Dear Mayor Lee, Supervisor Chiu, Director Reiskin,
I wasn’t able to attend either of the latest Polk st. meetings held this week. I work full time and go to school part time in the evenings at CCSF. I hope you’ll take my input all the same. I’ve been living in San Francisco for nearly 10 years, and throughout that time, Polk St has always been something of a special jewel to me. I don’t think there’s a street more ‘San Francisco’ than Polk St.
While I was not able to make the latest meetings, I’ve reviewed the options that were presented to the public there. (http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Polk-designs-Sat.-Open-House.pdf) From my perspective I see a painful imbalance. As someone who uses Polk St several times a week, spends $50-$100 along the corridor per week, I feel the most important uses of the street are (in sorted order):
1. Safety and accessibility for pedestrians
2. Safety and accessibility for people on bicycles
3. Efficient movement of Muni and taxis
4. Efficient movement of private automobiles
5. Public storage of private automobiles
As you know, the options that were presented at the latest community meetings don’t exhibit this same order of priorities. In particular, we are bending over backwards to preserve #5 (public storage of private automobiles) at the expense of our other priorities. In particular, we’re sacrificing Muni and bicycle safety and access to provide public storage of private automobiles.
As you know, Polk St. is not only an official San Francisco bicycle route, it’s actually one of the most important routes in town. From my perspective, it is ridiculous that we are considering designs that don’t provide dedicated space for people on bicycles along this key route. Adding space for bicycles on a dozen less-traveled streets would have less effect than on this one street.
As you know, the recent study the SFMTA commissioned to learn about how people get to polk street and how much money they spend (http://www.sfmta.com/cms/opolk/documents/PolkIntereptSurveyFindings.pdf) revealed that 85% of people on Polk street arrive by some method other than private vehicle. Again, from my perspective it is ridiculous that we are proposing to sacrifice the safety and mobility of 85% of the people in order to continue to provide the 15% with public storage of private automobiles. To continue re-iterating what you already know, that study also demonstrated that not only do only 15% of the people on Polk arrive via private automobile, those 15% also spend less money per visit that people arriving by any other mode of transportation. It just doesn’t make financial sense to continue prioritizing public storage of private automobiles.
With specific respect to the options presented at latest Polk St. meetings, I encourage you to:
* drop options A and B from the Union <-> Geary segment. Those do not provide dedicated space for people on bicycles and hence are not appropriate for one of the most important bicycle routes in the city.
* carry forward option C for the Union <-> Geary segment In addition, add one or more options that provide physically separated bicycle space (as was discussed and endorsed at the first community meeting) to this segment.
* for the Geary <-> McAllister segment, all options are acceptable. My preference is for Option B.
Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me if I can help out in any way.
Co-founder & Director of Engineering, Prism Skylabs