Monday, March 23, 2015

Sunnyvale City Council Votes to Support 'Fuck You BRT Buses You're Stuck in Traffic With us' Plan

"Think we're going to make your bus trip any faster by dedicating lanes?  Screw that. You're going to be miserable with us."
Photo: Andrew Boone
Most people will agree that El Camino Real is a REAL traffic nightmare (see what I did there?!)  City council members listened to a plan to convert 2 of the 8 lanes dedicated to moving or parking cars to actually moving large groups of people.  They were then told that the Bus Rapid Transit plan could cut transit rider's trips nearly in half along the length of El Camino Real and encourage more drivers to get off the roads.  Council member's jaws dropped at the thought of such a wacky and outlandish plan to fix congestion by seeking alternate modes of transport. When someone suggested that self-driving robot cars would fix the congestion issues at some point in the future squeals of delighted and high-fives soon followed.

All 8 lanes are needed to move and store cars.  Sorry everyone else, traffic means that traffic has to stay!
A few council members said that they shouldn't invest in a proven transit solution because self-driving cars at some point in time are going to make it irrelevant.   Instead of dedicated bus lanes, the council voted 4-3 to have “mixed flow” lanes along a corridor that would include "improved bulbout” bus stops. "This way the buses can stop at these bulbouts enrage drivers behind them who have to stop, and then when the bus leaves the bulbout they're fucked in traffic with the rest of us." said one grinning city council member.

Give up 1 lane of traffic each way for thousands of other people?  Uhhh... yeah I don't think so.  We'll wait for robot cars kthxbye.
image found here.
Despite the fact that over 30 percent of all trips within a mile of their destination are taken by car, the council voted to pass a standing resolution, "1.3 Subsection F - U: Bike & Ped Upgrades" to keep sidewalks narrow and have bikers "duke it out between moving and parked cars like the rest of us motorists."  This would also ensure that no one get the dumb idea to actually walk or bike along the stroad and stick to trusty motorist transit until the robots arrive.

Part of the plan is to extend "mixing zones" to bikers in the form of uneven pavement between parked cars, right turn lanes, and swift moving cars.
images courtesy: Janet Lafleur -

Shelby Winters understands the issue all too well as she commutes back and forth by car each day and loses more than 10 hours a week stuck in traffic. "Oh god it's always a nightmare with the crashes", she exclaimed, "the stop and go traffic is just soul crushing.  I just wish they could do something about this without changing anything that in any way impedes my ability to use every lane on El Camino Real".

After the meeting was over, the city council gleefully drove their cars into traffic, knowing that they probably solved a problem with robot cars in the not-so-but-might-be-distant future.

Robot cars will eventually fix this traffic problem.
original picture by Andrew Boone

Monday, March 9, 2015

SFMTA Board of Directors Nearly Mistook San Francisco for a City at Polk Street Meeting

SFMTA Board of Directors hearing crazy stories about the 85% of people who get to Polk Street without a two ton machine that runs on dinosaur juice.
image via Fitz The Reporter
On March 3rd at City Hall, the Board of Directors were rattled when they had to face the idea that San Francisco might not be a sprawling suburb.  Mayor Lee's political buffer was tasked with deciding if one street, in all of San Francisco, wouldn't have car storage.  As citizens weighed in on the plan for the 8 millionth time in 3 years, the Board of Directors got mixed signals that perhaps, just perhaps, San Francisco was actually a compact pedestrian-rich, multimodal city.

SF Board of Directors passed a "Bike Improvements" that any suburb would be moderately proud of!
image found here.  
What started as a complete Vision Zero style street with buffered bike lanes and priorities to movement other than cars, it soon devolved into a bike plan suburbia could find appealing. The Board of Directors heard horror stories that people might lose their way of life if forced to park on the 99.999999% of other street in SF that have car storage.

One person complained,"I'm too obese to bike" and went on to say that her husband also can't walk but oddly can't get a disability placard. There was also a concern for the elderly and other groups of people who should control tons of metal at high speed but are incapable of walking 2 blocks or taking the bus.  The Board of Directors sympathized for those who lived in the compact city of San Francisco, but couldn't operate outside of the single driver and parking paradigm.

“I’m not saying other things aren't important, because clearly they are — safety is paramount,”said Gwyneth Borden ,"but we cannot forget what makes San Francisco San Suburbcisco —slogs of parking on the roads and tons of motorist traffic.”
Gwyneth Borden. Image: SFGovTV
The Board of Directors fulfilled their duty as a political buffer between Mayor Lee and the public continued to listen for four hours.  They made sure to be silent for a few seconds when a death or injury was mentioned and then quickly moved back to parking concerns.  They knew they could could take comfort in the fact that the mayor had already made backroom deals with many of the merchants, thus solidifying a bike plan on the simple premise that parking belongs on every single street of San Suburbscisco.  Fortunately, the initial bike plan was whittled away by a favor to his optometrist who got one free block of bike lane removal. His gardener also gets to veto one of the crosswalks, and his mustache groomer received six blocks at a 55 mph speed limit.

Ultimately the Board of Directors approved a "Solomon Solution"which strikes a balance between the people getting hurt and killed on the street with the convenience of those doing the maiming.  Once the plan was approved, the Board of Directors jumped in their private automobiles and skidded back home, congratulating themselves on a job that any car dependent suburb would be proud of.

What do these streets in Portland, New York, Seattle all have in common?  They're things you'll never see on Polk Street.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Vision Impaired Mayor Lee Still Seeking "Balanced Eyewear"

Mayor Lee's 13th time at the optometrist to seek "balanced eyewear" that "everyone will like."
image found here
As mayor of San Francisco, Lee has a lot of important decisions to leave to others, and eyewear is no different.  As Lee's personal driver parked into one Drs. Hiura & Hiura Optometrists god given parking spots (devoid of dedicated bike lanes) he said, “Everyone else is the expert. There's so many issues to balance when it comes to choosing eyewear, and I just want to make sure I embrace a decision that I had nothing to do with.”

Some people argued that Mayor Lee is wasting everyone's time as he already agreed to a standard eyewear design long ago and even touted it in many of his speeches.  He promised long ago he would  prioritize the safety of the eyewear above anything else.  Others argued, "Look, you can't have everything in one pair of glasses here, and you're going to have to make a decision. Not everyone is going to be happy and as the mayor you need to accept that. Just pick the one that's the safest!  Stop being a non-mayor, mayor!"

With the advice of everyone, especially those having tantrums, Mayor Lee is leaning towards the "Zero-Vision" model.  
There was an audible gasp at the eyewear unveiling.  Some people questioned if he really thought the safety was the number one priority.  Others said that that an eyeglasses company kept calling his office and lobbying him to demand for a different prescription and so he had it changed. When asked about his opinion on the glasses, Mayor Lee explained,"I can’t have a particular position on which eyeglasses I want, except to endorse the most balanced approach because there’s issues with prescription, design and safety that should not be in conflict. We shouldn't promote the prescription strength over aesthetics or whatever the loud constituents want.  I think they’re all going to be important."  People started scratching their heads when they heard the mayor's "word soup."

As the mayor left the optometrist and dashed into his free chauffeured car, he said, "I can't comment right now on the eyewear design.  All I know is I'm sure as hell not getting here by riding Muni or biking. That's for photo ops."

When you have vision problems, make sure to drive on over to Drs. Hiura & Hiura Optometrists.  Park in one of the few spots that sustains all of their business.