Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fell/Masonic "improvement" is a bust

The "improvements" at the Fell and Masonic intersection probably won't make any difference in safety for cyclists and pedestrians. I drove through it the other day; if anything it may be even more dangerous than before, and the bike symbol on the traffic light is so small it's hard to even make out what it is.

We approached the intersection in the left turn lane on Fell just as the light changed against us, so we stopped. But the arrow for through traffic was still green, so the car behind us honked, since it apparently wanted to continue on Fell and didn't understand that that lane is now a left-turn lane, which is bound to be a common confusion among motorists.

And then there's human nature, which means that some people will continue to try to beat the light, whether they are on a bike or driving a car, whether that light is a bicycle symbol or not. It's all typical prog symbolism that's hollow at the core, which makes it a good symbol for Mirkarimi's brand of progressivism.

Here's a question that bike people need to answer: Once the Bicycle Plan is completely implemented, how are they going to explain why cyclists continue to be injured in SF? My answer: riding a bike is an activity with its own obvious dangers, which means that, yes, cyclists will continue to be injured on the streets of the city, not to mention the fact that most cycling injuries have nothing to do with other vehicles. There seems to be an assumption among some cyclists that the city is somehow obligated to make their dangerous transportation "mode" safe.

But the hardcore bike people like Leah Shahum and Andy Thornley understand that the great bike movement is really as much about being anti-car as it is pro-bike. They will simply continue to "take space away from cars" whenever and wherever they can, Bicycle Plan or no Bicycle Plan.

And check out a new bike blog by Peter Smith, which pushes the crybaby notion that doing an EIR on the Bicycle Plan is somehow a great injustice to the poor, oppressed cyclists of San Francisco: Smith, typically, doesn't seem to know anything about either the Bicycle Plan or the litigation.

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35 Comments:

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous whir said...

As far as the street light at Fell and Masonic goes, my opinion is that the light is a great success and over time it's sure to reduce injuries at that intersection. The whole problem with Fell and Masonic prior to this light was that it was not clear whether cars or bikes had the right of way. In fact bikes did, because that crosswalk was technically a bike lane, but ordinarily a cyclist is not supposed to ride their bike in a crosswalk (instead they are supposed to walk the bike and have the same rights as a pedestrian), so cars would often assume that they had the right of way there.

The two lights (for bikes / peds and for cars) now make it explicit when each one can go. Importantly, having the left-turn light go red while the bike/ped light is green provide a window of time when only peds and bikes are crossing that street, which will naturally be much safer for both.

The change is new and it will take people a while to get used to it; I think a little bit of honking and confusion is to be expected at first, but once people get used to the notion of a left-turn light everything will calm down again.

As for your comment about hollow progressivism, I can see your point but I don't see that it is a terribly useful ethical principle on which to formulate public policy. By that logic, we might as well tear up all the street signs citywide - after all, people will do what they want regardless, it's human nature!

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We won't know for some time whether the redesigned intersection will have any effect at all on accidents there. By the way, the city's accident numbers are questionable anyhow, since it was never established who was at fault in the accidents they presented as evidence. That's an inherently dangerous intersection, and I've seen a lot of reckless behavior by cyclists there. Like motorists, some cyclists rush to beat the light. The new signal is murkier than the old signal, with the added confusion of the left turn lane.

My comment re the hollowness of cit progressivism is based on a number of things, including the premature celebration about the changes at this intersection. Three years ago, Supervisor Mirkarimi said that the new and awful Octavia Blvd. was a "gateway to a new template," a premature thumbs up to a street that now carries 45,000 cars a day through the heart of Hayes Valley. Progressives like to congratulate themselves about all sorts of phony achievements in SF. They seem to have self-esteem issues that require this kind of bullshit.

It will take a year or two from now before we have information to judge whether or not the redesigned intersection is a success.

 
At 11:42 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I was at the unveiling ceremony for the new traffic signal. While we were there, with the cameras rolling and local progressives congratulating themselves, I saw two cars run the new red light, as well as heard a bit of honking like you described, by drivers who were unaware that the driver in front of them was encumbered by a signal.

Over time, people will learn what they can and can not do at the intersection. A red left arrow is a red left arrow; it's not some mysterious new symbol to drivers, they're just unaccustomed to seeing it there.

Will the new signal phase prevent all accidents at the intersection? No. Will drivers and cyclists occasionally take each others' right of way when they should not, leading to collisions? Yes. Will it cut down on the number of accidents? Almost certainly. Will I continue to watch my back while I pedal through that crosswalk? Without a doubt.

Just because something isn't a 100% fix doesn't mean it's not worthwhile.

This is also not like Market and Octavia, where drivers are prevented from taking what seems like the most obvious move (a right turn), resulting in the most scofflaw among them doing it in the most dangerous way possible (creeping forward and then peeling out very quickly in such a way that they can't see anyone crossing the street).

Does this mean that we should reconfigure such an intersection to account for drivers' "human nature"? I'd say "no". I don't think we need to account for the lowest common denominator of motorist behavior in designing our streets. Many American cities cut down most of their street trees in the 1950s because drunk drivers kept driving their cars into them, and it was figured that we were better off accommodating bad driver behavior than letting more people die. Was this the wrong decision? Yes.

People will break the law. Still, signal and design improvements help. People will continue to break the law. That is why we have whole departments of people whose job it is to enforce the law through the issuance of tickets, issuing arrests, impounding of vehicles, etc. Bad things happen. We can't try to live in either some pollyanna world where we pretend bad things won't happen, or aggressively outdesign all bad behavior in the hopes that we'll prevent anything bad from happening. You'll get a nanny state like they have in Britain, and that definitely doesn't work.

 
At 12:58 AM, Blogger John Spragge said...

Rob, you have two implied positions on cars (and other forms of high carbon emission transportation) that I can't see the slightest logical basis for.

First, you seem convinced that we can have the car or not, and in order to have the car, we must provide drivers with every possible inch of public space. I see no logic whatever in this. We can get good and effective use out of cars for what they work well for (medium haul journeys, particularly in the country, moving a moderatly heavy load, taking a sick kid to the hospital at 4am) without giving up our cities to them completely. Consider an analogy to another technology with tremendous value and equally serious problems: Painkillers. I wouldn't want to live without them, and I have have felt grateful for Tylenol 3 after a root canal, but that doesn't mean I want to walk into my kid's class and surprise the teacher mainlining heroin. Just as we can use drugs properly without giving people unlimited license to abuse them, so with cars.

Which leads to another issue: your apparent conviction that while we can expect cyclists to behave responsibly, motorists won't. How often have you claimed that "human nature" dictates that we can never get rid of drunk drivers, or drivers who text behind the wheel?!?, or people who take to the road seven-eighths asleep. In fact, we can modify that behaviour by giving people some very good reasons not to indulge in it. Again, we can use this technology while providing effective incentives for moderation and effectively discouraging abuse.

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the solution to cars running the light and hitting cyclists is a green light for cyclists?

News for you: we can see the walk signal already, this isn't going to change things. It's the cars that need to stop running the red light.

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cycling is only dangerous because people like you are out there to shut down infrastructure improvements. I have to say that i am will be glad when your generation with it's entitlement to public space dies of and we can have some real progression in this country. Car culture is inherently selfish, and Mr. Anderson, so are you.

 
At 12:07 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You mean once the Bicycle Plan is completely implemented on the streets of the city there won't be any more injury accidents to cyclists? As even your own experts admit, most cycling accidents are "solo falls" that have nothing to do with other vehicles. You wish me dead because I'm selfish for opposing bicycle "improvements"?

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course you would think this is a disaster, Rob. You are anti-bike.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I didn't say anything about a "disaster." I just don't think it's going to make any difference. It's just another symbolic victory and still another occasion for city progs to congratulate themselves.

 
At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

I suspect their is some validity to both perspectives. Cyclists, drivers and pedestrians all need to be encouraged to 'think' rather than be mindlessly controlled by 'artifical' signalling and signage.

I rather like the ideas of Hans Monderman which involve removing traffic signs and creating 'space confusion'. This causes everybody to slow down and look meaningfully to understand the situation in which they are moving.

Have a look at: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2143663,00.html

 
At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Shawn Allen said...

So which is it, Rob? You say that it "probably won't make any difference," citing such hard evidence as honking motorists (oh no!) and "human nature" (seriously?). But then, in a reply you state that,

It will take a year or two from now before we have information to judge whether or not the redesigned intersection is a success.

Which sounds sensible and empirical, but is actually complete bullshit, and you know it. Of course it's going to take time for people to adjust. Of course, even years from now, there will still be reckless cyclists and drivers that run the signals at their own peril. But you don't have to be a transit scientist to understand how the signal makes the intersection safer.

(And, as an added bonus, now drivers can cruise through that light with the confidence that if they do hit a cyclist on their way through, at least it won't have been their fault!)

The Panhandle is a park, Rob. It's also a very popular destination for walkers and runners, and a critical cycling artery for anyone traveling between your district and just about anywhere else of interest in San Francisco. And I'm sorry if it inconveniences drivers (I don't know for sure that it does, and I'm pretty sure that they'll get used to it, and eventually come to appreciate the dedicated turn signal), but it's something that will give cyclists (and, it's worth noting, pedestrians) peace of mind as they're crossing that crosswalk, rather than fearing being run over by a careless driver no matter how visible they've made themselves.

I'd have thought that even you would be able to recognize the obvious benefits to all involved parties: pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. But you know what? I don't expect you to understand any of that, because you're just too blinded by anti-bike rage to think clearly about anything that might benefit cyclists. And that's an untenable position if you're looking to have a substantive debate about civic infrastructure.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Any cyclist or pedestrian who thinks he/she should enjoy "peace of mind" while crossing a major city intersection is delusional. Negotiating the streets of the city---any city---requires a high degree of alertness---defensive driving and defensive walking.

My point about this intersection: it's inherently dangerous and always has been. And all the hysteria about it was generated by the Bicycle Coalition, which wants the public to think that cyclists are getting injured because of the injunction, even though injuries at the intersection have been steady over the years. And it's not at all clear who was/is responsible for the accidents that do happen there. I've seen a lot of reckless behavior by cyclists at that intersection, as I do all over the city.

The benefits of the new intersection design and the new traffic light are not at all obvious and only time will tell whether there are any benefits.

You bike nuts think I'm angry and in a "rage" about bikes, but that's untrue. You just aren't used to any criticism, and when it comes you are the ones who get angry, which you then project onto me.

"Substantive debate about civic infrastructure"? Ha! I'm the only consistent critic of the bicycle fantasy in the city, and you folks are having a hard time even handling my criticism.

 
At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Define 'bicycle fantasy' for us.*


*Bonus points if it's not a strawman.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The SF bicycle fantasy: that there will someday be enough people in San Francisco who commute by bicycle to justify redesigning city streets now, taking away traffic lanes and street parking for what is now a small minority of citizens who commute by bike. The Catch-22 corollary: City streets must be redesigned before there will be a significant percentage of residents commuting by bike.

 
At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a great definition of the bicycle fantasy.

Now tell use why it is a fantasy.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger John Spragge said...

The justification for bike lanes, Rob, does not come from the number of residents who bike, but from the small and elite group of San Francisco residents who breathe oxygen.

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

So it's not about safety but about the environment? What's going to be your argument when the US has substantially switched to low-emission vehicles?

 
At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Low emission compared to what?

 
At 9:09 PM, Blogger John Spragge said...

If the United States successfully makes a switch to low-emissions vehicles (other than bicycles), get back to me. Maybe I will modify my argument.

I may argue for health, the right of individuals to choose a low-cost transportation system not dependent on the government, and not encumbered by the regulations a government has to apply to anybody who operates a two-tonne steel bomb capable of reaching 160 km/h, or the right of individuals to choose the dignity of moving on our own power, rather than dependence on a machine. All these reasons, and more, also apply to the question of whether cyclists have a right to a reasonable share of public space.

But the question of bicycle lanes applies right now, and right now, cars pollute. And this pollution does not affect some bloodless abstraction called the "environment". Where I live, cars suffocate about 400 people every year. Kids with asthma. Old people with COPD. I don't want to stop people from driving; I just want to make the streets safe for those who choose not to drive.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I thought Rob didn't drive? Has he been lying all this time?

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I do of course drive, but I don't own a car. A friend was driving her car and I was a passenger when we went through the intersection.

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't see the 'fantasy' component of the 'bicycle fantasy'.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I find this anecdote relevant.

At 6:45 AM today, 7 of us were riding down the bike path in the panhandle, headed Westbound. We got to Masonic and waited for the light. On the other side of Masonic were 2 cyclists and 3 runners. The left turn green arrow turns on, 2 cars turn left. It goes to red. The cycling green turns on, and the 12 peds/cyclist begin to cross.

A car promptly pulls up and runs the red arrow. They stop when they spot the horde crossing the crosswalk, I stop and point at the red arrow and say calmly - "You can't turn left on a red arrow".

Response from the driver? "F**K... YOU!!!" As I left I noted that this driver has a handicapped placard hanging from his rearview mirror. Maybe he was out on a "recruiting trip".

This is not atypical. This doesn't have to happen to you very many times before you lose all sympathy for drivers, even those who must drive due to disabilities, and it turns one into the camp where you are less "pro-bike" and more "anti-car". I'm still holding to the theory that "one should be able to bike safely" instead of "cars should be banned", but I'm pretty level headed.

Rob of course would say that this was all caused by the fact that we were out there biking. He probably agrees with his friend Sarah Palin that rape victims should pay for their own rape kits.

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"This doesn't have to happen to you very many times before you lose all sympathy for drivers, even those who must drive due to disabilities, and it turns one into the camp where you are less pro-bike and more anti-car."

Yes, and drivers and pedestrians who observe bad behavior by cyclists can say the same.

"Rob of course would say that this was all caused by the fact that we were out there biking. He probably agrees with his friend Sarah Palin that rape victims should pay for their own rape kits."

Rob of course would say no such thing. I don't oppose anyone riding a bike in the city, with the exception of children, who the SFBC and the city are irresponsibly encouraging to ride bikes to school. I don't ride a bike because I personally don't think it's safe, but that doesn't mean I think others don't have that right. What I---and cyclist Robert Hurst---have pointed out is that cycling has its own dangers that will never be eliminated regardless of how many bike lanes are painted on city streets.

Typical prog smugness and self-righteousness to inject Sarah Palin into this discussion. I am in fact a Democrat who has never voted for a Republican and certainly have nothing in common with Palin.

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"What I---and cyclist Robert Hurst---have pointed out is that cycling has its own dangers that will never be eliminated regardless of how many bike lanes are painted on city streets."

I never argued that we should eliminate the dangers. I take on more risk than I absolutely have to most of the time I ride a bike, often having nothing to do with cars. I will descend passes in Lake Tahoe at 55 MPH, a speed at which a crash could be fatal. I've done the risk assessment and determined that I am willing to take that risk. There would be less risk for me if I rode to Caltrain in 25 minutes instead of 15 minutes (the delta not being a function of runnings lights/signs - simply a function of how fast I ride). I have decided it's worth the extra 10 minutes of sleep.

My argument is that the dangers should be *mitigated* - not eliminated. This same argument applies to cars - being in a car has it's own dangers which can never be eliminated no matter what traffic controls are used. This also applies to airplanes, trains, skydiving, you name it. As such your argument is a strawman - nobody is arguing that the bike plan will eliminate the dangers, you are just playing boogeyman. As such you do have PLENTY in common with Sarah Palin and her compatriots.

My opinion - the current infrastructure in San Francisco is tilted too much to car convenience at the cost of bike safety in a manner which should be modified to *mitigate* some of the dangers of cycling in the city. Your mileage clearly varies. Fortunately this is a democracy. A representative democracy you say? Don't like your representative? Run against him - and win.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"nobody is arguing that the bike plan will eliminate the dangers, you are just playing boogeyman. As such you do have PLENTY in common with Sarah Palin and her compatriots."

A number of commenters to this blog do seem to think that riding a bike in SF should be made safe. They even argue with me when I mention the risks cyclists inevitably take. They also think the injunction against the city has caused cyclists to be injured, even without knowing who was responsible for a specific accident. For example, see this item by Peter Smith, who has a new bike blog in SF (http://sf.bikeblogs.org/2008/09/04/kids-need-safe-routes-to-school-more-than-helmets/)Smith talks about being sick of feeling unsafe on city streets, as if all that's necessary to achieve that feeling is...what, exactly? The implementation of the Bicycle Plan?

"...the current infrastructure in San Francisco is tilted too much to car convenience at the cost of bike safety in a manner which should be modified to 'mitigate' some of the dangers of cycling in the city..."

Yes, Murph, I understand that you believe that, but that common opinion among city cyclists is not particularly helpful when considering the specific streets in the Bicycle Plan for SF. This is what's annoying about you bike people: you don't do any homework on either the Bicycle Plan or the litigation against the city. Instead, I get hot air like this, along with lectures on Bikes versus Cars.

When a cyclist admits that cycling can be dangerous, it is in fact seen as a controversial statement by many bike people. Note this quotation from Robert Hurst's book I posted some time ago:

"Is cycling dangerous? Yes. Yes, it is. Deadly, no, but definitely dangerous. This is actually a controversial thing to say. There are those who bristle at any suggestion that cycling is dangerous, because they fear it will scare noncyclists away from ever ditching their cars and trying a more healthy form of transport. This is a good point, but it doesn’t change the fact that cycling is dangerous. This is not some urban legend that needs to be debunked. It is reality, and we need to embrace it."

There are many cyclists in SF who not only don't embrace this reality, they even deny it---at least they do when arguing with me. I was even accused of taking this quotation out of context!

"Fortunately this is a democracy. A representative democracy you say? Don't like your representative? Run against him--- and win."

Yes, I am running against him, but of course I'm not going to win. But as I point out in a previous post, in his literature and on his website, Mirkarimi is downplaying his relationship with the SF Bicycle Coalition and the central role he has played in every bicycle issue in SF in the last four years. Not to mention the fact that he's on record as supporting Critical Mass.

Why is he putting his soft-pedaling, so to speak, his bike "achievements"? Clearly he worries that it won't play well with some voters, even in ultra-liberal District 5. That's why the SFBC didn't insist on putting Healthy Saturdays on the ballot again: they knew it would probably lose. I've challenged them to put the Bicycle Plan itself on the ballot, even as an advisory measure, but of course they'll never do that, because they understand that they have s serious PR problem with a lot of city voters. That problem is a result of years of bad behavior on city streets by many bike people, along with the political arrogance represented by Critical Mass.

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger John Spragge said...

Rob, you did take the quote out of context; you left out the succeeding paragraph, where Mr. Hurst notes, as I have noted repeatedly, that all forms of physical activity involve risk-- as I and others have pointed out. You also misrepresent him by not noting that he appears to have personally rejected your interpretation of his work.

I don't know of anyone who claims that cycling involves no risk, only that cycling (when done with the appropriate protective gear) involves the same or lesser risks than equivalent physical activity, and that inactivity involves not the risk but the near certainty of premature death from the various diseases.

The word English "dangerous" carries three possible implications: dangerous as in dangerous driving, which we define as criminal because it involves a danger to others, dangerous as in an irresponsible risk, and dangerous as in something that can case you harm unless you do it right, and therefore requires care. Dangerous, in that last sense, certainly applies to cycling, and also to everything else in life, including living itself.

On the topic of misbehaviour: as a driver, cyclist, and pedestrian, I have experienced bad, inattentive, and ugly behaviour from drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, in descending order of severity and frequency. As a non-cyclist, Rob, I wouldn't expect you to know how many drivers curse, lecture, and generally harass cyclists just for exercising our right to use the road. And it bears noting that the harassment only ever goes one way. I have had drivers pull up to me when I ride and tell me I should use the bike path (which doesn't go anywhere near my destination), but when I drive I never have cyclists pull up to me and tell me about the very nice super-highway a few blocks away where I and my car "belong". In fact, as a driver, I have had pedestrians curse me out when I stopped to give them the right of way, but I've never got the same response from cyclists.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's simply bullshit that I took Hurst's quotation out of context. His words speak for themselves. He goes out of his way to note that some cyclists are in denial about the risks. Of course he accepts the risks involved in cycling; he's dedicated his life to bikes and cycling. But many commenters here are in denial about the dangers that he goes out of his way to acknowledge and even "embrace." Hurst was obviously trying to support you fanatics in SF but he was, as I demonstrated, just indulging in what I call "flab-gab," trying to have it both ways, even on the issue of cycling and children.

Yes, of course other activites also have risks, but that's just a way to change the subject. But we're talking about cycling, aren't we? And naturally you end up talking about cars and the perfidy of drivers.

 
At 11:58 PM, Blogger John Spragge said...

Rob--
The word "dangerous" requires a context. I and understand your insistence on dealing with cycling out of context, because the moment we put the "danger" of cycling into context, your argument collapses. Robert Hurst uses "dangerous" the way I or just about any other cyclist uses it in connection to cycling: as a risk present in a healthy, responsible activity. The "danger" in cycling means that cyclists need to take care, pay attention, and sharpen our skills. It means we have to take cycling seriously and behave responsibly on the road.

You, on the other hand, have repeatedly paired the word dangerous with the word irresponsible, suggesting that cycling carries excessive and unhealthy risks. But the term "excessive" and "unhealthy" require a context, which makes your effort to tell us to stop comparing cycling to the alternatives so risible. If human beings needed no exercise, or absolutely safe forms of exercise existed, then you might have a case. But the actual facts, which I have posted multiple times here, suggest that all of the alternatives to cycling involve at least as much, if not more, risk of bodily injury and death, from walking to sports; and a sedentary lifestyle involves much greater odds of premature death or profound disability than an active one.

That doesn't affect the need for care and excellence in cycling, the "danger" in the sense that Robert Hurst used it, or I would use it, but it does pretty solidly establish that cycling constitutes more than irresponsible risk or pointless self-harm. And in that sense, I do suggest that you wholly misunderstand the way Robert Hurst spoke about the "danger" of cycling.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We've been all over this ground before, John. You've proven all kinds of things to your absolute satisfaction, but then you're a fanatic on the subject. There are at least two issues here in SF that your rationalizations shed no light on: the city's unprincipled attempt to rush the Bicycle Plan through the process with no environmental review, and the city's encouraging school children to ride bikes to school, which is what I find shockingly irresponsible. It's one thing for you goofball adults to risk life and limb on bikes, which is your right. But you should leave children alone until they are old enough to make their own decisions. It's still another to try to force the 98% of the city's residents to accept redesigning city streets on behalf of that small minority.

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger John G. Spragge said...

Rob, I have nothing to do with the specific bicycle policies in San Francisco. I have neither knowledge of nor interest in California environmental law, and only a passing interest in your civic politics. Besides, I live in a petroleum exporting country, so feel free to burn all the oil you want. In a few years, when I live in a city designed for bicycles and transit, you live in a city designed for cars, and gas costs eight or ten bucks a gallon, we'll see whose town works best.

In the meantime, as long as you insist on making generalizations about bicycles, I'll answer you. So, let's address the two points you raise:

1) your ad hominem argument.
My stats and references either hold up or they don't; your characterization of me as a fanatic has no meaning in that context. You can call me a cycling fanatic all you want: my stats come from my government and yours, and they have no axe to grind regarding bicycles.

2) teaching children to bicycle
Again, the concept of relative risk comes in here.If the alternatives for children include: other sports at least as hazardous as cycling, cycling, particularly in a safe and supervised context, and inactivity, with the attendant health problems, then I fail to see how you can characterize teaching children to cycle as "irresponsible".

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Rob, I have nothing to do with the specific bicycle policies in San Francisco. I have neither knowledge of nor interest in California environmental law, and only a passing interest in your civic politics. Besides, I live in a petroleum exporting country, so feel free to burn all the oil you want. In a few years, when I live in a city designed for bicycles and transit, you live in a city designed for cars, and gas costs eight or ten bucks a gallon, we'll see whose town works best."

And I have an even less than passing interest in the great Bikes versus Cars debate. Do you really think that motor vehicles will stop being the main means of transportation in the US? The major auto manufacturers are all getting ready to roll out new hybrid vehicles. Interesting that you finally mention "transit," as if the alternatives were only bikes and cars. That a major American city will ever be designed for bicycles is a preposterous fantasy. You've been out of the country too long.

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger John G. Spragge said...

Rob--

Here we have another example of all or nothing thinking; the notion that one mode of transportation has to totally dominate American urban transportation. Maybe you could explain why you think that way, because I see no logical basis for it.

And I certainly don't see it in most cycling advocates. You'll have to quote me the post in which I, or any cycling advocate, has suggested we aim to force every last car off the road. We want modest changes in road design to make our lives safer. We want appropriate changes to the transit system, such as bike racks on buses, to make multi-modal journeys possible. We want the laws against criminal recklessness with two-tonne steel bombs in public places enforced, and in some ways, strengthened. That just about does it for most of us. Give cyclists the respect due to human beings who happen to have chosen q non-polluting, health-promoting mode of transportation. Most of us don't want to eliminate cars-- most of us drive cars.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Here we have another example of all or nothing thinking; the notion that one mode of transportation has to totally dominate American urban transportation. Maybe you could explain why you think that way, because I see no logical basis for it."

The fact is motor vehicles---cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and motor scooters--- dominate "American urban transportation" because people understand that they are an excellent means of moving goods and people. The whole point of my critique of the Bicycle Plan is that cyclists represent only a small minority of vehicles on city streets, which makes it unwise---even outrageous---to redesign city streets on the assumption that bikes are anywhere near an equal transportation "mode" in SF.

"You'll have to quote me the post in which I, or any cycling advocate, has suggested we aim to force every last car off the road."

Of course I've never made any such ridiculous claim. But I have pointed out that the Bicycle Coalition makes no secret of the fact that they want to reduce the number of cars on our streets. That sounds harmless on the face of it, but doing that requires a wide range of anti-car measures that are unwise and make traffic in SF a lot worse than it has to be. And when you make it harder for cars to drive in SF, you inevitably make it harder for buses, trucks, taxis, and emergency vehicles, since they all share the same streets as those wicked automobiles, a reality the anti-car folks never acknowledge.

"We want modest changes in road design to make our lives safer."

Those so-called modest changes are exactly what's at issue with the Bicycle Plan, John, which is why your rather abstract thoughts aren't helpful in shedding any light on the issue that's on the table here. And there's the context of the bike safety issue: How far should---even can---the city go in redesigning its streets to meet the needs, real and imagined, of a small minority of folks who ride bikes? That's the question the EIR on the Bicycle Plan will try to answer.

"Give cyclists the respect due to human beings who happen to have chosen q non-polluting, health-promoting mode of transportation."

See the response above. If you lived in SF, you would also have to acknowledge that many---a substantial minority for sure---of the city's bike people are obnoxious and arrogant. That's not just old grouchy anti-bike Rob Anderson's opinion. That's an opinion shared and experienced by anyone who's spent any amount of time on city streets. The get-out-of-my-way-I-don't-burn-fossil fuel attitude is common among cyclists, who show little regard for the rights of anyone else, including pedestrians.

And then there's the collective, political arrogance reflected in the monthly Critical Mass demo and the way the city and the SFBC tried to rush the Bicycle Plan through the process without the legally required environmental review, which showed a complete contempt for the most important environmental law in California.

 
At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The two lights (for bikes / peds and for cars) now make it explicit when each one can go."

And that's just great, except that cars are still running their red light just like they did before. Giving an explicit green for bikes doesn't change driver behavior at all.

I see a lot of bikes still going through their red, though I'm seeing a lot more get partway out before they notice there's a new light and that's just a matter of getting used to something new, but I don't see a difference with car drivers.

 

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