickets. They could buy a Monthly Pass, but that pass is priced the same as 31 rides on an eight ride ticket, users currently using Caltrain for fewer than 15 round trips per month would pay more for the pass than they currently do. 15 round trips per month is a regular rider - not the demographic that Caltrain should be lumping the entirety of an increase on.

As I've discussed before - 8 ride tickets are an anachronism and have been very inconvenient for Clipper users. I do think they should be eliminated. But that elimination is no excuse to pass on a stealth fare increase to a big chunk of the ridership. If Caltrain truly needs a fare increase, they should ...

1) Eliminate the 8 rides
2) Give all Clipper users a 15% discount off of a one way ticket.
3) Institute an across the board fare hike.

This is far more honest and does not specifically impact a subset of passengers. It could be phased - change the fare structure first, quantify the impact to revenue of people formerly paying full fare now getting a discount, and adjust fares if needed.

Of course, this brings up the topic of "Does Caltrain need a fare hike?" Despite the angst over their budget, the apparent need for a fare increase is going to fall upon a lot of deaf ears given this, also from the same report.


Revenue: For October of Fiscal Year 2012, Total Operating Revenue (line 7) is $3,079,284 or
15.2 percent better than budget. Within total operating revenue, Farebox Revenue (line 1), Parking
Revenue (line 2) and Other Income (line 5) which together are $3,066,486 or 15.9 percent better than
budget. Compared to the prior year, Total Operating Revenue (line 7) is $4,604,583 or 24.5 percent
higher driven by Farebox Revenue (line 1), Parking Revenue (line 2) and Other Income (line 5)
which together are $4,600,325 or 25.9 percent higher.
Expense: Grand Total Expenses (line 46) show a favorable variance of $1,337,579 or 3.9 percent.
Total Operating Expense (line 33) is $934,242 or 3.1 percent better than budget. Within total
operating expense, Contract Operating & Maintenance (line 23) and Services (line 31) together are
$678,465 or 3.3 percent better than budget. Total Administrative Expense (line 42) is $403,337 or
10.0 percent better than budget.


I would hope that Caltrain would quickly revisit the apparent proposals before finalizing a plan for the January community meetings. Whenever Caltrain cooks up a poorly thought out change to service or fare structures, a lot of bad blood is spilled in the process of fixing it. The customer base will not see the benefit of removing logistical nightmares from the Clipper setup - they will see a fare increase. No matter the end result, Caltrain's image with the public is the victim. Long term, they cannot afford that to be any more tarnished than it already is.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Comment of the Year

It's not December 31 yet but this will be tough to beat...

From Palo Alto Online


From the 6th paragraph of the story: "... the project, which has the support of the entire City Council and the vast majority of the speakers who addressed the council on the topic in February."

At previous meetings, the project didn't have the support of the majority of speakers. Nothing like it. Then the bicycle advocates caught on and emailed their online friends to pack the chambers. Even gave them a script to read.

I realize the Weekly reporter is hopelessly naive and doesn't realize what astroturf means, but I suspect some of our council members have seen advocates seed the audience before on other issues.


Ah yes, the evil cycling cabal, flying in cyclists from places like "Europe" (especially "Amsterdam") to come give 2 minute public comment at a City Council Meeting in Palo Alto in order to spread their one world vision by taking a 3 block long dead end street that terminates in a train station, and reducing it from 4 lanes to 2 lanes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chicken John on the SF Election.

Before we go into the thinking of all this, since I know so many of you skim, I’m gonna put my mayor picks up front here:



#1 Jeff Adachi

#2 Dennis Herrarra

#3 John Avalos



Ross Mirkirami for Sheriff



If you think it’s fun watching from the sidelines as the GOP scrapes the bottom of the barrel looking for someone who is not a nutjob like Ron Paul, not a drunk like Rick Perry, not a sexual assaulter like Herman Cain, not a disaster like Michelle Bachmann… the list goes on… who’s gonna recruit Lyndon LaRouche? As we watch in horror the freakshow parade across our screens as the Republican party has its adolescence and we get some good show, we got kinda the same thing going on here in SF. Watching the Republicans is kinda like watching animals in a zoo. We will select a mayor next Tuesday, and there are 16 candidates. And it’s a sideshow/shitshow.



First of all let me say that Ed Lee is a liar. He is a regent mayor ONLY because he promised he would not run, so that there would be on ‘open seat’ for this election. Ed is the bad guy in this drama. He is the rumpled overlord who is the wrong guy for the job. He’s a nothing. A guy that has no ideas and just keeps everything 98.6. He is not a good representation of SF, our values, our people or our tolerance.

He’s a dud.



But he’s probably gonna win. He probably already has, actually. Absentee ballots and all… And that’s really really sad. The reason he is likely going to win is because there are so many candidates. It’s a matter of the ‘aggregate’. Let’s say 250,000 people vote. There are 16 candidates. You have to get 50% of the vote (plus one vote) to win.



How people will vote in the #1 position:
Let’s say Ed Lee gets 30% of the vote.

Dennis Herrera gets 25%.

Leland Yee gets 20%.

John Avalos gets 15%.

Jeff Adachi gets 9%.

The other 11 candidates get the other 1%.



Let’s just say, to make the point. This isn’t how it will really go, but let’s just say it goes like this, so we can see how Ranked Choice Voting really works…



The first round of voting counts ONLY your #1 choice. They count up all the ballots’ #1 choices. If a candidate gets 50% of the vote (plus one vote) that candidate wins. We are supposing that the ‘aggregate’ is 250,000 voters. So if someone got 125,001 votes, they would win.



But that is not going to happen. What is going to happen is more like above. With the evil rumpled overloard Ed Lee the lying liar getting 30%, or 75,000 votes. So an “instant runoff” is triggered. And we look to people’s #2 and #3 choices to determine a winner, in a complicated way that I will explain below.



Ranked Choice Voting is also called Instant Runoff voting.



Runoff elections have occurred often in SF. In 1999 Willie Brown and Tom Ammiano had a run off election. 4 years later Gruesome Newsom and Matt Gonzalez had a run off. Run off elections costs millons and millions of dollars. Instant runoff voting costs no more then a regular election. You may remember that Jean Quan, the Mayor of Oakland who can’t seem to control her brutal police force was elected through Ranked Choice Voting even though she did not have more first or second place votes than her opponent Don Perata. Too bad that all the money Oakland saved on Ranked Choice Voting will go to her recall election… but I digress…



In looking at the #2 votes, it get a little complicated. So please just stay with me here… how we start counting #2 votes is by eliminating a candidate. And counting their #2 votes. So lets say there is a nudist running or something. He’s gonna get like 20 votes.

He gets the least amount of votes of any candidate for mayor. So we get rid of him, and we look to his 20 votes and see what we have.

Ahhhh… ten of the people who voted for the nudist decided not to take part in Ranked Choice Voting, and only voted for him in the #1 position. The ten other people all voted for John Avalos for #2. The aggregate just went down to 249,990 voters. The #2 votes for John Avalos just got added to his tally of #1 votes. But we still don’t have a winner.



So we eliminate the next candidate. And place that persons’ #2 votes. If your #2 vote gets eliminated, we count your #3. And we keep doing this, eliminating candidates and re-allocating their votes until one of the candidates gets to 50% of the vote (yes, plus one little vote).

All the while, the aggregate shrinks, and that 30% the lying scumdog Ed Lee has becomes 31%. 32%. 35%. 43%... until darkness falls… Ed will get very few if any #2 or #3 votes. He will win by the aggregate shrinking because of so many candidates.



Side note: if you don't vote for three different candidates and your candidate gets eliminated, or if your #2 and #3 candidates are eliminated before your #1 candidate, you will have what's called an Exhausted Ballot, meaning your ballot didn't count in the runoff portion of the election. Remember in District 10 last year when Malia Cohen won after 20 rounds? The real winner was Exhausted Ballots, with 9503 votes. Malia got 3879.



So back to next Tuesday – there are only really 5 candidates in this election:

Ed Lee

Dennis Herrera

Jeff Adachi

John Avalos

Leland Yee



There is a slight chance that Ed could lose. He could lose to Dennis. It’s somehow possible. It’s crazy, but it’s possible. I want it to be possible that John could win. But I’m going to give you my strategy, and you are welcome to embrace it, spit on it, yell at me, or write Chicken John as a write in candidate. For better or worse, here it is:



Jeff Adachi is the smartest guy in the room. Every time I see him, he’s the smartest guy in the room. The mayor of San Francisco should not be a rumpled idiot. We should have the smartest guy in the room leading us. I support Jeff Adachi for my #1 vote.



For my #2 vote, I vote for Dennis Herrera. Dennis runs a staff of 300 people. He’s a good guy. He’s not a jerk. He’s not an egomaniac. He’s fun. Funny. Full of life. He’s regal. Stately. I like him. I actually think that Dennis is going to get more votes then Jeff. But I don’t care, because if Jeff gets eliminated before Dennis, then it’s the same as voting for Dennis in the #1 slot. Same for John. I like John. I’ve done some things for his campaign. He’d be a good mayor. If he gets more votes than Dennis, Dennis will get eliminated. And my #3 vote for John will become a #1 vote for John (if both Jeff and Dennis get elimated).



If you vote for John Avalos and no one else, it’s like not voting if he gets eliminated. You MUST put Dennis on your ballot somewhere if you want to block Ed Lee. He has a chance, though a small one. This is my advice to you.



I personally do not like nor trust Leland Yee. He seems to be the sleazy politician type who says whatever the crowd in front of him wants to hear. He ran for his senate seat unopposed and went crazy with billboards and fundraising and flyers and mailers… he was running for mayor while he was running unopposed for Senate. That was kinda icky. I mean, he’s been in perpetual candidate mode, who’s doing his job?



David Chui is going to be the big loser in this campaign. It’s going to be so embarrassing for him to get less votes then Phil Ting, our assessor. I’ve got $20 that says ole Phil smokes David Chui…



Terry Baum the Green party candidate wins with the best slogan: “Let’s make San Francisco the town that everyone else thinks we are!”



Finally, Ross Mirkirami for Sheriff. If for no other reason, he will be the gentlest Sheriff in history. I don’t know why he wants that job, but if he wants it he can have it. The other people running are all cops. Don’t encourage them. Cops beat people up with sticks and shoot them in the face with rubber bullets. Fuckers. No cops for Sheriff. Ross for Sheriff. He’s not a cop.



You can vote any day at City Hall, you don’t have to only vote on Tuesday.



Go get ‘em…



Chicken



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My #sfmayor slate

Here it is. After quickly distilling the list down to a small group, then a smaller group, then settling on three candidates, I have my ranked choices.

#3 - David Chiu
I really really wanted David to be higher. He has super enthusiasm and is great in a small crowd, getting the group to drink the koolade. He's bright. His positions are mostly palatable. There were hints of him being politically opportunistic, but over the last couple of weeks he blew the doors open. First, he led a resolution in support of the Central Subway, as is. I've pointed out many flaws, including some that are largely ignored by the advocates. He probably could have left this issue alone for now, but he plowed ahead, despite the logical evidence that the project is flawed enough to basically be another J-Church, dumping hearings on future City leaders on how to fix a project even more physically challenging.

But today he really puzzled me. John Avalos offered a resolution supporting #occupysf to the Board. Scott Wiener had apparently worked closely with John to modify the language to produce a resolution which Scott felt more comfortable with, and many changes went in through that collaboration, but there was a "good faith disagreement" on wording over the use of force by the police. Wiener then offered the amendment for a vote. It passed 6-5, with David Chiu being the swing vote, saying that he expected the resolution to pass either way but that he wanted not a majority but a "supermajority".

Voting for the amendment - Wiener, Farrell, Chu, Chiu, Cohen, Elsbernd. The amendment passed. Of that group, only Wiener, Chiu, and Cohen voted for the amended resolution. At least one of those votes was required for passage. Chiu asserted that the resolution would pass no matter what, so we can assume he would vote for it. So he voted to add the amendment to get the votes of Malia Cohen and Scott Wiener (assuming they would not vote for the resolution without the amendment). Why bother?

The positions of the various supervisors are clear. The only *actual* difference from having the extra 2 votes would be to make the resolution veto-proof, but even then Wiener or Cohen could defect. And even then, it might be better (politically) to drop a 6-5 vote on Mayor Lee's desk and press him in public to sign or veto the resolution. Running up the score is meaningless, there is no Board of Supervisors BCS poll. To me, it just felt like he was trying to split the middle on the resolution, which to me is an insult to Avalos. Take your position and vote on it. I disagree with Wiener on this one but respect his position more than Chiu's.

Nonetheless, the people behind him in the fray have shown a lot less integrity or skill - his intelligence and position on key issues for me like Livable Streets gets him my #3.

#2 - John Avalos
John is very personable. Not as energetic as David, he is more subdued. Often that shows a person of great thought who speaks only when it's important. I don't really see that here - frequently Avalos seems a little out of his element when I watch the Board meetings. However, I do see him as being someone with absolute integrity and definite positions on issues. He has strong positions on issues that are important to me - livable streets/transit/bikes, social justice. I probably think he would be too far to the left on some issues regarding housing - I prefer to subsidize lower income people into an open market than to try to artificially control the market with rent control, I think that's a better way to produce more housing stock and get everyone into it. Somehow I think how he would work with the board would produce a balanced government - I don't see him as being a controlling Mayor like Newsom was, so having a variety of viewpoints going into City governance with a rudder that steers away from corruption would be palatable. I'm not quite sure exactly how this would turn out - so in the end the fact that I know with Avalos that we'd have a strong voice for our streetscapes wins out.

#1 - Dennis Herrera
There was no doubt Herrera would end up on this slate somewhere. He is the most obvious foil to Ed Lee at this point - I think an Ed Lee victory would be disastrous. But ranked choice voting left me the ability to put him downslate. Nonetheless, I think Herrera should go first anyway. Herrera also has presence like Chiu, but does not have the record of being politically expedient. He's been through a lot of battles as City Attorney. Our bike ride with him on SF2G showed him to be a good listener and he'd be reasonable on bike/ped issues. The biggest specific plus is that he's cracked open the pandora's box of the Central Subway and could force us to look at the project again and get some much needed improvements, and would be more likely to push for transit improvements in the corridor that would happen sooner. The discussion we had with him on this subject did not reveal him to be a transit wonk, but if he's willing to open the door that means we can be in the discussion if and when the project gets reviewed. His election would certainly be a nominal referendum on the project - as it is currently designed.

I actually have less to write about Herrera than the other two, because he's basically just solid, and I think that's what the city needs right now. The other two have a lot of positives but have nits that can be picked on. Herrera is a solid, good guy, and I would be satisfied if he wins. The same holds true of Chiu and Avalos.

The rest.
The only other candidate I would specifically say I would be not upset about is Jeff Adachi. The absolute worst case amongst the likely winners would be Ed Lee - corrupt and controlled by the Machine. Leland Yee is interesting but he just reeks of political opportunism which turns me off. Dufty is absolutely Supervisor Pothole and has done me some great personal service in the past, but completely butchered the Noe Valley Plaza fiasco. And on and on.

There you have it

#anyonebutedlee

Monday, October 10, 2011

Positive Momentum

Left the house this AM to Fog disguised as rain. I slowly picked my way down the hill into the heart of Noe Valley and headed down 24th towards the Mission. As I crossed Guerrero, a black Mercedes passed me just as the road headed down the slope with about 4 inches to spare. In wet conditions like this it was super sketchy, getting hit or making an evasive maneuver could put me on the ground in an instant.

As always, the net result of this was that the Black Mercedes beat me to the stop light at Valencia by a few seconds where we both waited for the light. I passed him on the left to set up for a left turn onto Valencia, and I turned to give him a glare - not expecting to bark - and noticed him with his face focused on his iPhone which he was frantically typing into. That was too much. I barked "Ah, that's why you almost hit me, texting and driving".

Now this was a big dude, dressed and styled like the sort of guy who looks like he gets into bar fights all the time, and I really expected him to throw out a string of expletives at me. Instead he took me off guard completely - "I not driving now, seriously I only pulled the phone out when I was fully stopped at the red light! I NEVER text while the car is moving!" This disarmed me a bit but I was still a little annoyed - "If it wasn't texting, then why did you pass me with 6 inches of clearance!"

"There was no more room", he replied, and I said "Man, it's wet out here and if there's no room, wait until there is!" He replied "I'm sorry man, I totally respect you guys out here riding your bikes". If he wasn't sincere, he was a hell of a politician. I said "Love the attitude man, love it - the execution's a bit off but that's the easy part, have a good day and drive safe" and he gave me a thumbs up.

I was completely baffled by how this went down, but it sure beats the alternative. When Joe Bar Fighter in a super expensive Mercedes (I have to admit it was a very slick looking car) is embarrassed to be seen as a driver who texts or threatens cyclists, maybe we're turning the corner.

Friday, October 7, 2011

SB 910 Vetoed

This is the Dumbest thing I've read in a while - and I sometimes read Rob Anderson's blog and have read things written by Sarah Palin.

Discuss.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Central Subway to Caltrain

Which would you prefer? Getting off the Central Subway to get onto Caltrain, and seeing this...
This is what the @central_subway connection to Caltrain SHOUL... on Twitpic
Or getting off the Central Subway to get onto Caltrain and seeing this?
This is the @central_subway connection to Caltrain MUNI wants... on Twitpic
Perhaps you are headed downtown, and need to get across King Street to the station and you see this...
@blah7009 on Twitpic

Station placement is very important for lines like the Central Subway. Otherwise you end up 20 years from now reading something like this - the answer to which would be "8 billion dollars or a time machine".

Moving the station to in front of the Caltrain station would make this line hum, and remove the tempation - succumbed to by hundreds of patrons daily - to jaywalk across King Street at 4th, which is also known as "The onramp to I-280 Southbound".

This can be coupled with eliminating the planned Brannan Street station, saving money and reducing the overall number of stations on the line. This is a lesson that was learned the hard way by Santa Clara VTA

Friday, September 30, 2011

Riding with Dennis Herrera

Today Mayoral Candidate Dennis Herrera showed up for SF2G.

Herrera showed up, shook a hand or two and said "All right! Let's get some coffee". He's clearly a very high energy guy and 6:30 AM didn't really bother him. Scott asked him a general question about vision/cycling and he discussed that he is really positive on car-free Market Street. He mostly referred to bikes, which is important, to me the faster transit portion is more important but he was playing to his impression of the audience.

"If you had a time machine, and went back to when Rob Anderson sued the city, what would you do differently". He gave no meaningful answer

I asked about the Central Subway, saying "If you become Mayor, what then". The answer was also a little off pivot but basically I would say he is against the status quo of the project, as has been clear. He pivots first to "I supported it when it was 600 Million but 1.6 Billion! Come on!" I think this is standard politico but my position is that there isn't much difference between 9 figures and 10 figures - either way it's a lot of money and the project should be done properly. The cost increases to me are just a very good opener to allow one to point out the problems in design.

His concept of the design flaws matches mine, and he understands the demographic in Chinatown does not match the transit system they are being delivered (They use the 30 like a 2 block shuttle bus!). Mike Sonn lives in North Beach and for a variety of reasons would really prefer Stockton to go car free - and soon rather than a subway 10 years from now - Herrera seemed to agree (why I didn't audiotape this whole thing I have no idea, so I could have a better description).

He is very high energy and engaging, chatty, friendly. And he acquitted himself fine on the bike.

Chavez was crap as always but we made it. Delivered Herrera to 3rd Street while Dave Blizard pointed out how crappy Chavez is and got a good picture that shows what we are up against on that street. Crosby mentioned that Pennslyvania is quite frankly worse than Chavez and I have to agree. "You're riding between trucks headed to the interstate and others headed North, and you're in the canyon pothole of doom" was sort of how Scott described it.

It was good to get another politico out in a small group and get to chat.

The ride was nice, relaxed pace which was just what I needed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Central Subway Rant to Board of Supervisors

David Chiu just introduced a resolution in support of the Central Subway which was joined in sponsorship by Kim, Campos, Chu, Avalos. I got a little fired up and shipped this one off.
Supervisors -

I am dismayed to hear your commentary regarding the Central Subway in the Board of Supervisors today. Certainly it has become a political football as we all know.

Full disclosure - in my opinon, there are better options for rider service than digging a tunnel. However, I think a well designed tunnel has a lot of benefit that might scale to larger solutions, so I cannot oppose the idea of such a tunnel.

However, if this subway does get built I feel it is imperative to move the Union Square station to connect directly at Powell. If we spend "over a Billion" dollars on this project, we must do it properly, otherwise it will not draw the support that will get us the money to extend the system further.

The transit dependent citizens of Chinatown - and transit dependent citizens of other neighborhoods - will be done a huge disservice if the subway goes in as it is designed. Every Saturday AM I ride the BART from the outer neighborhoods towards the East Bay. It is absolutely packed with senior citizens from Daly City who are headed to Chinatown, and whom transfer to the 30 at Powell Street Station. The reverse trip is also very common. Those people deserve a legitimate connection from BART and MUNI Metro to the Central Subway - not a series of escalators and a long walk to Union Square. The Central Subway supporters claim that the Union Square/Powell connection does exist, but as a reference the "combined" station will resemble the "Chatelet" station in Paris, which is used as a connection primarly by confused tourists who have yet to realize that the connection is worse than going above ground and walking to your destination.

This echos Supervisor Chu's call for outer neighborhood connectivity - the current design reduces that connectivity! The average age of the riders I see on those trains is well over 60. In theory the 30 Stockton will still exist, but the operations funding needed to run the Central Subway will reduce the ability to run that line at frequency.

Additionally, residents from upstream on the MUNI Metro line wishing to get to Caltrain will have their connectivity decreased. This is a route I used on a daily basis for months while I could not ride my bike due to a broken wrist. The transfer as designed is not attractive to residents of the Castro trying to get to Caltrain and will not draw new riders. And as I previously mentioned to Supervisor Wiener - the location of the Caltrain transfer station at Brannan Street drops riders off the Central Subway 2 blocks from Caltrain on the wrong side of a high speed arterial - Brannan - creating a proposition for pedestrians to either gamble with jaywalking or missing their train.

I do find it a bit unseemly that this project has clearly may have been siezed upon as a wedge issue to attack Mayor Lee in the Mayor's race. The issues that the Grand Jury has brought to the surface have been clear to transit riders for a very long time, why has City Attorney Herrera only now decided to speak up? Politics? Probably. But as a transit rider and transit advocate we sometimes have to take the few opportunities we get - I have shown up at a number of MTA meetings in the past and noted the problems with the project, knowing that I was mostly wasting my breath. The Grand Jury report and now this Mayor's election has opened Pandora's box, and the ridership wants to see what is inside.

As designed, this project benefits the people who will build it, not the people who need to RIDE the correct solution.

Reference - BART to SFO with a Caltrain connection, unused by Peninsula residents because the poor design has left the Peninsula residents without a direct connection from Caltrain to the Airport via BART, a connection they had before with a humble bus line. Surely for the billions spent on that project those riders expected they deserved to have service improvements compared to their jitney.

Thank You

John Murphy - San Francisco

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Letter to Caltrain

Here is a letter I sent to Caltrain. I am asking (perhaps it is not clear) for Caltrain to eliminate the painful process of purchasing 8 ride tickets by giving the equivalent discount to all Clipper users. You get the same 15% discount whether you ride 8 times, or just once. And you never have to worry about expiring 8 ride tickets. If you agree, let them know.

If you agree - let them know, use this handy email link to send a message to Caltrain customer service, copying the Caltrain board and staff at the same time.

UPDATE: - Response from Caltrain

John – your letter to the Caltrain Board of Directors and Citizens Advisory Committee was referred to me for response. (Please note that Astrid Lindell is no longer with the agency.)

Your suggestion is very timely because I have been working with staff from our Finance and Rail departments to discuss the impacts of possibly eliminating the 8-ride Ticket. We are still evaluating the positives and negatives and hope to have a recommendation in the coming months. However, if we proceed with recommending its elimination, we would seek customer and community input before holding a public hearing.

Thank you for continuing to want to improve Caltrain.

Sincerely,

Rita

Here is the original letter
Dear Caltrain Board, Staff, Citizen's Advisory Committee, MTC Board Member Wiener -

I am writing to implore you to revisit your fare structure which is currently failing both your ridership and your organization. When Caltrain adopted the Clipper Card, Caltrain decided to go through the process of keeping the "8 ride ticket" portion of their fare structure. The 8 ride ticket has been a good method of rewarding riders who are frequent riders but not riding enough to justify monthly passes. The form of the ticket was a function of Caltrain's paper ticketing system. With an electronic fare system, the 8 ride ticket made far less sense, yet Caltrain has tried - and failed - to put a square peg into a round hole.

My opinion, and that of much of your very informed ridership is that the 8 ride ticket should be eliminated, and replaced with a 15 percent discount applied to all riders who pay for single rides with their Clipper Card. The 15 percent discount is the same discount current given to riders who buy 8 ride tickets. This strategy is the same as that implemented by Golden Gate Transit, which also had paper fare books but chose to eliminate that when they went to Clipper, offering a discount to all riders paying with Clipper. As a rider of Golden Gate Transit I can attest that their transition has been far smoother than Caltrain's.

While on its face, this sounds like a proposal for a fare decrease in a time of fare increases, this is a short sighted viewpoint. The troubles caused by the electronic 8 ride tickets have cost Caltrain money and tarnished the agency's reputation. I fully believe the savings to be had by those infrequent riders who manage to get a Clipper Card will be overwhelmed by increased ridership from infrequent riders who now have access to a discounted fare, and amongst your more loyal riders.

I offer the following anecdote. In August, I took a vacation and chose not to purchase a monthly pass. Instead I bought multiple different 8 ride tickets to cover the different types of trip I might take in a typical month. At the end of the month, I intended to purchase a September pass, but was left with several assorted rides left on my Clipper Card - rides which would expire in 30 days time, and could only be transferred by giving my Clipper Card which included my BART High Value ticket to someone else, also requiring me to get a new Clipper Card. So I decided to stick with 8 ride tickets. Like many other riders who use 8 ride tickets, I am discincented to ride the train - each time I ride the train I have to pay, unlike when I have a monthly pass. Caltrain loses money.

The final insult came when I decided to attend the Caltrain JPB meeting last month to address this issue in Public Comment. I arrived at the train station in San Francisco, and "tagged on" my Clipper Card and boarded the train. Arriving in San Carlos, I realized that if I "tagged off" in San Carlos, I would be taking a ride for which I had no 8 ride ticket. I would be charged cash, which would deplete my cash balance. Without a cash balance on my card, I would not be able to use any of the pre-paid rides on my Clipper Card, meaning I would be forced to pay cash for a full fare ticket from the machine instead of using the discounted ride I already paid for. In disgust, I stayed on the train but made my complaints heard to all who would listen on the train.

There are many operational incentives for switching to a single ride only with Clipper Discount. There are many more anecdotal incidents like my own, all of which result in calls to Clipper Customer Service which is a cash drain on the MTC. There are currently "Add-Value" Clipper Machines at MUNI, GGT, and BART stations. Caltrain does not have them - as a computer programmer I would wager a large sum of money that this is because someone is being paid a lot of money to produce special machines for Caltrain that sell 8 ride tickets. Without 8 rides, Caltrain could simply use the same stock machines as BART does - with a reasonable requirement that Monthly passholders purchase passes online or at Walgreens. And the single ride discount would incent those now buying paper tickets to adopt Clipper, which is a goal of the MTC. This might get those customers to ride more - replacing the revenue lost by giving them a discount. And with more riders using Clipper, fare enforcement would be greatly simplified for your conductors.

I urge you to adopt this strategy. Should the change produce a drop in revenue in practice, the answer is simple. Increase the fare for single rides, while leaving the Monthly Pass at the same price. This would convert a lot of riders who "do the math" to using Monthly Passes instead of 8 rides - and once they have a pass they become even more loyal to your service.

Thank You

John Murphy

San Francisco

tahoe@murphstahoe.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bike Share vs. "Car Share"

Via BikePortland Commissioner Fritz: No to bike share until "dangerous" bicycling subsides we read about a City Commissioner in Portland who is against a bike sharing program there because it will produce - more bicyclists! Isn't that the point?

But she thinks that this would cause all sorts of trouble.

I may support a bike sharing program downtown when I see bike riders using downtown streets and sidewalks in a safe manner. Daily, I see cyclists in the Light rail and bus lanes in front of my office. I see cyclists riding on the sidewalks, endangering and harassing pedestrians.
I see cyclists running red lights and making illegal turns off the bus mall. And these are presumably experienced cyclists. I believe a bike rental program downtown would only add to these unsafe behaviors.


I'm trying to sort out the theory here. Until the people who *don't* need a bike share satisfy her, she wants to prevent anyone else from picking up a bike.

Part of her theory is that the people who don't normally ride (and thus own a bike) would be more likely to be troublemakers than people who do. Got it. They aren't experienced operating a bike, so we don't want to encourage it.

I wonder how the same gut reaction isn't applied to flying into say - SFO - from say - rural Kentucky - and renting a car. While the rules of the road are nominally similar across the US, California does have some different rules, for example you are not very likely to see someone in Kentucky splitting lanes on their motorcycle in heavy freeway traffic. And San Francisco can be a somewhat daunting place to drive for "locals" coming up from the Peninsula, let alone someone from Tinytown Kentucky.

Taken to the next level - let's say the person renting the car is from say, Germany - where the rules of the road are different. Apparently they aren't used to big signs - three of them - that say "NO RIGHT TURN". Especially if they are written in a language other than their primary language. Why do we allow drivers inexperienced with our roads to rent cars here? Why is there a presumption that they will behave with a dangerous piece of equipment but we don't give that same presumption to someone who wants to ride 10 blocks across Portland? Frankly I'd prefer someone who is clueless to be on a bike.

I know from where I speak. The first time I rented a car in France, it took me roughly 3 city blocks to run a red light. I had pulled up to an intersection, looked up to where I would expect a stoplight to be, saw none (in France the lights are on the closer side of the intersection), decided that I had the right of way since there was no traffic control device telling me I didn't and entered the intersection, right in front of a French Gendarme. I pulled over, he came over to my right window, at which point I spent about 2 minutes trying to figure out how to open the window of our rental car. He made the point about the red light and said something about the fine being 5000 Francs. That was about $700 dollars if I recall, but I had no clue, so I started to grab my wallet so I could pay the fine. The Gendarme said "This is a present this time, but do not run the red light". I thanked him and we sat there for several minutes familiarizing ourselves with the vehicle before once again terrorizing the French roads.

The rest of that trip was mostly uneventful, save for a time we stole a tank of gasoline. I was so used to paying at the pump with a credit card and then driving off, I filled the tank and never went in to pay. To this day I wonder if there is a warrant out for me in Grenoble.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Highway 9.

This AM I did a pretty cool ride, I went up Kings Mountain, down West 84, up West Old La Honda, then up Skyline to Highway 9. As I turned left onto Highway 9, I did a quick check to see if there were any cars headed my way - this is a fast descent and I knew I could keep near the speed limit but I was in no mood to be tailgated by someone a bit too antsy. It was all clear and I headed down.

I am not the fastest descender but I managed to average 30.5 MPH on the 6.9 mile section as shown on my GPS.

As I was going down the hill, I noticed a car behind me. This gets a little dicey on Highway 9 as there are now rumble strips on the yellow line, which has altered the dynamics of someone trying to pass. I drifted to the left in the lane, wanting to prevent a pass until we hit a straight section at which point I drifted to the right and slowed down, indicating that I was yielding to the driver, who then rocketed by me with another car on his tail.

Shortly after this I noticed a sign that said "SPEED LIMIT 30 MPH". I took a quick glance down at my speedometer. I was going 37 MPH.

The two cars that had passed me had disappeared down the hill in front of me.

I was almost halfway down the hill when they passed me, and I averaged over the speed limit for the entire hill. They were obviously nowhere to be seen once I hit Saratoga.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Supervisor and Mayoral Candidate John Avalos shows up to SF2G

John Avalos and his campaign guy Nate showed up at O'Dark 30 and joined us for a good ride for a Friday SF2G

John Avalos represent! @AvalosSF #sf2g #sfbc on Twitpic

Read John Avalos' plan for a world-class biking city

We took 26th to Bryant to the "Underpass of Broken Bottles and Dreams" to Cesar Chavez. I had scouted out the UBBD yesterday, maybe Ed Lee knew Supervisor Avalos was headed that way this AM and cleared it out - no shopping carts, not even a single homeless guy, and the dead rat that was adorning the path yesterday had disappeared. The lack of these amenities left the bike path ... still completely undignified. So it was good to show him this crap.

Then we took Chavez and he got to see it in its full glory - 4 lanes of not much traffic yet we still got buzzed by a truck or two.

I pointed out the "sidewalks" which will not be widened thanks to the cancellation of the original planned project. Sun Tsu could not have done it better - if you want to wage war on one group, figure out how to pit another group against them. In this case, the ongoing ability for people who hate bike lanes because it messes up their car centric lifestyle to suddenly become "pedestrian advocates" and pit pedestrians against cyclists. Sure, there aren't many pedestrians walking on Chavez. Perhaps because there are NO SIDEWALKS. Anyway, this was very useful - Avalos frankly had no idea about the project or it's "cancellation/postponement/modification" - "Wait, who did this? The *current* Mayor?" I pointed out the access to Caltrain via Chavez for Noe/Glen/Bernal/Mission.

Then we had a pretty cool ride down 3rd Street. Another rider remarked to me that he used to ride on 3rd a lot when he worked at Mission Bay, and he said "Wow this is so much better than it used to be". I had to agree. And now they have a Fresh and Easy down there. That has to be an upgrade. Right turn on Paul, left on San Bruno and up the one hill for the day, on which Supervisor Av alos did his best Mark Cavendish impression. We gathered at the little park thing at Blanken and Bayshore, took pictures, handed out literature, and pointed John to the Bayshore Caltrain station where he could get his "Bike On Board" to get back to 4th/King by 7:45 AM to make a breakfast he had downtown.

"Does Clipper work on Caltrain". "Yes, there is a blue box, tag your card on it. Then do NOT forget to TAG OFF as if you were on BART, when you get off". "OK, great meeting you". "Great meeting you too! DO NOT FORGET TO TAG OFF or you will be charged for a ticket to Gilroy".

I tried in vain to put an Avalos spoke card into my wheels, my wheels are tied and soldered so it was impossible.

We said goodbye and headed South down the Peninsula on a glorious Bay Area Morning.

Murph

John Avalos: @murphstahoe forgot to tag off

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

San Francisco's Central Subway - Caltrain misstep.

One topic that Rob Anderson and I probably agree on, is that the Central Subway isn't a very good project. Unlike Rob, my beef is mostly that the project doesn't make sense as designed, following most of the concerns from the Grand Jury report on the project.

My primary issue is with the connection at Market Street. Reminds me of the "connection" at Chatelet in Paris. Sure, you look at the map and it looks like all sorts of lines conveniently transfer there. In practice, some of the transfers are very long walks - The walking distance from Line 7 at Ch√Ętelet to the RER lines at Ch√Ętelet – Les Halles is circa 750 metres . The Central Subway to Market Street Subway transfer isn't 1/2 a mile, it's 1000 feet, but this also requires two pretty time consuming escalator rides.

Once we get into this sort of thing, the transfer becomes very tedious, is a disincentive for usage, and the line is underutilized. That is the crux of why transit advocates cry for the money to be used elsewhere. But if the connection were good, it might just get usage and cries for the line to extend to North Beach and around towards the Marina, which would be a useful legacy for later generations.

But I digress - the title of this article refers to the much ballyhooed connection to Caltrain. Looking at the map, it seems like the "easy" transfer at Union/Powell will allow riders to skip the current roundabout route around Embarcadero to the Caltrain station, and go directly down 4th Street. But this is still fraught with simple mistakes that can really mess up a transit system.

The Central Subway blog brags thus...


the new station located at 4th/Brannan Street will provide an additional transfer point if needed to Caltrain at 4th and Townsend streets.


Brannan Street is 2 blocks away from Caltrain. After our valiant rider has ridden from the Castro to Powell, and navigated the Chatelet of San Francisco to get to the Central Subway at Union Station, they are then dumped off uncermoniously at Brannan, facing a similar connection. But unlike the Powell-Union transfer - they are faced with a 2 block walk that includes crossing a high speed South of Market arterial - Brannan is 2 lanes in each direction and not a fun street to cross - while at the same time looking at their watch wondering if they will make their Caltrain.

Alternatively, the rider could stay on the train until the current station on the East side of King Street - which seems to actually be the most obvious Caltrain transfer point. This requires that the rider wait through the light cycle at Brannan, another one at Townsend, and finally the light at King Street - a horrible intersection including cars rushing to 280 as well as the possibility of being held up by a crossing N-Judah train. Once across King, the rider would then have to cross back across King, a crossing that already exists and is pretty dodgy.

In practice, riders coming from the North will in fact get off at Brannan and run down 4th Street to make their train. Time is money, especially when it comes to missing the Caltrain - I ride my bike and take it on the train because taking MUNI makes it far too likely that I'll miss a train, and missing a train is deadly. I, like most N->S riders, work nowhere near a train station, and rely on a company shuttle that only meets certain trains. If I miss a train by one minute, I am arriving at work at least one hour later.

The best idea, in my opinion, is to remove the station at King, and put a station on Townsend, preferably on the East side of Townsend. This means that the Caltrain transfer for a pedestrian is simply a walk across one lane of 4th Street, much much safer and more direct. It also leaves a fairly close transfer to the N Judah - of course that transfer is not super valuable but it should exist.

Of course, this means that the station would be one block away from a current station - which doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? But if you take a step back, the current station merely exists where it is because it is the transfer spot to Caltrain! If the line were being designed as a whole, from the Bayview to Chinatown, there would not be a station on the East of King, the station would be just East of Townsend. The best play is to *remove* the station at King in favor of one at Townsend.

This would make the transfer much safer for pedestrians, quicker and more reliable, and removes one station from the line. The VTA Light Rail in Santa Clara County is very frustrating to ride exactly because it has too many stations. The station at Brannan adds very little except to add to the end to end runtime for the T/CS line, which decreases reliability and overall attractiveness to the rider. The only "loser" from a removal of the King Street station might be a rider coming from the South headed to Caltrain, who know has to endure the crossing of King before heading to the train - but the population center to the South of that stop is centered around ... the 22nd Street Caltrain station.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Caltrain fare overhaul

I'm really interested in Caltrain ridership getting together and pushing Caltrain for a fare system overhaul.

See - SF Weekly's criticism of fare enforcement with respect to Clipper follies. Most of the issues are - as has been discussed ad naseum - a function of the fact that Caltrain's fare structure does not work well with the limitations of Clipper, nor does it exploit the huge advantages Clipper should provide.

My primary interests are
1) Removal of 8 rides and replacement with a 15% discount for Clipper users
2) Removal of zone structure and replacement with distance based fares - at least for Clipper users (relieving Caltrain of the burden of overhauling their ticket machines).

See also Aaron Kitashima on 8 rides

And a previous writing on the topic

If people are interested, please join the Caltrain (JPBX) Google group for an open discussion that I hope will result in a proposal we can bring to the Caltrain Staff, JPB, and MTC.

The google group is here

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dan Savage, Violet Blue, Rob Anderson...

From Streetsblog


Most hookers in SF now use the internet and cell phones to do business. No need to stand around on street corners any more.

-Rob Anderson


Guy knows nothing about how we should be dealing with our streets, but I can totally see him being an expert on hookers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

just because of the now...

From: John Murphy
Sent: Jul 11, 2011 4:26 PM
To: "'rgerharter@igc.org'"
Subject: photo usage


Rick –

Are your photos available for use for free as long as they are attributed?

http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2011/07/gays-in-city-just-another-special.html

From: Rick Gerharter [mailto:rgerharter@igc.org]
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 9:23 PM
To: John Murphy
Subject: Re: photo usage

Absolutely not. Why do you ask? And no, Rob Anderson did not ask my permission before he stole my photo and used it. He complains (and rightly so) about UC's bad faith, but he has no problem stealing a photo from a working photographer. Is that bad faith? I've asked him to show some good faith and remove the photo now.

Rick

From: John Murphy
Sent: Jul 11, 2011 9:26 PM
To: "'rgerharter@igc.org'"
Subject: photo usage

I ask because that guy is an asshole.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why I might get a bit defensive on the whole "cyclists do blah" thing

Alex Zapeda, a.k.a. zippy_monster got into a tet-a-tet that was somewhat spurred on by the last post. He must see a lot of things I never see - I walk around Noe Valley quite a lot and rarely get buzzed by a cyclist. Yes, I've seen a couple coming down 23rd or 24th take some questionable passage through a stop sign, but never felt put at risk. Can't say the same for the skateboarders who come zooming down the same streets - those guys are nuts and I keep waiting for a catastrophe. Fortunately as a pedestrian I can usually hear *them* coming.

Alex apparently spends a lot of time at Dolores Park - I wish I could spend more time there myself - and that area certainly attracts a different breed than the Freds like me riding down 24th Street to the Whole Foods with our trailers and extracycles. He complained about riders buzzing him on the sidewalk and (I think) on the lawn itself. I can envision that and it's certainly untoward. But not nearly as untoward as what I saw this AM...

Today at the top of Old La Honda, we were waiting on the right side of the road for the last cyclist to arrive before heading to 84. A pickup truck came screaming down from the North, laid on his horn, and made a sliding left turn onto Old La Honda, almost taking out one of us and the mailboxes on the other side of the road. Clearly he saw us and was not going to be bothered to be taking the turn with care.

Now, it turns out there is an Oak tree that has fallen over on Old La Honda and the road was closed, near the top. So it was fairly safe to assume we'd see this guy again. And we did. He was driving back up twisty Old La Honda Road at high speed - in REVERSE and came screaming into the intersection again, knowing full well that there were a half dozen cyclists standing at the edge of the road.

I just don't see how a PBR toting hipster riding down the sidewalk of Dolores Park compares.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Experimental data on cars vs bikes at stop signs

A few months ago, there was a story in our neighborhood paper, the Noe Valley Voice regarding the intersection of 24th and Church. This intersection is a mess, a four way stop with a streetcar running down Church Street, and platforms for the street car in the middle of Church in both directions, resulting in a strange split in the lane. This also means that train riders are dropped off in the middle of the street and must negotiate their way to the curb as the train is departing.

Not surprisingly, this sometimes results in accidents, as the Voice reports in a story where resident Kevin Daniels has taken it upon himself to try to get something done after witnessing a pedestrian hit by a car - while walking with her two young children.

Checking the letters to the editor for the following month, we see some responses from the community.

Two local residents recount stories of being hit by vehicles at that intersection. Both drivers indicated that they hadn't seen the pedestrian, at least one was not cited.

Then, there is this...

Editor:

In response to Kevin Daniels’ request to Captain Greg Corrales for stepped-up traffic enforcement, the police have conducted a targeted enforcement of the 24th and Church intersection on the mornings of May 4 and 5.

The results have been forwarded to Captain Corrales and to the engineering division of the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA).

Of the 16 people cited, 14 were San Francisco residents. Nine were cited for failure to yield to pedestrians, three for being on cell phones, two bicyclists for failure to stop at the stop sign, one motorist for failure to stop at the stop sign, and one for not wearing a seat belt. One of the violators had a suspended license.

We will continue to conduct targeted enforcement at that location as staffing allows.

Captain Al Casciato
Traffic Company
San Francisco Police Department


There's the anecdotal proof. Two of those vicious scofflaw cyclists were cited for running a stop sign, but only one car! Aha!

However, 9 motorists were cited for "failure to yield" - also known as "running a stop sign with a pedestrian right in front of you". It's illegal to run a stop sign no matter what, running one with someone in the crosswalk is dangerous. As three pedestrians mentioned in just these two issues can attest to.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rec and Park Commission hearing - Noe Valley Town Square

Hi All,
From Todd David -

I received a phone call from Rec and Parks yesterday informing me that the Commission is holding a meeting on Wed, July 6 at 2PM.

The Noe Valley Town Square is going to be mentioned as one of the projects Rec and Park is pursuing/investigating. It would be fantastic if 5 or 6 people could join me for Public Comment.

Please let me know if you are available.

Todd

PS I will be sending out another email as soon as I get the exact location of the meeting



Contact Todd at noevalleytownsquare@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Clipper Quiz Number 2.

For all you transit nerds out there - here is another fun @BayAreaClipper quiz!

The last quiz answer was $5.50.

Question 2 - How much did I pay to go home, taking the same bus/bart/bus combo?

Monday, June 27, 2011

MUNI of the now

video

Bay Area Clipper Card Quiz!

Update: Though Professor Akit got this one right on Twitter inside of 30 seconds, we're giving it to Bret Lobree. Akit is a ringer.

Details on Akit's Complaint Department - totally agree with his assessment that MTC botched this one.


For all you transit nerds out there - here is a fun @BayAreaClipper quiz!

Yesterday I walked down the street. Got onto the 48 Bus at 24th/Diamond. I was going to go to Bryant and get on a 27, but NextBus was telling me 54 MINUTES! So I got off at Mission, and was going to take the 14 down to 16th to get a 22/33, but my kid said "I WANNA RIDE THE CHOO CHOO". So we got onto BART at 24th/Mission, took it to 16th Street BART, went upstairs, and got on a 22 to our final destination.

Summary
MUNI ride on the 48
BART ride from 24th to 16th/Mission
MUNI ride on the 22

All within 30 minutes. I used my single clipper card to pay for this trip.

Question - How much did I pay?

First correct answer wins a Growler of Beer from Firehouse/Tied House.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Apology worse than the original offense.

Coming down Bryant headed towards a left onto Cesar Chavez, a car came out of their driveway right in front of me. I barked as loud as I could, the driver heard me and jammed on his brakes, crisis averted as I shot him a nasty look.

The light for the left on Chavez turned green, I headed East towards the nasty underpass of 101, and the driver pulled alongside me, rolled down his window and honked, and I looked over and he said "Sorry Amigo, I need to watch better, I am so sorry" while pointing at his eyes.

Between him startling me with the honking of the horn and him swerving around looking at me instead of the roadway, I think I was more in danger due to him feeling bad and doing an apology at 25 MPH than I was when he turned out in front of me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Twitter >> Facebook

@murphstahoe
There is no way I can possibly describe my hate for perforce
Fri Jun 17, 9:57 via tweetdeck

@scuttlemonkey
@murphstahoe anything in particular support@ or I might be able to alleviate, or just venting?
Fri Jun 17, 10:11 via tweetdeck

@scuttlemonkey
@murphstahoe I know #Perforce support monkeys are crazy-good at responding, even via email at support@perforce.com, might be worth a shot.
Fri Jun 17, 10:14 via tweetdeck
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
@scuttlemonkey - Gamer, mischief maker, tech lover, social media monkey, and all-around geek. Currently incarnated as Ecosystem Manager for Perforce Software.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anthony Weiner

The guy made a bunch of firebrand speeches, and he had some good points. He got on TV a lot because of it, and pushed hard on his opponents.

However, this isn't the first time he did something stupid that hurt his credibility.


“When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing?” Mr. Weiner said to Mr. Bloomberg, as tablemates listened. “I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”


The cyclist community is very big, largely Democratic, and very active. I mean, when the scandal breaks, and "The Bike Snob NYC" starts circling looking for a dead body that isn't a good sign.

Especially when he follows up by photoshopping Rip Torn's Mug Shot onto the body.

Stupid usually isn't a one time event. If Rob Anderson is patting you on the back and BSNYC is on your back, you're making some pretty big mistakes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Daily Caltrain Clipper Anecdote

Riding the train this AM, the fare inspector showed up and shortly afterwards I heard a conversation going on between the inspector and a passenger. Liberal usage of the word "Clipper" ensued of course, and finally I hear "You're going to Sunnyvale? Well, you're going to have to get off at Palo Alto, buy a ticket, and wait for the next train". Which - means a one hour delay for that passenger.

He replied - "Well, I'm not going to do that. I would prefer that you write me a citation that I will contest and get overturned, thanks". Perfect. The inspector was not going to take this lying down, so he did write a citation.

After the dust settled I went to talk to the passenger, whom I recognized, he was a former bikes on board guy who ended up going with a bike in a locker at Sunnyvale. He's been riding the train daily, with a pass, for over 3 years.

Apparently he lost his wallet. He found the wallet (I think it had fallen out of his pack on the way to the train) but a few cards had fallen out, including his Clipper Card. He called Clipper and they cancelled his card and are sending a replacement that will have his pass on it, but it's not here yet. He asked them what to do, they told him to print out the receipt for the old card, and the receipt for the new card showing the same balance. He showed this to the inspector who was not happy with this resolution.

The only foolproof resolution our hero would have is to buy daily tickets. This is "better" than in the paper tickets days when if you lost your pass, you were SOL, but if we're going to spend hundreds of millions on this system, we could come up with some methodology. And despite the fact that it opens all sorts of Pandora's boxes, I do think the fare inspectors should use some judgement on their citations.

Our hero will almost certainly beat the ticket, but will probably spend more than the one hour (plus a one way from PA-SV) he would have lost had he just buckled.

Discuss.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hotel Whitcomb - tour bus parking in "separated bike lane" on Market Street.

Cyclists who commute down Market Street at rush hour run into the same issue every day. The Hotel Whitcomb, at 8th Street, fronts a green painted, post separated bike lane. Every day, tour buses affiliated with the hotel park in that bike lane.



Photo by thegreasybear on mybikelane.com

"thegreasybear" has a write up on My Bike Lane that can be found here.

On Bike to Work Day, I had the pleasure of riding in with my Supervisor, Scott Wiener. We encountered the exact same blockade, with the buses parked 3 wide, including the protected bike lane. Going around 3 buses means going into the F line tracks, and one of our entourage crashed in the tracks. I pointed this out to Scott, and later sent him this email.


From: John Murphy
To: "scott.wiener@sfgov.org" ,
"jane.kim@sfgov.org"
Cc: "MTABoard@sfmta.com" , San Francisco Bike Coaliton
tahoe@murphstahoe.com
Date: 05/12/2011 05:57 PM
Subject: Tour Buses in Market Street Bike Lane



Supervisors Wiener and Kim:

It was a pleasure to ride in to work for Bike to Work Day with Scott and
to hear Supervisor Kim describe her lessons from Deep Jawa on riding a
bike so she could ride in today. Great stuff!

What is not so great is something Supervisor Wiener got to experience
first hand this morning. Every morning at the heart of bike rush hour on
Market Street, tour buses pull inside the "protected bike lane" and park
for extended periods in front of the Hotel Whitcomb in Supervisor Kim's
district. Buses then double park in the "primary travel lane", forcing
everyone onto the F Line tracks. Supervisor Wiener also got to see first
hand how problematic riding a bike over those tracks can be as one woman
in our party caught a wheel in the tracks and crashed.

Scott asked me "Has anyone said something to them?"

Answer: The hotel and SFPD have been notified of this situation many
times, and complainants have tried to point out alternatives, to no avail.

That block is one of the centerpieces of the boasts the Mayor and the
Supervisors made this morning at the press conference - an actual
protected bike lane in San Francisco. But if it is blocked every day at
peak usage time - the inbound rush hour commute - then all it is is a
waste of plastic poles and green paint.

Plenty of people have said things to the Hotel. None of them has the
gravitas of a sitting San Francisco Supervisor. We'd love your help with
this situation.

Thanks

John Murphy - District 8


Scott's response is here.


From: Scott Wiener/BOS/SFGOV
To: John Murphy
Cc: "jane.kim@sfgov.org"
, San Francisco Bike Coaliton,
, tahoe@murphstahoe.com, Mike Sallaberry
, Kit Hodge
Date: 05/13/2011 07:52 AM
Subject: Re: Tour Buses in Market Street Bike Lane



Hi John. Great riding with you this morning!
Yes, that situation was not good. At one point all three lanes were
blocked by buses/shuttles. I'd be happy to address it with Jane, with
SFBC, with SFMTA, or whatever would be most effective. Since it's in
Jane's district, I'll defer to her in terms of how to proceed.



Scott Wiener
Member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
District 8


And one from Jane Kim

Hi John and Scott,

I am more than happy to follow up with MTA to discuss what enforcement we
can place on Market Street to discourage tour buses and shuttles from
blocking the bike lane. I have cc'd Matthias Mormino and April Veneracion
from our office who can call MTA to discuss some immediate solutions.

Jane

Friday, May 13, 2011

"I'm TRYING to follow the law..."

... you don't have to be so rude about it...

This was a new one. I entered the rotary at Division/8th/Townsend/etc... coming from Eastbound Townsend. As you go around the rotary you really have to watch it as you pass Westbound Townsend. Anyone coming from there has a stop sign and must yield to whomever is in the rotary, in theory. This morning I saw a big SUV rolling up to the stop sign and I put a little hitch into my pedal stroke and fingered the brakes because I was pretty sure that... the car BEHIND this SUV was going to tailgate the stop sign running SUV into the rotary. Which... is exactly what happened.

If the SUV was being a defensive driver, they would have waited for me, and really they never quite stopped at the stop sign, but they had a reasonably clear shot into the rotary and could clear me. The Subaru behind, however, was on a collision course with my front wheel. The driver gave sort of a passing glance but really just followed the SUV into the rotary and I barked "HEYYYYYYY". She startled, slammed the brakes, and I pointed at the stop sign. She followed me onto Townsend, rolled down her window, and said in her best Baaastun accent...

"I'm tryin to fallow the laaah here, you dahn't need to be so ruuude".

I was pretty ticked off to hear this so I yelled some garbage at her about "If you don't try harder I'll be dead". What I really should have said was this...

"What law is is that you are trying to follow? The stop sign? Because you went right through it. Now sometimes I'll admittedly roll through a stop sign, but in that case I'm explicitly NOT trying to follow the law, I've made a conscious decision to flout the law. But you were apparently TRYING to stop at the stop sign and failed to execute that tricky maneuver. How is this? Either your brakes failed (provably false as she stopped at the next stop light) or you are lying."

Cuz you know lying only makes it worse...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Capitalism

I have Gout. On a daily basis I take Allopurinol to control the high uric acid blood content that causes gout flareups. When gout becomes symptomatic, uric acid crystallizes in the joints and the joint becomes very painful.

For centuries, it has been known that Colchicine can be used to treat gout flareups, references go back to 1500 BC, Ben Franklin took it for his gout.

The other day I was at the doctor and had to get a new prescription. He said "It's interesting, Colchicine has changed". I was puzzled - this was a drug from before Christ which is extracted from a plant. How could it change?

Turns out, that since this drug had been around forever, it pre-dated the FDA. So it was never "approved". Well, the FDA started an initiative to get drugs that were unapproved to be "approved". So URL-Pharma ran some tests, showed that Colchicine actually does what we've known it does for centuries, were granted 3 years exclusivity on Colchicine under the brand name "Colcrys", and they raised the price from 9 cents a pill to almost 5 dollars a pill. When you have a gout flareup you are supposed to take 2 pills immediately, and one and hour later - that now costs $15. for a drug that was developed by the ancient Greeks. All generic sales have been halted.

Here is an article from the New England Journal of Medicine

I'm considering not filling my prescription in protest. I haven't had a flareup in a very long time due to controlling the gout with Allopurinol - but interestingly, my allopurinol prescription ran out back in December. On January 1, I stopped drinking soda and have been avoiding sugars and especially high fructose corn syrup at all costs.

One symptom of gout is that when it gets bad, the crystals can form a hard deposit called a tophus. While gout is primarily considered a hereditary disease, the small tophus that had formed in my right elbow and was stubbornly hanging on through years of treatment, has almost vanished in the last four months since I stopped drinking a gallon or more of HFCS sweetened sodas daily. There is evidence that the fructose can lead to increased production of uric acid.

This isn't as conclusive as a blood test - we'll see what that says, I'm getting one before I start back up on the Allopurinol. I will be starting the medicine anyway, those gout flares really sucked, and large deposits can ruin your joints for good.

Stupid Human Tricks

This was a good one.

Riding on Skyline just into Daly City the other day, I was sitting 5th wheel in a paceline as we reached this spot.


View Larger Map

We were passed by a car that realized that they had wanted to exit. The car passed us then abruptly turned right, through the ice plants, and onto the CA-1 Entrance Ramp. Nice work, Elmo.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sorry Man, I just can't help you.

Saw this comment on the Daily KOS , a left-leaning blog (well, the right would probably replace "left-leaning" with "leftist" or "communist").


Were gettting royally screwed (0+ / 0-)
Here in Delaware Co., OH, I took my wife to work at 7 am. On the way back home stopped to fill up my F-150. Reg. unleaded was $3.99, this was about 7:20 am. At 11:30 am, it was $4.15. 16 cent jump in a couple of hours.

We should change our names to the Fucks, because were fucked. - Sam Kinison

by DF Dickson on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 10:39:52 AM PDT


I think there was something in there about gas prices and hardship, but I pretty much got lost when we were shuttling someone to work in an F-150.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Noe Valley Town Square - State of Play on the Road

Or should I say the state of play on the parking lot.


Subject: Time For The Heavy Lifting for Noe Valley Town Square


Hi All,

I had a meeting with Phil Ginsburg (Director of Rec and Parks) and
Supervisor Scott Wiener last Friday.

Phil and Scott are both excited about the Town Square Project. We all
agreed that the project is unique in its public private nature.
Politically, we acknowledged there are some challenges in front of us.

The best probabilities for success of the project is for the Noe Valley
community to start a serious and significant capital campaign. To that end,
I want to create a Capital Campaign Committee. If you are interested in
serving on the committee, please email me ASAP so that we can hold our first
meeting early next week.

Thanks,

Todd David

Monday, April 11, 2011

Here's something annoying

This morning Brooks and I went riding in the East Bay before work. Part of this ride is the descent of Calaveras into Milpitas. This is a fast fun descent.

Here's my strava gps log for the descent. On the right side you will see my average speed on the descent was 33.8 MPH over a 2.3 mile segment - over that segment size the GPS errors start to get pretty small.

About 1/2 mile from the bottom, the spidey senses went off and I did a shoulder check, and saw a vehicle behind me. I looked down and my GPS was reporting 34 MPH. There is one last S bend in front of me, and I drifted into the center of the lane to block the car from passing me. I didn't want to get passed in the S-bend at speed. This could hardly be contstrued as "impeding traffic" - the speed limit is 35 MPH.

Not surprisingly - I was passed right in the S-bend anyway. Shortly after the S-bend there was a speed trap, one of those signs with the speed limit posted and an electronic sign that shows the radar detected speed of your vehicle. The vehicle hit the speed trap - 47 MPH. Not surprising, as when I made the turn onto Calaveras there was nobody behind me and I was averaging the speed limit - the only way I could get caught is by someone exceeding the speed limit.

I caught the car at the stop sign at the bottom, but decided to just go on my way today. But I got a good look at the driver - a soccer mom in a mini-van with 2 kids in the car.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Caltrain JPB Meeting Clipper Rant

So as noted, I went to the Caltrain JPB meeting yesterday. While everyone was clearly focused on the service cuts, I decided to instead focus on my favorite waste of time, Clipper.

There was a snippet in the Executive staff report on Clipper, about the amount of outreach Caltrain has done with the adoption of Clipper. It was not read aloud in the meeting, because they were going over their February Passenger Counts. The counts were good, in addition to the bike ridership in my last post, ridership as a whole was way up, and the weekend baby bullet had good ridership - and surprisingly did not result in reduced ridership on the adjacent non bullet trains. That's not to say that the bullet didn't "just" steal riders from the locals, because overall ridership was up, but it was still good numbers.

Anyway, I pointed out to the board that there was a snippet about the outreach, and that this was not something to be proud of and basically reiterated the points in this blog post . Director Ahmad had made some rumblings earlier in the meeting that alluded to the piece in the Merc regarding the JPB's "rubber stamp" history. I looked at him and said "This is something that you CAN do - this is broken, ask them what they are going to do about it"

I left before the copious comments on the service cuts. I had heard it all before and wanted to get a burrito and go to work. The burrito place near San Carlos Caltrain is first rate - as are the Buckwheat Banana pancakes at Mary's Depot cafe at the train station. What I did miss, was that the JPB voted to postpone a vote on the proposed reduced schedule

From the Caltrain website

4/7/11 update : The Caltrain Board of Directors at its monthly meeting voted unanimously to postpone a decision on a reducted-train schedule until April 21 and directed staff to work to identify additional funds that would make the cuts unnecessary


Kudos to Mike Rosenberg, as far as I am concerned, for putting the fire to the feet of the JPB.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Build it and they will come

The staff report at the Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting today had an interesting nugget.

Ridership on the train by cyclists bringing their bike on board increased by 1100 riders per day from February 2010 to February 2011, to a record level. An over 33% increase systemwide.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd looked at the graphs and charts, and spoke up. "I am going to be a bit parochial here, but I see that the numbers are even higher for San Francisco". COO Chuck Harvey responded by saying that "4th and King is a very popular stop for cyclists, both arriving in the city and people in the city headed to the South Bay". Elsbernd asked about the "bike lockers" at 4th, Harvey responded that the Warm Planet bike shop was "flat out full - every day".

What's changed? Why the big increase?

I posit two things.

1) Increased bike capacity, thanks in no small part to the San Francisco Bike Coalition
2) New BIKE LANES on Townsend Street, making getting to the station much more pleasant.

Build it - and they will come.

Harvey was very energetically describing the additional on board capacity coming online this summer - 2 bike cars on every gallery set, money is in place and the plan is ready. The bike capacity portion of the presentation was more than mere afterthought - the staff is trying everything it can to show that ridership is strong and on the increase, and the cyclist program continues to be a huge - and growing - success.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Caltrain Staff Report FAIL

From this month's Caltrain JPB Meeting Agenda - item 7 - Report of the Executive Director.


Clipper – Caltrain continued to make customers aware of the imminent elimination of the paper Monthly Pass. It also reminded customers of the top tips for riding Caltrain with a Clipper card: maintain a minimum $1.25 on the card; tag on and off each time for e-cash and 8-ride Ticket customers; and tag on and off the first ride of the month for Monthly Pass customers. Information was disseminated with staff visiting stations and onboard outreach, website posting,conductor announcements, station electronic message board notices, brochures, take ones, station flyers, and via ticket vending machines.


This should not be a point of pride. It should be a point of embarrassment. Currently the conductors get their daily orders from Caltrain and every day are instructed to repeatedly remind customers to have $1.25 on their cards, instead of focusing on passenger and train safety. All of this costs money, in addition to the $450,000 that MTC has allocated due to excess Caltrain customer complaints.

The Clipper Facebook page and some rumbling from Conductors on the train mentions that they are looking at ways to change the system. This better include public outreach.

Caltrain they held 4 public outreach meetings on fare increases and service cuts - meetings which predictably consisted of "Please don't cut the service". Unless someone was showing up with a check for $30 Million, the meetings were redundant.

Meanwhile, Caltrain - "train guys" - are probably going to overhaul Clipper without doing public outreach. Clipper is "Computer Programming", "Algorithms", "User interface", "Market Research". Some of the foremost experts in the world on these topics RIDE Caltrain, but do not WORK FOR Caltrain. Caltrain could leverage those highly paid professionals - FOR FREE - but history indicates (Bike Cars, no public outreach on Weekend Baby Bullet Schedule) that they are too stubborn or too incompetent to do so.

Monday, April 4, 2011

cyclists run stop signs? WTF

Here is a video from my buddy Theo from this AM's ride. I was sitting right behind Theo when this happened. My Garmin GPS shows us going 23 MPH. A Honda passed us on the left, no big deal, Bayshore in SSF is pretty wide and we have a pretty posh bike lane.

There was a split in the group, as the front group amped it up to 26 MPH or so. The Honda passed 13 of us and then shot the gap and cut across the bike lane into the parking lane with yards to spare in front of a group of 13 cyclists going over 20 MPH.

This is ignorant, stupid behavior. If you are so careless, you should lose your license immediately - you are indifferent to the lives of others and should not be allowed near anything that can kill as simply as a car can. Yet we run stings on cyclists rolling stop signs in the middle of nowhere.

Clipper exploit?

I am blogging from Caltrain right now. For this month I have a Zone 1-3 pass, this is my first ride of the month. Due to poor system design, I am supposed to tag on/off for this ride, exactly from zone 1-3 or 3-1. If I don't tag - citation. If I get off at BART and tag off at zone 2, I pay $4.50 to ride less than the pass I own allows, and my pass is still not activated.

This is asinine. To explore the algorithm the lovelies at Clipper designed, I decided to try an experiment. At Sunnyvale, in zone 3, I tagged on. $8.50 - the fare to Gilroy, was deducted. Then I tagged off - this should annul my trip and it did, refunding my $8.50. The question is - was my pass activated (probably not). I do know that the pass had been "loaded" - I had seen that on a ride last month (why not just activate it?).

I got on the train and found a conductor to ask if my pass was valid. He tagged my card and it said "YES ZONE 3 - ZONE 3".???

It did not say monthly.

I'm hazarding a guess that there is a bug that would allow you to tag on, annul the trip, and ride in the same zone.

I got off in Mountain View and tagged again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Official Tea Party Memo: How to write a Letter to the Editor

Fellow Patriots -

In order to further our mission we must make sure to get the word out about the high values that we hold dear. One of the great American traditions, dating back to the shot heard round the world in Concord New Hampshire, is the time honored "Letter to the Editor". It is up to you - Joe Tea Partier - to get the world our in the finer newspapers (meaning newspapers outside of the "Lamestream Media") by writing letters for submission. This may be difficult, fortunately we have instructions for you to follow.

1) Title: The title of your letter will discuss the topic at hand. Please include the word "Force" or some derivative. The letter should discuss one of the following key topics - Taxes, Abortion, Taxes, Gay Marriage, or Taxes.

2) Credentials: Immediately start your letter showing your bonafides. Depending on the topic, either indicate that you are a "small business person" - either in a hard-workin' profession like "plumber" or as a "job creator in a new fangled industry" (taxes) or discuss your faith (abortion, Gay Marriage). If the topic is taxes, be as vague as possible about your occupation, if a faith based topic be as painfully detailed as possible.

3) Blue/Red State Dichotomy: "Dichotomy" is a fancy liberal word for difference. Indicate that you are in a blue state, but that it is really really bad there due to instrusive spread the wealth socialism and loose morals, and that you are sadly going to have to abandon the blue state for a true American Red State.

4) Distribution: Send the letter to a "Certified Patriot Newspaper" in a Blue State, preferably one as far away as possible. Indicate your sympathy for patriots living in that godless high tax state.

Example:

High taxes are forcing state business exodus

I have a multimillion-dollar Internet business in Chicago. Due to tax hikes, I will be leaving Chicago, but not because I am greedy. I cannot afford to pay 60 percent in taxes and expect to survive my competitors. I was looking to open my business in California, either Los Angeles or San Francisco. After calculating the taxes, I could not afford to bring my business to any placein California.

I would have the same problem in California that I had in Illinois. But not only would my business not survive in California, my 10 employees could not afford to live there, and I was told that their taxes would be just more than 50 percent of their income. Final decision: We are all moving to Florida. There, we will only have to pay up to 40 percent in taxes. My business would still be competitive and I think I can hire 10 more employees.

I wrote this letter to inform Californians of the reason that businesses can not survive in the state and have left to move to low-tax areas in the country.

Ann Martinelli, Largo, Fla.


5) Proofreading: Never fear. The "Certified Patriot Newspaper" will do all the necessary spellchecking for you. Do not worry about fact checking. Saying you live in Chicago and are "moving to" Florida, yet your byline says you are in Florida is unimportant. The fact you say you have a "multimillion-dollar Internet business", yet you don't exist on Linked In, nor can any reference to your name be connected to any business at all via "The Google" is just fodder for liberal busybodies who don't work hard and earn an honest day's pay. Nevermind that the City that the "Certified Patriot Newspaper" is in just rolled out a huge tax break for a "multiBILLION-dollar Internet business" that employs thousands of people, or that you aren't very likely to attract the calibre of "internet programmer people" (a.k.a. liberals) to employ in Largo, Florida that you would in Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. These are just details that the godless left will use to try to besmirch your patriotic vision.