Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Andy Thornley is a liar


Chris Roberts quotes Andy Thornley in the current SF Weekly (The S.F. bike plan and its surprising discontentson the Bicycle Plan's impact on Second Street:

Andy Thornley, program director for the Bicycle Coalition and the plan's most vocal supporter, defends the decisions made for Second Street. He says the proposed setup is a "sophisticated" solution that preserves curbside parking while making room for cyclists' right-of-way and better Muni service.

Thornley is a liar, since the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us that it's going to have "significant unavoidable impacts"---that is, it will slow down---both regular traffic and Muni's #10 line on Second Street. That means that the Plan is going to screw up traffic on that important street for everyone but cyclists, which is the whole point of the Bicycle Plan all over the city. (See the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Second Street project, Project 2-1, pages ES-14 through ES-25; and pages V.A.3-211 through V.A.3-233. Go here and click on "BIKE" at the top of the page.)

However, the bike plan doesn't equal better Muni service in other parts of town, according to the EIR---and that's the crux of the second appeal filed by attorney Mary Miles on behalf of infamous curmudgeon Rob Anderson, a Panhandle blogger, Muni rider (he does not own a car), and anti-bike-plan crusader, whose lawsuit in 2005 temporarily derailed the plan. Anderson says the EIR shows the plan will bog down traffic for motorists and Muni buses. And while he expects the plan to sail forward, he says he isn't done fighting "the crackpot assumption" that San Franciscans will abandon cars, Muni, and their feet "in favor of bikes."

Okay, but I don't know where Roberts got the idea that I live on the Panhandle, since I live near Alamo Square and the Divisadero corridor. Nor is anyone claiming that people are going to abandon Muni in favor of bikes. The bike zealots are arguing that people are going to abandon cars in favor of bikes in significant numbers once the Bicycle Plan is implemented. There's zero evidence for that fantasy, which surely qualifies as a "crackpot assumption." Since Second Street is mostly a traffic artery for people heading for the Bay Bridge, it's particularly unlikely that commuters are going to abandon their cars and trucks in favor of bikes to get to the eastbay.

Roberts writes as if my saying that "the EIR shows the [bicycle]plan will bog down traffic for motorists and Muni buses" is nothing but my unconfirmed opinion, which means that he did nothing to verify that fact and, while he was at it, learn that Thornley is lying about Second Street---even though the EIR is available online through the MTA's website (see link and page numbers above). The Bicycle Plan's EIR does in fact tell us that it's going to screw up traffic and Muni lines on Second Street, Fifth Street, Masonic Ave., and Cesar Chavez, among others.

As we predicted more than four years ago---and were vilified for doing so---the Bicycle Plan is going to make traffic worse for everyone but cyclists in San Francisco by taking away traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes.

The next scandal: the city is going to implement the Bicycle Plan anyhow, even though they now know that it's going to screw up traffic.

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16 Comments:

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Second Street is actually a pretty popular route for bikes. It's the most practical way between the two sides of South of Market that doesn't go up the middle of Rincon Hill. Cyclists looking for another street that isn't a 5-lane traffic sewer have to go as far as 5th or 6th street, which is a bit inconvenient if you work in the Rincon/South Beach area. The other option is to wrap around on the Embarcadero, which is also rather out of the way. I take 2nd all the time.

For what it's worth, it's not a particularly high priority street for bicycle improvements. If the 2nd street part of the plan doesn't get implemented, i won't shed any tears; I already feel fairly safe riding on it. The traffic signals are timed to keep things <30mph anyway, and drivers desiring to go faster have plenty of parallel streets on which to do so. Part of 2nd street is already 'sharrowed', too.

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the last thing anyone wants to do is make things "inconvenient" for you, Michael. Whatever the city does to our streets on behalf of you crackpots of course is an "improvement." No opinion on Thornley's lie?

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Auckland Steve said...

Rob, you are the liar. The 2nd street plan will make life easier for everyone in San Francisco. That is a FACT. I would call you just plain ignorant, but i think you know the truth and just want to sniff the horse a little... bike along now.

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Lex said...

Rob, I think being called an "infamous curmudgeon" is sort of cool. You should wear it as a badge of honor.

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I don't really have an opinion on his "lie", no. Then again, I don't trust "Automobile Level of Service" as a good measure of environmental impact, to begin with. Perhaps he's not lying at all. New York just experimented with taking away big chunks of roadway space and got a speedup in traffic in return. Hell, sometimes demolishing a freeway is the best thing you can do to ease traffic flow. (Note that the article references your favorite street ever, the venerable Octavia Boulevard).

"Automobile Level of Service", which is the standard mandated by CEQA for determining the effect of a project on traffic, is a dated concept which measures only the number of cars that can pass through an intersection. It takes no account of the traffic system surrounding it, or of phenomena like traffic shrinkage.

As for the horror of making things "convenient" for bicyclists, think of everything we've done to make things convenient for motorists over the years. We've narrowed sidewalks, plowed freeways through cities (Robert Moses's system of freeways displaced 2.5% of the population of New York City and more or less destroyed the Bronx), and tens of thousands of street trees were cut down in America's cities in the 1950s since they were thought to pose a hazard to drunken motorists. That's not to mention the daily indignities of living with the after-effects of cars: pollution, accidents, noise. In some cities (Detroit is a perfect example), 70% of downtown is dedicated to vehicular use. Talk about inefficient use of space to make things "convenient" for someone. All we're asking for is a tiny little slice of the transportation pie, and it's entirely too much for people like yourself. Of the 880 lane-miles of roadway in San Francisco, we might possibly end up with 70 miles of bike facilities. Oh dear me.

God forbid we do something to encourage another form of travel. You can keep on believing it's a fantasy, but that's because you engage in tremendous feats of projection based on your own unwillingness to ride a bike. I notice you didn't bother to respond to my assertion that bike facilities would result in more cycling in SF in your earlier post. Perhaps it's because it's true, and you know it?

So no, I don't have anything to say about Thornley's "lie". And I'm tired of playing along with your game of "everything you said is invalid because you also didn't address X, Y, and Z". It's almost like I can't make a comment at all (all I did was point out why cyclists use 2nd street) without having to address the entire controversy, the EIR, the right-turn at Octavia, the UC/Evans land-grab in the Lower Haight, and the war in Iraq.

 
At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Chris Roberts said...

Hi Rob.

Glad you read the piece.

Mea culpa on Panhandle, for some reason I thought that was you. Maybe the 43-Masonic bit threw me off. At least I didn't call it NoPa, no?

As for the rest of it, I know what the EIR says. I read it. Even so, I did what I could to give you and Andy Thornley equal space, whether or not you guys agree.

Cheers,
C

 
At 9:35 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I know what the EIR says. I read it. Even so, I did what I could to give you and Andy Thornley equal space, whether or not you guys agree."

But that's nothing but pseudo-objectivity, Chris. Thornley is lying and you should have pointed that out, though you could have phrased it gently: "The contents of the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, however, don't support Mr. Thornley's rather rosy view of what the Second Street project will do to traffic on that street..." etc.

Michael:
"I don't really have an opinion on his 'lie,' no."

But you put the word lie in quotation marks, as if there's some doubt about that, which is an opinion. I provided the links and the page numbers to back up my claim, but you evidently didn't bother to check it out, because you don't mind a lie as long as it's on behalf of the great planet-saving bike movement, right?

"Hell, sometimes demolishing a freeway is the best thing you can do to ease traffic flow. (Note that the article references your favorite street ever, the venerable Octavia Boulevard)."

You can't find the time to check out whether Thornley is lying, but you can provide other links in a desperate attempt to prove something or other. The website that lauded the awful Octavia Blvd. was a bit of deception that you must appreciate, since it has a misleading picture and doesn't mention the reality of that street that now carries 45,000 cars a day through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Only someone who likes traffic jams could consider Octavia Blvd. "venerable."

"All we're asking for is a tiny little slice of the transportation pie, and it's entirely too much for people like yourself."

That's yet another bit of deceit on your part. What you are really doing is taking away traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes, which is going to screw up traffic for everyone, including Muni. Traffic is a zero-sum game in SF, because it's a relatively small city with no extra space for new lanes.

"I notice you didn't bother to respond to my assertion that bike facilities would result in more cycling in SF in your earlier post. Perhaps it's because it's true, and you know it?"

I didn't bother to respond because it's just typical BikeThink bullshit. There's no evidence that there will be enough additional cyclists on these streets to justify screwing up traffic for everyone else.

"So no, I don't have anything to say about Thornley's 'lie'. And I'm tired of playing along with your game of 'everything you said is invalid because you also didn't address X, Y, and Z'. It's almost like I can't make a comment at all (all I did was point out why cyclists use 2nd street) without having to address the entire controversy, the EIR, the right-turn at Octavia, the UC/Evans land-grab in the Lower Haight, and the war in Iraq."

More bullshit from a mind clogged with a crackpot ideology. All you have to do is check Thornley's statement against what's actually in the EIR. Instead, you lay down a cloud of irrelevant references to justify the fact that you're too dishonest to do that simple thing.

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rob, you are the liar. The 2nd street plan will make life easier for everyone in San Francisco. That is a FACT..."

Here is the FACT Auckland Steve: I rarely use Second Street as a driver, bus rider, pedestrian or bicyclist. But it does make life HARDER for me in San Francisco and I will tell you why.

I am a taxpayer. I subsidize Muni quite heavily; only 25 to 35 percent of Muni is paid out of rider fares. At about $150 an hour to operate, us tax payers pay $100 out of our tax dollars for Muni operations.

If the revisions to Second Street slow down a Muni bus only one minute in each direction (say about 60 round trips or 120 in each direction), that costs us taxpayers 2 hours a day or $200.

Over a 20-year period, that is a subsidy of $1.46 million dollars (for every MINUTE lost)! That's money that we as taxpayers could have spent on other things.

As for the argument that somehow more people will ride transit because the cars are slower: The buses will be slower too so that there will be no competitive shift from cars to buses. Thus, there will be no additional Muni fare revenue to offset this cost.

It's time for bicyclists to realize that taking lanes of traffic cost us quite dearly!

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger missiondweller said...

Steve says, "The 2nd street plan will make life easier for everyone in San Francisco. That is a FACT."

Of course Steve provides no supporting evidence for this "fact". Instead we are supposed to believe him based on the moral superiority of riding bicycles.

Perhaps Steve will move to Treasure Island and the planned bicycle utopia, and leave the rest of the city for the rest of us.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger Lex said...

@ Michael Baehr
"New York just experimented with taking away big chunks of roadway space and got a speedup in traffic in return."

And how do we know this? Because the owner of Streestblog says it's true?

My God, you're gullible. Steetsblog is an anti-car website with a radical agenda. You just swallow anything they tell you?

There is no data to support this myth. The NYC Dept. of Transportation was supposed to collect and publish numbers measuring the effect of the diverted traffic on neighboring streets. They predicted that traffic wouldn't increase but they've delayed releasing the figures. From the NY Times -
-------------------------
"When the city unveiled the idea in February, a Transportation Department presentation said data on the plazas would be collected over three weeks in May and June, and all of July. ... Now, observations and measurements are scheduled to start in the middle of August and continue into the fall. The final report is due in December, when the pilot project faces a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote from the mayor.
-------------------------

Full article here - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/nyregion/03data.html?_r=2&ref=nyregion

The Commissioner of NY's DOT is a radical cyclist who is hell bent on pushing her bike agenda through regardless of the facts. She’s obviously stalling on releasing the statistics. My bet is because the initial numbers aren’t what she wanted.

 
At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lex is a comedic genius.

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger SoMa6 said...

Let me put it this way. The 2nd street plan was conceived in a vacuum and it will have negative impacts on all BUT bicyclist. No one....I repeat No one living in South Beach or Rincon Hill was ever asked to comment on the ill conceived plan. I have been involved with planning issues in this neighborhood for over 13 years. I am the Vise Chair of the Rincon Point-South Beach CAC for the Redevelopment agency and a board member of South Beach-Rincon-Mission Bay Neighborhood Association. We the(SBRMBNA)filed the second appeal of the EIR.

Our CAC has always been the forum for development issues in this area of the city. SFMTA never...I repeat NEVER came to our CAC to ask for input into the plan. We have worked with the Port, Planning dept., ISCOT, Giants, SFPD, SFMTA and the Entertainment commission on all kinds of related community issues. SFMTA dropped the ball on this one...I believe they did it intentionally to keep us in the dark because the plan was developed by bike zealots working within the department.

The assertion that... "Second Street is actually a pretty popular route for bikes." is BS. Anyone that lives in this part of the city knows that for a fact. Stand on any corner of Second and count how many bikes go by. You would be lucky to see 4 per hour on a good day. Count the cars and trucks...it's overwhelming.

Eliminating left turns from Market to King both North and South bound on Second in the name of "BIKE SAEFTY" is NUTS. Having drivers make needless additional right turns on to Bay Bridge feeder streets in order to go West into the SoMa is assinine. Making drivers make U-turns on Second to avoid the No left turns is worse. The authors of the EIR have used twisted, convoluted and tortured language to explain away the additional pollution on the neighborhood and stress on drivers. They get paid to make it easy for the city to ignore the facts.

Second street is not your average city street and we do not want a repeat of Octavia Boulevard, a plan developed by Bike zealots that is a disaster.

We are now working with SFMTA and the SFBC to come up with a compromise plan. So far the folks of the SFBC are holding fast to their unrealistic goal. We have 36 months to arrive at a plan that works for everyone. I believe that goal is achievable. It's going to take some give and take on all sides.

I ride a bike, I walk the streets, I ride Muni and I drive a car. And I live in this neighborhood. I have worked to make this neighborhood a better place for everyone that comes here. It's time to come up with a better plan and make our city a better place for everyone. The streets are what they are and we have to work with what we have.

Second street has always had a history of controversy dating back to the 1880's when the industrialist mowed down Rincon Hill for "ease of access" to the South Beach waterfront. I believe we can make Second street safe for bikes, pedestrians and sensible for drivers and Muni.

Jeffrey Leibovitz
SoMa

Now I'll get off my soap box.

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Aaron said...

I love that the EIR which was generated because of Rob's lawsuit now constrains all his arguments. The anti-bike plan people have forced all arguments now to be framed by the EIR, which means they lost that battle. Good job reining yourselves in. How does it feel to operate inside a box?

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your comment is completely befuddled, which is typical of you bike nuts. In fact the EIR confirms what we warned about more than four years ago: the Bicycle Plan will take away traffic lanes and street parking all over the city, which will make traffic worse for everyone but a small minority of cyclists. How does it feel to be a moron who hasn't done his homework?

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Rob, the only thing that will actually confirm your fears is for the bike plan to be implemented. Automobile Level of Service is not an accurate measure of the impact of a project, and should have been thrown out with the rest of the enlightened 1960s' attitudes towards planning.

You'll just have to wait and see, once your lawsuits inevitably peter out and the plan is implemented. It seems that even you think it's a "fait accompli" at this point.

Believe it or not, I have no interest in seeing traffic "screwed up" for anybody, and I don't think it will be.

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Another half-baked, fact-free comment, Michael. Of course the Bicycle Plan is going to be implemented. The Level of Service (LOS) method of measuring traffic will stand until someone comes up with something better, which seems unlikely. LOS measures how long it takes traffic to get through intersections. How better to determine how well traffic is moving? You call it "Automobile Level of Service," but that's bike nut terminology. In fact LOS applies to trucks, buses, motorcycles, etc. If you screw up traffic for autos, you're also going to screw it up for Muni, taxis, emergency vehicles, and everything else. I understand that you bike nuts don't think you should be subject to the same measurements and laws as everyone else; that's obvious by your behavior on city streets. There was even talk a few years ago of getting the state legislature to pass some sort of exemption for bicycle plans and LOS. Gee, I wonder what happened to that? What you think isn't particularly interesting or significant, since evidently you still haven't even taken a look at the EIR to check on Thornley's lie about Second Street.

 

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