Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rob Anderson: "sociopath"

Paul's comment in full is below in italics. I reprint it because it nicely illustrates the attitudes of a lot of the city's bike people: they resent me and the injunction on the Bicycle Plan, but their anger, as Paul himself suggests, is misdirected. It would be better aimed at City Hall and the SF Bicycle Coalition.

"You know, I've enjoyed this blog a lot more since I learned to appreciate you for the sociopath that you truly are."
Sociopath? A definition: "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood." How does this describe me? Whose rights have I violated or disregarded? I could more plausibly charge the bike people with disregarding the rights of the majority in SF, since they tried to push the Bicycle Plan through the process in clear defiance of the law. We pointed that out to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors
at the time and were dismissed contemptuously.

"Thanks for providing such a ridiculously hyperbolic counterpoint to all of the reasonable discourse happening elsewhere on the internet and in real life."
Could you be more specific? Where's the hyperbole? I read all the documents, including this
Grand Jury report, and the bike people who comment on this blog don't seem to read anything except Streetsblog and BikeNopa, which aren't necessarily bad sources, but they only represent a narrow point of view.

"Your war on cycling has provided us all with a very important lesson in the power of disenfranchised individuals to derail public policy."
Wrong again! It was 90% of the public that was disenfranchised when City Hall flouted CEQA, the most important environmental law in the state, by passing the Bicycle Plan with no environmental review. "Derailing public policy"? But it's exactly that "public policy," along with that abuse of the process, that's in dispute here. Again, I read the Bicycle Plan and the EIR and then write posts about them, but you folks don't seem obligated to do the same.


"We'll continue pushing for and celebrating projects like the separated lanes on Market and the fantastic new parking corrals on Valencia even if the Bike Plan is struck down entirely."
These projects aren't in the Bicycle Plan. The issue now is the adequacy of the city's EIR on a lot of other projects that are in the Bicycle Plan, neither of which you seem to be familiar with.

"In fact, I think that would be a great opportunity for the city to reevaluate its strategy and start from scratch with more specific projects vetted with and informed by healthy public debate. (Because what's happening on this blog is anything but.)"
If you had informed yourself before making this comment, you would know that the city did more or less start from scratch after Judge Busch ordered it to do an EIR on the Plan. In its approach to the EIR, the city redefined what the Bicycle Plan is with lists of "long-term" and "short-term" projects. As I say, the issue now is whether the city's environmental review of those projects is adequate.
We don't think it's even close, which is what will be argued in court on June 22. This blog is the only source in the city that has informed comment on the Bicycle Plan and the EIR. None of the other prog blogs in SF has even tried to do any serious, informed commentary on these issues. Except for Steve Jones of the Guardian, who manfully read our brief for the June 22 hearing. Jones of course thinks it's just fine for the city to make traffic worse for 90% of those who use our streets on behalf of you and your bike buddies. And that's the issue: the EIR tells us that it's going to make traffic worse for everyone else, including Muni---"significant impacts"---on a number of busy city streets, including Cesar Chavez, Fifth Street, and Second Street.

"For what it's worth, a lot of cyclists agree with you that it was a huge mistake for the city (and the SFBC) to write the Plan behind closed doors and attempt to push it through in its entirety without adequate review—public or environmental."
That's what we've been saying for years, so why am I the bad guy? The problem is that the folks who represent city cyclists have never acknowledged this, including the SF Bicycle Coalition and politicians like
Mayor Newsom, Dennis Herrera, and Supervisor Mirkarimi. There has been little public self-criticism within the cycling community, except for Marc Salomon, a former member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, who's a bit of an outlier in the bike community on the issue.

"They've wasted a significant amount of time and taxpayers' money defending that choice, and they've engendered a lot of mistrust from everyone in the process. I'm mad as hell at the city, and I won't forget all of this if Dennis Ferrara[sic] decides to run for mayor."
Yes, exactly. But who's the "everyone" you're referring to? I base my blog posts on the documents, comments to this blog, and the commentary on other blogs and websites in SF, and I don't see any public discontent in the bike community. Instead, I see a circling of the wagons, a relentless push of an anti-car agenda, and an ongoing self-righteousness that a lot of non-cyclists find obnoxious. Yes, the city has wasted a lot of time and money on the litigation. This is what the Grand Jury should have investigated---where the city went wrong on the Bicycle Plan and the litigation.

"But the government's mistakes don't implicate the entire population of SF cyclists—from the occasional recreational rider to the everyday commuter—in some subversive plot to 'screw up traffic' for everyone else."
Actually, in the absence of any public dissent in the city's bike community, the city's approach with the Bicycle Plan does in effect implicate city cyclists. You folks have poor leadership, both in the SFBC and in City Hall. There was something like a "plot" to push the Bicycle Plan through the process illegally---I've documented how Dave Snyder proposed the strategy the city adopted---but we busted them with our lawsuit.

It really was an attempted coup on behalf of the city's bike people, the political equivalent of the bad behavior by cyclists we see every day on the streets of the city. Your anger is misdirected. It should be directed at the leadership of the SFBC, Mayor Newsom, the Planning Commission, the Planning Dept., and the Board of Supervisors. The Bicycle Plan proposes major changes to city streets, but city residents still have only the vaguest notion of what it involves. The Bicycle Plan really should be on the ballot for the people of the city to decide, but that will never happen, because city voters might reject it, and the SFBC and their allies in City Hall don't want to take that chance.

Paul wrote:
You know, I've enjoyed this blog a lot more since I learned to appreciate you for the sociopath that you truly are. Thanks for providing such a ridiculously hyperbolic counterpoint to all of the reasonable discourse happening elsewhere on the internet and in real life. Your war on cycling has provided us all with a very important lesson in the power of disenfranchised individuals to derail public policy. At the very least, I hope that our dysfunctional city government learns from this, and avoids any more legal entanglements that might further delay these much-needed infrastructural improvements.Go ahead and reply with your typical ad hominem attack. Call me smug and arrogant all you want. Continue making those same stupid generalizations and encouraging your simple-minded buddies to do the same, further divorcing yourselves from constructive public discourse and marginalizing your own opinions. We'll continue pushing for and celebrating projects like the separated lanes on Market and the fantastic new parking corrals on Valencia even if the Bike Plan is struck down entirely. In fact, I think that would be a great opportunity for the city to reevaluate its strategy and start from scratch with more specific projects vetted with and informed by healthy public debate. (Because what's happening on this blog is anything but.)For what it's worth, a lot of cyclists agree with you that it was a huge mistake for the city (and the SFBC) to write the Plan behind closed doors and attempt to push it through in its entirety without adequate review—public or environmental. They've wasted a significant amount of time and taxpayers' money defending that choice, and they've engendered a lot of mistrust from everyone in the process. I'm mad as hell at the city, and I won't forget all of this if Dennis Ferrara decides to run for mayor. But the government's mistakes don't implicate the entire population of SF cyclists—from the occasional recreational rider to the everyday commuter—in some subversive plot to "screw up traffic" for everyone else. Traffic is a tricky thing to manage, but it's not hard to imagine how much worse it would be if cyclists all decided to drive en masse (or even take public transit) tomorrow. If you had any sense you'd smile and thank the next cyclist you see on the street for freeing up some space on the streets (and on Muni) for people who need it. But I won't hold my breath for that to happen any time soon.

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10 Comments:

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Pingo said...

we all got that you a bit psycho, Rob. check this vid about what goin on in Oaktown with the Scraper Bikes:

Streetfilms: Scraper Bikes and the “Bike 4 Life” Ride

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/07/31/streetfilms-scraper-bikes-bike-4-life-ride/

Get on a scraper now!

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Unless you admit that you're 11-years-old, my question is, What kind of chronological adult gets all excited about bikes?

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Dalton Express 839 said...

What kind of chronological adult gets all excited about bikes?

Um, one who isn't a sociopath perhaps?

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Or, more likely, one who is emotionally and intellectually a juvenile.

 
At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Pingo said...

Well, Rob, looks like you are so good at putting concepts together...the scraper bikes are a great thing for "underprivileged" kids...would you prefer that they dream of selling crack instead. I'd rather have them build their own bikes, get some exercise and have fun. It all ads up to a decent future perhaps.

here's a cool Mark Fiore video - though i doubt you'll be able to get the point on this one either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DZfdX42CZo&feature=player_embedded

you're an old grumpy fart, Rob! you need some exercise and to lose a lot of weight!

 
At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

The only reason that I would suggest people not direct their anger at you is that it's pointless because you don't give a shit about their opinion. You talk about cyclists being "politically motivated", but that's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black since it's pretty obvious that you wouldn't have sued the city if you didn't have such disdain for "progressives". Your half-baked posts suggesting that cycling is inherently dangerous or that putting children on bikes should be illegal are all just lame self-justifications for your revulsion of anyone who dares suggest that the city might be a better place if people rode a bike every once in a while. Yes, for some it is a lifestyle—just as car ownership is a lifestyle choice for others. That doesn't make their opinions any less valid than yours.

Cyclists just can't win with people like you. We're either so aggressive that motorists are somehow threatened by us (despite the fact that they present a much greater danger to us than vice-versa), or we ride too slowly and are yelled at to get off the road (but we can't ride on the sidewalk, so...?). And those of us who do obey the law and ride courteously are vilified for being smug and self-righteous—so much so that our very motivations for riding are attacked. (As if the desire to reduce one's impact on the earth or get some regular exercise are somehow less valid than, say, a driver's desire to shave 10 minutes off their commute time.) We're just awful people in your book, and when someone comes here to respond in frustration you point to them as proof that all cyclists are rude and stupid. But when anyone dares suggest that you're angry or acting antisocially you throw your hands up and say, "Don't blame me! The city made me do this!"

Which is, in fact, textbook sociopathic behavior. Antisocial personality disorder is defined by several diagnostic criteria that you exhibit regularly on this blog, particularly the WHO's:

Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy - you make no attempt to understand where anyone else is coming from, ever.

Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression - you respond angrily with insults and ad hominem attacks to even the slightest challenge to your opinions.

Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict - you use the incompetent city government, the SFBC, and the irresponsible behavior of some cyclists as scapegoats so that you can avoid having to address any real issues.

There's some good old lying and deceit going on, too, like when you used a Robert Hurst quote to prove that cycling is "dangerous", and you continue to defend that position despite the fact that Hurst himself replied to reiterate his belief that "the benefits of bicycling far outweigh the risks". You refuse to concede this point, writing off Hurst as a "bike guy" while using his quote to support your indefensible position that the relative dangers of biking (many of which are not unique to bicycles) somehow disqualify cyclists from dedicated space on city streets. You dismiss it a "dangerous hobby", and if anyone challenges that notion you hold up as proof the word of an author who you've written off as an ideologue.

 
At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Oh, and let's not forget that you made up two "unincorporated associations" (the Coalition for Adequate Review and Ninety-Nine Percent) just to name as petitioners in your suit. Calling yourself a coalition and claiming to represent 99% of the city is disingenuous at best.

"Emotionally and intellectually juvenile"? Take a look in the mirror, bud. It seems to me that you're just an angry wanna-be politician jealous of the influence that cyclists wield in this city, and you'll justify doing or saying just about anything if it keeps us from getting a bike lane installed. Good luck with that.

 
At 3:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"The only reason that I would suggest people not direct their anger at you is that it's pointless because you don't give a shit about their opinion."

I post all comments here and respond when they're worth responding to. Alas, that's seldom the case with you bike people, since you never seem to read anything. The reality is, as I pointed out, that the city and the SFBC were caught by our suit trying to illegally push the Bicycle Plan through the process. That's why your complaints should be directed to them, not me.

"You talk about cyclists being 'politically motivated,' but that's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black since it's pretty obvious that you wouldn't have sued the city if you didn't have such disdain for "'progressives'"

This is a good example of the point I just made: our litigation was based on the facts and the law, which I've amply documented here over the past five years. The suit had nothing to do with "disdain" for progressives, which is a separate issue.

"Your half-baked posts suggesting that cycling is inherently dangerous or that putting children on bikes should be illegal are all just lame self-justifications for your revulsion of anyone who dares suggest that the city might be a better place if people rode a bike every once in a while."

My posts on the dangers of cycling are all linked to those who have to deal with injuries to cyclists, including to children. In fact I never wrote that "children on bikes" should be illegal but only that hauling them around in city traffic on bikes or in those canvas trailers should be illegal. If putting children in the passenger seat of an automobile is illegal, putting them on your bike should also be illegal.

"...you use the incompetent city government, the SFBC, and the irresponsible behavior of some cyclists as scapegoats so that you can avoid having to address any real issues."

Please share with us any "real" issues that have gone unaddressed. This is just hot air.

On the Robert Hurst quotations: I've used accurate quotations from his book, citing the the appropriate page numbers. Evidently you haven't read the book, which is all about how to ride a bike safely in an urban environment. He specifically wrote that riding a bike in the city is not for children.

Yes, of course he thinks the dangers of cycling are worth the risks involved---for adults. He's a bike messenger and a dedicated bike guy. But he felt obligated to remind his readers that cycling is dangerous because there are many cyclists who are in denial on this, including a number here in SF. In fact the Bay Guardian's political blog just featured an exchange on the apparently controversial notion that wearing a helmet while cycling is a good idea. Incredibly, a number of city cyclists dispute this notion.

Here's Hurst's "dangerous" quote:

"Is cycling dangerous? Yes. Yes, it is. Deadly, no. That is actually a controversial thing to say. There are those[cyclists] who bristle at any suggestion that cycling is dangerous, because they fear it will scare noncyclists away from ever ditching their cars and trying a more healthy form of transport. This is a good point, but it doesn't change the fact that cycling is dangerous. This is not some urban legend that needs to be debunked. It is reality, and we need to embrace it." (The Art of Cycling, pages 69-70)

He goes on to say that the danger isn't of dying "but that of being sent to the hospital with a serious injury..."

Hurst wrote some waffling disclaimer to me about his "dangerous" statements in an attempt to show some solidarity with the bike people in SF, but his thoughts as written in his book---he's a good, clear writer---are plain and not susceptible to misinterpretation. Nice try, though.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Just for the record, here's what Hurst said in a comment to my blog post of August, 2008: "I believe it's silly to overlook the dangers of cycling in traffic, and there is a faction of cycling advocates who seem to want to do that. On the other hand, I hope I made clear in my book that the benefits of bicycling far outweigh the risks."

 
At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Connie Way said...

Hey Rob - when are you going to start doing something about the loud ILLEGAL motorcycles and 2-stroke mopeds polluting our streets and our sanity? Petition NOW!

 

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