San Fran Mayor Sets Ambitious Transportation Targets

newsom.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (pictured right) emphasized quality of life issues in his annual State of the City address last week. Most significant, Newsom put forward an ambitious transportation agenda and laid out specific targets for increasing bicycling and reducing automobile use:

We will continue our long term planning to create a citywide bicycle network, uniting the current patchwork of bike lanes into a unified, comprehensive system. It is also time to take steps to reach our goal of making 10% of all commute trips in the City bicycle trips within the next 3 and a half years.

While making MUNI faster and bike riding safer we aim to get people out of their cars and get them healthier so we must commit to reducing emissions from our public transportation fleet. With new hybrid buses coming on line, we can now say by this time next year, we will have the greenest public transportation fleet in the nation.

I think we can all agree that the more people who get out of their cars and use alternative transit the better this city is going to be for everyone.

Can I vote for this guy next Tuesday?

I suppose not. But at least we have Councilmember Gale Brewer. Working with Transportation Alternatives Brewer has put forward a piece of legislation called Introduction 199, "The Traffic Relief Bill" (PDF file), that would compel DOT to set specific modal targets like Newsom’s 10 percent bicycling goal. In other words, rather than measuring the health and functionality of New York City’s surface streets by "Level of Service," and other meaningless (and sometimes even destructive) yardsticks, the City would say, "We aim to shift X percent of daily trips out of cars and on to buses, bikes and foot." Then DOT would measure its success based on these far more meaningful goals.

  • Clarence

    One thing: this summer Newsom vetoed car-free Saturdays in Golden Gate Park even though it was approved 7 -4 votes by a City Board.

    Currently SF only has car-free Park hours are on Sundays.

  • Dan

    I’m just astonished that Bloomberg doesn’t want to do more to make streets livable. Here’s a technocratic, progressive, goal oriented guy staring at a problem that if he were a shrewd business man would seem outrageous. How much productivity gets wasted by cars? What kind of space efficiency does mass transit and cycling provide? It seems like this is one of those things where there’s some kind of metal logjam that’s preventing the good ideas from getting through.

  • Dan, like you said, it’s mystifying that a Mayor that has realized so much success as a maven of efficiency in business would allow (sometimes even laud, as in several speeches equating traffic to the city’s economic health) the kind of wasted time and space that could only survive under the management of a big city bureaucracy. Our streets are broken, and the only tools we have to manage them are tools that buffet the underlying problem.

    But isn’t it simple, you ask, can’t you just tell City DOT to reduce traffic? NO.

    The only metrics that Dr. Primeggia allows the agency to use measure success by how many vehicles you can push through space in a given time. Vehicular Level of Service measures only how much metal, glass, and rubber can move through a discreet channel at once, with no sense of how many people fill those vehicles. There is no measure of the quality of the vehicle–which are the most spacially efficient, which are the most ecologically efficient, which have the least negative quality-of-life impacts, etc. A stretch-Hummer is a motorcycle is a bus is a 55′ truck is a government sedan (probably abusing it’s parking permit!!).

    Fortunately, legislation like The Traffic Relief Bill would go a long way toward improving this deplorable situation. While it looks like the bill doesn’t mandate the specific targets (leave it to the experts, as the DOT always argues!), at least it lays the foundation for the agency to be able to change the way it calculates success. It would also declare that NYC transportation policy promotes traffic reduction and efficiency, which would be a watershed for the agency and would jive very well with the long-term, sustainable health of our dear city.

    Let’s hope that Liu schedules a hearing for the bill soon!!

  • Gale A. Brewer

    Thank you for highlighting Intro. 199, the Traffic Relief Bill, pending in the New York City Council. With Transportation Alternatives, we are pushing for a hearing. Also, on the West Side of Manhattan (my district), we are working with the Dept. of Transportation on a study of all traffic in the area and we will soon schedule a public hearing. The date will be in early December. I hope that all of your readers will participate. TA will know first! Gale A. Brewer, City Council, 6th District, NYC

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