Safe Routes to School on the Chopping Block!

Last week Governor Brown released his budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year and one of the programs getting cut is California’s Safe Routes to School.

A Little Background on ‘Safe Routes to School’:

California’ Safe Routes to School program began in 1999 and has since become a model for the Federal Prgram and for State-Wide initiatives across the country. The program targets the crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes in school zones. Its goal is to make these areas safer for the children who frequent them, to increase the number of children who bike and walk to school.  In its more than 10 years of implementation the program has proven to be a success. “During a time of rising childhood obesity nationwide, obesity rates have started to reverse in California, and children in California are walking at ten percent higher rates than they did in 2001. Safe Routes to School is helping kids across California stay safe and get healthy on their way to school.”

How YOU Can Help:

Cutting the program will stop the progress that has been made. Schools will not receive the funding they desperately need to make their streets safer and traffic safety education in these schools will also decrease substantially. Protecting our children as they travel to and from school is one of the most important initiatives the state can fund. Do not let it fall between the cracks now.

1) Call the Governor’s Office: (916) 445-2841

  • Ask to speak to a representative
  • When someone answers, state your name and the city or town where you live, then tell the Governor’s aide that you urge Governor Brown to support dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School to ensure that kids can get safely to school on foot or by bicycle.

2) Email the Governor’s Office:

  • State your name and the city or town where you live, then tell the Governor’s aide that you urge Governor Brown to support dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School to ensure that kids can get safely to school on foot or by bicycle.

3) Send a Letter in Support of AB 1194 (Ammiano):, which will ensure funding for the Safe Routes program.

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source: Marin County Bicycle Coalition

Delays Threaten the Oak and Fell Street Projects

Many of the safety upgrades that were supposed to have been made to Oak and Fell streets by the end of last year have yet to materialize and the cycling supporters who fought so hard for the projects to be approved are calling the delays unacceptable.

To the residents who rely on the streets everyday, it seems that SFMTA has put the improvements, the most crucial being the installation of bike lanes that are separated from street traffic by physical barriers, on a back-burner. The bike lane on Oak Street is nonexistent and Fell Street’s bike lane has no barrier between it and the fast-moving street traffic, making it a dangerous thoroughfare for cyclists.

Ed Reiskin, Transportation Director for SFMTA, said that the labor-intensiveness of the projects along with some unforseen circumstances, like private construction along Oak Street, have caused the delays, not the agency’s lack of initiative in pursuing the projects.

In spite of these reassurances, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is requesting that both projects be completed by Bike to Work Day on May 9. And the SF Bike Coalition is not the only group frustrated by the delays and speaking out about it. In addition, to protests by individuals at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, April 2, the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association sent a letter to the transit agency asking for the projects to be completed, saying that without the completed bike lanes, the streets are unacceptably dangerous for cyclists.


Bike-Sharing Coming to the Bay Area in August

After more than a year of delay, San Francisco is set to get its first bike-sharing program. The program, a $7 million collaboration between local transit agencies, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, will have 700 bikes at 70 different locations in San Francisco and the Peninsula from which commuters and tourists alike can pick up bikes. The bikes can then be returned to any of the stations.

Photo Source:


Strong Turnout at the March 18 Polk Street Improvement Meeting Prompts SFMTA to Return to Drawing Board

Hundreds of merchants along Polk Street turned out for the March 18th meeting intent on voicing their concerns about and opposition to SFMTA’s “Save Polk Street” Project. SFMTA had drafted proposals to reduce Polk Streets parking spaces by more than 50% in an effort to decrease the number of collisions on the street after published data showed that 53 pedestrian and 69 bicycle collisions occurred on Polk Street between Union and McAllister streets from April 2006 to March 2011. The goal of the proposed significant decrease in parking spaces was create a safer path for cyclists on one of their busiest commuting streets.

Polk Street merchants were more than a little worried about the affect of the changes on their businesses and they attended the meeting to make sure that the SFMTA knew it. The Agency had a rough time at the meeting with Merchants often booing and laughing at what they had to say.

In the end, Director Ed Reiskin agreed to go back to the drawing board to see if safety improvement projects could be developed that would involve the loss of fewer parking spaces. Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, argues that while this meeting was important, it was also not representative of all of the groups with a stake in the Polk Street improvements. This meeting was held with the express purpose of hearing the arguments and concerns of the Polk Street merchants. Other interested groups, like the SF Bike Coalition, were not involved. Given the one-sidedness of the meeting, she urged Director Reiskin to keep the original proposal on the table as a viable option.


San Francisco Joining the Big (Bike) Leagues?

The SFMTA has announced its goal of increasing the percentage of trips taken by bike in San Francisco from 3.4% t0 8-10% in the next 5 years. To do this, the agency has proposed three different plans. The proposals all have the same general focuses; more bike lanes, bike lane improvements and intersection improvement. The difference is really in the extent of these projects and the amount of money needed to make the projects happen. The cheapest proposed plan is for $60 million, the next for $190 million and the most expensive proposed plan is for $500 million dollars. This mother-of-all bike plans which would “add 35 miles of new bike lanes and improve 200 miles, outfit 200 intersections to better handle bicycles, add 50,000 bike parking spaces, roll out a bike sharing system with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations”, and would put San Francisco on the same bike-friendly level as Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The problem that faces all three plans, however, is that only $30 million dollars in funding has been allocated to bike projects over the next five years, which means that anywhere from $30 – 470 million dollars will have to be found from other funding sources.



Big bucks for bikes?

Biking in L.A. is Taking Off

L.A. is known for Hollywood, for its sprawling suburbs and for those jam-packed freeways. It is not known for its cycling-friendly culture. That’s because until very recently L.A. was not a safe place for cyclists to ride. It can’t really be called safe now either, but the difference is that L.A. is changing. The story of L.A.’s journey to becoming one of the U.S.’s most bike-friendly cities is one for the record books.

According to the Los Angeles Times “On July 17, 2010, after a P90X workout, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his police bodyguard began riding mountain bikes west in the bike lane on Venice Boulevard. About 6:30 p.m., heading toward La Cienega Boulevard, they were cut off by a taxi cab. Villaraigosa flipped over the handlebars. His elbow shattered on the asphalt.” His accident, along with his trip to Copenhagen (what may be the most biyclce-friendly city in the entire world), and his trip to Mexico City where he saw a Ciclovia event, the Mayor became a cycling advocate.

And it’s amazing (and often-times discouraging) the affect one person can have. With the Mayor’s support, the cycling culture in L.A. has been completely transformed.Projects and ideas that cycling advocates have been supporting for years are finally gaining some traction. 1,680 miles of bikeway are to be implemented over the next 30 years. L.A. is now the home to the biggest cycling event in the U.S., CicLAvia; and we have already written a post or two about L.A.’s new bike rental program. These changes have really had an effect. For the first time, L.A. has been recognized as a Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

And all of this because a major public official put their weight behind cycling. Villaraigosa leaves office in June. Bike advocates in L.A. can only hope (and vote) for the next Mayor to be just as or more cycling-friendly.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.


Cycling on the Up and Up in the U.S.

San Francisco gets a mention in this great short video by Al Jazeera!


They make a good point: Businesses who want to attract young professionals should actively support bike lanes and cycling infrastructure because many of today’s ‘young professionals’ don’t want to sit in a car and commute for an hour, they want the ease and environmental-friendliness of cycling to work.

We’ve Said it Once, We’ll Say it Again.

Two new studies suggest (as bike advocates have long argued) that bike lanes are good for small businesses. The rationale is very simple. Bicyclists tend to eat and shop more locally. For example, they are more likely to stop in at a mom and pop diner than at a McDonald’s drive-through.

One of the studies was conducted in Manhattan by the New York City Department of Transportation. This study, entitled Measuring the Streets, compared the growth of businesses on small city streets with bike lanes and that of ‘borough-wide averages’. The results of the study are convincing. Ninth Avenue, which received the nation’s first parking-protected bike lanes in 2007, saw business grow nearly 49%, 16 times the borough-wide average.

The second study, called Consumer Behavior and Travel Mode Choices, was conducted in Portland, Oregan  by  the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC). It found “that people in the Portland, Ore., metro region who drove to bars, convenience stores and restaurants often spent more money per visit than bicyclists, but bicyclists visited the same venue more often, and spent more overall.”

Business owners are often worried that bike lanes will reduce their available parking and therefore hurt their business. However, although this may be a short-term effect, the bike lanes will actually increase business as it brings in more locals more often. The health and environmental benefits of cycling are often those heralded loudest by cycling advocates. However, in this time of economic crisis in the U.S., it may be time to change the conversation. Cycling is good for the economy. It is truly as simple as that. Cycling advocates have been saying it for years. Now, they have some more data to back it up.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.


Traffic Camera finally gets the Green Light

On Thursday, Attorney General Kamala Harris approved a welcome addition to the intersection of Octavia and Market Streets; a traffic camera. The camera installation, which Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed over three years ago, has been repeatedly delayed as it made its way through the state government approval process. This delay can partly be attributed to the unique nature of the camera. Unlike most traffic cameras, the Octavia and Market Street camera is not designed to catch vehicles that run red lights. Instead, it will be positioned to catch vehicles that make illegal right turns and endanger pedestrians.

The camera has had a long and incredibly frustrating bureaucratic journey. The traffic light’s problems first  began in 2010 when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it because it was ‘unnecessary’. Assemblyman Ammiano then went through the arduous process of trying to prove that the camera was indeed necessary. First, he went to the City Attorney’s Office for a legal opinion. However, the office concluded that they could not rule on it since the camera was being used for a ‘new’ purpose (catching right-turn violators, not red-light runners). Therefore, they passed the proposal on to State Attorney General Kamala Harris. Finally, on January 3, 2013, Harris approved the camera.

Unfortunately, there is more bureaucratic red tape to cut through before the camera can be installed. The SFMTA must find funding, define the project’s goals/scope, and then bid out the contract. The agency will not have an accurate timeline for installation until these steps have been completed.

For the SF Bike Coalition and WalkSF, the camera cannot come soon enough. Last year, the Octavia and Market Street intersection was given the infamous honor of being the most dangerous intersection in the city. In 2011 alone, there were an astounding 10 injury collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians at the intersection. Both WalkSF and the SF Bike Coalition have previously noted their frustration with the SFMTA over their seeming lack of focus on problem areas like Market and Octavia. However, SFMTA has responded that the intersection has undergone signal-timing changes and improvements to crosswalk markings in a concerted effort to make the notorious intersection more safe. “There have been some physical improvements to Market and Octavia” admitted Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, “but this enforcement mechanism will really make people think twice about making that illegal turn.”

The proposed camera will not be a magical solution to the problems plaguing the intersection. A comprehensive effort including “engineering changes, increased enforcement and technology upgrades”, like the traffic camera will be needed to tackle the intersection. However,  the camera is a good place to start.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.


Valencia Street Commute is Dangerous for Cyclists

In 1999 City Officials and the SFMTA transformed the restaraunt-lined Valencia street by trading in two traffic lanes for bike lanes. This transformation made the street a regular commute route for cyclists going to and from work. However, the increasing late-night popularity of the corridor among foodies and those looking for a meal in a chic part of town has led to more car traffic especially at night.

The street is notorious among cyclists for incidents of cars darting into the bike lane to nab a prime parking spot, and nearly hitting cyclists while they do it. In addition, cars often double park in the bike lane and taxis stop in the lane to drop off their passengers. All of these obstructions force cyclists to swerve into the busy car traffic and risk injury.

The problem is a combination of lackluster police presence and enforcement and inadequate bike lanes. For now, the solution, bike commuters say, is increased enforcement of traffic laws including wreckless driving (for the sudden swerving into the bike lanes) and parking violations for the double parking. For the future, however, the SF Bike Coalition is hoping that Valencia will join Golden Gate Park as well as Fell and Oak streets by instituting a protected/separated bike lane.

Until then, cyclists will have to continue to be vigilant and reactive and the community will have to continue to pressure the SFPD and the MTA for more enforcement on the corridor.