In response to deaths like those of 41-year-old Heather Miller and 26-year-old Kate Slattery, two cyclists killed on the same night in June in separate hit-and-run incidents, as well as 24 others this year alone, the Mayor's office unveiled 57 high-priority projects as part of the city's Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024. However, that list of "new" projects wasn't so new, consisting instead of repurposed existing projects, some delayed, in a purely political maneuver the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition pointed to as disingenuous. More recently, the Mayor released a plan this month about which the Bike Coalition was more optimistic. But coalition communications director Chris Cassidy drew a line between theory and practice: "It's important to realize that, while this is a substantial commitment by City leaders, nothing has changed on the ground yet," he said. "There is a culture of plodding and delays when it comes to improving San Francisco's streets, and we'll be watching closely to see that these deadlines are met."
That culture, or a perception of it, has one rogue "transit agency" proposing and enacting its own reforms: Mostly instituting mock-protected bike lines with cones and then tweeting about it. KQED has the story of the San Francisco Transformation agency, or the SFMTrA, a guerrilla organization based on similar groups in other cities like New York and Seattle. “There’s a psychological effect of the orange cone on the automobile driver, and we wanted to bring that to the street,” an anonymous activist member told KQED. “We want the city to have more urgency protecting bikers and pedestrians in San Francisco.”
Because that activist group isn't exactly street-legal, it claims no leader, and exists as a loose affiliation of like-minded activists. To get involved, the group is willing to accept donations, or concerned citizens can use mapping software ZeeMaps to "Post locations where you would like to see a simple transformation to make a street more pedestrian or cyclist friendly." Like so:
It just took a few minutes to relocate these cones and create a pedestrian path around this blocked sidewalk. pic.twitter.com/4YibDdXNWn— SF Transformation (@SFMTrA) August 4, 2016
“We hear the calls for better bikeways and we couldn’t agree more,” a spokesperson from SFMTA (yes, the real one) tells KQED while also emphasizing that only his transportation agency and its contractors may legally set up traffic cones.