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Aaron Bialick

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Muni buses on Market Street travel down red-colored transit-only lanes, approaching riders waiting on a boarding island, with a bus shelter labeled, "Muni Rapid."
A screenshot from the Streetfilms video, “Riders First: How Buses Are Moving San Francisco Forward.”

It can be easy to lose track of all our efforts to move Muni Forward, so it’s helpful to get a fresh look and take stock of the work we’ve done.

A video released last week called “Riders First: How Buses Are Moving San Francisco Forward,” produced by the nonprofit organizations Streetfilms and TransitCenter, highlighted our “systematic, rider-centric approach to improving bus service across the city.”

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A person bikes on Valencia Street in a bike lane placed between a lane of parked cars and a sidewalk curb, with parking meters featuring instructional flyers.

San Francisco’s first raised, parking-protected bike lane, which we wrote about in October, was completed this week on a short stretch of northbound Valencia Street, south of Cesar Chavez Street.

This street design flips around the conventional setup of car parking and bike lanes most San Franciscans are used to. Instead of the bike lane being placed between parked cars and the traffic lane, the bike lane runs curbside between the sidewalk and parked cars, with space to load in between. And in this case, the bike lane is physically raised slightly from the roadway by a small curb.

Since Monday morning, we’ve seen all cars parked in line with the new arrangement, and we’ve heard strongly positive responses from people on the street. That’s no surprise, since this configuration helps organize the street into a more predictable pattern for people walking, biking and driving.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

An N Judah Muni Metro train enters the subway portal at Duboce Avenue and Church Street.
The Muni Metro subway portal at Duboce Avenue and Church Street, where a motorist entered the tunnel early Monday morning, leading to later service disruptions. Photo: Jerold Chinn/SFBay

Muni Metro service was severely disrupted yesterday and today, especially for riders on the J Church and N Judah lines, due to a subway track switch that was nearly destroyed by a motorist who drove recklessly into the tunnel early Monday morning.

This could have had catastrophic results because of the location of the switch. Muni staff were able to respond quickly and salvage the materials to re-open subway service on time that morning, but the switch malfunctioned later that afternoon.

We sincerely apologize – these kinds of disruptions for Muni customers are unacceptable, but when they do occur, we do our best to resolve them as soon as possible. In this post, we wanted to shed some light on the issue and what we’re doing to prevent it from happening again.

The Facts Behind the Disruption

As of this publication, the periods of disruption were:

  • Monday, from 3:20 to 7:40 p.m. (through the evening rush hour)

  • Tuesday, from 10:50 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.

These disruptions were caused by the damaged track switch that malfunctioned, preventing inbound J Church and N Judah trains from entering the Market Street subway via the portal at Duboce Avenue and Church Street.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

People walk diagonally across the intersection of Clay and Kearny streets.
During a pedestrian "scramble," traffic signals allow people to cross in every direction, including diagonally.

At bustling city intersections, the nature of walking provides a particular advantage: When everyone moves at a human pace, people on foot can safely cross in every direction at the same time.

That’s the idea behind a pedestrian "scramble,” a traffic signal feature that can make traffic flow more safely and efficiently at certain busy intersections.

Yesterday, we joined community members to celebrate our newest scramble at Clay and Kearny streets, where Chinatown meets the Financial District.

Pedestrian scrambles are an addition to the usual cycle of traffic signal phases – a green light and “walk” signal for one street, a red light for the other. During a “scramble” phase, all traffic lights turn red, and all “walk” signals turn on, even in diagonal directions. That lets people cross the street without having to worry about turning drivers who fail to yield to them.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A car appears blurry as it moves through a crosswalk in a San Francisco intersection with pedestrians crossing in the background.
Automated speed enforcement is a proven way to reduce traffic injuries caused by speeding.

Police can’t be everywhere at once to enforce against dangerous speeding. That's why the SFMTA joined Assemblymember David Chiu, Mayor Ed Lee, Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose and other partners this week to announce new legislation to allow San Francisco and San Jose to pilot automated speed enforcement in California.

Automated speed enforcement (ASE) is a proven tool to reduce deadly speeding and crashes. It uses cameras, similar to those used to enforce red light violations, with vehicle speed sensors to snap photos of license plates of motor vehicles traveling above a defined speed limit.

ASE is already used in 142 communities across the country, and others abroad, and has yielded consistent results including:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two photos of newly-renovated Mansell Street in McLaren Park, before and after it was redesigned. The top, older photo shows the roadway with only vehicle traffic on either side of a center planted median. The bottom, newer photo shows the road with walking and biking paths on one side of the median, and vehicle traffic on the other.
Mansell Street in McLaren Park, before (top) and after (bottom). Top photo: SF Rec and Park. Bottom photo: SF Public Works/Twitter.

Half of Mansell Street in McLaren Park is now a beautiful path for walking, biking and jogging.

Despite the rain this weekend, we joined community members and our partners to celebrate the opening of San Francisco’s first-of-its-kind street transformation.

Mansell is now a much more fun and inviting way to enjoy and cross McLaren Park, SF’s second-largest city-owned park, between the Visitacion Valley, Portola and Excelsior neighborhoods. One side of the roadway on Mansell, which used to have four lightly-used traffic lanes split by a median — and no formal path for people on foot or bike — is now car-free.

Mansell’s previous design was conceived in the 1950s as part of a cross-town freeway that was never completed. The new design, on the other hand, was chosen by community members through a two-year public planning process.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bike lane at road-level, with green-painted pavement and plastic posts separating it from vehicle traffic.
In light of findings on raised bike lanes on Market Street (shown here before it was raised), Polk Street's northbound bike lane will now look similar to this.

With construction on Polk Street’s two-year transformation underway, we’ve made a change to the plan for a raised bike lane in light of our recent research on best design practices.

The previous plan for the Polk Streetscape Project included a raised bike lane, with a two-inch mountable curb, on the northbound side of Polk from McAllister to Pine streets. But in our experiment with different curb designs last year on Market Street, we found that raised bike lanes on commercial streets like Polk should have a parking-protected configuration, with a lane of car parking and loading zones between the bike lane and the roadway, to prevent drivers from parking in the bikeway.

Making room for that parking lane on Polk would require major changes to the plan already under construction. To make the bike lane safer without a major delay, the northbound bike lane will no longer be raised but will be built at road level with plastic safe-hit posts and a painted buffer zone to separate it from the traffic lanes.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Man on a Muni bus feeding cash bills into a farebox.
A growing number of Muni riders board with their proof of payment in pocket. Thanks for paying your fare and for riding Muni.

If it ever seems that only a few Muni riders pay their fare, it may be because most customers simply pay before they board.

Under our system of fare enforcement, everyone on Muni is expected to have proof of payment ready to show fare inspectors, who could request it any time. So anyone who has a valid paper transfer, monthly Clipper card pass or an activated ticket on the MuniMobile app may not feel the need to take it out of their pocket until requested by fare inspectors.

And by and large, they do. The rate of fare evasion was estimated at just 7.9 percent in 2014 (PDF), the last year we conducted a survey (expected to be updated this year). That estimate dropped from 9.5 percent in 2009.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

 A cable car with riders heads down a hill towards the bay during daytime in 1947.
Friedel Klussman (left) examining the inner workings of the cable car turntable at Powell and Market streets in 1949.

Cable cars are, truly, only in San Francisco. And for that, we have Friedel Klussmann to thank.

Seventy years ago, some city leaders wanted to tear out the 1870s-era transit system of wooden vehicles towed by an underground cable system, which they saw as more of a costly nuisance than a joyous marvel. Klussman led the campaign that preserved much of the wondrous system that still draws millions of visitors from around the world each year (and, yes, carries some of us commuters).

Klussmann was remembered in an article in the SF Chronicle this week, which marks the 70-year anniversary of when “Mayor Roger Lapham proclaimed, ‘Junk the cable cars!”’ (as the Chronicle’s headline put it at the time).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A man rides in a bike lane between the sidewalk and a concrete island where people board a Muni bus on 11th Street at Harrison Street.

At 11th and Harrison streets in SoMa, we recently made a subtle but important safety upgrade for people biking and boarding Muni. While this street design is common internationally, it’s still fairly novel for American cities, but we're looking to make improvements like these to make our streets easier to navigate.

As part of Muni Forward upgrades for the 9 San Bruno route last month, we “flipped” the southbound bus stop and bike lane on 11th Street: The bike lane now runs between the sidewalk and a new transit boarding island.