Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Bike Rack Here, Please

On the same day that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition sponsored a "Bike to School Day," I spotted this little red bike slumped alongside a street sign at Baker and Grove, outside Pacific Primary. There's no bike rack to be found anywhere nearby for students or staff or neighbors.

There's a reason for the dearth of bike parking. For nearly three years, no bicycle improvements have been allowed in the city as an extraordinarily time-consuming environmental impact assessment was conducted by court order. Within weeks the court injunction is expected to be lifted, and then simple things with no environmental hazards like bike racks can be installed.

Neighborhood schools and all the rest of us can request bike parking at all the places frequented by cyclists. If you're not a cyclist (yet), consider how racks will minimize clutter of our sidewalks with bikes upright in a few places instead of slung around light poles and parking meters.

To get bike parking at your favorite stop in NOPA or anywhere in the city, call 415 585-BIKE or zip a request here. Provide the address, cross streets, and, if applicable, name of business.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NOPA's Bumpy Streets, Part Two

Part One of this bumpy street saga was all about what the city thinks of that stretch of pavement outside your home. If your block has a tanking score on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), what's the plan for repairs? Will your block be torn up anytime soon? How many times do you have to keep reporting that recurring pothole or sinkhole to 311?

North/South blocks from Fell to Turk

Divisadero: due for a big makeover with work to begin in Sept/Oct this year.
Broderick: the full stretch of 6 blocks, start up is 7/1/2012
Baker: this is the other major repaving project for NOPA this year, to begin 10/31/09
Lyon: nothing planned here except for the intersection with Hayes: 7/1/2013
Central: Really needs work from Fell to McAllister, but no new surfacing until: 7/1/2013
Masonic: no plans except for Hayes intersection, to start 7/1/2013 (but Masonic is being studied for traffic calming improvements and that may result in re-surfacing as well)

East/West blocks from Divisadero to Masonic

Fell: repaving only at 2 intersections: Broderick (7/1/2012) & Central (7/1/2013)
Hayes: all of Hayes in NOPA due for repaving: 7/1/2013
Grove: only work is at 3 intersections: Divis: 9/5/2009; Broderick: 7/1/2012; Central: 7/1/2013
Fulton: only repaving is at Divis intersection (9/15/09) and at Central (7/01/2013
McAllister: just 3 intersections: Divis: 9/15/2009; Broderick: 7/1/2012; Central: 7/1/2013
Golden Gate: same three intersections and dates as above: Divis, Broderick, Central
Turk: only at Divis and Broderick intersections, same dates as above.

How does the repaving schedule determined?
Identifying candidate streets for repaving is a complicated process, especially since city regulations allow blocks to be torn up only once every five years. That means all underground work by utilities must be coordinated for completion right before repaving begins. Sometimes water, sewer, or electrical work triggers follow-up resurfacing; other times DPW announces its paving plans and the utilities scramble to get work done first. Other factors: Muni lines and bicycle routes give streets a higher priority for repaving and the city employs "geographic equity" so that all districts get a share of the repaving. Note: the street selection process is also responsive to public requests (i.e. complaints).

For the record: The "Gavin" pothole was found on Presidio Street (that's not my spray painting); the cyclist circling a crack on Baker Street is Jared Blumenfeld, interim director of Recreation & Parks Dept, on a swing through NOPA; ok, the last pic is my work but DPW provides spray paint to SF Bike Coalition volunteers to help them locate potholes to be repaired.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tube Times Takes Bike Pulse

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) publishes a must-read 14 page quarterly newsletter for everyone who wants to keep up to spin on a more livable and safer city for us all (especially those using alternative transportation).

The Summer 2009 issue of Tube Times is now out and available. For a good read, download here and check these articles:
  • the Great Streets Project that hopes to transform city streets into havens of safe, attractive, centers of civic life;
  • the SFBC Good Roads Campaign that seeks smooth, safer rides for cyclists;
  • the wildly successful Sunday Streets program with 3 more car-free streets this summer;
  • the winning design for new bike racks on Treasure Island
and really a whole lot more.

If you're a cyclist, take note: SFBC membership pays for itself. Get discounts all over town for bike repairs, bike rentals, and bike equipment and goods from other other city essentials like cafes, carshares, bakeries, and Rainbow Grocery. Take care of yourself and your bike and join today.

My bias: joining SFBC has been a great experience for me and I wrote the article above on Good Roads in this issue of Tube Times.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mapping NOPA Street Trees

Our NOPA blocks are (almost) filled with street trees.
Several years ago new tree-planting campaigns started almost as soon as tree basins were filled from the last planting. The organizing required hours and hours of work to get at least 35 residents to register so the neighborhood would qualify for subsidized trees and planting assistance. Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) helped neighborhoods then -- as they do now -- plant new street trees, but first the community must come together to make it happen.

Each time I ride my bike along Grove Street near Baker I notice how well the trees on the south side are doing ten years after I helped plant them during a FUF campaign. I imagine 100 or so neighbors do the same thing with their special trees. In the spring the north side of Grove is transformed into a pink promenade of blossoms, and I think of the neighbors who made NOPA the leafy place it is today.

Where are the street trees in NOPA? You see them all the time, of course, but ever wonder how many trees are planted and which blocks are the leafiest? How about when the trees were planted and what species are on the different blocks?

An interactive San Francisco Tree Map is being developed to provide that information and much more. Today I tried to use the map and found it worked well enough to tantalize me with the possibilities. I hope FUF, one of the project designers, will obtain a U.S. Forest Service grant to complete the map. I zoomed in on NOPA and counted the ten street trees on Baker between Golden Gate and McAllister, but I was unable to access much more. Maybe you'll have better luck. Let us know.

Check the Friends of the Urban Forest site for more info on the street tree map and read more about it here in the May 31, 2009 Chronicle column "The Dirt" by Joe Eaton and Ron Sullivan.

To be a good tree steward, check FUF's recommendations.