Well I must say it was a reasonably civil affair at the SFMTA Open House on Polk street this morning, well it was for about the hour I attended. First off I hit Quetzal for a much needed Latte, working till the wee hours kind of takes its toll. Even though I live just a couple of Blocks away from the venue, I walked my bike there, with my helmet hanging from my messenger bag, my camera in one hand and survey in the other.
I mixed with the many that turned up to voice or rather write down their opinions, on the various charts, talking with the SFMTA staffers and with the Save Polk Street folks, as well as neighbors that I’ve known for sometime.
While I walked in very undecided, I walked away liking the “A” plan for the street. It seems to appease mostly the Save Polk Street but at the same time does provide one bike lane. It also allows for side walk, signage and lighting improvements. While it does not go as far as many cyclists would like, I personally think it is at the very least a balanced start to something both sides can begin to agree and build on, yes more work needs to be done. I have included pictures of the Proposals, complete with hand written remarks. So we are clear, SFMTA encouraged folks to write on the proposals their thoughts and opinions, I really liked this approach. Tables were set out in front of each of the A, B and C plans and on them large layers of white paper where people also wrote their opinions.
I chatted briefly with Ray Bair from Save Polk Street, who’s group had a table set up in the main area of the open house, I actually bought one of the Save Polk Street T’s, not because I totally agree with everything they support, I just like the T-shirts. After all this will be a historical footnote in Polk street development in years to come and I can at least say I played a small part. Ray explained to me that they have been working with the SFMTA after being invited to do so, on the new proposals which were on display at the open house. “I very much like the fact that both sides are talking and proactively looking for solutions that appease the cyclists, pedestrians, merchants and residents of the Polk corridor”. They “Save Polk Street” were indorsing Plan A, which is yes the one I liked the most. I should point out I picked that plan prior to speaking with Save Polk Street because I plain liked it for my neighborhood. I have made it no secret that I fully support my neighbors and merchants when it comes to my neighborhood. But I also made it clear that I am a cyclist that’s why I had my helmet hanging off my messenger bag in the venue.
SFMTA staffers were very helpful at this gathering, they were informative and explained each segment of the planning in great detail as folks moved around the room. They had extra large colored posters in the hallway to accommodate more people if required and they certainly were.
San Francisco Bike Coalition were also present at the open house, notably setting up a temporary bike area in front of the venue. As you can see here two volunteers stand guard over a line of locked bikes.
I do have one pet peeve, I was asked at sign in if I would like to fill in a survey, I said why not and the nice gentleman handed me the brief questionnaire, pen and pad to write on. However I was not at first told to study the display’s in the other room first. So even after handing my first survey in, I had to fill in another after thoroughly reading the presentation and handed it back in. So without thinking I filled in two surveys. Subsequently someone pointed out on Twitter that this was very flawed way to take a survey, because anyone could fill in multiple surveys, described as votes in the tweet. I was also not informed that these were counted as votes? I am still not aware that they are! I should also point out that even though I did unintentionally file two surveys, while I was there I did not see anyone else do so. But point being, if I could do it, then anyone could do it.
SFMTA Polk Street meeting “voting” is a joke because there are no controls to keep people from voting multiple times, for one.
— Jamie Whitaker (@jamiewhitaker) April 27, 2013
Overall I thought the Open House did what it was supposed to do, show off new proposals, inform the local public and let them make an informed decision. All sides of the coin were present and the atmosphere was friendly.
Here are some more photo’s I took while at the SFMTA open house. Click Here!