Monday, July 09, 2007

Steve Jones: fighting the "Death Monsters"

The bike people in SF are annoyed when I call them "bike nuts," which is really only a term accurately descriptive of those in the grip of BikeThink, the ideology of bikes.

But they too are developing terminology that more accurately reflects their agenda. For these folks, it's not just about encouraging cycling as an alternative transportation "mode"; it's about demonizing cars and trying to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to drive in San Francisco. The Bay Guardian's Steve Jones---a card-carrying bike nut of long standing---gives currency to the BikeThink term for cars---"Death Monsters." Jonesy's lament about the dangers for cyclists at the Masonic/Fell Street intersection is preposterous, much like the mythology constructed around the Market/Octavia intersection and the ridiculous right-turn ban there.

As long as they share the streets of the city with motor vehicles---that is, forever---it's always going to be more or less dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists on the streets of the city. The Masonic/Fell intersection is no different than hundreds of other intersections in the city where cars turn from one street to another and where pedestrians and cyclists have to be wary of motorists. The only difference is that drivers traveling on the one-way, west-bound Fell Street are traveling faster than on other streets, which means cyclists and pedestrians have to be even more careful when crossing that intersection.[Later: It turns out that the number of accidents at this intersection have been remarkably consistent over the years, with occasional spikes.]

"After getting word of a rash of bicycle-and-pedestrian-versus-car accidents at the Masonic-Fell intersection in recent months..." Exactly how many accidents did this "rash" represent? Jones doesn't really know, since, when he asked MTA for accident numbers for the intersection, he was annoyed that they didn't drop everything to provide him with the information:

Maybe Mirkarimi will spark a change, or maybe the MTA will just keep doing what it's always done: plod along at a bureaucratic pace with tools ill suited to an evolving world that must do more to facilitate walking and bicycling as safe, attractive transportation options, even if that means delaying the death monsters.

An "evolving world"? The assumption by the bike people is that they represent the future, that riding a bike in an American city is somehow the next step on the evolutionary ladder.

This bulletin just in: "Death Monsters," aka automobiles, are here to stay, and riding a bike in the city---any American city---is not a good Darwinian survival strategy.

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