Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wiggle and the Panhandle


C.W. Nevius's latest column on the Wiggle adds nothing new to the discussion. That cyclists using that route routinely ignore stop signs as they speed to wherever they're in such a hurry to get is not news to anyone who's spent even a few minutes on the Wiggle or anywhere else on city streets. The Wiggle has always been promoted as a flat, quick, and more or less convenient way for cyclists to get to Market Street from this part of the city.

That reckless behavior---mainly about the sheer speed at which many cyclists race through that residential neighborhood---is belatedly getting some attention from city cops and the media. Years ago when I complained about the behavior of cyclists on city streets, commenters accused me of making it up because I was "anti-bike." The reality is that cyclists are a special interest group that's long been coddled by City Hall. Indeed, when traffic policy is made at the MTA, the SFCTA, and the Board of Supervisors, the Bicycle Coalition has in effect occupied City Hall.

Nevius is known for being sensitive to which way the wind is blowing from City Hall. Could it be, in the wake of the recent parking meter fiasco in Dogpatch and Portrero Hill, that even City Hall is beginning to understand that its anti-car policies aren't universally popular in the neighborhoods?

Cyclists are claiming too that the city is delaying installing the Panhandle bike lanes because of neighborhood opposition to removing parking spaces on Oak and Fell Street, but the city claims that the project---designed to make cyclists "comfortable" riding in Panhandle traffic---is still on schedule. Maybe Nevius will devote a column to exploring this issue, since these lanes are being pushed as a crucial link to the Wiggle.

Parking is a big issue in this neighborhood. I count 39 spaces on Fell Street and 51 spaces on Oak Street that will be removed to make those protected bike lanes between Scott and Baker Streets.

Nevius's column is apparently based on schmoozing with people who live on the Wiggle---at least he went out to look at it---and an uncritical reference to the city's recent bicycle count report: "Bike ridership in the city has shot up 71 percent in the last five years, according to a survey[2011 Bicycle Count Report] released by the city's Municipal Transportation Agency in December."

Sounds pretty impressive, until you take a closer look at the numbers. The city uses 2006 as its base year, when it did the first count. All counts are done during commute hours: 4,862 cyclists were counted in 2006, and 8,314 were counted in 2010. That's a substantial gain in absolute numbers to be sure, but in the context of city traffic overall, it's not particulary significant. Masonic Avenue alone handles more than 32,000 vehicles a day, and the Panhandle sees more than 67,000 vehicles a day on Oak and Fell Streets combined.

Look at the percentages: page 6 of the latest report tells us that "SFMTA survey data in 2011 indicate that 3.5% of all trips in San Francisco are made by bicycle, a 75% increase in mode share since 2000 when bicycling was 2% of daily trips." The city seems to be conflating the commuting percentage with the "all trips" percentage. The city's latest Transportation Fact Sheet says that in 2000 2.1% of city commuters rode bikes, while in 2010 3.5% did so, a gain of 1.4% in eleven years (not the +1.9% the city erroneously puts in the "change" column). That's a paltry .13% increase a year during a time when the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall were intensively propagandizing city residents with pro-bike and anti-car messages.

And what happened to the 6% of "all trips by bicycle" claimed in the 2010 Bicycle Count Report? Not to mention the "estimated daily number of bicycle trips" of 128,000 in that report (see page 4). The current estimate of "daily bicycle riders in San Francisco" is way down to 75,000.

Nevius cites the death of the pedestrian hit by a cyclist last year: "We don't want to see another incident like the bicyclist who struck a tourist in the crosswalk at Embarcadero and Mission in July. The 68-year-old woman eventually died of her injuries." What was just as shocking as the accident: the failure of city reporters to follow-up on why the District Attorney failed to deal with the case until after the November election. The media accepted the D.A.'s story that they didn't get the autopsy from the coroner until shortly before the election. Why not ask the coroner if that was true?

Nevius's two recent columns on the Wiggle got a lot of online comments, many of them critical of the bike people. Morgan Fitzgibbons accuses Nevius of pandering to anti-bike readers with the critical column, but the many comments only demonstrate how the bike people are becoming more of an annoyance on city streets. Fitzgibbons even claims that cyclists in SF are victims of "rampant prejudice"!

One comment compared the civility of cyclists in Basel, Switzerland, to those in SF: "Every bike[in Switzerland] must carry an insurance sticker. But, I am told, if a cyclist hits a pedestrian in a cross walk, nothing will save him/her from severe punishment."

The problem with the bike trip in SF is that the movement was born with a rebel ethos, with Critical Mass and admiration for bike messengers as "cool" role models. Hence, many young people arrive here to work out their Mommy and Daddy issues and think that it's  cool to act out on our streets.

We need to remember that San Francisco is home to 120,000 college students. City politics often seem juvenile to outsiders because, to a large extent, it reflects that democraphic.

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36 Comments:

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Morganic said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What was just as shocking as the accident: the failure of city reporters to follow-up on why the District Attorney failed to deal with the case until after the November election. The media accepted the D.A.'s story that they didn't get the autopsy from the coroner until shortly before the election. Why not ask the coroner if that was true?"

I see your tin foil hat is firmly in place.

And since when do SFGate comments get quoted? What the fuck is wrong with you?

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why shouldn't comments on SFGate be quoted? And why do you think the DA didn't made a decision on that accident until after the election? Was it the coroner's fault or was Gascon just waiting until after the election?

 
At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the DA's inability to charge a driver for hitting a pedestrian is a much bigger black eye on the agency than your "theory" [used loosely] that they waited to make a decision. At least they fucking made one.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Fitzgibbons tried to remove his witless comment above, but it's too late! Here it is:

"Hey Rob,When I suggest bikers are the victim of rampant prejudice, I'm talking about you.

Love,
Mr. Cute Movement"

Oh yes, you poor babies. It's such a shock when you realize that, unlike Mommy and Daddy, not everyone thinks you're so clever

 
At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the city claims that the project---designed to make cyclists "comfortable" riding in Panhandle traffic

Quotes? Is that an exact quote?!!!

 
At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought he hit all your stupid stereotypes on the head in one comment, he should of left it up so thanks for reposting it!

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Morganic said...

Well Rob, I just sent you a private note explaining why I deleted my comment but you already betrayed my right to do that.

What I just privately wrote you still stands: that comment is the same "needless antagonism" for which I just took Nevius to task, and I retract it. It is true that I believe you are one of the leaders of the rampant prejudice against bicyclists, but my antagonism isn't needed.

That I signed it Mr. Cute Movement belies my feeling that you don't know a thing about me, my relationship to my parents, or others of my generation. But keep on trying to belittle us using some crackpot theory you made up probably because your own mommy and daddy didn't love you enough (note: I don't have any way of knowing this, but I can't think of another reason where this theory of yours comes from).

Once again, I retract my comment. And my private email to you is to let you know that I'm interested in a respectful conversation, not name calling. But you can continue to be a very large baby if you like - I'm just not participating anymore.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, of course. It's a direct quote from the PDF file I linked, the city's remarkable presentation on the Panhandle bike lane proposal. See pages, 15, 16, and 17.

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Morgan:

I of course don't give a shit about you or your relationship with your parents. I posted a fact-based piece on the issues surrounding the Pandhandle bike lane proposal with links to a number of documents. Why not discuss the substantive points I make in the post?

The "Mommy and Daddy" dig is just an honest expression of my puzzlement at your sense of entitlement and the sense that so many of you young people seem to think your antics on the streets of the city are clever.

 
At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Anderson is the 1%

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

"We need to remember that San Francisco is home to 120,000 college students. City politics often seem juvenile to outsiders because, to a large extent, it reflects that democraphic [sic]."

1/8th of the population, that votes at a lower rate than the rest of the population, is now responsible for everything you don't like about the city?

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catholics calling for end of car dominance. Uh oh, Rob. You are looking more and more lonely.

http://www.uscatholic.org/cars

 
At 2:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Right, Catholics are so credible on the birth control issue, of course their ideas on traffic must be carefully considered.

 
At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SFGate comment = credible

Catholic comment = not credible

Which does Rob agree with?

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Try real hard to make sense, Anon. I don't care what Catholics---as Catholics---think about traffic, contraception, or anything else. What SF Gate comment are you referring to? About Switzerland? Is that controversial?

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob -thanks for your tireless crusade.

 
At 7:16 AM, Blogger Nato said...

Rob's tireless crusade is just signage of the times and the changes taking place upon this great globe.

In any case, I think you're misreading the statistics if you believe there are 120k college-age students here. SFSU has ~30k students, USF, UCSF, Hastings, and Golden Gate all add up to about 15k, and CCSF has 55k for-credit students, but when you look at the CCSF faculty size it's clear that many or even most of those aren't full time traditional students. Add that to the rather-older post-docs at UCSF and so on, and I think a more realistic number might be 55k total for the city. Having said that, there's a bunch of youths of approximately the right age who work at startups and that sort of thing.

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Signage of the times"! Pretty good, Nato. The 120,000 number isn't mine. I provided a link for the source, which is an article in the Chronicle on student housing.

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Nato said...

Alright, it's the Housing Alliance's numbers that are misleading, which is hardly surprising. On the other hand, I left out the art schools, so the real number is probably 75k or so

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

The 120,000 number isn't mine. I provided a link for the source, which is an article in the Chronicle on student housing.

While you did provide a link for the source, you misrepresented the quote.

The article says "about 120,000 students attend colleges in San Francisco"

You said "We need to remember that San Francisco is home to 120,000 college students."

Those are not equivalent statements. First off, "is home to" implies that someone lives in SF, and there is no qualification in that article that those students live in San Francisco. And you make the implication that they are full time students by calling them "college students", which is a superset of "students attend colleges" which does not imply full time status.

By your definition I am a "college student" because I take a French class 2 hours a week at night.

 
At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Western Addition will be sipping Four Barrel coffee —possibly in a new parklet— as soon as June 1.

Geren said that although they were approved for three spaces on Divisadero, they will only be using two, which went over well with the neighborhood.

I thought the neighborhood hated the parklets. Hmm...

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay, but you don't really have any solid information showing that the 120,000 number is wrong.

Your time would be better spent if you applied your analytic skills to a couple of the documents I link to support the post: the city's PDF presentation on the Panhandle bike lane proposal and the city's annual bicycle count.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

I didn't say the number is wrong I said the statement, made by you - that "We need to remember that San Francisco is home to 120,000 college students." is non-factual and misleading.

Intellectual dishonesty like this the hallmark of your ilk, and why you continue to slip into obscurity. Desperate misrepresentation of any fact or statistic in a last ditch effort to grab onto relevance.

"still faces a potential shit-storm when it implements the Plan on Cesar Chavez"

- Rob Anderson, July 2011

Now it's going to sail through implementation. We might be upset that the timetable was delayed, but it's going to happen.

do you hear that mr. anderson... it is the sound of inevitability

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

The point I was making---actually, it was just a gibe, like the Mommy and Daddy reference---is that the political culture in SF is so juvenile that our large population of students might in part explain it.

The point I made - which you refused to acknowledge, is that the "large population of students" includes 65 year old grandmothers taking floral design classes at City College - in fact the majority of students (see Nato's statistics) are not full time students but are continuing education students of all age ranges.

 
At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe, but I'm hearing another sound, rumblings from the neighborhoods about the great anti-car revolution, of which the Bicycle Plan is the centerpiece.

The rumbling you hear is the sound of people rushing to the bike shop to escape $4.33 gasoline. That and the rumble from your gut from the mickey that Michael Baehr slipped into your coffee at Abir.

 
At 4:34 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Interesting that none of you guys have anything substantive to say about the Wiggle or the Panhandle bike lanes.

 
At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been said. That's why the wiggle is sharrowed, there are new bike boxes on Scott, protected lanes will end up on Fell/Oak, the signal was changed at Fell/Masonic and will probably see future improvements.

The status quo is that it is going to happen. We don't have to convince you or anyone else that it is a good idea - the argument has already been made and the die is cast. If you or anyone wants to try to beat it back - bonne chance.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Nato said...

Wasn't there a bunch of folks on Valencia fighting the bike-related changes there, and now it's gotten a lot nicer than it used to be? I think that most people are finding that the benefits of bike friendliness in the neighborhoods outweighs the disadvantages. It's just my impression, but the apocalyptic scenarios envisioned by the curmudgeons opposing change don't seem to have eventuated anywhere. Rob seems to have single-handedly created the greatest amount of actual unforeseen communal downside* to bike-related changes by causing the implementation of bike plans to become much more expensive than they would otherwise be.

*as opposed to downside for individuals. Pretty much any change will impact at least a few people negatively.

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, it's going to happen, not based on the project's merits, unless you think making cyclists more "comfortable" riding on Fell and Oak Streets is good enough. Eliminating 90 parking spaces in this neighborhood is a very big deal, and doing it to make the bike people "comfortable" is the same as saying, "We're going to do this project no matter what anyone else thinks."

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

unless you think making cyclists more "comfortable" riding on Fell and Oak Streets is good enough.

I Do.

Eliminating 90 parking spaces in this neighborhood is a very big deal, and doing it to make the bike people "comfortable" is the same as saying, "We're going to do this project no matter what anyone else thinks."

Making *CYCLISTS* more "comfortable" is a very big deal too. What you are saying is "You should not do this project no matter what the bike people think", your objection has been duly noted - the City does care what you think. But caring what you think and always agreeing with you are not the same thing, n'est pas?

 
At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Eliminating 90 parking spaces in this neighborhood is a very big deal"

It's up to 90 now? I can't wait for Rob to break the 100 barrier with his made up numbers.

Also, your little petition is still at 72 so every time you raise the number of spots lost, you widen the gap w/ the number of people who care.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

90 is the count I made myself of the parking spaces that will have to be removed to make you and your pals "comfortable" on that part of the Panhandle. That number isn't exact since not all the parking spaces are clearly marked off or metered.

Which is probably why the city says that number is between 80-100.

I suspect that City Hall will be watching the District 5 election in November to learn how many people care about this issue.

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Intellectual dishonesty like this the hallmark of your ilk, and why you continue to slip into obscurity. Desperate misrepresentation of any fact or statistic in a last ditch effort to grab onto relevance."

Seems like you're the one who's desperate, Murph, if this is the best you can do.

 
At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I suspect that City Hall will be watching the District 5 election in November to learn how many people care about this issue."

Are you calling the D5 election a referendum on cycling in the city? If so, you should run.

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, we'll see just how much the candidates will bend over to the real power in the city - the SFBC

 

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