January 25, 2010

Cesar Chavez Reconfiguration Update (And Some Objections)

Cesar Chavez Street with rendered 14-foot median

An update on the redesign of Cesar Chavez Street via Mission Loc@l:

The first phase, which is likely to start this summer, involves redoing the sewage system to reduce flooding.
Above ground, the second phase will involve planting more trees, using energy-efficient street lights and converting the three lanes of traffic in each direction to two lanes. With concerns over safety, a 14-foot tree-lined median and widened curbs will be paved to decrease the time needed for pedestrians to cross the intersection. Bicyclists will also be able to enjoy the additional street space through permanent bike lanes.
The redesign has brought attention to the day laborers along Cesar Chavez Street, most of whom object to the city’s plans to relocate them at a new site on Bayshore Boulevard.

It’s about time for Cesar Chavez (Army) to break out of its amber. And it's another piece of the bigger picture Mission Streetscape Plan.

The Reconfiguration Of Cesar Chavez: It’s All About The Pedestrians [SocketSite]
Cesar Chavez Redesign [Mission Loc@l]
Like A Bug In Amber And Not Just On Bernal (Via Laughing Squid) [SocketSite]
Mission Streetscape Plan [sf-planning.org]

First Published: January 25, 2010 9:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Bike lanes on Army ? Its about time ! I hope that the redesign allows some decent way to cycle across the 101 interchange. That place is a mess.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 25, 2010 9:25 AM

Why not offer all those day laborers jobs to do all that work? With the speed this city takes to complete public works I'd say they will keep them busy 18-24 months. Afterwards, off they go to bayshore blvd- the new Lowes there will be a big boom for construction purchases and need for cheap labor. Bala bim, bala boom.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at January 25, 2010 9:30 AM

I think it is only bound to get messier with the loss of 2 lanes of traffic.

Posted by: sparky-b at January 25, 2010 9:30 AM

Sparks i respectfully disagree. Look at Valencia vs Guerrero st. I'm sure they will make dedicated left turn outs, so the 2 main lanes and cruise straight through. Time the lights and all is good.

Personally I frickin' hate driving Guerrero- always gambling the schmuck in front of decides to turn and I need to jump the lane. Like a video driving game in real life!

Posted by: 45yo hipster at January 25, 2010 9:35 AM

45yo is right. The current three lanes are not really three lanes when you consider left turning traffic. Reducing it to two lanes with left turn pockets is not as severe as one might intuitively expect. In fact, it makes the whole experience more predictable for auto drivers, with probably only a moderate increase in overall congestion. Well worth it for the bike and ped benefits, IMHO

Posted by: curmudgeon at January 25, 2010 9:46 AM

Too bad they are paving over the new median. I can see paving it at crosswalks but paving the whole thing means a significant loss of area for new greenery. Greenery is lots more than just placing spindly trees every 10 ft or so surrounded by a sea of cement/pavement.

I disagree this will improve safety. It will just encourage folks to cross outside of the normal demarcated crosss ections. They'll make a run for the paved over median and wait there until they sense a openeing and then run from the median to the other side of the street.

The City paved over much of the Portola median placing trees only there. It would have looked so much better - if only.

Posted by: Gil at January 25, 2010 9:47 AM

Valencia and Guerrero both feed onto here. I think some of that traffic spread to other streets and they still all feed this, but that's beside the point.
A dedicated left turn on one lane with the back-up to get onto 101 on the other doesn't leave any traffic lane to continue to Lowe's.

Posted by: sparky-b at January 25, 2010 9:48 AM

Gil - where do you see a paved over median? Isn't that greenery between the trees in the image above or am I missing something?

Posted by: Spitpalm at January 25, 2010 9:52 AM

Spitpalm - per the posted story:

"With concerns over safety, a 14-foot tree-lined median and widened curbs will be paved to decrease the time needed for pedestrians to cross the intersection"

Posted by: Gil at January 25, 2010 9:57 AM

If the 27 bus ceases double parking and actually goes into its alloted pickup lane it'll probably be OK. The green sure looks nicer.

Posted by: anonn at January 25, 2010 10:06 AM

Interesting that you read "paved over" when the picture depicts something else and the words read "paved." Why is that do you suppose, Gil?

Posted by: anonn at January 25, 2010 10:10 AM

Oh but according to Chris Daly planting trees gentrifies neighborhoods...how could this possible be permitted in this city of progressive supervisors?

Posted by: Sure to gentrify at January 25, 2010 10:31 AM

I believe what the words (and the picture) say are the *widened curbs* will be paved -- not the entire median, which clearly has greenery on it... as well as paved widened curbs.

Posted by: marco at January 25, 2010 10:31 AM

I parsed "widened curb" as meaning a bulb-out.

Bulb-outs do indeed decrease pedestrian crosswalk time.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 25, 2010 10:47 AM

the second phase will involve planting more trees

yayyyy!!!!!!

and bike lanes? depending on how they are implemented, double yay!!!!

Posted by: ex SF-er at January 25, 2010 10:52 AM

Maybe it's being funded by the Obama stimulus plan.

If so, a first a set of union guys will pave over the median. Then another set of union guys will dig it up and haul it away. Then a third set of union guys will plant plants in the median.

Posted by: tipster at January 25, 2010 10:58 AM

I'm with ex SF-er. More bike-lanes, more trees, turn lanes for cars! yay! Guerrero IS like a video game - I live on it and am rocked to sleep every night by the sound of cars and motorcycles revving their engines and honking in frustration.

Posted by: malebe at January 25, 2010 11:23 AM

Cesar Chavez needs a major upgrade. The 555 Bartlett residential property will kick things up a notch, creating community along that stretch. We need more of a pedestrian boulevard vs what CChavez is now.

Posted by: insidesfre at January 25, 2010 11:40 AM

Why not put the bike lanes NEXT to the sidewalk instead sandwiched between parked cars (driver doors opening into lane) and vehicular traffic? Order would be sidewalk, bike lane, parked cars and then vehicular traffic. If we're serious about 2 wheels let's get the bikes out of the middle of the streets where cyclists are more easily get killed. Yes, I ride in those lanes, and yes I've been thrown off my bike by driver doors suddenly opening. Why do we plan for this (a la Cesar Chavez). Here's an opp to rethink it altogether.

Posted by: Invented at January 25, 2010 11:48 AM

Invented,

I have seen this design in other cities. There are caveats for this configuration:

- How do bikes turn left when they are on a dedicated lane between parked cars and the sidewalk? Cross at the sidewalk? Wait for 2 lights to turn?

- Also think about cars turning right that will cut into a bike lane right after passing parked cars. If the parked cars are view-blocking vehicles you will not see the bikes. To allow for visibility you'll have to remove parking spaces before the crossing. Or you could create a physical protection for bikes and add specific features to make cars slow into their right turn (bumps,...), or simply have a light segment specific for bicycles. This is complicated. If bikes are right next to the traffic, at least cars can see them well in advance.

There are many ways to put bike lanes on existing car-centric streets and none of them will ever be 100% satisfying. Think Octavia and Market and the several configurations already attempted.

Cesar Chavez is a major street. Having bike lanes is already a great step ahead.

Posted by: wow at January 25, 2010 12:22 PM

wow: ^^^^ If CC is a "major street", having bike lanes is really a great step backwards. Surely the bikes would be much happier on a *minor* street running parallel, with a bunch of stop-signs removed and timed bike-signals to smooth their passage. Check out how this works in e.g. Palo Alto or Davis and you'll see how this is a win-win for everyone. My god, this is not rocket-science.


Why do all the bike nuts in SF (ref. Bicycle Plan EIR) think they deserve to take away convenience from automobile traffic in order to add to their own convenience?

Posted by: not-so-wow at January 25, 2010 12:38 PM

not-so-wow: perhaps you can name for us a street that runs from 3rd to Valencia that is parallel to Cesar Chavez? I would be delighted to use it instead!

Posted by: Po Hill Jeff at January 25, 2010 12:47 PM

CC goes through, though. Otherwise the choice is 23rd street and smack into a huge climb. It's 16th or (preferably, per your "major street" criticism) 17th, and/or CC if you want a bike lane.

Posted by: anonn at January 25, 2010 12:49 PM

Great... more planted medians.

sigh

Medians are for THE PEOPLE IN THE CARS to make their driving experience more pleasant. Great neighborhoods do not have narrow sidewalks.

Waste of money.

Posted by: BobN at January 25, 2010 1:02 PM

Cesar Chavez doesn't have particularly narrow sidewalks now. They just feel that way. Widening them is a stated goal in the first place. http://www.sf-planning.org/ftp/CDG/CDG_mission_cesarchavez.htm

Whether or not that happens, they'll feel wider once a bike lane goes in and traffic is reduced by two lanes.

Posted by: anonn at January 25, 2010 1:18 PM

"Why do all the bike nuts in SF (ref. Bicycle Plan EIR) think they deserve to take away convenience from automobile traffic in order to add to their own convenience?"

While you are correct in that motorist convenience may be impacted a little, the "bike nuts" are not seeking increased convenience but rather increased access. As configured now, Army St. is not really accessible to most cyclists.

To safely and effectively ride Army, bikers need to ride in the center of the narrow lane. That's something that most cyclists are not willing to do. And those who do ride in the center of the lane incur the wrath of motorists who don't understand that the cyclist is taking the safest position in the lane. Some of those motorists also threaten to use their vehicles as weapons, which tends to discourage cycling. Even very experienced cyclists are not comfortable riding Army.

Adding bike lanes eliminates that problem and opens the road to a much larger group of cyclists. I have never ever been harassed while riding in a bike lane. On the other hand I am routinely harassed when taking the shared lane for safety.

The motoring public should to get used to giving up a little convenience to make the roads available to more people : motorists, cyclists, pedestrians. Seems like a bargain to me.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 25, 2010 1:25 PM

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at January 25, 2010 2:24 PM

Very excited this is actually happening--can't wait for all the new trees. Last I heard, the sidewalks are not getting wider (very high cost, unfortunately).

Posted by: Snark17 at January 25, 2010 2:50 PM

The bike box works when the light is red. When you have to dash from the right lane 3 lanes left through traffic you feel like Frogger on steroids.

anonn,

23rd: exactly. SF is a city of Hills. Van Ness has its Polk street, but CC doesn't have much. There are always ways around the hills and away from big car traffic, but it involves detours, Ls, Us and so on.

Posted by: wow at January 25, 2010 2:56 PM

An alternative cycling path across the 101 is the 22nd street overpass past General Hospital. cycling/pedestrian only. Then you go down Kansas and up 26th and along the projects until you go under the 280 thanks through 25th. It's not too tough but you need to know where you're going and it's pretty bleak out there.

Posted by: wow at January 25, 2010 3:06 PM

Now that is some fancy rendering!

Posted by: lolcat_94123 at January 25, 2010 6:10 PM

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