kristin, February 4th, 2014Yesterday the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) Board of Directors held an all-day retreat to lay out the agency’s priorities for 2014. A single message emerged loud and clear as speaker after speaker urged the Board to prioritize safety and affordable transportation options on San Francisco’s streets.
It’s clear: the public wants street safety prioritized not merely in words, but in committing action and funding.Stephanie Kwan, a 45-year-old who bikes with her two kids to school, told the Board that she does not bike out of “necessity,” but because she’s “practical” and it’s just easier and faster by bike. She estimates five other families bike regularly at the school of 500 students. Parents tell her that more would ride if there were calmer streets and more dedicated bikeways.
MTA Board members spoke strongly about the agency’s commitment to safety, and they unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Vision Zero policy of setting the goal of zero traffic deaths in 10 years. MTA staff admitted that bicycle and pedestrian projects have been “historically underfunded,” and they laid out grand visions and encouraging words for bike and pedestrian plans.
Many expressed frustration that these plans fell far short of real commitment to street safety. The MTA’s initial baseline budget — shared publicly for the first time here — looked dismally like business-as-usual, lacking a significant uptick in bicycle and pedestrian funding. Priya Sawhney of Central City Collaborative, a group that represents long-income tenants in the Tenderloin and SoMa, shared stories of seniors who are too scared of fast-moving traffic to even cross the street. “If we really believe in Vision Zero, it would be great to actually implement the plans,” said Sawhney.
MTA Board members seemed to recognize the disconnect between words and actions, and they directed staff to make safety a priority in this budget, which is being developed now and will be voted on in March. All eyes are now on the MTA to take action.
“We need to do whatever it takes to make this happen,” said Board Chair Tom Nolan, emphasizing the need to be mindful of our most vulnerable road users – seniors, kids and people with disabilities. “We just have to act as quickly as possible. This rises to the top as far as I’m concerned.” “Even if the transportation measures don’t pass, this is not something we can’t do,” said Board member Cheryl Brinkman, referring to the transportation funding measures likely to be on the November ballot.
Director Joel Ramos repeated concerns that a commitment to a Vision Zero policy was not strong enough. He directly asked staff for a commitment to implement 24 bicycle and pedestrian safety projects (one per month) within the next 2 years, as called for in the resolution they passed.Supervisor Jane Kim’s legislative aide, Sunny Angulo, spoke at the hearing, to reiterate that 60% of traffic injuries occur on a mere 6% of our streets and should be preventable. She said the Supervisor is looking to the MTA Board to fund and commit to actions implemented by a Crisis Intervention Team as part of Vision Zero.
Unfortunately the call for action seemed to be watered down by MTA staff. Executive Director Ed Reiskin’s explanation of when and how near-term improvements on the city’s most troublesome streets (mostly in SoMa and the Tenderloin) would happen was unclear, at best. Instead of a lack of funding, he blamed the city’s long and cumbersome public process for re-allocating street space.
Reiskin’s behavior was in stark contrast to Police Chief Greg Suhr, who stepped up two weeks ago to commit to concrete actions in his department’s support for Vision Zero. Meanwhile, despite strong stated Board leadership, Reiskin continues to be noncommittal — at least publicly — in saying how his department will act on the street safety crisis at hand.
This lack of urgency and timely delivery of near-term street safety improvements from the MTA staff was a common theme throughout the meeting, with concerns raised by Board members and community members. The myth that “we’re going as fast as we can” is being questioned by people both inside and outside the agency. A recent report by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority detailed the chronic problems with project management at the MTA and other City agencies that work to improve transportation. These are long-known problems that the agencies have had in their power to fix for years, and still do.
The reality is that it will take real leadership to get the MTA to choose to really go after the vision the agency has set for itself through its Strategic Plan and the 2013-2018 Bicycle Strategy. It will require leadership to move away from funding biking at less than 1% of the agency’s budget and towards a budget that reflects the agency’s top strategic plan priority: “Create a safer transportation experience for everyone.”
Huge thanks to the many members and community leaders who took the time to speak about the importance of funding biking! It is absolutely crucial that these decision-makers hear from you. In fact, the SFMTA and Board of Supervisors will be voting on whether to fund biking or to maintain the status quo at a number of upcoming hearings. These decision-makers need to hear from everyone who cares about making our streets less chaotic and less stressful for everyone. Email email@example.com to get involved in the campaign to fund biking, and check out our earlier blog to learn more about what 8% for biking would mean for you.
kristin, July 10th, 2013
Next week the City’s Better Market Street team will be holding public workshops to get your feedback on three options for improving biking on Market Street. Please attend a workshop to speak up for a separated bikeway the length of Market Street.
The City has recently backed away from the glaring need to make biking on Market truly safe and comfortable for people of all ages and backgrounds. The agencies are now spending significant sums of money studying a new option of a bikeway on Mission and no biking improvements on Market.
As you well know, the reality is that Market Street has been, and will continue to be, the most logical and easiest biking route for most people, and should be treated accordingly. Bikes belong on Market!
Please RSVP for one of the upcoming workshops to speak up loud and clear for bikes on Market Street, and to give feedback on the specific design details of the proposals.
Wednesday, July 17, 6-8:30PM
Parc 55 Hotel ballroom, 55 Cyril Magnin Street
Valet bike parking
Saturday, July 20, 10AM– 12:30PM
Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street
Learn more about our Market Street work here.
kristin, September 11th, 2012
If you’re one of the thousands of people who bike to work on Market Street, you know how bumpy and unsafe the pavement on this key biking corridor is. Well, we’ve got some great news for you…
Thanks to the advocacy of your SF Bicycle Coalition staff, the City will be repairing and repaving large sections of Market Street this month, creating a smoother, safer ride for you!
Huge thanks to the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency for prioritizing this important project and making the daily bike commute safer and smoother for thousands of San Franciscans.
We heard from many of you that Market Street pavement was your number one concern, so we made it our focus. SF Bicycle Coalition staff literally walked every block of Market with the DPW, pointing out the most unsafe areas for those of us biking. The initial repaving was a simple patch job over a few small areas, and after working with the City, we helped expand the repaving to 30 locations, and over 15,000 square feet of new pavement.
Repaving is scheduled for September 10-23, and work will happen at night to reduce disruptions to your commute. New pavement has already been laid down in a few locations, and we’ll be keeping an eye on the streets to make sure that all of those unsafe spots get fresh and smooth pavement.
Ushering in this smoother pavement is only one part of our Market Street work. Your SF Bicycle Coalition continues our work to build a better Market Street, with a continuous green, separated bikeway — a project slated to begin in 2016. But we knew you couldn’t wait until then for smoother pavement so we’ve been working hard to win near-term improvements. See YOU in the smoother bikeway!
If great improvements like this Market Street repaving make a difference in your ride, please consider giving to our summer fundraising campaign. We’re working to get smooth pavement and separated bikeways on other streets that matter to you–and that takes a lot of resources. We are only $3,000 short of our fundraising goal. Please help us reach that goal, and ensure that you’re riding on smoother and safer streets all across the city.
Tagged as: Market Street
sanfranciscobicyclec, May 12th, 2010
This is the last week to tell Mayor Newsom that your company supports a fully separated bikeway on Market Street! Emails have been rolling in but we need more to be sent to build support for an expansion of the bikeway. If you bicycle to work on Market Street, we need your company to write Mayor Newsom and tell him they support a fully separated bikeway on Market from Octavia Boulevard all the way to the Embarcadero.
We are aiming to show tons of support by Bike to Work Day. Mayor Newsom needs to hear from companies and organizations in San Francisco that a fully separated, continuous bikeway on lower Market Street is good for business, good for employee health and safety, and key to a vibrant future for our city’s main street. Email neal(at)sfbike.org for the simple tools and instructions you need to write your company’s letter today.
Chain of Events
SFBC Flickr Pool