Friday, July 02, 2010

BikeThink in action

Paul (below in italics) is what passes for an intellectual among the city's bike people. Actually, that's unfair, since intelligent bike people simply go about their business and pleasure on their bikes, while people like Paul are so besotted with their bike-centric worldview that they have to instruct the rest of us on how the world works---and how cycling is the wave of the future.

People who are too feeble or physically unable to ride a bike probably shouldn't be driving either.
A few years ago a commenter suggested that, with their contempt for those of us who don't ride bikes and their aggressive, obnoxious behavior on our streets, some city cyclists are guilty of a hate crime. That's probably going too far, but Paul is contemptuous of those "too feeble or physically unable to ride a bike," even though paraplegics can drive a car with modified controls. And the elderly and other handicapped people can and do drive cars.

Children can't legally drive, but as most people who have been children know, riding a bicycle is not very difficult. Suggesting that people shouldn't ride bikes because it's "dangerous" or "hard" is just stupid.
Who claims that riding a bike is "hard," and why put the word in quotes? Even I know how to ride a bike; I just don't want to risk serious injury while I go about my daily rounds. Like a lot of commenters, you don't read this blog with any care. Of course riding a bike can be dangerous. Even pro-bike writers like Robert Hurst and John Forester concede that point; they just think the rewards are worth the risks involved. Both these writers, by the way, also point out that most cycling accidents are "solo falls" that have nothing to do with other vehicles. And, as I've pointed out before, children suffer more head injuries from riding bikes than from any other activity.

Why is it so difficult for you to concede that most people might benefit from a bike ride every now and then?
"Benefit" in what way? A good, brisk walk will provide similar cardio-vascular benefits. What riding a bike in SF seems in large part about is a childlike pleasure in whizzing along the streets. Mountain bikers are more honest about the attraction of their hobby, which is all about speed and thrills. One of course must take one's pleasure where one finds it, but cloaking this essentially juvenile activity in Political Correctness gives it an extra cachet for a lot of young people who come to SF from all over the country to be hip. And naturally there are some older folks on bikes in the city just as eager to think they're with-it. Bikes are more of a political accessory for progs of all ages than they are a serious transportation "mode." I don't have a problem with people riding bikes. What I object to is the sweeping claims that people like you make for the activity, not to mention redesigning city streets on behalf of your often-obnoxious minority.

This is basically the height of hypocrisy. You've claimed all along that your litigation against the city is procedural, and that all you want is for the city to own up to the potential impacts of the Bike Plan on traffic and public transportation.
If your ideology didn't prevent you from comprehending what I've been saying for more than five years, you would know better than this. It was only the first phase of the litigation against the city that was essentially "procedural," but then CEQA itself is essentially about a process of environmental review of proposed projects, with checklists that developers must use to show what impacts their projects might have on the environment. The litigation is one thing, but I've also been a consistent critic of what I call "BikeThink," the ideology of cyclists like you who seem to think they've discovered some great Truth that they want to shove down everyone else's throat, much like Marxists of a previous generation. It was obvious to us that the Bicycle Plan was going to screw up city traffic, and, not surprisingly, that's what the EIR has now told us---"signifcant impacts" on traffic and Muni lines on busy city streets.

On UC's parking garage proposal: The cars are already here in the city, and they are here to stay, along with trucks, buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles. I think providing adequate parking actually improves the flow of traffic in the city, since drivers don't have to circle around an area looking for parking; they can go straight to their destination. UC is not only a major employer in the city, but it also has thousands of patients flocking to its clinics. Are all the cancer patients---not to mention the doctors and nurses---that use the clinic on Divisadero supposed to ride a bike or Muni to their appointments? Some of them no doubt do, but it's not right---it's even cruel---to make sick people have to worry about parking when they have to see their doctors.

Traffic problems are created when parking is inadequate, like Trader Joes at Geary and Masonic. On the other hand, there's the Lucky Market at Fulton and Masonic that has a nice big parking garage under the store, and you never see a traffic jam at that intersection. Limiting parking in the city not only creates a huge inconvenience for city drivers but damages the city's economy, which depends on the more or less free flow of vehicles on our streets. All our goods are delivered by trucks, and tourism is our largest industry, with millions of visitors driving into the city every year.

The same logic that leads one to believe that replacing car lanes with bike lanes will increase traffic is even more directly applicable to the construction of new roads and parking structures, since these induce demand for automobiles while actively discouraging other modes of transportation by putting more cars on the road.
No one is claiming that taking away traffic lanes on busy streets to make bike lanes is going to increase traffic; it's simply going to jam up the existing traffic, which is what the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us. The notion that creating traffic jams for all the cars, trucks, and buses that now use these streets is going to encourage people to take up cycling instead is pure fantasy for which the city has zero evidence. Only True Believers like you think that's a realistic possibility.

You don't really care about traffic; all you care about is making sure that cyclists don't get what they want because they're part of that big, evil, 'progressive' machine. With that attitude is it really any surprise that you're one of the only critics of the Bike Plan?
In fact I've written a lot about parking and city traffic on this blog (click on the topics at the bottom of this post). I read the city's studies on these issues and comment on them, while you bike people don't seem to read anything but Streetsblog and BikeNopa. The city recognizes the importance of adequate parking when it isn't pushing the bike agenda. From the city's Extended Parking Meter Hours study:
More parking availability means that drivers will spend less time circling in search of parking spaces. Circling reduces safety, wastes fuel, and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Less circling will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the quality of life in San Francisco's neighborhoods (page 27, Extended Meter Hours Study).

I don't think city progressives are "evil." They are just kind of dumb, running with the prog pack and not doing any critical thinking about their agenda. It's not just the bike bullshit but also the whole "transit corridors," dense development, residential highrise agenda that's wrong-headed and bad for the city---one big delusional package that includes the bicycle fantasy as a corollary.

I also write about these other "progressive" policy fiascos, but you bike people never comment on those posts---UC's rip-off of the old extension property for a massive housing development, the Market/Octavia Plan, and the residential highrise idea, etc.


"Yes, the assumption by cyclists is that everyone can or should ride a bicycle."
That's bullshit and you know it. Really, do you think the ADA applies to bicycle infrastructure any more so than automotive infrastructure? People who are too feeble or physically unable to ride a bike probably shouldn't be driving either. Children can't legally drive, but as most people who have been children know, riding a bicycle is not very difficult. Suggesting that people shouldn't ride bikes because it's "dangerous" or "hard" is just stupid. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that everyone can or should ride a bike, but it's equally ridiculous to suggest that nobody who doesn't subscribe to our "religion" will ever substitute a single automobile trip with a bike ride. Why is it so difficult for you to concede that most people might benefit from a bike ride every now and then?
"Fortunately for them, as a state agency UC doesn't have to conform to the PC specifications laid down by our rulers here in Progressive Land, and, in spite of the bike people's disapproval, they'll build the parking garage anyhow, just like they did near Hastings College a few years ago."
This is basically the height of hypocrisy. You've claimed all along that your litigation against the city is procedural, and that all you want is for the city to own up to the potential impacts of the Bike Plan on traffic and public transportation. But here you are, chiding the city for neglecting to do an EIR and insulting people who oppose the construction of a giant parking structure on the same grounds and relishing in the fact that UC can just go ahead and build it without having to conform to CEQA. Pot, kettle, black.
Is it that hard for you to understand the concept of induced demand, and that providing more parking encourages more people to drive, which in turn puts more cars on the streets and has the very likely potential to increase traffic congestion? This is not rocket science. The same logic that leads one to believe that replacing car lanes with bike lanes will increase traffic is even more directly applicable to the construction of new roads and parking structures, since these induce demand for automobiles while actively discouraging other modes of transportation by putting more cars on the road.
The only reason to oppose the bike lanes while lobbying for unnecessarily large parking structures is an ideological bias against cyclists. You don't really care about traffic; all you care about is making sure that cyclists don't get what they want because they're part of that big, evil, "progressive" machine. With that attitude is it really any surprise that you're one of the only critics of the Bike Plan? Deep down, I think that even your buddies like Lex know that your campaign to endlessly delay cycling infrastructure is a fool's errand. It's going to happen one day, whether you like it or not—and if you don't, well, there are dozens of places to live right here in the Bay Area where I'm sure that you can find plenty of old, crotchety SFGate commenters who think just like you do. SF politics got you down? Maybe it's time to consider moving.

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7 Comments:

At 11:43 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

As soon as someone says "move away if you don't like the way I think" has lost all credibility with me. Period. Hands down. I won't listen to them.

Many of the bike nuts, bike zealots, and bike anarchists talk exactly that way.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Go back to Russia" used to be a favorite refrain by people who shouted at early demonstrators against the war in Vietnam. What's striking is that even people who parachuted into the city only recently seem to thnk they have the right---nay, the duty---to tell us how to rearrange the city to conform to their PC strictures.

 
At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right. If you don't like war and capitalism, go back to Russia.

If you don't like anti-bike folks, go back to Portland.

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Lex said...

"Paul is what passes for an intellectual among the city's bike people."

That's like calling Moe the "smart" Stooge.

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My first impulse on this blog is to give my critics a fair hearing, and I think I've done that. I never reject a comment based on its intellectual content but only when it goes over the line in abusiveness. But after five years of this kind of comment, it's increasingly difficult to respect these people intellectually. They never seem to read anything except material that reflects their own views, whereas I earnestly read their stuff and the studies the city publishes on bicycles and traffic in the city in general.

But what we are now witnessing from the city on the bicycle issue is what they have really been thinking from the start, when they tried to rush the 500-page Bicycle Plan through the process illegally: they are determined to implement the Bicycle Plan even if it makes traffic on busy streets worse for everyone but cyclists. We are in Gavin Newsom's Whether You Like It or Not territory now. My June 19 post on the city's brief should remove any doubts anyone had about the city's fanatical determination to cater to this politically aggressive minority at the expense of everyone else in the city.

 
At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

You know, I had this long, well thought-out response written, and eventually I just decided to delete it all and start over because all I really need to say is this:

Writing off cycling as "essentially juvenile" is just idiotic. If you can't understand why cycling would be beneficial or enjoyable, there is no point in even attempting to reason with you. I understand why it's important to mitigate traffic impacts, and I've tried to level with you on many occasions about the Bike Plan and its shortcomings. But it's impossible to have a constructive conversation with somebody who's so hateful toward cyclists that they would actually object to the suggestion that bikes might be beneficial to individuals or society. BikeThink may be smug and self-righteous, but at least it's not as totally irrational and unabashedly bigoted as your petty anti-bike ideology.

Everything you write is just hateful garbage, and I don't see any point in dignifying it further with a response. (I got a good chuckle out of the attempt to frame your own words as "intellectual", though, so thanks for that!) Have fun in your little echo chamber with Rocky's Dad, Lex, and your handful of other like-minded pals.

 
At 8:50 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The problem is you don't seem to know anything about your own movement. At least I read the relevant city documents on cycling in SF. It's not that I "hate" cycling or your movement as that I just find it hard to respect you folks intellectually. Where's the beef? None of you seem to read anything critical of your movement. Of course I can see why riding a bike can be fun, but that's not exactly a sensible basis for redesigning the city's streets on behalf of cyclists, is it?

 

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