Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Backlash against City Hall's anti-car, pro-bike policies


Last week's op-ed in the Bay Guardian by Morgan Fitzgibbons provoked a flurry of negative comments from its online readers. (The Guardian's Political Blog, by the way, is often worth a look to see what the city's lefties are up to.) It's not unusual to see such comments on SFGate when the Chronicle publishes something about the Bicycle Plan or Critical Mass, but it's interesting that negative comments about the influence of city cyclists are showing up even on the Guardian:

...I don't agree with Rob Anderson's views on bikes, but I certainly enjoy his beating these idiots at their own scheming legalese game. I ride a bike all over the city, I did a few miles before I sat[down to] read this ode to entitlement by Morgan. I see bikes as a valid way to get around, I don't see it as a white liberal entitlement to bike lanes and the removal of parking like Morgan. Morgan's ravings about community are just amazing too. A bunch of entitled carpet baggers feel that they are owed something because they showed up in SF, this is community now? Decontextualizing words is the new power color. The use of language by these people is amazing, "and something that we as a city need in order to continue functioning as a society." Yes, we should let man children tell us what we as a society need.

City Hall's anti-car "improvement" on Portola:

The city removed a turn lane from Portola onto Fowler---the outside turn lane which allowed residents of the neighborhood clear egress into their neighborhood without having to wait for cars turning into the adjacent Tower Market shopping complex (which is the market many residents of Twin Peaks, Glen Park, Midtown Terrace, St. Francis Wood, Forest Hills and Mt. Davidson shop at). They replaced it with a turn lane reserved for bikes. The consequence? At rush hour the backup of cars waiting to turn onto Fowler sometimes stretches back into the major intersection of O'Shaughnessy and Portola...So the answer is, yes---it is creating traffic jams. And since that bike turn lane has been installed I have not seen a single bicyclist using it. Such brilliance on the part of the bike fascists who've taken over the transportation planning department in this city.

Another commenter on Portola:

The bike lanes on Upper Market and Portola are genius! They removed an entire lane of traffic for bike lanes which an average of 75 people a day use---up hills with a 20-30 degree grade---meaning only the fittest of the fit can even attempt them. In this town the squeaky wheel gets the grease and the Bike Coalition is the squeakiest of them all.

Fitzgibbons claims to speak for the neighborhood around the Panhandle, where the city plans taking away 80-90 street parking spaces to make protected bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets between Baker and Scott. This reader is skeptical:

The bike mob would be crushed in an election, which is why they prefer to hijack city meetings by cramming them with activists, hoping that the average Joe won't notice. I cannot fathom why these people are so totally self-absorbed. What drives them to such excesses? I don't know but watching the kamikazi way they ride might furnish a clue.

Who are the cyclists? This reader thinks he knows:

It's like we've let these kids play unsupervised in the sandpit too long and now they think they own it, us and everything. Time to slap these priviliged white guys down a little. There's a backlash brewing---people are starting to notice how this tiny minority of self-absorbed bikers have hijacked transportation policy and we are getting PISSED.

Another agrees:

Stats? Stand on Market St. and watch them go by. 95% are white and the rest are Asian. I rarely see blacks or hispanics on bikes even though you'd think, being poorer, they'd use bikes more. No, cycling is for young, fit, healthy, white self-absorbed pompous asses. and as far as they care, the rest of us don't matter.

And another:

...while almost anyone can be a driver, a pedestrian or a bus user, only those who are fairly young, fit and fearless can ride a bike, and the old and the disabled cannot use them at all. So the bike lobby is a relatively small cross section who make a lot of noise but don't represent the majority. Bikers are overwhelmingly white, young and have a sense of entitlement.

When Fitzgibbons defended how his allies in City Hall changed the city's charter to make bikes part of the definition of "transit first," I was unimpressed. Since this is my blog, I get the last word:

Yes, I know you bike people and your enablers in City Hall changed the City Charter's definition of "transit first" to include bicycles, as if that somehow legitimizes scorning the transportation "modes" of everyone else.

There's no evidence that Oak and Fell Street are particularly dangerous for cyclists, though I wouldn't ride a bike there. But then I wouldn't ride a bike anywhere in the city, because it's inherently risky. The notion that City Hall is obligated to make you and your comrades "comfortable" riding a bike on those streets shows a remarkably inflated sense of entitlement.

80 parking spaces in that neighborhood is a very big deal, since street parking is scarce. I used to live on Grove Street and moved my roommate's car before the street cleaners when she was out of town. It was a difficult task, since, as I say, street parking is in very short supply there. Rich people always have a garage for parking, but many others don't.

Take away those parking spaces, and motorists who live in that neighborhood will end of circling even longer to find a place to park, which will indeed make traffic worse and cause more pollution.

Your Johnny-come-lately account of recent SF history is bogus. Mayor Newsom gave you folks everything you and the Bicycle Coalition asked for, but of course it was never enough.

I lived in SF 40 years ago, and it was already a great city then, and it still is. We don't need you and your generation's bike lanes to make this city great.

In a recent Guardian story, Supervisor Olague, by the way, didn't sound completely convinced about supporting this project. Now that she has to face District 5 voters in November---she never had to do that as a planning commissioner---it will be interesting to see which way she flops on this one.

The November election will also be a good opportunity for her to justify the awful development projects she supported as a commissioner: UC's rip-off of the old extension property on lower Haight Street, the Market/Octavia project, the Rincon Hill highrises, not to mention voting to implement the Bicycle Plan with no environmental review only to be rebuked by the Superior Court.

And you can be sure that she will have opposition on the ballot to provide District 5 voters an alternative to this project and the city's plan to screw up Masonic Avenue just in time for the opening of the new Target store at Geary and Masonic.

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16 Comments:

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on gathering all of the most ill-informed and hate-filled comments on one page!

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bike lanes on Upper Market and Portola are genius! They removed an entire lane of traffic for bike lanes which an average of 75 people a day use---up hills with a 20-30 degree grade---meaning only the fittest of the fit can even attempt them.

Another fact free comment reprinted by Rob Anderson! Upper Market does not exceed 5% in gradient, nor does Portola.

19th and Sloat, the entrance to Portola, has counts of 61 bikes per day during just the hours of 4:30-6:30 PM. Extrapolating that any way you want, the commenter is lying.

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous sfpedestrian said...

The guy that wrote " I lived in SF 40 years ago, and it was already a great city then" got it right: SF was a very Livable City until these kind with their smug, essentially middle-America suburban ideas about what hip urban living is like got here. They are trying to retrofit the SF landscape into how they remember their childhood, pedaling down wide tree lined streets with strips of grass bordering the sidewalks and no auto traffic.

These bike /Livable City types have taken advantage of the essential laissez faire good nature of the long-term residents to sneak through their agenda and suddenly these residents are realizing how gullible they've been. While these residents were in the process of living their day-to-day lives this group of new arrivals was working invisible to turn SF into a suburb of Cleveland.

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob - this is all well and good as is the rest of the stuff on your blog, but clearly you are missing the big picture as you claim you are a DEMOCRAT. The assault on drivers by the Bike Nazis is NOTHING compared to the assault on drivers by your buddy OBUMMER.

Kills the XL Pipeline and has promised to veto the Transportation Bill which gets rid of crap for pedestrians and includes drilling in ANWR. This is why we have $4.50 gas and rising. People are whining about paying $300 to rent a spot in a garage, with OBUMMER in charge we'll be paying $300 just to fill our gas tank!

 
At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Rob for posting these comments. Everyone should be free to express their views, I did not see any "hate-filled comments". Having said that, you should know I bike every weekend for several hours each day. I do it because of the exercise and enjoyment, but I don't ever consider biking a means to solve all the ills of the city, state, nation and world. Biking should not be practiced as a religion....and if people choose to then I suggest we impose a strict separation of that religion from the State!

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Kills the XL Pipeline and has promised to veto the Transportation Bill which gets rid of crap for pedestrians and includes drilling in ANWR. This is why we have $4.50 gas and rising."

Even if drilling is allowed in ANWR and President Obama okayed the XL Pipeline, neither of those sources would be available in the US for years. The latest oil price spike seems to be mostly about the Middle East, especially Iran.

Except for Ron Paul, the Repug candidates seem eager to start a war with Iran, while President Obama continues to use economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran. War in the Middle East would spike oil prices dramatically and cause another world-wide recession. I'm sticking with President Obama.

 
At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

I think Israel is eager to start a war with Iran.

 
At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are sticking with Obama? And you call the bike riders nazis. Pot kettle black. Oh I mean Pot Kettle "African American".

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I call some people bike "nuts," not Nazis, and I'm trying to wean myself off even that insult. Bike "zealot" is a possible alternative. Instead of calling people "nuts," I should be showing why their thought/behavior is nuts, not loading the deck with an epithet.

Obama is a Nazi? I've heard Moslem, Kenyan, and socialist but not that. Otherwise you got it right.

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Nazi party was the National Socialist Party and their newest member is Obummer

 
At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Biker said...

Turning this into a racial issue is ridiculous, go to the mission and take a look for yourself. Poor, wealthy, black, white, asian, mexican and more bike riders use the Valencia bike lane all day long. Just because you live at the top of a hill where only other rich white people live doesn't mean that we don't need bike lane around the rest of the city where the less privileged reside.

 
At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

I ride my bike as much as I can in the city. So I guess I'm "pro-bike," but I also totally agree with a lot of what Rob writes. The city should have done an EIR on the bike plan. The bike coalition does try to leverage a late-night drunk driving accident into saying a whole area is unsafe for bikes.. and I don't blow through stops signs!

My point is that not all of us "bike people" are "Bike People."

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Anonymous who thinks Obama is a socialist is an outlier here in SF. If Obama is a socialist, so was FDR and every Democratic president since, not to mention Republican presidents who lived comfortably with Social Security and labor laws upholding the rights of workers.

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"My point is that not all of us "bike people" are "Bike People."

I understand that. Cyclists like you---probably a majority---are embarrassed by the antics of some of your fellow cyclists and the demagogic behavior of the Bicycle Coalition, which doesn't seem to think that a political backlash is possible. Maybe they're right, but if they're wrong, the bike revolution will be over here in Progressive Land, and local politicians will start scurrying for cover.

 
At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maybe they're right, but if they're wrong, the bike revolution will be over here in Progressive Land, and local politicians will start scurrying for cover."

Well, they are right. And if the "silent majority" can't raise $9k to put something on the ballot, the politicians have nothing to worry about.

 
At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Bicycle Coalition, which doesn't seem to think that a political backlash is possible...

Au contraire. The bike coalition knows that a political backlash is very possible. We are experiencing it today - every bike lane, pedestrian improvement, increase in parking fines, etc... is backlash against the poor decision making that led to an auto-centric culture.

This IS the backlash.

 

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