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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Jan-10-2015

Photos: An empty Golden Gate Bridge


Photo by Rich G.

Reader Rich G. was out on the Golden Gate Bridge early this morning to experience what must feel like a post-apocalyptic bridge walk. The bridge is closed until 4am on Monday morning so that a new, moveable median barrier can be installed.

“The barrier will be installed on the 1.7-mile-long Bridge and on the approach portion of Highway 101, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, starting at Alexander Avenue. Using transfer machines, the barrier will be moved several times a day to create more lanes in a particular direction to accommodate variable traffic demands such as the morning and evening commutes.” Read more

“The Moveable Median Barrier (MMB) system includes about 13,340 feet of barrier consisting of 12-inch wide and 32-inch high steel clad units filled with high density concrete tightly pinned together to form a semi-rigid median barrier. The system also includes two barrier transfer machines, aka “zipper” trucks. The installation of the one-foot wide MMB would virtually eliminate crossover collisions.”

Cars are not allowed on the bridge during the closure, but Golden Gate Transit buses are still running in both directions. Pedestrians and bicycles are permitted on the east sidewalk.

The project budget is estimated at $30.3 million with funding coming from three sources: $20 million (76%) from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission via the State of California; $1,379,200 (5%) in federal funds; and $5,120,800 (19%) from Golden Gate Bridge toll revenues.

Thanks to Rich for sharing his photos; you can see more here.

Sarah B.


Photo by Rich G.


Photo by Rich G.


Crews work on installing the new median barrier. Photo by Rich G.


Photo by Rich G.

12:10 pm | Posted under Transportation | 11 comments
Jan-5-2015

All-electric Bolt Motorbikes get their start in a Richmond District garage


Bolt Motorbikes founders Nathan Jauvtis and Zachary Levenberg with the Bolt M-1

Like in many neighborhoods in San Francisco, Richmond District residents make the most of their available space. And often that means turning their garages into home offices, a residence, or in the case of Nathan Jauvtis, a workshop where Bolt Motorbikes was born.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 is a 100% electric moped, invented by Jauvtis and his co-founder Zach Levenberg. Both of the founders are moped enthusiasts, and met in 2006 as members of Creatures of the Loin, the San Francisco division of the Moped Army that meets up weekly for group rides around the city.

Both are mechanical engineers with a passion for clean transportation. Jauvtis worked a stint at Zero Motorcyles, one of the industry’s leading electric motorcyle companies, and Levenberg worked on one of the first protoypes for Lit Motors, who make an all electric, 2-wheel pod-like vehicle.

Jauvtis first began tinkering with the idea of an electric moped around 2010, spending his nights and weekends building the first prototype which he called “Blackie”, named after the donkey in True Grit.

It wasn’t until 2012 that Jauvtis and Levenberg began collaborating on the project. With funds from friends and investors, they officially started Bolt Motorbikes and got to work on refining the product.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 has some impressive stats when it comes to riding around San Francisco. Technically, it’s classified as an electric bike so it does not require a driver’s license to operate (and can even use the bike lane). The Bolt runs off its proprietary lithium ion battery, composed of 160 individual cells encased in two compartments that straddle the frame.

Jauvtis estimates the overall life of the Bolt’s battery is 2000 cycles (25-30 miles per cycle), or 8-10 years depending on usage.


Levenberg holds up the Bolt’s lithium ion battery compartment, which if needed, can be removed for recharging.

On a full charge, the Bolt can travel 25 to 30 miles per day, at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Pretty impressive when you compare it to something like the electric Scoot scooters that you can rent around the city, which only have a range of 5-10 miles on a full charge. (Oh and whatever you do, don’t call the Bolt Motorbike a scooter, as we learned that scooters and mopeds are completely different classes of vehicle.)

The Bolt Motorbike M-1 has two drive modes – economy and sport. In economy mode, you are restricted to a top speed of 20 mph, but your range increases to as much as 50 miles. During testing at the Polo Fields, the Bolt circled the Polo Fields’ velo track for 50 miles at a speed of 20 mph.

When you put it into sport mode, which is technically only allowed when you are driving the Bolt off-road (e.g. not on city streets), the bike has a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 35mph.

Levenberg, a SF native, led us on a test ride through the neighborhood and Presidio just before Christmas. In short, we had a blast. The Bolt was easy to learn (no shifting required) and fun to drive. It’s not a large bike, weighing in at just 140 pounds, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by its heft.

Yet the Bolt feels substantial when you’re riding it. The frame is very solid and the tires are robust – fatter and sturdier than those on a scooter or electric bicycle.

“It’s a great motorbike for women,” Levenberg pointed out, because of its smaller frame and reduced weight.

And it’s no slouch on the city’s inclines. We zoomed up long, steep hills like Battery Caulfield Road just inside the 15th Avenue Presidio gate.

The Bolt is virtually silent, which ironically is what turns heads when you’re out riding around. There’s a little whirring when you accelerate, but otherwise it’s very quiet. When you pull up to a stop sign, pedestrians usually stare because they expect it to sound like a guttural motorcycle but instead, it sits silent.

When we headed out on our test drive, Levenberg said he never goes out on a Bolt without his business cards because inevitably, someone will stop him and ask what that is he’s riding. Sure enough, as we came to a stop sign, a man crossing the street implored us to pull over so he could get a closer look.

Jauvtis and Levenberg debuted the latest version of the Bolt Motorbike, code named Raven (or Darth Vader as we dubbed it), at their moped group’s annual rally last September.

“People loved it,” Jauvtis says. And since then, the two have been marketing the bikes and taking pre-orders for their first production run. “About 150 people have expressed interest.”

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 sells for $4,995, which isn’t outrageous when you consider that a new (gas-powered) scooter sells for around $3,500.

To fuel the bike, Jauvtis and Levenberg also had to create a custom charger. The standard charger, which comes with the purchase of the Bolt, requires about 5 hours to charge the bike to 100% capacity. If you purchase the charger upgrade (price TBD), you can get to 90% capacity in about 90 minutes.


The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 on a ride near the Cliff House

Once all the parts are in hand, it takes about one day to assemble the finished bike. The duo are always refining the bike and working on add-ons, like a rack to carry extra batteries for those long road trips. They’ve also made the batteries removable so if you can’t charge the bike where you park it, you can take a battery with you to charge inside.

The Bolt Motorbike also has an app that can be used with it. The app connects to the bike via Bluetooth and wirelessly unlocks the Bolt, communicates speed and distance measurements in real-time and then records the data onto a remote server. A phone clamp sits on the Bolt’s handlebars and also includes a USB charger so you can charge your phone off the Bolt’s batteries.

Bolt is still in fundraising mode for its first production run, and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in early 2015. In the meantime, they love to give test drives to anyone who’s interested. Just drop them a line through their website and tell them the Richmond Blog sent you.

Sarah B.


Bolt Motorbikes founders Zachary Levenberg and Nathan Jauvtis inside their outer Richmond garage workshop

4:12 am | Posted under Green, Transportation | 21 comments
Dec-30-2014

Photo: High winds topple tree on Park Presidio near Balboa


Photo by @MeganPrelinger

Around 4:30pm this afternoon, the high winds pushed over a tree on Park Presidio/Highway 1 near Balboa Street.

SFPD and CHP were on the scene quickly, diverting traffic as crews worked to saw apart the tree and remove it from the roadway.

There were no injuries reported from the incident.

This appears to be a cursed block. Another tree fell on the same stretch of roadway back on December 13.

Sarah B.

6:57 pm | Posted under Parks, Transportation | 1 comment
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 | 31 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
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