June 27, 2012
Where East Meets West: The Grand Plan For Cesar Chavez
With the Cesar Chavez West remodeling project underway, tomorrow San Francisco’s Planning Commission will review the plan to remake Cesar Chavez East, a plan that "promotes safety, comfort and accessibility to all modes of transportation."
The Cesar Chavez East Community Design Plan area comprises approximately one mile of Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco’s southeast quadrant. The plan area includes access points to two freeways (Highway 101 and i-280) and intersections with several other major city streets (Potrero Avenue, Bayshore Boulevard, 3rd street), and is close to stops of several transit lines (Caltrain, BART, and Muni 9L and T-3rd).
While the westernmost part of the plan is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and city parks, most of the eastern part of Cesar Chavez Street is a vital truck route connecting the City’s main industrial districts to highways leading to the Bay Bridge and to the peninsula.
As an important east/west connector, Cesar Chavez brings together the Mission, Potrero, Bernal Heights, Bayview, and Dogpatch neighborhoods and is also a vital link to the Blue Greenway and the Bay.
Key elements of the plan include a public space network "addressing the need to gather and be in the public realm;" an ecological network "addressing the need to make ecological values an integral part of the final design of the corridor;" and dedicated bicycle lanes with robust landscaped buffers from traffic along with pedestrian improvements.
Having developed the plan, Planning's next big challenge is to find a source of funding.
∙ Cesar Chavez Reconfiguration Update (And Some Objections) [SocketSite]
∙ Cesar Chavez East Community Design Plan [SFPlanning]
∙ San Francisco's Great Blue Greenway Vision And Interconnected Plans [SocketSite]
First Published: June 27, 2012 2:30 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
They have their work cut out for them on this one. This is a nasty little area and they have succeeded in making it dangerous and inefficient for vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes. A trifecta of failure.
Posted by: sf at June 27, 2012 2:45 PM
I am so *amazingly* thrilled at the new bike lanes that have been put in here -- as a regular riding on this street it is with a big sigh of relief that I now have a little bit of a buffer from all the cars and trucks. Getting a physical barrier in place will be even better.
some of the intersections are still a bit dicey as they require riding diagonally through right-turning traffic, but at least the road markings now give drivers a clue, so it helps a lot.
I'm very interested to know how they intend to rework the 101-intersection. The homeless population there is impressive -- dozens of folks live under there. While some parts of the pedestrian/bike paths through there are reasonable to ride, other sections are plainly dangerous and sketchy (i.e. the south western segment, next to the stair case up to bernal).
Given that this is such a heavily commuted route (folks going to caltrain, for example), cleaning up the intersection to be safe and appealing will make a huge difference, and will help the neighborhood in general.
Posted by: Big V at June 27, 2012 4:11 PM
For a city as small as San Francisco, I am amazed at how many projects Planning has currently proposed or in the pipeline. How large is their staff? I am still hoping they someday get around to dealing with Lombard (101) between Van Ness and where it becomes Doyle Drive. It has to be one of the ugliest streets in Northern California, and at a usage of close to 100,000 vehicles a day, it deserves better.
Posted by: anon94123 at June 27, 2012 4:11 PM
"other sections are plainly dangerous and sketchy"
Traffic? Or are there muggings or something? What's dangerous? Not understanding.
Posted by: R at June 27, 2012 4:42 PM
I like plan B. an 11' double bike lane with a 6' barrier sounds nifty! Could even throw in a parklet or two (at least at the westernmost area :)
Posted by: 48yo hipster at June 27, 2012 5:00 PM
@R - concern for crime/muggings. That particular section is far from view and has had trouble in the past. I know many folks who refuse to walk/bike through that part of the intersection out of fear for safety.
Posted by: Big V at June 27, 2012 5:34 PM
I'm a fan of the two-way cycletrack. Very disappointed it wasn't used on JFK in the park.
Posted by: Alai at June 27, 2012 6:16 PM
As much as I appreciate the bike lanes, now there is NO parking along this entire stretch, which really sucks for those who work along here. One must park on Evans or the little bayshore elbow street, known mostly for break-ins. Whatever they end up doing, I hope they take surrounding parking into account as well as pedestrian lighting/safety issues.
Posted by: Schlub at June 27, 2012 6:47 PM
I don't see how this is a good thing. I walk, bike and drive around this neighborhood all the time. This stretch of Cesar Chavez feels like it is optimized for cars, being that it is a central on/off ramp for two major freeways into and out of the city. Do we really want cars coming off a freeway going 40 miles an hour to suddenly slow to 20 and look for bicyclists? It sounds like danger cocktail. With all the homeless/dayworkers they're just building medians so that these people can hang out more comfortably. There are no stores or restaurants down this stretch so I doubt foot traffic is low because it is a large street.
WRT biking, I always prefer small streets over large ones. Biking over a hill might be challenging, but suck it up. You live in a hilly city - work those quads. I don't understand why the bike coalition feels they have a right to have bike lanes on whatever street they feel they should.
Posted by: 25/folsom resident at June 27, 2012 8:31 PM
With regard to street markings, signage, lighting, etc., this (CC: Valencia-to-101) is without doubt the most inept Public Works project I have ever encountered, and I've lived and worked on four continents.
I'm sure the end result will be wonderful but somebody at DPW must be getting their palm greased to allow this nightmare to continue.
Meh, maybe it's just me having a "get off my lawn moment", but I doubt it.
Posted by: brid at June 27, 2012 10:40 PM
25/folsom - The Army/101 hairball has been a longtime obstacle to cyclists. Even strong fit cyclists will avoid going up and over the hill. Traversing the hump takes more time and can make the difference between arriving cool and dry versus soaked in sweat.
And yes, we really want traffic exiting 101 to slow to a speed more appropriate for a busy city street.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 27, 2012 11:21 PM
MoD is right. Leaving low-sloped streets to cars while asking cyclists to "suck it up" does not make any sense.
I have an idea: let's leave SF sidewalks to Segways and let pedestrian go to hell. Because this is basically what is going here but with cars and bicycles.
Cars are using energy stored for 200 Million years by other animals to lift 25 human bodies worth of metal. Cyclists are using their 1/2 digested breakfast cereals and yesterday's pasta.
Cereals grow back. Gasoline doesn't.
We should favor sustainable transit, while keeping traditional car transit decently accessible until there's a better energy solution.
People who can make the switch should have an incentive, or at least they should have the option. In a spaghetti bowl there's no choice.
A great move in the right direction.
Posted by: lol at June 28, 2012 7:18 AM
@lol, I assume you do not own, or use a car?
Posted by: curious at June 28, 2012 7:21 AM
Funny you're asking. I do both. I own a place in a great transit area, which helps a lot too. I do cycle but I use my car to haul stuff that's too cumbersome or for more than 20Lbs of groceries or when I do more than 5 miles.
I had to pay a premium for housing over living in car-friendly suburbia, but I gained so much in freedom and quality of life. This is the paradox of cars: an instrument of freedom can become a trap. I love mine though I would love to be able to live without.
Posted by: lol at June 28, 2012 8:18 AM
@brid - you are confusing the current Cesar Chavez WEST public works project for this posting, which is about potential plans for Cesar Chavez EAST.
I live nearby, and certainly it's frustrating to have traffic necked down frequently. However, what they are doing on Cesar Chavez right now is complicated...first they need to do a lot of underground utility work, then they need to go back and work on the street reconstruction. All while allowing a major thoroughfare to function. I haven't noticed any major issues with signage or lighting, but I don't drive it every day.
Posted by: curmudgeon at June 28, 2012 9:32 AM
Someone who comes to San Francisco and gives up his car is called a Munimalist.
Posted by: lol at June 28, 2012 9:50 AM
I live here and am sad to see the center median has been removed from the plans. I also didn't know about the meeting today. I feel like the city has been pretty terrible at keeping us informed of the planning process and timetable.
Posted by: Local at June 28, 2012 12:11 PM
Though center medians are nice if landscaped they tend to induce traffic to speed. They can also interfere with emergency traffic that sometimes drives counter-traffic to get around jams.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 28, 2012 1:51 PM
How do they induce traffic to speed? The landscaped medians on Guerrero are wonderful, and they have reduced traffic speed.
Posted by: futurist at July 2, 2012 12:40 PM
48yo, plan B appears, at least to me, to be the least safe, for two reasons.
First, you want the cars to see the bikes when the cars are about to turn. 6' of landscaped space seems to me to be too much distance.
Second, the cars at the intersecting streets that approach from the bike lane side and turn right onto this street will tend to look left for oncoming traffic, but not right. They won't expect bikes to be coming from "the wrong way" at any rate of speed and so they won't look out for them.
Signage helps but not that much (case in point, the traffic engineer that designed the Market street/101 on ramp was recently hit there while on a bike himself - the driver of the car ignored at least three no right turn signs that the cyclist himself had specified there).
Thus, plan A is the winner.
Posted by: tipster at July 2, 2012 1:24 PM
About Guerrero medians, I think there are 2 sides to that coin.
This is a great street to leave SF or to cross from 280 to Market (and then you can dash towards the North, very cool). I like driving there even though I prefer taking Dolores for pure esthetic reasons.
As a cyclist, I avoid Guerrero at all costs, sometimes even doing one 1/2 extra mile or going up a steep hill to avoid the craziness. It's car kingdom and I think that's OK.
But for locals I think the Guerrero landscaped medians are cutting the neighborhood in 2, especially since it's not interrupted on some sections at crossings and are making it the street less desirable to live on. And people actually live on that street and have to park on it, cross it, shop, eat, etc...
But for Cesar Chavez, heck, almost anything is better than the current suburban wasteland design. Put bikes on them, help pedestrians feel safer, slow traffic down, get drivers to respect what they are crossing. You achieve that and 90% of the job is done. I think the current design on both the currently constructed section and this newer plan has the goods.
Posted by: lol at July 2, 2012 1:36 PM
"How do [medians] induce traffic to speed?"
The theory is that since they reduce or eliminate the chance of a head-on collision that drivers feel comfortable driving faster. Landscaping on the other hand tends to slow speeds, the theory being that drivers become more relaxed if the environment is "pretty" plus the increased chance of colliding with a stout tree trunk discourages speeding.
I haven't looked into the Guerrero situation. There might be some other factors of the reconfiguration that slowed speeds. Decreased lane widths can slow speeds for example.
I agree with tipster on "Plan A" mainly because counterflow bike lanes make right turns really awkward.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 2, 2012 1:40 PM
Reduced line of sight lowers speed as well. How does extra greenery make a street less desirable to live on lol? I would personally much rather have plants in front of my house than a concrete median.
I am pretty sure it does not block any crosswalks on Guererro, but if it does let me know where. I would like to take a look.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 2, 2012 5:54 PM
I wasn't clear enough in my statement. It's not the greenery that bugs me on Guerrero, it's the layout of the dividers. Some of the sections feel like you're trespassing on a freeway. A pedestrian can feel out of place.
Some examples: Liberty, Hill, Elizabeth which are crossing Guerrero but with no protected crossing through the uninterrupted divider. I see quite a few pedestrians jaywalking because they don't want to change their course or they do not know there's a Xing just a short block away. Guerrero is Frogger, but with a bakery.
Posted by: lol at July 3, 2012 8:55 AM
I'll bet that most of the people crossing Guerrero at Hill, Liberty, etc. know that there's a painted crosswalk nearby but just prefer to take the shortest route. I wonder whether those who need a wheelchair are grumbling about the now required detour. They just can't as easily hop over a curb.
The Guerrero center divide treatment seems to be some sort of "mitigation" for the addition of bike lanes to Valencia. That was a 4 car lane to 2bike+3car conversion so maybe the loss of 25% of the car lanes (not counting parking!) had to be compensated for nearby.
Sold to the community as a beautification project it is actually a way to enable Guerrero to bear a higher load of faster car traffic. A classic greenwash.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 3, 2012 7:04 PM
Sorry MoD you are usually 100% on the mark, but not on this one. The center divide was already there, they just added the greenery. The whole point of the greenery, at least according to the person who kicked off the whole project, was to slow down traffic:
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 30, 2012 6:21 PM
OK, so then I'm at most half right then NoeValleyJim :-) Greening an existing center divide will calm traffic so those neighbors who got it funded did indeed improve the street conditions.
I wonder what the history behind installing the "traffic aggravating" center divide was in the first place? Certainly it was done speed traffic flow by clumping pedestrian crossings. Too bad the that the greening project didn't expand to restoring the pedestrian crossings too. The jackhammers were already rented and on site.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 30, 2012 9:57 PM