Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Tearing down the Embarcadero Freeway

Carl Nolte's head ("Nobody's nostalgic for the freeway to nowhere") on his latest column about the Embarcadero Freeway misstates the reality---or half the reality---as he acknowledges in the piece. Chinatown businesses didn't want the freeway torn down because they liked where it went, namely, to Chinatown:

Mayor Art Agnos finally came down on the side of demolition; that tipped the scales, and the freeway was gone by the fall of '91. Two months later, Agnos lost his bid for re-election. The Chinatown business community had supported the freeway; it was good for business, they said. When it went, they turned on Agnos, and he lost the election by 6,272 votes.

And then they turned to Mayor Brown, who made the Central Subway deal with Rose Pak, which is the real price the city is paying for taking down the Embarcadero Freeway.

Since the city is chipping in $126 million in Prop. K money and $163 million in city parking revenues to build the subway, how seriously can we take Muni's $21 million deficit? (And another $148 million for the Transbay Transit station!) Seems like the transportation money in SF is nothing but a shell game, with money being shifted hither and yon to pay for everything but to take care of a system that has 707,459 boardings every weekday.

I'm not arguing that the Embarcadero Freeway shouldn't have been torn down; it was an awful blot on the city's landscape. But the Central Subway is an expensive project we could have done without---and it's going to cost Muni $8.84 million in annual operating expenses once it's built.

Maybe Nolte will favor us next with a column about the Central Freeway, Octavia Boulevard fiasco, another well-intentioned project with unintended consequences.

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NOPNA joins Helquist to screw up Masonic

Like Michael Helquist the folks at NOPNA are trying to legitimize how the city is getting ready to screw up Masonic Avenue on behalf of the city's bike people: 373 people took their survey! 81.8% of the 45 people who actually live on Masonic support screwing up its traffic! Not very impressive numbers considering that Masonic carries more than 32,000 vehicles a day (page 26) and more than 12,000 people (page 27) ride the #43 Masonic bus every day. According to the city's own numbers, there's no evidence that Masonic is unsafe for anyone, but the anti-car bike movement must be served and motorists must be punished here in Progressive Land.

For his part, Helquist broke his arm again while riding his bike, forcing him to get around on foot, which he evidently found a scary experience:

Pedestrian advocates may counter that my resolution is already the law of the land, but the laws don't seem to be working, not with the pedestrian injury and death statistics as high as they are in San Francisco. A pedestrian first code sets a higher standard, a commitment to do no harm to people who cannot or choose not to travel on wheels. And those of us biking or driving should protect ourselves: do we want to live with the fact that we damaged or ended someone's life because of our distracted, careless, or aggressive behavior? Sometimes we need to adopt our own code of safe behavior.

My recommendation for Helquist: stay home, stay in bed, pull the covers up over your head. Then you'll be safe.

I'm older than Helquist, and I walk on city streets every day without feeling endangered.

Something the city is doing is working, since, contrary to Helqluist's claim, the numbers show that our streets are getting safer every year. But the anti-car movement has to keep up the hysteria to justify screwing up city traffic on behalf of the PC minority with the effective political lobby.

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