Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Polk Street

Hi all -

There is a streetscape improvment being proposed for Polk Street. Here is the pre-hullabaloo information about the project.

I am not sure if I have ever ridden on Polk, frankly - but what happens on Polk will influence what happens elsewhere. And no, I don't want to talk about JFK- if JFK is worse for you now than it was before it's still orders of magnitude less dangerous than Oak, or Polk, or the Chavez crossing of 101, or Division or even Market. JFK is a distraction. I'm forwarding some commentary from Jodie preceeded by my own experience which some of you youngun's may not recall even though it wasn't really that long ago

3 years ago there was a proposal to turn a chunk of Noe Street into a park. The road would be closed to traffic South from 24th Street for 60 feet, fronting 24th. This was after the first parklet at Mojo and the City was looking for a bigger streetscape project to mirror the Times Square closure. There was a lot of international interest. Well, some people who drive through there (or parked overnight in the four metered spots in front of their houses instead of in their garages) decided this would not stand, and told then Supervisor Bevan Dufty that the city was nuts and nobody would want this and they should kill it. I thought this would be a *GREAT* idea - to have a chunk of ground in central Noe where I could let my toddler run around, and it would eliminate most of the car/ped interactions in a very nasty intersection but closing off the through traffic.

So we managed to keep the thing limping along for a meeting. We worked very hard and got big numbers to show up. I gave a nice speech, countered by a crazy person rambling about how since she was a 68 year old fourth generation Noe Valleyan she and her gray haired friends knew what was best for the neighborhood - which as you know is rapidly changing (and boy do they resent it). This allowed us to merely fight to a draw and set up *another* meeting. That meeting was at 7 PM, which was awful for the primary proponents who were putting their children to bed and were somewhat dispirited by the first meeting.

This is what happened at Meeting #2

For 15 seconds I thought "No way Bevan Dufty caves into these crazy people - we win". Then I looked at Bevan and saw a *coward* and realized we lost. And now I realize that the people who are against streetscape changes that promote safety for people over their personal desire to have as much parking inventory as possible, have a straightfoward template for how to beat these changes. Show up to meetings and YELL AND BOO AS LOUD AS THEY CAN. Because they know IT WORKS. It worked with Bevan Dufty and it sure as hell will work with David Chiu. God bless David he knows what the right thing is but I'm sorry David - I have yet to see you stick your neck out on the line . So the ONLY way this project happens is if this meeting has HUGE numbers from people who want a calmer, safer, more inviting Polk Street.

I can't make the Saturday meeting because my in-laws are in town. But I'll be there Tuesday night. And I'll be buying beers afterwards NOT from any bar on Polk Street who opposes the project, and sending a scan of the receipt to David Chiu and every bar on Polk that opposes the project. As should you!

There has been a lot of progress since three years ago. Even though we lost that one, the NIMBYs talked about how they craved parklets, and put a lot of money into buying a PARKING LOT in Noe Valley and closing it down permanently for a park. Because they knew if they didn't start throwing us some bones, soon enough we'd be coming back after that street closure. I put a shit-ton of time into that and it got us the two parklets in Noe Valley and that helped popularize the concept. If you want improvements anywhere in the city, this meeting for Polk can be the thing that shifts the tide if we show up in NUMBERS.


Here is Jodie's pitch.

We need hundreds of people who care about this issue to attend one of these meetings to speak up for safety on Polk. We can be sure that the angry crowd of people who don’t value our safety will be there in force. And so, we need to publicly show there is support in favor of.

SFMTA Polk Street Improvement Project Public Meetings

Saturday, April 27, 10 am to 1 pm Tuesday, April 30, 5 to 8:30 pm Location: 1300 Polk St (at Bush) at the First Congregational Church Fellowship Hall


These meetings are not sit-down, drawn out, hours of your time. This is a QUICK, drop in, add your voice, a 20 minute stop that will make a world of difference.

In order to be sure we have the amount of force necessary to combat the crowd that is against parking loss on Polk Street, we are taking a head count, so RSVPing is important.

Polk Street is a BIGGIE --This is a make or break moment for the future of Polk Street, and biking in San Francisco. Despite the hundreds of letters of support and support expressed at past public meetings, decision-makers are actually beginning to publicly question whether biking and walking safety on this street deserves attention. This is not acceptable.

Many thanks,


Know the Facts

Someone on a bike and walking is involved in a collision on Polk once a month. There are about 42 full-time and 5-6 part-time car travel lanes within a half-mile of Polk, and only about 0.5 bike lanes. Polk really is the only viable biking street to connect the center of the city and points North.

According to a City study, 85% of people on Polk Street get there without a car, and people who drive to Polk actually spend the least amount of money on Polk Street per month.