Monday, December 20, 2010

Chronicle editorial: flab-gab and misinformation


The editorial on cycling in yesterday's Chronicle manages to say less than nothing, since it distorts the issues and omits crucial information, making it a net loss as a contribution to public understanding:

The city's network of lanes and suggested riding streets is little known, one side-effect of an obstructionist lawsuit that delayed bike lane work for four years until this year. The learning curve has barely begun.

This falsehood comes after the editorial tells us in the opening paragraph that bike riding in SF has increased by 50% in the last four years. The successful litigation on the city's Bicycle Plan didn't prevent the city from educating the public about existing bike lanes. It was only about making the city follow the law by doing the required environmental study of that major project that will redesign city streets on behalf of a small minority of cyclists.

Since cycling has actually increased during the litigation and the injunction, the moral of the story is that bike lanes have nothng to do with riding a bike in San Francisco, which is now fashionable among the generation of young people flocking here to work out their Mommy and Daddy issues on the streets of our city. Whereas a previous generation had drugs, tie-dyed shirts, and long hair to signify their way of life, this generation sees the bicycle as a crucial accessory for a politically correct way of life here in Progressive Land.

Cycling's rising popularity doesn't make it immune to opposition. Other cities, notably New York, have faced revolt and taken out bike lanes where neighbors, drivers and merchants objected. No such rebellion has happened here, perhaps because an expansion of bike programs was held up by legal delays and is only now rolling out.

What New York and San Francisco have in common: people there also never had a chance to vote on bicycle lanes. Mayor Bloomberg, like Mayor Newsom, fancies himself as a green visionary eager to impose these "improvements" on the people of his city, whether they like it or not.
 
The crucial information the Chronicle editorial omits: the Bicycle Plan will take away traffic lanes on busy city streets to make bike lanes, which, as the EIR on the Plan told us, is going to screw up traffic on those streets and delay a number of Muni lines.
 
San Francisco is just beginning to do the hard part by implementing the Bicycle Plan on busy city streets, like Second Street, Fifth Street, and Cesar Chavez. Bike lanes will also be installed on Masonic Avenue early next year, which will slow down traffic and delay the #43 Muni line on that street.

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