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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Nov-17-2014

New devices on Geary stoplights: No, you’re not being watched


Photo by Rob R.

A couple of readers have written in to ask about the new devices that have been attached to Geary stoplights from Arguello to Park Presidio.

They’re not stoplight cameras, or cameras of any kind. They’ve been put in place to make the Muni buses on Geary run more efficiently.

“It is a Proxim Radio, which is one component of Transit Signal Priority that is currently being installed along Geary to give signal priority to Muni to reduce travel time and to make it more reliable,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA.

The GPS devices are designed to keep lights green when a Muni bus is approaching. The system also has the ability to make red lights shorter based on the presence of a bus.

The system was installed on Mission Street earlier this year to speed up the 14-Mission, 14L-Mission Limited and 49-Mission-Van Ness lines.

Jeff Flynn, service planning manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, told the Examiner that the system is “cutting four to five minutes, or 10 percent, off the travel route times from beginning to end” along Mission.

The SFMTA wants to get the system installed on Geary Boulevard in advance of the $240 million Bus Rapid Transit project that is slated to debut in 2018.

The SFMTA didn’t tell us when this signal priority system will go into effect on Geary, whose 38 and 38L lines carry 55,000 people per day, but it could take some time due to aging lights and signal boxes.

“It’s an aging infrastructure that we’re replacing and upgrading and that can be constraining,” Flynn told the Examiner. “But from what we’re experiencing so far, that isn’t causing as many problems.”

Sarah B.


Geary Blvd. at 17th Ave.: Visualization of center-lane Bus Rapid
Transit with dual medians. View more

5:10 am | Posted under Muni, Transportation | 29 comments
Sep-22-2014

Photos: 3 Mules pass through the Richmond District


Photo by Geoff C.

Activist John Sears passed through the neighborhood on Sunday with his pack of mules. Normally he travels with 3 mules (Little Girl, Lady and Pepper), but this time he had just two. One is currently lame and unable to travel. They were seen grazing on the 14th Avenue side of the Park Presidio greenbelt.

Sears, who likes to be known simply as “Mule”, is 66 years old and has been traveling with his pack for the past three decades. They’ve made their way through sixteen western states, according to their website.

The group has a bit of a cult following including 28,000+ fans on Facebook. The purpose of their old school travel is to call attention to the increasing trend of urban sprawl.

Last year while passing through San Diego, Sears told a local news station, “There must be a balance between the man-made world and the natural world,” he said. “We can’t live in this unbalanced state and we all know it.”

The mules also saw the sites on this trip, making stops in the Marina, the Ferry Building and Pier 39 – see pics here.

Sears and the two mules got a ride across the Bay Bridge on Saturday night into the city. Last year, Sears headed north so he may be working on arranging a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge as well. By law he is not allowed to walk the mules across the bridge.

A new documentary. “Mule: Living on the Outside” is in the works about the 3 Mules. Watch the trailer below and find out more at 3MulesMovie.com.

Safe travels to John and his mules.

Sarah B.


Photo by Geoff C.

4:15 am | Posted under Photos, Transportation | 11 comments
Sep-19-2014

First car share spaces being installed in the Richmond District


Photo by David H.

Cub reporter David H. snapped this pic today of one of our first car share spaces being installed on Clement Street near 24th Avenue.

These new car share spaces are part of a city-wide effort to convert 900 street parking spaces into ones reserved for car share companies in the next two years. So far, 20 have been approved for the outer Richmond District.

Three car sharing companies – Zipcar, Bay Area nonprofit City CarShare and San Francisco’s Getaround – will be the recipients of the spaces. According to the Chronicle, the SFMTA approved the program after a smaller two-year test, involving a dozen street spaces, was deemed a success.

According to the agreement with the car sharing companies, at least 30 percent of the spaces have to be in the outer two-thirds of the city, and the price charged to the companies for spaces becomes less expensive in neighborhoods distant from downtown, as a way to encourage them to spread their vehicle fleet around the city. The monthly fee ranges from $50 per space per month in the outer third of the city to $150 in closer-in neighborhoods to $225 in the downtown area. [SFGate]

The new car share spot shown in the photo above was formerly a metered parking space (note the red hood over the meter). Strangely, neither 24th Avenue or Clement Street were included in the list of spaces that were approved at the July 11 hearing (see list below).

David said the city painters who are converting the spaces also had other spots on their work order that were not on the list that was shared publicly. Perhaps some spots were changed at the hearing or approved at another time? UPDATE: Commenter Andrew let us know that there were other spaces, including this one on 24th Avenue, approved in a May 16, 2014 meeting (PDF).

We think the SFMTA could have been more creative and come up with a curb color other than red for the car sharing spaces (isn’t it counter-intuitive to park in a red spot?!). How about a lovely baby blue or a rainbow painted curb?

Sarah B.

Related: City plans to remove 20 residential parking spaces for car share companies

A follow-up story from KTVU:

20 PROPOSED RICHMOND DISTRICT PARKING THAT WILL BE CONVERTED TO CAR SHARING SPACES:
A. 27th Avenue, east side, from 24 feet to 64 feet north of Geary Boulevard (40-foot zone removes Post IDs #127-4660, #127-04640, for 2 car share parking permits–Z004 & Z095)
B. 28th Avenue, east side, from Clement Street to 38 feet northerly (38-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z001 & Z094)
C. 33rd Avenue, west side, from 16 feet to 52 feet south of Balboa Street (36-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z003 & Z093)
D. 34th Avenue, west side, from 16 feet to 52 feet north of Geary Boulevard (36-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z092 & Z002)
E. 42nd Avenue, east side, from 16 feet to 52 feet south of Geary Boulevard (36-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z005 & Z090)
F. 42nd Avenue, east side, from Balboa Street to 35 feet northerly (35-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z006 & Z091)
G. Anza Street, north side, from 9 feet to 29 feet east of 44th Avenue (20-foot zone, for 1 car share parking permit space–G038)
H. Balboa Street, south side, from 3 feet to 37 feet west of 20th Avenue (34-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z030 & Z096)
I. Balboa Street, south side, from 28 feet to 71 feet west of 6th Avenue (43-foot zone removes Post IDs #321-05050, #321-05070, for 2 car share parking permits–Z031 & Z098)
J. Cabrillo Street, south side, from 20 feet east of 37th Avenue (20-foot zone, for 1 car share parking permit space–G040)

10:56 am | Posted under Transportation | 20 comments
Jul-14-2014

Local links: Pacific Cafe turns 40, Farallones swim, Beach Chalet drags on & more


SFCitizen caught this snap of yet another creative use of the bike lanes on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park.

  • Congratulations to Pacific Cafe on Geary at 34th Avenue who are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Chronicle food critic Paolo Lucchesi wrote, “In a restaurant landscape where the bright young things are celebrated by media (yours truly often included), let’s give a round of applause to the Pacific Cafe, the epitome of a great neighborhood restaurant.”
  • For only the second time in history, someone swam from the Farallones to the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday. It was his seventh try, and it took 14 hours to swim the 30 miles. Congratulations, Joseph Locke.
  • Columnist John King paid tribute to the glowing dome of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Geary. “It’s also the physical manifestation of a community with deep Richmond District roots.
  • Game on… The measure to block the new soccer fields at Beach Chalet got enough signatures to make it on the ballot for the next election. Mayor Ed Lee has already prepared for the ballot battle by getting his own opposing measure on the ballot. “Mayor Ed Lee and a number of city supervisors last month announced their own initiative, designed to override the Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields Renovation Act. That measure contains a “poison pill” that would invalidate any conflicting ballot measure if the city’s measure gets more votes.” [SF Chronicle] Wake us when it’s over.
  • Parking meters are getting an upgrade, allowing them to accept all five forms of payment, have larger display screens and show pay-by-phone transactions on the meter display. The new ones are being installed in the outer and central Richmond District in this next wave. And in case you’re curious what it costs to upgrade each meter – $515.
  • The latest casualty of the tech boom? It’s Chinese businesses according to newamericanmedia.org. “The irony is that as Chinese buyers acquire more property in San Francisco, it is often the Chinese American tenants who are taking a hit. In this new Chinese city of San Francisco, also a hipster city, one sees more white young people and fewer small Chinese shops and shopkeepers that cater to working-class Chinese.” Read the full story
9:57 am | Posted under Business, Politics, Transportation | 19 comments
Jul-10-2014

City plans to remove 20 residential parking spaces for car share companies

Parking is going to get even tougher for residents in the outer Richmond if the SFMTA gets approval tomorrow to convert 20 residential parking spaces into car share zones.

The Friday, July 11 the Sustainable Streets Division of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will hold a public hearing in which 10 different proposals will be considered to change street parking spaces into ones reserved for car share companies.

The detailed list of where these proposed changes is below, which includes spaces on 27th, 28th, 33rd, 34th, and 42nd Avenues, as well as Anza, Balboa and Cabrillo Streets. In total, it calls for 20 parking spaces to be changed to parking that is restricted to car share company vehicles only.

The 20 spaces being proposed in the outer Richmond District are just a small piece of the 900 total spaces that the SFMTA wants to convert across the city for a 2 year test program for car sharing.

Three car sharing companies – Zipcar, Bay Area nonprofit City CarShare and San Francisco’s Getaround – will be the recipients of the spaces. According to the Chronicle, the SFMTA approved the program after a smaller two-year test, involving a dozen street spaces, was deemed a success.

According to the agreement with the car sharing companies, at least 30 percent of the spaces have to be in the outer two-thirds of the city, and the price charged to the companies for spaces becomes less expensive in neighborhoods distant from downtown, as a way to encourage them to spread their vehicle fleet around the city. The monthly fee ranges from $50 per space per month in the outer third of the city to $150 in closer-in neighborhoods to $225 in the downtown area. [SFGate]

Some residents will be less than thrilled with this development, given how hard it can be for Richmond District residents to park in their own neighborhood. Reader Aram G. wrote us and said “this is yet another assault on Long term residents of San Francisco and needs to be stopped!!”

Still others, who don’t own cars, will find the ease of access to car sharing a welcome convenience.

“We appreciate that it’s a pretty big leap of faith,” Andy Thornley, project leader for the MTA told Pando this week. “And its important to remember that this is an experiment and not a forever thing, necessarily.”

Tomorrow’s SFMTA hearing takes place at City Hall (1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place) at 10am in Room 416 (Hearing Room 4) (view full meeting agenda). The public is welcome to attend and make comments.

Sarah B.

PROPOSED RICHMOND DISTRICT PARKING THAT MAY BE CONVERTED TO CAR SHARING SPACES:
A. 27th Avenue, east side, from 24 feet to 64 feet north of Geary Boulevard (40-foot zone removes Post IDs #127-4660, #127-04640, for 2 car share parking permits–Z004 & Z095)
B. 28th Avenue, east side, from Clement Street to 38 feet northerly (38-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z001 & Z094)
C. 33rd Avenue, west side, from 16 feet to 52 feet south of Balboa Street (36-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z003 & Z093)
D. 34th Avenue, west side, from 16 feet to 52 feet north of Geary Boulevard (36-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z092 & Z002)
E. 42nd Avenue, east side, from 16 feet to 52 feet south of Geary Boulevard (36-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z005 & Z090)
F. 42nd Avenue, east side, from Balboa Street to 35 feet northerly (35-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z006 & Z091)
G. Anza Street, north side, from 9 feet to 29 feet east of 44th Avenue (20-foot zone, for 1 car share parking permit space–G038)
H. Balboa Street, south side, from 3 feet to 37 feet west of 20th Avenue (34-foot zone, for 2 car share parking permits–Z030 & Z096)
I. Balboa Street, south side, from 28 feet to 71 feet west of 6th Avenue (43-foot zone removes Post IDs #321-05050, #321-05070, for 2 car share parking permits–Z031 & Z098)
J. Cabrillo Street, south side, from 20 feet east of 37th Avenue (20-foot zone, for 1 car share parking permit space–G040)

11:09 am | Posted under Transportation | 79 comments
Feb-19-2014

Low cost, electric scooter rental network adds location in the Richmond District


Scoot trainer Kelly at our orientation

More and more companies are enabling San Franciscans to get around town quickly and easily. Last year, the city implemented the Bay Area Bikeshare program, enabling point to point, short-term rides at affordable rates. And companies like ZipCar and City CarShare have been around for awhile now, making car rental close to home effortless and affordable.

Now there’s a new player in the cheap, green transportation game. Scoot Networks (scootnetworks.com), which has been in business for about a year, offers affordable rentals of electric scooters in San Francisco. Riders can pick up at one location and drop off at another for short trips, or rent the scooter for up to 48 hours (longer if you have a motorcycle license).

The latest location to open up is right here in the neighborhood near the corner of 7th and Clement. Our Scoot location houses 2-3 scooters at any given time, and can be accessed 24 hours a day.

Signing up for Scoot is easy through their website. Before you can start renting, you have to attend a useful, 45 minute orientation class with a Scoot team member. We took ours on Sunday in the parking lot on 8th Avenue near Clement, covering the basics of the Scoot app and the how-to’s of the electric scooter.

Scoot’s fleet is all electric, and the app (native for iOS, mobile web for Android) does much of the heavy lifting. Log on to the app, find an available scoot on a map of the city, and reserve it. Once you get to the pickup location, simply mount your phone into the holder (charger is included), log into the app, and tap “turn on” to power on the scooter. The scooter powers up remotely via GPS and the app shows you how much charge the scooter has, how fast you’re going etc.

Driving the scooter is easy – there’s no shifting or special controls to master. During orientation, you’re shown how to reserve your scoot, get it started, control it, park it, and when you’re done with the rental, return it to an official Scoot parking location. The app shows you where there is an available spot in the Scoot network to park.

A fully charged Scoot scooter has a range of 5-10 miles depending on your terrain, and it takes 3-5 hours for a full charge.

After completing training, our instructor Kelly advised us to follow the Scoot motto – Be safe! Be seen! Be nice! – and sent us on our way. I had a 35% charge and decided to head out to the Cliff House to see how the vehicle performed on some minor hills.

Riding a scooter is just plain fun, especially on a nice, sunny day. The scooters have a max speed of 25-30 miles per hour which when you’re riding it, feels like more than enough. I was surprised by its guts on a flat block and pleasantly surprised with its hill performance. The scooter also includes a helmet (two sizes to choose from) and a storage compartment if you need to carry some items on your ride.

The app has helpful features to keep you up to date on your scooter’s health. It displays your current charge which you can tap on to see the approximate mileage you have left. When I left 8th and Clement I had about 33% charge remaining, and after out to the Cliff House and back, was at 18%.

The app texted me when I reached 25% charge, urging me to seek out a place to recharge (tip: plugshare.com – web or app – is a great directory for such things). There are a few public charging stations in Golden Gate Park, but any standard electrical outlet will do.

Pricing for using the Scoot Network varies depending on the membership plan you choose and how many hours you keep your rental. The most basic plan is $5 per month, and the first half hour of every ride is just $3. Keep it longer than 30 minutes and the rate is $1.50 per half hour for the daytime, and $.25 for the nighttime hours. Other membership plans are available for $10 and $29 per month, with varying hourly rates.

If you get really hooked, you can rent a scooter 24/7 for $185 per month.

Like many vehicle sharing programs, you’ll find the most economy with Scoot on short, point to point rides. Maybe you don’t want to take Muni home from work so you pick up a Scoot downtown for the commute home. It does take some planning though as you want to make sure you have a Scoot location to return it to near your destination.

Daniel, another student in our orientation class, lives in the Richmond and says he is thinking about using the scooter to go back and forth to school. “It ends up costing me about the same as Muni on the short rides,” he said.

When you return your scoot, you put the helmet back in the storage compartment, plug in the charging unit, and lock the front wheel in place. Then just hit “End” in the app to conclude your rental. That puts your scooter back into the available rental network, where prospective riders can see its location and available charge.

We had a lot of fun on our scoot around the neighborhood, and could see this catching on as an easy, affordable way to get around town. Where would you scoot to?

UPDATE: Scoot Networks is offering Richmond Blog readers a discount. Signup for Scoot this week (by 2/23/14), use the promo code #RICHMONDBLOG and get $10 of riding credit.

Sarah B.


Screenshots from the Scoot app showing available scooters in red,
a reserved scooter, and estimated miles remaining on your charge.

4:45 am | Posted under Green, Transportation | 8 comments
Feb-10-2014

MUNI service changes meeting 2/12; give feedback on commuter shuttle stops


Photo by Thomas Hawk

SFMTA is looking for feedback from the community on two transportation issues facing the city – changes in MUNI service lines including the 2, 28, 28L, and 38L lines, and which MUNI stops residents think would be best for the Silicon Valley commuter shuttles to use.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO MUNI LINES; MEETING FEB. 12
On Wednesday, February 12 from 6-8pm, the SFMTA will hold a public meeting at the Richmond District police station (461 6th Avenue) about proposed changes to the 2, 28, 28L, and 38L lines.

Muni is considering proposed service and route changes as part of the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP):

The proposed changes will modernize Muni and make it more efficient, reliable, safe and comfortable for its existing 700,000 daily passengers. Developed over several years of data collection, intensive planning and public outreach efforts, the TEP will restructure transit service on certain lines to improve efficiency and connectivity and implement transit priority changes on the most heavily used lines to give buses and trains more priority on our City streets.

The addition of a 5L Fulton line last Fall was part of the TEP. The SFMTA is proposing the following additional changes which will be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting:

2 Clement: Supplemental trolley coach service between downtown and Presidio Avenue to boost service lost by shutdown of 3 Jackson route. 2 Clement Service Variant proposes an alternative alignment that would use existing overhead wires for trolley coach service on the entire Sutter Street corridor. Instead of operating on Clement Street from Arguello Boulevard to Park Presidio Boulevard, the alignment would continue on California Street to Eighth Avenue south to Clement Street to Sixth Avenue. This service variant would include a terminal loop at Sansome Street in the Downtown area. See project document

38L Geary: Expand limited stop service to Sundays. Coordinate with Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Study currently underway, which aims to achieve significant travel time and reliability improvements. See project document

Changes are also being proposed to the 28 and 28L 19th Avenue routes, which run through the neighborhood on Park Presidio.

WHICH MUNI STOPS SHOULD THE COMMUTER SHUTTLES USE?
Late last month, the SFMTA Board approved an 18-month pilot program that will test sharing a limited number of Muni stops with commuter shuttles, many of which carry employees between the city and tech companies in the South Bay. Shuttles that pay for a permit and commit to complying with permit terms (following operating guidelines, sharing data, paying permit fees, etc.) will be authorized to use the shared stops.

The pilot program is set to start in July 2014 and the SFMTA is hosting an interactive map where residents can suggest locations for shared stops and provide information on conditions that they think should be considered in developing the network.

Click on an existing pointer in the map to add your feedback about a location, or create your own marker with feedback at additional stops.

The deadline to provide information via the interactive map is February 23. From that collected data, SFMTA engineers and planners will develop a proposed network as well as Muni operations and engineering needs.

Sarah B.

4:04 am | Posted under Muni, Traffic, Transportation | 15 comments
Jan-15-2014

Mayor Lee wants to eliminate Sunday meter parking – should we?

It’s been a full year now that parking meters have been in effect on Sundays between 12noon and 6pm. When the SFMTA put the new policy in place, they claimed it was “to make sure that motorists can easily find a place to park in commercial areas, which is currently very hard on Sundays.”

At the time, their FAQ about the new policy didn’t say anything about increased revenues for the SFMTA, but we all knew that was really the reason.

And yesterday, Mayor Ed Lee confirmed that, but at the same time said he wants to eliminate the year old program.

“I’ve always felt uncomfortable with it, but Muni was suffering and we needed the money,” Lee said.

The SFMTA estimated that charging for meters on Sunday would bring in a little under $2 million which would help fund a struggling MUNI system. But how much did they really pull in during the first year?

Closer to $6 million according to Matier & Ross.

That’s because about half of the revenue on Sundays is coming from tickets when people forget to pay their meters or let them expire. The ticket for an expired meter can run as high as $72.

Now Lee says they’ve found other ways to finance MUNI so he’s gun-ho to rollback Sunday meter parking (he’s planning to ask voters to approve a $500 million bond in November to fund transportation).

I bet his colleagues at the SFMTA are thrilled with Lee’s desire to rollback the program and strip $6M out of their annual budget!

When we posted about Sunday parking last year, comments were mixed. A lot of people liked the idea because they would be able to park more easily when visiting commercial districts in the city on Sundays. But others were tired of the city’s nickel and diming.

What do you think? Should Sunday meter parking stay as is, or be eliminated again? Take the poll below and leave us a comment with your thoughts. Merchants, we especially want to hear from you!

Sarah B.


12:17 pm | Posted under Transportation | 31 comments
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