Friday, March 12, 2010

How anti-car policy hurts the city

Scott James in today's NY Times provides readers with a prime example of how damaging the city's crackpot anti-car policies can be:

In my column today, I explain how restaurants like the Passion Cafe are part of a revitalization plan that could transform the city’s skid row into a type of gourmet ghetto. More than $18 million in taxpayer dollars have been spent on the neighborhood turnaround.

If only the Department of Parking and Traffic was also on board. It turns out that the 6th street redevelopment zone is also home to some of the strictest street parking laws in the city. In some places it is one-hour parking, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday. That’s not exactly conducive to exploring the neighborhood and leisurely dining, and it is out of sync with the parking rules in the city’s other foodie destinations like North Beach, the Castro, and the Marina...

MTA spokesman Judson True provides James with a comment that combines an outright lie with the stupidity typical of that agency:

Mr. True said the tough local parking rules were “fundamentally not about increasing revenue” by issuing violations. He suggested that diners who want to explore the new 6th street should use public transit, walk, bike, hunt adjacent areas for rare two-hour spots or pay to park in garages.

The lie: Of course parking tickets are all about raising revenue for the city, especially in a recession, when people are driving less and committing fewer infractions. As the Examiner recently reported, parking control officers are expected to issue 540 tickets per month.

The stupidity: If a foodie wants to visit this new destination in the city from elsewhere in the Bay Area---or even from across town---she's supposed to ride a bike or the bus?

Interesting to note that the pro-bike Streetsblog didn't include today's story in the NY Times in its usually inclusive "Today's Headlines," probably because it demonstrates how dumb their anti-car ideology is. [The story is listed this Saturday morning.]

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31 Comments:

At 10:23 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

So let me get this right? My partner and I want to have dinner some saturday nite at Passion...and so we're gonna hop on our bikes and ride down to this disgusting street of drugs and crime..and yea. park our bikes, have a lovely dinner, then ride home late at nite?

Are these people nuts?

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, they're nuts, dumb, and dishonest, too, since Will Reisman reported in the Examiner in January how desperate the city is to issue more parking tickets to collect more money.
http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Parking-citations-on-the-decline-80978002.html

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Who are you implying is nuts Rocky, the city, or the owner of Passion for putting his cafe on Sixth Street?

Perhaps... and I'm just speculating - the parking rules there are *because* it is a "disgusting street of drugs and crime". Sort of like a sit/lie law for drug dealers and johns.

Maybe I'm wrong. But if I am right, Judson True would never be caught dead saying so.

I certainly wouldn't be comfortable parking our car (yes, we have a car) on 6th anyway. That's a ticket to a broken window. Parking a bike there is a ticket to a stolen bike. Take BART/MUNI or park at 5th/Mission Garage. Yes, you'd have to walk a few blocks, but if everyone eating at Passion were trying to park in front of the restaurant, *someone* would be a couple of blocks away.

Or skip Passion altogether - the owner is a big boy and he knows he's taking a chance putting a restaurant in a "developing" area. If he doesn't like it, the old Mi Lindo Yucatan and Miss Millie's are available. Chances are he likes the rent on Sixth St better.

A more permanent solution to that problem is bigger than any of us, Passion Cafe is hopefully part of that solution.

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger Erik said...

Was this restricted parking zone in place before the restaurant was there?

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What difference does that make? The fact is our city government is uninterested in helping the city's Skid Row become a normal neighborhood.

 
At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Ron Paul's Daughter said...

I'm sure that was what Passion was thinking. "I don't really care about making any money - what I really want to do is reform Skid Row! So I'll bypass that expensive storefront in Noe or Cole Valleys and plop my shop down here in Skid Row where I pay 1/2 the rent. Now, since I'm reforming Skid Row with my high idealism, I'll then demand that the city change all of the current policies, in place for whatever reason. This for the sake of making my restaurant I opened in a ghetto with restrictive parking policies (required due to the Federal/Civic Center buildings in the area) so I could get cheap rent and can MAKE MONEY FAST - er I mean so I can reform Skid Row!

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're a chip off the idiotic Ron Paul block. If the city wants to begin to make Skid Row into something better, why not back off on the draconian parking policy n that area? What does it have to do with the Federal Building? Interesting that you don't bother to examine the city's parking policies, which actually hurt restaurants in some neighborhoods. If someone is lucky enough to find a parking space on the street near this new restaurant, why make it difficult for her to have a leisurely meal? Why the hour limit? Why not allow at least 90 minutes? This is also a problem during the day in the Ninth and Irving neighborhood, too, where there are a lot of restaurants. Why force diners to rush and worry about parking meters? The answer: the city's desperate need to raise money trumps its alleged concern for small businesses in the neighborhoods.

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous rocky's dad's nemesis said...

So let me get this right? 6th Street is easily accessible by both Muni and BART, and there's a giant parking garage a block away... and so we should discourage people from using the ample facilities already provided to them, enticing them to come in their own cars and further increase the strain on parking availability and turnover?

Are you people nuts?

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What exactly is the big problem with making it easier to park on Sixth Street? How many people do you think that would really affect? The only reason the city gives a shit is that parking tickets are a source of revenue, when it should be encouraging people to visit the new restaurants in the area, which would help alleviate the lowlife culture of the area.

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Mydogwantstoeatrocky said...

If the goal was to write parking tickets, why isn't there 1 hour parking elsewhere? With you guys it's just whenever someone cries they are being persecuted you just stand in line. Do you ask "Why is Sixth Street 1 hour unlike everywhere else?" Surely there is no possible reason except "Hey we can write more tickets if we set up Sixth Street this way!"

Know nothings...

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous rocky's pet rock said...

The problem with "making it easier to park on Sixth Street" (presumably by increasing metering limits) is that doing so won't improve enough (if any) people's access to the area to make it worthwhile. Just how many parking spaces are there on the section of 6th that we're talking about? And how many more people do you think would really come to that area every night if you just upped the meter limits? Have you considered that the 1-hour limits in this neighborhood might exist to optimize space turnover and discourage the "lowlife" from parking for extended periods of time and doing unsavory things? Have you considered that lower turnover (which typically occurs with meter limit increases) could actually decrease the parking supply and prevent more people from being able to park there throughout the day?

You're absolutely bonkers if you think that pushing more cars into the already traffic-choked SOMA/downtown area is going to bring prosperity to mid-Market. And you're an idiot if you think that the city should cater to people who are too lazy to walk, utilize a variety of public transit options (BART or Muni light rail, street car, or bus), ride a bike, take a taxi, or, in the event that they insist on driving their own car, park in the giant lot just a block away. Seriously, how stupid do you have to be not to understand why fiddling with parking supply on Sixth is completely unnecessary?

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, I've considered all the factors you mention, and I still think they're bullshit. At the very least, draconian enforcement of the already stringent rules should be relaxed. It's all about raising more money for a profligate city government to pay the salaries and benefits for a lot of featherbedding city workers. All the things you listed would be a lot more credible, for example, if just last month MTA hadn't hired an overpaid "veteran of the transportation industry" at $225,038 a year, who will be responsible for Muni's "management and operation strategies." ("SFMTA hires exec as deficit looms," Will Reisman, SF Examiner, Feb. 23, 2010). And then there are the 10 people working in MTA's Bicycle Program.

 
At 6:09 PM, Anonymous rocky's partner's friend's dad said...

Really, that's your response? "Bullshit"? Not a single logical refutation? I suggest that you read some Donald Shoup and think again. The specious argument that you used to halt the bike plan applies (less speciously so) to parking: The cheaper it gets, the more likely people are to cruise for cheap parking than just park at the garage. This puts cars on the street longer than they would have been before, which increases congestion, which in turn has a negative impact on our environment.

Hey, wait! Maybe that means we can sue the city citing CEQA every time they make parking cheaper. Can you give me your lawyer's number?

Seriously, though. You have no logical basis on which to base your stupid assumptions. All you've got a thin layer of conjecture built on a thick foundation of preconceived notions. You, sir, and your opinion, are totally irrelevant.

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh yes, Donald Shoup is an icon of the anti-car movement, especially the bike people. It's so expensive to provide parking let's make if as hard as possible to park in the city. Then people will ride their bikes and Muni to the upscale restaurants in the city! What exactly is "specious" about our successful litigation against the city's Bicycle Plan? You're faking it here, Anon. I understand, however, that official SF doctrine---the City Attorney and the Planning Dept.---is that parking is not an environmental impact. The case law tells us otherwise. You crank up your rhetoric when you should reinforce your argument.

 
At 10:21 AM, Anonymous RobAnderhominem said...

"It's so expensive to provide parking let's make if as hard as possible to park in the city."

Au Contraire. Shoup wants to make it *eaiser* to park by making it more expensive.

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous rocky's dad's son's father's neighbor said...

You really should try reading something that you disagree with before you dismiss it so quickly. Shoup is one of the world's experts on parking for a reason: He's been studying it for decades. If you can find evidence that your ill-conceived perception of creating more and/or cheaper automobile infrastructure improving communities in any way whatsoever, I'm all ears. Otherwise everything you're saying is just unsubstantiated opinion and doesn't even deserve acknowledgement in constructive debate.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's stupid to rely on so-called experts to explain things that can be clear just by looking at them. I write about San Francisco's traffic and parking and don't pretend to be an expert on any other city. The reality is that city neighborhoods and businesses need a certain amount of parking to prosper, to become destinations for people from other parts of the city or outside the city. My neighborhood, the Divisadero corridor, suffers from its lack of parking. It will never be a destination neighborhood like Ninth and Irving simply because people who can afford to eat at good restaurants are less likely to take Muni or ride their bikes to do so.

 
At 12:50 AM, Anonymous adrian's dad said...

Oh, it's stupid to trust experts? Maybe I should stop seeing my chiropractor and just start drinking more. After all, it sure helps stop that back pain!

"The reality is that city neighborhoods and businesses need a certain amount of parking to prosper"

Oh, is that the "reality"? On what basis can you make that assertion? What "certain amount" do San Francisco's neighborhoods need to prosper? Have you ever considered that they might have enough already, and that the problem is simply that too many people drive? Am I supposed to feel bad for people who drive their car easily walkable, transit-accesible, or bikeable distances and get pissed off when they can't find a place to park? Is that the sort of lazy, entitled attitude that we as a city should be fostering?

And even if it were, pray tell, what would we bulldoze to make room for more parking in your neighborhood? Should we raze the Panhandle and turn it into a giant parking structure? I'm sure that would bring prosperity to the neighborhood. Did the addition of the parking garage on Broderick help? How can you honestly think that more parking will?

The reality is this: Divisadero is already inundated with cars, as are Oak and Fell. Providing more parking would invite even more cars, increasing congestion and further dissuading people from visiting the neighborhood because it's shitty to hang out on streets packed with cars. And yet, Divisadero is central to the city and easily accessible via public transit (not to mention the city's most frequented bike routes). It seems to me (and I'm in the majority here) that the easiest way to attract people to that corridor would be to improve the situation for those who travel there via means that don't contribute directly to the neighborhood's unpleasantness.

I realize that cars are essential for some, and that to some extent they're essential for commerce. But there are plenty of people who could (and would) take the bus if it were more reliable; who could (and would) bike if the city provided infrastructure that made doing so safer; and who would walk if the city were a nicer place to do so. The answer is not more cars, or more space for the ones we have already. The answer is fewer cars and more space for people in which to live more pleasant lives.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"What 'certain amount'[of parking] do San Francisco's neighborhoods need to prosper? Have you ever considered that they might have enough already, and that the problem is simply that too many people drive?"

Yes, I consider that---and reject it---every time one of you anti-car crackpots makes a comment on my blog. How much parking is enough? Take a look at the Ninth and Irving neighborhood, where there apparently is enough parking to allow people to visit and eat at one of the area's many restaurants. On Divisadero, on the other hand, there are at least 10 empty store fronts and some new upscale restaurants that are struggling to survive. All that traffic on Diviz is through traffic; even if people wanted to stop and explore the neighborhood, there's no parking. Ideally, there would be a nice, big garage under Alamo Square. SF is a tourist economy famous for its restaurants. Making it too hard to drive and park in the neighborhoods is damaging to both neighborhoods and to the city's economy.

"It seems to me (and I'm in the majority here) that the easiest way to attract people to that corridor would be to improve the situation for those who travel there via means that don't contribute directly to the neighborhood's unpleasantness."

What makes you think you're in the majority? Here's a typical scenario for anyone who lives in the city: you have visitors from out of town, and you all want to go out to dinner, and the restaurant you want to is on the other side of town. Are all four of you going to ride bikes to dinner? Take Muni? To ask the question is to answer it. You're likely going to get in a car and go to a restaurant that has parking, instead of spending an hour on Muni, transferring, etc.

"More pleasant lives"? Actually what people like you are doing is making it more difficult for a lot of other people who don't share your goofball, anti-car ideology. But you know best, right?

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Yet every time I go to Little Star there is a 45 minute wait - the lack of parking isn't hurting them. Seems like what Divis needs is some better restaurants...

 
At 1:42 AM, Anonymous rob's friendly, car-free neighbor said...

"Yes, I consider that---and reject it---every time one of you anti-car crackpots makes a comment on my blog."

I'm not "anti-car". I just reject the notion that we need to accommodate cars any more than we have already, on the specific grounds (which you failed to address in your lame reply) that doing so will make this city an even less pleasant place to live. Do you like sitting in traffic? Because making more parking available will, without a doubt, make traffic worse wherever it goes.

Please do float the idea of a parking garage under Alamo Square, and let me know how the neighborhood reacts. You claim that the city needs more parking, but do you really think that any neighborhood in its right mind would allow a parking structure to be built in the middle of it? Which streets would handle the influx of traffic? Don't you think that cars lining up to park in a garage might change the character of Alamo Square Park for the worse? I most certainly do.

And do you know why 9th and Irving does so well? Because it's smack dab in the middle of a light rail line and right next to a giant park that attracts tens of thousands of people every day. People don't just park at the concourse so they can "explore" the 9th and Irving neighborhood (of which there really isn't much once you venture west of 10th, east of 7th, or south of Judah). They go for the park, the De Young, and the Academy; then they stay for dinner. Please stop trying to compare the two neighborhoods, unless you can think of anything similarly attractive to such a wide audience that could be built on Divisadero. And can you explain why the parking garage on Broderick hasn't solved the problem? What makes you think that a new garage would? Do you have any actual answers, or are you just going to respond with more ad hominem attacks?

"Here's a typical scenario for anyone who lives in the city: you have visitors from out of town, and you all want to go out to dinner, and the restaurant you want to is on the other side of town."

Is that really a "typical" scenario for anyone who lives in the city? I would venture a guess that most people don't have visitors from out of town most of the time, so the scenario you're framing is more "rare" than "typical" for most San Franciscans. Either way, it's rare for me, seeing as I already live in a neighborhood full of great restaurants, bars, and theaters; and I'm right around the corner from BART so I can easily get directly to (or within short walking distance of) tons of other wonderful places in the city. The ones that aren't easily accessible by foot, public transit or bike don't tend to get my business.

That said, if I did find myself in that situation I would probably take a taxi. I can hail one a block away if I'm lucky, or call one ahead of time and they'll pick me up. No driving frustration, no parking hassle, no worrying about having to move your car after a certain period. Or do you have something against taxis, too?

 
At 1:42 AM, Anonymous rob's other car-free neighbor said...

"Actually what people like you are doing is making it more difficult for a lot of other people who don't share your goofball, anti-car ideology. But you know best, right?"

This is not about ideology. It's about conservation of resources—not just of oil, but of time and space. Each additional car on the road delays every other one by some amount, costing us all time and money. Private automobiles are the primary cause of Muni delays, and transit riders have no redress for their bus being stuck in a traffic jam caused by motorists. Congestion fills the air with noise and noxious fumes, which tend not to make places with lots of cars very pleasant for walking or biking. And when they're not idling in traffic, speeding cars present a very real threat to everyone else on the road. Please explain to me how this thinking is "goofball", and how the selfish assertion of one's right to speed around town in a giant metal box at the expense of everyone else in the city is not.

Do you disagree with me that it's lazy and selfish to demand cheap and/or abundant parking in neighborhoods that are easily accessible by other modes? And, full well knowing that no neighborhood in this city would welcome the construction of a new parking structure, just what do you think should be bulldozed to make more room for cars? And do you really think that parking spaces (which, on average in the US, remain vacant 85% of the time) are the best use of space in a geographically constrained city starved for affordable housing? I don't, and no rational person should. It doesn't make sense from any perspective: economic, transportation effectiveness, land use planning, environmental sustainability, or visual aesthetic. More parking hurts people in ways that may not be immediately apparent, but which greatly outweigh the minimally potential improvements to individual convenience. Nearly a century of haphazard auto-centric planning has left us in a tough spot, and the only way out is to put the process in reverse.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Do you disagree with me that it's lazy and selfish to demand cheap and/or abundant parking in neighborhoods that are easily accessible by other modes?"

Yes, I do. The reality is that it isn't that easy to get across town on a bike--or even on Muni, though I often do the latter. If you want to save yourself an hour and have a car, it makes sense to drive. If you have a family and need to do serious shopping, it's best done with a car, not to mention drving the children to school and other activities. My assumption is that cars are a great invention that give people great mobility. And if different neighborhoods are to prosper, they need adequate parking for visitors. Why would the Marina or Ninth and Irving want to seal itself off from the rest of the city or visitors from out of town by restricting parking?

We are already transitioning to clean-burning engines, so I don't think the pollution argument will be valid within a generation.

"And, full well knowing that no neighborhood in this city would welcome the construction of a new parking structure, just what do you think should be bulldozed to make more room for cars?"

In my neighborhood, the derelict, abandoned Harding Theater could be torn down to make a parking lot, which would turn Divisadero into a destination for foodies and other visitors. That would be great for business.

Motor vehicles may offend your delicate sensibilities, but they are here to stay. Besides, they are essential to our economy, which is based on tourism. Check out the numbers from the SF Convention & Visitors Bureau (http://www.sfcvb.org/research/): tourism generated $426 million dollars in tax revenue for the city last year and supported 66,837jobs with a payroll of $1.86 billion.

As the city continues to gentrify, people continue to want cars. According to the DMV, there are more than 460,000 registered motor vehicles in SF. Millions of tourist drive around the city every year. All of our goods are delivered by trucks.

I don't think SF is in "a tough spot" because of cars at all. It's not hard to move around the city, which I do via Muni and walking but a lot of people drive quickly and efficiently to get where they're going. If I'm in a hurry or it's late at night, sometimes I take a cab. The city's system works pretty well, with the only problem being the cuts in Muni service, which I assume will be restored when the economy picks up.

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

I agree. Cars are not going away. Cars are not making this city less livable.

I won't ride muni 'cause I don't feel that safe on it, it's dirty, it's unreliable, and it's slow.

I don't ride a bike anymore in the city, although I used to. It's dangerous, too easy to get injured or outright killed. I'll only ride in GGPark when I strap my bike on the back of the car to get there. The hills are impossible to navigate. I'm not riding to work on a bike when I have to wear a suit and tie to work.

I love my car, it's here to stay.

 
At 9:18 PM, Anonymous running out of rocky jokes said...

"The reality is that it isn't that easy to get across town on a bike--or even on Muni, though I often do the latter."

That's a totally subjective statement. For some it is quite easy to get across town on a bike. You can't dismiss cycling as a viable mode of transportation just because everyone can't do it. Hell, if that were the case one might dismiss automobility on the grounds that children, the disabled, or anyone without the economic means to own or maintain a car of their own doesn't have access to it. And Muni isn't any more "difficult" than driving in the truest sense of the word. Some consider not having to hunt or pay for parking worth waiting around for Muni, or the relative inconveniences of having to ride a bike. Some drivers consider the hassle of sitting in traffic and paying a bridge toll worth not having to mix with the plebes on BART. Some people avoid all of those problems by moving to neighborhoods in which they can work and get everything they need within a walkable distance.

Either way, I would argue that improving public transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure provides more long term value to the city (getting people around more efficiently, reducing emissions, and promoting healthier lifestyles, among other immediately tangible benefits) than encouraging them to drive.

"My assumption is that cars are a great invention that give people great mobility."

Cars are, no doubt, a wonderful invention. The problem is that we've become so dependent on them that we reject out of hand the notion that anything else could provide the same level of mobility. Bicycles do just that, in fact. I, for one, am more likely to go somewhere by bike than I used to be by car because I don't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, having to find parking, or dealing with the myriad other difficulties and annoyances we've come to take for granted when driving. Your mileage may vary, obviously, but when I see photos of middle-aged Dutch women biking their kids to school it makes me wonder whether evolution isn't already weeding out the weaker members of our species who dismiss cycling on the grounds of "inconvenience"—or, in your case, think of it as a political fad.

That said, I agree that cars are here to stay. The question is not how to eliminate them entirely, but how to minimize their impact on the city and its residents. City Car Share estimates that every car in their fleet replaces seven private automobiles. They own spaces all over the city, some of which are closer to people's front doors than the street parking spaces they'd have to hunt for to house their own cars. Now, imagine if shared cars were given priority parking at city-owned lots throughout the city, and that private lots were given tax breaks for doing the same. People who got rid of their own cars would be rewarded not just with the thousands of dollars they'd save on private car ownership, but also with a better chance of guaranteed parking at their destination. This is just one example of an incentive the city could use to transition people from private automobile ownership (the high costs of which are borne primarily by the owners) to the more efficient use of shared resources (the per-capita costs of which are much, much lower).

 
At 10:17 PM, Anonymous rocky's friend's know-it-all dad said...

"We are already transitioning to clean-burning engines, so I don't think the pollution argument will be valid within a generation."

That is, frankly, bullshit. Our transition to clean-burning engines has so far been a non-starter. Even if we could swap out every car on the road with a "clean-burning"—the current production-ready state of the art of which is really more like "marginally cleaner-burning"—equivalent today, we wouldn't be able to pay for it; and EVs are out of the question until we can rebuild our nation's energy distribution infrastructure to handle the load they would require. And even if we did that, we wouldn't save much in terms of emissions unless we replaced all of our gas- and coal-powered producing plants with renewables (or nuclear, which brings with it a whole host of other issues). I'm very skeptical that we'll solve this problem in a generation. Of course, you'll be dead by then, so I don't imagine that bothers you too much.

I think you're failing to see the big picture here. Too many people driving and finding themselves unable to park is a symptom of a larger problem, the root of which is San Francisco's disastrous land use and haphazard transportation policies. More parking is a shot in the arm for auto-dependency that will only create more problems for everyone: more congestion, less shared public space, and even less reliable public transit. Removing cars reverses all of these trends.

Improving public transit, improving cycling facilities, and incentivizing car shares are actions that benefit everyone, and, if executed intelligently, can minimize impacts on individual automobility. Adding parking does the opposite: It benefits only those with cars, it seriously impacts the mobility of other drivers and those who rely on public transit, it threatens the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. It makes public spaces less inviting and converts what either was already or could become much-needed shared public space into temporary housing for unnecessarily large and inefficient metal boxes. It's bad policy, and nobody in their right mind should be advocating for the selfish, lazy, and entitled attitude that cheap and abundant parking engenders.

And Rocky's dad, you're part of the problem. We can't all afford to own cars and drive our bikes to the park—and even if we could, it's awfully lazy and wasteful to do so. Besides, as Rob pointed out himself, biking in the city isn't really all that dangerous after all.

The amount of cognitive dissonance you people subject yourselves to is amazing. Here's the twisted logic that I've observed: Biking is dangerous! Muni is a pain in the ass! But everything is so far away! The city should make driving easier for me! But when somebody suggests that the city's resources would be better invested in solving the first two problems, you insist that doing so will make driving harder! There is no middle ground in such a discussion—it's drivers versus everyone else. There is literally no way to have a constructive debate about transportation or land use policy with people who assert a need for cheap, abundant parking.

Let the slow, painful death of American cities serve as a warning: A transportation system that gives deference or preference to private automobiles is doomed to failure. I'm hopeful that younger generations recognize this fact soon, and I look forward to the day when the windshield perspective no longer dominates our policy landscape. You guys had your chance, and you fucked us royally. Now step aside and let us fix the mess you created.

 
At 11:17 AM, Anonymous rocksteady said...

And if you really think more cars on the road aren't somehow detrimental to people's health, you should probably read this:

"Children living within 150 meters of high-traffic areas were found to have, on average, BMIs five percent higher than those living near low-traffic areas. Only the immediate surroundings seem to matter: Traffic levels within 300 or 500 meters didn't affect BMI."

And:

"The researchers put forward two reasons for why traffic volumes contribute to obesity. High asthma rates could be part of the equation, making kids less likely to engage in physical activity. Kids - and their parents - also seem to be especially sensitive to the real or perceived danger from cars, much more so than adults."

Reducing the number of cars on our streets makes people feel safer walking and biking, which makes them healthier and happier. And ultimately it's people's healthiness and happiness that creates real value in cities—not mindless shopping facilitated by automotive transportation. Cars, I'm sure Rocky's dad would likely agree, are the reason that walking and biking in this city are perceived to be unsafe and/or unpleasant, and they're the single greatest delayer of public transit. How can anyone in their right mind think that they deserve any more of the city's precious space or resources? Seriously, what are you people smoking?

One last thing: To suggest that people are unwilling to give up their cars is, I think, to have lost faith in people. If you give them a choice, and you make the alternatives to driving safer and more compelling, people will change. And those changes benefit everyone in the city, not just those who can afford to own and maintain cars. I have no illusions of a car-free future, but it's ludicrous to assume that our city can grow and prosper if we maintain the status quo—let alone make the situation worse by putting more cars on the road.

 
At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So where is the "How Pro-car Policy Hurts the City" companion article?

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't think cars are hurting the city. In fact I think the city is doing pretty well in managing our traffic. The big unknown is the Bicycle Plan, which could make our traffic a lot worse.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

I agree Rob; cars are not hurting the city. I'm amazed how on some days when I have to cross town from Noe V to Pac Hts. how easy it is to drive over there..

Also to correct a bunch of misperceptions noted by Murph and other fake names here, while I drive my car, I also walk a HUGE amount all over the city. I love walking. I wear a pedometer I average 25-40 miles a week. Last year I walked, just in SF almost 900 miles. Pretty cool I think and very healthy.

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anton said...

"If a foodie wants to visit this new destination in the city from elsewhere in the Bay Area---or even from across town---she's supposed to ride a bike or the bus?"

ABSOLUTELY. This is called reality and if you can't handle it, stay in Walnut Creek. At least have the courtesy to take a cab.

 

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