Bernal Merchant Seeks Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Program

redbollards

Neighbor Eden Stein is a resident of the La Lengua Autonomous Zone and the proprietor of the fabulous (and resilient) Secession Art & Design store at 3235 Mission (@Valencia). She’s also president of the Mission-Bernal Merchants Association, which represents merchants along the Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street.

In recent weeks, Neighbor Eden has expressed concern about Muni’s new “red carpet” bus lanes on Mission Street. Although bus riders report the new red carpets have noticeably improved public transit, Neighbor Eden says local merchants are struggling because the rollout of the new traffic configuration has coincided with reduced foot traffic and sales in Mission Street stores.

This morning, Neighbor Eden released a letter summarizing her views on Muni’s new red carpet along Mission Street:

Two months ago, MTA reconstructed Mission Street, introducing red transit lanes and forced right turns. The bus is running two to five minutes faster, but I have observed a decrease in pedestrian traffic and clientele, especially for daytime businesses. My business is not only a go-to for locals, but a destination for people from all over. The forced right-hand turns funnel drivers away from shopping and local restaurants, making it harder for our customers to show up and support us. This is a direct call to our customers to walk, bike, take public transit, or drive to support local businesses impacted along Mission Street.

My specific concerns for Mission Bernal are to make sure it is safe for pedestrians, residents, and our valued customers. A request has been made to MTA to put in protected left turn signals at 29th and Valencia, remove the right hand turn at Cesar Chavez, and review positions of new bus stops. I am concerned that the Mission-Powers bus stop is not well-lit and is located in front of a preschool. My other concern is when it rains the red paint is causing the buses difficulty in stopping. I have seen the buses slide through the intersection at 29th Street on the red light because they are slipping on the red lanes. This is a safety concern for our whole community. I support public transit, but not at the cost of safety or small business. I am for finding a balance that works for all us.

My grandparents owned a storefront for over 40 years in Philadelphia. Their legacy business was one of the things that inspired me to open Secession Art and Design in an emerging area of the Mission in 2007. Mission Street has been home to my gallery and boutique for 9 years, supporting over 60 local and independent artists and designers. Businesses along Mission Street all want the chance to be legacy businesses, and live out our dream that small business can thrive in San Francisco. This is why I became president of the Mission Bernal Merchants Association, so my neighborhood would have a passionate point person who lives and works in Mission Bernal.

I have attended many MTA meetings, sometimes closing my store to make sure my voice is heard. A happy medium needs to happen, so small businesses aren’t forced to shut down. I want to continue my grandparents’ legacy of doing what I love everyday, being the owner of a small business. I’m working to help Mission Street culture return back to its vibrant and artistic hustle.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive, encouraged me to go outside my comfort zone and speak up for my community, and reminded me to be strong and love what I do!

You rock, Eden

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

36 thoughts on “Bernal Merchant Seeks Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Program

  1. What he said-You do Rock Eden! Very well said, and your passionate message is on target. As much as I love to patronize the now emerged section of Bernal/La Lengua portion of Mission, it is now nearly impossible to make a stop anywhere on the stretch, unless on foot and coming from nearby.

  2. For the last 20 years, it has been too aggravating to find parking along Mission Street. As a senior with some mobility limitations, I now get to shops & restaurants in La Lengua by bus! Which is much faster now, with the red bus lanes.

  3. Very well written! Nice job! Thank you. Also, very good point about the safety of that red paint. I have been thinking about that too – ridiculous how they didn’t realize it’s slippery. In other parts of the city that paint also reflects the sunlight (at sunset hours, usually also coinciding with high traffic hours) and when I ride my bike on it or drive on it, the reflected sunlight is blinding.

  4. My concern is for older seniors who have lived on the hill for many years. How are we supposed to take public transit and hall our shopping loads up four blocks of steep hills? This would apply also to the disabled. The bus/taxi lanes on Mission make car use almost impossible, and have caused tremendous back up on San Jose Avenue, particular during late afternoon commute hours.
    No bus comes up the hill near my house and I can’t afford a taxi. Unfortunately, The only thing that works for me consistently is my car (I minimize use as it is and have a low mileage vehicle)/ I have lived on the hill for over 40 years and feel my needs and many other older or disabled citizens are being ignored.

  5. Yep. I’d be curious to hear how this has affected business at Cancun. Try to find parking to grab a burrito to be forced to turn right on Fair! It’s impossible and I know it’s kept me away.

    • Then you seriously don’t care enough, because all it would take is an extra block of travel to take S Van Ness instead and then turn on Mission.

  6. I agree that we need to request that the City change this configuration. I no longer go down there as parking is difficult and driving nearly impossible just to shave off 2-5 minutes of bus time makes no sense.

  7. I’m a Mirabel Ave resident who doesn’t drive and I’m pleased with the improved Muni service. Valid concerns, hope we find a way to resolve these issues without backtracking on transit progress.

  8. Over the weekend, while driving along Mission I noticed a new traffic light recently installed at the corner of Mission and 29th, that looks like it will have a protected left turn signal when it is operational. I’m not sure that this will resolve all the problems, but does seem to be a step in the right direction.

  9. Research has shown that businesses are often mistaken about how their customers arrive at the business. For example, the MTA’s survey on Geary showed that business owners thought that 54% of their customers arrived by car, but when they surveyed the actual customers the number was only 22%.

    As a transit rider, my only option is to vote with my wallet and refuse to patronize businesses who are vocally anti-transit.

    • Do you understand that not everyone can take a bus? Are you aware that your experience is not the only reality? Sigh…

      Cars are, and should be, a part of the transit picture. Ditto trucks. Those hipster clothes and beard shampoo and overpriced organic kale flakes don’t teleport to the stores where you buy them.

  10. My hairdresser has seen a major decrease in her business since these recent changes. Don’t know what the answer is, but it does appear that a balance needs to be struck. No one will be 100% satisfied, but the benefits and the challenges of such a dramatic change need to shared by all as equally as possible.

  11. Didn’t see this coming now did we?! I’m down there fairly frequently both night and day and it’s safe to say the wizards at MTA have sucked the life and foot traffic out of this stretch of Mission. To all of you bus riders zipping on thru 2 to 3 minutes quicker- hooray for your lack of concern about this facet.
    Any and all SFMTA “surveys” are inherently suspect.

    • So is the issue that the street looks empty and less vibrant because there are fewer people waiting around for buses at all those old bus stops? All those years I’ve spent waiting for buses that never arrived were in the service of making San Francisco streets look bustling? I smell a new Muni PR campaign!

    • Right on Dex, users of public transit are oppressing us. /extreme s

      If you think shaving off minutes is so horribly selfish, you obviously never use Muni.

  12. If people think so little of neighborhood businesses that they’ve stopped visiting them, then they really didn’t care about those neighborhood businesses in the first place.

    I don’t do Bernal much these days, but I’m a longtime customer of Blanca The Art of Hair and of Copy Central Mission. Though it’s a pain and has always been a pain to park nearby, I manage. If I can manage with a minivan then others can, too.

  13. Yep, I feel sorry for all the businesses being affected by this. Not that people care much about Walgreen but the Walgreens on the corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez was my go-to one until the forced right turn thing. I haven’t been there once since the change. All those shops on Mission north of Cesar Chavez are getting totally hosed.

  14. SFMTA data shows no impact on parking meter utilization after the red carpet lanes.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/criticism-bus-lanes-mission-contradicted-data/

    “Data from Mission Street parking meters show the hours of purchased parking on Mission Street ranging from 8,200 hours a week to 9,100 hours a week, from January through the end of February. The lanes were installed beginning Feb. 22.

    Yet in March, hours of meter time purchased remained mostly consistent, from 8,194 hours the week of March 14 to 8,334 hours the week of March 21.

    Hours dipped the week of March 28, but that was also spring break, which “historically sees less Muni ridership,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said.

    Parking hours used per space also did not fluctuate much in parking meters after the red lanes were installed. Hours paid per space averaged around 26 or 27 for January and February, and stayed consistent with those numbers through March.”

  15. It would be helpful it SFMTA at least added parking or parklets when possible. Example: the bulb-out at the former bus stop at 29th and Mission.

    • I agree that losing parking for bulb-outs at discontinued bus stops was a mistake. These bulb outs also confuse people, as they expect the bus to stop there. Didn’t SFMTA see this coming?

  16. I never expected to live in San Francisco and solely rely on my car for transportation. How this is an impact on business is not a valid point. People are still walking in between points to and from Bart stations and/or taking the bus when its available or walking when its not. I walk this stretch frequently and see people walking just as before. I do feel sorry for the elderly that have to deal with farther bus stops. Although, our area has never had a lot of bus lines nor been very public transportation-friendly.

    Most hate change and are apparently having a hard time with changing their driving routes. This is the first time in my 11+ years of living here, that I have seen a positive change from Muni in Bernal. I can now get to 24th Bart in 5 mins. That’s unheard of and a huge benefit to our under-served community.
    Not everyone has the choice to take the bus or drive, and maybe this as a reminder to some that they should ditch their cars more often (if at all possible). Or maybe you don’t really don’t want to live in an urban area?

    I don’t understand how this is such a big issue. Leave earlier, give yourselves more time in the mornings to get where you need to go. We are also one of the closest neighborhoods to the freeways and access to get out of town, so what gives?

  17. I drop my daughter off school 2 blocks off mission and the speed up with the 14/49 have cut a huge amount of times in the morning. It helps get us there quicker and helps get me get to work after dropping her off.

    I love the new lanes. There are some growing pains (esp. the left turn off Cesar onto South Van Ness should have bee anticipated and fixed a long time ago, kind of crappy it’s still a problem)

  18. Pingback: Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules | Bernalwood

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