Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The bicycle in American literature

From Sam Tanenhaus's review of Jonathan Franzen's new novel:

...Patty is a “sunny carrier of sociological pollen, an affable bee” buzzing at the back door “with a plate of cookies or a card or some lilies of the valleys in a little thrift-store vase that she told you not to bother returning”; her husband, Walter, is a lawyer of such adamant decency that his employer, 3M, has parked him in “outreach and philanthropy, a corporate cul-de-sac where niceness was an asset” and where, commuting by bicycle each day, he nurtures his commitment to the environmentalist causes he will eventually pursue with messianic, and mis­begotten, fervor...They resemble any number of well-meaning couples for whom the home has become a citadel of aspirational self-regard and family life a sequence of ennobling rites, each act of overparenting wreathed in civic import---the issues involving cloth versus disposable diapers, or the political rectitude of the Boy Scouts, or the imperative to recycle batteries---and the long siege of the day heroically capped by “Goodnight Moon” and a self-­congratulatory glass of zinfandel...

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26 Comments:

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Anderson in American Cinema

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You bike people in international video.

 
At 4:15 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100831/sc_yblog_upshot/noted-anti-global-warming-scientist-reverses-course

But you keep linking to your own well researched posts.

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

So now I'm supposed to a global warming denier? I've never posted on the subject, and I believe it's really happening.

 
At 7:52 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

I just figured with how out of touch you are, that would be on the list as well. My apologies.

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm admittedly "out of touch" with the great bicycle movement but would like to know from someone as with-it as you what else is on that list.

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

I'm so with-it that it's amazing I spend anytime without a bike glued to my ass.

The biggest thing you are missing is all the people out on bikes. You keep saying it is a small minority, but there are more and more people riding everyday. Take a stroll down Market from 8am til 10:30am.

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, Mike, I've had this argument presented to me a number of times over the years: Look at all the cyclists on city streets! But you and other cyclists tend to see what you want to see and exaggerate the actual numbers.

I refer to the city's own official reports for a more realistic account of the numbers, like the "San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet" that MTA puts out every year. The latest edition, published last November, breaks down the commuter numbers for us: In 2008 38.4% of city workers drove alone to work; 31.9% took public transportation; 1.8% took a "taxicab, motorcycle, or other" to work; 9.4% walked to work; 4.6% "worked at home," and only 2.7% rode a bike to work. Even if you doubled that percentage to account for strictly recreational cyclists---the SFBC claims that 6% of all city trips are by bike---that still makes cyclists a small minority.

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

Then by that logic, why do we have sidewalks? They should just be converted to parking and/or more lanes for car travel.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodnight Moon rocks.

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You mean the "logic" of reality? You bike people are in denial of the transportation realities in their own city. Except when it talks about the Bicycle Plan, the MTA, as you know, tries to determine exactly who is using city streets. Do you think the numbers I cited from the MTA's Fact Sheet are inaccurate?

 
At 4:17 PM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

You don't think ROW space should be given to cyclists because there are so few of them. In that same process, ROW space is being wasted on pedestrians as well.

 
At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think the numbers I cited from the MTA's Fact Sheet are inaccurate? - no I just don't care.

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

You know mikesonn: you seem to love just arguing points constantly, rather than offer solutions. You do seem extremely nervous and threatened by other points of view.

 
At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe he is - I'm not. You see - your point of view is "Bike lanes bad". My point of view is "That new bike lane on North Point rocks!"

Waiting patiently for that appeal...

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Nope. never ever have said or implied that "bike lanes are bad"..

But.....bike lanes do not necessarily make biking in SF safer..no guarantees for that. bikes lanes may make cycling more convenient, perhaps.

But.....bike lanes do slow down vehicle traffic..a statement, not a judgment.

 
At 8:09 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

Rocky's dad, what are you talking about? If Rob is using those numbers to argue that bikes shouldn't be given ROW space, then by that same "logic" (I use the term loosely), pedestrians should be given less ROW space also.

I'm trying to figure out where Rob is coming from. I obviously can't stick my head that far up my ass so I'm asking for a description of the view.

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, Mike, I can see that you some comprehension problems. You can review the comments to see why I cited the city's numbers on who actually uses our streets. You were saying that there were a lot more people riding bikes in SF, that I wasn't with-it enough to recognize that reality. I then cited the numbers put out by the MTA on city commuters. Remember? The point isn't about taking away space from pedestrians but that when you take away traffic lanes on busy streets to make bike lanes you're going to make traffic worse for the overwhelming majority of those who use that street, including Muni passengers. Got it?

 
At 9:03 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

I completely understand what you saying, but you are failing to acknowledge my point.

You argue that such a small number of people using one mode (bikes in this case) shouldn't be given ROW space. I'm taking it one step further. Since pedestrians are such a small portion also - then, by your logic, ROW space is being wasted on them as well.

 
At 9:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I'm trying to figure out where Rob is coming from."

Then you figured it out since the last comment?

Your point is irrelevant, since no one is advocating taking away space from pedestrians, while taking away traffic lanes on busy streets to make bike lanes is very much on the table.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

I guess we can keep going around in circles then Rob. Because as I see it, you are saying car traffic is more important because there is more of it. You argue to not give space to bikes because there aren't enough of them. Well then, the next step is for you to say that peds don't deserve space because their numbers are low also.

You obviously have a bias against one mode of transport or else you'd be applying your weak logic to all modes.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Whatever

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

Oh, I guess that doesn't fit the narrative. Whatever.

 
At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Daviator said...

C'mon, Mikesonn. Use your head. The study Rob is quoting is talking about people COMMUTING TO WORK. Very few people commute to work on foot. That doesn't mean that there are no pedestrians or that there shouldn't be space allocated for pedestrians. People walk all over their neighborhoods and the cities for lots of reasons, but aren't going to be counted in a commuting study.

Furthermore, the discussion is about VEHICLE lanes -- cars, buses, bikes, trains -- not about sidewalks, which I think everyone would agree are a good thing, except (apparently) you.

The argument you keep bringing up is just silly and doesn't add to any discussion.

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, Daviator has it right, except that in SF 9.4% of working people walk to work, which is a higher percentage than other cities. When I was a young worker, I often lived downtown---a lot of people live downtown---and walked to work. But the traffic issue is about traffic lanes and street parking. Sonn seems to think cyclists are an oppressed minority that's suffering in an unjust system. My point is the numbers show that they are a small minority, which leads to this question: Why should the city redesign its streets to benefit just that minority?

 
At 7:52 AM, Anonymous mikesonn said...

What about all the people who bike to places other then work? Same reasoning applies.

And I don't support pedestrians? Nice try.

 

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