Sunday, May 28, 2017

No constitutional right to public nudity

Photo: Nelson Estrada

Fortunately, last week the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the First Amendment argument by exhibitionists George Davis and Gypsy Taub (Taub v. City County of S.F).

Plaintiffs Oxane “Gypsy” Taub and George Davis …, self-described body freedom advocates, appeal the dismissal of their claims … against the City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Department … Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated their First Amendment rights by enforcing San Francisco’s public nudity ordinance.

1. Public nudity is not inherently expressive, but it may in some circumstances constitute expressive conduct protected under the First Amendment. Even if Plaintiffs’ public nudity at political rallies was entitled to First Amendment protection, however, we hold that the challenged ordinance is a valid, content-neutral regulation as applied to Plaintiffs’ expressive conduct under United States v. O’Brien (1968). O’Brien is the applicable test here because the ordinance is aimed at “the conduct itself, rather than at the message conveyed by that conduct.”

The challenged ordinance satisfies…[the] O’Brien factors….[T]he ordinance furthers San Francisco’s important and substantial interests in protecting individuals “who are unwillingly or unexpectedly exposed” to public nudity and preventing “distractions, obstructions, and crowds that interfere with the safety and free flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”…San Francisco’s interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression, because the ordinance regulates public nudity whether or not it is expressive.…[And] “the incidental restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is no greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest.” The ordinance prohibits only exposure of one’s “genitals, perineum, or anal region,” during daily activities in the streets of San Francisco, which is essential to meet the City’s goals of preventing distraction and offense to citizens not expecting to be confronted with such private parts of other persons’ anatomy….

Plaintiffs [also requested] leave to amend [their] Complaint in order to plead additional facts relating to the expressiveness of their nude rallies and demonstrations. Because we conclude that San Francisco’s public nudity ordinance is a valid regulation under the O’Brien test, even if we assume that more of Plaintiffs’ conduct was likely to communicate a message to those who saw it, Plaintiffs’ complaint would not be saved through further amendment.

Then-Supervisor Scott Wiener's half-assed attempt to deal with the issue: Scott Wiener strikes again and Wiener and the weenie-waggers.

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Courage was not enough

Goliath's troops in battle

Neal Sheehan in today's NY Times:

...It was June 21, 1989, and I was interviewing a diminutive man with four stars on the epaulets of his dark green uniform shirt. We were talking in what had once been the mansion of a French colonial governor in Hanoi. The man was Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese military genius who had led his country to victory, first against France’s attempt to reimpose colonial rule in the aftermath of World War II, then against the unparalleled might of the United States when it subsequently sought to permanently divide Vietnam and install a client state in Saigon.

“The American soldiers were brave, but courage is not enough,” General Giap said. “David did not kill Goliath just because he was brave. He looked up at Goliath and realized that if he fought Goliath’s way with a sword, Goliath would kill him. But if he picked up a rock and put it in his sling, he could hit Goliath in the head and knock Goliath down and kill him. David used his mind when he fought Goliath. So did we Vietnamese when we had to fight the Americans" (David and Goliath in Vietnam).

Rob's comment:
Yes, it's important to understand that after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the United States simply rebranded that colonial war as a war against Communism.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jared Kushner: "Basically a shithead"


Jared Kushner is an abusive landlord and, according to someone who worked for him at the New York Observer, "is basically a shithead."

Harleen Kahlon was an experienced digital media maven when she was hired by Kushner in 2010 to boost the paper’s digital outreach. The two worked closely to redesign the website, with a weekly one-on-one meeting in her office in which Kushner would come in, put his feet up on her desk and check in on the progress of the site’s redesign, for which he hired one of New York’s top digital firms...

At the end of the year, when she went to collect her performance bonus at his real estate office for meeting agreed upon metrics on page views and audience growth, Kushner told her that they couldn’t pay, citing financial concerns, and asked her to “take one for the team.” Instead, Kahlon abruptly quit. Ever since, whenever she sees him on TV or on the streets of New York, she points him out to people as: “the guy that stole my money.”

Just before the election, Kahlon described her former boss on Facebook thusly: “We’re talking about a guy who isn’t particularly bright or hard-working, doesn’t actually know anything, has bought his way into everything ever (with money he got from his criminal father), who is deeply insecure and obsessed with fame (you don’t buy the NYO, marry Ivanka Trump, or constantly talk about the phone calls you get from celebrities if it’s in your nature to ‘shun the spotlight’), and who is basically a shithead.” (Meet the Real Jared Kushner)

Thanks to Kevin Drum.


City Hall's "improvements" to city streets

A letter to the editor in today's SF Chronicle:

More raised, concrete, vehicle obstacles have been installed in the middle of two-lane Lake Street. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency calls them “pedestrian safety islands.” They provide little or no safety to pedestrians and are easily mounted by cars or trucks. They’re unnecessary — it’s a very rare pedestrian who can’t safely cross a level, straight, two-lane street without having to stop halfway across.

These concrete obstacles create hazards where none existed. A slightly inattentive driver, legally driving on his own side of the center line, can easily strike one of these barriers, especially at night. The impact will not only damage his car but it can send it out of control into oncoming traffic. 

A motorcyclist who hits one of these hazards could cartwheel, resulting in death or serious injury. I’ve seen overly cautious drivers “shy away” from the barrier into the adjacent bike lane on their right side. Many bikers don’t display flashing rear lights — they’re almost invisible at night. 

These useless, dangerous obstacles are a tragedy waiting to happen. It appears that the SFMTA will go to any lengths to discourage auto use on the streets of San Francisco.

Richard Covert
San Francisco

Letter to the editor in yesterday's SF Chronicle:

San Francisco has torn up Van Ness Avenue, one of its most important arteries. And yet all week I have seen only two workers on the project (I’ve driven up and down Van Ness Avenue several times each day). Given the importance of this street, any other large city would have people working nonstop to quickly do the necessary work and get commerce, life and traffic operating once again.

Sherman Griffin 

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Friday, May 26, 2017


Bikes and children: Good intentions gone awry

In yesterday's CityLab:

...“I mean, a bike is a fantastic gift—there is no need to pretend it is something else,” she told Forbes. [Isla]Rowntree decided she could do better, and founded Islabikes—the first company dedicated exclusively to children’s bikes—in 2006. While its headquarters are in the U.K., the outfit has a U.S. office in Portland, Oregon. It offers bikes for all ages—from toddlers to teens—starting with balance bikes, which lack pedals or chains. These allow small children to learn how to balance so they’re better prepared when they graduate to pedals. Training wheels just hinder the process (How to Build a Better Kids' Bike)...

Rob's comment:

This is a terrible idea, since bikes are a serious health and safety hazard for children. I've been posting about this issue for years. Click on "Children and Bikes" below for earlier posts. 

My comment to the story:

I understand that liberals with good intentions want to encourage their children to take up riding bikes, which is all the rage among libs and progs.

But the Centers for Disease Control provides information they should consider first: 

"While only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do."

And the American Association of Neurological Surgeons says cycling causes the most head injuries.

See also Getting children on bikes.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Muni raising fares---again

Automatic Indexing
Automatic fare increases

Muni is raising fares again,
though fares only cover 19% of its expenses in a billion dollar budget (page 10). 

Note also that it makes $331 million a year on parking fees and fines, which is why it must continue to prey on everyone who drives those wicked motor vehicles in the city.

Note too on page 10 that Muni makes millions on advertising placed on Muni vehicles, which includes the ads covering bus windows that demonstrate the contempt the agency has for its passengers. 

Muni makes less than $500,000 on those ads, but they have to keep running them in a billion dollar budget because, you understand, they might have to cut service without that money.

61% of its budget (page 11) goes to pay for its 6,263 employees, though that head count is for 2015 and is surely higher now.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

San Francisco, Boston, and traffic safety

The Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street intersection might benefit from eliminating a lane, cycling advocates say.
Boston Globe

When the Mayor of Boston recently reminded pedestrians and cyclists that they too need to exercise greater care on city streets, his sensible comments caused outrage---blaming the victims!---among cyclists. 

The mayor's remarks:

“There’s a lot of talk about what the city is doing to make everything safer — pedestrians need to be safer,” Walsh said. “Pedestrians need to put their head up when they’re walking down the street, take your headphones’ve got to understand, cars are going to hit you"...Bicyclists and advocates for street safety have called on the city to implement safer roadways and bring fatalities down to zero on city roads.

According to Walsh, that can only happen if pedestrians and cyclists take more personal responsibility. “We need to coexist together on the roads of our city...we need to start following the rules,” Walsh said. "People need to be more cognizant of the fact that a car is a car. Even bicyclists, when you’re riding; a car can’t stop on a dime.”

A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Administration showed an 11 percent spike in the number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways last year...The report credits the trend to distractions, like using phones while driving or walking.

“I see it all day long, people walking down with headphones on,” Walsh said. “You can’t hear a car coming, and they don’t know you have headphones on, so take them off.” In a recent City Council meeting, Walsh said residents were placing too much blame on his administration to solve the problem. “A lot of people were pointing the finger at me and at the City for not doing enough — we’re doing everything we can,” Walsh said..“Every day it seems like more and more, we have fatalities in the road with our bicyclists, we have pedestrians hit, we have cars crashing. People always look for somebody to put the blame to..."

Mayor Lee would probably say the same thing about San Francisco's cyclists and pedestrians. (Boston and San Francisco have another thing in common: they have the same problem counting cycling accidents.)

From the governors' report linked above:

A more recent factor contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities may be the growing use of smart phones by all road users, which can be a significant source of distraction for both drivers and pedestrians. According to The Wireless Association, the reported number of annual multimedia messages increased by 45 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the volume of annual wireless data usage more than doubled (page 36).

"A perfect storm" of factors spurred the increase, [Maureen]Vogel says: A stronger economy and low gas prices have put more cars on the road and have people driving more often, "but that is really only part of the something else is at play here." One possibility can be seen during rush hour in downtown Chicago just by looking at both the drivers of the dozens of vehicles inching through traffic and the scores of pedestrians crossing the busy intersections. One thing many have in common is that their eyes are down, staring at their phones.

And then there's alcohol:

Just as drinking and driving can be deadly, so can drinking and walking. Over a third of U.S. pedestrians killed in 2011 had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit for driving, according to government data released Monday. Thirty-five percent of those killed, or 1,547 pedestrians, had blood alcohol content levels of .08 or higher, the legal limit for driving, according to data reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by state highway departments.

You'll never hear about any of this from the Bicycle Coalition or Walk SF. Their narrative requires that motorists and those devilish motor vehicles are always the villains in traffic accidents---I of course mean "collisions," since, according to Vision Zero dogma, there's no such thing as an "accident." (See Aaron Bialick: "Changing our language will help keep us safer.")

The reality: As Commander Ali of the SFPD put it a few years ago about injury and death on city streets: “A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior.”

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The problem with Trump voters

To Trump voters, the media clamor that followed Trump's remarks was evidence that there's a monopoly group out there telling them to shut up, to fear a slip of the tongue, to banish politically incorrect thoughts. They were tired of being mocked and described as stupid and backward for their views. So, deprived of most reputable forums where they might have aired these views, they vented their frustrations at the ballot box.

When I read stuff like the above, I think of a famous therapy cartoon, one version of which is below:

inferior cartoon humor: 'Do you think I have an inferiority complex?' - 'No, I think you are inferior.'
Jantoo cartoons

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Pope Francis was so happy to meet with our Moron in Chief.

Thanks to Daily Kos.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Thanks to Alternet.

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13th Street bike lane


A reader sends the photos above and below of the new protected bike lane on 13th Street:

You had a very good picture and letter the other day from some guy on the 9th Street/Division mess. This thing is part of that. 

This new “bicycle facility” reduces vehicle capacity---taking away a traffic lane and street parking---under the freeway near big stores, including Rainbow Grocery, Office Max, Best Buy, Costco, etc., to install totally unneeded bicycle lanes under the freeway.

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High-speed rail and universal preschool

Delaine Eastin speaks at the California Democrats 2017 State Convention in Sacramento. Photo: Paul Kuroda, Special To The Chronicle
Photo: Paul Kuroda for the Chronicle

The online version of yesterday's SF Chronicle story (Governor’s race heats up among California Democrats) doesn't include this statement under Delaine Eastin's picture: "If we can build a sexy, high-speed rail system...we can figure out how to pay for universal preschool."

Mike Brady provides some reasons why California can't---and shouldn't---build its high-speed rail system: Why High-Speed Rail Should Be Audited Before Caltrain Receives Federal Funds.

If the state insists on building this poorly-conceived project, there will be a lot less money for worthwhile projects like universal preschool.

Thanks to The Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail.

The leading candidate, Gavin Newsom, recently did a conditional flip-flop on high-speed rail, but his election is still the best chance for putting a stop to the boondoggle.

Take the Los Angeles Business Journal poll on high-speed rail.

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Suppressed cell phone warnings

Newly released public records show that California public health officials worked for five years on a set of guidelines to warn the public about the potential dangers of cell phones, revising their work 27 times with updated research before abandoning the efforts without ever making their concerns public until ordered by a judge...

Joel Moskowitz, a public health researcher at UC Berkeley who sued the state to force the release of the records, said state officials should never have withheld the warnings from the public. Lawyers for the state had argued in court that release of the warnings could cause unnecessary panic. “It would have to be purely political to deny distributing this,” Moskowitz said. “Science supports this.”

...The Chronicle submitted a public records request to the health department in March, asking for emails or documents related to why the cell phone guidelines were never approved to be made public — and to see whether there was any outside influence. The department refused to release records, saying those that existed were protected by attorney-client privilege.

The little information that is known about the state’s efforts to create and then abandon cell phone guidelines can be gleaned from Moskowitz’s lawsuit and the newly released documents...

The first version also warned: “Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies.” The final version said, “Parents may want to limit their child’s cell phone use to texting, important calls and emergencies.”

“I want to know why this was suppressed,” Moskowitz said, referring to information he feels parents should be aware of.

The California Department of Public Health declined an interview request, releasing only written statements.

...Moskowitz said he hopes the state will decide to adopt and post the guidelines its own department created. “It seems to me better late than never to notify the public,” Moskowitz said. “The public has a right to this information paid for with their tax dollars.”

Joel Moskowitz's website: Smart Meter Harm

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Our Moron in Chief on Islam

World's greatest phony

by Hemant Mehta

In what appears to be a dramatic shift from the tone of his election campaign, Donald Trump embraced Islam, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East in general during his first foreign speech today.

Trump, who in 2015 called for a blanket ban on all Muslims traveling to the United States, called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths” and acknowledged that most victims of terrorist attacks are themselves Muslims. He didn’t use the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” as he is fond of doing — and so fond of criticizing other people for not doing.

In fact, Trump said terrorists “falsely” invoke God’s name.

“This is a battle between good and evil,” he said. “Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.”

“Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death,” Trump continued, delivering the speech during his first foreign trip as president.

Trump added that, “with God’s help,” the Arabic Islamic American Summit will mark “the beginning of the end” of extremist ideologies and terrorism.

With several references to religion, including numerous prayers and claims that the foreign visit will bring “blessed news” to both nations involved, Trump hailed the Saudi kingdom as a “fabulous place” and the location of some of the “holiest sites.”

Again, Trump’s language while abroad conflicts with his own past statements. On Sept. 11, 2014, for example, Trump retweeted someone saying “Saudi Arabia are nothing but mouth pieces, bullies, cowards. They have the money, but no guts.”

Rob's comment:
What a moron! And of course a hypocrite. His earlier opinion of Saudi Arabia was closer to the truth, but even that was only pandering to the Repug right wing. Trump doesn't know or care anything about Islam or any other religion.

Saudi Arabia is a "fabulous place" if you think treating women as second class citizens is fabulous and killing gay people is justified under that "great faith."

See also Here's Why the Saudis Love Trump and Trump's Sunni Strategy.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Muni joins the Cute Movement


From the SFMTA:

As San Francisco opens its arms this Sunday to Bay to Breakers, its annual tradition of costumes, revelry and (a bit of) athletics, a new participant will be in the mix: the SFMTA’s Vision Zero Hero.

If you plan to join the event, keep your eyes peeled for a photo op with our caped safety hero, who will run (or---let’s be honest---jog) in the race to call attention to Vision Zero, the citywide effort to end traffic fatalities. The Vision Zero Hero is among San Francisco’s newest mascots, and will join caped heroes in other major cities in advocating for safer, more livable streets.

The cheerful spirit of Bay to Breakers, when tens of thousands safely use our streets to make their way from the bay to Ocean Beach, is inspiring. It’s a unique opportunity for San Francisco’s residents and visitors to experience an extensive length of our streets without vehicle traffic...

Rob's comment:
It makes sense for Muni to create a fantasy hero for Vision Zero, its traffic safety fantasy that has had a zero impact on traffic safety in the city.

This is probably another idea from Muni's "creative shop" that gave us the lame "peace" campaign several years ago in response to those anti-jihad ads Muni was forced to display because of that darn First Amendment loophole on free speech.

This cuteness is what we're getting from Muni's growing bureaucracy of 6,263 employees.

Of course the MTA is "inspired" by the orgy of exhibitionism---and bad behavior---displayed every year during the Bay to Breakers race, since there is no "vehicle traffic," which they are systematically making worse in the city with their anti-car policies. 

Like a lot of city residents, the folks at Muni are apparently now convinced that they too are adorable. Some of us are unconvinced in both instances.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Roger Ailes: Good riddance

Rolling Stone

Jeffrey P. Jones says it best: "No single individual has done more harm to American democracy in the last generation.”

In Rolling Stone:

Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans' worst fantasies about each other (Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever).

Without Roger Ailes there would be no President Trump, the dumbest most contemptible man to ever hold that office.

See also Roger Ailes: No One Did More to Debase U.S. Politics

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Steve Bannon: Pseudo-intellectual

Steve Bannon

From the NY Times Book Review:

When Buckley assigned a review of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” to Whittaker Chambers[Big Sister is Watching You], a Communist turned fervent anti-Communist and devout Christian, he must have known the sparks would fly. To call the review an evisceration is to understate its severity. For Chambers, Rand’s novel was morally obscene, a shrill and dogmatic exercise in political propaganda that promoted a form of inverted Marxism in which a coterie of capitalist supermen do battle with and justly triumph over throngs of resentful, parasitic “looters.” Buckley himself would criticize Rand in similar terms on many occasions over the years, including in a decidedly mixed appreciation written on the occasion of her death in 1982 (William F. Buckley and the Odyssey of Conservatism).

That the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is an admirer of "Atlas Shrugged" says something unflattering about the intellectual caliber of the country's political leadership. No one assumes that political leaders have to be intellectuals, but Ayn Rand is sinking very low.

Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand

NY Times Magazine story last March quoted Steve Bannon: 

"What's that Dostoyevsky line: Happy families are all the same, but unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique ways?" (He meant Tolstoy.) "I think the Democrats are fundamentally afflicted with the inability to discuss and have an adult conversation about economics and jobs, because they're too consumed by identity politics."

The Tolstoy quotation Bannon was attributing to Dostoyevsky: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Bannon got the gist of the quote right, but mixing up Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky---two very different writers---suggests that he hasn't read them, that he's a phony and a pseudo-intellectual.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

The bicycle fantasy in San Diego---and San Francisco

San Francisco also makes traffic policy based on the bike fantasy, like this whopper last year from a MTA planner the SF Examiner provided readers without challenge: 

The idea is to make Masonic Avenue safer to pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, said Patrick Golier, a senior SFMTA planner. “Masonic is a mini-freeway,” he said Tuesday. “It has a dismal safety record"...Based on past similar projects, Golier said he expects the amount of cyclists to jump as much as 400 percent after the corridor is made safer.

The safety lie about Masonic aside---I unpacked that four years ago here---apparently the reporter didn't ask Golier about those "past similar projects" to support his bullshit.

Thanks to StreetsblogCal

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Idaho Stop for cars?

San Francisco Citizen

We know Wiener supports the Idaho Stop for cyclists, but does he support it for cars, too?

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Socrates, not Jesus

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

How to recognize a transportation boondoggle

A rendering of the completed project at Masonic and Turk
Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project

Randal O'Toole provides ten ways to know when a transportation project is a boondoggle.

Number 8 sounds like a combination of the under-construction Masonic Avenue bike project and what the MTA has planned for Page Streetmake it a bike boulevard:

8. It’s a bike lane project that reduces the number of lanes for automobiles. Many cities are attempting to encourage cycling while simultaneously discouraging driving by converting auto lanes to bike lanes, such as by changing a four-lane street to a two-lane street with a center left-turn lane and two bike lanes. This probably doesn’t increase bicycle safety, but it does increase traffic congestion. It is nearly always possible to find parallel local streets that can be turned into bicycle boulevards without impeding through or local auto traffic. All bicycle projects that reduce the capacity of arterial or collector streets to move automobiles are boondoggles.

Last year O'Toole gave us this eternal truth about transportation projects: "All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Brian Wiedenmeier, meet Matt Smith

Bike advocates live in an alternate universe, which is why I call their agenda a fantasy, since there's an unrealistic assumption underlying that agenda that it's possible---even a duty---for government at all levels to make riding a bike safe.

Bike advocates think doing that is all about "infrastructure." If they had protected bike lanes throughout the city, cyclists wouldn't have to worry about the danger of motor vehicles, and then men, women, children, and the elderly could all ride safely on city streets! (In reality most cycling accidents are "solo falls.")

Streetsblog's recent story on a talk at SPUR---a friendly audience for the bike message---by the Bicycle Coalition's Brian Wiedenmeier is a good example of this delusion:

San Francisco has made strides in increasing bicycling’s mode share, but its bike infrastructure is still bad. That was the conclusion of yesterday’s state of cycling talk at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association. “I had three or four near misses on Market street just getting over here,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “So from our perspective it’s pretty crappy.” He said that the key to getting better, safer infrastructure for bikes is to rely on data when making decisions about lane and intersection construction...

Does Wiedenmeier mean Vision Zero "data"? According to that slogan disguised as a safety policy, every busy street in the city is part of "a high-injury network," since where most traffic accidents happen is---wait for it---on busy city streets.

Well, did Wiedenmeier have three or four "near misses" while riding his bike to SPUR? What was the nature of those incidents, and how would "infrastructure" have prevented them? Sounds like he was so rattled he couldn't clearly recall.

The infrastructure he wants: "protected bike lanes on all major streets," which means taking away traffic lanes and street parking on the busiest city streets, essentially remodeling city streets on behalf of a small minority and making traffic radically worse for more than 90% of those who now use city streets.

Wiedenmeier's experience reminds me of Matt Smith's 2005 account in the SF Weekly of his hair-raising daily commute by bike:

These conflicts are extraordinarily stressful, and on those mornings I find myself spending the first part of the day numb with low-level anger and fear. And I'm what you might call an ace at this: I've bike-commuted in big-city traffic for the past 25 years.

Nothing much has changed over the years. The moral of the story: riding a bike in San Francisco is dangerous and can't really be made safe. Don't do it, or if you do it have a realistic sense of the dangers involved. Even experienced cyclists get hurt on city streets.

We can be sure that Wiedenmeier wasn't referring to the "data" in that UC study that he and the Bicycle Coalition---along with Streetsblog and the rest of the local media---have been ignoring for years, since it showed that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than the SFBC and City Hall have been telling us for years.

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Most Americans agree with SF

New York Magazine

...Since the early 2000s, the public’s views on sex and marriage have changed drastically, as the percentage of Americans who say gay relations, conceiving a child outside of wedlock, extramarital sex, and divorce are morally acceptable have all increased by double digits.

These shifts have been powered by the growing liberalism of America’s elderly — itself a product of the success of social movements and, well, father time thinning the ranks of more conservative generations. By contrast, America’s growing intolerance for cruelty to animals is driven by the sensitivities of those under 50...

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Sometimes a cover-up is necessary


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bike to Work Day: $65,000 for the Bicycle Coalition

SF Bicycle Coalition

The City Controller's office tells me that City Hall provided the Bicycle Coalition $65,000 last year to stage Bike to Work Day. It's probably about the same this year. 

This event is like those taxpayer-funded Pentagon recruiting ads on TV that in effect propagandize the taxpayers themselves.

Bike to Work Day used to cost city taxpayers only $49,500 to stage, with even the interns getting paid for the event. (The Bicycle Coalition used to have 17 unpaid interns, but that information is no longer available on its website.) 

The SFBC's bigger staff now probably makes the event more expensive, not to mention all those "energizer stations" around the city that are staffed during the morning and evening commute: "Pedal by one of 26 Energizer Stations across San Francisco for free snacks, beverages and collectable, reusable tote bags filled with goodies."


After 16 years of anti-car, pro-bike propaganda from City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition, commuting by bike in the city hasn't increased much. In 2000 2% of city commuters road bikes to work according to the Transportation Fact Sheet (page 3), and in 2016 that percentage is supposedly 4.3%, a gain that took 16 years! 

Note that the MTA prefers using 2006 as the 2% baseline, since that makes the increase seem more impressive.

See Walk to Work Day, which is also subsidized by the city.

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Kevin Drum

Can I use a hyphen? "Idiot-asshole" is my choice.

See also Donald Trump Tries to Explain Economics to The Economist. Hilarity Ensues.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

City cars by department

A Daly City man and woman were arrested in connection with a fatal shooting in San Francisco’s Civic Center, San Francisco police said Monday.  Photo: Sarah Ravani
Photo: Sarah Ravani

In January I made this request for information from City Hall:

Several years ago, when the Dept. of the Environment was managing the city's fleet, the Examiner had a story about the many waivers city departments were asking for under the Healthy Air and Clean Transportation Ordinance.

Can you provide an update on that story? How many city cars---I'm not interested in trucks, other utility vehicles, or generators---does each city department have? Which departments have asked for waivers?

Dan Coleman, Fleet Analyst at Fleet Management/Central Shops, responded last week with the latest numbers and this statement: "No department has asked for waiver for 2017." 

Good to see that the aggressively anti-car MTA's car fleet has been reduced drastically from 535---with 529 requests for waivers!---to 124. Why can't they ride Muni or bikes while on the job? That's what they want the rest of us to do.

Apparently city departments were too embarrassed to ask for waivers this time around.

Count of Cars
Grand Total


Below is the tally in 2013:

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