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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jerrold Ave center turn lane

A few weeks ago SFMTA installed an ill-conceived new center turn lane on Jerrold between Quint and Phelps that is dangerous for drivers, pedestrians, and especially cyclists.

I received a call yesterday from Liveable Streets project manager Philip Louie to discuss it, and he left me even more displeased than I had been before.

Basically SFPUC had requested the new striping, in his words, to help their workers walk (jay-walk) across the street more safely by giving them a refuge area in the middle of the street. Wouldn't a midblock crosswalk have been a better option if trying to address pedestrian safety? Since when is a bidirectional center turn lane an approved pedestrian refuge? Since it has gone in, I've seen all manner of vehicle using the center lane as a travel lane because they're now pushed too close to the parked cars at be curb to drive through there safely. Check out the video I recorded the other day of a truck making a turn from Quint onto Jerrold and then never leaving the new center turn lane. Note the SFPUC workers standing in the narrowed travel lane and the empty angled parking on the north side of the street taking up space that could have been recovered and used for a bike lane.

He admitted the design was probably not the best, but my guess is that this is what SFPUC had designed and wanted, and SFMTA did no work to look at alternatives and just did what SFPUC proposed because it was cheap and easy.

Their idea of neighborhood notification was to put up small signage on a few light poles in the area, a technique that is useless if trying to engage motorists or cyclists and may as well not even be there. The project was brought before the SFMTA board, but because no one knew about it, it passed. It never showed up on MyStreetsSF or on Envista, so there was no way for anyone to find out about this unless they were walking through the area while the signs were up.

His attitude was that because traffic counts were so low on Jerrold, it really didn't matter that it's not the best design. I'll admit, I blew my stack at this because it speaks to the way we get shafted time and again like this from one city agency to the next. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this was blatantly a "they should be happy we're doing anything for them" kind of attitude.

They're unlikely to change it unless they get negative feedback from users. For the record, my proposal to calm traffic speeds is to remove the underutilized angled parking on the north side, and install bike lanes to act as a buffer between parked cars and traffic, and a mid-block crosswalk for SFPUC workers to cross the road more safely.

I have asked Mr. Louie to send me the following information:
- when the SFMTA board heard and approved this
- where funds came from to do the work
- how much it cost
- what alternatives were looked at
- where this design originated (ie. was this what SFPUC asked for)
- when the follow-up traffic speed study will be done
- whether site-specific jobs like this are required to be posted on Envista or MyStreetSF
- data on traffic speeds and counts and dates and times measurements were taken,
- along with what MTA considers low volume.

If you're also not happy about the outcome or the lack of outreach to the community, I encourage you to contact Mr Louie by email at Philip.Louie@sfmta.com and cc his boss, Ed Reiskin at Ed.Reiskin@sfmta.com and let them know.

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