Friday, July 09, 2010

NY Times: "For some the mission is anti-car"

The title quotation is from Scott James's article in the NY Times today on the ongoing demonstrations at the Arco gas station at Fell and Divisadero: "The size of the anti-car movement is difficult to gauge; it has no official name, leadership or affiliation with mainstream bicycle groups."

Wrong! The SF Bicycle Coalition has long been anti-car, which is why they opposed the garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park and the new Hasting's College garage in the Tenderloin.

In chronological order, here are a few documents I came up with after a cursory look through my files. Anti-carism is not only implied in most of the so-called improvements contained in the Bicycle Plan, but the bike people themselves make it explicit every now and then:

March, 2000:
An op-ed by Dave Snyder---executive director of the Bicycle Coalition at the time---in the SF Bicycle Coalition's "Tubular Times" opposing the garage under the Concourse (emphasis added): "Golden Gate Park is supposed to be a 'sylvan retreat from urban pressures,' but instead it seems overwhelmed at times by the most pernicious form of urban pressure: the automobile."

May 18, 2005:
In the SF Bay Guardian, Andy Thornley, long-time officer and employee of the SF Bicycle Coalition: "We've done all the easy things so far. Now we need to take space from cars."

April 18, 2007:
In a Bay Guardian editorial: "San Francisco ought to commit to cutting car use in the city by at least 50% in the next five years. How do you do that? By making cars unnecessary and slightly more expensive." This is not a controversial idea in San Francisco, though the weasely "slightly" is a typical Guardian touch.

May 8,2006:
In the SF Chronicle, Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, had just been appointed to the MTA board by Mayor Newsom: "As an MTA board member, Shahum said she wants to limit traffic growth by increasing downtown parking rates and limiting the amount of new parking spaces that can be built in the city's downtown core. She also supports so-called congestion pricing, a nascent proposal of Supervisor Jake McGoldrick to levy a fee on motorists for the right to drive downtown, a controversial idea now being studied by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority."

August, 2008:
In the SF Bicycle Coalition's 2008 election questionnaire, question #5: "Would you support a citywide goal to decrease the number of private motor vehicle trips in San Francisco, understanding that in addition to improving transit, bicycling, and walking, the goal would be met by also making motor vehicle trips and parking less convenient in come cases?" I was a candidate, and I of course answered "no." Guess what Supervisor Mirkarimi's answer was?

Even Mayor Newsom believes in the bicycle fantasy, though the bike people have expressed mostly contempt for him. A few years ago, he said that the official city policy of the City of San Francisco is to “make it harder to drive and make it costlier, and then you use the money to fund public transit.” I'm not sure where I got the quotation, but it wasn't considered controversial at the time.

In his piece this morning, James quotes a Peter L. Smith, who compares the bike movement with the movement to abolish slavery! That must be the same Peter Smith who used to do the San Francisco Bike Blog, which was so extreme I suspect it made even the Bicycle Coalition nervous.

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