Saturday, September 24, 2011

BikeThink and ThinkBike

When the Bicycle Coalition and the MTA had their meeting with the Dutch about making the city more bike-friendly, Matt Smith of the SF Weekly wasn't there, though he's a True Believer about bikes. He rides to work every day from the west side of town to the SF Weekly's offices south of Market Street.

But he sneers at bike advocates who attend those "bureaucratic pow-wows"; he calls them "urban-cycling activist types," who 

...suck the essence out of one of life's pleasures when they assert it's all about saving Mother Earth...You hear them talk a blue streak about global warming, as if increasing the number of bike trips in a few U.S. cities---San Francisco, Portland, New York---has any real effect on climate change when pitted against industrialization in China, India, and Brazil.

Smith apparently sees himself as more of a rebel who prefers events like Cyclocross, though he's really an "urban-cycling advocate" himself. (He flipped when we got the injunction against the city's Bicycle Plan.) This latest chest-thumping is like several years ago, when he sneered at city progressives, though obviously Smith too is just another San Francisco prog.

Wonder where city cyclists get all that attitude many of them display on city streets? It's because they really think they are better than the rest of us, and they're suprisingly candid about this arrogance. Smith assures his readers that he agrees with "municipal-bicycling advocates' core beliefs, that righteous cycling advocates are correct: Bike-riding will make you a better person."

The Guardian writer and bike guy Steve Jones told us this a couple of years ago: "We are better than motorists, by every important measure. We use less space and fewer resources and create less waste and pollution."   

And like a lot of city progressives, Smith has long believed in residential highrises:

A real urbanist might focus less on bike lanes and more on convincing City Hall to approve a dozen skyscrapers like the 709-unit One Rincon Hill. They'd go further toward reducing dependency upon[sic] automobiles, because they'd have allowed 80,000 more condo-dwellers to live within walking distance of work. Some of the same people who show up for bike meetings, however, are among the loudest in decrying "gentrification" or "overdevelopment."

Smith doesn't worry about over-developing city neighborhoods, leading to even worse traffic problems than we have now. After all, the people who buy the pricey, high-rise condos on Rincon Hill can ride bikes to work, to Tiffany's on Union Square, or to Zuni once they realize they're no longer dependent on their cars. ("Honey, do we really need our Mercedes anymore now that we live here? We can just ride bikes everywhere.")

I was pleased, by the way, to see that the confab with the Dutch was called "ThinkBike," since I coined "BikeThink" more than five years ago to describe the mindset of the bike cultists, who, like all True Believers, end up parodying themselves.

But City Hall seems to share Smith's vision of a highrise San Francisco. See the Planning Department's height map for Market and Van Ness, which, as per Smith's goofball vision, will have 20-30-and 40-story highrises.

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