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New Bike Lane Creates Key Link between Market Street and Civic Center

May 2, 2014 in Environment, EV News, San Francisco, Sustainable San Francisco

Image courtesy of SF Bicycle Coalition

Image courtesy of SF Bicycle Coalition

On Friday, May 2, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, members of the public, and representatives from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Public Works and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will celebrate the makeover of a two-block section of southern Polk Street, from Market to Grove streets, to make riding a bike and walking safer and more convenient.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the northeast corner of Polk and Market streets at 11 a.m. tomorrow, followed by an inaugural bike ride up the new bikeway.

“This is a small street infrastructure improvement project with a large impact,” said Mayor Lee. “Not only are we creating one of the most accessible routes through the heart of San Francisco with these safety and accessibility improvements, but we are honoring the City’s commitment to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe.”

The transformative Polk Street Bikeway Improvement Project provides a vital connection to the Civic Center and the City’s northern neighborhoods for the many people biking and walking from Market Street. This project is a key component of the San Francisco 2009 Bike Plan and is the 52nd Bike Plan project to be implemented, leaving just eight projects left.

The highlight of the project is a new separated northbound bike lane, also known as a contra-flow lane, because it allows people biking to safely travel against vehicle traffic on the one-way corridor. Prior to the makeover, many  northbound bicyclists trying to reach Polk Street destinations from Market Street, such as City Hall, travelled on the sidewalks along Polk Street or on busy Van Ness Avenue one block to the west – a stressful ride among traffic, numerous bus routes and active loading zones.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin speaking at the event, May 2.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin speaking at the event, May 2.

“We are pleased to expand our bike network to make getting to key city locations, like Civic Center, easier and safer,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “With more people getting on their bikes, the SFMTA is committed to providing safer and more direct bicycling connections throughout San Francisco. Potential transportation funding measures on the November 2014 ballot will empower us to deliver even more projects like these, building up to 30 miles of safer, better-defined bikeways that protect all road users.”

“The Polk Street project has provided us an opportunity to redesign and modernize this area to reflect the growing dynamism of the Civic Center district,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “We are using voter-approved taxpayer dollars to transform our streets into places that are safer and more pleasing to use.”

This project is part of the city’s initiative to create a safe, interconnected bicycle network project and was funded through the 2011 Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond Program, a $248 million voter-approved general obligation bond. With it, the city is repaving streets in neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, and making traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

In addition to the new bike lane, the following changes and improvements have been made to Polk Street between Market to McAllister streets:

  • Roadway repaving from Market to Grove streets to make the street smoother and safer for all road users;
  • Pedestrian safety improvements, including sidewalk bulbouts to make crossings shorter, slow down turning vehicles and increase the visibility of people walking to motorists;
  • Widening of the existing southbound bike lane, and the addition of green paint and a painted buffer, as well as flexible posts to create a safer, more organized roadway;
  • Three sets of  new bike traffic signals at Market, Hayes and Grove streets, as well as a bike waiting area to guide those turning from eastbound Market Street to northbound Polk Street;
  • A reconfigured passenger loading zone at Fox Plaza;
  • A redesigned pedestrian island at Market and Polk street;
  • New American with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant curb ramps to improve sidewalk access for seniors and people with disabilities;
  • Widening of the southbound bike lane in front of City Hall between Grove and McAllister streets and the addition of green paint;
  • The addition of a new, green northbound bike lane in front of City Hall between Grove and McAllister streets accompanied by the reconfiguration of parking to make parking back-in angled, which improves safety and visibility of people riding a bike, and;
  • Landscaping and sidewalk upgrades, as well as sewer renovations.

The project is complete just in time for Bike Month and the 20th annual Bike-to-Work Day, which takes place on Thursday, May 8.

“The new Polk contraflow bikeway is a hallmark of complete streets that prioritizes comfort, connectivity and design. Though only a few blocks, this gorgeous bikeway offers a crucial connector between the business corridors of Market and Polk Streets, making it easier for people to get to work and shop at local businesses by bike,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The site of the ribbon-cutting is also the starting point of Public Works’ Streetscape Bike Tour, which will be a on a leisurely ride for people interested in learning more about the city’s most outstanding streetscape improvement projects.  The tour caps a week of Public Works Week activities for the public and is available for registration at

About the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, a department of the City and County of San Francisco, is responsible for the management of all ground transportation in the city. The SFMTA keeps people connected through the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), the nation’s seventh largest public transit system. The agency’s additional responsibilities include managing parking and traffic, bicycling, walking and the regulation of taxis.

About San Francisco Public Works

The 24/7 city agency cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and nurtures city-maintained street trees; designs, constructs and maintains city-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; builds curb ramps; eradicates graffiti; partners with neighborhoods; trains people for jobs; greens the right of way; and educates our communities.

This article is a repost (5-1-14), credit: SFMTA.

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San Francisco Celebrates Second Annual Walk to Work Day

April 11, 2014 in Environment, EV News, San Francisco, Sustainable San Francisco

Image courtesy of SFMTA

Image courtesy of SFMTA

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all transportation in the city, today joined the Board of Supervisors, Walk San Francisco, and other city partners and business leaders to celebrate the second annual Walk to Work Day. As part of the City’s commitment to “Vision Zero,” a plan to eliminate all traffic deaths in San Francisco by 2024, the SFMTA unveiled new plans to improve safety on San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks. Over the next 24 months, the SFMTA will be implementing 24 Vision Zero near-term engineering projects that will improve safety for all people, whether they walk, ride a bike or drive.

San Francisco sees almost one million trips on foot daily. But each year 800 people are injured and 100 severely injured or killed while walking, contributing to an alarming rate of overall traffic injuries and fatalities in San Francisco. People walking are among the most vulnerable road users, with over 4,100 people injured or killed in collisions in San Francisco between 2007 and 2011, nearly two people injured every day.

“San Francisco remains one of the most walkable cities in the world, and we all must do our part to keep pedestrians safe,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “Any pedestrian death or serious injury is one too many in our City, and residents will have an opportunity to fund pedestrian safety improvements to make our City safer through a proposed $500 million transportation bond and an increase to the vehicle license fee.”

Over the next 24 months, the SFMTA will be implementing 24 Vision Zero engineering projects alongside the agency’s existing programs that enhance safety for people walking, biking and driving, which include initiatives such as slowing down vehicle speeds, installing signals at intersections in need, enhancing existing and building new bikeways, and implementing measures to calm traffic citywide.

The SFMTA has also announced that the first Vision Zero project has been recently completed with pedestrian safety improvements installed at 6th and Howard streets, an intersection that has a disproportionately high number of pedestrian collisions. At 6th and Howard streets, the SFMTA installed painted sidewalk extensions to shorten crossing distances and increase visibility of pedestrians, new zebra-striped crosswalks that make people more visible to drivers as they cross the street, and advance limit lines that encourage people driving to stop farther away from the marked crosswalk.

“Building better and safer streets can help us ensure that individual mistakes on the road do not lead to death or serious injury,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Safety will always be our top priority and as we look to expand our efforts to build safer streets for everyone who uses them, the City will need voter support for the funding measures proposed by the Mayor for the November 2014 ballot.”

The SFMTA’s 24 Vision Zero projects will be spread throughout the City, from reducing vehicle speeds and installing a new traffic signal on Sunset Boulevard, to implementing safety improvements for people walking on Kearny Street. The 24 Vision Zero projects will provide safety features for all road users and are focused on not only corridors such as Golden Gate Avenue, where signal timing changes will lower vehicle speeds from Van Ness Avenue to Market Street, but also at specific locations such as the intersection of Mission Street and Silver Avenue where curb extensions will be added.

“We applaud the City’s bold commitment to Vision Zero. When streets are safer, people are healthier and businesses thrive,” said Walk San Francisco Executive Director Nicole Schneider. “Walk to Work Day is an excellent opportunity for San Franciscans to see what’s working, and what the city needs to take action to fix.”

Vision Zero builds on the Mayor’s commitment to cut the number of people killed and severely injured on our streets in half by 2021, a primary goal of the San Francisco Pedestrian Strategy, which was released in April 2013 on San Francisco’s first Walk to Work Day.

This article is a repost, credit: SFMTA. Video courtesy of City of San Francisco.

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SFMTA Board Approves 12 Percent Increase in Muni Service

March 28, 2014 in EV Campaigns, EV Mass Transit, EV News, San Francisco, Sustainable San Francisco

J Church Streetcar Photo courtesy of SFMTA

J Church Streetcar
Photo courtesy of SFMTA

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all surface transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that its Board of Directors unanimously approved a 12 percent increase in Muni service and route changes as part of the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP). Through a significant community input gathering phase, the SFMTA was able to modify and improve several of the proposed network changes. Along with the forthcoming capital investments, the proposed route and service changes will allow San Francisco to recalibrate the Muni network in order to meet our existing customer demand as well as adapt to emerging travel patterns.

The TEP is expected to reduce travel times on rapid corridors by up to 20 percent, restructure the network and increase service up to 12 percent, and increase service between neighborhoods. A portion of the approved service increases, 10 percent, are being considered as part of the budget for the next two fiscal years. The projects planned for in the TEP also include pedestrian and streetscape improvements, which support the agency’s Vision Zero objectives.

Today’s vote comes after an extensive outreach process and an informational hearing for the Board of Directors on March 14. At today’s special meeting, the board approved the full set of proposals presented, many of which were revised based on public input. Some proposed route changes were removed from today’s plan either because additional outreach is needed or because the proposals are not going forward.

The details on all of the final TEP proposals are provided on the master table. The TEP Implementation Workbook provides explanations of the proposals, including most of the final changes. The TEP project page also has links to the specific routes and lists them by type of proposal (e.g. Revised or On Hold).

As part of today’s vote, the SFMTA Board approved the policies and some projects outlined in the Final Environmental Impact Report and adopted the California Environmental Quality Act Findings as certified by the San Francisco Planning Commission at their meeting yesterday. The Board did not approve all proposals that have been cleared through the environmental process, but will consider them after more detailed community outreach work is conducted.

The SFMTA has published A Community Guide to the Transit Effectiveness Project to accompany the FEIR. The Community Guide provides an understanding of the transit planning process embodied in the TEP, summarizes the conversations that have taken place, highlights the proposals that have emerged, and responds directly to comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, published on July 10, 2013.

“The TEP will move Muni forward by making it more efficient, reliable, safe and comfortable for 700,000 daily transit boardings,” said Tom Nolan, Chairman of the MTA Board. “These modifications will bring citywide benefits to our transportation network by focusing on transit riders with the greatest needs, 51 percent of whom are low-income, and emphasizing connection between our neighborhoods.”

“The approved route and service changes will allow San Francisco to improve the Muni network in order to better meet our existing customer demand, as well as adapt to emerging travel patterns,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “These changes have been shaped through years of public input, and they are based on an unprecedented and ongoing route-by-route analysis of Muni operations.”

One of the greatest strengths of the TEP is the quantity and quality of public input that has been received throughout the process. Since 2008, TEP proposals were developed through more than 100 community meetings throughout the city. In the latest round of public outreach from January to March 2014, the SFMTA focused on the proposed service and route changes. The multi-year public outreach effort resulted in substantial changes to the original TEP proposals. Whenever possible, SFMTA staff identified design solutions that addressed community concerns while still achieving the overall goals of the TEP. In situations where community concerns could not be resolved at the staff level, the feedback was summarized in the presentation to the SFMTA Board of Directors for their consideration as part of their overall decision process.

The SFMTA budget for Fiscal Year 2014-15 and Fiscal Year 2015-16 will consider funding for a 10 percent service increase at a total two-year cost of $44.7 million. The 10 percent service increase would be phased in over the next two years. The remaining two percent of the increases approved today will be considered in the following two-year budget cycle.

The full TEP plan for comprehensive transportation capital investments, also approved today, will require new and stable funding. To this end, a $500 million General Obligation Bond is being proposed as one of three transportation funding measures for the November ballot. If approved by voters, the General Obligation Bond will be partially leveraged to improve the speed and reliability of Muni for riders by investing in the TEP without raising the City tax rate.

About the Transit Effectiveness Project

The TEP represents the first major evaluation of San Francisco’s mass transit system in thirty years, bringing together people, process, and technology to better understand and thus better solve the issues facing Muni. During this multi-year process, the SFMTA collected data on ridership patterns and operating conditions at an unprecedented route-by-route level of detail. This data provided deep insights into who Muni’s customers are, where they come from, where they want to go, and how reliably they are getting there.

The overall objective of the TEP is to modernize Muni ─ the backbone of San Francisco’s multimodal transit network. Through services changes that better reflect today’s travel patterns and capital projects along high ridership corridors, the TEP will improve service reliability, reduce travel time on transit, and improve customer experiences and service efficiency. Citywide, the TEP is expected to reduce travel times on rapid corridors by up to 20 percent, restructure the network and increase service up to 12 percent, and increase service between neighborhoods.

This article is a repost, credit: SFMTA. Better Market Street video courtesy of City of San Francisco.

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Purchase of 60 New Electric Trolley Buses Moves Forward

March 11, 2014 in Electric Bus, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Sustainable San Francisco

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin at Feb. 27, 2014 SFMTA Budget Town Hall Meeting The vast majority of San Francisco did not budget time for the meeting.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin at Feb. 27, 2014 SFMTA Budget Town Hall Meeting
The vast majority of San Francisco did not budget time for the meeting.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages transportation in the city, today announced that the Notice to Proceed has been issued for the purchase of 60 new electric trolley buses from New Flyer Industries, following approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and SFMTA Board of Directors. The new vehicles will replace buses currently in service that are over 20 years old and account for 40 percent of system wide delays, due to mechanical issues. Notice to Proceed allows the SFMTA to move forward with the first phase of upgrades to the trolley fleet, as there are more than 300 buses that need to be replaced over the next several years.

“Replacing aging vehicles will help improve Muni’s reliability and performance,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “San Francisco deserves a safe, reliable and affordable 21st Century transit system, and these sustainable upgrades will improve service for our City’s working families and workforce for many years to come.”

“Vehicle shortages and reliability are one of Muni’s main challenges in terms of providing dependable transit service. We need more vehicles, and we need to replace aging vehicles – many far past their useful life – with newer vehicles. This procurement is a key step in the renewal of our aging fleet,” said Supervisor Wiener, District 8.

Trolley buses are the backbone of the transportation system carrying 200,000 riders every day. They serve neighborhoods throughout San Francisco with 14 routes including the 1 California, 14 Mission, 5 Fulton and 30 Stockton, which alone carries 32,000 riders daily. Not only do trolley buses offer a smoother, quieter ride but they contribute zero greenhouse gases.

“The people of San Francisco deserve modern, reliable transportation services that support the quality of life and economic vitality of the city,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. “By investing in new, high-performing, quiet and green electric trolley vehicles, we are able to provide better options for moving around the city.”

In order to expedite the purchasing process, the SFMTA joined a current, competitively bid vehicle contract with King County Metro in Washington State and New Flyer Inc. Under this agreement, King County Metro assigned 240 standard and 93 articulated option buses under their existing contract with New Flyer, Inc. to the SFMTA. In order to make an initial purchase of 60 articulated trolley buses, the SFMTA has negotiated a separate agreement with New Flyer that takes into account specific needs such as: color scheme, seat material, door sizes, training and spare parts.

The total cost of the purchase is $94,950,444 and is funded through federal, state and local support, including Proposition K funds. The SFMTA expects to have a prototype on the road in 2015.

The SFMTA is aggressively pursuing replacement and rehabilitation programs on all buses, light rail vehicles and historic street cars. With more people travelling throughout the city on a daily basis, more stress is being placed on the outdated transit system. Programs like these will help update the fleet and accommodate plans for more development and growth in San Francisco.

This article is a repost, credit: City of San Francisco.

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San Francisco Mayor Lee Announces New Pedestrian Safety Actions and Safety Campaign

March 7, 2014 in EV News, Politics, Sustainable San Francisco

City Ready to Invest $17 Million in Next Five Years for Pedestrian Safety Projects at 170 Locations; WalkFirst Prioritizes Safety Projects at High-Injury Locations as “Be Nice, Look Twice” Awareness Campaign Launches & SFPD Enforcement Increases 

Fisherman's Wharf City of San Francisco An athlete runs past tourists on dirty Jefferson St., heading for the pristine vehicle free Aquatic Park.

Fisherman’s Wharf
City of San Francisco
An athlete runs past tourists on dirty Jefferson St., heading for the pristine vehicle-free Aquatic Park.

San Francisco, CA — Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and other City agencies announced a data- driven action plan and map to increase safety for people walking in San Francisco through targeted pedestrian capital improvement projects, education and enforcement. Also unveiled was a pedestrian awareness campaign that is now rolling out Citywide, encouraging road users to slow down and pay more attention to their surroundings.

People walking are among the most vulnerable road users, accounting for half of all San Francisco traffic fatalities. On average, 100 people are severely injured or killed in traffic collisions every year in San Francisco.

“Any pedestrian death or serious injury is one too many,” said Mayor Lee. “As we focus and invest in pedestrian safety improvement projects identified through the WalkFirst initiative to reduce serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities, we better prepare for the future as our City grows. San Francisco remains one of the most walkable cities in the world, and we all have a shared responsibility to protect and care for pedestrians. By looking out for each other and by driving more slowly and carefully, we can make a big difference in improving safety for people walking in San Francisco.”

“WalkFirst represents the City’s effort to improve pedestrian safety where it is most needed,” said Board President David Chiu. “Given our City’s density, high impact and cost-effective approaches are necessary to make San Francisco safer and even more walkable.”

“The Transportation Authority shares the Mayor’s commitment to reduce pedestrian fatalities to zero,” said District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, Chairman of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. “Achieving this goal will take a collaborative approach and sustained investment of resources, as well as continued leadership and new ways of doing business.”

Mayor Lee joined City partners including the SFMTA, San Francisco County Transportation Authority, Planning Department, Department of Public Health, Department of Public Works and the Controller’s Office to create WalkFirst, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the United States to improve pedestrian safety in San Francisco. Tasked with creating a strategic framework to identify and deliver pedestrian projects and programs in San Francisco, WalkFirst has combined public engagement with technical and statistical analysis of where and why pedestrian collisions occur on our city streets, and updated knowledge about the effectiveness and costs of various engineering measures proven to reduce pedestrian collisions. As a result, WalkFirst has now provided the City with a roadmap of urgently needed pedestrian safety projects and programs over the next five years and the toolbox of measures that can be leveraged to reduce serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The City is now ready to leverage $17 million to improve pedestrian safety at 170 high-priority locations identified by WalkFirst over the next five years.

“People should not be dying in the streets as they merely try to make their way around our great city,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. “We will be investing in high-impact, low-cost pedestrian improvement projects at key locations of concern in San Francisco, but the overall need is much greater. We will need voter support for the funding measures proposed by the Mayor for the November 2014 ballot to implement WalkFirst, which will allow us to build a safer and more walkable San Francisco.”

A majority of the intersections and corridors identified through WalkFirst are located in Supervisorial Districts 3 and 6, which encompass San Francisco’s downtown corridor, with areas such as SoMa, the Financial District, the Tenderloin and North Beach. These two Districts are home to many residents who are dependent on walking and transit, and they also have the highest employment density in the City. WalkFirst has also identified various projects and programs Citywide that have proven to be effective in increasing pedestrian safety. Examples of potential projects include signal timing changes, speed humps, pedestrian countdown signals and protected left turns. Potential programs include increased enforcement, education campaigns and radar speed display signs.

To round out the data-driven process of WalkFirst, a public engagement campaign was initiated to better understand perception around pedestrian safety and what improvements the public supported. From November 2013 to January 2014, over 3,700 people visited the interactive WalkFirst website and more than 400 provided direct feedback through focus groups and an online survey to share their thoughts about the pedestrian safety improvements they would like to see in San Francisco. Through this engagement campaign, it was found that the vast majority of WalkFirst participants want the City to act quickly and implement temporary measures that are cost-effective, with 80 percent of respondents wanting improvements on intersections and corridors where the most collisions occurred first.

“We have to work together to make this city safer for pedestrians. If we are to be successful in reducing pedestrian serious injuries and fatalities, the three pronged approach of engineering, education and enforcement needs to work as one towards the goal of ‘Vision Zero.’ The SFPD is committed to the aggressive enforcement of traffic laws as part of the city’s collective approach to eliminate serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities,” said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. “Through WalkFirst, we now know that 60 percent of pedestrian collisions occur on six percent of our streets. With our ‘Focus on the Five’ strategy, we are focused on the five most dangerous intersections in each of our 10 police districts and the five most common violations associated with traffic collisions across the City. So far this year, traffic citations are up over 50 percent in San Francisco as we work to do our part in keeping our City safe.”

“Walk San Francisco is proud to stand beside the City to announce WalkFirst, which will help us achieve the Vision Zero goal through engineering safer streets,” said Walk San Francisco Executive Director Nicole Schneider. “WalkFirst is a one-of-a-kind plan to fix the City’s most dangerous streets, and is the result of in- depth and meaningful collaboration between city agencies and the community. WalkFirst strategically targets resources where they’re needed most—on our city’s most dangerous streets for walking. It focuses on 6 percent of our roadway network, which is responsible for 60 percent of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and it uses proven engineering solutions to fix those dangerous streets. The approach will ensure that the best investments are made with limited resources by using cost effective treatments first.”

Alongside the work of WalkFirst, a new pedestrian safety campaign launched by the Mayor’s Office in February, hopes to create heightened awareness of some of the major factors attributed to pedestrian deaths in San Francisco. “Be Nice, Look Twice” is a trilingual, multi-media campaign, which communicates targeted safety messages and addresses some of the pervasive and illegal behaviors that contributed to a record number of pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco last year. The campaign includes ads on Muni vehicles, radio and videos featuring family members of those killed in collisions, as well as city officials. The new campaign is being distributed via broadcast, print, online and social media channels. For more information, go to:

Mayor Lee has also endorsed “Vision Zero” – a goal of zero traffic deaths by 2024, which the SFMTA and SFPD have also adopted. This vision builds on the Mayor’s commitment to cut the number of people killed and severely injured on our streets in half by 2021, a primary goal of the San Francisco Pedestrian Strategy released in April 2013.

For more information on Walkfirst, go to: For more information on the Mayor’s SF2030 Transportation Task Force Final Report, go to:

Aquatic Park, San Francisco National Park Service

Aquatic Park, San Francisco
National Park Service

This article is a repost (3-6-14), credit: City of San Francisco.