Notes: SFMTA 16 Aug 2011 Meeting about Bike Tracks on JFK Drive

These are a neighbor’s (slightly edited) notes from an SFMTA meeting about adding a cycle track in JFK Drive. They are published here with permission, and for purposes of discussion.

Comments are welcome (but please, everyone, keep it polite? Discussions are great, flame wars not so much.)



SFMTA, Park and Rec., other city agency staff were present; and about 20-25 people.

Antonio Piccagli (of SFMTA) gave a presentation showing the current plan and survey results. That presentation is on their website as a PDF.

There will be a “cycle track” on JFK Drive, which differs from a bike lane. A cycle track is a bike lane separated from cars by a barrier (posts, buffer zone). The one cycle and two cycle  track designs and definitions from the June meeting are at the SFMTA website here.  [The June meeting presented two options: A 2-way bicycle track on one side of the road, or two one-way tracks on either side of the road.]

People who attended the first community meeting on 13 June 2011 could fill out a questionnaire about the Plan. (Apparently the questionnaire was also available online.) There were about 500 responses. From the survey,  the majority of respondents didn’t feel safe bicycling next to cars, preferred the one cycle track; want a continuous buffer zone; want to remove curbside parking…

Antonio said they decided on the one cycle track design. On each side of JFK Drive will be a 6.5 ft bike lane, then at least 5 ft buffer zone, then a car lane. The 6.5 ft wide bike lane allows two bikes to ride side by side; or for one bicyclist to pass another bicyclist.

Diagram from SFMTA website

SFMTA is introducing a novelty “floating parking lane”. About 11.5 ft from the curb will be places for vehicle parking. A big challenge will be intersection design.

This would remove 153 (32%) of the current 482 surface parking spaces along JFK Drive.

Q & A session

Q:  Will there be a workshop for drivers to educate them of the new traffic design?

A:  SFMTA: No, we didn’t have that in mind.

Q:  The existing car lanes are too wide, offer too much visibility, making drivers go too fast. Will the new design provide traffic calming?

A:  SFMTA: Narrowing the road should reduce vehicle speeds.

Q:  There are no signs, notices along JFK Drive about the new design or this meeting. How are people using JFK Drive going to know about these major changes? Only 20 people showed up tonight. You must like flying under the radar to get the plan through.

A:  SFMTA: We posted information on our website, and told neighborhood groups.

Q:  The plan is skewed and heavily favors bicyclists. Residents, visitors require parking to see the many places of interest. Why the need to remove 153 parking places?

A:  SFMTA: It is a trade off.

Q:  When will the plan be implemented?

A:  SFMTA: We need to finalize the plan,  show it to Park and Rec., and the Board of Supervisors. [We’re] hoping to get started in Dec. [2011]

Note from Webmaster: The SFMTA site gives the following timeline:

Project Timeline:
• June 13: 1st Community Workshop
• June-July: Review Public Feedback
• July-August: Refine Concept Designs
• August 16: 2nd Community Workshop
• August-September: Complete Final Design
• September: Present to Concourse Authority
• October: Present to Recreation and Parks Commission
• December: Implement Project


Comments from the neighbor who took the notes:

  • SFMTA wants to provide a safe environment for bicyclists. That is fine. However they are bending over backwards to accommodate one party.
  • 90% of respondents like the one cycle track plan, 50% of respondents like the two cycle track plan.
  • If there are only two choices, why does their total add up to 140% of respondents? Haven’t seen the survey, not sure if people could submit multiple entries. The way data was gathered is highly questionable.


From Webmaster: This note is also from the SFMTA website.

If you wish to comment on the plan but are unable to attend our meetings, please contact Miriam Sorell at or 415.701.4770.

Death-wish on Two Wheels

I want to start this piece by saying I like cyclists. They do their bit for the city by using an unpolluting form of transport, by being out there and visible rather than floating by in anonymous steel objects, by setting a good example.

Hence this article. Last night, driving downtown, I passed a cyclist on Polk Street. He was dressed in black. He had no light or reflector. He swayed as he zoomed through what is still a fairly busy street, on some occasions swinging far out of the bike lane. He didn’t stop at red lights or Stop signs.

He was surviving on the alertness of strangers. We’ve all been there once in a while, the “oops” moments when other people’s good driving saves us from our mistakes. This guy seems to be making it a life-style.

(I also saw several other cyclists go through red lights, but they were dressed more brightly and rode less fast.)

I like cyclists. Alive and unhurt. Stay that way, okay?

Meeting Report – Inner Sunset Park Neighbors – Summer 2011

I attended a meeting of the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors today. This group represents some 300 households in the Inner Sunset; the meeting was chaired by Andrea Jadwin.  Since this is just below our neighborhood, I’m reporting some updates:


The parklet outside Arizmendi Bakery (on 9th Avenue) is probably going ahead. This will be a small area with chairs and tables for anyone to sit.

Opponents have chiefly been concerned about putting people so close to traffic; supporters love the idea of a place to enjoy the neighborhood (and perhaps a delicious snack from Arizmendi!)


This year’s Inner Sunset Street Fair is scheduled for October 16th. This would be the second annual Inner Sunset street fair. They’re looking for donations and volunteers. Their website is here, with information about getting booths, volunteering and donating.


The Hidden Garden Steps project is also seeking donations and volunteers. Neighbors want to refurbish an existing staircase with a colorful ceramic tile mosaic — something like the brilliant tiled steps below Turtle Hill. The delightful design starts with a worm and mushroom at the bottom, and rises into a blue sky with flowers and a dragonfly.


San Francisco Bicycle Coalition‘s Neal Patel made a presentation about their current initiatives. Apparently, 7 out of 10 San Franciscans use bicycles at least occasionally. The Coalition’s focus is on getting people to use bikes more, both for recreation and transport. They’ve added 34 miles of bike trails in 2009, but now want to have bike lanes connecting the city, safe for people from 8 to 80 to use. New bike lanes get people out on their bicycles.  Their vision is of a safe biking trail, ideally with a physical barrier between the bike lane and car traffic, from the beach to the Bay.

The Coalition also offers urban cycling workshops covering rules and safety for kids, adults, and older adults who haven’t been on a bike in years… Questions focused on safety (including cyclists’ respect for pedestrians), specific bike routes, and bike-share systems.

I wanted the Coalition to use its outreach capability (it has 12,000 members) to warn people to wear reflective clothing in the fog. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen cyclists riding almost invisibly on Twin Peaks and areas surrounding our neighborhoods.


WalkSF’s Elizabeth Stampe talked about her organization, which focuses on making SF safer and more fun to walk. Since we’re all pedestrians to some degree, this is important for everyone. She pointed out the 800 people were hit by cars each year in SF — and thought this was possibly an understated number.

She mentioned measures to improve safety:

  • School zone speeds will be reduced to 15 mph for most schools in the city, which will make it safer for kids to walk to school;
  • They’re looking for better law enforcement (people don’t stop at Stop signs, for instance, or yield to pedestrians as they legally should do);
  • Looking for ways to redesign streets to slow traffic down and curb speeding.

One person described his efforts to get action on the dangerous intersection at 8th and Lawton, the site of several accidents. He wanted a Stop sign put in there. The SFMTA refused because (a) it’s a bus route, and this would slow the bus; (b) it increases carbon dioxide emissions; (c) enforcement of Stop signs is a problem, they’re widely ignored so why bother to add more?

The subsequent discussion focused on other ways to make a street less speedy; Stampe pointed out that the most dangerous roads are wide, straight and one-way because they encourage speed. Someone suggested more of the pedestrian-activated yellow flashing lights at crossings. The yellow signs in the road median saying State Law required stopping for pedestrians also helps.

Besides advocating for safety, WalkSF has volunteer-led walks all over the city. The next one is 12 miles, “Peak2Peak.” Also, they will host a Mayoral Candidates’ Forum on September 12th. (Details on their website.)


Craig Dawson spoke about UCSF’s Community Action Group (CAG), of which he is a founder member. They provide input to UCSF about issues concerning the community.  UCSF initiated this group in 1991, when Laurel Heights neighbors were in legal battle with UCSF. They approached, Dawson said, their critics to be in the Group. He and Dennis Antenore have been on it since then. It includes four ISPN members: Craig Dawson; Dennis Antenore; Susan Maerki; and Kevin Hart.

The CAG is expecting to increase its activity as UCSF is currently working on its new Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) expected to be adopted in Feb 2014. Dawson urged neighbors to get more involved as the new LRDP would bring many changes affecting the neighborhood.

One issue is UC Hall, one of the oldest UCSF buildings. It was slated for demolition so UCSF could get within their “space ceiling” — a total amount of space the University can use within the Parnassus campus. (The ceiling was adopted when neighbors became concerned at the University’s rampant growth, but UCSF has exceeded it for many years.) However, it’s a historic Beaux Arts building, and some oppose its destruction. UCSF is now considering other uses for it; one possibility is housing, which would not count toward the space ceiling. The cost of a seismic retrofit may be an issue. Look out for public hearings.

Neighbors wanted to know how to get involved. UCSF’s Damon Lew (who was present) has joined ISPN, and will be posting information. Also, UCSF offered to host an ISPN meeting to discuss UCSF-related issues.


Speaking as Executive Director of Sutro Stewards, Craig Dawson very briefly described activities on the “underutilized” 61 acres of Mount Sutro owned by UCSF: planting the Native Garden, building trails, and preserving native plants under the eucalyptus. There was no mention of UCSF’s proposed plans to cut down thousands of trees.