Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Matt Dorsey is "discouraged"

The city's bike people---and their many enablers in City Hall and the media---apparently will never get over the trauma of our successful litigation that forced the city to follow the law and do an environmental impact report on the 500-page Bicycle Plan. Judge Busch's rejection of the city's latest attempt to do an end-run around the injunction put some of them in a schizo mood: glad that he rejected the city's dumb proposal for Market/Octavia but resentful that he still refused to let them implement bike projects before the EIR is completed and certified.

The Bay Guardian (below in italics) reflects this mood: "Both Anderson and the SFBC, who usually agree on little, agreed on the judge's latest ruling. Anderson advocates maintaining streets for cars and pedestrians, while the SFBC works to make roads safer for bicycles and encouraging bicycling as an important transportation option."

Well, not exactly. I actually have no objection to adults riding bikes on the streets of SF, but I do object to the city and the Bicycle Coalition encouraging school children to ride bikes on city streets, which is irresponsible to the point of negligence.

Nor do I object to making the streets safer for cyclists; I just object to doing it at the expense of everyone else that uses the streets of San Francisco, the 95% of the public that drives motor vehicles or takes the bus. The Guardian even quotes my views accurately later in the piece:

"We have to make the streets as safe as possible without strangling the rest of the traffic," Anderson told the Guardian. "Only a small percentage of the population in San Francisco use bicycles as their main mode of transportation. It's not fair for the bike people to design the streets just to benefit them."

The city did some whining when the judge refused to lift the injunction so they could implement more of the Bicycle Plan:

"This case has been very discouraging because there are a handful of activists against bicyclists in the city," City Attorney's Office spokesperson Matt Dorsey said. "The hearing showed that the city has to go to court any time it wants to improve the streets for bicyclists"...Dorsey and Deputy City Attorney Audrey Pearson oppose Anderson, who has said bicycling is an inherently dangerous activity that the city shouldn't be promoting. "As a policy, the city tries to discourage cars in San Francisco," Dorsey said, referring to the longstanding "transit first" policies.

As if Dorsey didn't know all this already, since the injunction has been in place since June, 2006. Evidently Dorsey wasn't listening when Judge Busch expressed his exasperation about how the city keeps trying to make him a traffic engineer with attempts to modify the injunction before the EIR is certified. The judge mentioned that the EIR on the Bicycle Plan would be completed early this year, so why bring these projects before him now, especially since the city was unable to provide evidence that there are any emergencies to justify lifting the injunction?

And yes, we know the city has an anti-car policy. But what exactly do bicycles have to do with "transit first"? Transit refers to buses and trains, not bikes. If you screw up traffic for death monsters, aka cars---taking away traffic lanes to make bike lanes---you're also going to screw up traffic for Muni, which already has enough problems without the city making it even more difficult for it to move its vehicles on city streets.

Now that the public comment period for the Bike Plan's Draft EIR is over and Judge Busch has ruled to keep the bike lane at Market and Octavia, all parties are looking ahead to spring when the court is expected to lift the injunction on improving bike safety in San Francisco, unleashing nearly 60 new bike projects. That is, unless Anderson and Miles can find a way to stop them.

Anderson sees one potential problem with the new EIR: the city has completely redefined the Bicycle Plan the judge ordered them to review, the 527-page Plan that was composed of two volumes, the Framework Document and the Network Document.

The city has reduced that Plan to 60 projects. What about the other proposals in the original Bicycle Plan, like level of service (LOS) "reform"? Is the city assuming that it can now dump LOS traffic measuring standards---that's what LOS "reform" means to the bike nuts---without first doing an environmental study of that dumb idea?


Strange bedfellows
Green City: San Francisco's bicycle community finds itself in an awfully strange position
By Melody Parker and Steven T. Jones


GREEN CITY

San Francisco's bicycle community found itself in the strange position of encouraging Superior Court Judge Peter Busch — someone many cyclists revile for his strict enforcement of a far-reaching injunction against bike projects in the city — to reject a city-sponsored bike safety proposal during a Jan. 22 hearing. It was one more sign of the desperation bicyclists and city officials are feeling over the three-year-old ban on all things bike-related, from new lanes to simple sidewalk racks (see "Stationary biking," 5/16/07).

Judge Busch denied a city motion asking for the authority to make safety improvements at intersections that have proven dangerous to bicyclists, as well as a specific proposal by the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to remove the bike lane at the most dangerous of those intersections, on Market Street at Octavia Boulevard, where 15 bicyclists have been hit by cars making illegal right turns onto the freeway since the revamped intersection opened in September 2005.

But the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and other bicyclists opposed the MTA proposal, arguing it would be more dangerous and holding a Jan. 16 rally at the site, which drew several supportive local politicians, including Sen. Mark Leno, Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, and Sups. Ross Mirkarimi, David Campos, and Bevan Dufty. "As people who ride through that intersection every single day, we believe the proposal would have made the intersection more dangerous. So I'm really relieved that the judge saw that," SFBC director Leah Shahum told us.

She was less pleased with the judge's refusal to relax the injunction, which stems from a legal challenge to the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. San Francisco resident Rob Anderson and attorney Mary Miles successfully sued the city in June 2006, arguing that the plan was hasty and did not include an environmental impact report (EIR), as required by state law, to determine how the plan would affect traffic, neighborhoods, businesses, and the environment.

"This case has been very discouraging because there are a handful of activists against bicyclists in the city," City Attorney's Office spokesperson Matt Dorsey said. "The hearing showed that the city has to go to court any time it wants to improve the streets for bicyclists."

Although Judge Busch denied the city's request to remove the bike lane, he hinted that the injunction would probably be lifted this spring with the completion of the Bike Plan's EIR. "There was a strong message from the judge that he sees the bigger picture about getting the EIR done. It just needs to be complete and fair and accurate. Then the city can get back to work making the streets safer," Shahum said.

Both Anderson and the SFBC, who usually agree on little, agreed on the judge's latest ruling. Anderson advocates maintaining streets for cars and pedestrians, while the SFBC works to make roads safer for bicycles and encouraging bicycling as an important transportation option. Shahum urges city officials to rethink their approach to make Market and Octavia safer. "The city really does need to move on to the next steps to make the intersection better," she said.

Although the number of bicyclists in San Francisco has doubled in recent years in light of volatile gasoline prices, the economic crisis, and greater awareness of global climate change, Anderson continues to argue that bicyclists will always be a minority interest, even in San Francisco.

"We have to make the streets as safe as possible without strangling the rest of the traffic," Anderson told the Guardian. "Only a small percentage of the population in San Francisco use bicycles as their main mode of transportation. It's not fair for the bike people to design the streets just to benefit them."

Dorsey and Deputy City Attorney Audrey Pearson oppose Anderson, who has said bicycling is an inherently dangerous activity that the city shouldn't be promoting. "As a policy, the city tries to discourage cars in San Francisco," Dorsey said, referring to the longstanding "transit first" policies.

Now that the public comment period for the Bike Plan's Draft EIR is over and Judge Busch has ruled to keep the bike lane at Market and Octavia, all parties are looking ahead to spring when the court is expected to lift the injunction on improving bike safety in San Francisco, unleashing nearly 60 new bike projects. That is, unless Anderson and Miles can find a way to stop them.
Wednesday January 28, 2009



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14 Comments:

At 6:21 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

(01-28) 17:11 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- An automobile collided with two Municipal Railway trains this afternoon, disrupting service on the N-Judah line at the start of the evening commute, an agency spokesman said.

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You sure it wasn't a bike?

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I'm pretty sure this isn't a bike

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That was a joke, Murph. What's the point of your comment?

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

The point is that you are on the wrong side of history, and you will lose. The bike-nuts will deal with your clever use of legal tactics but in the end we'll get the bike lanes, and it won't matter how much you whine and scream and complain that we are wrong and you are right.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

politicians who represent constituent's interests: "enablers"

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We could test how well district supervisors---and the mayor, too---are representing the interests of their constituents by putting the Bicycle Plan on the ballot as an advisory measure. My sense of reality is that it would fail.

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nor do I object to making the streets safer for cyclists; I just object to doing it at the expense of everyone else that uses the streets of San Francisco, the 95% of the public that drives motor vehicles or takes the bus."

Wow Rob, I can't believe you take such a static view on this. As if we wouldn't see more people riding bikes if we bothered to give them a place to do so.

You are quoted as follows:

"Only a small percentage of the population in San Francisco use bicycles as their main mode of transportation. It's not fair for the bike people to design the streets just to benefit them."

So is it's fair that the 20,000-40,000 daily bicycle riders have virtually no street space dedicated to them? What about the much greater number of riders who use their bikes more occasionally? Is it fair to them to have streets designed only for driving or parking cars?

And again, what about the latent demand? You don't think there's a sizable proportion of people who are now driving that would like to use bikes more? Think about driving in the city for a second: constant congestion, being isolated in a car, difficult parking, a variety of delays, etc., etc.; and all this after we've done just about everything we could to make driving 'convenient' (or perhaps because we've done about everything we could to make it so).

Then there's biking: no delays, no congestion, being able to interact with people around you, not trapped in a metal box, cheaper, healthier, quieter, 'greener', less strain on public resources (including road space and parking), etc., etc.

You are crazy to think that people wouldn't bike if they could.

"Transit refers to buses and trains, not bikes."

But the city's 'transit first' policy explicitly refers to bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as public transit.

"taking away traffic lanes to make bike lanes---you're also going to screw up traffic for Muni"

Only if people don't use the bike lanes, in which case we can tear them all up. But the trend has been the opposite.

 
At 5:57 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

So yet another Anon poster bandly states that there are "20,000-40,000 daily bicycle riders". Must have been written by Chris Daly or any of the "journalists" at the SFBG: simple math just befuddles these people.

If the City truely wanted to decrease congestion it allow that Market/ Octavia right turn: doing so would get automobiles off the city streets much more expediently.

 
At 7:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the whole bike thing is a faith-based belief system. The notion that we should completely revamp our streets based on nothing but the faith that people will then leave their cars and get bikes is a fantasy. The SFCTA itself predicts that automobile use in SF will actually increase in the next 25 years with bike use also increasing slightly. But that doesn't justify, say, taking away a traffic lane on Masonic, Cesar Chavez, Second Street, and Fifth Street, proposals that are in the draft EIR on the Bicycle Plan.

The right-turn ban at that intersection is sheer madness, the result of having bike people making ctiy traffic policy. It's nuts. That ban and Critical Mass are two big PR problems the SFBC has here in Progressive Land. And the real interesting test is just ahead. Soon---when the EIR is certified later this year---the Board of Supervisors is going to have to decide how badly it's willing to fuck up our traffic on behalf of the PC bike fantasy.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"The point is that you are on the wrong side of history, and you will lose. The bike-nuts will deal with your clever use of legal tactics but in the end we'll get the bike lanes, and it won't matter how much you whine and scream and complain that we are wrong and you are right."

The point about the streetcar automobile accident is that I'm on the wrong side of history? Pretty cryptic, Murph. Shouldn't you capitalize "History"? You'll get "the" bike lanes? You really think you'll everything in the new Bicycle Plan? I'd like to see the city try, for example, to take away a traffic lane to make bike lanes on Masonic, Second Street, and Fifth Street. I don't think even the Board of Supervisors is dumb enough to try that.

 
At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The notion that we should completely revamp our streets based on nothing but the faith that people will then leave their cars and get bikes is a fantasy."

Except that all available evidence suggests that when you provide bike facilities, people use them.

It seems like way more of a faith-based position to suggest that people won't.

 
At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So yet another Anon poster bandly states that there are "20,000-40,000 daily bicycle riders". Must have been written by Chris Daly or any of the "journalists" at the SFBG: simple math just befuddles these people."

You know, when you call someone out for being incorrect, you should probably explain why. How was this a mistake in carrying out 'simple math'.

"If the City truely wanted to decrease congestion it allow that Market/ Octavia right turn: doing so would get automobiles off the city streets much more expediently."

Not necessarily, because there would still have to be a 'no right turn' signal phase to allow pedestrians to cross the street, and depending on the number of poeple making the turn this could easily stack traffic up on Market St.

 
At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has everyone forgotten exactly who it is we have to thank for there being no right turn lane/freeway entrance taken out of the Market/Octavia plan? No one seems to be taking the Bike Coalition to task for the current situation, yet a couple of years ago they were bragging it:

"Initial DPT plans included allowing cars to turn right from Market Street onto the new freeway ramp, which would have required cutting back the sidewalk several feet to create a right turn lane. The SFBC and others vociferously opposed this plan, as it would have created a horrendous condition of cars veering across the Market Street bike lane right as a steady stream of cyclists are coming downhill with significant momentum."

 

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