Monday, June 29, 2009

Making traffic worse for everyone but cyclists

Anonymous writes:
"I'm kind of amazed that someone would dare say that 6 percent of trips are by bicycle! Where's the proof? The US Census Bureau reports that number as 2.2 percent. Check it out."

To be fair to the bike nuts, the Census Bureau chart you've linked is about "means of transportation to work," not all trips in the city by bicycle. Even so it's interesting to note that the commuting-by-bicycle number hasn't changed much in years: The MTA's San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet of October, 2008 (available on MTA's website), tells us that 80.6% of city residents either drive/carpool, take public transportation, or "motorcycle, taxicab or other" means to get to work, as opposed to 2.3% who bike to work (9.6% walk to work, and 7.6% work at home).
 
And the San Francisco County Transportation Plan of July 2004 (also available online), has even lower figures for "all internal trips" by bikes, putting the percentage at 1% without giving a percentage for bike commuters, probably because the number is embarrassingly low (page 51).
 
In short, the city is about to implement a Bicycle Plan that will make traffic worse for more than 80% of San Francisco's commuters.
 
The SFCTA's Transportation Plan has this interesting paragraph about transportation and the city's economy:

Visitor travel and tourism are integral to San Francisco's economy. The city attracts almost 14 million visitors per year. Of this total, about 10 million arrive from outside the nine-county Bay Area. The transportation needs of business travelers, tourists and other visitors must be planned for in order to support this growing sector of the city's economy. For example, visitors unfamiliar with the city's transportation system rely on easy-to-read maps, good signage, and pleasant walking, transit and taxi environments to navigate the city's attractions easily and efficiently (page 41, emphasis added).

Do these folks ride their bikes into the city? Nope, according to the Visitor's Bureau---which says the city actually had more than 16 million visitors in 2007---25% of the 4.74 million visitors who stayed in city hotels in 2007 rented cars while in the city. Most of the four million visitors to the city from the Bay Area probably drove into the city, though some no doubt arrive on BART.
 
The Bicycle Plan will not only make commuting worse for more than 80% of the city's population, it will also make negotiating city streets more difficult for millions of tourists, who, according to the Visitor's Bureau, spent $8.24 billion here in 2008, providing $527,612,802 in direct revenue to the city.

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30 Comments:

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come to think of it Rob you are right. Screw the bike lanes I'll just "take the lane" as I am legally entitled to do in the State of California when I feel unsafe on the side of the road, and ride right in front of you.

I'll also be sure to come to a complete stop, put my foot down, look both ways and slowly wind up the cranks at every stop sign, particulary where there is clearly no cross traffic...wouldn't want to break the law now would we.

Poor motorists. Now you can't drive 45mph between stop signs on neighborhood streets because you have to put up with these new-fangle bicycles which have only been on city streets streets since about 1820.

Hard catching up with the 19th century huh?

 
At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those Census figures are from 2000. A lot changes in 9 years. Gas was about $0.99 a gallon back then too.

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, that would square with the passive-aggressive behavior of many of your bike comrades, who act out their Mommy and Daddy issues on city streets. You folks are political narcissists: it's all about you and your hip transportation "mode."

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Rob Anderson math:

Do these folks ride their bikes into the city? Nope, according to the Visitor's Bureau---which says the city had more than 16 million visitors in 2007---25% of the 4.74 million visitors who stayed in city hotels in 2007 rented cars while in the city (http://www.sfcvb.org/research/). Most of the four million visitors to the city from the Bay Area probably drove into the city, though some no doubt arrive on BART.

25% of visitors in the city rented a car. This means that the other 75% did, too, they're just not reporting it. Thus, "most of the four million visitors to the city from the Bay Area probably drove into the city". Yes, all those Europeans drove right over the Bering Strait landbridge.

Rob Anderson math. You just can't argue with it.

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You get it all wrong, Michael. What is it with you bike people? Too much carbon monoxide and diesel fumes? You seem incapable of reading a simple text. The excerpt you cite is incomplete, since the 25% only represents those who stayed in city hotels who rented cars, not 25% of the total number of city visitors. If there were 16 million vistors in a year, and 10 million came from out of the area, that leaves 4 million arrivng from the Bay Area. Can there be any doubt that almost all of these 4 million came by car? Maybe some came on BART, but it's unlikely that many arrived on Greyhound, Golden Gate Transit, AC Transit, or SamTrans, though a few probably did.

As the Visitors Bureau tells us, most tourists/visitors arrived by airplane. Many no doubt rented cars at the airport, and others rented cars after they arrived at their hotels downtown.

Anyhow, it seems particularly stupid to redesign city streets to make it more difficult for these millions to drive on our streets, since tourism is our main industry, and we're in the middle of a recession.

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I love the diesel smoke jab (probably the 5th time I've seen you use it, too). Way to have a conversation, champ. With tact like that, it's no wonder you're fighting a one-man (oh wait, one man and one woman) battle against the Powers that Be (and losing).

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I of course meant to write "14 million visitors," not "16 million visitors."

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Is "having a conversation" what we're doing? Maybe it isn't carbon monoxide and diesel fumes; your generation seems to have brain-rot, which may be from all the music and videos you consume, rendering your mind incapable of reading and thinking. And then there's your ideology, BikeThink, which, like all ideologies, hobbles the mind.

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Rob Anderson Bingo said...

By Rob's standards, we must drop everything to protect the almighty "tourist" who, despite all numerical evidence to the contrary (quoted by Rob himself), prefers above all to drive a private car in the congested, confusing streets of San Francisco, thousands of miles from his native land (and in the most walkable city in the United States).

Rob will respond to this by saying that he never, ever asserted that most tourists drive in SF, but he'll always trot out the tourists like a Kuwaiti incubator baby whenever anything is proposed which threatens the primacy of the private automobile. What's it gonna be, Rob?

Pauvre touriste. I can only imagine what happens if we do not make this city more like Phoenix. They'll flee!

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger missiondweller said...

What's really outrageous is that these bike lanes will further slow down Muni. Why does the BOS cater to such a small group of people at the expense of most of us who rely on public transportation?

 
At 5:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, it's probable that most tourists drive a car in SF at some point in their visit. The city is walkable---I walk in it every day---but it's not feasible to walk from, say, Union Square to Ocean Beach or Golden Gate Park. And, yes, a lot of tourists ride Muni. Still, the numbers we have tend to show that most tourists either drive into the city in their own cars or rent cars when they get here. Is that controversial for anyone but you bike nuts? You folks are such nasty elitists, you can sneer at tourism, but it's an industry that means a lot to the city in jobs and income. It seems self-defeating to deliberately make it harder to drive on city streets for both visitors and residents---and Muni buses---in the name of a crackpot bicycle fantasy.

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger warren jones said...

It's my first time at this blog. Interesting stuff. I just noticed this quote "but it's not feasible to walk from, say, Union Square to Ocean Beach or Golden Gate Park."

My wife and I did this walk (GG Park to Union Square) two weeks ago and it was great. I am an athlete (cyclist & runner) but she isn't and we both really enjoyed it.

We also took the train and BART into the city from Sacramento.

 
At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We must stop these bike lanes! It'll make the city more 'European' and tourists won't want to visit anymore!!!

 
At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Rubb Starr said...

Down with the monkey!

As we told you all along Rob, you've lost. The only thing you accomplished was wasting the taxpayers money. Are you ready to be sued to pay for it?

By the way - massive triple bike lane is coming soon to circle your block.

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're a typically ignorant bike nut, Rubbb. We won on our litigation; it's over. The city has already paid our lawyer for her time and trouble. The litigation was about environmental review of the 500-page Bicycle Plan, Rubbbb, not about Bikes Good, Cars Bad. And, as we predicted, the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us that it's going to have "significant unavoidable impacts" all over the city on traffic, loading, and Muni.

Whether or not to implement the disruptive Plan on behalf of your small minority, Rubbbbb, is now a political decision.

 
At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

Rob, you didn't win. You delayed the bike plan and forced an EIR - at the expense of San Francisco taxpayers. And of course the EIR showed what is self-evident: increasing bike traffic and reducing car traffic reduces the city's environmental impact.

If you had won, then you wouldn't be complaining today about tourists renting cars. You would have moved on to different issues, whatever they may be.

And while you may have had some valid points along the way about MUNI and pedestrian traffic that would have resonated even with cyclists, your constant baiting of people who ride bikes means you never won anybody over to your cause. Ultimately, you strengthened the resolve of your opponents and got the entire bike plan.

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your comment is one of the many reasons I have nothing but contempt for many of you bike people. We won on the litigation, since the law and the facts were all on our side. (see Judge Busch's decision: http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2006/11/judge-buschs-decision.html)

The city not only was completely wrong on the law, but they prolonged the litigation unnecessarily well beyond what a lawyer with integrity would/should do, thus costing taxpayers a lot more. In fact, if the city had simply followed the law and done the EIR in the first place, there would have been no litigation and no cost to the taxpayers.

We won the legal battle, but implementing the Bicycle Plan will now be a political decision by the city. As I've written on this blog for years, I think it's going to make traffic in the city a lot worse than it has to be in catering to a small minority of crackpots like you to the detriment of the majority of city residents.

"And of course the EIR showed what is self-evident: increasing bike traffic and reducing car traffic reduces the city's environmental impact."

To the extent that this sentence makes any sense, it's completely wrong. The EIR in fact shows that the Bicycle Plan will have "significant unavoidable impacts" on traffic, loading, and Muni all over the city. That doesn't mean positive "impacts"; it means that it's going to slow down traffic, make loading more difficult for small businesses, and slow down a number of Muni lines.

Like a lot of commenters to this blog, it's hard to tell if you're stupid or dishonest, but your comment is pure crap.

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger Pantograph Trolleypole said...

The census does not cover all trips, just work trips. So that number can't be used as an accurate measure of the number of trips people take by bike or car or transit in the city.

 
At 4:45 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

In fact I cite the "all trips" data in the blog post, which you evidently didn't read very carefully. I also cited the SFCTA's Countwide Transportation Plan, MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet, and the Visitor's Bureau numbers on car rentals. All of this information is available online.

 
At 10:34 AM, Blogger Daniel Jacobson said...

Rob, its comical how you focus more on personally attacking, name calling, and stereotyping anyone who disagrees with you than using logic and facts to make an argument. It's really sad how every single response to a comment starts with "you ignorant bike nut" or "you nasty elitist bike people." What are you, a 3rd grader? Grow up.

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Daniel: Except for an occasional use of "bike nut"---which I think is a legitimate descriptive term---there's a lot of substantive content here for you to comment on. Instead, you prefer to pretend that there's nothing but personal attacks, because you have nothing of substance to say.

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger Daniel Jacobson said...

Fair enough. Bicycling is the fastest growing mode of transportation in San Francisco--the 6% mode share for all trips in MTA's "State of Cycling" report follows national trends in which bicycling has shot up (NYC experienced a 35% increase in bicycling alone in 2008, and commuting mode share in Portland has tripled from under 3% in 2001 to 8% in 2008). If you have a problem with Muni being so slow, then why not blame the 200,000 drivers that jam up the streets everyday rather than the 15,000 or 20,000 bicyclists.

The fact is, many people choose driving because cars can go places that Muni can't. Bicycling can replace a good amount of car trips in San Francisco, thereby reducing traffic and speeding up Muni. The recent growth in bicycling and a 6% overall mode share is pretty damn good considering SF has hardly any bike infrastructure in the first place (and you've stalled any new projects for the past two years). A lot of people who are environmentally conscious or who cannot afford to drive still don't bike around SF because it's not bicycle-friendly at all.

Bicycling is hands down the cheapest form of transportation for an individual, and the most cost-effective investment a city government can make. Investments in bicycling encourage bicycling and benefit everyone--not just the "elitist bike nuts" you like to attack.

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Cycling is 6% of trips only if you believe the city's report. Wasn't that the report that was done on Bike to Work Day? Muni does okay now, but if you folks get your way--removing traffic lanes to make bike lanes---it won't be moving very well in the future. Cycling will never "replace" cars, trucks, Muni, and emergency vehicles. It's all bullshit, Danny boy.

"A lot of people who are environmentally conscious or who cannot afford to drive still don't bike around SF because it's not bicycle-friendly at all."

Actually riding a bike in the city is flat-out, fucking dangerous, which is what a lot of "environmen tally conscious" and a lot of not-so-environmentally conscious people understand, which is why it will never be anything but a minor transportation "mode."

 
At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

"Your comment is one of the many reasons I have nothing but contempt for many of you bike people."

"Like a lot of commenters to this blog, it's hard to tell if you're stupid or dishonest, but your comment is pure crap."

Wow, Rob. Your anger really prevents you from participating in any legitimate discussion of this issue. The irony of course is that I am not one of those "bike people" you dislike so much - I drive virtually everywhere and I haven't ridden a bike in San Francisco in years.

But, like many others, I recognize that LOS is not the be-all and end-all of what makes a livable city. Nor is business in a city core driven by LOS.

But whatever valid points you made along the way were completely obscured by your need to call people "stupid" and "dishonest." The predictable outcome was that the vast majority of people in San Francisco - including those who sought to understand where you were coming from - have come to see you as "stupid" and "dishonest."

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"But whatever valid points you made along the way were completely obscured by your need to call people 'stupid' and 'dishonest.' The predictable outcome was that the vast majority of people in San Francisco - including those who sought to understand where you were coming from - have come to see you as 'stupid' and dishonest."

Well, which is it? Are you being stupid or dishonest when you claim that the EIR on the Bicycle Plan "showed what is self-evident: increasing bike traffic and reducing car traffic reduces the city's environmental impact." In fact it showed just the opposite as I pointed out. Obviously you haven't read the EIR and are faking it, which makes you dishonest, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the "vast majority of people in San Francisco" have never heard of me or my blog.

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous stephen b said...

For almost two decades, Los Angeles has led the nation in traffic congestion. The most effective solution to this problem is to simply leave the car at home and to ride a bike. If riding a bike is not for you, at least give some respect to those who choose to ride. After all, they are reducing congestion, they are contributing to a healthier environment and, most importantly, they are changing the world. You see, cyclists are the “Indicator Species” for a healthy community.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh, yes, you bike people are very special. Don't be so modest. Your aren't merely "changing" the world, you are saving the world.

 
At 2:53 AM, Anonymous Dr. Xerxes Faukes said...

Hey Failure Boy! Have you read this?
Cyclists, pedestrians feel 'safer' -- No commuter chaos, mayor pleased with launch of three-month trial.

It's about a closed lane - an ENTIRE lane - on a bridge in Vancouver. No cars, no problem.

 
At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Masshole Avenger said...

Hey Stephen,

You said "If riding a bike is not for you, at least give 'some respect' to those who choose to ride"

Like "some" other groups with questionable lifestyles, you need to learn that RESPECT is something that is EARNED. And from watching the behavior of you and your ilk, i am pretty confident that this will never happen, so i have lowered myself to your level and thwart bicyclists at every available opportunity. Ha Ha loser(s).

All you ARE getting is "some" respect.

 
At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Masshole Avenger said...

Hey Stephen,

You said "If riding a bike is not for you, at least give 'some respect' to those who choose to ride"

Like "some" other groups with questionable lifestyles, you need to learn that RESPECT is something that is EARNED. And from watching the behavior of you and your ilk, i am pretty confident that this will never happen, so i have lowered myself to your level and thwart bicyclists at every available opportunity. It's like a sport.

All you ARE getting is "some" respect.

PS "Some" = "not much"

 

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