What Fell Street Could Look Like

To help us visualize just how awesome an improved Fell Street could be for everyone in the City, I wanted to post a couple of short Streetfilms to help us see that San Francisco’s problems of malignant street design are not unique to Baghdad-by-the-Bay, and that solutions are readily available.

The first StreetFilm details a 8th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn (NYC) — it’s a one-way very much like Fell Street. It’s residential, potentially beautiful, but has a highway driving through it.

Some of the observations made about this particular one-way street, and one-way streets in general, are:

“You’ve basically got vehicles treating it like a highway. Look how fast this guy is going — that’s what people do on this street.”

“One-way streets…just are not as conducive to neighborhood life (as two-way streets).”

“You’ve got hundreds of cities and towns all across the US right now that are taking their old 1950s-era one-way multi-lane highways and they’re turning them back into two-way streets, because two-way streets, people generally feel, are more conducive to neighborhood life.”

“This, to me, is not a neighborhood street — it’s loud.”

These quotes describe Fell Street to a ‘T’.

Noise levels along the avenue they’re measuring are about 80 Db — about as loud as a vacuum cleaner. I hate vacuum cleaners. When someone turns on a vacuum cleaner in my presence, I want to go all Animal House on it. We know noise pollution is damaging to our health, and it is just generally unpleasant. We don’t deserve to be treated like this. We have to increase our ability to be able to walk and ride up and down Fell Street and carry on a simple conversation without having to yell above the din of traffic.

And as we dive deeper into the abyss of negative externalities from auto-only streetscape design, we occasionally stumble upon some new or not-yet-highly-publicized horror. Here’s an example from Toronto — ‘Audible’ traffic signals no match for din of traffic:

The sound of chirping is music to Mary Lorefice’s ears – if only she could hear it.

One of the major advances in traffic technology is the audible pedestrian crossing signal, which allows visually impaired persons who can’t see the lights to get their cue.

Hundreds of intersections across Toronto are equipped with audible signals, including Ellesmere and Brimley Rds., where four lanes of traffic roar by in each direction, making them an absolute necessity.

Lorefice, who is blind and lives in an apartment building at Ellesmere and Brimley, emailed to say that for several weeks, she hasn’t been able to hear the audible signals, leaving her to guess at when to cross, based on traffic noise.

“The chirp to indicate I can cross is not loud enough to be heard over the noisy vehicles,” said Lorefice. “As a blind person, I’ve come to depend on these signals to cross the intersection safely.”

Like an onion, after we unravel each layer of malignant streetscape design, there’s a new horror that is exposed. Each new freedom we achieve is only relative — we will continue to push to be ever-more-free from the shackles of motordom, and all of life’s social ills. Behind every desire, is another one, waiting to be liberated, when the first one’s sated.

The article cited in the Streetfilm, Many cities changing one-way streets back, is from the noted left-wing, socialist-utopian publication, USA Today.

Our next StreetFilm shows how to increase safety and accessibility along a stretch of road that is flanked by a park — in this case Prospect Park in Brooklyn — in our case, The Panhandle:

The panhandle’s multi-use path is too crowded with all manner of soft traffic moving at different speeds — it’s dangerous, as most everyone seems willing to admit. We’re starting now to hear more rumblings for a viable solution. We don’t want to drop any more pavement in the park — instead, we’re going to re-apportion the existing Fell Street roadway just like the StreetFilm above shows — move the car parking out to protect cyclists, and provide us a two-way cycletrack. Really, we should not tolerate anything less than a full-on two-way street for all vehicles, including motor vehicles, and with full-on cycletracks, but it’s possible we could compromise down to a bi-directional cycletrack. Any road with more than a single lane of automobile traffic moving in one direction (that is, two or more adjacent auto traffic lanes moving in the same direction) creates many of the same negative effects of a typical one-way street — it is for this reason that we should not tolerate them. We may not get there immediately, but that’s the end goal.

One of the most sober and convincing articles on converting our streets back to friendly two-ways is this Governing Magazine article. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s well worth your time.

Posted in Street Livability, Traffic, Video | Leave a comment

SLOWdown: Free Tea and Chillout on Fell for PARK(ing) Day

SLOWdown! with Fix Fell next Friday, September 17th, all day for PARK(ing) Day…

We’re serving FREE TEA – chai and a variety of herbals to choose from, BYOC! (Bring Yer Own Cup). And we’re serving CHILLOUT – in the form of music, + our parking-space lounge with lots of comfort to park your person in, + a chance to hang out with the folks of Fix Fell and other groups working for livable streets in San Francisco (more soon on this).

Experience a haven of livable Fell Street within the current traffic craze… we’re hosting a small DIY piece of what we’re calling for on Fell: a physically separated, green bikeway, connecting the Wiggle to the Panhandle. Safe enough you could carry yer cup o’ tea on yer bike and not get hassled by motor vehicles… because there’d be landscaping protecting you! (see our Fix Fell Platform)

Leave a comment here or email drake at apostrophe@resist.ca if you’d like to contribute or collaborate for Park(ing) Day!

Posted in DIY, Events | 4 Comments

How Many Have to Die?

This story isn’t about Fell Street. Rather, it is about Any Street, San Francisco.

One pedestrian dead, one on life support in separate incidents.

Here’s the thing. People make mistakes. That is inevitable. What isn’t inevitable is for those mistakes to become deadly by a culture that has people piloting two-ton hunks of metal around at high speeds just to get to work or go grocery shopping.

This must be changed on a large scale. We are starting with what our meager resources can manage on Fell Street.

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Week 12 Video: SFPD Says “Just Be Careful” on Fell Street

To clarify, the officers did not give any tickets to cyclists while I was present on Fell last Friday. They did, however, pull over several folks in the bike lane, asked for ID, and then let them go with just warnings to be careful, or if they’d turned left on the red at Scott onto Fell, a warning that they need to stop on red. If anyone has info on officers enforcing car traffic on that block (which we haven’t seen, nor heard about), let us know!

Posted in Cops, Traffic, Video | 2 Comments

Tomorrow Makes a Dozen Fridays!

A20 saw big action and big promises at Fell & Divis. We are following up on both!

In the promises department, we’ll report back on that promised “locked room” full of city government reps forced to take a long, hard look at Fell…

As for action, we are Friday Shut Down Party-ers! And will be, until a livable Fell Street is engineered for all of us. So come out tomorrow, for our 12th consecutive Friday presence, 5:30-7:30pm. We would Love to meet you. Add your voice and vision to the movement for a livable San Francisco!

Questions or just want to make contact before showing up? E-mail Drake at apostrophe@resist.ca

Posted in Events, SFMTA | 2 Comments

Direct Action for the Planet this Weekend

Join Mobilization for Climate Justice West this Sunday and Monday for direct action targeting BP and Chevron.

Remember, our protests at Fell and Divisadero haven’t been just about street safety, they are about oil spills and climate change that threatens life on our planet. I don’t know if any of us would have been willing to risk arrest if it were just about street safety, as important as that is.

So, get plugged in and make us proud!

Posted in Events, Oil industry | Leave a comment

Raw Testimony After Jail (Explicit)

I was one of four of our protesters held overnight last Friday after A20, and through  Saturday morning. The ugly, uncaring treatment I experienced, and watched others go through, moved me deeply. What I needed most after my release was to write about my experiences, uncensored. So here I share with you my Raw Testimony After Jail.

Posted in Peoples Testimony | Leave a comment