Sunday, February 19, 2012

Get out of their way 2

Photo by Scott James for Bay City

Recall that we've encountered Morgan Fitzgibbons before. Like all religious fanatics, he and the bike people keep coming at you with their planet-saving message. Fitzgibbons, of something called the Wigg Party, has an op-ed in the current Bay Guardian on his disappointment that Mayor Lee and MTA haven't immediately implemented the latest anti-car "improvement" to the Panhandle: taking away street parking to make a protected bike lane between Baker and Scott Streets.

Turns out that Fitzgibbons's hysterial rant (below in italics) has no factual basis, since of course the MTA is planning to eliminate 80-100 parking spaces---in a neighborhood where street parking is scarce---to make protected bike lanes so that cyclists will feel "comfortable" riding on that part of the Panhandle.

Making cyclists "comfortable" is what this project is all about, since there's no evidence of any safety emergency due to Panhandle traffic, and there's already a bike lane on Fell Street. Check out the MTA's presentation for the recent community meetings explaining the great "need" for this project, page 15: "Fell Street bike lane not comfortable for many cyclists," and page 16: "[cyclists]Not comfortable riding with cars."

According to the MTA, this anti-car project is on schedule, but Mayor Lee will be interested in how his appointee, Christina Olague, does in November in her election campaign. As a San Francisco progressive---and a practiced opportunist---Olague will have her finger to the wind on the Panhandle issue. If there's any political advantage in doing so, she'll dump the bike nuts just like she dumped the Green Party and city progs who opposed Mayor Lee's appointment as interim mayor. Her comment on the Panhandle project in the Bay Guardian was carefully crafted to keep her options open. 

As the Haight-Ashbury Improvement Association has pointed out, the bike lanes on Oak and Fell are unnecessary, since nearby Page and Hayes Streets can already provide "comfort" for nervous cyclists.

Of course the Bicycle Coalition supports this "improvement."

Fitzgibbons's rant from last year.

Mayor Lee's vanishing bike lanes
The mayor's resolution to create better bike lanes was exciting---until he broke it
by Morgan Fitzgibbons

OPINION When Mayor Ed Lee announced in February 2011 that he understood both the critical importance and the severe dangers inherent in the current bicycle infrastructure along the dual three-block stretches of Fell and Oak between Scott and Baker, a shot went through the community of people who had worked for so long to bring awareness to this troubled path.

Finally, it seemed, we had a mayor who understood that if San Francisco was serious about living up to its own nearly 40-year-old pledge to be a transit-first city, a narrow bike lane sandwiched between parked cars and fast-moving traffic on Fell Street and a complete absence of any bicycle infrastructure on Oak simply wouldn't do.

Finally, we had a mayor who wouldn't be satisfied with mere words on a page, who had the courage to carve out one single safe bike route from the east side of town to the west, to create a viable alternative to automobile transportation, to prepare our city for the inevitable challenges presented by climate change, peak oil, and economic collapse, and to do it in the face of the predictable objections from a few small-picture citizens who couldn't look at the 60 square feet of a parking spot and imagine anything other than a privately owned two-ton pile of steel taking up precious public space.

The community of people who had waited nearly 40 years for the city to live up to its own word kept on waiting throughout 2011, patiently allowing the Municipal Transportation Agency to perform its due diligence, attending multiple public meetings in the hundreds, and delivering a resounding verdict: bring us our separated bike lanes. Make this neighborhood a better place to live. Begin the long work of preparing our city for a way of living that doesn't center around the automobile.

With the public process complete and the calendar turning to nearly one year since Lee called for the MTA to "move quickly" to create separated bike lanes on Fell and Oak, the MTA handed down a jarring announcement. The Fell and Oak Bikeways were being delayed because the agency needed to take extra time to do all that could be done to find nearby replacements for the 80 parking spots set to be removed for the bike lanes.

That's right — in a city that has for 40 years had an explicit policy of giving preference to transit options that weren't the automobile, in a city that, nevertheless, has over 440,000 public parking spots and zero safe, accessible bike routes from the east side of town to the west, the creation of a separated bikeway that the vast majority of the community wants, and that the mayor's own newly appointed District Supervisor, Christina Olague, is in support of, was being delayed by nearly a year so that the loss of private automobile parking would be as small as possible.

How does this happen? In a word: fear. The mayor and MTA are afraid of ruffling a few feathers to do what they know is right.

Cities like New York, Portland, and Minneapolis are leapfrogging us in building the cities of tomorrow. Chicago is creating 100 miles of separated bike lanes in the next four years. Don't call us America's Greenest City — you're thinking of the San Francisco of 40 years ago.

Morgan Fitzgibbons is co-founder of the Wigg Party, a Western Addition neighborhood sustainability group.

 

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22 Comments:

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were two bike/car crashes in 24 hrs this past week at Fell/Divis.

Not safe. You're wrong.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

There were accidents happening all over the city during that time, but almost all of them had nothing to do with street design; they the result of reckless and/or unsafe driving. Fell and Diviz is not on the city's list of most dangerous intersections.

 
At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there's any political advantage in doing so, she'll dump the bike nuts.

200 bucks says she finds out the political advantage is to being pro-bike.

 
At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were accidents happening all over the city during that time, but almost all of them had nothing to do with street design; they the result of reckless and/or unsafe driving.

Sounds like the motorists are reckless and unsafe. If that's the case, fuck them, let's take away lanes. Maybe they can have them back if they can learn to drive safely.

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, that's the attitude that will help your small, obnoxious minority advance its agenda.

But the post---and Fitzgibbons's op-ed---is talking about the alleged "severe dangers" to cyclists on the Panhandle, for which there's no evidence.

Other goofy points made by Fitzgibbons:

That "transit first" means bicycles is ludicrous even though your enablers in City Hall rewrote the City Charter to include bikes in the definition. People who learn this for the first time are incredulous and then contemptuous of the back-door legalism.

That Mayor Newsom was somehow deficient as a Bikes First mayor. In fact he gave you jerks everything you asked for.

That riding a bike is the only "viable alternative to automobile transportation," when obviously that's Muni, not bikes.

That somehow peak oil, climate change, and "economic collapse" will force people to take up riding bikes.

That "the vast majority of the community" wants what you jerks want.

That Mayor Lee is motivated by "fear," when in fact this project is on schedule and will be implemented regardless of what people want.

Spokesmen like Fitzgibbon don't do your cause any good, since his piece is full of misinformation, self-righteousness and a hint of self-pity: cyclists are victims!

 
At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Rob, but YOU are the small obnoxious minority, not the cyclists. I too was hit at the corner of Fell/Divis a couple of years ago due to no fault of my own. I was biking in the bike lane and a car cut me off to enter the gas station. Since you clearly follow the SFBC's updates, you may know that biking has increased 71% in the past 5 years. SF is committed to being a transit, ped and bike first city and we can all expect that there will be continued infrastructure improvements for many years.

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger Caleb said...

I've never read an internet blog where the author calls everyone stupid but himself and offers neither a fair representation of the issue nor any sort of compromise.

 
At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your child was in the bike lane, you would retract your statements. Fascist

 
At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That riding a bike is the only "viable alternative to automobile transportation," when obviously that's Muni, not bikes.

MUNI is a piece of shit.

 
At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please sign our neighborhood petition to find a compromise that keeps our beloved neighborhood livable to families, residents and small business.

http://www.change.org/petitions/preserving-quality-of-life-sign-to-urge-the-city-not-to-eliminate-parking-on-fell-oak

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I've never read an internet blog where the author calls everyone stupid but himself and offers neither a fair representation of the issue nor any sort of compromise."

Well, then this is a first for you, dummy. Please share with us your version of "a fair representation of the issue" and a possible compromise. I provide a link to the city's presentation of the project and the full text of Fitzgibbons's op-ed.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I'm sorry Rob, but YOU are the small obnoxious minority, not the cyclists. I too was hit at the corner of Fell/Divis a couple of years ago due to no fault of my own. I was biking in the bike lane and a car cut me off to enter the gas station. Since you clearly follow the SFBC's updates, you may know that biking has increased 71% in the past 5 years. SF is committed to being a transit, ped and bike first city and we can all expect that there will be continued infrastructure improvements for many years."

What's the deal with the widespread, passive-aggressive "I'm sorry" preface to lame and tame opinions? It's as if you don't completely own the opinion you're expressing, not to mention the anonymity, which suggests the same thing.

I of course don't think you should ride a bike at all. When something goes wrong or you have a collision with a motor vehicle, you're the one who's going to suffer, regardless of who's at fault.

You and the folks at SFBC and Streetsblog keep repeating those percentages, but putting it that way exaggerates the significance of the increase.

Cyclists were 2.1% of the commuting population in 2000, and they were 3.5% in 2010, a not-very-impressive 1.4% increase in ten years! In other words, 96.5% of city commuters don't ride bikes to work.

Taking away 90-100 street parking spaces to make bike lanes is of course an "improvement" to your minority movement, but not to the many residents who have a hard time finding a place to park.

The numbers above show that you and your lobbying group, the SF Bicycle Coalition, are in a small minority in SF. Until now the SFBC and City Hall have been able to keep the Bicycle Plan and all the other "improvements" to our streets off the ballot. I suspect that if/when the voters of SF ever get a chance to vote on this stuff, you folks would be in for a shock.

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until now the SFBC and City Hall have been able to keep the Bicycle Plan and all the other "improvements" to our streets off the ballot. I suspect that if/when the voters of SF ever get a chance to vote on this stuff, you folks would be in for a shock.

You've been calling for this for several years now. It's been proven over and over that it's pretty simple to put a proposition on the ballot in SF - yet it never happens. Occam's razor - this is because the population against bike lanes is very small. Noisy and obnoxious perhaps - but clearly in the minority.

 
At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was also hit by a car on that stretch in 2010. The driver simply failed to look before turning onto fell.

Rob, if you're curious to know what it feels like to be hit by a car please let me know.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Bulllshit! What's your name, and when did the accident happen? Please provide a copy of the police report or a story in the paper to document your claim.

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"You've been calling for this for several years now. It's been proven over and over that it's pretty simple to put a proposition on the ballot in SF---yet it never happens."

It just doesn't "happen." You have to hire signature-gatherers to make it happen, which is very expensive. Of course the mayor or the Board of Supervisors could do it, but they would never take that chance.

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Cyclists were 2.1% of the commuting population in 2000, and they were 3.5% in 2010, a not-very-impressive 1.4% increase in ten years!"

Not impressive...just like the following: my studio apartment was worth 2.1% of one million dollars in 2000 and 3.5% of one million dollars in 2010. Just a 1.4% increase in 10 years....that sucks!

 
At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just doesn't "happen." You have to hire signature-gatherers to make it happen, which is very expensive.

BULLSHIT! Please link to any evidence you must pay signature gatherers to make it happen.

 
At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/04/san-francisco-circumcision-ban-makes-november-ballot

This guy spent NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS and he got on the ballot. You call that "very expensive"? Fine, I call 3.5% mode share for bike commuting very impressive. And I'm actually right.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, I call $9,000 expensive, since I'm on Social Security. 3.5% is up only 1.4% since 2000. Only True Believers in the bike fantasy like you believe that's "very impressive."

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So between all these people in the silent majority that don't want traffic screwed up you can't raise nine grand? The SFBC raises nine grand before lunch.

Maybe because all those bike lane haters went broke filling their car with gas. Oh yeah peak oil is a myth.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The SFBC "raises" a lot of money from city taxpayers.

 

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