Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dialogue with the dumb

In spite of all the stupid feedback from the city's bike people, one soldiers on. The lame feedback from the often-fanatical bike people is to be expected, but it's disappointing when the stupidity comes from a respected newspaper like the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, which is owned by the New York Times.

The editorial in the Press Democrat (below in italics) makes statements even SF's bike people might hesitate to make: "Rob Anderson doesn't own a car, but he thinks bikes are a menace on city streets." Well, not exactly. Rob Anderson does think cyclists can be a menace on city streets and that it's not unusual to see cyclists misbehaving on our streets. Such bad behavior is common enough that it's beginning to be a problem for the bike people's political agenda, even here in Progressive Land.

At this point, can even the SF Bicycle Coalition be confident that city voters would pass the Bicycle Plan if it was on the ballot? How about Critical Mass? We'll never learn the answers to these questions, because, if they can prevent it, the SF Bicycle Coalition and its many enablers in City Hall will never allow us to vote on those issues. That's why last year the bike people, the mayor, and sympathetic supervisors quickly engineered the so-called compromise on the Healthy Saturdays proposal in Golden Gate Park: If it went to a vote, closing part of Golden Gate Park to cars on Saturdays probably would have lost---again---just like it did in 1998, when city voters rejected the idea twice on one ballot.
 
More misinformation from the Press Democrat: "In his lawsuit, he argued that more space for bikes means less space for cars and therefore more traffic and pollution. He prevailed in court. So San Francisco is preparing an environmental impact report on the proposed bicycle lanes. Anderson, the Journal said, is pondering another legal challenge."

That's not what the litigation was about at all, which was the city's failure to do even the most preliminary environmental study before it began implementing its 500-page Bicycle Plan on the streets of San Francisco. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires jurisdictions and/or developers to prepare an environmental review of any project that even might have a negative effect on the environment. When you propose reconfiguring the city's traffic lanes and taking away street parking to make bike lanes, obviously you might make traffic worse, which is a negative impact under CEQA.

The litigation was not about Bikes versus Cars or the behavior of cyclists but only about that crucial process issue: Before you implement a major project, you have to do some kind of environmental review of the potential impact that project will have on the environment.

And "another legal challenge"? The city is now under a court order to do the environmental review it should have done several years ago. When that report is completed either late this year or early next year, we will all be able to review it and discuss the specific changes the city wants to make to our streets. If those of us involved in the successful litigation find the EIR inadequate, we will bring our concerns to the attention of Judge Busch, who still has jurisdiction on the case. He will only lift the injunction against the city if and when he finds that the city's EIR on the Bicycle Plan is adequate.
 
Does everyone understand that now? Even though it's not really complicated, it's a little surprising how befuddled so many are about the present situation. In the meantime, we can discuss all sorts of issues surrounding bicycles, cars, traffic, Saving the Planet, and what a grouchy old man I am, but the legal situation is really rather simple. We are all waiting for the city's EIR on the Bicycle Plan.

Collision course: Conflicts of cyclists, pedestrians hinder efforts to get cars off road
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Bicycles won't solve all of our traffic woes or eliminate concerns about greenhouse gas emissions.

However, bikes ought to be part of a comprehensive approach to both issues, as well as a means of promoting physical fitness.

Before we get there, it seems that some diplomacy might be necessary.

In Santa Rosa, cyclists are squabbling with residents of the Villages at Wild Oak subdivision, where signs banning riders from a private bridle path with access to Annadel State Park were recently posted (and promptly cut down by vandals). Wild Oak residents say speeding bikes put pedestrians at risk.

The Meadowcreek Homeowners Association objects to a compromise proposal to offer a nearby trail as an alternative for reaching the park, citing similar concerns about cyclists and pedestrians on a narrow path.

Cyclists counter that riding on the paths is safer than pedaling alongside speeding cars on Highway 12.

Requiring cyclists to walk their bikes on the short paths might be a solution, though enforcement will be problematic.

At least Santa Rosa's cycling community isn't confronted with the obstacles faced by San Francisco, where a plan for more bike lanes and bike racks has been tied up for four years.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the plan was challenged in court by Rob Anderson, a candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the brother of Mendocino County publisher Bruce Anderson.

Rob Anderson doesn't own a car, but he thinks bikes are a menace on city streets. In his lawsuit, he argued that more space for bikes means less space for cars and therefore more traffic and pollution. He prevailed in court.

So San Francisco is preparing an environmental impact report on the proposed bicycle lanes. Anderson, the Journal said, is pondering another legal challenge.

Nothing like a pleasant ride, eh?

Labels: