Friday, September 05, 2008

Appreciation from a cyclist

Mr. Anderson

I just want to say that I appreciated your responses to the questionnaire submitted by the SFBC for the endorsement vote. Yes, I am a member of the SFBC, I like bikes, and I'm probably a fanatic. That said, I will always appreciate someone who doesn't play to the crowd just because it's the thing to do. SF isn't solely comprised of a bunch of hippie liberals who ride bikes as seems to be the trend in thinking (being transcontinental, I often have this discussion with friends elsewhere). Thank God there are people who actually have their own opinions. In a Utopian world, perhaps all would be safe, and bicyclists and motorists could coexist harmoniously...till then, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Again, thank you for being you.

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18 Comments:

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

Hi Bob,

I just read through your questionnaire response for the SFBC and was struck by your "No" response to question 5.

5. Would you support a citywide goal to decrease the number of private motor vehicle trips in San Francisco, understanding that in addition to improving transit, bicycling, and walking, the goal would be met by also making motor vehicle trips and parking less convenient in some cases?
YES _______ NO ___X____


I understand from this response that you believe reducing the number of private motor vehicle trips is not desirable.

Could you explain why you hold this view?

 
At 3:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Because "reducing the number of private motor vehicle trips" in SF requires anti-car policies that I think are both short-sighted and counter-productive. Increasing parking fines, increasing the cost of metered parking while reducing the time available on the meter, discouraging/eliminating parking, taking away traffic lanes to make bike lanes for a small minority of city residents, preventing developers from providing adequate parking spaces for new housing units contructed---these policies are likely to make traffic on our streets worse, not better. In its zeal to discourage the driving of cars on city streets, the city is only going to make traffic worse for everyone, including Muni, tourists, and emergency vehicles.

Traffic is now moving fairly well on city streets. There even seems to be less traffic lately, perhaps due to high gas prices. The anti-car zeal is pushed by the city's bike nuts, particularly the SF Bicycle Coalition, while my assumption is that the motor vehicle, a great invention, is here to stay. If the city continues down the anti-car road, so to speak, it will not only make traffic worse for everyone, it will damage the city's economy.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

I think you are focussing too much on the "How" rather than the "Why". Btw, that's a great summary of strategies which can be used to manage motor vehicle precence in the city.

I agree that cars are here to stay, but it is also apparent that the overwhelming precence of motor vehicles detract from the liveability and amenity of the city.

The costs to the city in supporting the current automobile oriented road infrastructure is also horrendous.

I would have thought the city's economy will actually benefit by rebalancing travel and transport toward public transport, small motorbikes and bicycles.

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"The costs to the city in supporting the current automobile oriented road infrastructure is also horrendous."

The city is extracting much more from motor vehicles than they pay out in benefits. From MTA's "San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet" of May 2008 (available online):

* parking meter revenue: $30 million a year

* revenue from parking lots and garages: $43 million a year

* revenue from residential permit program: $5,748,637

* parking ticket revenue: $89 million

Add it all up, and San Francisco takes in more than $167 million by preying on drivers.

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

"Add it all up, and San Francisco takes in more than $167 million by preying on drivers"

What about road maintenance costs?

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The city has $32 million budgeted this year for repaving city streets.

 
At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The city is extracting much more from motor vehicles than they pay out in benefits."

What about policing car traffic and maintaining traffic control devices? How much is budgeted?

What about the lack of peace and quiet?

What aboud the negative health effects of air pollution? What's that worth?

What about the people killed on 19th Avenue by cars? What were they worth?

How about the jamming most of the city's public space (the streets) with cars. What's the opportunity cost?

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I left out the money the city spends on the 40 city cops on overtime who "escort" Critical Mass through city streets for several hours every month.

 
At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"left out the money the city spends on the 40 city cops on overtime who "escort" Critical Mass through city streets for several hours every month."

You're really holding a candle to the sun with that one.

 
At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There even seems to be less traffic lately, perhaps due to high gas prices." rob anderson

And how long do you think there will be less traffic due to high gas prices? In a city street infrastructure prioritized for motor vehicles, any reduction in traffic related to that mode of transportation is likely to be made up as economically feasible gas alternative motor vehicle energy sources are devised.

The whole idea behind supporting non-motor vehicle modes of transportation through changes to city street infrastructure, is to maximize the number of people that a city such as SF can effectively move through its streets on a regular basis. That is exactly what the bike plan is likely to do.

By the way Rob, through your study of the city's 500 some pages of its bike plan, have you arrived upon some personal idea of how many motor vehicles, according to what you have found to be the city's plan to replace motor vehicle lanes and parking with bike lanes, will remove from SF streets?

SF makes a lot of money off of drivers...as you say: "...preying..." on them? Well that sounds very cynical to me, but more importantly, is preying on those that must drive in a city, the best way to generate street maintenance funds? As the day arrives when there are not enough motor vehicles upon which to levy fees sufficient to maintain city streets for the passage of the city's people, alternative means of funding will hopefully be found, and done so in a way that isn't seen as preying on the people.

wsbob

 
At 5:42 PM, Anonymous those dudes said...

Regarding the discussion between Rob and Phillip - check out this paper (www.spur.org/documents/050901_article_02.shtm) that estimates pollution from cars costs SF between $910 million and $2500 million annually. Bascially, cars don't nearly pay there way in SF - the $167 million the City collects doesn't come even close!

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's probably worth factoring in the money the city spends fixing things damaged by cars: fire hydrants that get decapitated, street signs that get smashed, light poles that get bent, etc.

These repairs alone probably run into the millions each year.

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Because 'reducing the number of private motor vehicle trips' in SF requires anti-car policies that I think are both short-sighted and counter-productive."

Yes, just take a look at the trail of tears San Francisco's anti-car policies have left in their wake.

I'm sure by tearing down the blight which has replaced the has majestic Embarcadero Freeway has cost the city hundreds of millions, if not billions by now. I wonder if it would even be possible to calculate how much the city has lost because of the new Ballpark (which was privately financed, the nerve!) rebuilt Ferry Building and all those commercial and residential buildings that have wiped out some of the cities best industrial wastelands.

I can't imagine any of that crap brings in as many tax dollars as the freeway did, and what about all the junkies and dealers who lost their homes when the freeway was torn down. Damn this city and it's short-sighted, counter-product policies, did they even consider those poor heroin addicts who would be driven out just so residents and tourists could shop and dine along the waterfront?

 
At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a good example of what we get with the status quo streetscape:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Dangerous_day_to_drive_on_Geary.html

 
At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

or how about:

"32 Pedestrian fatalities in 2007 in S.F.

Nearly 800 Pedestrians injured by cars in 2007"

We're still working on topping that in 08!

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...Nearly 800 Pedestrians injured by cars in 2007"

You bike people are always pointing out how many people get hurt or killed by cars. You never include the number of people who get hurt or killed getting hit by a bike.

 
At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You bike people are always pointing out how many people get hurt or killed by cars. You never include the number of people who get hurt or killed getting hit by a bike."

Because bikes aren't the status-quo transportation choice and cars are.


But if I recall correctly, 2 people have been killed from being struck by bicycles since the year 2000.

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You bike people all think you're doing something good for the environment, but see, 2 people have been killed this millennium alone by bikes!

Just compare the numbers and you can see which mode of transportation is more dangerous.

 

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