Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
According to a Department of Public Works inspector who most recently verified the permit for the scaffolding at 800 Lyon Street, “There’s not anyone who can do anything about it.” She added, “They have a legal right to be there as long as they’re doing work there.” She mentioned in January of this year that on her last visit she “saw someone scraping paint.” But after years of no apparent, substantial work or improvements, the series of six-month renewals appear to reflect inertia and permit gridlock rather than effective inspection, oversight or resolution.
The scaffolding is in place as the result of a long struggle between building tenants, the property owner, and city agencies. The three story structure was installed to serve as a fire escape for a tenant who resides in an illegal unit at the top of the building. In October 2010 the city approved plans to allow the addition of new fire escapes on the Golden Gate and Lyon street sides of the corner apartment building. Presumably these would be standard installations that would not obstruct the parking lane or the sidewalk.
When BIKE NOPA first reported on the Lyon structure in January 2010, the building owner’s attorney, Andrew Zacks of Zacks & Utrecht, said his client was sympathetic to neighbors’ concerns. “The owner understands this is a blight on the neighborhood,” he told us. In January of this year Zacks said he would provide an update on the situation but no information was forthcoming, and he stopped responded to inquiries.
A close look at the scaffolding reveals a structure barely secured to the building exterior, loose footings, and electrical wires strung through the apparatus to a nearby utility pole. The 800 block of Lyon features a steep grade with head-in parking on the same side of the street as the scaffolding. Residents in the building told BIKE NOPA that they worried about a vehicle hitting the scaffolding and bringing it all down on the sidewalk and street, disconnecting electrical wires in the process. Beyond the safety issues and blight, the structure also occupies two to three parking spaces around the clock in a neighborhood where many residents complain about the lack of available parking.
After several years of the status quo, might the city finally resolve the issue at 800 Lyon and make the block safer and more attractive? Several neighbors have indicated they are ready to petition the city for resolution of the eyesore they've lived with much too long.
Lyon Street Scaffolding Stats
800 Lyon Street at Golden Gate, 40 feet of curb space
DPW permit for scaffolding: # 1227100
Permit type: major encroachment
DPW permit office: 415 554 5810
Online Permit and Complaint Tracking for this address
Monday, March 28, 2011
Last year community members encouraged adding new parking to the Masonic proposal and suggested the north side of Turk east of Masonic between Central and Baker. These two blocks are especially wide and, along the north side, do not have curb cuts or driveways. In addition to mitigating the impact of parking removal on Masonic, back-in angled parking on Turk could calm traffic on a street that neighbors often complain is too dangerous for crossing. Angled parking would present drivers with less of the open freeway appearance that Turk now provides without actually reducing traffic lane width. Motorists backing up their vehicles would be another visual cue to other drivers to proceed with more caution.
Javad Mirabdal, the MTA Project Director for the Masonic re-design, said last week the proposal has been reviewed by two internal “task groups.” Part of that process is to determine whether the plan raises red flags among police, fire, and ambulance services over adequate access and travel during emergencies. Then another, larger group of 40-50 planners will review the plan before a public hearing is scheduled.
We’re moving forward to a public hearing. We’re shooting for it to be in May. We’ve done some fine-tuning and we’re working on the environmental clearance.Mirabdal said he hopes there won’t be problems with the environmental clearance, and so far there haven't been. Other observers of the process explained that bicycle and pedestrian improvements as well as parking have been removed from environmental reviews required by the state. Basically, no definition or threshold for what it or isn’t acceptable in these areas exist, and thus the changes cannot be determined detrimental on an environmental basis.
If the many supporters of the Masonic proposal – especially those who live on or within a block of the corridor – testify at the public hearing, the hearing officer will likely feel confident about approving the plan, according to Mirabdal. He said he remained optimistic and hopeful for the project.
If we get this through, Masonic will be a good case for the city. It will show that we can redesign a street and get so much more from it.For other articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Take the lane and Avoid the door zone. According to Bert Hill, bicycle education instructor for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, these are two of the most important lessons to learn for new cyclists in San Francisco. He shared these and other tips-of-the-road with 35 people -- many of them new to bicycling -- during a four-hour classroom session last Saturday at St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church.
St. Cyprian's isn’t new to livability programs. Last year the congregation hosted a similar bike ed class and participated in Sunday Streets in the North Panhandle. In 2009 St. Cyprian’s pastor Rev. Will Scott and associated clergy Rev. Dr. Susanna Singer offered a popular bike blessing during the neighborhood’s BIKE THE BLOCK party. Long before that the church hosted the after-party for a neighborhood tree planting effort. This spring, however, St. Cyprian’s will pick up the livability pace with a set of programs and initiatives.
A new series -- Dinner & Conversation at Cyprian's* -- continues this week when Elizabeth Stampe, Executive Director of Walk SF, joins community members for a simple meal followed by an interview and discussion of pedestrian safety concerns in San Francisco. In the following weeks, other neighborhood groups will discuss their projects for a better, more sustainable city:
- March 30, Dale Danley, leader of the award-winning Panhandle Park Stewards
- April 13, University of San Francisco students on permeable, landscaped sidewalks for St. Cyprian's along Turk and Lyon streets
- April 20, Lenore McDonald and Michael Helquist on "Bicycling for Community" featuring the NOPA VELO biking group and BIKE NOPA
Dinner & Conversation at Cyprian's
2097 Turk at Lyon
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
For information and reservation: Will Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accessible via Muni #31, #24, #5, #43
Donations for dinners appreciated
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
A new video from Sydney captures the times when your bike is on its own. You may have more to share than you realized.
Thanks to Ron Richings of Vancouver, BC for alerting local cyclists to this phenomenon.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Half of the trips in the United States could be traveled in 20 minutes or less via bicycle and a quarter of the trips could be walked in 20 minutes or less.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Mayoral Candidate David Chiu Takes District 5 Transportation Tour, Backs Cross-town Separated Bike Lanes and the Boulevard Design for Masonic
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu launched his second week as an official mayoral candidate with a “transportation tour” today of District 5, stopping in Japantown and along Divisadero. In the few hours squeezed between meetings at City Hall, Chiu walked, biked, and took Muni to meet local merchants and residents. He described his transportation choices as part of his message to city voters, telling BIKE NOPA, “I am absolutely committed to sustainable transportation in District 5 and all the districts as part of a more livable city.”
Chiu said his transit-first vision for the city includes a safer
Without hesitation, Chiu also backed the cross-town separated bikeways proposed in an initiative developed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and supported by Mayor Ed Lee and the SFMTA Board of Commissioners. In District 5, these changes would include bikeways on Fell and Oak streets between Scott and Stanyan. “This is how we start building a more sustainable transportation system in the city,” he said. “When you improve travel for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users,” Chiu added, “motorists benefit as well.”
Taking his mayoral campaign around the city without a car still has its challenges, as Chiu found when he waited for the #22 Fillmore bus from Japantown. With the clock ticking on his time away from City Hall, he jumped on his bike to reach his next stops on Divisadero. Later he commented on the state of the MTA. “Muni is dysfunctional, for many reasons. MTA management has frustrated many of us. We need the transit union to support needed changes. And several parts of the Transportation Effectiveness Project lack implementation.”
The condition of city streets rounds out Chiu’s concerns for transportation policy. He said he looked forward to further consideration of a streets bond measure to secure funds to repair and maintain city streets. Several district supervisors initially backed a streets repair bond measure for the November 2009 ballot before determining that the recession and public sentiment made passage unlikely. City planners are now looking to November 2012 for a similar streets measure, although Chiu said it might appear in the current election cycle instead.
On his tour of Divisadero, Chiu met with three popular merchants. Dennis Yee, proprietor of Martini Cleaners, told Chiu he was generally satisfied with the city in his dealings as a small business owner. After his visit with the supervisor, Yee said he was ready to back Chiu for mayor. “For my dollar, he’s been doing the work the city requires. We need someone who knows the operation going in.” Yee didn’t hesitate to take a campaign sign for his window.
Walt Bell, owner of Black Nose Trading Company, reported that his business was doing well. Six employees work with him in the dog specialty store that offers doggy day care, a dog walking service, and a huge assortment of dog grooming and care products.
Chiu made his last stop before spinning back to City Hall for a budget meeting at the city’s first official parklet, outside Mojo Bicycle Café. In response to another reporter’s question, the candidate said he was “totally in favor” of the city’s several mini street and sidewalk parks. “Parklets represent the formation of community.” Mojo’s owner Remy Nelson reiterated the concerns of his colleague Walt Bell about keeping Divisadero viable for local businesses.
Chiu’s car-free campaign has booked nine more neighborhood tours in March.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Grove at Divisadero Gets Right Turn Only Signs Except for Bicyclists; New Signals Set for Spring 2012
Previously, motorists wanting to cross Divisadero at Grove either edged into the crosswalks to see oncoming traffic or sat in the middle of the intersection waiting for an opening in the traffic. Now, neither option is available. Turns are required either to the south on the NOPA side of Divisadero or to the north from the Alamo Square side. Bicyclists, however, are allowed to cross Divisadero from either direction on the Grove Street bike route.
Mike Sallaberry, SFMTA traffic engineer, wrote in a late February email that a contract for the new intersection signal will be advertised this spring with construction to follow a few months later. “The new signal should be operating in April/May 2112,” he said. He also explained that a signal at Grove was anticipated as part of the completed Divisadero traffic calming project.
Much of the underground infrastructure for the future signal (conduits and pull boxes) was installed in 2009 ahead of the Divisadero paving and streetscape improvements. This advance work will reduce the impact of the construction of the new signal as we will not need to cut trenches into a newly paved street or damage newly constructed curb ramps.In a previous article, Sallaberry explained that the standard time period for planning, preparation, and installation of a new signal is three years. He added that temporary tape striping is used on a street, like Divisadero, to avoid ripping into the new asphalt surface when the signal light is ready to place.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Velasco identified specific locations for the upgrades and changes:
- Crosswalks will be re-striped at Anza/O’Farrell, Grove, and Hayes
- Sections of center traffic lanes will be re-striped the length of the corridor
- 25 MPH will be painted on north bound traffic lane surfaces at Fell and at
and on southbound lanes at O’Farrell and Fulton Fulton
- Warning signs for motorists to merge into the adjacent lane will be posted at Fell and at Hayes
- Signals at Anza/O’Farrell will be upgraded as well as pedestrian signals at Turk
- Median signal and pole at Anza/O’Farrell will be removed (Velasco said this was a maintenance issue as the pole is frequently hit and damaged by vehicles and the agency prefers “side-mounting” signals)
Fix Masonic had also requested that the SFMTA seek a “double fine zone” along Masonic and change the corridor to a school zone. Both measures require legislative approval, and Velasco said the agency is considering legislation. Another recommendation by the group has been to obtain greater enforcement of the 25 MPH speed limit. Velasco said the SFPD Traffic Company will increase its monitoring for speed violations.
The SFMTA recently helped complete a final report that recommends a re-design of
For previous articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.
My regrets for mis-spelling Manito Velasco's name in the original version of this article.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
After last Saturday’s wet and chill, Sunday’s brisk and sunny morning was a treat for the sixteen riders gathered for NOPA VELO’s first bike ride of the year. With a Lions-to-Maidens World’s Fair tour in mind, cyclists met up at Central Coffee, Tea and Spice, a prime neighborhood spot to meet, greet, and power-up.
Then with a flourish of pink, the day’s Celebrity Rider appeared. Noted and influential author, journalist, and lecturer Gail Sheehy rolled up with her good friend and regular NOPA VELO rider, Steve Hershoff. (Check Sheehy's interview talking about her latest book, Passages in Caregiving). Gracious and poised, Ms. Sheehy said she happened to be in the city and the morning’s ride seemed “so
Soon enough riders spun their way back in time to the site of the 1894 California Midwinter Exposition in
NOPA VELO riders checked out the exposition’s remnants including the two sphinxes in front of today’s de Young Museum, the Japanese Village (now the Japanese Tea Garden), and the Cider Press statue.
After a spin around the concourse, riders zipped 21 years forward to the
Next NOPA VELO ride set for April. To get the news first join the NOPA VELO Google Group.