When Your Kid Can’t Cross Your Street

Tonight I got a little wake up call. Nothing dramatic. In fact, it didn’t really strike me until I was trying to fall asleep.

My kids are all pretty big at this point. They are all old enough to get themselves to and from wherever it is they need to go without my intervention. Fully loaded Clipper cards have been supplied, and they each have smart phones that let them access all the transportation maps they could ever need. Muni is their friend and the bus stops 10 feet from our front door. There is rarely a time when I worry about how my kids will get to where they are going, even when the rain is horizontal, as it was tonight when my daughter came home from school around 5:30.

When she walked in the door, she was in a good mood, but drenched from head to foot. She told me it was way too windy for her umbrella and she had walked the two blocks from Safeway to get home. I asked if the bus had broken down or she had stopped to buy something at the store.

“No. The rain is crazy and there was no way I was going to try to cross at Edna or Detroit! Those drivers are nuts, they can’t see anything, and they aren’t stopping!”.

Think about that for a moment. The conditions for a pedestrian on Monterey Blvd. were so bad that it made more sense to walk two long blocks, in horizontal rain from winds so fierce the trees are dropping their branches on our heads than ride all the way home and get off a dry bus and cross the street at Detroit (basically straight into our front door) for the benefit of the only real traffic control on this end of the boulevard (at Foerster).

My twelve year old son would not have done that. He would have tried dashing across Detroit, where no one stops when the rain starts (not that they stop much when the sun is out).  It makes little difference that I have told him a million times not to. That is how being a twelve year old boy goes. He would have been stuck in the median long enough that he would have chanced running across when on coming cars looked like they were far enough away for him to make it, just to get out of the storm.

In his farewell address to the United States tonight, Barack Obama reminded us all that we are the ones who can change what we see. We need to work for what we want, fight for what is right. Jon and I started working for a better boulevard 7 years ago. Recently, we have started to pick up that flag again. Tonight I was reminded, again and on a directly personal level, why. We live here. We should be able to walk here, even in horizontal rain.

 

 

It’s Raining Trees!

Mother Nature had a rager on the Boulevard last night! A sample from my block.

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It is sure to be another night of falling foliage, so be careful out there! Make sure your street drains are clear. Maybe wear a helmet if you are out walking : )

Area Transportation Demand Management Study Released

The first part of the Balboa Area Transportation Demand Management Plan, Existing Conditions is out.

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Click here to download the full pdf.

From the Executive summary:

This Existing Conditions Report summarizes current transportation conditions in the Balboa Area to inform the Balboa Area Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan. This report provides a detailed narrative of the existing transportation setting and demand throughout the Balboa Area. The report’s primary goal is to establish a shared understanding of the issues, opportunities, and challenges for various affected groups, including residents, businesses and public institutions, visitors, daily commuters traveling in and out of the area, and those traveling through the area on a daily basis.

This report contains a review of existing transportation conditions, population characteristics, and planned transportation and land use changes within the Balboa Area. The assessment of current conditions was developed using quantitative and qualitative data from various resources, including City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and neighborhood travel behavior surveys, intersection and roadway volume data, parking survey information, city planning reports and technical memoranda, feedback received from public engagement meetings, and field reconnaissance conducted by Nelson\Nygaard. The report also includes an introduction to TDM and conceptual TDM strategies that could form the basis of a Balboa Area TDM plan.

Auto, transit, pedestrian and bicycle traffic is heavily concentrated along Ocean Avenue, the main artery of the area, and there are a number of opportunities and constraints. The need for network connectivity between neighborhoods and access to key destinations such as CCSF, the Balboa Park BART Station, and local residences and businesses is evident. Using the understanding of the existing conditions presented in this report and ongoing community engagement to guide the development of a TDM plan, the forthcoming TDM plan will help provide a roadmap of how the community can manage their transportation investments, understand the tradeoffs, and create a more accessible, healthier, and livable community.

 

What’s your speed?

From the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association.

Sunnyside Neighborhood Association

This stark infographic demonstrates how important car speed is. The speed limit on Sunnyside busiest street, Monterey Blvd, was lowered to 25 MPH a few years ago, yet cars are often observed to be going much faster. The recent fatality at Valdez Ave and the serious injury collision near Foerster St that left a cyclist in a coma suggest actual speeds are substantially higher.

mph_and_survival_rates Source: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/12/22/cities-want-to-save-lives-with-lower-speed-limits-but-states-stand-in-the-way/

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Thursday Afternoon Walk

I took a walk down the boulevard, today. I thought a few photos of things I was thinking about would be interesting.

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What will go in here? I never went in when it was a martial arts dojo, but I was sad when it closed. Will it be developed into another single family home? Will flats go in? Will a new business take over? In my head, I wish it would become a cosy cafe and bookstore combo or a really good shoe repair and tailor.

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This street is always good for a little sidewalk shopping (and when the traffic isn’t too bad it is a pleasant place to ride your bicycle). It has been a few years since I felt a need to take anything large home, but someone left out a quite nice Nikon bag the other day and I was grateful. The drawers that match my futon (the actual matching pair I couldn’t afford when I bought the futon) appeared at Detroit at just the time I needed them, too. Hopefully, the water filter I left out the other day made someone happy.

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Christmas bicycles and daily dog walks. Every year for decades, this scene has changed very little.

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These buses get more crowded and used every year. Some people complain, but I like to think about how people choose to get around. I wish the trolley still ran down Monterey.

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When children can ride freely in a space, it is a good space. I wish I saw more kid’s bicycles locked up on the street, waiting for their riders. It is hard to be unhappy seeing those streamers!

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Decorative gourde season seems to last a while around here! With the rains actually coming to us this year, and weather cold enough for our deciduous trees to actually turn, have you considered adopting a drain so none of us get flooded? It doesn’t take much and makes a huge difference to everyone!

Had an interesting walk on the boulevard recently?

Is Monterey Blvd. A Woman Friendly Street?

“In 1999, officials in Vienna handed out a questionnaire about how people in the city used transportation. The men filled it out in five minutes: go to work in the morning, come home at night. The women couldn’t stop writing.

The things they wrote were about dropping the kids off at school on the way to work, or taking them to the doctor some mornings, or helping their own aging parents buy groceries, or picking the kids up from activities.

It was an extremely more varied pattern of use—with far more walking and public transport—and one that resulted in several changes to the city’s infrastructure: easier access to public transport, wider pavements, ramps for pushchairs and buggies. This thinking is part of a movement called gender mainstreaming—assessing how planning and policy decisions will specifically affect both women and men.”

 

I read this today in an interesting article about designing streets and transportation for the people who use them most. It got me thinking about how I feel about Monterey Blvd. when I am walking on it. When I was still pushing strollers around the neighborhood I was driven crazy by the cracks and ruts and slanting sidewalks that made it nearly impossible; a feeling I revisited when my husband crushed his foot in a motorcycle accident and was forced to get around on one of those knee scooters they give out now . This street is not knee scooter friendly (or walker, or wheelchair, or blind cane…). I am especially reminded of how unfriendly Monterey Blvd. can be to pedestrians, and especially women, at night when I am walking alone; the dark doorways and staircases, the poor street lighting, the narrow sidewalks flanked by car doors and bushes, the giant cracks to trip on, the cars blocking the sidewalk that force me either into the street or someone’s doorway to get through… I find myself thinking of the time I was mugged for my camera on my own block by a gang that used our freeway offramp and unobstructed street to target victims and get away quick in a rented/stolen car.

Monterey Blvd. doesn’t feel like a place designed for people, at least not to me. What do you think? If you are woman, do you feel safe walking MB alone at night? Is it easily navigable with a stroller? Do you feel safe walking your children along the boulevard? Read the article and leave some of your  thoughts and ideas in the comments here!

 

Pedestrian dies in hit and run on Monterey

We are sorry to report another hit and run on Monterey Blvd, this time with tragic consequences. The following is from an SFPD email:

 

I am writing to inform you of a traffic fatality which occurred over the weekend. On Saturday, December 3, at approximately 5:30 pm a 64 year old female and 65 year old male were crossing within the crosswalk at Monterey and Valdez Streets when they were struck by a passing pickup truck. The driver fled the scene and has not yet been located. Both victims were transported to SFGH for medical treatment. The male sustained minor injuries, the female pedestrian suffered internal injuries and passed yesterday, December 4. Officers canvassed the surrounding area and did not locate any video cameras. Sergeant Embody of TCIU is the lead investigator.

In response to this and two earlier crashes involving a pedestrian and a cyclist The San Francisco Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee is intoducing a resolution asking for the SFMTA to take a look at the problems for pedestrians and cyclists on Monterey and then fix them.The meeting will be held on Dec. 13 in room 400, City Hall.

Please write to Sunnyside Neigborhood Association President Stephen Martinpinto (sunnyside.president@gmail.com) and tell him you want the SNA to endorse this resolution.

 

The following is the text of the resolution”

Monterey Boulevard is in need of a traffic safety study to identify remedies for the causes of recent collisions involving vulnerable street users. Once identified, these remedies must be applied as soon as possible to avoid further injuries or deaths.


Reasons are:

Monterey Boulevard was excluded from the December 2009 Sunnyside Traffic Calming Study.
Drivers regularly speed on Monterey Boulevard. The recent lowering of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour has failed to slow traffic in some areas.
Monterey Boulevard is a neighborhood street, while being used as a cut-through route from the west side of town to the I-280 ramp.
Three elementary schools and two preschools are situated within a block of the Boulevard. Students and their families regularly risk their lives crossing 4 lanes of high-speed traffic.
We Live Here, a report on pedestrian safety needs on Monterey Boulevard, was released in 2010 by Friends of Monterey Boulevard and Walk San Francisco in 2010, but many of its recommendations have yet to be enacted.
The midblock crossing at Detroit Street is unsignalized and hazardous to cross.
There is insufficient space for bicyclists to use the road safely, causing many to illegally ride on the sidewalks.
A pedestrian was seriously injured sustaining multiple fractures in a collision on
October 8, 2016.
A bicyclist was seriously injured sustaining brain trauma and multiple fractures on a week later on October 13, 2016.

Therefore, be it resolved that the City should conduct a study on Monterey Boulevard to identify problems and recommend solutions that will improve safety and security for pedestrians and bicyclists. Be it further resolved that the proposed solutions be installed as soon as possible.