Fearing the removal of an estimated 170 street parking spaces along Polk Street to make way for dedicated bike lanes and parklets stretching from McAllister to Union Street, local business owners and residents have upped their opposition to the SFMTA’s proposed Polk Street Improvement Project which is “primarily be focused on people who walk, use transit and ride a bicycle along Polk Street” and is slated to start construction in 2015.
Business owners along Polk Street fear the loss of parking will negatively impact their sales while local residents without off-street parking (perhaps in-part due to City policy restricting the development of off-street spaces) fear increased competition for parking on the street.
The last public meeting to review the Polk Street Improvement Project was a rather raucous affair with the vast majority of attendees loudly opposing the SFMTA’s plan which seems to have taken the Agency and supporters by surprise.
The next public meeting for the project is scheduled for April 27 starting at 10 am at 1300 Polk Street and should be even more raucous as the San Francisco Bicycle Collation is encouraging supporters of the project to attend and counter the voices of the opposition.
Polk Street Improvement Project: Overview Slides [sfmta.com]
A Call For New Parklets And Chance To Praise (Or Dish) [SocketSite]

287 thoughts on “Polk Street Showdown: Bike Lanes Versus Parking & Local Opposition”
  1. I hope this site will start to cover the removal of 170 parking spaces for parklets and to help bike riders “feel more comfortable” on north Polk Street. Over 400 people recently attended a meetings to let the SFMTA know that the majority of this city is fed up. Especially tax paying business owners. The SFMTA says it is “too late” to stop the plans.
    The estimated 400 million proposed to be spent removing parking throughout the city is THE under reported story so far this year.
    [Editor’s Note: Done.]

  2. Consider that the goal might not be to remove parking but rather to create new infrastructure. Streets can be used for many things, most of which can also be accommodated off-street. The one function that can’t be moved off-street is transportation.

  3. Adding good, safe bike lanes to Polk will finish a badly needed north-south connector between Market and Fisherman’s Wharf.

  4. Tell THAT to the business owners and neighbors of the immediate area. For 400 people to show up at March 18th meeting, 97% against the bike lanes, is worth noting.

  5. No one is questioning that cars need to move through the City on Van Ness and Lombard, at the cost of noise, congestion and pollution for locals. Cyclists could perfectly go on VN, but believe me, it’s not for the faint of heart.
    Cyclists need to cross town safely and quickly enough. Polk street is the best option. It has an impact, but apart from from the occasional douchery from a few of them, cyclists are an overwhelming improvement to the quality of life of all.
    Less noise. Less pollution. Less peril to pedestrians (again, apart for the occasional douchebag). Please share the road.

  6. So tax paying business owners on north Polk are paying for their own Demise? It is time for expensive city wide bike registration fees to pay for this madness.
    Even New York City removed a bike lane on Broadway after business owners started shutting down and moving out.
    As Blogger Rob Anderson wrote:
    “We’re dealing with a faith-based traffic theory designed to benefit the 3.5%”

  7. I use the shops on Upper Polk daily, so I’m not thrilled about losing the parking. It’s just beyond deranged. The handful of people benefitting from the loss of parking is a tiny, tiny fraction of the people that actually use that corridor. And sorry, but the douchery of cyclists on Polk is not “occasional,” but rather the rule. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Don’t argue with Mr. Spock.

  8. Let us not forget that Leah Shahum, director of SF Bike Coalition, has incredible influence over city planning. Whether it is the changes to Masonic and Fell removing traffic lanes and parking, the still longed for closure of Market Street to vehicles or at least her plan of removing all parking on Market from Van Ness to Castro (2006 statement to Board of Supervisors) to proposed closures to all vehicles on Page Street and even Chestnut Street, it is incredible how one person can cause pain to so many. Where are the plans to add MUNI lines, vehicles and overall capacity? Why does she feel small business owners should “get over it” and not have a “strong voice” in transit planning?
    Why not put this to a vote?

  9. I do think the city should start designating some N/S, E/W streets as say “Bike First” streets, with car access for residents. Sutter, Post, Laguna, Steiner or Scott would be my first choices. But eliminating parking on a street that’s almost exclusively occupied by small businesses is ludicrous. Older residents of Russian Hill won’t have access to the shops. The hill up to Larkin is too steep to walk and Van Ness is usually a total clusterf*ck. It’s punishing hundreds local residents and businesses for dozens of bikers who likely don’t even live in that area or patronize the shops.

  10. ^ sure. But N/S and gentle slope? There’s only VN or Polk.
    Older residents ../.. The hill up to Larkin is too steep to walk
    This reminds me of older folks who pushed for prop 13 because they didn’t want to scale down. They’re externalizing the cost of their choices. “I want to drive down 3 blocks for shopping therefore I want others to make the space for it”. Well, others want to use that street too.
    dozens of bikers.
    Try a few 100s. Every day. It’s a very busy bike road.
    punishing hundreds local residents and businesses for dozens of bikers who likely don’t even live in that area
    What do you suggest? Toll roads everywhere? Out-of-towners and Marina types make a mess of Mission Dolores every week-end, and yet I do not complain. A street is a public resource. Car drivers do not own it nor do residents.
    or patronize the shops.
    I patronize some of the shops and I bike on Polk, to Polk, through Polk at least 3 times a week.
    There’s a big transient situation on 1/2 of the length of Polk south of Pine. My wife who does her commute walk there has to do all sorts of detours to avoid the crazies. Hey, she should be shopping there while she’s at it!
    The consequence is that few people will walk from Market to the northern part of Polk. They’ll drive, or cycle, because of the mess.
    If anything, that would be my first priority if you want to improve business. Cyclists killing business are a strawman’s argument.

  11. Why not remove all the parking on 24th street instead? Lets close 24th to nothing but bikes and let those on the south side who want to tell someone on Russian Hill how to live get a taste of their own medicine. Don’t forget to remove the NV Whole Foods parking lot while your at it since as was explained by a bike coalition speaker “shoppers should learn to carry their groceries home”. Btw – SFMTA figures did not show “hundreds” of daily bike journeys as was claimed above.

  12. 24th street wouldn’t be the right comparison. The much better comparison is Valencia because it is also a connector between neighborhoods. There’s Mission, South Van Ness or Guerrero for car and transit, and Valencia for a mixed use. Just like Polk has Van Ness, Franklin, Larkin, Hyde. All of these streets have parking and traffic lights synchronized to make you move fast.
    Look at Valencia today. The only problem Valencia street has today is that businesses are too successful and landlords are jacking up the rents.
    Now THAT would be a problem businesses on Polk would love to have.

  13. Why not put a separated two direction bikelane on Polk, keep the parking, but make it a 1 lane one way street for cars?

  14. I would love to see Valencia closed to through traffic. As it is, every day I have to swing out into the lane because some douchebag driver decides that the bike lane is his personal double parking spot.
    Hey FedUp, please do put The City “Transit First” policy on the ballot and see how it does. Last time it got 65% of the vote. Your hero Rob Anderson ran for BoS and got 5.58% of the vote.
    I would love to see 3.5% of the cities road space dedicated to cyclists. All of Valencia, all of Market, all of Polk. What do we have, about 10 more streets to go to get to 3.5%?

  15. How about the cops started to actually enforce the traffic laws in this city? Double parking and cyclists running stops would be excellent places to start.
    As for the parking spots, the sensible thing to *everywhere* (not just on Polk St.) is to move parking from curbside spots to off-street garages. But the Politbüro in its infinite unquestionable wisdom is on a mission to reduce/eliminate parking spaces from new buildings. If it weren’t so pathetic it would be funny how they claim Europe is the model for “transit first” yet they do the exact opposite of what is European cities have long figured out is the key to easing traffic flow.

  16. There is no effort to “eliminate parking spaces from new buildings”, what is going on is that there are reduced requirements for parking in new buildings compared to what was in the planning code in years past.
    The chief reason behind the effort is that the planning department in general is relying MORE on market-based mechanisms for the allocation of scarce resources, so why you keep using the phrase “the Politbüro” is beyond me.
    If the marketplace values off-street as much as the NIMBYs in this town do, then off-street parking garages will get built by private parties and those that buy condos in new buildings that have cleaved the connection between housing and parking will buy access to those garages and use them.
    If the marketplace (sensibly) values housing more than off-street parking, then as neighborhood plans change to reduce the requirements for parking, more housing will get built.
    Also, I think that the people who make policy in this city are a lot more informed than you make them out to be; I think it’s obvious to more informed observers that your claim that “european cities have long figured out” that moving “parking from curbside spots to off-street garages” is “the key to easing traffic flow” relies on a series of assumed value judgements that most people in the city don’t share.

  17. I like Dan’s idea of a two direction bikelane on Polk at the cost of making the street a one-way for cars.
    Cars can handle one-way easily with all the alternative options around. Northbound bikes North are stuck between a rock (Van Ness) and a hard place (Larkin). There would be no need for removing parking and everyone would get their space.

  18. One way streets are normally done in pairs, each in opposite directions. Most transportation networks are balanced like this on the assumption that people going from A to B will also need to go from B back to A. So in this case it would make Larkin St. Polk’s alter ego.
    I like the one-way Polk concept because it appeases the business owners who want to retain on-street parking while providing a much needed N-S bike route. But NIMBY opposition to making Larkin one-way along with the increased traffic could become just as big of an obstacle.

  19. Larkin is already one-way from Market to California (and fairly efficiently flowing). North of that it’s mainly a local use street. I don’t think that would be an issue but locals certainly know best.

  20. That’s bullcrap, Brahma, and you know it. The Planning Dept. routinely requires developers to reduce the number of spaces for new condo developments.

  21. ^^^ Reduced from their original request perhaps. They’re just playing the game of asking for more than needed and using that as a bargaining chip with Planning.

  22. That was commenting on the right-hand side of your forward slash at 8:22 AM. I concede that sometimes parking proposals get reduced, and that’s a good thing, IMHO.
    That said, some of those “routine” parking reductions are simply due to the developer willingly proposing more parking than the relevant code allows for. Sometimes this is the result of gamesmanship, like Milkshake says, other times for some odd reason the developer and planning don’t agree on what rules should apply.
    Sometimes the project was on the books for so long (largely because the proposing developer had trouble lining up financing, it appears) that the code or ‘hood plan changed and parking requirements reduced before the project reached approval state, and hence the parking originally proposed gets recommended to be reduced in order to conform to the now-current rules.
    If you want, please by all means post three instances of a condo project where planning required the developer to eliminate parking after a condo project proposal was in the works or before a vote by the commission and I’ll retract what I wrote.

  23. Has anybody else been reading about the recently floated idea of removal of almost all parking on Chestnut Street as well?
    Why does Leah Shahum get to have such a strong voice in Transit Planning? Does she have the prosfessional background to make such decisions and statements? Why is she against Enviromental Impact Reports being created before street closures and projects such as removing almost all parking from a retail street like Polk Street?
    What she calls “traffic calming” I call “congestion creation”.
    Though I own a car, I walk to Chestnut to do all my shopping but I am aware of elderly neighbors that must use their car to pick up groceries, etc.

  24. I am fed up as well. Last weekend, I was working out on a stairmaster at a gym overlooking Market and Noe and I watched the traffic go by. For every bicycle that went by, there were at least 50 or so cars. The only time I see masses of bicycles are during the morning and afternoon commute. The bicycle people have a disproportionate amount of power considering the numbers of their ranks.

  25. Oh the irony of counting cyclists from your stairmaster…
    I know this intersection well.
    Aside from this pretty typical “I was at point ABC the other day and I didn’t see this XYZ behavior”, make an effort and do some homework…
    Most of the commuting bike traffic can be seen starting at Duboce. Duh.
    Where would the cyclists come from? Apart from locals in the Castro, they would have to come from Upper Market (an horrible freeway where cars move in pack at 40MPH despite the 30MPH signs) or the Sunset, or Noe Valley (25% grade up Noe) Or the Haight/Duboce.
    They all take flatter routes like Church street, Valencia, Duboce, the Wiggle. Castro/Market is a dead end to many cyclists.

  26. But LOL, street parking is being removed from all areas of the city, not just the flat parts of the Mission. In fact, 2 or 3 spots were removed right in front of that gym for the occasional bicyclists.

  27. The removal of these parking spaces were probably before my time. There’s the brand new building across the gym which will add its own craziness. But this is what comes with density.
    The plan is not the cyclists we have today (which are plenty already), but the ones we want. If SF keeps growing, all the flatlands will have to be more accesible by bike. Newcomers to this city are mostly young, educated and diversely affluent. They are attracted by a certain lifestyle. It includes some driving and some cycling. We need to attract and retain them to stay one of the top cities where innovators like to do business. Did you notice all these new buildings at corners between Noe Street and Van Ness? The new people will need diverse options for transportation as there will be only more or less one car per 2 units, meaning 1 car for 4 people.
    On a side note: Noe/Market is typical to car driving patterns in this city: drivers from Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights, 1/2 of Sunset take Market. Drivers from NV trying to avoid buses and congestion on Castro and who cannot easily swing by Sanchez or Church (it own mess). These are all cross-through patterns which are not going away. As a result, this is not a very bike friendly area as it sits, which explains why everyone goes further down market for their commute.

  28. @lol, what you describe is the so called theory of “mode shift” which is that if you make is painfully difficult and expensive, drivers will give up on cars and use bicycles since MUNI is not an option for many. The problem with Mode Shift is that there is no actual evidence to show that is works and why punish taxpaying San Franciscans who may be elderly so that your hipster yuppie can feel more comfortable riding their bike?
    who made Leah Shahum in charge of planning for the city of San Francisco? Are you aware that as more alterntaive energy vehicles enter the marketplace, the complaints about air polution will no longer be valid.
    I am not going to take a bus from Prado street in the Marina to Market and Noe in the Castro (used as an example above) because that could take 50 Minutes, where as I could drive it in 10 minutes. As for bike riding, I do that at Mount Tam and in the Presidio.

  29. They are not theories. They have been tried in many places very successfully for 30+ years. Living the suburban lifestyle in a dense urban area is a luxury.

  30. MUNI isn’t static for ever and ever amen; if “SF keeps growing”, like lol assumes, then MUNI is going to have to improve substantially. All it takes is the political will.

  31. Indeed. We need diverse options. We are not 100% something 100% of the time. I am a cyclist, a pedestrian, a Muni rider and occasionally a car driver.
    Helping people to get out of their cars means giving them the option to do so.

  32. LoL – “Helping people get out of their cars”. I love it! It is all about changing OTHER people’s behavior. This will be THE issue of 2014. Note that this is a 2011 thread that has become active again. And as for the so-called high earning younger professionals flocking to the city, let’s see how much they enjoy their Amsterdam fantasy lifestyle and for how long. How are they going to get that 80 inch screen back to their condo? How will they deal with the West Elm bookcase, etc.? If they are using Car Sharing, that will no longer work because the anti-car know it alls took away all the street parking in front of their unit.
    Too Bad.

  33. And as for the so-called high earning younger professionals flocking to the city…how are they going to get that 80 inch screen back to their condo? How will they deal with the West Elm bookcase, etc.?

    The store will deliver it for a nominal charge.
    Paying a bit more for “white glove” service means getting delivery of the item into your home and having the deliverypersons set it where the customer wants it.
    If the store doesn’t, ordering the item on-line from an e-tailer like Amazon.com will assure the consumer that UPS will deliver it. For free.

  34. FedUp goes all in with the hyperbole.
    If you have a condo in a new construction, you probably have a loading dock and access to a an elevator. If you are in a traditional residential area, most likely parking will not be impacted. Plus most residential areas’ parking are already 99% full, therefore, there would be not much change.
    Believe me, I have a lot of friends who envy the lifestyle some SF dwellers are enjoying. They’d LOVE to get out of their cars. And yes, we should HELP them get out their cars if they WANT to.
    As I am saying over and over again if you are rereading my posts: this is not about forcing people, but providing them with an alternative to driving.
    Right now, cyclist needlessly risk their lives on things that should be easy to fix. Safety issues discourages many to opt for cycling.
    For instance I will not let my wife go to her job by bicycle up Polk Street because Van Ness is a death trap. I know how to handle it with 30+ years of bicycle commute under my belt, but for a newby, no way. Polk Street, in its potential configuration would be a much better and safer solution.
    People that want to cycle must be offered that choice. Right now, that’s not the case. And yet, the choice to drive and clog public streets is sacrosanct.

  35. Removing 170 parking spaces from the Polk street (north retail district) is not “providing an alternative”. I personally believe that bike lanes are great, but the Bike Coalition agenda is not Pro Bike, but actually more driven by an Anti Car agenda. All you have to do is read the statements of Leah Shahum regarding parking along Market Street in the Castro, as well as along Polk Street, etc. Have you not heard of the plans for parking removal along Chestnut? Or even Columbus in North Beach? Is the goal to remove all parking from neighborhood retail districts?
    I ask this question in all sincerity.

  36. I don’t have any inside information on the SFBC though I do know quite a few advocates for bicycling. From that experience I can tell you that the number of people who claim advocates are anti-car are far far greater than actual anti-car zealots within cycling advocacy. Only once I met a truly anti-car cycling advocate. The rest of the advocacy community considered him to be an embarrassment. He got frustrated by moderate attitudes and left.
    This is not an extreme change to Polk. Aren’t we talking about around 7% of the total parking within a block of Polk?

  37. I am not anti-car and none of the cyclist I know are anti-car. We all have or have had cars at some point.
    It’s about sharing the road. Right now there’s a large enough number of people already cycling or willing to cycle in this city.

  38. I don’t have any inside information on the SFBC though I do know quite a few advocates for bicycling. From that experience I can tell you that the number of people who claim advocates are anti-car are far far greater than actual anti-car zealots within cycling advocacy.

    That’s consistent with my experience, although I go out of my way to avoid the more arrogant members of the toeclips-and-lyrca set and the mentality that produces individuals like Chris Bucchere, so maybe my circle of associates and acquaintances isn’t representative.
    But honestly, my reading of the comments such as “the bicycle people have a disproportionate amount of power considering the numbers of their ranks” and “who made Leah Shahum in charge of planning for the city of San Francisco?” and the fact that “this is a 2011 thread that has become active again” is this: people who have made car-dependent lifestyle choices don’t want those choices challenged, much less have alternatives provided or supported.
    The extent to which advocates for cycling in general and bicycle commuting in particular have any voice or influence at all when it comes to municipal policymaking is really what animates the types of people who showed up at the neighborhood meeting last week and loudly booed Ed Reiskin. formidable doer, were you there?

  39. Removing on-street parking is a good thing for traffic flow. Benefits pedestrians, cyclists as well as drivers. But the cars have to park somewhere, they’re not going to disappear. Maybe if you’re a hipster with a barista job or some other “artisanal” occupation (gag!) you can live without a car, but most people with real grown-up lives, careers and families can’t. Believing anything else is a socialist delusion.

  40. Yuba is going to be shipping the new version of its electrified Mundo with a Bionix kit installed. This cargo bike is a ‘minivan’ replacement that can handle Ess Eff hills. I predict you’ll be seeing even more of them on the streets, which will continue to broaden the bicycling constituency.

  41. gentrified is a dirty word for clean
    Another “us vs. them” comment.
    People with “real grown-up lives” have long realized the core of the City is probably not as good for their kids as the suburbs or the countryside. Yet, they make the choice of living here which is perfectly OK.
    They’re living in the best possible compromise for their own situation (needs, means) and outside constraints (costs, space).
    Just like everyone else.
    And everyone is asking for their own needs to be respected. 20 years ago, drivers were the only ones getting their way in the streets. Today everyone is being heard and treated rather equally.
    PS: I refrained from making yet another “Walnut Creek” comment but you get my drift.

  42. Regarding the question of percentage of parking spaces being removed from Polk Street, the number of curbside spaces I heard there is presently is 320, with the number proposed for removal being 170. That is 50%, not the much smaller number mentioned above.

  43. FedUp – The 7% I mentioned accounted for spots within a block of the proposed changes on Polk. In other words it accounts for parking on the side streets. The idea being that most people have no problem parking a block or two away from their destination.
    Those who want to park in the spot right in front of their destination are already frustrated even before parking removal.

  44. @MoD, anyone familiar with the area knows side street parking is impossible. I select to use calmer streets for cross town bike trips like Steiner and Scott, but do admit the Polk Street bike plan is interesting, though would prefer the one way traffic idea.
    BTW- THANKS to supervisor Mark Farrell for trying to alert people to plans to install parking meters throughout residential areas of the Marina.

  45. ^Side street parking may be “impossible”, but to not include it in with the total number of parking spaces for the area when discussing percentages is absurd. We might as well say “ZOMG! They’re eliminating 100% of the spots that they’ve decided to eliminate!”

  46. Got it “anon”, but the statistic of 50% removal of POLK STREET parking is confirmed by L.A.Times article. Your desire to have retail parking spill over on to residential streets is noted.
    So even though Polk Street works well and neighbors and business owners do not request change, because the Bike Coalition demand change, the local residents must learn to sacrifice their neighborhood to make bike riders “more comfortable” by not having to share the road with vehicles.
    Though nobody living on residential streets in the Marina have asked for parking meters, the SFMTA claims that we demand them. I have not met anyone in the Marina who has been asking for parking to be removed from Chestnut Street for a bike lane, yet the SFBC claims we are begging for this. Why not let residents in the actual neighborhoods decide whether they wish their local retail streets to be changed?

  47. We all have to give and take things. You give access to your streets, and others give you access.
    Wanna cecede from SF? Go ahead. Go Pimlico!

  48. So even though Polk Street works well and neighbors and business owners do not request change, because the Bike Coalition demand change, the local residents must learn to sacrifice their neighborhood to make bike riders “more comfortable” by not having to share the road with vehicles.
    Um, I live on Polk St. And I requested this change. And I don’t even own a bike. I just don’t like my street being overridden with cars going 50 miles an hour. Try again bro.

  49. To be true, I think 50MPH is a bit far fetched. The section with stop signs doesn’t allow you to go that fast. And the section with traffic lights is set at 25-30MPH. Now I do see a few guys going downhill south after Geary that can do 35-40. 50? Maybe an idiot who likes to waste his break pads.
    It’s still fast enough for crossing the Walking Dead section…

  50. “a few vocal supporters”? NVJ, next time, have members of the Bike Coalition who live in the neighborhood show up at a meeting regarding this project. If there is so much desire for the bike freeway through the Pulk Gulch, there should be plenty of supporters willing to come out and make their case. As for the standing room only room full of “vocal” supporters, they were business owners, employees and actual residents (or business owners) of the neighborhood, as each speaker stated their address before they spoke.

  51. I will be sending the SFBC a big fat check along with my renewal this year. Thank for inspiring me guys.

  52. The SFBC is sending out form letters and encouraging members to attend the next neighborhood meeting which has been already been described on another website as “The Showdown at Polk Gulch 2”.
    I would not be surprised if residents and business owners from the neighborhood do not show up in equal numbers with equal enthusiasm. Who will blink first?
    There has been so much anger generated by the Polk street project neither side will probably be willing to compromise, which is unfortunate. The SFBC would be well served to only allow members to speak who actually live in the neighborhood. I am afraid having a bunch of Mission hipsters yelling how they want another area redesigned will not go over we’ll and will be long remembered.
    I personally believe there could be a growing backlash against the SFBC and the SFMTA if they do not carefully consider BOTH sides of the issue.

  53. If Polk Street merchants are really anti-cyclists, I for one would not feel at ease patronizing this very hostile environment. What I find on Polk I can find everywhere else.

  54. Who said they were anti-cyclists? The suggested comprimise of making Polk one way WITH 2 way protected bike path and on-street parking remaining was rejected by SFBC at last community meeting. That makes me think that the SFBC is anti-car instead.

  55. I’m not a biker, and I am 100% against the one-way street idea. That’s a terrible, terrible, terrible idea and the perfect way to make the street even more dangerous to pedestrians than it is now.

  56. I agree. I think Polk is calmer if traffic runs two directions, and I have never seen cars rushing past at 50mph as claimed above by one person.
    At the last community meeting it was also mentioned that of accidents on Polk involving cyclists, more than 50% of these accidents were caused by cyclists not obeying traffic laws, mostly involving running red lights. There was also a very angry woman who spoke at the meeting who was hit by a cyclist while she was crossing in a crosswalk with a green light.

  57. A single lane of traffic, one way street is safer for pedestrians than one lane in each direction. There is only one lane of auto traffic to cross, rather than two.

  58. ^One lane of traffic, yes. But then cars would be going into and out of parking spots on both sides and causing all sorts of havoc with the two-way bike lane. Plus, single direction traffic tends to be faster, no matter what you do, unless you’re willing to make the single lane weave from side-to-side, etc.

  59. What I have seen in Paris was alternate one-way traffic. 2 blocks one way, then 1 block the other way, then a few more blocks back in the original direction.
    It ensures ALL traffic is local. It’s a bit confusing for outsiders but you quickly get used to it when you’re there.
    It changed everything for this street. It used to be clogged 3 hours a day. Now it’s convenient for shoppers and storekeepers alike. The bulb-outs and the lane weaving add to the transformation of this area into a people-friendly street.
    I do not know how that would work with 2-way bike lanes because the last thing you want at crossings is lost drivers with bicycles zooming by. But it could be workable I think.

  60. I would like to see the SFBC organize a boycott of Polk Street merchants. Maybe that would get their attention.

  61. The two way bike lane could be on the sidewalk side of parked cars,. Cars would still have to watch for bikes when turning to cross the bike lane, though.

  62. I agree with ENUF which has stated…
    “This is why ENUF is calling for a moratorium on all non-Muni expenditures until the Muni is fixed and functioning. Take the billions of dollars that are going to bike lanes and street closures and FIX THE MUNI FIRST.
    For elderly and disabled, bike lanes are not always an option.

  63. ^True, but it’s ludicrous to put all of our eggs into one basket. How about we try to fix many things rather than tossing all of our hope into “fixing” Muni, which has been broken for decades and will likely just soak up the billions given it without actually being fixed? That sounds like a better plan to me.

  64. Cycling requires relatively small capital expenditures to create enough bike lanes on existing streets to create a skeletal travel network. MUNI requires a subsidy of several dollars for every ride. It would be cheaper to eliminate MUNI subsidies, buy everyone in SF a bike, and provide the elderly and disabled with paratransit.

  65. Agreed Dan, most bikes lanes cost almost nothing to create. I do not speak for ENUF but I would imagine they are mainly talking about proposed street closures that cause their concern for wanting to fix Muni first.
    The Polk Street project HOWEVER would be VERY exepensive because they would be completely changing sidewalks (widths mainly),all new paving, relocating lighting and signals, a complete reconstruction of drainage sewers, etc. Nobody in Polk Gulch has asked or wants these “corrections” to make the street “safer”.
    Please remember, the San Francisco Bike Coalition has long hoped for the closure of Market Street from Castro to Ferry Plaza and this closure would require a massive reconstruction project. What would be the point of closing a street to commercial and private vehicles if you would not then enhance landscaping, lighting, walking plazas, etc? One has to believe in the fantasy that if we could just remove those evil cars, then all of the urban ills on Polk Street and Market street would vanish. I am not convinced that private vehicles are going away, and stores still need trucks to deliver their products.

  66. Nobody in Polk Gulch has asked or wants these “corrections” to make the street “safer”.
    Um, as I mentioned above, I live on Polk Street and have been asking for this type of improvement for years, as have hundreds of my neighbors. Where in the world do you get the idea that no one living here wants this?

  67. Well you were not at the last neighborhood meeting to discuss this project I would bet. Please, I am sure many of us would look forward to meeting the “hundreds” of neighbors who want 50% of Polk Street parking removed, to come to the next meeting and speak up, including stating teh address at where you reside.
    The numerous articles posted earlier in this thread including coverage by the Los Angeles Times suggest the opposite of what you claim. The overwhelming majority attending discussions about this project are against it. Leah Shahum claims this is a vocal minority, but it is up to you and her to show that your side is represented.
    Store windows along Post Street have signs against this project, can you point me to ONE sign posted FOR this project? Get your neighbors who agree with your viewpoint to speak up and show up for “Round 2” with the SFMTA. I would actually look forward to hearing from the other side and why this project could benefit the area
    I am certain of one thing, and that is if you cannot show that you actually live in the neighborhood, you can expect howls from the crowd who do live in this neighborhood and are against removal of parking.
    Good Luck, and see you at the next meeting.

  68. The overwhelming majority attending discussions about this project are against it.
    This is not even remotely the same as the “nobody in Polk Gulch has asked or wants these…”

  69. “I am certain of one thing, and that is if you cannot show that you actually live in the neighborhood, you can expect howls from the crowd who do live in this neighborhood and are against removal of parking.”
    I don’t doubt that some attendees will show such juvenile behavior. But why discount the opinion of people from outside of the neighborhood? Polk is an arterial street and tasked with allowing people to traverse the city. It isn’t like a village path or something used only by those in the immediate vicinity.
    Almost every neighborhood contains arterial streets that are used by those from outside the area. Similarly everyone uses arterial streets in other neighborhoods.
    Of course the opinion of those who live close to the street in question matter. But that doesn’t mean that their opinion is the only one that matters.

  70. As said above, Polk Sreet is used by more than the immediate neighborhood, that is why business owners are concerned about parking. What bothers me is the Bike Lobby is now acting no different than the Highway Lobby. “Community input be damned, they just ram it on through”. See the Los Angeles Times which has better coverage than local press IMHO.
    “Neighboring shops have signs in their display windows warning that a “radical agenda” threatens the shopping district, where residents can get shoes fixed at Frank’s, fill pantries at Real Food Co., sip a Soju cocktail at Amelies”
    I just hope the Bike Lobby keeps their hands of Chestnut Street.

  71. 85% of shoppers arrive by foot, by transit or by car to Polk Street. It is a bad idea to cater to the 15% at the expense of the rest of us. And two pedestrians or cyclists are hit every month on Polk Street by automobiles! You can bet if two people were being shot every month on Polk Street there would be a public outcry, but auto drivers just expect everyone else to accept their inherently risky behavior.
    There is probably a good way to slow down traffic and add bicycle lanes without taking out so much parking and I would welcome some compromise proposal. But this is a vital part of the transportation network and few NIMBYs should not be allowed to shout it down.
    The truth is that this proposal has been on the drawing board for over a year now, it is just recently that this radical anti-transit and anti-pedestrian group threw itself together and started shouting down differing points of view.

  72. NVJ,
    Going back to one of your eralier posts, I do feel this is a behavior typical of car-centric boomers. The me-me-me generation doesn’t like to share and is afraid of not staying the center of the world.
    How ironical for a generation that used to question authority but only came up with Ronald Reagan.

  73. Other cities don’t exactly have the topography of San Francisco, so comparisons to other places might be a stretch. It’s never going to be that bike friendly when the street grade can change dramatically from block to block. I just don’t understand the desire to eliminate parking on a street consisting mostly of businesses when there are other alternatives that wouldn’t create such division. Everyone wants a better overall bike plan for SF.
    As for a compromise… How about just changing the meter times? i.e. no parking during commute times from say, 7-10am. and again from 4-6pm.

  74. Denis, sounds too reasonable for the bike folks. They won’t be happy until every parking space in the city is eliminated.

  75. Denis – what in the world would that accomplish? I don’t want parking spots to just sit there vacant, I want wider sidewalks.

  76. Well, I was thinking that during peak commute hours, the parking would be for exclusive bike use, like how parking on parts of, say, Franklin and Broadway turn into a lane during commute hours. That way, people could park during off-hours in the middle of the day, and again in the evening if someone who doesn’t live in the area wants to drive there for dinner.

  77. That doesn’t seem to help 75%+ of the users of the street – pedestrians. Why are we only concerned about drivers and bikers? The current plan is a gigantic win for pedestrians, so unless there’s some “compromise” that gives something to pedestrians, I’ll stay with the plan.

  78. 94114,
    Please point us to the grand masterplan for world domination from these “bike folks”.
    Seriously, we’re just talking about sharing the space here. The opposition is hysterical. Typical of a whole generation on its way out.

  79. “will definitely kill business on Polk street”
    That’s an wildly unproven claim.
    Care to give us an example of a street in SF that has seen its business being killed by adding bike lanes?
    I can give you one that transformed everything: Valencia Street. ‘nuf said.

  80. All ideas will kill some businesses and allow others to flower. The current status quo prevents some businesses from realizing their potential – why is the status quo viewed as optimum while any change is clearly a net-negative if one business is hurt?

  81. The whole tax argument is stupid. Bicyclists pay taxes as well and there is not one dedicated bike lane any where near Polk Street.

  82. Changes that make a street more enjoyable to pedestrians and cyclists are usually overwhelmingly positive.
    I am not sure what businesses would suffer from removal of parking. Maybe the ones that depend on quick drop-in/drop-off from commuters like dry cleaners and such?
    In any case the issue is similar today with shoppers circling around the block for parking.
    Sometimes it beats logic. You can spend 10 minutes looking for parking less than 1 block away from your store when parking can be found 3 blocks and less a 5-minute walk away…

  83. Everybody knows that retail stores depend on car traffic and can’t thrive in pedestrian zones. Right? Right?

  84. anontoo wrote:
    > Why not let residents in the actual
    > neighborhoods decide whether they wish
    > their local retail streets to be changed?
    People often make bad decisions (like wanting to drink a large coke or own a SUV) it is important that the city make decisions so people can drink green tea with soy and ride a bike (with their kids, dog and groceries in a trailer behind them)…

  85. You can’t have a half-width bike lane, just like you can’t have a four-foot-wide car lane. It’s all or nothing. So the comments that suggest that the proportion of space on any given street should be proportional to the traffic that uses it are completely nonsensical and absurd on their face (e.g. @94114: “The only time I see masses of bicycles are during the morning and afternoon commute. The bicycle people have a disproportionate amount of power considering the numbers of their ranks.”).
    Maybe it’s a reasonable debate that on a citywide basis, bike lanes should take up no more than XX% of the roadway space in aggregate, but that isn’t a logical conversation to have on at an individual street or block level when you’re talking about a citywide network. If there is going to be a citywide network of bicycle infrastructure there is a minimum dimension to bike facilities, and yes, traffic waxes and wanes throughout the day and different parts of the City. Either there is a complete bike network with bike lanes or there is no complete network. But it makes no sense to take a day-long or citywide statistic and apply it to the design of a single street.
    And if you think bikes have disproportionately too much road space, consider these statistics which resoundingly dispel this myth (these stats are easily found on SFMTA’s website. The math is my own):
    On-street dedicated bike lanes currently take up less than 1% of road space in the City. (0.8% to be exact).
    Of the 1,088 roadway miles in the City, there are 60 miles (5.5%) of roads with bike lanes. When you consider that the average public right of way in SF is about 65′ wide and a bike lane in each direction totals 10′, you’re talking about an infinitesimally small percentage of road space (ie approx 15% of the space on 5.5% of the roads = less than 1%), well below the actual percentage of trips in the City made by bike (commute share is 3.5%). To just allocate the existing road space according to the current percentage of road users on bike, we’d have to add 193 more miles of roads with bike lanes in each direction, or more than triple the current number of streets with bike lanes. That is, 253 out of 1,088 miles (or about 25%) of all streets in the city would have to have bike lanes in order for there even to have 3.5% of road space dedicated for bikes. And that’s only to reflect the current amount of cyclists, which doesn’t come close to reflecting the Board of Supes adopted policy goal of reaching 20% bike mode share by 2020.

  86. The only difference between the highway lobby and the bicycle lobby is the size of their footprint. They are equally deaf to the wants of the local community.

  87. NO, it’s NOT about a “complete bike network or no complete network…”
    It’s about balance. It means some locations simply cannot support a bike lane and parking for shoppers in the same roadway. Pretty simple, I would say.
    We need to listen to the local residents and retail owners on Polk St. rather than just shove the bike lane idea thru without serious discussion.
    The bike coalition and other bike centric groups cannot control ALL of the roadways.

  88. @ Guest (4/2, 10:57 AM): “If you support these improvements, please sign the petition!”
    Thanks for the heads up. Done, with the following message added:
    “When I first arrived in San Francisco, 21 years ago, Polk Street was one of the first districts I explored (on foot, as I was staying in a Union Square Hotel during my interviews at UCSF). I’ve now been lucky enough to call this city “home” for 20 years. To this day, Polk Street remains one of my favorite commercial streets in the city. I still enjoy visiting it and patronizing its businesses, and, although a vehicle owner, I don’t drive there when I do. Like 85% of people visiting businesses on the street (according to a 2008 SFMTA survey), I arrive by a combination of Muni and walking. I wholeheartedly support the proposed changes, which are aimed at making the street more welcoming and safe for all modes of transportation.”

  89. It’s not ALL the roadways. Just the very few ones that are most convenient and most appropriate.
    Nobody’s after your right to drive a car.

  90. Wow, totally against this idea. Lived in Russian Hill a long time and really don’t like this idea (and I used to bike). My vote:
    – Polk businesses need that parking
    – Polk street, with all the pedestrian crossing going on, is a bad ‘fast’ bicycle street.
    – Take away parking on Van Ness and put the bicyclists there. Move the buses on Van Ness to Polk. This is similar to the idea floating around to have Mission street to be a bicycle road and Market Street to maintain being a bus and walking road.

  91. This seems very similar to the 1960’s craze to make streets totally pedestrian by repaving them as “malls”.
    Malls were a terrible destroyer of urban fabric that has been studied to death. They killed the street life wherever they were put.
    The real side story hear is the social engineering in that the businesses that this will definitely impact and are leading the fight against this scheme are bars and clubs that have taken over Polk Street that cater to a bridge and tunnel customer base.

  92. ^Why should Polk be a “fast” bicycle street? They’re talking about bike lanes, not a bike freeway.
    And again, the important part of this plan is the widened sidewalks, which the itty bitty minority of car fetishists think should be reserved for their cars for the .05% of the year that they park on Polk Street, rather than for neighborhood folks walking on the sidewalks every day.

  93. And Polk St. is not an appropriate street to remove 170 parking spaces to create a bike lane and add a few parklets.
    And @ lol: I mentioned nothing about my right to drive.
    I can see a few pedestrian deaths/injuries in the next few years by the errant cyclists flying down the Polk St. grade, thru stop lights and signs, just to get to Market St. in a hurry. Like DanRH said, I agree: this is a bad “fast” bicycle street.
    I vote against the bike lane changes.

  94. VN is non-practical. How would bikes handle left turns at crossings? Cross 3 lines of traffic and make sure your estate is in order?
    Polk is the perfect match on many levels. I am of the opinion that businesses would not suffer one bit. Others have the opinion that they would suffer.
    Empirical evidence of other transformations show that more foot/bike traffic means more business, therefore we’re very likely to see an improvement for everyone.
    Then again, we’re touching at the Sacred Cow. Therefore we’re having a very emotional response.

  95. And Polk St. is not an appropriate street to remove 170 parking spaces to create a bike lane and add a few parklets.
    Look at the spatial renders – the parking is primarily being removed for sidewalks. This is all about drivers hating pedestrians, it just happens that bikes are easier to overtly attack rather than the 75% of street users who are pedestrians.

  96. this is a stupid proposal. less than 10% of people use bikes. the business will suffer and residents will suffer with this plan. this will greatly increase congestion in the entire area. why does such a small minority have so much power? it makes no sense.

  97. ^75% is not a minority. This is a plan for pedestrians, that a very vocal minority is trying to paint a “bike” proposal in order to maintain their sacred cow of subsidized parking.

  98. increase congestion in the entire area
    There’s Van Ness next door. You’re getting very irrational.

  99. Streetsblog covered this a few days ago and the data shows that only 15% of people patronizing Polk St businesses arrive by car. 85% of the people are walking, biking, or taking transit.
    Additionally, there are currently 320 spaces on Polk, with 2100 on street parking spaces and a total of 5100 parking spaces (on and off street) within a one block radius of the affected corridor.
    Finally, the project isn’t just about bikes and/or parking but it is also about safer streets. Currently an avg of 2 pedestrians/bicyclists are injured every month on that corridor alone.
    [Editor’s Note: The ‘Overview Slides‘ link above includes stats collected by the SFMTA along with six design options for how to proceed, all of which include pedestrian safety enhancements but varying impacts on parking.]

  100. Only 5% of people patronizing Polk Street businesses arrive by bike, a third the number that arrive by car!

  101. This will clearly kill business.
    Look at how devastated Valencia is after they removed traffic lanes and parking and added wider sidewalks and bike lanes. One empty storefront after another. A graveyard of failed businesses.

  102. We know you’re joking R, and being sarcastic.
    But, lets be real: Valencia is wider than Polk St.
    I’m all for some selected widening of sidewalks, more street trees and greenery, and yes even a few WELl designed parklets, and yes, SOME bike lanes where appropriate.
    Polk St. cannot support ALL of these changes without a serious negative impact on much needed street parking.

  103. Guest,
    You build bike lanes not for the cyclists you have today, but the ones you know you can attract. I started commuting down Market Street in 2006. By 2009 I knew I had to leave 15 or 30 minutes earlier to AVOID THE BICYCLE CONGESTION.
    A big issue with Polk is that it’s one way from the Civic Center for a few blocks. Bicycles have to wiggle through a very dangerous Van Ness to go North. Remove that hurdle and you will greatly increase bike traffic.

  104. The blocks are very short on Polk. Will cyclists in bike lanes stop at every light? NO they will not. There are a lot of elderly and disabled people who live in this area and will be hurt by cyclists flying down the street. Plus this will kill business. Hands off Polk Street.

  105. “You build bike lanes not for the cyclists you have today, but the ones you know you can attract.”
    You could say the same thing about driving. Increase parking and the percentage of trips to Polk street would increase.

  106. Wow, new strawman’s arguments are added every minute.
    No, these blocks are not “short”. Also, a big chunk of the street has a stop sign at every other crossing.
    Greenwich for instance, does not have a stop sign.
    At stop signs on Polk, most cyclists I see are respecting the right of way and letting pedestrians go through. Not all are putting their foot on the ground, though. But hurting the elderly? Never seen it on Polk.
    By principle, a pedestrian killed by a cyclist makes the news for a month. When it’s a car or a truck, it doesn’t even make the news more than a few hours on sfgate. It’s just “normal”.

  107. I just want to thank the Editor for coverage on this issue and allowing a forum. I knew this would be perfect for the Socketsite community to discuss and appreciate the dialogue.
    I agree with redseca2, I think this is the latest fad in urban planning and am old enough to remember when pedestrian malls were the “it” thing, but then shown to destroy commercial life on urban streets. I still think that many Polk Street business owners would be willing to settle for a comprimise, but the Bike Coalition is unwilling to show any effort at a dialogue. (Just read their own site and comments)

  108. “Look at how devastated Valencia is after they removed traffic lanes and parking and added wider sidewalks and bike lanes. One empty storefront after another. A graveyard of failed businesses.”
    Honestly this is revisionist history…Valencia St was well and truly established before the traffic lanes were removed and the street enhancements were made.
    Anyway, Valencia St is interesting…it’s considered the pinaccle of urban living by many who support removal/restriction of vehicle parking in San Francisco. It no doubt has it’s place and has been a remarkable success but it would be actually really boring if the entire city followed the same model. The city is in desperate need of diversity and more Valencia Streets are going to ensure that SF continues to attract a very limited demographic…

  109. “Valencia St was well and truly established before the traffic lanes were removed and the street enhancements were made. ”
    So is Polk.
    The point I was making is that all the folks saying this will kill business need only look a couple miles away for proof that it will help business, not kill it.

  110. Blogger Rob Anderson wrote: “We’re dealing with a faith-based traffic theory designed to benefit the 3.5%”
    Is that the same Rob Anderson who wrote a blog post from someone named “Mike Hunt” who said the ARCO station at Fell/Divis is going to become a park?
    To say Anderson is clueless is to insult the clueless.

  111. @R – Polk business owners never asked for this “help” from SFMTA funds to completely rebuild their street, and these dollars would be better spent on fixing MUNI instead. Is it so terrible that the neighborhood likes the street the way it is?

  112. And, to my knowledge, 170 or so parking spaces were NOT removed from Valencia St.
    That’s one of the real issues.

  113. Is it so terrible that the neighborhood likes the street the way it is?
    “The neighborhood” consists of more than a few noisy, cranky, old soon-to-retire failing business owners. Most of the neighborhood has been begging for pedestrian fixes like this for years.

  114. @FedUp: Who cares whether the businesses asked for this or not?
    If changes are for the greater good of the city, then the city has the right (and responsibility) to make those changes.
    @futurist: I don’t know exact numbers, but parking on Valencia was lost between curb bulb-outs and removal of the middle lane. And it didn’t kill business.

  115. it would be actually really boring if the entire city followed the same model.
    SF is a series of “villages” or strips. A few could support this model as long as they are also thoroughfares.
    What’s interesting to notice is that bike ways are following the historical development of the City. 100-120 years ago, a new neighborhood would start from a core street in the flatlands followed by a build-up of the hills around. Streetcar constraints were one of the main reasons behind this model.
    It’s fascinating to see that we are going full circle in the future-proofing of our City.

  116. I understand the Valencia comparison, but then again I don’t. Valencia is much wider and still has ample parking spots on both sides of the street. The street redesign helped accelerate the already rapid gentrification taking place in the area. I don’t think Polk is experiencing the same cultural changes that were already taking place in parts of the Mission.
    Most of the SFTMA proposals look reasonable for the most part, except for 5 and 6. I like that my thought of having evening parking available is among them. On closer inspection, what’s up with option 3? The car is parked in the opposite direction as traffic. I can only assume that was a mistake.

  117. Comparisons to Valencia Street are ridiculous. That redesign was only for four blocks, WIDENED the parking lanes and only removed a few spaces. The middle lane which was lost was never legal parking.

  118. How are they going to get that 80 inch screen back to their condo? How will they deal with the West Elm bookcase, etc.?
    I’m going to go to a store on Polk, use up an hour of the shopkeepers time deciding on which exact model I want, then pull out my iPhone and order it online right in front of his face and say “that’s for the bike lanes”

  119. No they are not. Every street is different, but the improvement of Valencia shows that helping bike traffic amplified the change.
    Polk Street has a lot of good things going for it. It’s a hub to 2 very affluent neighborhoods. It has some very interesting architecture, businesses that have become quasi-landmarks, a great wealth of variety in its people.
    It could become a more desirable destination, instead of the interesting curiosity that it is today. And businesses would benefit from it!

  120. @ R: no, I don’t know the exact number of spaces lost on Valencia. But it was not about the 170 spaces that will be lost on Polk St.
    There were some lost on Valencia but not many. And, anyway, what’s your point?
    And no, the few spaces lost on Valencia did not kill the business, because Valencia was already on its’ way to becoming a magnet for new businesses and young, hip and well to do SF residents. The momentum just picked up and is going full steam.
    Parking on Valencia, or fewer parking spaces has little to do with the success of Valencia. It’s about location, desirability and the masses all wanting to be in the trendiest area..at the moment.

  121. How are they going to get that 80 inch screen back to their condo?
    Strawman’s argument #37. Drivers will shop at Best Buy 2 short miles away before going to a local store. And even Best Buy has the issue of people using their store as a showroom before ordering online. And they do have very ample parking.
    Plus how many businesses would have this issue? And how are they coping today with most parking already taken? There’s probably a way to design a solution for these businesses in the plan.

  122. “You build bike lanes not for the cyclists you have today, but the ones you know you can attract.”
    You could say the same thing about driving. Increase parking and the percentage of trips to Polk street would increase.
    Actually – you can’t. Americans as a whole are driving less. This trend is dominated in cities (last I checked SF is a city) and among the 18-35 demographic (the people SF needs to attract to keep the City viable)

  123. Coming to a neighborhood near YOU.
    There is another neighborhood meeting coming up regarding proposed removal of parking spaces on Chestnut Street and installation of parking meters on residential Marina streets which could be almost as wild as the Polk Street meeting was.
    Why won’t the SFMTA focus on fixing MUNI?

  124. And, to my knowledge, 170 or so parking spaces were NOT removed from Valencia St.
    Sure they did – the center lane is gone.

  125. R – Thanks for the clarification. I’m not sure if the proposed removal will / will not kill business. Big picture this discussion is really about the kind of city San Francisco will be in the future. There are clearly two distinct competing visions. It’s obvious the bike coalition has made significant inroads however it’s still unclear (at least to me) whether it is going to benefit the city as a whole or just a small minority as it is today. I still think it’s the former, (because I don’t think biking is a viable option for the vast majority of people,) but I could be wrong. Also, why isn’t there more focus and energy on Muni?

  126. Nope John, you’re wrong, or at least “adjusting” the facts.
    Those parking spaces that were removed from Valencia were not legal spaces to be used at ANY time, in place of metered legal spaces. From my observation, they were used, sometimes for delivery vehicles. And yes, I am glad those spaces are gone.
    But, they were and many still are used for church services: and should be prohibited. What’s with the City supporting free parking for religion?
    But 170 or so removed from Valencia? Show us the data.

  127. This proposal is just a big piece of dog doo doo. I live 1/4 of a block from Polk in Russian Hill and I’ve spoken with at least 10 different merchants on Polk. All of those I’ve spoken with are violently opposed to this project. I’m supporting them with my opposition as well. I’m also a huge biker and generally a fan of more bike lanes in SF.

  128. Hey lol, how about SHARING the road? Why not start by encouraging bike riders to obey traffic laws? Nobody is asking that bikes or bike parking be removed from streets, it is the other way around. Bike riders are demanding that cars and car parking be removed so they can feel “safe”, but safe from drivers, or from their fellow bike riders? I am a daily bike user and have no need for a designated lane. I seriously doubt that bike riders will stop at every stop sign and signal while travelling down this proposed bike highway.
    I select routes throughout the city that are calmer than busy commercial streets. I have never rode on Van Ness or Market, and select streets like Green instead of Union, Scott or Steiner instead of Fillmore, Greenwich instead of Lombard, etc.
    As mentioned in the SFMTA report, over 50% of accidents involving bikes are caused by bike riders ignoring signals and stop signs. I am one of those rare bike users that actually stop at every stop sign and signal not only because it is the law, but because it is much safer.

  129. AnotherRider,
    I do stop at stop signs too and have the calves to show for it. You’re barking at the wrong tree…
    If you go back at my posts, you’ll notice I am calling for sharing the road too.
    In a perfect world we shouldn’t need bike lanes, but in reality most driver expect to drive at the speed limit (and often 5 to 10MPH over that) with nothing to slow them down.
    A physical marking increases the respect of the cyclist’s safety space instead of the usual “you’re in my way” reaction. Drivers preemptively adjust their trajectory on the lines and this greatly lowers risks for cyclists.
    Cyclists must not be “tolerated guests” that should accommodate to other people’s needs. They are 100% full blooded traffic. After all there’s one single human on that bike, just like there’s one single human in 90% of these cars. Why would the one human driving be entitled to more rights than the one human cycling?
    As a consequence cyclists need to be able to go as freely and as safely as is technically possible, and within the rule of law.

  130. lol,
    I’m not sure we have an issue with N-S route nor have I studied the issue. With that said, why not Van Ness? Better timed street lights (nothing more irritating as a cyclist to have to stop at every block like you would have to on Polk), street is much wider, probably less businesses effected with removal of day time parking, less need for parklets as not a pleasant place to sit. I’d probably look at a 2-way bike lane on one side of street with buffer zone (marked & raised curb) that converts back to onstreet parking again at night. Bike commuting on Polk does not make sense to me as you have to stop at almost every block anyway. That’s my 2 cents and worth every penny.

  131. You cannot easily turn left on a bicycle on Van Ness except if you have a death wish. As I posted previously.

  132. And of course you could time the lights for 12MPH traffic on Van Ness with special 3-way lights for left turns at every crossing for cyclists.
    Then again, this is the 101…

  133. AnotherRider echoes a lot of my sentiment regarding cyclists on our streets in SF today.
    Most, not a FEW cyclists will [not] stop at stop signs and stop lights. They just won’t.
    I see it DAILY when crossing Valencia or walking Valencia. I can count 1 cyclists who stops according to the traffic LAWS for 9 who don’t stop.
    If cyclists are to be seen and respected as “100% full blooded traffic” as lol wants us to believe, they why don’t they obey ALL traffic laws. And yes, I want all drivers to do the same, and no, all of them don’t.
    But, I’ll tell you: More drivers than cyclists, on a daily basis at MOST stop signs and lights do, in fact, stop, according to the law.
    We have a ways to go with the new cyclists culture in SF. They need to stop whining and making excuses about the difficulty of stopping at lights and stop signs, and start acting like 100% full blooded traffic that they want to be.

  134. Exactly futurist! They (bike coalition) cannot have it both ways.
    If they continue to demand funds that should be going to fix Muni to instead go towards removing parking and creating seperate bike paths that pedestrians and autos are not allowed to share, then they need to start following the laws the rest of us have to. Can I start demanding lanes that are private auto only lanes, with no trucks or busses, or BIKES allowed?
    The Bike Coalition has been trying for years to get Market Street closed EXCEPT for bikes and pedestrians. My question is who is going to pay for this, car drivers as well? I would rather have taxes associated with vehicle usage go to fix and expand MUNI services.

  135. Another rider says…
    “I am a daily bike user and have no need for a designated lane.”
    Sir – spin class at 24 hour fitness doesn’t count for this discussion.

  136. I walk a lot and I have to drive for my work. Some (very few) cyclists follow the rules of the road. Most that I see (or dodge) run stop signs and stop lights.
    Most cyclists in this city seem to be of the usual sort–well educated, primarily white, culturally privileged. All of the parking spaces taken from city streets, along with the addition of meters, adversely affect working families.

  137. However, futurist, cyclists have managed to kill 2 pedestrians over the last several decades in SF. Drivers are killing nearly 20 per year in SF. How do you explain this disconnect – that the worst cretins are causing the least amount of trouble?

  138. It’s not a disconnect. They are separate issues. And both are of EQUAL importance to the citizens of SF.
    Cyclists LOVE keeping score. Ok, so maybe if cyclists killed 20 people per year, just as drivers do, then would you be satisfied, and not so smug?
    The SF Bike Coalition is full of smug, immature, rogue, law-breaking cyclists who, due largely to their youth and privilege, just simply don’t give a rat’s ass about traffic laws.
    They really don’t care about working class families losing parking, as parkview5 notes, very well.
    They care more about riding like wild children down our publicly paid for streets, without regard for safety, laws and respect for others.

  139. A lot of SF newcomers on this thread. Valencia Street used to be 2 lanes in each direction before bike paths were put in. Valencia was one of the fastest ways to drive through the Mission. One lane of car traffic in each direction was removed, and the lights were timed to 13 mph, so that cars and bikes would coexist more safely, at the same speed. There were a few bikes then on Valencia, as it is the westernmost flat street north-south through the Mission. But now there are many times more bikes. And the street is much quieter, safer and more pleasant for pedestrians and patrons of the shops and restaurants than it was when it was a fast way through the Mission.

  140. I drive and walk most of the time, but would love to bike more often if the streets feel safer for bikes. It’s improving, but there’s still a lot of roads without bike lanes. There’s too much public space dedicated for cars and parking for private cars.

  141. futurist,
    I see it DAILY when crossing Valencia or walking Valencia. I can count 1 cyclists who stops according to the traffic LAWS for 9 who don’t stop.
    You might have your street wrong because Valencia only has traffic lights. I commute there every day.
    Seriously, I know what you’re talking about. I saw a giant bearded hipster on a track bike last week blowing a red light there. I almost hit him, threw an expletive (in French, then English), but was countered with a mild sigh of ennui. I guess douchebaggery is not limited to Marina Bros.
    Bikes are real traffic and I’ll be the first to applause when cops start handing over entire pads of traffic tickets. Re-educating the cycling masses will take time. Impunity has led to entitlements, like 3 traffic lights on Market that are “fair game”.
    See, it’s not all black and white. Not all cyclists think rules do not apply to them.

  142. And both are of EQUAL importance to the citizens of SF.
    20 lives are equal to two lives?!?! Wow. Just wow.

  143. I see a lot of kids who jump into cycling following the crowd. They take chances and you can see they have no plan B or plan C in the situation they get into. They rely on the car driver’s reflexes and that makes me very afraid for their safety. You can see they have no concept of “what ifs” that can do you in.
    We still need these darn bike lanes. The more mainstream cycling is, the better. we need grannies. We need suits. They’ll come when the streets are made safer.

  144. The solution to parking is simple – more parking garages. They get cars off the street quickly and efficiently and with a minimum of surface area. A parking garage within a few blocks of a neighborhood makes it accessible to those who wish to drive.
    We need to acknowledge that while bikes are vehicles, they have a very different set of requirements than cars. Actually buses have a very different set of requirements as well. And right now we’re trying to smoosh all these vehicles onto the same streets, which really just makes everything inefficient. Different streets need different priorities. Some should be BRT with lights triggered by bus proximity. Some should remain auto dominant. And some streets should have reduced speed limits, lights timed for bikes, and possibly even bike garages with storage for bikes that is far more secure than any lock – because bike theft is a real problem that does determine when and where I’m willing to bike.
    The problem is that we’re trying to optimize for too many things at once, and that’s just not going to work.

  145. Everyone is missing the key point about parking: The problem is traffic and gridlock. There are no new roads being created, so there is a real limit to the amount of car traffic the city can tolerate without grinding to a halt. Already, downtown gets pretty bad most days.
    We cannot stop people from driving cars in (or into) the city, so there is no means to meter or limit traffic directly. But the growth in traffic can be limited by making parking difficult such that people consider alternatives. One can argue about the benefits or ills of removing existing parking, but it is clear that the city CANNOT allow 1:1 parking for new developments because that would rapidly explode the number of cars in the city.
    This city is going to keep getting denser — when you stop looking backwards to the golden days of car dominance, and start looking to the future when we have 30% or 50% more population, you realize that the future of this city cannot be built around everyone driving everywhere. We would be solid gridlock. It would really suck.
    And the future starts now. That is what leaders have to consider. To be ready for the future in 20 years, we need to start shifting how things are built today. It takes 20 years (or more) to change civic infrastructure.
    And yes, MUNI should be fixed too. There is a LOT of action in the pipeline on that front too, so the future MUNI will not be the current mess.

  146. BigV, congestion does matter. We’re not at unbearable levels yet, but we could perfectly reach that point in the near future.
    A recent study showed that cities that are at chronic saturation levels like Los Angeles do overwhelmingly benefit from even the smallest addition of public transit.
    This is a key information for our current debate about bike friendly streets. SF is going to add more people and more jobs, it’s almost a given. Need for transportation will increase proportionally, but chances of congestion will increase exponentially. If you take a street with a 3500 cars/hour flow at 30MPH, sometimes it takes 100 more cars to have the flow crawl to 5MPH.
    Moving just a few % of people out of their cars and into public transit or bikes ensures we stay clear of these saturation levels.
    Less saturation means grannies and soccer moms and architects with busted knees will still be able to move around efficiently in their cars! The younger more mobile crowd that commutes locally will cycle or take public transit and make sure the roads are not too congested.
    It’s a win-win for everyone. We simply need a bit of vision and we’re not talking about kicking people out of their homes or give up their cars here, just to share a public resource everyone is paying for

  147. Bikes are NOT the future. They do not accommodate the elderly, or disabled. They do not travel great distances easily or rapidly . Stop punishing drivers while refusing to FIX Muni!

  148. If anything, the elderly and disabled should THANK cyclists for opting out of car driving. One more cyclist on the road is one less car ahead of you. This means you can cross the City in 1/2 hour instead of 45 minutes or 1 hour.

  149. Removing parking spots in new developments will greatly INCREASE congestion. Without the car storage in new buildings, people will continue to crowd the streets with their cars, circling to look for limited parking, slowing down traffic, blocking bike lanes, etc. The vast majority of homeowners have cars, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, even if it means circling. Most people who have cars and a designated parking spot do not drive to their jobs downtown during rush hour. they use it to go out of town, for groceries, errands, etc. the gridlock downtown is dur to commuters from outside SF. The way to combat that is to charge a fee for downtown driving during peak hours, or to have some sort of tag with a registration fee. if you are caught without it downtown, you pay a fine.
    adding additional parking in new buildings is a way to decrease traffic congestion in SF. People will pay for a parking garage. let supply and demand rule that. But street parking, congestion, and making the rounds for parking is only going to get worse if owners do not have access to garages.
    The same applies to removing street parking.. more people slowly circling to look for parking.

  150. Does anyone have any evidence to support the notion that “business will die” with the removal of street parking? I’ve heard this objection often but have never seen any real evidence to support it. Valencia and a few other studies seem to support the opposite.
    Jeff – change is inevitable and bikes in densely populated areas are becoming the future whether you accept it or not. They can travel great distances and now that electic assist bikes are becoming more common the distance and usefullness for our otherwise lazy and apethic society will continue to increase.
    I’m not sure I understand how drivers are “being punished”? No one is saying you can’t drive in SF or even park in SF, you just can’t street park on Polk, what about every cross street, what about VN, Larkin, parking garages? If anything I would think the car gridlock that occurs every time someone tries to parallel park would be reduced allowing car traffic to flow more smoothly, improving your driving experience while also allowing more bikers to travel along this critical N/S commuter street.
    It seems like a win/win for everyone, except business owners….maybe, if someone has some evidence supporting the idea businesses will die.

  151. If you remove a few 100 parking spaces on a few streets but manage to invite a few 1000s out of their cars, you’ve reduced overall congestion. After all how good is your car if you’re into a traffic jam anytime you want to leave the Polk Street nabe?
    Cars will always be part of our lives. Adding more incentives to own cars actually does a disservice to all drivers. See my post above at 10:18AM.

  152. @Spencer, your repeated claim is demonstrably false in every dense city in the world. To use a local example:
    1. Which neighborhood has the highest income – Nob Hill or the Bayview?
    2. Which neighborhood has double the auto-ownership rate of the other – Nob Hill or the Bayview?
    3. Which neighborhood has more off-street parking – Nob Hill or the Bayview?
    If you build parking in new buildings, mostly people who own cars will move into those buildings. If you don’t build parking in new buildings, mostly people who don’t own cars move into those buildings. People aren’t so stupid to move into a building and then say, “Well, darn it, there ain’t no parking here!” Sure, some people with cars move into buildings without parking and vice versa, but the statistics are pretty clear, and don’t match your “theory” that auto ownership rates are static no matter how much parking is built.

  153. Some businesses will be hurt, some will do better. For businesses that close, others will move in to take their place. Valencia is not a good comparison because the area was already in the midst of a generational gentrification process and there was already a lot of vacancy along the strip. Polk really isn’t at the epicenter of this type of cultural change. Rents, of course, have shot up along Valencia as dozens of restaurants have opened catering to the young, wealthy, and childless.
    The issue then becomes, does the SF government have the authority to change infrastructure in an established neighborhood to the objection of extant businesses? Sure it does… but they’ve completely botched the outreach process, enraging hundreds of small business owners.
    The best thing to do is proceed with the aforementioned tests over the summer to see how local businesses fare. If there’s a gross loss of revenue for business other than say La Boulange and Starbucks, then the city should reevaluate their plans for the area.

  154. anon, your examples seem to be as theoretical as mine. meaning you didn’t cite any.
    i never said it was static. But certainly is not completely proportional.
    most homeowners own cars and most will continue to do so for foreseeable future. i don’t know the number, but lets say 90% of homeowners now ahve cars and building less parking in new building lowers the rate to 80% for new buyers, that is still a lot of new cars going to street parking as the street parking spots dissipate. this will cause more circling and more congestion. its not rocket science. i am not advocating more street parking, just more parking in buildings or more parking garages for car storage of owners who need their cars part-time for errands or to commute to silicon valley. anyway, supply and demand will take care of this if the city gets out of the way. the polk street plan is ridiculous. there are not enough cyclist commuters now or in the future to justify this.
    the car owners in SF are not the ones causing congestion downtown. a car owner in nob hill is in most cases not driving to his job in the financial district. the car is used for errands.

  155. Like Spencer said, my car stays in the garage and is used for weekend trips and errands. I take the Marina Express downtown to work. (I have a private garage) I have noticed the same for almost all of my neighbors except for one who works in Marin.

  156. A remarkable thing I have noticed these past few years is that rental of car spaces hasn’t become more expensive. Even in very dense Nob Hill or Telegraph Hill you can still rent a space for $300/month plus or minus $50, just like 5 years ago. At the same time, market rents for flats have increased by 50 to 60%.
    Supply and demand at work.
    If anything, renting a parking is rather cheap considering the density. And why is it cheap? Because of the competition from street parking, including residential parking and after hours metered parking (like these spaces on Polk).
    This shows that many residents are not afraid of losing their parking, but are afraid of losing their FREE nighttime parking. In short, drivers are using a public resource everyone pays for for the storage of unused private property for free.
    Can we stop this nonsense and give more space to bikes now? We’re not asking for much. Just what everyone’s taxes are paying for.

  157. “were not asking for much”
    Really? A reduction of 50% of parking spaces on Polk Street is “not much”?
    Requiring the city to spend millions on planning, paving, new curbs, new relocated gutters, etc is not asking for much?!?!?
    All so you can have a dedicated two lane bike path that is no longer part of what should be SHARED road space.
    I am looking forward to the day when the SFBC asks for 50% of the Castro and 24th street’s parking spaces to get removed so the bike lobby can claim another victory over evil car owners.
    This will give a taste of their own medicine back to those who admit to not living in the neigbhorhood but feel they know what is best for Polk Gulch.

  158. interesting fact….50% of the polk street parking only equates to 3% of all the parking within one block of the impacted area (excluding private garages). In other words, the 170 spaces proposed to be removed is 3% of the 5100 parking spaces available within one block.
    Doesn’t seem like a huge impact to me. What’s all the fuss about?

  159. Excellent points Really.
    To my knowledge the bike riders and owners in SF pay nothing to use our streets. How about this:
    Mandatory bicycle registration fee to help pay for bike lanes, striping, etc.
    Metered bike parking. Motorcyclists have to pay for it. Why not bikes? All the new bike racks around the city could generate some income. And stop locking your bikes up to OUR parking meters.

  160. To my knowledge the bike riders and owners in SF pay nothing to use our streets.
    Correct. They pay no sales taxes or property taxes, where 95% of street funding comes from.

  161. a couple more thoughts:
    – If your argument is that home owners need parking spots for their occasional trips out of town (but not daily drives to work), then that is bogus — get a zip car or citycarshare membership. That way dozens of families end up only needing a few parking spaces for their occasional car needs.
    – For those who don’t want to bike or ride muni: why not try a scooter? Look at Asian Cities — everyone rides scooters — far more efficient than big cars hogging the road. And easier to park too. It would be great to get a city campaign encouraging scooters as a better option that cars (which are almost always driving by a single person).

  162. futurist jumped right into it again 😉
    Yes cyclists fully pay for the streets. But they do not contribute to its wear as much as cars and SUVs. If anything, cyclists deserve a refund…
    By the way, futurist has a good point on meters: whenever I attach my bike to a meter, I always think that it would be a good idea to have cyclists voluntarily deposit a dime of a quarter into it just for the sake of it. This wouldn’t cost much but would certainly increase the popularity of cyclists.

  163. And lol jumped right into it again, also.
    Why shouldn’t we have metered bike parking?
    Why shouldn’t cyclists have mandatory cycle registration?
    Why shouldn’t cyclists carry insurance?
    Why are helmets mandatory for cyclists?
    Why are cyclists allowed (at this point) to ride and talk on a cell phone at the same time?
    Some interesting questions to ponder.

  164. futirist, I agree on all your points.
    I do feel that my privileges (moving around faster in traffic jams, not being bothers with looking for parking, enjoying the scenery in the ultimate convertible) should come with duties, like more personal responsibility sanctioned by rules and regulations similar to what drivers are agreeing to.
    If you’ve been following my posts over the past few years, you’ll notice that’s what I’ve been saying about cycling.

  165. Why shouldn’t we have metered bike parking?
    Meters exist for cars not as a way to generate income, but as a way to ensure turnover. If we have places where bike parking is in short supply and no more can be added, then absolutely it should be metered to ensure turnover and highest use – that’s econ 101.
    Why shouldn’t cyclists have mandatory cycle registration?
    If this would accomplish something, then sure. I’m a civil libertarian, so forcing registration for anything must meet a high bar. Personally, I’d prefer getting rid of vehicle registration before adding it for more things, but I’d be amenable to adding it for bikes with a reason. And no, “revenue” is not a reason (car registration should also not be about revenue).
    Why shouldn’t cyclists carry insurance?
    Are we having a huge problem with cyclists hitting things and not being able to pay for the damage? And no, one example does indicate a trend.
    Why are helmets mandatory for cyclists?
    Not a fan of mandatory helmets for anyone, including car drivers. Let folks decide on their own.
    Why are cyclists allowed (at this point) to ride and talk on a cell phone at the same time?
    Makes sense for this car law to also apply to bikes. Not sure why it doesn’t.

  166. a car owner in nob hill is in most cases not driving to his job in the financial district. the car is used for errands.
    If parking were freely competing with other uses, including residential and retail, it would easily cost over $500 a month. Car ownership costs are, according to the AAA, $9000 a year. All-in, well over a thousand dollars a month.
    A thousand dollars a month will buy you quite a lot of car share time, taxi rides, white glove delivery services, etc.
    So if someone still wants to pay to own a car, fine. That’s their choice. But the idea that the city should mandate the creation of more parking than people are willing to pay for, at the expense of higher housing and commercial prices, to encourage people to spend even more money on bringing more cars into the city, is freakin’ nuts.
    I can appreciate that San Francisco may never be an inexpensive city to live in, or to do business in. But it should not be city policy to drive up prices still further in pursuit of what are extremely dubious ends.

  167. “Meters exist for cars not as a way to generate income, but as a way to ensure turnover”
    Now THAT is funny! You would never go far in SFMTA management!

  168. Since cyclists have long insisted and have, in fact, become a part of regular road traffic; use of full lane, or a defined bike lane, it seems to make sense they have all of the SAME responsibilities as auto drivers.
    Obviously, we also all know that there are plenty of irresponsible drivers. (Just saying to head off those who jump on me too quickly.)
    I think a lot of us would JUST like to see bike riders in SF begin behaving in a civil, safe, courteous, law respecting manner.
    BTW: I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times, as others have. I see none of the behavior there that we see here. The cyclists there are amazingly courteous and they ride well with the traffic.
    Why is that not possible here? Shall we talk about that?

  169. You would never go far in SFMTA management!
    …the same management which instituted a program (SFPark) which lowered the rates of a large number of meters?

  170. They are doing work all over the city to make sidewalks ADA compliant. From my hummer I watched and for every 1000 SUV’s that passed by, I saw maybe oone wheel chair.
    — The silent 99.99%

  171. Now THAT is funny! You would never go far in SFMTA management!
    Um, you do realize that SF Park lowered prices on more meters than it raised prices on, right?

  172. I eagerly await naked wrestling between anon and futurist. Except for the small detail that it would be willie brown versus chris daly.

  173. I’ve been biking in SF since the early 90s, and the bike routes have made it much easier to avoid conflicts with drivers.

  174. I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times, as others have. I see none of the behavior there that we see here. The cyclists there are amazingly courteous and they ride well with the traffic.
    Why is that not possible here? Shall we talk about that?

    Ok, I think that’s a valid question. There’s probably no simple answer. Here are a couple things to consider, though.
    -In terms of courteousness, the thing that sticks out it the demographic difference in cyclists. Here, it’s heavily skewed toward the young, male, daring and aggressive. There, not so much.
    Of course, the Polk Street plan, and most of the other proposals for bike infrastructure, are meant to directly address this, by improving safety both in perception and reality. Believe me, it’s not the testosterone brigade which is fighting for separated bike routes on JFK in Golden Gate Park. They hate them– they’d much rather mix with traffic, where it’s easier to go fast. It’s people riding with kids, older people, and novice cyclists who prefer the separated routes. If you would like bicyclists to behave more like bicyclists in Amsterdam, you should support it too.
    -There’s a good reason cyclists don’t run stop signs in Amsterdam: there aren’t any. There aren’t even very many traffic lights (compared to here). Cyclists don’t illegally ride the wrong way down one-way streets, because cyclists are generally exempt, so they do it legally. And so on.
    -There is a large difference between Amsterdam streets and SF streets. SF streets are far, far wider. A typical street in SF, like Polk, or any of the Avenues, is at least 70 feet wide (including sidewalks). Many streets in Amsterdam are 25 feet wide.

  175. I would not be surprised if at the next neighborhood meeting SF government planners and SFMTA officials all show up in CARS. In fact, they will probably show up in city owned government vehicles, one person per car each!
    Let them peddle a bike to the meeting, though how they are going to manage riding a bike while bringing large presentation boards, power point projectors, computers etc. is beyond me. But, it will be great for them to get a taste of their own medicine.
    I hope someone at the next meeting dares to ask each of them how they travelled to the event.

  176. FedUp, yes many cyclists use a car when it’s impractical to cycle. What’s your point exactly?
    We are not the 0s and 1s that you are portraying. But I guess the goal of your post was not about advancing the debate and more about fueling fear and hate.
    That debate should be:
    People who want to drive are allowed to drive and can do so without restrain. Now the same is not entirely true for cyclists. Many are staying away from cycling due to safety concerns because of the poor design of our streets.
    Do we want to fix our streets or not?

  177. I predict that most of the neighbors and business owners will show up ON FOOT, and ALL of the SFMTA officials and planners will show up by cars.
    I am not fueling hate, just pointing out what I at least find very funny. You don’t think it is strange the pro car group walks to the meeting and the anti car group takes cares to the meeting?
    (Your name is lol and I would think this would cause you to laugh out loud)

  178. FedUp – You mean that people within a short distance who don’t need to carry any stuff will walk while people traveling further with large loads will drive? What a mind boggling conclusion!
    As for the idea of “let them bike to get a taste for it”, I’ve almost suggested the same for the opposite reason. People who don’t believe that a street is hostile to cyclists could get on a bike and try it for themselves. But the reason that I don’t ever recommend that to the disbelievers of our mean streets is because I don’t want anyone to get hurt. Riding within heavy traffic on streets that don’t properly accommodate cyclists requires guts and a lot of skill. Not something that a newbie should try just to get a taste of what it is like. Heck, even experienced cyclists will avoid such streets if they can.

  179. @lol: and I’m not so sure you are adding anything to the debate when you talk in very general terms about “fixing our streets”. What exactly does the fixing require?
    Some facts:
    -mixing cars and cyclists (without defined concrete barriers and fully separate lanes) will always involve some inherent danger. Pure fact.
    -I’m pretty sure we are not going to start adding concrete barriers and FULLY separate lanes here; Not wide enough streets, tremendous cost.
    -cycling is inherently dangerous at times anywhere; falling off your bike in GG Park on a Sunday car free day, without a helmet and you crack your head open. Fact.
    -car driving is also inherently dangerous. Fact.
    -bikes and cars are NOT going away. Fact.
    So how do you propose to “fix” our streets? Facts please. Thank you.

  180. So how do you propose to “fix” our streets? Facts please. Thank you.
    Copenhagen. Amsterdam. Just those two facts. When our streets look like theirs, our streets will be “fixed”.

  181. I live near Polk St.. Most of the time I walk and sometimes I do drive (especially when running errands and it’s raining). Although I have nothing against bicyclists, I have no desire/interest in riding a bike anywhere… just not my thing. I’m especially not riding a bike to go grocery shopping or to go out at night.
    Polk St is a commercial district, there should be parking. I don’t see the need to add bicycle lanes, except during commute hours for the few who decide to bike to work. Perhaps in the morning and afternoon they can open up Polk St parking for the bike commute like they open up Pine St and Bush St for the car commute (though they need to keep some parking for morning commercial truck deliveries).
    If someone needs to head up or down Polk St, why don’t they just hop on the Polk St bus? It’s a straight shot.
    Btw, I think these safety arguments are a waste of time. It’s unfortunate that there have been a few tragedies from cars and bike collisions whether it’s car on car, car and bike, or worse car or bike hitting people… but this is a small number relative to the tens of thousands of cars and thousands of bikes on the road each day. Sorry, but these accidents can’t be avoided entirely… too many reckless people on the road. I’ve been walking Polk over 10 years, never felt unsafe from cars or bikes. I have a tiny bit of anxiety crossing Broadway St from Polk, but I look both ways before I cross.
    The only positive (or negative) I can see in eliminating parking, is that less non-local people will be in the area patronizing the bars and restaurants. I can understand why the merchants aren’t happy. Although I really like the Valencia Corridor, I rarely go down there because it’s difficult to park. And I’m not hopping on MUNI for 2.5 hrs round trip just to go to dinner. I usually stay in my part of town when going out for coffee, happy hour, dinner, or any time when I know there will not be parking. This seems to be the case for neighborhoods in SF, unlike other big cities with a subway system. Will the merchants get more business from bicyclists if this passes? Yes. Will this make up for loss business due to lack of parking. Nope, I don’t think so.

  182. This whole issue is so ridiculously simple. People will use public transit when it’s timely, reliable, safe, and not disgusting. Until then, they will drive. That’s it. You can’t motivate people to take Muni by making driving a pain in the ass because it can never be as big a pain in the ass as Muni is today. But it makes the socialists happy to know that people who own cars have to suffer some inconveniences because of it.

  183. “cycling is inherently dangerous at times anywhere; falling off your bike in GG Park on a Sunday car free day, without a helmet and you crack your head open. Fact.”
    By that logic taking a shower is dangerous.
    Fact 🙂
    “Sorry, but these accidents can’t be avoided entirely… too many reckless people on the road.”
    Very true, there’s no reasonable way to eliminate harm. Even if you ban cars and bikes and buses and skateboards and … well just about anything with wheels you’re still going to have clumsy pedestrians knocking each other over and eventually cause an injury. There’s no absolute safety.
    But you can certainly reduce harm by encouraging people to shift from inherently dangerous modes of travel to safer modes. Personal automobiles are the dominant dangerous mode of travel here, responsible for the lion’s share of death and serious injury in this country. Helping people shift to safer alternatives is a noble cause and benefits society without achieving an absolutely safe street.
    And yes, no mode is entirely safe. The goal should be to increase safety, not ensure it.

  184. “People will use public transit when it’s timely, reliable, safe, and not disgusting. ”
    We have a winner! Bravo “gentrified is a dirty word for clean”.

  185. We can all agree, MUNI is a pain the ass.
    If they extend the underground trains through Van Ness (north to south) and to Geary St (east to west) this would decrease traffic congestion and it would be quicker than the buses that stop on every block or every other block especially in the middle of rush hour. It could connect to other trains at Market St/Van Ness. They should also extend the new central line down Lombard St, but I can see and understand why there would be push back from residents. Downside is bridge and tunnel can get to the Triangle easier. Of course it would be a nightmare to implement, probably take 10 years, and cost way more money than it should.

  186. But you can certainly reduce harm by encouraging people to shift from inherently dangerous modes of travel to safer modes.
    I don’t think discouraging driving will lower reckless drivers on the road. SFPD handing out more traffic violation tickets might do it. Just as I know not to drink and drive in Marin County, because the cops there are notorious for cracking down on DUIs. They should start with the cars running red lights/stops signs (cars and bikes) and people going up the wrong way on a one way street (even saw a cab do this). If a driver is obeying the traffic laws, you should not see that many accidents. Btw, the only time I’ve felt unsafe on the road is driving around MUNI buses and taxis.

  187. futurist throws truisms followed by “Fact” – Fact
    futurist is not interested in a real debate or proposing solutions or compromise, but making a point – Fact
    This thread has officially gone nowhere in 3 days – Fact
    Glad I missed this afternoon’s running around in circles. There’s no reasoning with the Party of No. Over and Out.

  188. Here is an update from the SFMTA April 2nd meeting…
    “During his statement at the SFMTA board meeting held Tuesday April 2nd, Director Ed Reiskin remarked, “The current (SFMTA) proposals have significant parking loss along Polk Street.” He further added, “There may be different solutions for the unique neighborhoods along Polk Street; there are very different situations for the lower Polk area below California St. vs. the northern end toward Broadway.” He admitted, “Their may be some trade-offs for some proposed benefits; and what I don’t think is a trade off is cyclists vs. small business and the health of the neighborhood”, ultimately ending his 5 minute presentation stating, “We have certainly heard a loud and consistent massage from the community expressing concerns for our proposals… our next step is to bring back additional proposals for different configurations that have less parking loss.”
    “Polk Street members seek an alternative plan to preserve parking along the 1.3 mile stretch, and have called for a private meeting with SFMTA planners on April 25th to design an alternative proposal for Polk Street. Potential proposals to improve safety and accessibility of Polk Street that would preserve parking include:
    ■Removing traffic lights, and replacing with 4 way Stop Signs along Polk Street to slow traffic
    ■Eliminating right turn on red lights along Polk Street to reduce accidents and slow traffic
    ■Restricting left turns on Polk Street to reduce accidents
    ■Elevating crosswalks to create better visibility and slow traffic
    ■The addition of corner bulb-outs to accommodate pedestrians, reduce accidents, and slow traffic at intersections
    ■The addition of parklets and bike corrals
    ■Improved lighting
    ■Improved signage, education, and enforcement of current striped and shared bike lanes
    ■Diverting bike lanes to non-commercial neighboring streets
    ■Installing speed bumps on high speed cross streets
    (Full press release can be found at various sources)

  189. We’ve already suggested alternative routes… Steiner, I think, would work well. Scott is another possible N/S route. A lot of the housing along those two corridors is public housing, so there probably wouldn’t be that much push back. Housing along Alamo Square usually have garages and residents would probably welcome reduced tourist parking. Few people drive down Steiner in part because it doesn’t flow very well. Many cyclists come down Haight (or up from Valencia) and could easily bank a left on Steiner and then connect to Sutter, which is a total no brainer for a bike lane. Parts of Sutter have three lanes. One of the suggestions for Polk would work perfectly on Sutter. Reduce it to two lanes, add a buffer and you could add a bike lane AND still keep some street parking (See SFMTA option 2). Plus, it’s a straight shot to downtown and already has a clearly marked bike lane east of Van Ness. Likewise, Golden Gate is much wider than it should be for the amount of traffic it gets. Again, add a buffer and a bike lane and still keep some street parking. So, there, you have perfectly acceptable bike paths that don’t raise the ire of local business. Now please explain why the Polk street path is preferable to the ones I’ve suggested.

  190. Steiner is nine blocks away. Not really a reasonable alternative.
    I think that Steiner would be a fine choice – in addition to Polk. You need north-south routes in several places, we’re not talking about thru-SF bike traffic or something.

  191. Nine blocks away from what? From Polk? That’s not an argument. Why isn’t it a reasonable alternative. Besides, those 9 blocks are a 5 minute bike ride, not a huge detour.
    I would also support the removal of most parking on Fillmore north of Broadway.. lol. Ok, most of that is a steep hill, but the rest of Fillmore down to the Marina green could be easily reconfigured to handle more bike traffic.

  192. The point is to have a north-south route in the eastern part of the city, not just a single north-south route. You’ve moved the north-south route so far west that it doesn’t actually serve most of the population that it’s intended to serve. No one’s going to ride a bike from Hyde/Green to Steiner to get downtown, they’ll simply continue to use Polk without the bike lane.

  193. “anon”@2:40pm, is your position that bike riders cannot share the road but need their own dedicated lanes?
    And that this can ONLY be done on Polk Street?
    Why not have a dedicated lane for bus traffic instead since MUNI riders are far larger percentage of San Francisco journey takers than the 3.5% of trips taken on bikes?
    Why must everyone else sacrifice to make 3.5% of the population feel “safe” when riding their bikes?

  194. Yeah, that’s what I expected. The NIMBY crowd has no viable alternative apart from an outlandish 9-block shift.
    Sorry, guys, Polk is the only option. Now the question is how much space will be dedicated to cars vs bike.

  195. @FedUp – of course bikes can share the lanes, as they’re doing now. I thought the intention of this was finding a place where they didn’t have to, in order to help both bikes and cars conflict with one another less.
    If your best idea is simply to not have bike lanes anywhere, that’s fine. I don’t agree with you, but that’s a valid opinion and an option. A ludicrous option is one like Denis supplied, where we’d be spending the same amount of money on something that would just never be used – just tossing more tax dollars down the toilet.

  196. Steiner would be a serious alternative to Polk.
    But others seem rather rigid as to saying that Polk is the ONLY option.
    Party of one idea, perhaps?

  197. If taking an 18 block detour through the city (9 blocks and back to Steiner) is an alternative, than so is Polk drivers parking at existing Civic Center garages.

  198. I am surprised at the resistance to Steiner. If I am going from the Marina to the Castro or Noe, I usually ONLY take Steiner, since I avoid commercial streets for safety reasons. If I am biking over to Polk I take Green Street instead of Union or Chestnut.
    Am I unusual in selecting quiet residential streets for bike routes instead of busy commercial streets? Even if there was a bike path down Polk, I doubt I would use it as I have biked many times to the Financial District using Columbus street instead. The north part of Columbus is suprisingly quiet compared to Polk.

  199. ^You are unusual in living in the Marina. Of course it makes sense for you to take Steiner. Me, being at Hyde/Green, not so much.
    The population density within a few blocks of Polk – and especially at the end points – is significantly higher than Steiner.

  200. “Am I unusual in selecting quiet residential streets for bike routes instead of busy commercial streets?”
    No this is completely normal, unless you want to be seen cruising with your skinny pants on your fixie.
    I would take larkin over polk any day as well. i also prefer laguna and octavia over polk and van ness.
    polk and van ness are the worst two option because of the need for parking to feed businesses

  201. Steiner would be a serious alternative to Polk.
    “serious” like “I have no clue if it would work but all I can do now is throw a Hail Mary pass and sell my theory as a truism”.
    Steiner is the option for one path for traffic from the Castro, Noe or the Mission to Cow Hollow, PH or the Marina. Polk is the option for traffic from the Civic Center to Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Cow Hollow, the Marina. They are not easily interchangeable.
    But you know that already.

  202. ^For an experienced and in-shape biker, perhaps. Larkin is significantly more hilly than Polk, and has a lot more impediments to sightlines – more trees, more intersections at very steep perpendicular hills with no 4-way stops or stoplights, etc (which could be remedied in some cases).
    Larkin is at least a conceivable option, I’ll grant you that – it’s not a completely outlandish suggestion like Steiner.

  203. Larking has some good areas, and some that are just awful.
    This is a cyclist deathtrap on the first 5 southernmost blocks, especially with cars worried with hitting some of the numerous jay-crossing Walking Dead crowd.
    I’ll give spencer C for effort. Any other street?

  204. “For an experienced and in-shape biker, perhaps. Larkin is significantly more hilly than Polk”
    So not only should we waste money and decrease business acccess for the 5% of cyclist who might take polk of the overall 3% of people who commute citywide via bike (5% of 3% is 0.15%)…..we should also cater to cyclists who are out of shape. (maybe 10% of the 0.15% or 0.015% of commuters)
    that takes the cake. lets create city policy that makes bike lanes available for out of shape cyclists who like to commute on bikes despite being out of shape, or 0.015% of all commuters..
    makes a lot of sense.
    I cycle ~8000 miles per year, but very little of that is for work commute. spend the money on muni where it can do the greatest good

  205. ^As has been mentioned numerous times in this thread, the bike lanes are for folks not biking now (like those folks too out of shape to do so currently). You may disagree with that, but that’s the reason. It’s not to cater to a small group of folks, but to bring more folks into that group (similar to road widenings of yore).

  206. spend the money on muni where it can do the greatest good
    Muni is a black hole. The few million that this project entails pays for another month of sick leave for a few employees, that’s it.
    Muni needs political fixes (including dedicated lanes taken from cars), not more money shoveled at it.

  207. spencer,
    A new strawman’s argument is born every day. Now “out-of-shape” cyclists are the new enemy! I’ll answer that there are 50 shades of shape. I could climb a 25% slope 5 years ago. Today 20% is my personal limit. My aging knees are too precious. Everyone has his limits, either real or self-imposed.
    …and you haven’t addressed the issue of the crazy part of Larkin with the 30+MPH rush up the street (gotta catch all the green lights) and the Walking Dead jay-crossing and making it a live action Frogger.
    Another very simple rationale for wanting the slope as easy as possible:
    We live in a culture where being sweaty is viewed negatively at the work place. Some cyclists are lucky enough to have a shower at work, others will go to the gym or the Y for freshening up after some more intense cycling.
    But most office workers do not have this luxury or cannot be bothered. Therefore they will not choose cycling for commuting if it will affect their work negatively.
    Of course we could send cyclists further down. Jones? Hyde? LOL. Keep them coming!

  208. I will remain squarely on the side of existing local businesses. If small business owners object to the change, then ultimately their voices should have priority over whatever urban development projects come out of City Hall. I will support whatever the Polk Street business association decides. The argument has become pretty myopic. It’s no longer about a safe network of streets for cycling, but rather having a flat street for Russian Hill dwellers to cycle to the Civic Center. Huh?
    If this is about commuting, then why not have existing parking spaces change to bike lanes during commute hours like I suggested earlier? Since obviously all these cyclists going to the Civic Center will be “working” during the day, the metered spots can operate from 10-4. But no, that’s not acceptable, because this entire project has nothing to do with improving safety and increasing bike lanes, but is just an ideologues wet dream of government mandated neighborhood restructuring.

  209. If small business owners object to the change, then ultimately their voices should have priority over whatever urban development projects come out of City Hall. I will support whatever the Polk Street business association decides.
    …and ask how Chinatown merchants reacted to the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway.
    Sometimes the issue is what’s best for the city as a whole, not what’s best for a small portion of its constituents. The lesson from these last 20 years: we all win in the end when we put people first.
    Or do you wish the Embarcadero Freeway back?
    It’s no longer about a safe network of streets for cycling, but rather having a flat street for Russian Hill dwellers to cycle to the Civic Center. Huh?
    Where did you see that? You are putting words into other people’s mouth. This is a debate with many different arguments.
    And the Party of No is grasping at straws…

  210. “A new strawman’s argument is born every day. Now “out-of-shape” cyclists are the new enemy! I’ll answer that there are 50 shades of shape. I could climb a 25% slope 5 years ago. Today 20% is my personal limit. My aging knees are too precious. Everyone has his limits, either real or self-imposed.”
    I didn’t start that strawman. I was responding to the larkin hills being too steep. but the number of people who NEED a bike lane on polk is less than 0.001% of the city
    there are no hills on larkin with even a 15% grade.
    here are the top 10 grades in SF, and no one is suggesting commuting these:
    Here, according to the city Bureau of Engineering, are the steepest of the steep in descending order:
    1. & 2. Filbert between Leavenworth and Hyde; 22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg, both 31.5 percent gradient.
    3. Jones between Union and Filbert, 29 percent.
    4. Duboce between Buena Vista and Alpine, 27.9 percent.
    5. & 6. Jones between Green and Union; Webster between Vallejo and Broadway, both 26 percent.
    7. & 8. Duboce between Divisadero and Alpine; Duboce between Castro and Divisadero, both 25 percent.
    9. Jones between Pine and California, 24.8 percent.
    10. Fillmore between Vallejo and Broadway, 24 percent. Parking on the foregoing is, in most cases, perpendicular to the curb and sidewalks are stepped to give pedestrians a better footing. The intersections at their summits have been graded for 20 feet or so to prevent cars from scraping bottom at the crest.
    Some of San Francisco’s most celebrated slopes don’t make the grade. Lombard’s 1,000 block, known for its switchbacks as “The World’s Crookedest Street,” is only an 18 percent incline. Hyde where the cable cars schuss down to Aquatic Park is 21.3. Mason where it plunges down Nob Hill’s south face next to the Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental Hotel is 22.2.

  211. And I am still waiting on a question I asked earlier: the crazy part of Larkin. Not holding my breath. You’re probably looking for another out-of-context tangent.

  212. Gues what Lol, motorized vehicles were invented so you could easily travel over steep streets that you feel are prohibitive on your tricycle.
    Now with modern travel inventions like cars, homes can be placed high on twin peaks where horse and bike riders may only have ventured once in their entire lifetime, though that would have been quite an exhaustive journey.
    What I “lol” about is that the bike jihadists feel that motorized vehicles are a thing of the past, where as I see them as part of the future.
    Within 20 years no vehicles will be made that run on petroleum products, and will be far less polluting than cars of today. I’ll be zipping from a meeting in Palo Alto to home in the city in less time than a bike rider can find a perfect pair of skinny jeans.
    So while poor Lol is shaking his fist at the Tesla easily climbing to the top of Russian Hill, he will have to stay at home yelling over others on the internet asking for street closures so he can try to travel the same distance, though far more slowly, and much more angrier.

  213. Oh TeslaTom, you just wait for the bike posse to take you down a notch.
    Such arrogance, such conceit and condescension.
    You just wait and all of the statistics and generalities and feel good facts will obliterate your motorized driven fantasies.

  214. And yet again there’s a guy coming out of nowhere not reading any my posts who assumes things about me.
    Do your homework TeslaTom. You’ll see I am not anti-car, but for the sharing of the road.
    This is a debate, not a hit-and-run contest. Many ideas are exchanged here. But are you really interested in debating?

  215. In 1990 the decision was made to remove the Embarcadero Freeway. 100s of Chinatown merchants opposed it, fearing for their survival.
    The questions:
    – Were the fears of the Chinatown merchants justified? Probably not. Today there are several “Chinatowns” and they’re mostly thriving.
    – Is SF a better city without the Embarcadero Freeway? Hell Yeah! If anything, it increased the influx of out-of-towners! So much for “they’ll stop coming”. Make a City more enjoyable and more human and people will leave their suburbs to settle down here.
    This was a massive leap forward for SF and we’re all better for it. I think the same applies to bike lanes.
    This city need to go on reclaiming its human element. Cars will always be part of our lives (again, for the hard-of-seeing, I am not anti-car), but we need to balance the way we are sharing the roads.

  216. Within 20 years no vehicles will be made that run on petroleum products
    Really? We would have to double our electricity generating capacity for that to be true. Very few power plants of any type are being built in California right now and none of the nuclear variety. Where is all that electricity going to come from? Some of it will come from natural gas power plants, but that is still polluting, albeit less so.
    I applaud bringing more electric robotic driven cars and think that this could make things better for everyone. Much of the externality costs that car drivers impose upon others could potentially be lessened. But you are too pollyannaish by half.

  217. I predict that most of the neighbors and business owners will show up ON FOOT
    I predict that most of the business owners live in Marin and will via Lexus or BMW.

  218. Here’s some serious advice lol:
    This is a debate, a discussion, a forum for ideas and comment: ALL points of view.
    Please stick to the rules and stop putting down people who you don’t agree with. Going back over your posts, you often tend to get personal, which defeats the debate.
    Attack the issue, stop attacking the commenter.
    And, BTW: i agree with some of what TeslaTom is saying. Some of it is very funny. Some of it is very logical.

  219. futurist,
    TeslaTom came after me claiming I was anti-car. It’s a clear hit-and-run and a total misrepresentation of my posts. I’ve said again and again I was for more sharing. Please find a post where I said I was against carts.
    But the Party of No keeps trying to represent the other side as extreme as they are themselves. It’s because they have run out of arguments and the last option is a shou-out match.
    Silly me for wanting to bring some level of compromise and balance to the debate. You clearly do not want any.

  220. Wow. Of course lol is not against CARTS (see 3:02 p.m.) He would love to see the horse drawn type any day sharing the roads with bicycles..
    Sorry but what twisted emotions (or Freudian slips) you guys exhibit.

  221. @lol,sounds like you are more reasonable than I originally thought. I wonder if I can try to meet you half way. I do think select streets should be re-designed to provide safe bike routes throughout the city. I also understand and accept that some on-street parking will be lost.
    What I do not like is the publicly funded industry that has been created around alternative transit policies. Certain “activists” are actually heavily subsidized by various government grants and the SFMTA, and some of the most prominent pro bike advocates involved in San Francisco transit planning lobbying either do not live in the city at all and/or are rather recent residents.
    What really set off some of the people at the last Polk Gulch neigborhood meeting was being lectured to by someone who only moved here from Tampa two years ago and acted as if they knew EVERYTHING about Polk Gulch and the city. And it then turned out they lived in Oakland! There are many familiar old time faces now attached to the bike cause who in reality are leeches who jump from issue to issue to help get some of the money without really being in the trenches. My favorite was the one year “sabatical” SFMTA funded bike advocates took to “learn” from Europe. (Will somebody please pay me to bike ride around Europe for one year!?)
    Did some of the neighbors behave badly at the last meeting? Yes! I think the anger and frustration is not in the losing of parking spaces, but because there was no true neighborhood dialogue. I think many pro bike advocates will be surprised at how far many business owners and neighbors will be willing to compromise at the next meeting, but PLEASE, try to silence some of the rudest most arrogant government subsidized bike advocates who really would be better served by letting others speak up on their behalf at the next meeting. How about representatives who work and live in the city but are not employed by the SFMTA and/or SFBC speak about their reasons for wanting a safe bike route instead of paid advocates who are not residents?

  222. Expect a LOT of national media coverage of the next neighborhood meeting on the 27th. The Los Angeles Times and New York Times will both have reporters there as well as all the usual Bay Area media outlets. There is considerable interest in this issue as the same policies are being adapted in cities all over the country.

  223. Even the conservative SF Examiner has come out in favor of the traffic calming improvements:
    The so-called “Polk Street Business” owners, most of whom live in places like San Bruno, think that by shouting over and threatening people who disagree with them they can bully the rest of the community into backing down. They are about to find themselves wrong. They have woken a sleeping giant, which is the overwhelming majority of San Franciscans who support the Transit First policies of the MTA.

  224. neighbor,
    There is no Mayor of Polk Gulch, therefore the City is the governing authority for your neighborhood. It’s the same for everyone.
    For instance many cars take my street for a quick slingshot around a busier main thoroughfare. It’s more obvious at rush hour. But it’s part of the overall traffic design of the City, greater good and all.
    Now every district has a say and a power through Supervisors. And the City apparently cares about respecting the neighbors feedback otherwise there wouldn’t have been any meeting.
    Apart from a Passport to Pimlico scenario, This is going to be a give-and-take process, and so far the City has been pretty open about everything. We are still debating this, right?

  225. @lol, I agree with you, the bike route is and should be part of a city wide network, that when in place, may or may not be successful.
    What I was writing about is the process of how the plan was presented to Polk Gulch, and the TAX money being spent through grants to the SFBC, as well as the comments from Supervisor Brinkman.
    Where I do NOT agree with you is that I do not want some tax paid activist from Oakland yelling at my neighborhood meeting telling me what my neighborhood street should be like.

  226. “They are about to find themselves wrong. They have woken a sleeping giant, which is the overwhelming majority of San Franciscans who support the Transit First policies of the MTA.”
    if thats the case, then why are we pandering to the

  227. It is riskier per mile to be a pedestrian that to bicycle. Do you think that people should be arrested for crossing the street with a toddler in their arms?
    I think that Polk Street Merchants should rename themselves the San Francisco Tea Party. They both have the same demographic, their tactics are similar and they are both trying to protect their government perks at the expense of everyone else.

  228. spencer,
    I agree that improving public transportation should be at the top of the list. And I believe it is. Not strong or fast enough though, of course.
    Creating new SFMTA transit costs Billions (see the new subway). We have to do it, and I am OK with us going all in. This will help SF in sustaining its growth while keeping it a great city to live in. Good public transit provides multiples in ROI and also improves quality of life.
    But also adding bike lanes part of a redesign of a neighborhood provides a great bang for the bucks. If SF population grows by 1% and bike ridership increases absorbs these 1% in the same time, you’ve saved yourself valuable time to get public transit up to speed.
    It’s not public transit or cycling, it’s transit and cycling.

  229. Adding to the “bang for the bucks” response to spencer:
    Bike lanes and wider sidewalks have almost no upkeep costs, and no need for massive infrastructure upgrade. Once they are built, you just need to patch them up as needed, clean them up, paint the lines.

  230. MTA can do more than one thing at a time. They have been improving Muni, as anyone who is a regular rider can attest. Lots of Socketsiters don’t like Muni, mostly because they don’t like to have to share a space with poor people, so they claim that Muni isn’t “good enough” for them.
    I ride Muni all the time and I can say for certain that both the J and the 14L are big improvements.

  231. I don’t see what is wrong with Polk as is. My only observation is that the speed limit should be reduced to 10mph up hill and 15 to 20 down hill, added marked lanes clear down to the bay & traffic calming devices(Stop signs/speed bumps) I’m sure the traffic engineers could figure that out and change the timing of the lights accordingly. As on Valencia signs with the speed of the timed lights should be added. Lots of conflict is caused when I move at the 12.5 mph limit of the light timing. I’ve been assaulted and almost battered by road ragers frustrated with the slow timing of Valencia lights. One more thing is drivers and bicyclists are confused by the dotted wide line at the end of the bike lanes and the start of the intersection area. The dotted line is for right turning drivers to merge with bicyclists not to do a right hook turn and cream idiot bicyclists that pass right of the right turning vehicles. (with their turn signals on.) This misuse of right turns by drivers and bicyclists is a big problem. The proper way to make a right turn is as close to the curb as possible not allowing bicyclists to get hooked. Also maybe some businesses with parking along that corridor might be required to allow after business use of their garages for a nominal or free price.

  232. “Lots of Socketsiters don’t like Muni, mostly because they don’t like to have to share a space with poor people, so they claim that Muni isn’t “good enough” for them.”
    Do you seriously believe this? That’s a pretty wide judgement. I never understand why people bring out nuclear arguments like the one above or calling people nazis. You lose all credibility by making crazy accusations against people.

  233. That’s pretty funny coming from the guy who wants to arrest anyone who carries a child on their bicycle.

  234. Your comment about spencer raises a very good point indeed, NVJ, but maybe not the one you are thinking of.
    As a driver and a cyclist, I know the situation can slip up at anytime. We are all only human after all. We can sneeze, be distracted for a split second, someone shows up out of nowhere and drama happens. We all know that.
    Just this PM I was cycling on Mission next to a line of stopped cars at a good clip and a guy opened a passenger door but stopped short of opening in full. 2 inches to the right and my fingers would be history or worse. I was using the full lane, for the record, and had a safe enough distance. Had I been squeezing between cars, the story would have been different.
    It can happen anytime and anywhere.
    1000s of drivers and cyclists meeting 1000s of other drivers and cyclists are bound to create accidents.
    Now back to spencer’s issue with cyclists and their kids…
    When they see a cyclist with a baby in tow the first reaction of many drivers is simply “that’s irresponsible”. We know what’s out there. We know what can happen.
    But what’s the real issue here? 1 – That a cyclist brings his kid along for his ride? 2 – Or that drivers KNOW that the situation can randomly become unsafe and therefore you should wrap yourself in metal?
    If anything, this shows that we all know most streets are not adapted enough to ensure the safety of kids on bikes. The logical conclusion is either forbid kids on bikes, or make sure cyclists have safer options for them and their families.
    In that case, we need bike lanes crossing the city. And Polk street, as has been shown, is the best option.
    Thank you spencer.

  235. Regarding risks taken on bikes…I would rather take my chances on a bike than riding MUNI on a daily basis. The robbery and the shootings (two shootings on MUNI buses in the Mission on April 1st in one afternoon alone!) on MUNI in the Mission should give pause to how “safe” public transportation is. But, my new concern about MUNI is the bedbug infestation of many bus and trains that has been reported by some outlets (Examiner and some local T.V. station news programs) but seems to cause many little concern. San Francisco has beoome the #1 bedbug city in America and I do NOT plan on becoming part of THAT statistic by riding infested transit vehicles.

  236. Just like spencer, your ability to accurate evaluate risk is overwhelmed by your emotional response. Human beings aren’t very good at judging risk so you should actually look at the statistics, not what you “know” is correct. You are far safer riding a bus than in an automobile. Don’t believe me? I can point you to the facts if you like.
    Thanks for making my point about Socketsiters regarding themselves as too good to ride with poor people. Those nasty transit riders might have cooties! Better off taking the Range Rover.

  237. Well NVJ, you certainly showed a new name (MuniNot) just how unsophisticated and provincial he is, We now know only the authentically good people are like you, riding miles with all your gear (walking to school in a snow storm??) and taking Muni.
    Editor, this site and it habitual commenters, most of whom are disaffected Critical Massers make me barf.
    Keep the development news and lose the holier than thouus

  238. NVJ,
    I would really like to know if you believe the below:
    “Lots of Socketsiters don’t like Muni, mostly because they don’t like to have to share a space with poor people, so they claim that Muni isn’t “good enough” for them.”

  239. Yup. You’ll land in SFO clinching your loved one’s hand just in case, and then you’ll happily step into a cab that has mastered the art of aggressive lane changing just 1/2 hour later. LOL.
    We are wired to consider familiar things as safe. This is how our skill sets are built. We get familiar with something we used to consider risky, then move on to the next challenge.
    Cyclists especially are subject to this rule. The most dangerous cyclist is the one that has managed to get fit enough to go fast, has got away with a ton of bad behavior and thinks he can outrun or outsmart anything. You can get away with a lot, like running lights, stop signs, right of way, cutting other cyclists, cars, pedestrians. Then there’s the ONE event you couldn’t predict but your attitude put you in the wrong spot.

  240. kids and bikes.
    No i would not consider taking my kid (under 5) on my bike with me on city streets. In the park, yes. in the suburban dead end streets, yes.
    Again, i log about 8000 miles per year on my bike. I know the dangers. do i think we can engineer all the dangers from cycling off the city streets? no way. I care too much about my kids to put them into that kind of a risk. ANd yes, i think it is VERY irresponsible and bad parenting. I feel exactly the same way about parents who put infants on their backs while skiing ina crowded resort. Would i put my 2 yr old on my back while mountain biking at tamarancho? hell no. Does riding in SF have a higher chance of causing major injury to me than mountain biking? yes. io ahve been injured plenty of times mountain biking, but it does not compare to the injuries ive seen with cars. yes, i’m saying its dangerous. for an adult, i think they choose to take the risk. for kids, its unfair to be subjected to a risk that they cannot control.
    NVJ. I am a statistician. saying the % of deaths per rider in automobiles vs. bikes is higher does not mean riding is safer. its not and you know it. The stats you are smoothing over do not mean what you apparently think they mean.
    A minor bump or scrape for an adult can cause major damage for a kid, and controlling your bike and getting out of danger is not as easy for riders with a kid in tow.
    my judgement is based on my experience and the feelings i have for child safety. i am responding to people who are taking this risk.
    your judgement about others on this forum not wanting to sit next to poor people is just despicable. where is the evidence of that. what are your responding to?

  241. I agree with Spencer re the issue of kids on bikes under a certain age.
    I often see this dad in Noe Valley riding with his kids ALL 3 of them: tandem bike with a little bike attached. That’s 4 people on a bike! the kids are about 5-8 years old. Way too young for the danger that can happen. I get that he (maybe) thinks he’s trying to save the planet and he’s all green and eco friendly and oh so NV hipster dad and all that stuff.
    Fact is: do the kids have a choice? No. Are they in danger? yes. Let them ride all they want in GG park.
    And I feel that lol’s argument for more bike lanes crossing the city will make cycling safer is a faulty argument.
    Mixing vehicles and bikes on streets will ALWAYS have inherent danger, UNLESS bike lanes are fully separated by concrete barriers from ALL vehicles.

  242. Drivers who see bikes as less safe are also the first to bring their kids to school by car or SUV instead of the much safer bus alternative.
    Just look at the daily mess around schools. Driving your kids around gives you a false safety. It’s better to drop off a bunch of kids from a bus through a professionally protected egress than the anarchic dropping off we see all the time. It’s only logical.
    And yet, this logic will be questioned, despite all the statistics. But when a cyclist has a kid in tow, drivers will use the very same logic to criticize it.
    1 – if you make sure car traffic slows down, then bicycle safety increases.
    2 – if you increase the safety distance between cars and cyclists, then there are less chances at an accident.
    If you can prove otherwise I’d be happy to look at your arguments.

  243. Any parent that cares about their kids will drive them around in an SUV in order to protect them from being run over by other parents in their SUVs.
    It’s kill or be killed, people!

  244. Don’t really need to “prove” anything. We’re not talking rocket science here, but:
    1. What really is “bicycle safety”? slowing traffic down to 10 mph will still result in a serious accident between a bike and car. slowing traffic down to 5mph will STILL result in a serious accident between a car and bike. Car: 3000lbs, bike and rider: maybe 200 or so. As I have said before, there is inherent danger ALL THE TIME when cars and bikes are mixed on streets and roads. Just reality.
    2. Increasing distance does nothing for added safety, (short of concrete barriers). The striped bike lanes on Valencia are merely painted lines on pavement; false sense of safety. A car can, unfortunately, still swerve into a bike lane resulting in an accident.
    And let’s be clear: I am not against bike lanes in SF in carefully studied areas that offer a good route for cyclists. But there will always be inherent danger. Always.

  245. Both of your points are just plain wrong futurist. I don’t have the links available but there are studies that show that the risk of serious injury or death dramatically increase as speed increases. There’s a crucial speed, somewhere around 20-25MPH where survivability really drops off.

  246. I should frame futurist’s post. That’s what happens when the reptilian part of your brain takes over.
    What really is “bicycle safety”? slowing traffic down to 10 mph will still result in a serious accident between a bike and car. slowing traffic down to 5mph will STILL result in a serious accident between a car and bike.
    Reality and physics that you are stretching quite a bit for the sake of saving face…
    1 – What do you prefer: being hit by a car doing 30MPH or 5MPH? Duh.
    2 – A car doing 10MPH will stop much faster than a car doing 30MPH. Double-Duh.
    Therefore, slower car traffic is safer for bikes.
    Increasing distance does nothing for added safety
    Then I suggest they narrow freeway lanes down to 6 1/2 feet from the current 10. Hey, a 2 lane can now fit 3 cars! Genius! There’s no difference, right? Just remember to keep your trajectory reaaaallllly straight 😉
    I lived through the exact proof of the bogusness of your theory yesterday: I was almost doored and 2 tiny inches made all the difference.
    Had I been in a separate bike lane, there would have been no issue. Thankfully I was occupying the full right lane on Mission (going West through SVN).

  247. Oh wait, gentlemen: I think we all have good points but we are talking about semantics, perhaps. Words are finite here, but thoughts and “intonation” and intent are not.
    1. you didn’t fully read my No. 1: inherent danger all the time when cars and bikes are mixed. that’s what I’m getting at. I don’t want anyone to get hit by a car at ANY speed. Period. An injury is an injury. That’s what I’m getting at; in part the issue of little kids on bikes on public streets. Bad.
    And MOD: survivability is actually an issue to you? How about just safety? I’m so glad Johnny survived his bike accident after being hit by a bus on Valencia going only 15 mph. He survived allright, but has a permanent spinal injury. Poor guy.
    Of course slower car traffic is “safer” for cyclists, but not 100% safer. That’s what I’m getting at.
    And no, increasing distance between a car lane and a striped bike lane does nothing to “increase safety”. A car (accidentally we assume) will still swerve into a bike lane. but seriously, lol, your freeway lane comment? not relevant. Lanes are made for the WIDTH of vehicles as well, including trucks and buses.
    But, seriously, again, lol: stop with the name calling: “reptilian”. Can you possibly NOT have a conversation here without resorting to put downs and name calling???
    What’s your purpose, except maybe you get angry? Ok, so you almost got doored yesterday. It happens in a City.

  248. Tuesday a biker passed my car. I was stopped at the 4-way at Hermann and Fillmore, signaling left. It was about to be my turn. That’s right, the cyclist passed me on the left through an intersection, and reacted as if I was in the wrong when I mentioned to him, flatly and just loud enough to be audible, that the move was utterly insane.
    Unfortunately, this behavior is representative of a lot of bikers.

  249. Well if you want 100% safety you’ll never find it even if you hole up in a fortified bunker. Relative safety is really the only issue worth discussing.
    As for “survivability”, that’s the term of art for analyzing traffic safety situations. Both rate of injury and severity of injury closely track survivability. So survivability is used as a proxy for all outcomes in car vs. pedestrian collisions. If you improve survivability you also decrease injury.
    As for the idea that separation distance doesn’t affect safety, that’s also bunk. If it weren’t then AASHTO would not mandate specific minimum lane widths. That’s what lol was alluding to. Here they’re just seeking to reduce contact fender benders. But when it comes to lane widths and therefore separation between cars and bikes the outcome of a contact is more severe. Note also that AASHTO guidelines specify larger lane widths the faster traffic goes, implying that people have a harder time going straight the faster they go; another reason that faster speeds cause more harm.
    lol also refers to his near-dooring incident. This is probably even more important and misunderstood (except by experienced cyclists) and yet another reason to keep greater separation between bikes and cars, even parked cars.

  250. futurist,
    I might have failed to read between the lines. Or failed to read the unwritten disclaimers. Whatever. When you define your own parallel reality some will let it slide, others not.
    Sure words are finite. But then a few paragraph later there’s the following nugget:
    increasing distance between a car lane and a striped bike lane does nothing to “increase safety”. A car (accidentally we assume) will still swerve into a bike lane.
    Sure. 2 situations: 1 – A car changes lane and you are 1) 2 feet away. 2) 4 feet away.
    Situation #2 is safer than situation #1. Except if you are the world champion of life-size Frogger, naturally.
    Plus, had the bicycle been in his own lane, the car would likely not have changed lanes anyway. Proving 2 points at the same time.

  251. Parents riding their kids to school on bikes. When will the madness stop! (that is sarcasm, btw). I think the writer of that blog makes an interesting observation. — that is the big news for us this year was the group of new kindergarten parents on bikes. They outnumber all the rest of us put together. I’m seeing a similar phenomena on this side of the bay. This is not your father’s critical mass…

  252. You have not even responded to my statement spencer. You made up something I did not even say and tried to respond to that. I said that bicycling is safer per mile than being a pedestrian. You responded with something about automobile safety.
    Do you admit that per mile injury and accident statistics are worse for pedestrians than for cyclists? Do you believe that it should be illegal for children to walk on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk with their parents?
    How do you reconcile the fact that you think it should be illegal for a cyclist to carry a child because of “safety” reasons, but think it is fine for a parent to transport their children in a more risky fashion?

  253. I am not the only one Spencer. Caille Millner sees it too. Socketsiters complain all the time about how “unsafe” they feel on Muni or how “dirty” it is or how too many “homeless” (e.g. poor) people ride the bus. It all means the same thing. It the coded way you wealthy and upper middle class people talk about the poor.
    I can find plenty of quotes if you somehow just noticed this.
    I am not stupid dude, don’t treat me like I am an idiot.

  254. NoeValleyJim, it all depends on the bus you are taking. Nobody in my neighborhood has the chip on their shoulder that the writer of that article does thinking that passing drivers are staring at him for riding a bus and thinking that he is poor.
    For fun I recently read some Yelp comments on the Marina Express (30X)….
    “The 30X is no ordinary bus… Not at all. The 30X is more of a sociological experiment that attempts to answer the question, “What would happen if we crammed hundreds of young, well-dressed, well-groomed, testosterone-fueled, eager professionals onto a crowded bus for 20 minutes twice a day?”
    “Nobody tags my windows. The people that ride are pretty and they smell nice. No one pees on my seats or vomits on my floor. And from time to time my driver plays jazz music through my speakers”

  255. “Do you admit that per mile injury and accident statistics are worse for pedestrians than for cyclists? ”
    No, this is what i was referring to by smoothing over statistics. you are interpreting the statistics wrong. there is a selection bias. Just because there are more accidents per mile on foot dow not mean that it is more unsafe. there are a multitude of factors. Does it only account for people follwoing the rules crossing the street. Parents generally dont jaywalk with infants. but a lot of pedestrians who get hit may have been jaywalkers. Riding a bike is different because you are moving and you are moving next to cars. Please send me the study you are referring to and I can read it for interpretation. Lay people generally use statistics to prove their poiints, but they are frequently interpreted in the way that a person is already leaning. It is clearly not as safe to walk across the street with your infant as it is to ride with an infant on a seat attached to your bike. You already know this.
    I didn’t mean to change the subject from pedestrian vs bike safety to auto vs. bike. I misread and replied.

  256. “I can find plenty of quotes if you somehow just noticed this.
    I am not stupid dude, don’t treat me like I am an idiot.”
    yes, please. and please tell me what mind reading class you took to determine that when people say muni is “dirty” that means they don’t like to sit next to poor people.
    my wife takes Muni everyday. i commute because i work outside of the city. She is from a very large and polluted city (>30M) and she thinks SF Muni is worse. Why? because people are not friendly on the bus. she complains that no one talks to her on the bus. Also, she was punched in the face for saying excuse me to someone who kept pushing her. the person attacked her and no one helped. this was at 6PM on the 38 geary. No one helped her, not even the multitude of “rich ” guys in suits or the “poor people” without clothing and carrying chickens (TIC). SHe had to get off the bus to stop it. In her country that wouldn’t have happened. the people holding chickens would’ve helped.
    Riding muni doesn’t suck because of poor people. it sucks because of people in general. but it is still convenient for her and she is OK with it

  257. Wow, sorry to hear about that muni attack Spencer. That is terrible. The worst I’ve ever encountered are people who just cannot shut up due to mental or chemical impairment.
    Aside from those odd compulsive jabbermouths most riders keep to themselves. I think that’s just an attribute of Americans in general. I rarely strike up conversations with strangers in transit. Though those impromptu yack sessions are scarce they’re usually fun and interesting. And I have an infinity more of those strangers-on-the-road talks than when driving my car.

  258. That’s terrible Spencer, sorry to hear about that and I hope that your wife is all right. As a statistician you must know that anecdotal evidence is not as strong as statistical evidence. And statistically you are far more likely to be injured in an automobile than in a bus.
    The arguments that you make about pedestrians are exactly the same arguments, almost verbatim, that one can make for cycling safety as well. Most pedestrians that are injured are intoxicated. So are most cyclists. Most pedestrian injuries happen when people jay-walk or otherwise break the law. The same goes for cycling. And so forth. The same tactics that pedestrians with children use to increase their safety are the ones that cyclists use when riding with their children. So the fact that more pedestrians are injured and killed per mile of travel suggests that at the very least, walking with children is either more dangerous or very closely similarly dangerous as riding on a bicycle with them. So they should be regulated similarly (which right now means not at all, excepting the requirement for helmet usage).
    If you have the stomach for it, go to SF Streetsblog and see the seven people who have been killed just standing on the sidewalk. Being a pedestrian in San Francisco is apparently more dangerous than you realize.

  259. “The same tactics that pedestrians with children use to increase their safety are the ones that cyclists use when riding with their children. So the fact that more pedestrians are injured and killed per mile of travel suggests that at the very least, walking with children is either more dangerous or very closely similarly dangerous as riding on a bicycle with them”
    Yes i am sure cyclists with kids take fewer risks, but cycling is inherently more dangerous as you are moving, and moving alongside cars, and you cannot move out of the way as quickly, side to side or reverse. The stats you are referring to do not prove your point about cycling vs. pedestrian safety and you know that. You can apply common sense to statistics that are no direct comparisons that do not take into account confounding variables.
    However, I do think muni is safer. I was not saying otherwise. But I was referring to the label that you put on people who don’t take muni because “they don’t want to sit next to poor people”. The situation with my wife is another reason why someone might prefer to take muni. There are a lot of unmedicated mentally ill people and some people who are just rude or some rather uncaring. You don’t have to deal with that in a car or carpool.
    For the record, if worked downtown, I would take muni everyday . If I worked elsewhere in the city, I would probably take my bike everyday. I commute to Silicon Valley, and carpool 4x per week. For people living in sf, I also see little reason to car commute to work in sf. But there are p,entry of other reasons… Kid drop off, as schools are not close to home, groceries (local markets outrageously expensive)’ errands, out of town trips, airport, carrying ur mountain bike or surfboard, etc.
    I know not everyone needs a car, but the vast majority of homeowners will continue to want them, and I think a lot of people NEED them.
    I’m all for bike safety as am an avid cyclist. I just don’t think All policies should be pro cycling. I don’t think the numbers of bike commuters justifies it and muni could be better. Personally, I would like to see an investment in an east to west Bart ( Geary for example). The central subway line is all walkable so doesn’t seem that important. The Geary express from outer Richmond to fidi is 1 hr (for those close to geary) and further for those more than a few blocks away. that’s bad. And those people would need another half an hour to get to the airport for example, or another 15 for a giants game. Can the city save and spend on something bigger?

  260. spencer,
    All very valid points, except where you are saying that we should expand Muni instead of being pro-cycling.
    Did you see anything in Muni’s policy where they said they would stop investing to make way for cycling?
    Cycling is not put first, but part of a future-looking transit policy.
    As I said a few times before, in a saturated traffic environment, it takes just a couple of percent more drivers to lock up everything.
    MUNI is expanding at a great expense. Cycling is also expanding at a very good rate and for way way cheaper than MUNI. Both are designed to absorb most of the increases in need for transit.
    It’s all about diversity of choices. People have different needs for different times (as you pointed: many cyclists also need cars, cars are impractical in some circumstances). People must be provided the option.

  261. The anti-bike hysteria is reaching new lows in NYC, not unlike some of the comments on these threads (bike nazis, bike terrorists and such).
    NY Mag has a very simple Venn Diagram of why conservatives just hate the new NYC bike sharing program.

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