Masonic’s Makeover

Masonic Avenue is being considered for a Boulevard Makeover. The San Francisco street has been in the news recently as the site of two high-profile fatality accidents in the past two years. And the rest of the numbers clearly support the argument that a change is needed. “Between 2004 and 2009, before traffic-calming measures were implemented, there were 116 collisions resulting in 131 injuries on Masonic.” Indeed, 32,000 vehicles use the street everyday.

The new design would remove two traffic lanes, and implement 1.2 miles of separated bike paths, add a center median and install sidewalk extensions to better accommodate transit vehicles and pedestrians. The new design is consistent with the Complete Streets movement discussed in an earlier post. The goal of ‘Complete Streets’ is to “ensure that all public roads in California are designed and operated to accommodate all roadway users, including bicyclists, public transit riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities”.

This new design has the support of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association and will be put before the SFMTA on Tuesday, September 18th. Not everyone is behind the proposal, however, and the point in contention is that which could most successfully stall the improvements, the money. The project has an estimated cost of $18 million and right now funding is at only $1 million. SFTMA is hoping to find more funding from regional grant sources, but even if the project finds the funding and goes forward, it will be years before residents see any change.

 

Sources:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/transportation/2012/09/redesign-masonic-avenue-key-approval-tuesday

Complete Streets

http://www.completestreets.org/complete-streets-fundamentals/complete-streets-faq/

Complete Streets

The California Bicycle Coalition has adopted a number of campaigns in its advocacy for better cycling in California. One of those is the ‘Complete Streets’ Initiative.

The goal of ‘Complete Streets’ is to “ensure that all public roads in California are designed and operated to accommodate all roadway users, including bicyclists, public transit riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities”.

Complete Streets will vary significantly depending on the conditions (rural, urban, flat, hilly, etc). They may include:

  • Sidewalks
  • Bike Lanes (or wide paved shoulders)
  • Special Bus Lanes
  • Comfortable and Accessible Transit Stops
  • Frequent Crossing Opportunities
  • Median Islands
  • Accessible Pedestrian Signals
In California, Complete Streets are the law. On January 1, 2011, the ‘Complete Streets Act’ went into effect. The law requires “cities and counties, when updating the part of a local general plan that addresses roadways and traffic flows, to ensure that those plans account for the needs of all roadway users.” As the result of the passage of the act in 2008, California became the second state to implement the ‘Complete Streets’ policies.

‘Complete Streets’ are not a partisan issue. Everyone can and should support making streets more accesible for all peoples since ‘Complete Streets’:

  • Increases Transportation Choices
  • Economic Revitalization
  • Improved Return on Infrastructure Investments
  • Quality of Place
  • Improved Safety
  • More Walking and Bicycling

 

Source:

 

Complete Streets

 

http://www.completestreets.org/complete-streets-fundamentals/complete-streets-faq/


Tucker v. Mejia Verdict (Additional Information)

At the beginning of August we blogged about our very own Shaana A. Rahman’s succesful case Tucker v. Mejia. We are very proud of Shaana’s amazing work and look forward to many more successful  resolutions. For those of you interested in more details in the Tucker v Mejia case, VerdictSearch has uploaded the case summary.

Facts:

On Aug. 17, 2008, plaintiff Joseph Tucker, 29, a Wells Fargo Treasury Associate, was riding a fixed gear bicycle east on the left hand side of Eddy Street. At around 9:02 a.m., when he was approximately 42 feet from the intersection with Mason Street in San Francisco, Tucker was struck by a white shuttle van operated by an independent contractor. Tucker claimed the side of the van crashed into him, causing him to be ejected from his bike. He subsequently landed on his face and sustained injuries.

The white shuttle van never stopped and left the scene. As a result, a witness chased the van and although it was identified as a van owned by Lorrie’s Travel & Tours Inc., there was never any positive identification of the driver or the van number.

Tucker sued the believed driver of the van, Rufino Mejia; another possible driver of the van, Edgar Abecendario; and the owner of the van, Lorrie’s Travel & Tours Inc. Tucker alleged that Mejia and/or Abecendario were negligent in the operation of the van and that Lorrie’s was vicariously liable for their actions.

Lorrie’s subsequently filed a cross-complaint against its drivers, seeing indemnification.

Through the use of Lorrie’s internal documents relating to its drivers, plaintiff’s counsel identified four of the 15 Lorrie’s drivers who were in the Union Square area at the time of the collision. Counsel contended that further investigation pointed to Mejia as being the only driver on Eddy Street at the time of the collision. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that Mejia originally denied being involved in the collision, although admitted to being on Eddy Street approximately 10 minutes after the collision, when he was briefly stopped by the police. An internal investigation by Lorrie’s also led to the identification of four drivers possibly involved, but Lorrie’s never disciplined Mejia or concluded that he was the driver.

Prior to trial, Abecendario was dismissed from both Tucker’s case and the cross-complaint. Lorrie’s also settled with Tucker for $250,000 prior to trial. Thus, Tucker’s action proceeded to trial against Mejia only, and the cross-complaint against Mejia was bifurcated and has not yet been resolved.

At trial, Tucker claimed he was riding his bicycle in the left, eastbound lane when Mejia began making a lane change from the right lane into his lane of travel, causing the van to sideswipe him. He alleged that Mejia never stopped his van and left the scene.

Mejia claimed at trial that there was no contact between the van and Tucker. He also claimed that Tucker veered from the left lane into his lane in order to make a right turn, and that the plaintiff admitted fault for the collision to the investigating officers. The defense’s accident reconstruction/biomechanical expert opined that it was likely that Tucker over-braked, as the plaintiff was on a fixed gear bicycle with a single break, and pitched himself over the handlebars.

Verdict:

The jury found that Mejia was the driver involved in the accident. It also found that Mejia was negligent and that his negligence caused Tucker harm. The jury found no comparative fault against Tucker and awarded him $593,172.67 in total damages.

Joseph Tucker

$152,773 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost

$235,200 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost

$5,200 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability

$150,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering

$50,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering

 

Source:

For the complete case report, visit the following link,

http://www.verdictsearch.com/index.jsp?do=news&rep=recent&art=208393

Pedestrian Peril in San Francisco

With its dense shops and restaurants, beautiful vistas and diverse neighborhoods San Francisco is a city in which walking is often the most desirable mode of transport. However, a recent poll by Bay Citizen shows that many pedestrians do not feel safe walking in the city.

The Bay Citizen’s nonscientific poll found that nearly half of the 98 respondents said “they wanted the San Francisco Police Department to ticket more drivers or cyclists for disobeying traffic laws. Several said they’d like to see the city ban right turns at red lights, while others suggested lowering speed limits.”

Recently, the City has been working to make some improvements to pedestrian safety.  An updated federal guideline has forced the City to extend crosswalk times in many intersections, including along Market Street. In addition, Police are focusing their efforts in corridors where there have been serious or fatal collisions. In June, the city lowered the speed limits on four South of Market streets – Howard, Folsom, Harrison and Bryant – from 30 to 25 mph.

Areas that went on a “road-diet”, where sidewalks and medians were extended, lanes were decreased and other measures were taken to reduce traffic and increase pedestrain activity, seem safer. “The bike lanes, expanded sidewalks, parklets and bulbouts make the street and traffic seem calmer” one respondent wrote.

Yet, many people feel that the City has just not done enough. A SoMa resident who responded to the survey suggested that pedestrians who still do not feel safe, and people who feel like the city has not done enough, should bring their complaints to community meetings. Another respondent suggested that everyone stop pointing fingers and laying blame, and instead acknowledge that pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike have responsibilities when they share the road. It is when these groups work together that San Francisco’s streets will become safer.

A map detailing the intersections that the survey respondents identified as the most dangerous in San Francisco for pedestrians can be seen by clicking on the link below.

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:  http://www.baycitizen.org/transportation/interactive/pedestrian-safety-survey/

Bikes on Bart: Individual’s Stories

As part of its Bikes on Bart Advocacy, the San Francisco Bike Coalition interviewed a few of the cyclists taking advantage of the lift on the rush-hour ban to find out how it was affecting people’s commute.

Eric, Fruitvale to SOMA: The ban on bikes during rush hour completely prevents Eric from biking to work. He can usually make it to the station early enough to take BART before the blackout hours start in the morning, but he cannot hang around in San Francisco until rush hour is over after work. Because of the restrictions, he drives to the Bart station and walks to work. The lift on the ban on Fridays during the month of August allows Eric to bike to the Fruitvale station and bike to work, then bike home. His commute is quicker, cheaper and more efficient. It is the ideal situation.

Hopefully, people like Eric who responsibly utilize the services BART has to offer, can help to permanently change BART’s policy on bike. Lifting the ban on bikes on BART during rush hour is beneficial for commuters, for the Bay Area and for the environment.

 

Source:

http://www.sfbike.org/main/

 

Road Dieting- The (Not-So) New Fad

According the SF Examiner roads sometimes need to diet in order to become healthier. This means shifting emphasis from cars to pedestrians and cyclists by  reducing traffic lanes, widening sidewalks, adding bike paths and greening medians. These road diets are long-term investments for the neighborhoods which they service. Road diets can decrease the number of cars, increase the number of pedestrians, improve safety conditions, reduce collisions, increase demand for restaurants and store-front businesses and generally improve the conditions of the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, City transportation officials say San Francisco has put more roads on a diet than anywhere else in North America. These projects and their results have been observed on Divisadero Street corridor, San Jose Avenue, Eddy and Ellis streets, Valencia Street and Folsom Street. Business owners and residents in these areas laud the new security pedestrians feel when crossing the street, the more leisurely pace of cars and cyclists and te improvement in the overall atmosphere and value of the neighborhood. Although not everyone is completely convinced, most people agree that the renovations add value to a neighborhood.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/transportation/2012/08/road-diets-used-tool-reclaiming-neighborhoods-san-francisco

SF Bicycle Coalition Family Biking Series, Part 1

Biking Pregnant

Date:Saturday, September 1, 2012

Time: 9:00-10:00am

Location: Excelsior Youth Center, 163 London Street, San Francisco, CA

Description: You love to bike, and now you’re pregnant. Do you need to stop biking? How long can you bike while pregnant? Is your bike pregnancy and baby-ready? Register for this (free) class to learn the medically reviewed facts about biking pregnant. Meet other pregnant women who bike. This class is great for anyone who is currently pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, as well as their partners and supporters.

RSVP: sfbike.org/family_class

Help SFBC Celebrate New Bike Lanes TONIGHT

Event: Love Your Lanes

Date: TODAY, August 23, 2012

Time: 5:30-8:00 p.m.

Place: Meet in front of 833 Market Street, SF Bicycle Coalition’s HQ

Description: Join members and staff of the SF Bicycle Coalition on a bike ride and happy hour to celebrate the new bike lanes that have made biking in the entire city so much better in the last few years. It is time to toast SFBC’s 12,000 members and staff who have made 22 miles of new bike lanes possible! Meet in front of the SF Bicycle Coalition office at 5:30pm for a group bike ride to The Page Bar (298 Divisadero), to toast the new lanes from 6pm – 8pm.

RSVP: www.sfbike.org/mingle (appreciated, but not mandatory)

 

Source:  http://www.sfbike.org/?chain

 

 

 

Bad News Berkeley

Between 2005-2010 there were 819 cycling accidents in Berkeley making it the 4th most dangerous city for cyclists in the Bay Area.

The recent death of world-renown neuropsychologist, Shlomo Bentin, in a cycling accident near the UC Berkeley campus, has brought more attention to the dangers of cycling in downtown and southern Berkeley.

One of the reasons Berkeley may be an epicenter for cycling accidents is that it has one of the highest bike commuter rates in the nation,  about 8 percent of residents commute by bike. The city should be proud of the achievement, but at the same time city officials need to recognize that this constituency needs to be supported with safe and readily available infrastructure. Berkeley cyclists have been calling for reform and improvements for many years. The East Bay chapter of the Bicycle Coalition argues that road conditions and lack of safe bike lanes make the areas around the campus some of the most dangerous in the Bay Area for cyclists.

Sources:

http://berkeley.patch.com/articles/berkeley-ranks-high-in-bike-accidents

http://www.baycitizen.org/bikes/story/berkeley-campus-cyclists-collisions/

 

Confusion on the JFK Bikeway

Earlier this year the SF Municipal Transportation Agency revealed the new JFK separated bikeway. Since its unveiling there have been mixed reviews on the effectiveness of such a design. For those of you who have not ventured over to Golden Gate Park to see what the fuss is all about, the new separated bikeway looks like this:

The SFBC noticed that in the early stages of use there were three main problems with the design:

1. Cars parking in the bike lane

2. Cars parking in the buffer lane

3. Pedestrians exiting cars and crossing the bike lane without looking out for bikes

According to the SFBC these problems largely rectified themselves as riders and drivers became acclimated to the new design. They found that in general, cyclists felt safer using the lane because there was so much space between them and moving traffic.

Protected bike lanes are increasing in number throughout the United States and with Market Street improvements on the table and city planners always looking for new ways to integrate bikes onto city streets, it is important to have an open and productive conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of this type of protected bike lane.

In May the San Francisco Bay Guardian expressed a few of its concerns with such a design:

1. The increased potential for pedestrian and cyclist collisions

2. The lack of traffic enforcement leading to use of the buffer lane during peak hours, increasing the potential for collision between cars and between cars and cyclists.

It is clear that San Francisco needs better and safer bike lanes. However, the jury is still out on this particular type of protected bike lane. What can be improved with this type of project? How can we do it better next time?

Offer your feedback on the JFK bikeway by taking the SFMTA Survey and take part in the Market Street Improvement discussions.

Sources:

http://www.sfbike.org/?project_JFKDr

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2012/04/25/its-not-that-hard-to-find-people-who-like-the-jfk-bikeway/

http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/05/17/new-jfk-bike-lanes-are-bad-everyone