Friday, November 16, 2012

Letter to Supervisor about the Transportation Sustainability Program

I sent this letter to Supervisor Wiener about the Transportation Sustainability Program which is coming before the board next week.

Read about it in Streetsblog

Dear Supervisor Wiener,

I am writing to ask you to support the TIDF legislation coming before you on November 20th. The TIDF legislation is an important first step in achieving the goals of the Transportation Sustainability Program. Under the TSP, the City will finally invest in sorely needed and overdue systematic improvements to the transportation system.

San Francisco has a "Transit First Policy". We know that transit is critical for our city. We have a problem in that new developments are planned without taking into account the costs they will impose upon the transit system and price mitigation into the planning.

I understand that the non-profit community is fighting to be exempted from the TIDF. While Non-Profits are a vital part of the city, they represent 20% of new development and thus have a large impact on the system. The TIDF update will address this deficiency.

To be clear: the TIDF only applies to net new development. This means a building can be torn down and a new one can be put up in its footprint, and as long as the new building has less or the same square footage as the old building, then TIDF doesn’t apply. If the building adds new square footage, the TIDF only applies to these additional square feet. This isn’t about punishing non-profits who want to renovate an existing space or build a new development within the footprint of an old building; it’s about making organizations who build larger and more expansive campuses and buildings accountable for the added strain being imposed on our transportation system.

The reality is that most small social service providers don’t propose new developments. I also understand that small social service providers are proposed to be exempted from the fee, which means that only those non-profits with sufficient funding to build new projects would need to pay their share to recognize the burden they place on the transportation system. Additionally, the TIDF has grandfathering for non-profits, which means that non-profit projects would likely never pay the TIDF, if the TSP can move forward efficiently.

I know that you understand the value of the City’s transportation system and can see the many benefits of implementing the TSP. I hope that you won’t allow self-interest to undermine a really great program that finally means we will see real environmental mitigation for new development impacts on the transportation system. Thank you for your support.

John Murphy

Here are supervisors email addresses if you are interested in joining the fray.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just when you think you've seen it all..

I was telling a rider this AM that I am "having to re-learn what problems I look for up here", referring to different challenges in traffic on rural Sonoma County roads vs. San Francisco or Peninsula riding.


On CA-128 heading towards Alexander Valley - a road with nominal traffic but not a ton of shoulder - sort of an annoying place to ride but it's the only connector from Calistoga/Knights Valley to Jimtown and on to Healdsburg, used most by cyclists coming to and from Chalk Hill Road.

A truck comes up behind us. We are riding single file but there are 13 of us, and with the winding nature of 128 and the oak trees blocking the sightlines, it's tough to pass a group. The driver waited patiently - not a huge lift as we were going 25 MPH - and when we got to a passing zone, including a dotted yellow, the driver went into the opposite travel lane and proceeded to pass.

The driver of a Jeep Cherokee following behind then tried to pass the truck on the right! The truck completed his pass of our paceline and started to merge back into his lane and was almost taken out by the Jeep that was zipping up along the inside!

The driver of the Cherokee slammed on the brakes, resettled himself, and then proceeded to accellerate and pass the truck on the double yellow.

I have a new helmet cam but it was not in operation, unfortunately.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Burlingame PD and cyclists

This has been sitting around in my inbox, and I have the need to post it for posterity. My friend Theo was right hooked by a car on Old Bayshore in Burlingame. Pretty lovely driving - Theo was at the front of a line of four cyclists, yet the driver either missed seeing 25+ feet of cyclists, or he was trying to whizz by them and failed. I sent the following letter to Burlingame PD and the Mayor
Mayor Nagel and Chief Wood -

I am writing in response to a traffic incident - a bicycle vs car collision - yesterday on Old Bayshore Road in Burlingame. While I was not involved in the incident, I am familiar with the details as the injured person - a Mr. Theo Cummings - is a good friend of mine and I often ride my bicycle on Old Bayshore with Mr. Cummings.

The facts are pretty straightforward, a VW Passat - license CA 5ULW165 made a right turn on Malcom Road off Old Bayshore without yielding the right of way to Mr. Cummings and the 3 cyclists following him who were going straight on Old Bayshore. This is commonly known as a "Right Hook" collision.

The response by Burlingame Forces was fine - perhaps over the top - one witness said "I counted 2 cop cars, 1 Fire Commanders car, 2 Fire Engines, and 1 Ambulance." Mr. Cummings was checked out by the Paramedics and will make a full recovery assuming the exam by the Urgent Care doctors was thorough and accurate. For this we can be thankful.

I was shocked however, to find that in an incident which could easily have cost Theo his life, that the Burlingame Police felt no need to cite the driver with even something as simple as "Failure to Yield". Personally, I would think reckless driving would be appropriate - he turned right in front of not one but four cyclists. Drivers with such little skill or care should be cited when they cause accidents - we have a "Points" system in California for a reason. In a time when red light cameras are being tuned to cite drivers who make a "California Stop" when turning right on red, a driver who causes a life threatening collision surely must be cited.

When I tell my friends about my commute route, I mention that I ride through the San Francisco Airport, and they express surprise. I tell them that the Airport is actually quite pleasant to ride through, and that the place I wish would disappear off the map entirely is Burlingame. While I do like visiting your downtown (accessed via the Caltrain), riding on Old Bayshore is quite annoying. Knowing that the Burlingame Police Force is unwilling to cite drivers who cause accidents inside your city, gives one even more pause.

The most insulting part of the entire experience, for my money, is this. A negligent driver had just run over Mr. Cummings, and a member of the Burlingame Police responded as such (I quote Mr. Cummings).

"The cop actually tried to suggest that we ride on back streets..."

Aside from the fact that this is blaming the victim, the accident happened on "Old Bayshore". Not on Highway 101. "Old Bayshore" is the back street. There was no excuse for this collision. It should have resulted in a citation.

Thank You

John Murphy San Francisco

Here is a response from Burlingame PD
Mr. Murphy,

Let me respond to this from the perspective of a cyclist and a police officer. Prior to moving the Coast, I regularly commuted from Fremont to Burlingame. I have continued to ride bikes, but I had to stop commuting as riding over Hwy 92 on a regular basis is too risky. I also understand the frustrations of having my right of way violated by cars and have had several close calls.

I am sorry for the frustration you are experiencing regarding your friend’s injury and the lack of a citation being issued to the other driver. Unfortunately, police officers are not permitted to cite drivers at the scene of an accident unless they have been to an advanced accident investigation course. However, this does not mean the driver who causes a collision gets off without a blemished driving record. When an officer takes an accident report, he or she is almost always able to determine fault. This report is filed with the CHP who in turn delivers the accident findings to the DMV. The DMV then assigns a “point” to the party at fault’s driver’s license.

In reality this practice, from an enforcement perspective, is more efficient than issuing citations. If a citation is issued, the findings of a collision report are not shared with the DMV. The citation becomes the method of delivery to a person’s driving record. Should this citation be contested in court, for a variety of reasons, the point may not be assigned to a person’s driving record. Accident report findings cannot be contested. The DMV relies on the officer’s “opinion” of who is at fault when assigning points.

In regards to the officer’s comment suggesting cyclists should ride their bikes on the back road, I had the opportunity to overhear the officer discuss this at the police station. The officer rides his bicycle to work as well. Due to the number of bicycle collisions he has responded to over the years, and his own personal experience with riding bicycles, he merely meant to pass on advice with safety being first priority. We all know that bicycles have the same rights as cars. Unfortunately, when a bicycle is involved in a collision, the cyclist is almost always injured. Often times these injuries are serious or, as you mentioned, fatal.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.

Don Shepley

Acting Patrol Captain

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Caltrain to *remove* bike racks?

That title probably woke up a few of you!

It sure woke me up. On Monday I boarded Caltrain 332 at 22nd Street, along with roughly 25 other cyclists, in the Southern (or "second") bike car. I was the last to board, and watched helplessly as I stood in line for probably a minute after all the other doorways were finished boarding. The Norther ("first") bike car might have had some room in it, I toyed briefly with the idea of riding down the access road to board there, but if it was full I would have been left behind, so I waited impatiently to board where I was.

I stumbled on, with a helpful and antsy conductor holding my hot chocolate for me to get me on and into the vestibule so the doors could close and we could start headed South. I looked at the chaos inside the bike car and leaned back to wait for the dust to settle, and started a conversation with the conductor.

"You know", he said, "they are doing a 'trend analysis on bikes' - starting today. And if they decide that you guys are delaying the trains they are going to remove some of your racks". Racks that we spent a lot of hard work getting into place.

This would be a catastrophe

I've heard plenty from Conductors that was wildly inaccurate or simply telephone game innuendo, but if this were true, it needs to be cut off at the pass. We've hit an equilibrium lately where bumps have not been too bad, removal of racks would be a big problem however.

I do note the following tweet seen just now...

A few things we can do in the meantime....

First - make sure you have a destination tag - if you don't have one you can make one yourself, even one that is official looking! There are some personalized ones that are very creative, even one someone made by carving a piece of wood.

Second - when you board the train, move as far back into the bike car as possible when looking for a place to rack your bike, and wait for people to get on before heading back into the vestibule/stairs to look for a seat. Train station delay is based not on when we get seated, but on when we all get onto the train. Blocking the entrance delays the train. If you check this video ...

The first rider slots her bike into the very first rack inside the door, then steps back into the entrance way to the bike car and blocks additonal riders from entering. In this case, the overall delay wasn't too bad because the following riders did move to the back. But if 3-4 riders jam up the entrance, we sit there, and sit there, and sit there, while the bean counters in San Carlos rub their hands and dream of removing bike racks. Don't be a n00b - move to the back!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How not to save time on your commute.

Today, riding along Central Expressway, at the Fair Oaks exit.

Driver in White Van cuts me off from proceeding straight on Central, careening into the exit at top speed, losing perhaps 1 second they would lose had they waited. Since I had to veer off from my path on Central at this point, I gave the driver a one finger salute and decided to follow the van onto the offramp. The ramp ends with a fork onto Arques Eastbound, where one can access Fair Oaks, or left to go onto Westbound Arques or Central Expressway the other direction.

The van was in the right lane of the fork but stuck behind traffic waiting for the red light at the end of the ramp. As I closed up to the van, it quickly accellerated to the left and onto the turn onto WB Arques and headed back onto WB Central. The driver looked at me through his open window and shouted an obscenity at me.

He didn't want to wait 1 second for me to get to a backed up traffic light, and he was so incensed he might have to discuss it that he took a 3-4 minute detour.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Caltrain - 4th and King Ticket Checks

Over the last few months Caltrain has started checking tickets at the entrance door at 4th and King prior to boarding. I had seen this in the past, but usually for off peak trains. Now, they are doing the checks throughout the peak of rush hour.

Personally, my Clipper card (Caltrain ticket) is buried in my wallet, which is buried in my backpack, somewhere. Since I have a reliable form of transportation (my bike) that has a variance in travel time from home to the station of roughly 2 minutes, I typically arrive shortly before departure, and if I have been lucky with the lights maybe I'll get a hot drink. So I head to the gates with my bike and my hot drink, and now I am fumbling into my backpack for my ticket, the same as the rest of the ridership heading towards the doors.

This leads to a long queue as people look for their tickets and are slowly processed by 2 conductors at the doorway, scanning Clipper cards with the slow hand held readers. The end result, lately has been that the trains have been departing 4th and King a few minutes late as passengers are processed and then scramble into the train.

There is an upside - this pretty much nips fare evasion in the bud. Which is a good thing, right? Thing is - fare evasion isn't a big problem for Caltrain - the ridership generally pays their fares. The riders *not* paying their fares are typically not Joe Commuter trying to save a few bucks, they are various n'eer do wells with much larger problems than paying a Caltrain fare and who, faced with the prospect of paying a fare would probably just not ride the train at all. And if we cite these folks (*if* they have a valid ID), they'll probably just bypass the court date, not pay the fine, and sort of slip into the ether. It's not like we're going to put anyone into San Quentin for a $5 Caltrain ticket.

I'm making an assertion on fare compliance - let's use the google machine to research this - here's an article regarding fare evasion on VTA that claims fare evasion on Caltrain is one tenth of one percent!

I have attended several JPB meetings over the years where the topic of service cuts has been discussed, usually this brings out someone whose station or train is up for elimination, and they propose that Caltrain do a better job of checking tickets in order to get more money to keep the trains running. The answer from CEO Mike Scanlon is always the same - fare evasion is very low.

Meanwhile, on-time performance in March of 2012 dipped to 92.6 percent. You tell me, what's a bigger problem - .1 percent fare evasion or 7.4% late trains?

And remember, the door checks are only at 4th and King. The conductors still need to perform on-board checks if they are to catch any fare evasion from passengers boarding at any of the stations down the line. While 4th and King may be the most popular station in the system, the other stations combined have substantially more boardings. I have had my ticket checked at the door, and then again on the train, probably 50% of the time.

I have heard anecdotes that conductors have claimed they have found that many customers had not tagged their card - but this is *always* on the first couple days of the month, when customers who have paid for Monthly passes have forgotten to activate their pass. Those customers don't have to tag on daily and they might forget on the first. In that instance, the door check is ensuring compliance with the technical parts of fare payment, but it isn't keeping people from evading fares - they have already paid. It would be simpler just to have one person on that day calling out to passengers to remember to tag on, without the time consuming scanning of cards of those who already have tagged on.

Caltrain needs to ditch the door check.

If you agree = send an email to Caltrain

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bumped off half empty caltrain...

Dear Caltrain

This morning I was bumped off of train 220 with my bicycle at 4th and King and lied to by the employees working the door. They claimed the train was full of bikes. I informed the door man that I believed he was not being truthful and I would find out - he curtly replied "not unless the train leaves the station 5 minutes late".

Of course, I then boarded 322 and talked to someone boarding 322 who had just missed train 220 at 4th and reported seeing several cyclists board 220 at 22nd, and twitter reported the train was 80% full.

Here is the underlying scenario. As I was walking to the door, another rider rode her bicycle through the 4th and King station at high speed. I looked at the doorman as he told her not to ride through the station and I said "Deny her boarding". The other door employee then informed her the train was full of bikes, resulting in myself and one other rider also being denied boarding. The employee persisted in his claim that the train was full, which I fully expected to be untrue as I had just witnessed 3 other cyclists board without incident while getting my coffee, and no indication of a count being done or any knowledge of capacity. My suspicions were proven correct.

While I agree with the conductors instinct to deny the passenger riding through the station boarding, his methodology was lazy and sloppy, was and ultimately costly to other passengers.

John Murphy

San Francisco

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The case for the Fell/Oak bike lanes

There has been some angst over the bike lane additions/improvements to Fell and Oak Street

Here is why I think this project's implementation is very important

On various blogs when this topic would come up, some cyclist would inevitably chime in and say that they prefer to use Page and Hayes to Fell and Oak. Some debate would get stirred up as to the fact that Fell and Oak are flatter than Page/Hayes, Page and Hayes would be great if we could bollard them up and make them local traffic only, but that won't happen, etc...

An interesting artifact of this discussion is that some community members who are virulently anti-cyclist and have probably not ridden a bike in decades, have suddenly become experts in the field and would posit that Page/Hayes are a better route for cyclists and thus the Fell/Oak project should be scrapped. This isn't because they actually know that it's better, they've just translated some comment from someone who prefers Page/Hayes for some reason and decided that this person is clearly an expert. Not based on the merits, but because it fits their narrative of keeping Fell/Oak the way it is.

Here's the problem with that. Cyclists DO in fact take Fell/Oak, already. Killing the Fell/Oak project is not going to chase them away from Fell/Oak. Some comment on a blog is not going to move them to Page. Should we remove the bike lane on Fell completely, and widen the primary travel lanes? Cyclists would still use Fell but without a bike lane and amongst even faster traffic - at speeds that do not belong on what is still a residential street.

Consider this. Foothill Road is a road that runs from Pleasanton California to Sunol California, parallel to the 680 Freeway. It goes through a relatively undeveloped section of the foothills on the East side of the mountains between Contra Costa Valley and the Bay. I rode this road on my bike 12 years ago and found it to be a very peaceful road along horse farms and not much else.

At some point over the last decade, Dublin and Pleasanton had some nominal development at the North end of Foothill. Traffic on the 680 in that corridor gets backed up a commute hours. From those subdivisions there is a direct connector to 580/680 to get onto 680 South. But the residents of this area discovered that they could take Foothill south and then cut over to 680, bypassing a chunk of traffic.

Those cars are *supposed* to take the freeway, not the rural road parallel to the freeway. But they started using Foothill anyway. So what did Contra Costa County do? Did they start a campaign to stop people from driving on Foothill? Make the road narrower and put in speed bumps to slow traffic? No - they repaved and widened the road to make for wider, quicker travel lanes, put in guardrails, installed a bike lane that has sections that go away because they could not fit the bike lane *and* a wider travel lane.

Similarly on 680 North there is a sign that says "SACRAMENTO USE 680N" to discourage people from using 84E as a shortcut around traffic on 680 and cut directly through Livermore onto 580. This sign was summarily ignored by motorists who figured out that they could shave a few miles and bypass traffic jams on 680 by using 84E, a narrow winding road to Livermore. What did the county do? Improved 84E to deal with the traffic they think should not be going that way.

Why is it that it that we will upend a country road to carry volumes of traffic that we already installed a freeway to carry, but when cyclists vote with their pedals to take a specific road, it is considered a reasonable argument to try to get the cyclists to not use that route? This project must happen or we are setting a bad precedent that cyclists should be pushed around only to certain roads we deem they are worthy to ride upon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Proposed Caltrain Schedule Changes

Caltrain has proposed some schedule changes that add three trains in each direction and modify some train schedules.

The proposed schedule can be seen here -I think there is a typo, the schedule indicates an additional Redwood City stop on trains 314/324 which doesn't make sense and does not match their description.

The summary for people who commute N->S in the AM is this.

1) Addition of a train running the same schedule as 275/285 in the 4 PM hour.

2) Reinstatement of train 236 and 256.

3) Addition of Palo Alto to Baby Bullet runs 312/322/332/365/373/383.

Item (1) I think is a great idea. Inserts a solid skip stop train for key but non-primary stations into the schedule. I like adding train 256 back, for the reverse commute this adds an option for midday service and is a limited stop train. Great.

I take issue with the strategy of adding PA to the (then no longer) Baby Bullets and reinstating train 236.

Adding the extra stop to the Baby Bullet trains adds 2 minutes to the run time of those trains, negatively impacting the notably large population that uses Mountain View station, with the benefit of adding more options for Palo Alto riders. Certainly a PA rider who currently can't take those trains gets value from that, but if they want to take the newly configured train, it will be 2 minutes longer than the current bullet trains they are taking. I assume Caltrain's theory is that by shifting Palo Alto riders from trains 314 and 324 to 312/322/332 they can ease the current crush loads on 314/324, but I question the validity of this theory - hoping that PA riders will take a slower train.

Here's my support. Currently train 324 is one of the most overloaded in the system, with a peak season load of 112% of capacity. Reference - Caltrain's annual ridership counts. Meanwhile, train 226 which departs San Francisco 5 minutes later and takes 5 minutes longer in journey time to Palo Alto - is not on the top 10 list of train loads. Anecdotally it runs fairly empty, despite not having much longer run time and serving additional stations (San Mateo, San Carlos, Lawrence). The train departs San Francisco at a very similar time to 324, and has comfortable seating capacity yet it has not drawn riders from 324 - I theorize this is because the riders do in fact care about that 5 minutes.

An additional problem with just throwing in the extra stops into an established schedule is that it does not take into account last mile problems. Trains 312/322/332 have not stopped in Palo Alto before, so there is no shuttle infrastructure ferrying riders to Facebook or Stanford timed to meet this new train. Trains 365/373/383 will now leave Mountain View 2 minutes earlier. This may throw shuttle schedules a real monkey wrench. It's hard to say that VTA has actually timed their light rails to the trains, but customers have established patterns. It may be only 2 minutes, but if you miss the train and are headed to Redwood City, you've just lost over half an hour.

Summary - I don't think Caltrain accomplishes the goal of reducing overcrowding on the trains by adding stops to 312/322/332, and causes other problems they have not accounted for.

Proposal - what I think Caltrain should do, which would be a slam dunk winner, is this. First, leave the current bullets alone. Second, instead of adding back train 236 as a limited, they should bring it back with the same departure time of 9:37 AM from 4th/King, as full local train #136. Then take the current full local train, train 134, departing SF at 9:07, and make it a baby bullet train 334, departing SF at 9:14 and making the same stops as 314/324 - 22nd/Millbrae/Hillsdale/Palo Alto/Mountain View/San Jose. This train would fit into the schedule as it runs with the same symmetry as the earlier parts of the commute hour, and has a schedule familiar to riders. Instead of adding a marginally slower train adjunct to current bullet trains, it adds a brand new bullet train to Palo Alto in a previously empty slot in the schedule for those riders. This will attract riders from train 324 who will "only take bullets", and attract new riders. So instead of just adding capacity, Caltrain would also increase ridership and collect more revenue to offset the addition of the train.

The North to South commute has a lot of riders with the flexibility to take an express train at that later hour, riders who currently do things like childcare dropoff and then drive to work because the peak commute (and thus bullets) have passed. I predict a train 334 would be an instant hit, relieve the overcrowding on trains 324/230, and drive Caltrain's revenue.

Discuss. And if you like this idea, use this use this handy email link to send a message to Caltrain saying so. Caltrain will be having a meeting at 6 PM on May 30 in San Carlos' Caltrain HQ to take public comment on the changes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Time for a 48X

Supervisors, MTA Board, Transportation Advisor Gillett -


I read this morning that MUNI is adding an 83X line to ferry riders from the 4th/King Caltrain station to Civic Center BART. I applaud this measure to layer on high return on investment, targeted transportation options onto the overall system. While this service might not benefit the typical MUNI rider directly, there are indirect impacts of adding service like this that absolutely impact our current regular riders. If this service attracts riders and removes cars from congested corridors, everyone wins.

Given the addition of this line and the recent NX line, I would like to suggest a line that would also be of benefit, across Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10 and benefitting each district in one way or another. 

Over the last few years, ridership on the "reverse-peak" direction of Caltrain - riders leaving SF to go to jobs South of the City - has exploded. Much of this population of riders resides in the Supervisorial districts noted above, because those districts have relatively easy access to freeways headed Southbound. What those districts do not have is reasonable access to a Caltrain station. The 48 bus runs from the ocean to 22nd Street Caltrain, but navigates congested corridors as a workhorse taking residents along two semi-distinct retail corridors and serving BART and SFGH. The bus runs from 1 block from my house in Noe Valley and stops in front of the 22nd Street Caltrain station - taking roughly 35 minutes to complete a journey that I can make on my bicycle in 12 minutes.

The result of the demand for Caltrain coupled with poor MUNI service is that residents of Noe/Mission/Bernal have voted to drive to the 22nd Street station which is known for copious amounts of free parking. Known well enough that parking management has become a problem here, and a plan to resolve that issue by metering the parking in the area caused much rancour.

The time has come to respond to this market. I believe that the SFMTA should study a 48X express bus from the West side of town to Caltrain. By routing such a bus down Cesar Chavez instead of 24th, and making fewer stops, we could serve this population, attract new riders, and mitigate the parking problems in the Caltrain/Dogpatch area while also reducing AM/PM congestion on Cesar Chavez. Placing a stop at Mission Street would also serve as a nominal express to BART for West Portal/Miraloma/Diamond Heights/Noe. This route could also serve a working population that has no current route down the Chavez corridor on MUNI (subject to making the schedule effective as a Caltrain feeder, perhaps with stops on 3rd Street after the train station).

Thank You

John Murphy

San Francisco

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Urban Jungle

Nobody cares anymore. Maybe they never did, who knows.

Chattanooga Street, 8:10 AM. This preferred bike route is great except at 8 AM. That's when the kids are being dropped off at school, 2 blocks from the 48 bus stop. This AM, there were 4 cars double parked in the direction I was headed, NB, on what's a pretty narrow street. I hesitated because down the road there was a car in the oncoming lane, but eventually I ascertained that it was also double parked. I moved to the oncoming lane and moved to pass the 4 double parkers.

After I passed, the front car in the line of double parkers had finished their drop off and put it into gear. The driver quickly figured out that I was in front of them and they were really going to have to jam on the accelerator to get past me before reaching the car double parked in the oncoming lane. I was going about 15 MPH (this school does not yet have a 15 MPH speed limit) and flinched as I heard the roar of the motor as I was passed. The driver swerved back into the lane just in time for... the 8 year old child who was exiting the double parked car to come out from behind the back of the double parked car! I'm not sure if the driver ever saw the child as he was probably focused on me, but the 8 year old jumped back. There's all sorts of wrong here.

Valencia and 14th, 8:18 AM. I'm headed down Valencia to make a right turn on 14th Street. There is a car in the bike lane just at 14th, with its right turn signal on, waiting to make a turn on green. This is good - that's the proper place to make that right turn from, and "waiting" means they aren't t-boning the pedestrians crossing 14th. The car makes their right turn and I prepare to make mine. At this point the SFPD cruiser in the primary travel lane makes an unsignalled right turn going through the apex tightly and cutting off my line. Bad bad bad. Had I been going straight I would have been on the pavement for sure. I caught up to the cop at South Van Ness and gave him the stare down, but the only person better at a stare down than an aggrieved cyclist is a cop.

Division Street Rotary, 8:24 AM. This spot is very dodgy. Car lane and bike lane entering the rotary, and a reasonable amount of pedestrian traffic. I see a pedestrian on the right, partially blocked from view by the parked cars. I move to the left side of the bike lane, slow, and stick my hand straight out to signal (and block!) the three cyclists behind me from rolling the stop, and when I get to the stop line I set my bike diagonally, unclip and put my foot down, arm still extended, and look straight at the pedestrian. He smiles and says "Thanks!", at which point one of the cyclists shoots the very small gap between me and the car to my left and runs the sign full speed. I look at the pedestrian and say "I tried" and he shrugs and continues to cross the crosswalk, at which point the car to my left decides to enter the rotary, almost smashing the pedestrian in the process.

What is with you people?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chris Bucchere, the SFPD, and Matier and Ross

Someone in the SFPD has leaked info on a supposed video of the incident.
"The biker is going fast and looks like he is hunched down. He hits the victim dead-on. There is never a moment where he looks like he is trying to slow down," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because police are still investigating the March 29 crash. Hui died of his injuries four days later
First - This is the second and perhaps third leak of evidence from an "anonymous" member of the SFPD for a suspect who has not been charged. Also in Matier and Ross is a "witness account"
Police sources tell us the file forwarded to the district attorney includes the name and number of a motorist who reported seeing Bucchere and another cyclist fly through several red lights and stop signs before the deadly Castro district crash. Hui's wife, incidentally, was walking a few steps ahead when her husband was hit.
A third possible leak from the SFPD is the email threads from Mission Cycling and SF2G. The SFPD had the email threads the day of the incident. The email threads stayed out of the media until they appeared in MarinIJ, SFBG, SFGate, SFAppeal almost simultaneously. Was this also leaked by the SFPD? Regarding a suspect they were not officially naming? Regardless of whether you think Bucchere should be convicted of whatever, he deserves due process. Second, Matier and Ross stated that Hui died of his injuries four days later. While Occam's Razor might lead one to conclude this, I have seen no official word that the injuries were the cause of death. This is picking nits, but isn't wild speculation supposed to be the realm of the crazy bloggers, not the genteel printed media? The analysis of the video given by "Anonymous" is interesting. It does not dovetail with Bucchere's description, especially the statement that Bucchere "laid it down" which we have all concluded he meant that he intentionally crashed his bike. What the discrepancy might make one think - Bucchere claimed that he didn't remember anything for 5 minutes following the accident. How was his recollection of the lead in to the accident so vivid? I was in a car accident when I was 17, I didn't remember anything leading up to the accident until I came to in the ambulance.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Chris Bucchere Accident

I have been very deeply affected by the bike/pedestrian crash at Market and Castro last week. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the accident and asking the question "How did this happen?"

I use the word "Accident" in the title intentionally and ironically. I am of the camp that the word accident is usually inaccurate. When something goes wrong on our streets, there is generally a cause. And this can break down into factors covered by law, and those that are not. There can be factors that are negligence, and those that are more "preventative".

For example, when I was run over on Millbrae Ave I feel that the driver was legally at fault, and negligent. I was in the correct lane for where I was headed and he ran me down from behind. The City of Millbrae was a player too - they were party to designing this horrible interchange that is the only crossing of 101 for miles. I won't call them negligent, but they did not take steps to prevent. Even I played a part - if I was headed to SFO, and I knew the interchange was complete crap, I could have taken BART, ridden on the sidewalk, or gone out of my way and ridden a safer overcrossing.

The primary word applicable to Bucchere's case is "tragic". If you don't think so, watch this. But if you divorce yourself from the tragedy, it's provides a lot of food for thought. I went to the intersection this AM to film it. I only stayed for 2 light cycles but got the shots I wanted. Apologies for the quality and the angle of the second but the point is clear.

First this video.

You see the man in the foreground looking up at the light for N/S Castro Street. It's red, and he starts to cross against the walk signal. He makes it almost to the yellow line before the walk signal appears. A woman closer to Market itself also reaches mid-intersection before the walk sign. On the other side of the street, a pedestrian waits to verify that the car headed North has stopped, then enters the intersection against the red walk sign.

Second, this video

In this shot, the pedestrians on the far side of the intersection do in fact wait for the walk sign before entering the intersection. The difference in this shot is that there is a motorist in the intersection, the motorist reaches the crosswalk simultaneous to the walk sign turning white and is in the crosswalk with the white walk sign. Perhaps similar to Bucchere's arrival time. Are these just more law abiding pedestrians or are they aware that there is a car crossing and are waiting for the intersection to clear?

Look at the angle of the man in the first video. He is looking mid-lane. Would his eyes catch view of a cyclist coming along the right side of the Southbound lane? This is prescribed by California Law - cyclists must ride as far to the right as practicable. If the cyclist has a black jersey which might blend into the background, would he be that much more difficult to spot? A cyclist has - for the most part - the same rules and responsibilities as a motorist, as such a pedestrian has the same responsibilities with respect to a cyclst.

These are the sort of questions that will come up as the case proceeds. There is supposedly video of the intersection during the incident. Will the video show Bucchere entering on Yellow, as he claims? Is there video of the crosswalk showing the timing of Mr. Hui's entrance to the intersection?

If there is information gleaned from video to support Bucchere's claims it will make things more tricky for the District Attorney if they intend to charge him. If there is no video, Bucchere's defense team will do a much more substantial inventory of pedestrian activity at that intersection that will be of value to his defense. This will force the District Attorney to dig deep into a pretty meager toolbox in order to make charges that will pass the rigors of a court case.

If I were the cyclist in question, this incident (EDIT - add "perhaps") would not have happened. First - if I were riding from the Panhandle to the Castro I would avoid Divisadero/Castro Street and take the Wiggle - because it is flat and though I enjoy a good challenge, in the city I prefer flatter routes. Second, if I happened to be on Castro I would probably be riding slower than Bucchere apparently was. I got a yellow at the last moment it would be tricky, I would proceed but immediately be preparing for the worst, with cross traffic on Market now having the green light and MUNI tracks in the road making emergency maneuvers a bit dicey.

My behavior would fall under the umbrella of "Practicing Due Care". My understanding of the law is that this isn't a specific requirement - instead of requiring people to drive carefully, we have instead tried to devise a set of rules that we believe, if followed, will enforce care. In practice, these rules tend to fall short.

My opinion is that the Police and Courts need another weapon in their arsenal. Install a "Vulnerable Users Law" that states if you are on a bike and you hit a pedestrian, then you have not practiced due care unless it can be shown otherwise. If you are in a car and you hit a cyclist or a pedestrian, the same standard applies. Then, just because you followed the logistics of road use you may still be charged for not adapting to conditions.

Penalty? California spends 50 Billion per year on prisons and 8 billion on education. I'm not sure that we need to put people guilty of Vehicular Manslaughter who are otherwise non-malicious into the prison system for long periods of time, unless gross negligence is shown (I consider DUI to be gross negligence to name only one example). I do think we simply pull their Driver's License for 3 years, with no exception for work travel. That is a pretty serious hardship on the person convicted of the charges, but a lot less serious than going to prison, at far less cost to the State. I think this should apply to cases involving a cyclist - right now tickets while on a bike do not impact your drivers license. I'll hazard a guess that Mr. Bucchere would be impacted pretty badly with a 3 year suspension. And if you get caught driving a car (or causing more mayhem on your bike) within that period - off to the clink, no questions asked.

If this sort of law were in place, this case would be a lot more clear. Instead, I think this one will take a long time and I have no idea what the result will be.

I would bet a large sum of money that organizations like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition would throw their full weight behind passage of such a law, no matter the increased exposure to legal repercussions for cyclists. And I would also wager a lot of money that California AAA would fight against it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Getting Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot

Dear Members of the SFMTA board and Director Reiskin -

I watched with interest your recent increase in fines for double parking, sidewalk riding, and obstructing traffic. While I can agree in principal with the idea of increasing the fines for these behaviors, I have to agree with Director Bruce Oka when he said "increasing fines without increasing enforcement would be “useless” as a deterrent".

A situation I would like to bring to your attention is that of the Whole Foods store on 24th Street in Noe Valley. I traverse that street daily, typically at 6:15 PM. When I do this there is an absolute certainty that the following event will happen in front of that store.

First - there will be motor vehicles entering the parking lot but unable to enter the lot because the lot is full. These motor vehicles then stand to wait to enter the parking lot by completely blocking the sidewalk. 24th Street has a heavy pedestrian volume, a l arge percentage of which is parents with young children, both in and out of strollers. This is a safety hazard of great degree.

Second - there will be one of more motor vehicles obstructing traffic in each direction, waiting to enter the parking lot. 24th Street is a narrow street and the distance between the two entrances to the parking lot close enough, that this results in a complete gridlocking of 24th Street. The primary victim of this gridlocking is the 48 Quintara bus which is typically standing room only at this time of day.

Third - once either of these motorists blocking the roadway either manages to pull onto the sidewalk, the vehicles waiting for traffic to clear accellerate as quickly as they can in order to get around the vehicle impeding traffic. This is a grave hazard - the motorist will typically do a quick check to see if there is an oncoming vehicle, but due to selective vision will wait for oncoming motor vehicles but frequently miss the presence of an oncoming cyclist. Bicycle usage on 24th Street has become very high recently - it is the flattest route through Noe Valley, accesses the local businesses, and the speed of traffic is slower on 24th than the "Sharrowed" Jersey Street that parallels 24th one block to the South.

Fourth - most damning, the hapless employees of Whole Foods who try to patrol this situation meekly allow this to happen for the most part. The most value they add is to stop motorists from entering the lot proper once those cars have blocked the sidewalk by stopping to have a chat with said motorist. By the time this happens, it is too late, the safety hazard caused by blocking the sidewalk is in full effect.

Were I in control - admittedly I am not - I would envision two remedies to this issue.

First, identify the times of day when this problem is most acute and send out DPT or SFPD as appropriate and ticket offenders. This would send a clear message to drivers that they must behave in this particular area and a message to Whole Foods that they need to empower their parking patrol to effectively police the area or Whole Foods' customers will start getting expensive tickets and perhaps abandon the store.

Second - as you start looking into expanding metering hours, this stretch of 24th Street should be a prime candidate. The problem described above is primarily an issue from 6-8 PM at night, and on Sundays - when the parking meters are not operational and parking turnover goes to zero. While the patrons of Whole Foods would certainly prefer to park for free directly in front of the store, paying a dollar for 30 minutes of parking on the street in the same block will not be a showstopper for a store known for servicing more affluent customers. And one could hope that some of those affluent customers living in the direct area would consider walking to the store.

Please use the tools available at your disposal to improve this situation which is a hazard to all users of the street and causes delay for everyone, notably those on the 48 Quintara.

Thank You

John Murphy

San Francisco or

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The genteel people of Woodside Ca

Per various mailing lists, someone in Woodside is laying tacks on Kings Mountain Road, clearly to cause flats for cyclists. Flatting on that descent at speed would be "not good" Visible - 40 of the 43 tacks we encountered on the post-ride ride up King's Mtn Rd today - all in groups of 6-8 tacks, in the uphill bike lane. 1/4 - 1/3 mi apart, from 1/2 mi past Huddart Park Entrance up to 1/2 mi from Skyline Blvd - 7 groups of tacks total. Someone is sending bikers a "message" ... so let's be careful on that road. The 3 tacks that caused flats (me, and 2 other noon-Meetup riders) were tossed before we started collecting them for safety and evidence.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fell/Oak bike lane - inside the minds

There is a "Petition" of sorts regarding the potential changes to Fell/Oak to provide separated bike lanes. I consider the project to be very important - this short stretch of pavement from Scott to Baker links the very bike friendly Wiggle route with the off road path down the panhandle to JFK drive in the park which was always pretty sedate but will now have a separated bike lane. It's always amusing to check out internet comments, but this petition has some pure gold.
I live in the neighborhood and the problem is the gas station and people who drive down Fell street with total disregard for the residents of the area. Fell Street traffic moves at a fast pace, what needs to be address is the speed limit and bike and pedestrian safety. There should be no right hand turns on a red at Fell and Divisadero. Penalizing the residents of the area whom do happen to drive and park in their neighborhood is wrong.
Translation: I live on Fell and want the people driving through here to slow down, but I want parking for myself. I want a lowered speed limit on this street that people will magically obey, but when the original plan called for removing a lane - which would actually lower the speeds on Fell, I protested it.
I've lived in the neighborhood for 22 years and eliminating my parking spaces would greatly affect me since my house does not have garage and I can not afford $250/month rental for a parking space.
It would be a huge hardship for me to have to pay $250 a month to rent a space for my car given my 2 Bedroom rent controlled apartment is $245 a month.
I do agree that Fell and Oak have become dangerous with people driving too fast and Ted & Al's towing constantly double parking AT RUSH HOUR causing massive frustration, confusion and back ups. I don't see how removing the parking spaces will solve this problem.
I don't care if removing the parking spaces will solve this problem. Fixed.
My car is part of my family and i already spend hours each week looking for parking.
In this stress filled world, most people do not get the chance to spend hours each week with their family. Fortunately for this person, a lack of parking has solved this problem - hours weekly with "part of my family".
I think the current Fell St bike lane is perfectly fine.. The same kind of bicycle lane should be placed on Oak street. I don't believe that the current bike lane is hazardous for cyclists. A more serious problem in this neighborhood is the large number of cyclists on the sidewalk. In both directions and on both sides of the street. I have almost been run down several times coming out of my front door or going around a corner.
Please remove parking on someone else's street for a bike lane but not mine. I think the bike lane on my street is perfectly safe for cyclists, despite the fact they are so scared shitless riding on my street that they ride on the sidewalk. Come to think of it, that makes it safe for cyclists, but it's hell on pedestrians. Wait...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Comment on Caltrain fare changes...

An anonymous commenter writes...
Now the new fees have me pissed. My old dual 8-ride system is going away so I'll have to purchase a 4-zone monthly. This ups the monthly payment by $20 and yearly up significantly since there are 2 or more months when I travel much less than the value of a monthly - so I have to go back to managing the account which is a pain in the ass. Also pisses me off that Lawrence is costing me ~$50 a month to cross that zone boundary. Makes me almost want to say fuck them and only do a 3-zone. I don't think I've ever been checked between Lawrence and Sunnyvale.
And Caltrain thinks this fare increase will work out OK.

A few things to note.

While Caltrain has noted that 6% or so of their passengers use 8 rides (down from 16% before Clipper), they don't give any real clue as to the nuances of this number. A larger percentage of riders switch to 8 rides a couple of months per year, most notably December where many riders take a week or more off from work. So the total population impacted is much higher than 6% (plus the 10% that were already impacted). And as you can see, this population is not happy.

It also underscores the level of math that riders do regarding the amount of money they spend on Caltrain. The accounting can go down to the nickel. On the other hand, it's a very rare bird that understands "If I drive at 8 AM, I burn an extra half gallon of gas on 101 than if I drive at 11 AM, because of time I spend idling in traffic". The cost of driving is very abstract. We know quite clearly that very few amortize the life of their transmission when calculating the cost to drive 40 miles to Mountain View.

It's less clear, but I theorize it is absolutely true that drivers also have a pretty static view of how much it costs them in gasoline, the one marginal cost they actually consider when comparing driving to public transit. They think "I get X miles per gallon" and "pay Y dollars per gallon". Time spend idling in traffic is neglected, and the price of gas is frozen at an optimistic level. They decide "It costs me $7 roundtrip to drive" and that number rarely changes because they aren't getting feedback from the car that "because you missed the exit and had to circle an extra 5 miles, you burned an extra dollar in gas". But they sure as hell remember every time they forget to tag off Clipper!

With the internal biases in calculation stacked against the use of transit, fare increases like this can be deadly to ridership levels.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Caltrain Fare Increase Hearing, Feb 2, 10 AM, San Carlos HQ

Here is the agenda item for the Caltrain Fare Increase (also known as "Change to the Codified Tariff").

Summary - no 8 ride tickets, 8 ride ticket users use their Clipper card to buy one way tickets and get a resulting 15% fare increase.

Paper tickets increase by 25 cents per zone, which is a 12.5% increase.

Send comments to to provide feedback.

FEBRUARY 2, 2012
TO: Joint Powers Board
THROUGH: Michael J. Scanlon
Executive Director
FROM: Rita P. Haskin
Executive Officer, Customer Service and Marketing
On December 1, 2011 the Board approved a public hearing to be held February 2, 2012 for the
consideration of changes to the Codified Tariff.
Holding the public hearing will allow Caltrain to receive input on proposed Codified Tariff
changes that may impact customers.
Changes under consideration are:
A. Additional Regional Clipper® Implementation Measures
- Increasing the cost of paper One-way and Zone Upgrade tickets by up to 25 cents per
zone and Day passes by up to 50 cents per zone. Note: The cost of a One-way ride will
remain the same for those using a Clipper card. Day passes are not available on
Clipper. Monthly Pass prices will remain the same. See Attachment A for proposed
fare chart.
- Elimination of the 8-ride Ticket.
B. Go Pass
- Increasing the cost of the Go Pass by $10 to $165, and setting the minimum level for
employer participation at $13,750 per calendar year.
C. Sales Period
- Lengthening the sales period for monthly transportation passes and parking permits
from the 9th of the month to the 15th of the month.
There is no impact to the budget for holding the public hearing.
Page 2 of 2
Staff developed the proposed changes to meet the responsibilities placed on Caltrain by
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Resolution 3866 and upon analysis of customers' fare
media usage, especially in light of Caltrain's transition to Clipper. The proposed changes to paper
ticket prices are intended to incentivize use of the Clipper fare payment system, which has been the
focus of significant regional investment over the past several years. The 8-ride Ticket is no longer
a sustainable fare product for various reasons, including that it cannot be altered for improved
performance within the Clipper system. The proposed changes to the Go Pass cost and annual
minimum would move that program towards revenue neutrality. Finally, the extended sales period
for monthly transportation passes and parking permits would benefit the agency in terms of the
quantity of passes and permits sold, and customers, who would gain flexibility in timing their
The public outreach program regarding the proposed changes and this hearing included four
community meetings (Gilroy, Mountain View, San Carlos and San Francisco), bilingual
newspaper notices, a news release, station flyers, bilingual onboard messages to train riders,
Facebook postings, Tweets and a presentation to the Caltrain Citizens Advisory Committee.
Information also was posted to the Caltrain website, which allows readers to translate it into
dozens of languages.
Staff established a number of ways for customers and the public to provide their input: at the
community meetings, via a unique e-mail address, through the postal service, and with a call to the
Customer Service Center’s general number or one for those with hearing impairments.
Staff will consider public testimony and input from members of the Board of Directors before
developing final recommendations for board consideration at its March 1, 2012 meeting. The
changes would go into effect July 1, 2012.
Prepared by: Rita P. Haskin, Executive Officer, Customer Service and Marketing 650.508.6248

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How is Caltrain like a teenage boy.

In 2011, Caltrain was in a bind. They cooked up a plan that involved service cuts and a fare increase. Their press release is no longer on their website but it is here for posterity
Caltrain Sets Public Hearings: Proposed Service Reductions, Station Closures, Fare increases and Declaration of Fiscal Emergency
Caltrain followed this with many public hearings, and community meetings that included a sitting US Congresswoman to circle the wagons and get everyone to pitch in to cry for more money for Caltrain. These hearings were very well attended, as people responded to clearly defined things that they do not want - paying more and getting less service. Got that - people don't want to pay more, and they'll complain about it, no matter what it is. Fast forward to 2012. Caltrain is trying to raise fares again. This isn't really a sky is falling moment. If you look at the Agenda from the January 2012 JPB Meeting you will see that
Deputy CEO Gigi Harrington said revenues are about $3 million over budget in October, of which $2.8 million is farebox revenue. Expenses are within budget.
Caltrain is already getting $3 Million in fares over projection yet they are proposing a fare increase. Hmm. That's going to be an uncomfortable set of public hearings where people show up to complain about the FARE INCREASE. Then again - will anyone even know that there is a fare increase?
Caltrain Holds Meetings About Proposed Changes to Codified Tariff January 17, 2012 Caltrain will hold four public meetings and a public hearing where staff will present proposed changes to some Caltrain fares that would become effective July 1, 2012.
Interesting. When they want to fire up the troops, it's a fare increase. When they want to slide it in before lunchtime, it's "changes to some Caltrain Fares". I used that same trick - when I was fourteen years old ;)

The case for bicycle infrastructure - Cesar Chavez Hairball

This is the Cesar Chavez "Hairball" intersection with Highway 101 in San Francisco.
View Larger Map I pass through here a few times per week on my bicycle to get to Caltrain. I am not alone - on this morning's ride there were three other cyclists passing through this same spot - to get to the Caltrain station (or any other destination in that area), you either have to brave the hairball, take a "more direct route" over Potrero Hill (a hill with a 20%+ gradient) or detour a couple of miles to 17th Street. On the right side of the photo you can see a sidewalk along the freeway onramp. This leads to the "Underpass of Broken Bottles and Dreams", a sidewalk cum bike path that requires you to first access it by crossing the onramp, then follow a narrow chute under the 101, strewn with well, broken bottles and dreams (a.k.a. homeless people). There is a signalized crossing of Bayshore Blvd and then you rejoin Cesar Chavez in the offramp from 101-N. Two of my companions chose this option this morning. Another woman chose against the path. She rode "as right as practicable" so to speak, in the far right of the roadway, then crossing the freeway onramp and then hugging the white line on the right of the underpass. This required her to pass the exit onramp to Bayshore Blvd South, then go under the freeway. I chose a third option. Having turned onto Chavez via a left turn off of Bryant South, I took the middle of the far left lane. A maneuver that requires nerves of steel and hopefully cooperation from drivers as you navigate under the underpass. The majority of traffic is headed to the freeway or Bayshore so I find this to be the spot that gives me the most breathing room. After getting past the Bayshore onramp, I switch into the right hand lane to finish the underpass. This led to quite a scene - there were cars headed to the freeway, cars headed to Bayshore, and a car headed through, with a bike in the left lane and a bike hugging the curb in the right lane. Fortunately we all sort of looked out for each other and made it through, but I won't call it comfortable nor efficient. When my female companion and I finished our crossing, we then had to merge across the 101-N offramp that enters Chavez, which was a bit messed up because there were 2 cyclists merging from left to right, and 2 cyclists on the right hand side who had just crossed the onramp having come off the "UBBD". How it this optimal? Safe? Useful? Answer - it's not. You can't really say that any of us broke the rules, but we all took a different choice from three unpalatable options. Designing useful and clearly defined infrastructure that works for bikes and cars is good for everyone. And of course, when we reached Pennsylvania Avenue, where I turn left to go to Caltrain, one of the bike path cyclists took the same left turn as me, onto a three lane section, the rightmost lane being the onramp onto 280-N. I took the middle lane (rightmost non-freeway lane), he took the left lane (avoiding the 280 traffic and traffic from Chavez WB that has a free right turn into the freeway onramp and often merges into the middle lane). Needless to say that didn't work out too nicely either. The other two intrepid cyclists bypassed Pennsylvania and took a left onto Iowa Street instead, which has its own issues. This is what happens when your designs do not take into account the mix of traffic that will use a street.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Letter to John Avalos regarding Fell/Oak bike lanes.

For those of you not in the loop, the separated bike ways on Fell and Oak - an important link in the Bay to the Beach route for the connecting the city set of bikeways, has been Monkey Wrenched and it if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably Mayor Ed Lee.

Supervisor Avalos -

My name is John Murphy, you may recall me from a bike ride we took down Cesar Chavez street during your Mayoral Campaign. That day I made a point that this street was supposed to have already been striped with a new bike lane, but that the office of Interim Mayor Edwin Lee delayed this very important project on a important bike route which is nonetheless not very comfortable for cyclists to utilize. Today, the Interim has been dropped from Ed Lee's title, but his disregard for the safety of cyclists has not.

The major missing link of the Bay to the Ocean bike way, the notorious blocks of Fell and Oak street from the Wiggle to the panhandle, was scheduled for an improvement including a separated bikeway by early 2012. That section is currently used by thousands of cyclists on a daily basis despite the requirement for nerves of steel. Thousands more refrain from riding between the East and West halves of the City solely because of this short 3 block section.

That improvement was suddenly delayed to 2013, with the notice from the SFMTA that this is at the behest of people who are concerned about the loss of parking. This project has been in the works for years, yet just as final planning is going into place, the parking issue is suddenly a showstopper. No matter that the SFMTA made the statement, we all know that the buck stops in room 200.

As one of the best ambassadors of cycling on the SF Board of Supervisors, I would like to ask you to utilize your slot in the next question time with Mayor Ed Lee to ask him to dovetail his pronouncements at the 2011 Bike to Work day that he wanted to see a route from the Bay to the Beach by the end of the year with the delays eminating from his office. Clearly he will give an evasive answer but I think it is important for him to put his waffling on the public record.

Thank You

John Murphy - San Francisco

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SFO bike lanes update

I had a screed about the new bike lanes at SFO a while back. This resulted in contact from SFO officials, who were unusually interested in the feedback. They ended up holding a meeting (I was hit on the way to the meeting) which seemed pretty productive. Here's the resultant info from SFO - and a pdf of the improvement plans. Sfo Dear Respective Individuals/Organizations, Last year the San Francisco Airport implemented roadway striping modifications along McDonnell Road that incorporated dedicated bike lanes in each direction. We appreciate the comments/feedback we have received from the local and neighboring cycling communities through email and an open discussion session held last month. In line with our mission to provide an exceptional airport in service to our communities, the Airport traffic engineering section are preparing to implement improvements to the Airport bike lane system. Attached you will find drawings that outline the proposed changes. We hope to improve bicycle awareness and visibility to local and commercial vehicle drivers, as well as, provide an exceptional bike lane system for not only experienced riders, but for unfamiliar/recreational riders. The proposed changes include the following: - Removal of delineators and realignment of the bike lane along the merging areas of the roadway. - Installation of sharrow markers near the San Bruno Ave intersection coming into the Airport on McDonnell Rd. - Installation of sharrow markers near the Millbrae Ave intersection for throughput movement of riders onto Bayshore Blvd. - Increased Bike Lane and Bicycle Warning signage along McDonnell Rd for awareness. - Installation more of Bike Lane Markers along the McDonnell roadway for awareness. We hope to implement this work in a timely manner (weather pending) in the coming months of February and March. Let me know if you have any questions or comments to either myself or Edwin Leung Senior Traffic Engineer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brisbane, California Civil Engineer "Conforms to the Standard"

2 years ago I wrote about the dangerous bike lane in Brisbane California that is "separated from traffic" by a nasty rumble strip. The rumble strip makes getting around any obstacles in the bike lane a very dangerous proposition.

Yesterday I rode those bike lanes again, and noticed something even more devious than the trucks that park in there - a "crash barrier" or something that projects from the right side of the road into the bike lane, producing a very narrow lane with a crash barrier on the right and a rumble strip on the left. Ugly.

Turns out I'm not the only one who noticed. I got an email thread from Edward Hasbrouck discussing those lanes with the City of Brisbane. Edward doesn't pull any punches...

I'm not opposed to all rumble strips, but I can say that as a lifelong bicyclist who has never owned a motor vehicle, what has been done on Bayshore Blvd. is the single most inappropriate and worst-implemented installation of rumble strips I have encountered in 40 years of riding.
If you agree - and you should...
I plan to attend the next Brisbane City Council meeting, which I was told today by the city clerk is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m., to follow up on this request for removal (or mitigation through replacement with *intermittent* rumble strips) of the botched rumble strips on Bayshore Blvd. through Brisbane. I would welcome support, either by others who might attend the meeting or through letters to the City Council letters to the City Council.


Edward Hasbrouck

He has a pretty long complaint letter to Brisbane, very eloquent and descriptive. And he's correct, backed up by research shown in among other things this one from the Federal Highway Administration and this from the League of American Bicyclists

Some highlights.

According to your (Karen Kinser, Senior Civil Engineer, Brisbane) message to Ms. Radetsky:

"The incorporation of the traffic control device known as a "shoulder rumble strip" into bike lane design and in general as a tool to provide audible and physical (shaking) feedback to keep motorists in their lanes and off of shoulders, medians and the like is widespread, and is considered a nationally accepted engineering practice."

This is not correct. The use of rumble strips to separate bike lanes from same-direction all-vehicles traffic lanes, as a general practice, is contrary to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) standards.

In your message to Ms. Radetsky, you say that, "the southern portion of this project (Valley Drive to the southern city limit) has been in place for several years without a single complaint similar to your concern."

Had I known where to complain, I would certainly have done so sooner. I was appalled by what had been done to the southern portion of Bayshore Blvd., but it appeared as a fait accompli. Even then, nobody ever asked those who use the road what we thought, or told us how to give feedback, before proceeding to repeat the same mistakes (and more) to the north.

Unlike in San Francisco where I live, where notices of proposals such as for revised traffic patterns or bike lanes are required to be posted on- site *before* plans are finalized, and road users and others who might be impacted (perhaps in ways that planners hadn't anticipated) have a chance to review plans and have input before they are implemented, I never saw any notices along Bayshore Blvd. before the construction started.

Here is the (ridiculous? tone deaf? arrogant?) response from the Karen Kinser, Senior Civil Engineer, Brisbane, Ca

The City has received your email correspondence of 12/16/11.

As noted therein, the "best practices" for the design and installation of bikeways continues to evolve, with the oldest provided reference being a 2001 technical advisory (TA), and the newest being a May 2011 TA. We disagree with your conclusion that the city's installation of rumble strips on Bayshore Boulevard creates a hazardous condition; we believe that the new condition is a vast improvement over the previous Class I Bikeway on this 45 MPH arterial road. This project, which was initiated in 2004, has been reviewed by all appropriate regulatory authorities, designed by a licensed civil engineer, and approved by the City Council.

We will maintain the information you provided, and when the roadway is re-paved, we may incorporate those features which are deemed necessary by a civil engineer, and which are then current practice.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Karen Kinser Senior Civil Engineer City of Brisbane

Reminds me of this...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menlo Park - Facebook EIR

From Andrew Boone - SVBC.

Please forward this email to anyone you know who supports completing the San Francisco Bay Trail and constructing safe and continuous bike lanes!


Cyclists Needed for Important Menlo Park Meeting about Facebook!

What: Menlo Park Planning Commission Facebook EIR Review

When: Monday, January 9 at 7:00 pm

Where: Menlo Park City Council Chambers, 701 Laurel St (near Caltrain Station)

Meeting Agenda

It's very important to attend and give a public comment in support of bicycle commuting. This is the only meeting at which verbal public comment will be accepted on the Facebook Draft EIR before the comment period ends on Jan 23, 2012.

We need maximum possible turnout to send a strong message that improving bicycle infrastructure in the vicinity of the Facebook Campus is important to:

help commuters get to Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies without driving, in order to reduce traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution impacts

Talking points for cyclists:

Thank Facebook for being a strong supporter of bicycling and other alternative modes of transportation

Facebook should help fund the completion of the one-mile Bay Trail gap through Menlo Park and East Palo Alto

Facebook should provide continuous bike lanes on Willow Rd, University Ave, and Bay Rd (there are many gaps in the bike lanes on these streets)

Menlo Park should include these bicycle improvements as Transportation Mitigation Measures in the Facebook EIR, because bike commuting reduces auto traffic

Talking points for alternative transportation experts (such as TDM coordinators):

Thank Facebook for being a leader of alternative transportation programs and having already achieved a 41% non-drive alone mode share (as documented in the EIR)

Share any relevant data or personal stories about bike commuting on the Bay Trail, or how other bicycle infrastructure improvements have increased bike commuting

Encourage Facebook to help fund the completion of the one-mile Bay Trail gap, and to fund continuous bike lanes on Willow Rd, University Ave, and Bay Rd

Menlo Park should include these bicycle improvements as Transportation Mitigation Measures in the Facebook EIR, because bike commuting reduces auto traffic

What to Expect

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) volunteers will be available outside the City Council Chambers to help coordinate bicycle parking, hand out flyers containing more detailed information on the Facebook EIR, and hand out public speaker cards, which you need to fill out in order to make a public comment, and to answer any questions you may have.

There will be a "pre-party" outside the City Council Chambers from 6:30 - 7:00 pm. There we'll help each other prepare for the meeting, practice our public comments, and discuss the next (exciting!) steps.

What to Do

Wear bike-specific clothing (tight-fitting, bright colors, gloves, helmets) to the meeting that make it obvious to everyone that you're a cyclist. Bike Pride!

Getting there on Caltrain

If you take a northbound Caltrain, you can arrive at Menlo Park at 6:46 pm, 6:57 pm, 7:13 pm, 7:24 pm, or 8:04 pm and will arrive on time to make a public comment.

If you take a southbound Caltrain, you can arrive at Menlo Park at 6:28 pm, 6:34 pm, 7:28 pm, and probably even 8:23 pm and will arrive on time to make a public comment.

Attached is a map showing how to walk from the Caltrain Station to the City Council Chambers. The walk takes about 3 minutes. It's confusing - but don't be discouraged! The party will be waiting for you.

If you can't attend

Please send an email to the Menlo Park Planning Commission at Please use the above talking points in your email.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Caltrain fare increase - public meetings

Caltrain has announced public meetings to discuss an upcoming fate increase. CORRECTION - I got an email from a little bird with this list.

From the comments it sounds like Caltrain plans to simply eliminate the 8 ride ticket WITHOUT giving Clipper users a discount. Well, technically they do get a discount because Caltrain is raising fares for paper tickets 15% while leaving the Clipper fare the same for one way tickets.

Horrible business strategy. 8 ride users and paper ticket users are the most discretionary of Caltrain's passengers and this fare increase will be the most likely strategy to decrease ridership. 15% higher of zero is zero.

Of course recent experience with Caltrain could lead one to believe that fewer riders is THE GOAL ;)

Gilroy-Jan 24- 6:00pm, Gilroy Senior Center, 7371 hanna St

SF-Jan 24-6:00pm SF Tennis Club, 645 5th St...near Station.

MV-Jan 25- 6:00pm, City Council Chambers, 500 Castro

SC- Jan25-6:00pm Samtrans Bldg,  1250 San Carlos Ave.

proposed fare chart will be avail by Jan. 16 @

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The bitter irony of Eric Cantor

I watched 60 minutes the other night, teased by a story about a story about a guy climbing the face of Half Dome with no safety ropes. Watching that guy climb scared me half to death, but the enduring emotion after the whole show was bitter anger.

In addition to the free climbing story, was a piece on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor has been one of many Republicans fighting against funding for popular programs like bike share and safe routes to school funding, and transportation enhancements in general.

Transportation enhancements include many things, among them bike paths and sidewalks for cycling and pedestrian. They are often characterized by the GOP as "recreational trails" but in large part when they are in the transportation budget thses are projects that enable people to get from point A to point B safely without using a car.

But who would want to do that?

Apparently - Eric Cantor himself

Click through this link to the 60 minutes video - saving yourself the pain of watching the whole video and go to 10:18 in the video and check Mr. Cantor going out for a ride on one of those transportation enhancements he wants to cut.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Support good food, good wine, and SF Public Schools

Firefly Restaurant in Noe Valley is supporting SF public schools this January. Come in for dinner on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in January, mention your favorite SF public school to your server, and Firefly will donate 20% of your food and beverage total to that school. Please spread the word and help Firefly support your school. For reservations, visit Firefly's website or call 415-821-7652 after 2 pm daily. Happy New Year! Firefly Restaurant 4288 24th Street, SF 94114