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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