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.


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

"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: "" ,
Cc: "" , San Francisco Bike Coaliton
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.


John Murphy - District 8

Scott's response is here.

From: Scott Wiener/BOS/SFGOV
To: John Murphy
Cc: ""
, San Francisco Bike Coaliton,
,, 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.


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...