Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ross Mirkarmi: Errand boy for the Bicycle Coalition

The Bicycle Coalition's questionnaire has this question for District 5 candidates:

In the next year, the City’s Bicycle Plan should be re-instated after a 3-year delay in physical bike improvements on city property, which was caused by a lawsuit and a slow Environmental Review process. The silver lining to this frustrating situation is that a significant package of Bike Network improvements---50+ proposals for bike lanes and intersection improvements throughout the city---will be fully analyzed and ready for legislation and implementation. Will you support approval and implementation of this full package of projects, which will fill significant gaps in the Citywide Bike Network and which, in some cases may include removal of existing on-street parking or traffic lanes?

Supervisor Mirkarimi simply answered "Yes." He will "support approval and implementation of this full package" even before he knows what's in it! He got the endorsement of the Bicycle Coalition in 2004 and, not surprisingly, he got it again this year.

My answer of course was "No," followed by the obvious question:

How can you ask anyone to approve a "full package" when supposedly no one knows what's in it yet? I know: Mirkarimi will give you a blank check regardless of what's in the final package, and other candidates will, too, simply because they perceive the SFBC as a powerful interest group...

The next question lists the streets on the SFBC's priority list: 2nd Street, 5th Street, 17th Street, Masonic Ave., Cesar Chavez Ave., Bayshore Blvd., Illinois St., and Portola Ave. Candidates are asked to approve creating bike lanes on all these streets, even if it requires "removing traffic lanes and/or street parking." Again Mirkarimi answers "Yes" to every street! In fact Mirkarimi answers "Yes" to everything in the SFBC questionnaire, with no comments or doubts about anything the SFBC wants to do to city streets, including encouraging the city's schoolchildren to ride bikes to school.

Funny but except on his endorsements page, Mirkarimi's website doesn't mention the SF Bicycle Coalition, the Bicycle Plan, or his vote to make it part of the General Plan without any environmental review. Or the leading role he's played in level of service (LOS) "reform"---the attempt by the Bicycle Coalition to eliminate serious traffic studies so that they can implement their "improvements" wherever they want in the city, including removing street parking and traffic lanes to make bike lanes. Is Mirkarimi now embarrassed about his mindless support for whatever the Bicycle Coalition wants to do to our streets? In fact the word "bicycles" doesn't appear anywhere on his website, except for this so-called accomplishment: "Introducing resolution to create bicyclist-friendly crossing-light system at intersection of Fell and Masonic."

It's not surprising that he doesn't mention his support for Critical Mass but his failure to mention his steadfast leadership on all things bike-related is a little odd. It's almost as if he thought that the bike issue is a political liability, even in District 5.

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