Links for Researchers

 San Francisco Transportation Library

Welcome to the San Francisco transportation on-line library. This page is here to provide all sorts of background documentation. As we delve into the question of the tracks on 17th Street and the bike wrecks and what to do about this conundrum we are turning up much very useful research and documentation that needs an access portal. I will continually reorganize this page as I add to it.

Urban Mass Transportation Acts — Essential history — The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 (referred to here as the Act) (P. L. 88-365, 78 Stat. 302) ushered in the modern era of financing mass transportation research, planning, and operations in the United States principally through federal grants and loans. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Act into law in 1964 as part of his Great Society programs. However, it was a speech to Congress in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy that provided the impetus for federal participation in local transportation funding. In that speech President Kennedy articulated the need for federal financial assistance in fostering urban development and renewal through the planning and implementation of regional mass transportation systems across the country. — Source:

Automobiles take over San Francisco Streets, A historical essay by Chris Carlsson.

List of Private Industry Bike Facility Design Planning and Civil Engineering Companies. — This is a private alternative to civil service designed bike paths. Some cities like Seattle Washington contract out their Bicycle Engineering work and have far superior results to San Francisco. We should do this in SF. The source here is the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.

SFMTA Transportation Fact Sheet for San Francisco. — How many streets, corners, signs, cars, San Francisco? These are the official figures.

SFMTA Vehicle count data. — Vehicle counts are very important data. This valuable resource gives you an idea of how many vehicles are moving through our neighborhood on a daily basis.

Vision Zero Street Map of San Francisco’s “most dangerous corridors.” — Find your street and neighborhood and see where you stand.

The latest data: San Francisco 2012 – 2015 Collisions report, November 3rd, 2015.

Fell & Oak Streets Panhandle-Adjacent Bikeway Feasibility Analysis, August 22, 2016.

One of the most important documents related to traffic you can read. The timing of the streetlights at crosswalks for pedestrians. This was the first organizing issue for the Black Panther Party back some decades ago. “Signal Timing and Pedestrians: San Francisco.” by Ricardo Olea at SFMTA. 46 pages of fantastic info for saving lives.

crosswalkstudygraphicAnd the sister document to the signal timing study (above) is the Federal Crosswalks Study. “Safety Effects of Marked Versus Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations – Final Report and Recommended Guidelines” – September, 2005. The graphic is like here in the Castro but safer. In SF the car blocking the view would be bigger and very likely parked perpendicular to the curb so as to form a blind wall.

What in hell does Level Of Service (LOS) got to do with anything? Short answer: Everything. This article explains the concept and how it has made San Francisco such a difficult place to ride a bicycle (or cross the street). This analysis from the Journal of Transport Geography (2011) was written by Jason Henderson at the Department of geography and Human Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University.

The Federal Government tries to get cities to build alternatives to the private automobile such as bike paths. Here’s the legislation passed and how they are attempting to promote that goal by directing federal tax dollars toward bike paths. —  American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Regulatory Review of Existing DOT Regulations.

Severe Injuries SF 2014-2015 study – Level I Trauma Center.
Study: SF’s Severe Traffic Injuries Have Been Heavily Underestimated by Aaron Bialick. This is true and underscores the problem with SF’s so-called “Data Driven” approach. This article from the San Francisco Examiner (November 3, 2016) found that “Half of injuries treated at SF General Hospital are from traffic collisions.”
We hear of VisionZero a lot. But it came from Sweden where the concept is pure. This is a Swedish website that really explains it well. Zero tolerance for traffic deaths would be a good summary.
Between a Pothole and a Hard Place: Funding Options for San Francisco’s Street Resurfacing Program” —  Accepted by the Capital Planning Committee May 17, 2010 Approved by the Streets Resurfacing Finance Working Group June 8, 2010. This report explains the difficulty of funding San Francisco’s Streets. This is detailed and brilliant and is as relevant today as it was six years ago, even more so.

The High Cost of Free Parking,” by Donald C. Shoup. Dept of Urban Planning, UCLA, 1997. — “Free Parking Comes at a Price” By Tyler Cohen, NY Times August 14, 2010. Basically a review of Mr. Shoup’s book but wonderfully clear and concise.

Federal EPA Study, 2006 – “Parking Spaces/Community Places – Finding the Balance through Smart Growth Solutions.”

“City Employee Parking Proposal” SFMTA, 2010. — “Together, these privileges, exemptions, and permits encourage City and government employees to drive rather than utilize transit and other forms of transportation, undermining the City’s goals for transportation. Because current policy allows many departments to print their own placards for free parking, the precise number of placards circulating is unknown and uncontrollable. At least 3,000 parking spaces are unavailable for public use, typically clustered around City and government facilities, reducing access for all to government services and nearby businesses.”

Matier & Ross – January 14, 2014. “SF Mayor Lee wants free parking at meters on Sundays.” They explain where the money is coming from to replace the income from the Sunday metered parking.

Aaron Bialick – StreetsBlogSF, April 16, 2014. “Pandering to the Parking-First Contingent Won’t Win Transportation Funding.”

Morgan Fitzgibbons, cofounder and program director, the Wigg Party wrote this extremely good piece for the Huffington Post which was published on May 19, 2013. “40 Years of Ignoring Transit-First.” — What’s San Francisco’s transit-first policy you ask? The short version: “Decisions regarding the use of limited public street and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit, and shall strive to reduce traffic and improve public health and safety.”

And there is a great precedent for Wigg Party type thought in San Francisco. A few decades back this town had a very large and effective Freeway Revolt. This was a major event in SF history. Local historian Chris Carlsson wrote a wonderful essay entitled “Freeway Revolt” and published on Found SF. Great pictures.

Bay Area Bike share is a big deal. And it is getting much bigger. They put out this very comprehensive FAQ.

Let’s talk local history. The most wonderful article about the construction and beginnings of our local Castro area Muni system circa 1970 was written by an Australian Publication. Small world, eh? Trolley Wire is the Journal of the Australian Tramway Museums and the issue is April 1984.

And before we get started why not read the older history of Upper Market Street transportation philosophies and actions. This is an overview of the past fifty years or so in a very easy to read article. Great sense of perspective on our area. And for more of that really long term perspective check out this read from SPUR: The Muni Paradox.

SPUR: SOMA Transportation and the Land Use Connection – Making the transportation and land use connection. — SPUR Report, July 19, 2000.

Back to Upper Market Street for a half second. This is the City’s latest tome: The Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy Report.

And now lets take a look at the other end of the 17th Street bike path: China Basin and the Eastern Waterfront. The plans are in play to supersize that whole area in all ways which means more traffic and people moving concerns. Bikes on protected pathways absolutely must be a big part of the solution. — Waterfront Transportation Assessment – “Phase 2”: SOMA/MISSION BAY/CENTRAL WATERFRONT Transportation Analysis Final Report – August, 2015.

This is the report that led to the F-line streetcars as we know it today. Very high quality read. — Market Street Planning Project: Final Report, 1985.

Another old by present day standards document that is greatly affecting our lives today: “The Four Corridors Plan” from June of 1995. This was ratified by the voters and so is used as the final answer to critics of the Central Subway (for example). But somehow major deviations are okay on the Van Ness and Gary recommendations like the subways and the link to 16th and Mission. Oops. It is also nauseatingly pro downtown at the expense of the rest of the City.

It all about downtown real estate. Get the picture?

The downtown centered point of view leaves SF with a car based transportation system for most of The City. Exceptions are downtown and areas targeted by real estate interests for development because said development can only occur with Mass Transit. So when we spend billions on transport options along the Eastern Half of the City that is subsidized by the folks on the City’s Western neighborhoods. But those people are not invited to the planning sessions anyway. They can drive. The best example of this is the City’s Capitol Plan which will guide all major investments through the year 2030. It is the main planning document for the whole transit system. — Mayors Transportation Task Force 2030.


Chart from the Mayors Transportation Task Force 2030 report.

We never stop planning. Basically the plan is to keep planning. In that spirit the SF Planning Department has a General Plan with a Transportation Component.

And since we are dealing with Streetcars it seems appropriate to include the American Public Transport Association (APTA) Modern Streetcar Vehicle Guideline.

Let’s start with the transportation project: The Central Subway. This is top priority over pretty much everything else. At $1.6 Billion and counting it is a big spending project.

And this is the other really huge construction project weighing in at well over than $2 billion dollars: The Old Bus Depot rebuild. It has a fancy new public relations team calling it all sorts of pretentious stuff but so far its a bus depot with a dream of (not so) high speed rail terminating in the basement. They are even rebuilding the bus ramps to the Bay Bridge. How retro. They have a very extensive website with jaw dropping graphics. The Transbay Transit Center.

First is the County Transportation Authority Website. — And the July 7, 2016 board packet for those interested in what they are doing. — And this fabulous brochure about SFCTA from the headhunting company looking for a new executive director.It is wonderfully informative, easy to read and descriptive.

SFMTA was established by the passage of Proposition E in November 1999, a measure which amended San Francisco’s charter and established the semi-independent agency to combine and run Muni and DPT. The measure, promoted by the transit riders’ group Rescue Muni, among others, established service standards for the agency and made a number of changes to the laws governing it.

Prior to the passage of Proposition E, the Muni was governed by the Public Transportation Commission and the Department of Parking and Traffic was governed by the Parking and Traffic Commission. Both bodies were dissolved upon the full implementation of Proposition E. — All this was from Wikipedia which has much more good info on SFMTA history.  — And this little tome, SFMTA budget from 2011 thereabouts.

But to really get the insight you need to ask Moody’s and S&P and another from S&P. and check out SFMTA’s investor page. And check out their Debt Policy paper. And the SFMTA Bond Oversight Committee.  Here’s the minutes of that committee from June, 2016. And the Capitol Spending Plan for this period of five years. And recent updates for Key Transit Projects for 2016.

This is a wonderful document that explains MUNI from the big picture, macro perspective. The State of Good Repair Report. — Read about the delicate balance between funding the Central Subway and funding the rest of the San Francisco transportation system.

Another extensive (120 pages) big picture macro perspective overview of MUNI focusing on their real estate holdings, dated February 5, 2013. “The SFMTA’s Real Estate and Facilities Vision for the 21st Century” Prepared by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Speaking of Parsons Brinckerhoff, who are they? You should know because they have been here a long time and have had a lot to do with how we get around in San Francisco. They are a subway builder and part of the original Bechtel Cabal that created the plans and processes that dominate transportation here now. Stanley D. Brunn explains it well in his book, “Engineering Earth: The Impacts of Megaengineering Projects.”

On that theme of BART creating downtown San Francisco is this short article by John Gibler on the Reimagine website: “Bart, GM & Bechtel: Protecting Property Values in San Francisco’s Financial District” from Race Poverty & the Environment, Spring, 2010.

And this great article from FoundSF explaining how the giant engineering firms dominate local transport planing and spending. BART: Bechtel’s Baby Historical Essay by Burton H. Wolfe originally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Feb. 14, 1973 — “There’s no reason for people to hear of us. We’re not selling to the public.” –Steve Bechtel, Jr., president, Bechtel Corp., quoted in Newsweek.

Princeton University is the source of this case study of San Francisco that took a very close look at the individuals who planned and implemented the BART system. “Critical History of Transit Planning and decision making.”

On that real estate development theme several reports were produced in a short time. They are all very similar but rife with great info and history and detail. Like this one, “The Real Estate Vision Report Appendices G-M.” dated January, 2013.

Or this short, to the point overview of Muni’s major facilities from June 5, 2012.

Or this report focusing on the real estate ambitions and challenges near City College of San Francisco at Balboa Park Station. — Balboa Park Station Capacity and Conceptual Engineering Study from October, 2012.

The Central Corridor Plan — Sounds like the Central Subway, doesn’t it? There a good reason for that.

This little gem is called Transforming the SFMTA and it dates back to the beginning and the early days of the SFMTA, back in the dark ages of 2009. And if we’re going way back, lets go back a bit further to August 20, 2001 when the Legislative Analyst for the SF Board of Supervisors generated this report entitled: “Legislative Analyst Report – Pedestrian Safety.”

Another insightful publication for those interested in the local MUNI system. This was a fluff piece put together for the NATCO Designing Cities Conference in 2012 but it has some good graphics and statistics. Note the author.

How about my street? Every street in San Francisco is rated every so often for its Pavement Condition Index ranking. It is a big deal. It is also very political because it is used to prioritize spending for road resurfacing and maintenance. We think it is being gamed. But it is still an important resource to have and to understand.

San Francisco Development Pipeline from SF OpenData — A great database of building projects in San Francisco and a little bit about each. Good research tool. Very easy to get the big picture by district or other categories. Easy to use.

Did you ever wonder how much these people working for us actually get paid in a year? This website is a good source for round figure information of that sort. Type in the name, get the salary. — But remember, junkets don’t get reported by anyone in SF except elected officials, MUNI is run by appointees and appointees of appointees, none of whom have any reporting requirements. So trips and extras are icing on the cake. — And Transparent California has an even better database with more recent info right up to 2015. And they seem to cover a lot of places as well.

Another way to observe this salary data is by department as a whole year after year. This is wonderful as you can watch SFMTA swell in size to match their available resources. California State Controller Betty T. Yee hosts the Government Pay in California database.

People for Bikes in their blog produced this great article on protected bike lanes. Tech Talk: 19 beautiful ways to protect bike lanes (photos) — October 04, 2013 by Zach Vanderkooy, Green Lane Project program manager.

SPUR, formally known as the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, is a non-profit research, education, and advocacy organization focused on issues of planning and governance in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.

SPUR’s history dates back to 1910, when a group of young city leaders came together to improve the quality of housing after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. That group, the San Francisco Housing Association, authored a hard-hitting report which led to the State Tenement House Act of 1911.

In the 1930s, SFHA continued to advocate for housing concerns. In the 1940s, SFHA merged with Telesis, a group of graduates from UC Berkeley’s city planning program, to become the San Francisco Planning and Housing Association. In 1942, the association landed a major success with the creation of San Francisco’s Department of City Planning.

During the 1950s, SFPHA pushed for the revitalization of San Francisco as the Bay Area’s central city, in an effort to curb suburban sprawl and channel growth back into the urban core. In 1959, the San Francisco Planning and Housing Association was reorganized into the San Francisco Planning and Urban Renewal Association and, in 1977, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.[1] The group has helped shape some of the most important planning decisions in the region, from the founding of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) to the preservation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


The West Coast Perspective.

This article is local, super hyper local: Hoodline, July 8, 2016 by Shane Downing, “As Bicyclists Continue to Fall on 17th Street Muni Tracks, Will City Implement Solutions?” — Article all about the issue with the tracks on our street here in San Francisco. — And related to that article is the YouTube video of the mother with her two children getting knocked down by the tracks and sent to the hospital. Shane Downing and the team at Hoodline posted that video and it received more than 2,000 hits in a very short time after it went up.

This problem exists in other cities up and down the Pacific Coastline. And other folks have done great work to address and document the troubles of Bikes and Streetcar track related crashes. Here’s some more on that:

An article from Tree Hugger out of Toronto Canada (I know, East Coast) from July 27, 2016 about their experience riding on tracks.

On July 22, 2016 this important study was released by research scientists. “Bicycling crashes on streetcar (tram) or train tracks: mixed methods to identify prevention measures” by Kay Teschke, Jessica Dennis, Conor C. O. Reynolds, Meghan Winters and M. Anne Harris.

And on July 15, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle has paid $3.5 million to settle a claim that the city created unsafe conditions on Second Avenue, where a turning truck killed bicyclist Sher Kung in 2014.

And last but not least, Jane Kim’s Ethics Commission filings posted in hopes that someone can find the report of her trip to Europe with the MUNI bosses this past May 17 – 22, 2015. We want to know who paid for it and how much did it cost.

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