Thursday, April 15, 2010

MTA Proposes One Mitigation to Fell/Arco Traffic Design

North side view of Fell Street traffic

Four sub-standard spaces like this one will become tow-away 7am to 7pm

The Municipal Transportation Agency will change its proposal for a safer traffic design on Fell Street between Scott and Divisadero to accommodate the concerns of nearby residents and other neighbors. Two parking spaces will become tow-away zones 24/7 while four others will prohibit parking from 7am to 7 pm daily. The revised plan results from an analysis of mitigations that a MTA hearing officer suggested following a public meeting on April 2nd. The new design is intended as an experiment to determine whether the approach to Arco and Divisadero can be made safer for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

MTA traffic engineer James Shahamiri explained that parking would no longer be allowed in the two spaces between the entry and exit driveways of the Arco gas station. However, the four parking spots directly east of Arco will be part of a tow-away zone from 7am to 7pm, the periods of heaviest vehicle and bicycle traffic. The removal of parking will accommodate a curb-side queue for motorists awaiting entry to Arco and for better visibility when exiting the station. Other elements of the plan include posting a sign advising motorists to not block the sidewalk and a green-painted bike lane -- the city's first -- to guide cyclists and alert motorists for safer passage on the traffic-heavy block.

At the April 2nd hearing nearby residents and Alamo Square neighbors complained that removing the parking spaces would create a hardship for the immediate households and the neighborhood. John Newlin, MTA hearing officer, declared a continuance for the proposal and directed the agency to consider five possible mitigations as reported in this BIKE NOPA post. Only two of the options were reasonably feasible: a reduction in the period of time for tow-aways and removal of one or more of the parking meters on the north side of Fell near Divisadero. Shahamiri explained that removing any of the meters would simply shift the parking problem from the residents to the businesses along Divisadero. "It solves one problem by creating another."

Nearby households will be notified within the next day or two of the proposal and of the next hearing date: Friday, April 30, in Room 416 at City Hall.


  1. (comment via email by Jeff G:

    I was happy to see this sentence: "Other elements of the plan include posting a sign advising motorists to not block the sidewalk". So much of this conversation has been about bicycling (for obvious reasons, and kudos to SFBC), but in my view this has been very much a ped issue as well. Many times as I've walked on Fell and Divisadero the sidewalks have been completely blocked by cars lining up to get gas, and this has been outside of commute times."

    I DO hope pedestrians have a seat at the table in this discussion.

  2. Agree with you completely there, Jeff. Strong pedestrian advocacy is always needed. The Fell/Arco proposal is an example where all modes of travel benefit: motorists not blocking the traffic lane and feeling uncomfortable doing so, cyclists get safer passage with no reason to bike the sidewalk, and pedestrians retain their designated walking space.

  3. I'm glad you brought up the pedestrian issue- while I'm most often biking by the Arco, it really does irk me when cars block the sidewalk.
    Looking at the proposal, I find myself wondering what having a curbside queue will actually do to improve on the current situation. It seems to me that this would simply move the conflict between cars and bikes further up the block towards Scott.
    What if the bike lane were raised and colored from Scott to Divisidero - not enough to prevent people from getting into parking spaces or pulling into the gas station, but enough to make it inconvenient to stop on the bike lane itself. It seems to me that this would encourage cars to line up in the left-most traffic lane, which would be more visible to approaching traffic and safer for cyclists.

    Matt Dove

  4. Matt: MTA engineers monitored the vehicle line-up during different hours of the day and they believe that having a six to seven space queue along the curb will be enough to accommodate motorists at most times of the day. When there are more lining up, there will be the inevitable crossing of the bike lane or blocking it; Perhaps the green lane will discourage that. The proposal increases safety for all if it keeps motorists from blocking the far left traffic lane as well. I'm not sure a raised bike lane would be enough of a deterrent.