Friday, November 8, 2013

Letter to Supervisor Cohen on Potrero Streetscaping project

I went to a public meeting on the Potrero Streetscaping project. The principal opposition was from those who fear the loss of parking along this busy, dangerous, high-speed road, which was formally the major through-road along the eastern boundary of the city until that function was taken up by highway 101.

Here's my letter to my supervisor, Malia Cohen, which I hurriedly dashed off this morning before riding to physical therapy:

Supervisor Cohen:

I was at the public meeting last night ont he Potrero Avenue streetscaping.

The core issue is the priority our transit-first city is going to place on private vehicle parking versus MUNI efficiency and pedestrian and cycling safety. MUNI is bogged down in traffic and pedestrians and cyclists are being picked off on our roadways at an appalling rate. It is thus imperative to the quality of life in the city that this project moves forward.

The key requirement is that traffic on Potrero Ave slow down. The median landscaping, by making the road less highway-like, is the best approach to accomplishing that. A bike lane buffer would be nice, but with 50-mph car traffic, cycling will never be safe there. We need to slow down the cars.

Slower cars make traffic move smoother, in any case, and smoother traffic gets people to their destinations safer and quicker.

Some at the meeting prioritized parking over safety and traffic throughput. Indeed, parking creates traffic turbulence, which creates congestion, which slows everyone. So parking on major transportation routes should not be a priority.

The better approach is to reduce the demand for on-street parking. This is done by following the city charter: improve transit, improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, and additionally encourage homeowners to scale back the size and number of personal vehicles and to use garage space for its permitted purpose, which is to store vehicles. Storage of household good should be outsourced to storage facilities.

Our land is too precious in this highly valued city for free parking to be a priority. Indeed, cities where parking and wide, fast roads are the priority tend to be low on the liveability index. They destroy neighborhoods and isolate neighborhoods. Potrero Ave is presently a traffic sewer, to be avoided by all who have the choice to do so. It can be so much better. This project is a step in that direction, and should be embraced, even if change is always feared, and always resisted.

Please do the right thing and support the Potrero Streetscaping project.

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