Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bike demagogue takes a break

Photo of Michael Helquist from Bike Nopa

Bike Guy Michael Helquist, after working for two years to get the city to screw up Masonic Avenue, is taking a break. Pushing City Hall to redesign Masonic to make it "comfortable" for city cyclists---and jam up traffic for more than 44,000 people who use it every day---is now up to Streetsblog and the Bicycle Coalition.

Helquist provides a retrospective view of his activities:

"Part of my impetus resulted from the initial hesitation of neighborhood leaders to endorse more bike lanes through NOPA in 2009. In that case it was lanes for McAllister and Masonic---proposals that were later dropped from the city's bike plan."

Typical mix of misinformation and lack of information. Which "neighborhood leaders" could he be referring to? Hard to think of any that aren't on board for the Bicycle Plan. And both McAllister and Masonic were in fact in the Plan. McAllister was only proposed for "sharrows," not for taking away street parking or a traffic lane to make bike lanes, since it's only a two-lane street. They could have tried to take away all the street parking on McAllister, but, since most of the neighborhood between McCallister and Divisadero is African-American, that would have caused a major row in City Hall. Masonic too was in the Plan, but it wasn't put on the list of priority streets at the end of the EIR process, because it was deemed to need more "study"---which probably means City Hall realized it was going to be a major project that would need some pre-emptive community "outreach" to quell any neighborhood opposition. 

"a partial re-design of Divisadero that revitalized the corridor"

This is simply untrue. The Divisadero makeover was strictly cosmetic, except for a much-needed repaving of the surface of the street. There was no "re-design," since all the city did was some landscaping and replace the street lights. They also put a bulb-out by the bus stops that backs up traffic into the intersection when a #24 bus pulls over. Supervisor Mirkarimi made the same claim about the Divisadero makeover in an attempt to conflate Diviz with what he, the Bicycle Coalition, and Helquist want to do to Masonic, which is a major re-design, since it's going to take away all the street parking to make bike lanes between Fell Street and Geary Blvd.

"a surge of advocacy for a safer approach to Divisadero on the Wiggle bike route"

The militant fringe of the bike movement tried to get City Hall to eliminate the Fell Street entrance to the Arco station at Divisadero and Fell, since the bike lane is on the same side of the street, and cars often block the lane waiting to get into the station. Why not simply put the bike lane on the other side of the street? I've never heard a sensible answer to that question. Besides, there's no evidence that the intersection has any more accidents than any other in the area. Even anti-car City Hall refused to submit to that "surge of advocacy," though naturally Mirkarimi supported the idea. City Hall understood that if the entrance to the station on Fell Street was eliminated, all that traffic would be re-routed to an already-congested Divisadero.

"a push for a safer Masonic for all road users, a grass-roots campaign that few expected to succeed until last May when the plan cleared a public hearing"

There's no evidence that Masonic is unsafe for anyone now, but that didn't stop Helquist from shamelessly using the death of a cyclist hit by a drunk driver to convince people that some kind of bloodbath is happening on Masonic.

"a vision to transform Fell and Oak between Scott and Baker (and then beyond to Stanyan) for safer transportation with new separated bike routes"

Once Masonic Avenue is screwed up, traffic on Fell and Oak Streets is next on the anti-car agenda, even though cyclists heading to and from the Wiggle can now use Hayes Street and Page Street. It's really about making it difficult to drive in the city.

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