Friday, August 21, 2009

The Bicycle Coalition at the public trough

Below are only the documents we've received from the MTA as part of our litigation against the city's Bicycle Plan and from public records requests. I assume there's a lot more that we don't have. Contact your district supervisor or the mayor's office for more information.

For 2009 alone the city has handed $305,730 in taxpayers' money to the SF Bicycle Coalition!

4/21/09: $98,930 for “Professional Support Services for Bicycle Safety Education Classes," contract No. CS-158 between MTA and the SFBC (dept. liaison: Nick Carr)

3/30/09: $99,000 for “Professional Support Services for Bike To Work Day Coordination and Promotion," Contract No. CS-157 between MTA and SFBC (dept. liaison: Nick Carr) “...coordinate and promote the City’s Bike to Work Day program for the next two years.”

2/23/09: $107,800 for “Walkable/Bikeable Treasure Island." “The grant will fund community based transportation planning to create a safe walkable, bikeable and accessible Treasure Island...This project will lead meaningful outreach and facilitate community participation in prioritizing sustainable transportation needs for current and future residents of Treasure Island...This grant award will fund a series of community meetings, surveys, focus groups and the production of outreach materials about walking and biking on and to Treasure Island. [CalTrans Grant administered by MTA]

7/30/07: $98,000 for a “Walkable/Bikeable Treasure Island” [Same description as the 2/23/09 grant above]

2/4/08: $79,000 for “Street Skills” Classes, Contract No. 4091-07/08 between MTA and SFBC [dept. liaison: Nick Carr] “Conduct and promote at least 15 adult bicycle safety ‘Street Skills’ classes...”

2/1/07: $49,500 “Street Skills” Classes and “Bike to Work Day," contract No. 3083-06/07 between MTA and SFBC [dept. liaison: Nick Carr] “Conduct at least 12 adult bicycle safety ‘Street Skills’ classes...”

7/15/06: $44,000 for a Grant Agreement between City and County of San Francisco's Department of the Environment and the SFBC: “Initiate and administer a one-year Cycle & Recycle campaign to increase participation of compost and recycling of San Francisco residents...Reach more than 25,000 individuals with targeted Cycle and Recycle messages by leveraging the (SFBC) membership and volunteer base...Produce regular composting and recycling messages with guidance from Department of the Environment outreach staff, including weekly email messages, list serves, bimonthly newsletters, annual member packets, and membership...Incorporate a compost and recycling messages into the annual Bike to Work Day, valet parking events, bicycle education workshops, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition tabling events, and the SFBC website...Promote reusable shopping bags through the ‘SF Shop-by Bike’ program...Include Cycle & Recycle materials in university and college student’s ‘welcome’ packages...and Conduct surveys before and after the ‘Cycle and Recycle’ campaign to measure participation of SFBC members in composting and recycling and effectiveness campaign.”

11/1/05: $48,460 for “Street Skills” Classes and “Bike to Work Day," contract No. 3045-05/06 between MTA and SFBC [dept. liaison: Nick Carr] “Conduct at least 12 adult bicycle safety ‘Street Skills’ classes...coordinate, promote and conduct the annual Bike to Work Day event, including but not limited to: organizing and staffing at least 15 street-side ‘Energizer Stations;’ design, production and distribution of public outreach materials; purchase of incentives; recruitment of volunteers; and solicitation of donations for bicycle rider incentives.”

2004-2005: $279,000 for public “Outreach” for 2005 Bicycle Plan (Caltrans grant, SFCTA grant)

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27 Comments:

At 3:27 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

only 305k? Leah better get to work and do better next year!

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That's only what we know about. I assume that city taxpayers are paying a lot more to have these people screw up their traffic. And then you have the more than $10,000 a month to have city cops escort Critical Mass, and the ten full-time people working on the Bike Project in MTA.

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

Since there is no automobile driver "coalition" equivalent to the sfbc that might reign in the bicycle idiocy I see every time I walk Valencia (two miles round trip at least three times a week)--the arrogance that assumes sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks belong to them, that stop signs and stop lights are for other people, that respecting the direction and flow of traffic is for suckers--one can only hope that at some point the Muni drivers will begin a campaign.
Muni drivers must meet together on break or after work, etc., and commiserate, just like the bike people meet at Zeitgeist and Benders to brag about how they did battle with the Evil Death Machines. And those drivers may soon find that they all have stories in common pointing to how much safer the streets of San Francisco would be if they didn't have to contend with these inconsiderate and ultimately dangerous idiots.
One can only hope.

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

Man, what a bunch of fools your anti-bike nuts are. You know how much money goes to motor vehicle specific infrastructure in CA? More than 2 billion. Quit whining about 300k.

Idiots are idiots whether they're in a car or on a bike. Stop lumping us considerate educated bicyclists in with morons who just happen to be on a bike and I'll stop lumping in considerate educated motorists in with the common ragin' cager. The knife cuts both ways until you stop swinging it.

 
At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kwk, there doesn't need to be an automobile coalition if it's the dominant personal transportation mode.

Also, the streets would not be any safer if you removed bicyclists from them because it's not bicyclists who are making them deadly in the first place.

 
At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But bicycling is something that the city should actually encourage, so why wouldn't we expect the city to invest in bike programs, etc.?

 
At 7:31 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

Anon wrote: "the streets would not be any safer if you removed bicyclists from them because it's not bicyclists who are making them deadly in the first place."
Go to sfmta bike reports and then to the report dated 2008, February "..Injury Collision..".
Table 4 in that report shows that "Bicycle vs. Pedestrian Injury Collisions" between years 2001 and 2004 were cause of two pedestrian fatalities.
The word "fatalities" is usually associated with the word "deadly" but maybe those words have different meanings in Bike Newspeak.

 
At 8:50 PM, Anonymous robetholt said...

so that's 2x what we pay for each chronic drunk in the City each year -- probably a good deal for the city if it keeps the bike folks happy ...

$305k is (unfortunately) chump change for Mr. (looser) Gavin & co. :-(

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/22/BA3519BTV8.DTL

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

great, but if you remove the bicyclists from the streets some of them will get into cars, which will cause the ticker to really go up for pedestrian fatalities.

between 2000 and 2010, bicycles will likely be the cause of 2 fatalities in SF (far too many, of course). Automobiles will be the cause of more than 300, though.

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Fatalities for cyclists are not the issue, since they are few regardless of the cause. And, since the city's own studies show that accidents involving cyclists have steadily declined in the last ten years, safety seems like a minor issue. The real issue: how far should the city go to accommodate a small minority to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of people who use city streets? The city thinks screwing up traffic for everyone but cyclists---including slowing down at least nine Muni lines---is a reasonable way to deal with city traffic.

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

You speak about "screwing up traffic for everyone but cyclists", but we don't know for sure that this will actually happen. It certainly hasn't been the case in other cities which have implemented far more ambitious bicycle infrastructure than the comparatively modest SF bicycle plan. (Do take a look at Portland, or Vancouver, or Chicago, or NYC some time...)

The city is banking that prioritizing bicycles will cause fewer people to drive. You are banking that car usage will remain static or increase. "Automobile Level of Service" goes one step further, and theorizes that not only will car usage remain static but people won't choose to alter their route, no matter what.

These are all theories. You love pointing out ours, and I'm more than happy to point out yours as well as the aged theories behind California's traffic law. We all know what the EIR says, but those are forward-looking statements based upon... a (somewhat disproven) theory. The law requires that ALOS be used to judge the impact of a change on traffic patterns; the law does not dictate what the actual impact will be... only the implementation of the project will allow us to actually find that out for sure.

Thankfully, the city's primary obligation with the environmental review process is just to point out the possible impacts. California does go further than other states, by requesting the consideration of the "no project" alternative, but it's by no means mandatory that anything with an immitigable impact (especially under such a questionable standard as ALOS) demands the "no project" alternative. The EIR process is primarily about ensuring public notification and participation; it's not about shooting down any possible project which may or may not have an environmental impact.

I hope and pray the city did their homework this time so we can finally get this damn project implemented. You caught them with their pants down 3 years ago, and it will be a shame if this has to be drug out even longer.

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cars are fine, but there should be a system set up for people who want to bicycle.

If drivers have to give a little, then so be it. They have most of the road space and really nothing to complain about.*

*and really, most people will do both at one time or another, assuming that bicycling is actually taken seriously and that road space and facilities are allocated to it.

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

"You speak about 'screwing up traffic for everyone but cyclists,' but we don't know for sure that this will actually happen."

We don't know for sure whether the sun will rise tomorrow morning, either, but the EIR tells us that the Bicycle Plan is going to have "significant unavoidable impacts" on traffic and nine Muni bus lines. The EIR actually understates the impact on Muni, since the city's arbitrary threshold it considers "significant" is six minutes. That is, if a bike project is going to delay a Muni line for five minutes, the city doesn't consider that a significant impact!

You keep referring to LOS, but it's not clear that you understand that it means timing vehicles as they move through intersections affected by the project. If a project slows traffic down from LOS A to LOS F, that's a significant impact that has to be mitigated. These impacts can't be mitigated under the Bicycle Plan, which is why they are called "unavoidable" by the city's EIR.

You can pretend to not know that the Bicycle Plan is going to screw up traffic, but the city knows very well that that's what's going to happen.

"I hope and pray the city did their homework this time so we can finally get this damn project implemented."

Right. Get it "implemented" regardless of its impact on city traffic, which the EIR tells us is going to be negative. This is the city's attitude, too, which is why it is invoking "overriding considerations" to justify screwing up traffic for everyone but cyclists. The crackpot assumption is that pushing the bike fantasy on the rest of us is so important that it justifies screwing up traffic. It doesn't. What the city is praying about now---that deliberately screwing up traffic for everyone but cyclists doesn't provoke a shitstorm of a backlash from those not in thrall to the bicycle fantasy.

"The EIR process is primarily about ensuring public notification and participation; it's not about shooting down any possible project which may or may not have an environmental impact."

Of course the EIR process is about notification and public participation. But the other essential function of the EIR process is to determine the impact projects are going to have on the environment before they are implemented. The EIR on the Bicycle Plan, which is flawed in many other ways, has performed that function, and it tells us that the Plan is going to have a negative effect on traffic and Muni. It also tells us that the Plan is going to have a negative effect on parking in the city by removing 2,000 parking spaces from our streets. The official city legal doctrine is that taking away parking is not an environmental impact under CEQA, but they have gotten away with that pretense only because no one has challenged them in court on that issue.

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob -- Great research! I wonder how much the EIR cost! I would expect that the EIR is at least $400 to $500K.

Any idea how much of these were "sole source" contracts?

If the SFBC is getting money for something which is not originally advertised for public bidding, that could be a violation of City rules!

 
At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

"It also tells us that the Plan is going to have a negative effect on parking in the city by removing 2,000 parking spaces from our streets".

Why would that be a negative impact?

Car owners don't have a right to impose their vehicles on public space.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

CEQA is not about "rights" but about determining the effects of projects before they are implemented. Removing 2,000 parking spaces from city streets is bound to make it harder for motorists to find a place to park, which means more drivers will spend time driving around looking for parking, which will have a negative effect on air quality and the quality of life in the city.

Zealots like you prefer to make it difficult for everyone else to drive in the city, but the city itself must make some concessions to reality, like the fact that our economy is based on the use of motor vehicles---cars, trucks, and buses. The city now knows that the Bicycle Plan is going to make traffic worse on a number of city streets and slow down at least nine Muni bus lines. The questions the city faces by imposing the crackpot Bicycle Plan on the city is, How badly is it going to screw up our traffic? How much damage will it do to the city's economy? Will it provoke a political backlash from the overwhelming majority of residents who don't ride bicycles?

Fanatics like you are, of course, unconcerned with these questions, living as you do in some PC fantasyland where Bikes are Good and Cars are Bad.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger missiondweller said...

Who knew that bicycling costs the taxpayer so much?

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

"Removing 2,000 parking spaces from city streets is bound to make it harder for motorists to find a place to park, which means more drivers will spend time driving around looking for parking, which will have a negative effect on air quality and the quality of life in the city."

Rob - you are a fallacy wrapped in a lie covered with bacon.

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Removing 2,000 parking spaces from city streets is bound to make it harder for motorists to find a place to park, which means more drivers will spend time driving around looking for parking, which will have a negative effect on air quality and the quality of life in the city."

Let's try that again. This statement is full of common logical fallacies.

It is extremely easy to prove that in the absence of easy parking that less people will drive a car to a given destination. Case and point - BART/MUNI. More people take BART/MUNI to the Financial District than drive, because of the issues with driving to the FiDi, primary among them the cost of parking (along with bridge tolls and traffic).

If it is harder to find a place to park, the most logical result is that people will drive LESS - not more, by simply not driving at all.

This does not imply that people will sit in their houses and do nothing, destroying the economy and stealing bread from Rob's children. There are sound mass transit alternatives in the city - Rob has claimed this over and over. Rob also claims that the bike plan will screw up MUNI, but the evidence points that the bike plan would reduce automotive usage, and automotive usage is a much bigger impact on MUNI than bikes. This AM on Eureka, the 35 bus easily passed me on my bike, only to be stuck behind a row of double parked cars. etc... etc...

 
At 2:18 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What is a "lie" and where's the "fallacy"? Case law holds that parking is an environmental impact under CEQA.

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This is a typical, pull-it-out-of-your-ass comment, Murph. I'm talking about parking being an environmental effect under CEQA. You can engage in this kind of wooly bullshit all you want, but in fact the law recognizes parking or the lack thereof as an environmental issue. Where exactly does the Bicycle Plan have the evidence that it will reduce the use of cars? I must have missed that chapter. That's the city's assumption, but there's no evidence to back it up.

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Where exactly does the Bicycle Plan have the evidence that it will reduce the use of cars? I must have missed that chapter. That's the city's assumption, but there's no evidence to back it up."

"let me google that for you"

http://www.innovativemobility.org/artman2/search.cgi?action=search&page=2&perpage=5&template=articleLists/researchCategoryIndex.html&includeSubcats=1&categoryNum=27

Parking availability influences how individuals commute, which, in turn, impacts transit use, single occupancy vehicle driving, and traffic congestion. Through its research and projects, IMR seeks to create a greater understanding of the impacts of smart parking strategies on the broader transportation system, including how it affects people’s decisions to choose a particular mode of transportation over others.

 
At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that Muni is starting to ask for operating subsidy contributions for disrupting their routes. I heard that they did that that for the recent Golden Gate Park construction transit disruption.

If this is the case, are we going to shift some of the future SFBC money over to Muni to pay for the increased operating costs that they incur from slower buses? ;)

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

About as much chance of that as getting the SFBC to pay the $10,000 a month the city pays to have city cops to escort Critical Mass.

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

Ah typical Rob Think - conflating the SFBC and Critical Mass - two things that have nothing to do with each other. Keep it up Rob! With that sort of logic it's no wonder you've received zero support from your fellow car lovers on your anti-bike crusade...

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The SFBC in effect endorses Critical Mass by listing it on their online calendar, the weasley disclaimer notwithstanding (http://www.sfbike.org/?chain). Leah Shahum had her life-changing epiphany at her first Critical Mass demo. The SFBC gets to have it both ways---endorsing Critical Mass to cater to the young Turks in the great, planet-saving bicycle movement, while taking no responsibility for whatever happens during that three-hour disruption of city traffic.

 
At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KWK writes, "ince there is no automobile driver "coalition" equivalent to the sfbc that might reign in the bicycle idiocy"

False.

There's a multitude of fully state-funded motor vehicle advocacy groups. Names include "Department of Transportation" (at municiapl, state and federal levels", "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration", Congress, (California) legislature and "Governor". Without exception, they're all strong and consistently successful advocates for the motor vehicle, oil and highway construction industries. There's also countless private and non-governmental organizations advocating motor vehicle interests, AAA, American Auto Manufacturers Association, and every auto dealer from coast to coast.


That the miniscule cyclist lobbying efforts accomplished any victories testifies to persistence and luck.

 

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