New Bus-Only Lanes and Mandatory Turns Can Make Mission Street a Parking Lot

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Let’s begin with a few stipulations: Public transit is good. Encouraging people to take public transit is good. Making public transit faster, safer, more convenient, and more reliable is good. Policies that discourage the use of private cars are … awkward at times, but they’re generally in the service of a worthy goal. In fact, that’s official policy, as enshrined in our city charter.

Now, with all that said, let’s also stipulate that so far, the new “red carpet” transit-only lanes along Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street are not generating much goodwill.

The photo shown above was taken by Neighbor Margie during the Friday morning commute, looking south at the intersection of Mission and Cesar Chavez. As you can see, the backups created by the new traffic configuration extended all the way from Cesar Chavez to Valencia Street. Cars were backed up. MUNI buses were backed up. No one was transiting rapidly.

The problem, apparently, was not so much the new MUNI-only red lanes, but the new, mandatory right turn from Mission Street northbound onto Cesar Chavez eastbound. Left turns are now banned too, which means that in theory, motorists can no longer drive down Mission Street continuously from Precita Avenue to 26th Street.

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To head north, you must turn right on Cesar Chavez, then turn left on South Van Ness — and in the photo up top from Friday morning, you can see the SFPD motorcycle officers who were on hand that day to enforce the new rules. But before you can turn right onto Cesar Chavez, everyone first has to merge from two lanes down to one. With rather predictable results.

Neighbor Bill wrote to say:

These traffic planning groups are operating without a logical approach. They don’t exponentially increase the quantity or frequency of bus lines, or spend the money to create a comprehensive underground rail system with full access to all neighborhoods. They just gum up the streets to force the behavior they want – to make more residents take public transportation. This is behavior that simply can’t change without the requisite infrastructure in place.

Sorry to add to the chorus. It is nuts.

Hopefully, the backups we are seeing today are just early teething pains. Hopefully, before too long, the traffic patterns along Mission Street will realize the intended purpose of the new configuration: To make bus transit faster and more efficient than it was before.

This morning your Bernalwood editor visited the intersection of Mission and Cesar Chavez, to see how things were going. The traffic snarls were gone, but that was probably because lots and lots of passenger cars were ignoring (or blissfully unaware of) the new right-turn requirement.  This morning, motorists were zipping across Cesar Chavez via Mission Street, much as they always have:

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As a result, there was no backup south of Cesar Chavez.

It’s hard to tell what all this portends for traffic patterns along Mission Street in the future. A system that works to the extent that it is ignored is no system at all, but the SFPD will no doubt conduct occasional enforcement operations along Mission Street to, uh, remind motorists about the new mandatory right-turns. Tickets will be issued, and some motorists will be sad, but over time traffic patterns may indeed change for the better.

On the other hand, if the new flow consistently generates big back-ups along Mission Street, the SFMTA might find their offices surrounded by mobs of angry Bernalese wielding pitchforks and torches:

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PHOTOS: Top, Mission at Cesar Chavez, Friday morning, March 18, 2016 by Neighbor Margie. Traffic signs and intersection on March 21, 2016 by Telstar Logistics.

New Red Zone In Effect for Mission Street Bus Traffic

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Well, that was fast.

As the transit oracles prophesied, the SFMTA has implemented new routing for the 14 and 49 bus lines along Mission Street, with a new transit-only red lane and consolidated stops to speed up the pace of travel. Be advised:

Heading toward downtown, stops will be removed on Mission at 29th, Fair, Precita, 23rd, 21st, 19th and 15th, and a new stop will be established at Powers. Towards Daly City, stops will be removed at 15th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, Precita, and 29th.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the flow of traffic along the Bernal/La Lengua stretch of Mission Street. Personally, I’m already noticing one unfortunate side-effect: Whenever I see the new red lanes, that curbside airport scene from “Airplane!” pops into my head.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Big Changes to MUNI Bus Stops Along Mission Street in Bernal Heights

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If you tried to catch a bus along Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street over the weekend, you might have noticed some changes. As part of SFMTA”s effort to speed up bus transit along Mission Street, several stops along Bernal’s Mission corridor have been removed from the 14 & 49 bus lines, and even bigger changes are in store for Mission Street north of Cesar Chavez.

Specificially, the inbound 14 and 49 bus stops at 29th Street, Fair, and Precita Avenue have been removed, and a new stop has been created at Powers Avenue. Outbound, the same removals are in place, but the stop at Mission/Valencia remains unchanged. The stop at 30th Street remains in place for both directions. (Additional details provided  below.)

The SFMTA website explains:

We’re changing the number of travel lanes to widen the street, rolling out a new transit-only lane, and much, much more. Let’s walk through it.

Transit-only Lanes

These lanes give Muni its own right-of-way to bypass traffic congestion, reducing delays and improving reliability. Transit-only lanes will be installed on Mission Street traveling southbound between 14th and Cesar Chavez, and both southbound and northbound between Cesar Chavez and 30th.

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Rendering of bus-only lanes on Mission @20th St. (Image by SFMTA)

Stop consolidation

This allows Muni customers to travel the same distance in less time. Heading toward downtown, stops will be removed on Mission at 29th, Fair, Precita, 23rd, 21st, 19th and 15th, and a new stop will be established at Powers. Towards Daly City, stops will be removed at 15th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, Precita, and 29th.

Turn restrictions

These reduce delay for through traffic and keep pedestrians safe as they cross the street. Left turn restrictions will be put in place at every intersection on Mission Street between 14th and Cesar Chavez.

Northbound required right turns

Requiring right turns will divert northbound traffic off Mission Street, easing traffic flow along the street and improving local access to Mission Street destinations. Right turns will be required going northbound at 26th, 24th, 22nd, 20th, and 16th. Transit, emergency vehicles, taxis and bicyclists will be exempt from required right turns.

All of these improvements are hitting the street starting this month!

Timing & What’s Happening

This Saturday, February 13, 2016 – Select bus stops removed for the 14 and 49

February 22 – March 7 – Red lanes painted from 30th St to Cesar Chavez

March 7 – early April – Red lanes painted and road re-striped from 14th St to Cesar Chavez

Rolling basis between March and April – Required right turns and left turn restrictions will be implemented block-by-block as the transit-only lanes are striped

 

  • As the SFMTA paint crew moves through the project area, expect the following during construction hours:
  • Curbside parking and loading will be temporarily unavailable.
  • Muni bus stops may be temporarily re-located to a nearby stop.
  • Through auto traffic will be allowed but alternative routes are encouraged.
  • Signs prior to construction on each block will be posted for all bus stop changes and parking restrictions.

Here’s the Bernal-relevant detail:

Changes to Inbound 14 & 49 service:

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Changes to Outbound 14 & 49 Service:

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The Faraday Cortland is a New Electric Bike Named After… Us!

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It’s a well-known fact that transportation companies like to name their vehicles after glamorous locations in California.

When Chevrolet needed a name for their rugged all-season SUV, they chose to name it the Tahoe. When Chrysler needed a name for their luxury minivan, they called it the Pacifica. Chevy’s midsize car with affluent aspirations is the Malibu. And when San Francisco’s Faraday electric bicycle company needed a name for their ridiculously stylish (yet eminently practical) new machine, they decided to call it… the Cortland.

Yes! The Faraday Cortland is a new electric bicycle named after Bernal’s very own main street. Adam Vollmer, the founder of Faraday, even confirmed this:

Wow. How sexy is that??

Faraday says the Cortland offers “the perfect balance of style and utility,” which means the new bike is exactly like everyone who lives in Bernal Heights.

Unlike Bernal Heights, the Cortland offers easy access, thanks to a  new step-through frame design. Faraday’s Kickstarter page for preorders outlines some of the ebike’s other highlights:

With the Faraday Cortland, we’ve added an extra 20% of range, more efficient motor, upgraded software, and more. We’ve also made it more comfortable, more fun to ride, and, dare we say, more stylish with the introduction of a step-through frame.

Prices start at $1999 with the Kickstarter campaign discount, and of course we expect you’ll also be able to get a Cortland on Cortland, at Bernal’s much-loved local purveyor of newfangled electric bicycles.

Finally, here’s the promo video for the Cortland, produced in the self-parodying Cortlandia Portlandia style:

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Faraday

Vote Now to Bring Bike-Sharing to Bernal Heights

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Neighbor Matte encourages all bike-loving Bernalese to select some Bernal Heights sites for San Francisco’s expanding bike-sharing program. He writes:

SF is getting 4,500 new shared bikes in the next couple years, but right now our closest bike sharing station is at 7th and Townsend.  Far away! SFBike is taking proposals for new locations, and I think either end of Precita Park would be ideal. You can vote for these locations here:

There are also many other Bernal locations that have been proposed, and you can vote for them at the same site.

If you want to find out more, SF Bike is now holding workshops to determine exact locations. District 9’s workshops are on Thursday, January 21st, 6 PM – 7 PM and 7 PM – 8 PM at the Mission Neighborhood Center (362 Capp St).

Competing Petitions Disagree on New Lane Reduction in Bernal Cut

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Neighbor Chris from St. Mary’s recently wrote Bernalwood to say:

Wondering what you think about the new San Jose Ave exit on 280. It’s like a pinball machine there now, even on off commute hours. Two exit lanes still exit, but now they merge into 1 within 100 feet, and it’s always backed up way before the underpass so you also have to stop suddenly. I get that the car culture needs to change, but it has to happen subtly. My girlfriend found the person at MTA responsible for the new configuration and let him have it.

It’s true; traffic patterns northbound through the Bernal Cut have changed, and there have been multiple big accidents there as a result. Meanwhile, it seems Neighbor Chris’s concerns are not uncommon, because Streetsblog reports

The redesign of San Jose Avenue took a step forward a month ago when Caltrans removed a traffic lane on a Highway 280 off-ramp leading on to San Jose, a.k.a. the Bernal Cut. The plan is the result of decades of neighborhood advocacy for safer streets, but it is running into opposition from motorists who won’t stand for the road diet.

Supporters and opponents of the project are duking it out with online petitions, both launched a month ago. The opposition’s petition currently has a lead on the supporters’ petition. The SFMTA hasn’t released the results from its survey from last fall.

On the bright side, no matter which side of this issue you agree with, there’s a petition you can sign.

PHOTO: I-280 at San Jose Accident, June 19, 2005, by Neighbor Jeremy Ambers

Where Should Some Bernal Bike-Sharing Stations Go?

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Bike-sharing programs are supercool, but why should bike-sharing be confined to downtown? Neighbor Matte calls our attention to an opportunity to create some bicycle-sharing locations right here in Bernal Heights:

 San Francisco is getting 4,500 new shared bikes in the next couple years. Currently, Bernal’s closest station is at 7th and Townsend in SOMA, and I think we should change that.

They’re now accepting proposals for new locations and there’s currently about 13 proposed locations in Bernal up for vote.

As a resident of Santana Rancho, I’m partial to the the two proposed on Precita Park (east endwest end), but there are plenty of great options on Mission and in Cortlandia as well.

I urge Bernal residents to check out the selection process and vote to bring bike sharing to Bernal.