Thursday, May 14, 2009

Steve Jones: "Anderson is right: bicyclists do have a radical agenda"

Steve Jones is the Bay Guardian's bike guy, and reading him (Uphill Climb) on the issue is a good way to understand what I call BikeThink, the assumptions underlying the mindset of the bike people:

I understand that bicyclists are criticized in many quarters as a vocal minority with a self-righteous sense of superiority and entitlement, and that I'm personally accused of bias for writing empathetically about bicyclists in dozens of bike-related stories. Well, guess what? I don't apologize. We are better than motorists, by every important measure. We use less space and fewer resources and create less waste and pollution.

People who ride bikes are better people than planet-destroying motorists.
But Jones's self-righteousness extends to other aspects of city life, as he told us a couple of years ago when writing of complaints about quality of life infractions in SF by the armies of druggies and the homeless the city struggles to cope with. Jones thinks people shooting up and drinking and drugging in our parks and neighborhoods is just part of "true city living." We should just get used to it because it's sanctioned by him and his pals, the cool people, the fun people, the groovy people who, God help us, represent the future: "We know that it's the rest of the country that's the problem, not us. Luckily, there are a million things to do in this beautiful and bountiful city while we wait for the rest of the world to catch up."

Jones is explicit about his bike fetish:

I love my bike, and so do most people who see it. San Franciscans appreciate the little things, like someone who rides a silly-looking bike. It started as a basic used mountain bike, but I styled it out for Burning Man a few years ago, covering it with heavy red acrylic paint that looks like stucco, a big basket covered in fake fur and ringed with electro-luminescent wire, and custom-welded high handlebars topped by a lizard horn. Maybe you've seen me around town — and if so, maybe you've seen me blow through stop signs or red lights. Yes, I'm that guy, and I only apologize if I'm stealing a motorist's right-of-way, which I try to avoid.

Oh Steve, you're so adorable, running red lights on your Burning Man bike! Of course Jones is a Burning Man guy; he regularly attends the annual corporate-sponsored event disguised as a counter-cultural happening.

Rob Anderson, who successfully sued San Francisco to force detailed studies of its Bike Plan (and blogs at district5diary.blogspot.com), regularly calls me and my ilk the "bike fanatics." I've interviewed Anderson by phone a few times and tangled with him online many times. He's actually a pretty well-informed and well-reasoned guy, except for his near pathological disdain for bicycling, which he considers an inherently dangerous activity that government has no business promoting and is not a serious transportation option.

The "detailed studies" usage implies that the city did any environmental study of the 500-page Bicycle Plan before it started implementing it; in fact the city did no environmental studies at all, which is why our suit was successful. The city and the Bicycle Coalition simply assumed no one would challenge their attempt to redesign city streets on behalf of the bike people here in Progressive Land. Riding a bike is clearly an option already chosen by a small minority of city residents. I have no problem with that, but the real question is, How far should the city go in promoting that minority option at the expense of everyone else who uses city streets?

But San Francisco would be a gridlocked nightmare without bikes. Transportation officials say this is already one of the most traffic-choked cities in the country (second after Houston), a big factor in Muni never reaching its voter-mandated 85 percent on-time performance. During peak hours, most Muni lines reach their holding capacity. Imagine 37,500 additional people (the estimated number of San Franciscans who primarily travel by bike) driving or taking Muni every day.

In reality, it isn't difficult to drive in San Francisco at all, especially in the middle of a recession when traffic has noticeably declined. Four years ago, Curt Sanburn wrote an article in SF Weekly that annoyed the bike people because he pointed out that, once you understand the street system, driving in this city is easy. The bike people want to put an end to that.

Because at the end of the day, Anderson is right: bicyclists do have a radical agenda. We want to take space from cars, both lanes and parking spaces, all over this city. That's what has to happen to create a safe, complete bicycle system, which is a prerequisite to encouraging more people to cycle. We need to realize that designing the city around automobiles is an increasingly costly and unsustainable model.

The problem with this agenda: Muni uses the same streets that cars use in San Francisco, and if you take away traffic lanes and street parking for cars---and, by the way, taxis, trucks, and emergency vehicles---you're going to make it harder for Muni to move on our streets. The bike people pay lip service to our "transit first" city, but for them it's really all about bikes.

Jones quotes Leah Shahum of the Bicycle Coalition: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them." This is a vision of traffic gridlock for everyone, including Muni passengers. Elsewhere in the same edition of the Guardian, Dave Snyder, in an op-ed about public transit, talks about making cycling safe for eight-year-olds. Shahum is clearly flanking the faint-hearted Snyder---a former executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition---on the left!

These people are arrogant crackpots determined to screw up our traffic based on a juvenile vision of the future of San Francisco.

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33 Comments:

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We cannot redesign streets for 1% of San Francisco's population.

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Try 16% ...

http://www.sfmta.com/cms/bhome/documents/2008SFStateofCyclingReport.pdf

• Nearly 16 percent of
phone survey respondents
reported bicycling an
average of two or more
days per week for all trip
purposes (Figure 5).
• It is estimated that there
are approximately 128,000
bicycle trips made each day
in San Francisco.
• Approximately six percent of
all trips in San Francisco are
completed via bicycle.

 
At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Less than half of the SF population owns a car...

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Dean Ellis said...

Hey Rob Anderson,

i appreciate that you think critically about these things,

but you're still a dick.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Thanks for the feedback, asshole.

 
At 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you aware of the plan to eliminate all the right-turn lanes and a bunch of parking spaces on Market St. between Noe and Octavia, so that a "complete" bike lane that doesn't go away at the intersections can be provided?

At least 18 parking spots will be lost, and traffic will be affected by the removal of the right turn lanes.

A public hearing is on the 29th. I expect they won't listen to any opposition and the changes will be implemented over the objections of all the merchants who will be affected.

http://www.sfmta.com/cms/ceng/EngineeringPublicHearingNotice5--29-09.htm

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, all the projects listed on the MTA link you provide are part of the Bicycle Plan. The city is doing all the hearings and public notice now so that they can begin screwing up our streets as soon as the Bicycle Plan is certified by Judge Busch later this year. You're right: there won't be any serious public opposition at these hearings, which will be pro-forma exercises required by law.

Recall that three years ago the city took away most of the metered street parking on Market St. between Van Ness and Octavia to make bike lanes. And they did it in spite of unanimous opposition from the many businesses in the area. Insult to injury: they rushed it through the process to get it done in time for Bike to Work Day! (http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2006/05/pleas-of-small-businesses-fall-on-deaf.html)

Note that Second Street and Fifth Street are on the list, too. Hard to see how they can do those projects without making downtown traffic a lot worse. I guess we'll see!

The city is going to release the final EIR on the Bicycle Plan next month, and you'll have a last chance to make a public comment. But you're right: it's a done deal, and nothing the public can do or say is going to make any difference in the outcome. The bike people and their many facilitators in city government are determined to do this.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Yet even the business owners are now realizing that they might not know what the hell they were talking about re:cars/parking.

First, 24th St will be closed to cars on the next Sunday Streets - at the insistence of the BUSINESSES - the city originally planned to not close 24th St because of traffic concerns.

And here right from the horses mouth...

Carolyn Diamond, who heads the business-backed Market Street Association, said the changing times have softened opposition to restricting automobiles.

She said it helps that the complete car ban has been shelved and that the public seems more willing to embrace ditching driving for taking transit, walking or biking. "There seems to be a willingness by a lot of us to at least take a look at the idea, to try it to see if it works," she said.

You have your opinions - but you are wrong, and time is proving that. Period. Profanity, ad hominem attacks, and shouting don't change that.

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

As usual you don't know what you're talking about. I'm "wrong" about what exactly? The thing you're apparently incapable of addressing is the DEIR on the Bicycle Plan, which tells us that a number of the planned projects are going to have "significan unavoidable impacts" on both Muni and normal traffic. What "shouting"? You're just a dim bulb, Murph, with not much of anything to say. And you're evidently too busy with your "real" job to read the DEIR.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

1) more people will ride bikes with the bike lanes. The positive impact of that is more than the impact of the bike lanes themselves. You disagree that this will happen. The statistics disagree with your assertion. You disagree with the facts. You probably think the earth is flat too. Good for you.

2) If there were a net impacts, I assert that it is worth it. You clearly disagree. Fortunately this is a representative democracy and you lost. When you ran, and on this issue. You claimed that there was no EIR done. The EIR is now done. It determined there would be impacts. Policymakers, representing the public, are in the process of deciding that those impacts are worth it.

3) You changed the subject to "unanimous opposition from the many businesses in the area." and I quoted that those same businesses are now supporting a restriction on cars on market.

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Of course your opinion is that creating bike lanes by taking away traffic lanes and street parking is a Good Thing. You've always thought nothing else. Why even bother to say it again? I've actually read the DEIR, and it confirms what we tried to tell the city before we even filed our suit: taking away traffic lanes on busy streets to make bike lanes is going to make traffic worse on those streets, including worse for Muni, which already has ontime problems.

My campaign was hardly a fair test of my ideas, since I essentially didn't campaign at all, except for attending a few candidates' forums and handing out some doorhangers. Even so that I got almost 2,000 votes in District 5 was an interesting result. A really fair test of the great, planet-saving bicycle movement would be to put something on the ballot---the Bicycle Plan or Critical Mass, for example. I suspect it wouldn't do too well. But the SFBC wouldn't dare do that for fear of losing---or even winning by a small margin, which would show how thin public support is for bike nuttery.

There was in fact almost unanimous opposition from the effected businesses to taking away the metered parking spaces between Octavia and Van Ness. I don't know who Carolyn Diamond is or who she represents. 24th Street is not exactly part of Market Street. It's the heart of suburban Noe Valley that extends all the way through the Mission.

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I wasn't clear.

You (Rob Anderson) lost when you ran, and you lost on this issue (stop the bike lanes). If there was public hue and cry over the bike plan, it would be stopped. Instead there is just your lonely voice in the desert. Why is that? Because everyone hates bikes but is too busy doing other things? Please. It's because there is general support for the bike plan, except for you and half a dozen commenters on SFGate who live in Walnut Creek, never come to San Francisco, yet feel the need to pontificate that if the meter rates go up they'll stop coming to SF.

"I don't know who Carolyn Diamond is or who she represents."

See above...

"Carolyn Diamond, who heads the business-backed Market Street Association"

The mission of the Market Street Association is to promote our main boulevard through redevelopment and improvement. We are the voice of the downtown Market Street area from the Ferry Building to Octavia Street.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Carolyn Diamond was nowhere in evidence three years ago when the city took away the metered parking between Van Ness and Octavia. I wonder what she thinks of the Market/Octavia Plan, which is going to put 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness?

"You (Rob Anderson) lost when you ran, and you lost on this issue (stop the bike lanes)."

Why don't do some homework before you pull another comment out of your ass, Murph? I have never advocated anything so silly as "stop the bike lanes." Our successful litigation was about giving the 500-page Bicycle Plan a proper environmental review; it wasn't about the contents of the Plan at all. We warned the city that a review of the impact of the Plan would surely show that it would make traffic worse on some of the streets targeted, which is exactly what the DEIR now says. Some bike lanes seem to work fairly well, like the one on Valencia, which was created without taking away street parking.

And, just as important, I criticized the Murk during the campaign for his mindlessly pro-development stance on the awful Market/Octavia Plan and UC's ripoff of the old extension property on lower Haight Stree. The Murk thinks Octavia Blvd.---45,000 cars a day through the heart of Hayes Valley!---is a great bit of planning and design. And he voted for the Rincon Hill highrises, which Chris Daly thought were a great triumph for a progressive housing policy.

Recall, too, that I pointed out how the Murk never even mentioned the Bicycle Plan or Critical Mass in his literature, while downplaying his slavish devotion to the agenda of the Bicycle Coalition.

The Bicycle Coalition, frustrated by the delay with the EIR, threatened last year to put the Plan on the ballot, but they didn't do it. Gee, I wonder why not? They also threatened to put closing JFK in the park on Saturdays on the ballot, but they didn't do it. Gee, I wonder why not? A possible answer: they already lost decisively on the garage under the Concourse in 1998; and then they lost on the Saturday closure issue, too, which lost twice on the same ballot in 2000.

I think the Bicycle Coalition and the whole goofball bike trip is a paper tiger politically. The big danger you bike assholes face now: pushing bike lanes on busy streets thus causing a backlash. Fifth Street and Second Street seem particularly bad streets for bike lanes. It's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Carolyn Diamond was nowhere in evidence three years ago when the city took away the metered parking between Van Ness and Octavia."

Exactly my point... the times, they are a changing. The old die off and the young remake the world the way they want it. It has always been thus. The young at heart enjoy watching it. The old vile ones just complain about everything.

And this post had nothing to do with the Market/Octavia plan.

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're going real deep here, Murph. What pretentious twaddle! I referred to the M/O Plan and the other planning atrocities---remaking the world!---that Mirkarimi supports because you assumed my criticism was all about bikes. You bike morons show little interest in other serious planning issues, though the SFBC supports the M/O Plan---because it restricts parking spaces for new housing units---and the new, dreadful Octavia Blvd.

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Less than half of the SF population owns a car..."

Bullshit. According to the MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet of 2008, only 28.5% of city households don't own a motor vehicle, while 71.5% of households have at least one vehicle.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

You bike morons show little interest in other serious planning issues...

Yes, because it's all about bikes. Then why is Leah involved in pushing for a better MUNI budget, working against fare hikes for MUNI riders - a topic which you have ignored despite it being the hottest button issue in the city right now.

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Leah supports the horrible new Octavia Blvd. because...? I know she supports the M/O Plan because the parking will be restricted in new units. Her concern about Muni is phony. The bike people have to pretend to care about Muni,because we're supposedly a "transit first" city, but it's all bullshit. If they cared about Muni, why, for example, would they want to screw up traffic on Masonic and the #43 line by taking away a traffic lane to put in a bike lane? If the city really cared about Muni, why do they have 13 people working on bike projects in MTA?

 
At 6:01 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"That leaves bikes. Militant bike activists can alienate local residents, but there's nothing wrong with trying to make Market more bike-friendly. I'd have no problem with a clearly defined, cordoned-off bike lane. A surprising number of bicyclists are braving Market's potholes, trolley tracks and maniac cabbies as it is. More would surely try it if it wasn't so chancy."

Even Nevius is softening his stances, and admitting that a lot of people ride bikes, and that if we improve things more would.

It's going to get lonely on Anderson Island.

 
At 8:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Nevius has never written about the bike bullshit before, so how could he be "softening" his stance on the issue? The Bicycle Plan is now about the 56 projects studied in the DEIR. Market Street is just a sideshow. Actually, there are a lot more than 56 projects planned, since the DEIR presents different "options" on most of the proposed projects, many of which will have, in the words of the DEIR, "significant unavoidable impacts" on Muni and traffic in general.

 
At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Are you aware of the plan to eliminate all the right-turn lanes and a bunch of parking spaces on Market St. between Noe and Octavia, so that a "complete" bike lane that doesn't go away at the intersections can be provided?

At least 18 parking spots will be lost, and traffic will be affected by the removal of the right turn lanes."

Yes, because we in our cars need special lanes to go straight, special lanes to turn right, and special lanes to park in. We get the whole street and fuck everyone else.

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Recall that three years ago the city took away most of the metered street parking on Market St. between Van Ness and Octavia to make bike lanes. And they did it in spite of unanimous opposition from the many businesses in the area."

So? Private businesses don't have any special claim over the public street.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

They have a better claim than you bike assholes.

 
At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm "wrong" about what exactly? The thing you're apparently incapable of addressing is the DEIR on the Bicycle Plan, which tells us that a number of the planned projects are going to have "significan unavoidable impacts" on both Muni and normal traffic."

Try a little cost vs. benefit analysis. Cyclist are choked off most city streets right now because there aren't any facilities for them. The impact to bicycle traffic isn't merely 'significant', it's 'inhibitive'.

Bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation that deserve space on the street, even if this means impacting car traffic.

You're still acting like automobile traffic is the only concern.

 
At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They have a better claim than you bike assholes."

Not really. How many cars were able to park on the block between Gough and Octavia? And how many hundreds of cyclists are able to go through there, now that there's a bike lane?

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

"Bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation that deserve space on the street, even if this means impacting car traffic.You're still acting like automobile traffic is the only concern."

And you're talking about nothing but cars, even though the reality is that all the city's goods are delivered by trucks, Muni has 686,000 boardings every weekday, and emergency vehicles---ambulances, police cars, fire trucks---all also must be able to move freely on our streets. The idea that we should take away traffic lanes used by 97.5% of the citizens of SF to benefit at most 2.5% of the population is preposterous.

 
At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...all the city's goods are delivered by trucks, Muni has 686,000 boardings every weekday, and emergency vehicles---ambulances, police cars, fire trucks---all also must be able to move freely on our streets."

Let's try to remember that the issue we were talking about was removing car parking for bike lanes. We can get to the other stuff later.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Let's try to remember that the issue we were talking about was removing car parking for bike lanes. We can get to the other stuff later."

Removing parking for cars is only part of the issue; removing traffic lanes is also important, since cars, Muni, trucks, and emergency vehicles all use the same streets in the city.

 
At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we were discussing a particular site before you went off and started addressing something copletely different.

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You can fixate on this area if you want. Do you have some numbers to share with us on that street segment? How many parking spaces were removed, and how many cyclists use the street?

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Recall that three years ago the city took away most of the metered street parking on Market St. between Van Ness and Octavia to make bike lanes. And they did it in spite of unanimous opposition from the many businesses in the area."

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/05/27/only-17-percent-drive-to-downtown-sf-to-shop-study-finds/#comments

"The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (TA) has released a survey of nearly 1400 shoppers in downtown San Francisco that found less than one-fifth drive to shop, and that they spend less money in aggregate than shoppers using other transportation modes"

Sad to see these businesses cannot see the forest for the trees.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger mulling it over said...

I just stumbled onto this blog, after reading an article about how Rob has helped the bike coalition achieve more than they were aiming for originally. Thanks for the lulz Rob!

 
At 1:50 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're welcome!

 

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