Saturday, April 07, 2012

Bike lanes just to make cyclists "comfortable"



















Luis Montoya is the MTA administrator in charge of the bike lane project on the Panhandle that will take away a lot of street parking in that neighborhood to make cyclists more "comfortable" riding on Oak and Fell Streets. After getting his follow-up message (below in italics) after last Saturday's "community" outreach meeting, I sent him this message: 

Mr. Montoya:

You mention "improving the safety" of the neighborhood as a rationale for this project. Do you have some information on accidents involving cyclists on Oak and Fell Streets?

Regards,
Rob Anderson

Mr. Montoya's response:

Mr. Anderson,

Yes we do have information regarding collision trends. Attached is a 5-year history of bicycle injury collisions reported to the SFPD on Oak Street and Fell Street. It is important to remember that not all bicycle collisions are reported to the police. Also, the goals of the project include reducing collisions, as well as improving the subjective feeling of safety to encourage more people to bicycle more often.
 

Regards,
Louis Montoya
luis.montoya@sfmta.com

My follow-up message:

Mr. Montoya:

16[should be 17] accidents in five years isn't very many. Nor is there any indication of who was at fault in these accidents, except for two that have "Auto R/W Violation," which apparently indicates a right-of-way violation by the motorists.

There's no indication that there were a lot of unreported cycling accidents, so the main motivation for the project has to be "improving the subjective feeling of safety to encourage more people to bicycle more often."

At the very least, these reports---and the numbers reported in your agency's latest collision report---show that riding a bike in San Francisco comes with some risk. Is it responsible of the city to encourage people to engage in an inherently risky activity?

Regards,
Rob Anderson

Okay, I understand why he didn't respond to the last message, which has a when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife kind of question. But Montoya's message shows that the city's justification for eliminating street parking to make bike lanes in a neighborhood where parking is scarce is factually deficient.

As previous city reports show, due to unsafe behavior cyclists in SF are responsible for 50% of their own injury accidents, not to mention the fact that, as the Bicycle Coalition's favorite safety instructor tells us, most cycling accidents have nothing to do with other vehicles. Hence, it's fair to say that the city is irresponsibly encouraging people to engage in an inherently unsafe activity. 

It also shows some desperation that Montoya relies on speculation ("not all bicycle collisions are reported to police") to make his case for the bike lanes.

The moral of the story: City Hall is going to take away up to 90 parking spaces to make bike lanes on the Panhandle between Scott and Baker Streets, not because there's evidence of a serious safety problem but to make those streets more "comfortable" for cyclists, even though they could access the Wiggle easily from nearby Page and Hayes Streets, as the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association has pointed out. 

See pages 15, 16, and 17 in the MTA's PowerPoint presentation for the making cyclists "comfortable" rationale. Not surprisingly the sketchy safety data Montoya gave me wasn't included in that presentation.

Hello,
I wanted to thank the roughly 150 community members who attended the public meeting on Saturday to give us their feedback on the proposed conceptual design. The design details that were shared are now up on the SFMTA project website, and an overview video is also posted on youtube.
  

Project overview video: http://youtu.be/8emAfDk-2H8

The next step for this project will be a traffic engineering public hearing, likely in May. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to voice their support or concerns about the project at that time. Details on this future public hearing will be posted on our web page and sent out to this project email list.

The project will undergo detailed design, environmental review, and legislative approvals through the SFMTA Board of Directors and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the summer, fall and winter. Implementation of this project may occur as soon as spring 2013, dependent on funding.

Thank you once again for continuing to stay involved in improving the safety of your community.
Regards,

Luis Montoya
SFMTA| Municipal Transportation Agency
"Montoya,  Luis" luis.montoya@sfmta.com
 

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27 Comments:

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

16[should be 17] accidents in five years isn't very many.

There are 350,000,000 people in the US. Terroritsts killed less than 4000 of them on 9/11. That's not very many - .01%

Yet we have been at war for 10 years over that attack.

"Very Many" is a subjective term. We have a good faith disagreement on whether 17 (REPORTED) accidents in 5 years is very many. Unfortunately for you, the City agrees with me.

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You get everything wrong. There are 315 million people in the US.

Comparing injuries to cyclists in San Francisco with 9/11 casualties trivializes 9/11 and elevates your PC hobby to a significance it doesn't deserve.

Since the city admits that cyclists cause 50% of their own injury accidents, we should cut the 17 injuries in half, which leaves us with 8.5 in five years. Compared to the volume of traffic on Oak and Fell---60,000 vehicles a day---that's a pretty low accident rate.

Taking away street parking in this neighborhood doesn't affect me personally, since I haven't owned a car in 25 years.

I don't know where Luis Montoya lives, but wherever it is I bet he doesn't have to park on the street.

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the city admits that cyclists cause 50% of their own injury accidents, we should cut the 17 injuries in half, which leaves us with 8.5 in five years.

That's the dumbest thing you've ever said. Which means it's the dumbest thing that has ever been said.

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Do the arithmetic: 8.5 injury accidents/collsions by cyclists and motor vehicles in five years. Keeping in mind the fact that Oak and Fell Streets combined handle more than 60,000 vehicles a day, and Diviz probably handles 20-30,000 a day. Remarkaly safe record, actually, considering the volume of traffic.

 
At 3:42 AM, Anonymous Dan said...

Rob wins but anonymous has some balls

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

How can someone who insults someone else anonymously be said to have "some balls"?

 
At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if half the accidents in SF with bicycles were caused by themselves, this does not imply that half of the injuries on Fell were. Logical fallacy.

The vast majority of self-inflicted injuries happen on the MUNI tracks. There are none on Fell.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Like to see some evidence about the Muni track claim.

 
At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dumbest thing written was this:

"At the very least, these reports---and the numbers reported in your agency's latest collision report---show that riding a bike in San Francisco comes with some risk. Is it responsible of the city to encourage people to engage in an inherently risky activity?"

Let's see - 800 pedestrian injuries or deaths every year in SF. .1% of the population - sounds like walking is pretty risky. Better start ripping up those sidewalks...

 
At 8:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Now that's dumb. I asked Montoya about injuries to cyclists on Fell and Oak Streets, since he mentioned safety as one of the rationales of the bike lane project. He came up with a report listing 17 accidents to cyclists in a five-year period.

Since cycling and walking are two distinct transportation "modes," there's no relationship between the two, except for the occasional collison between cyclist and pedestrian.

It's safe to say that if these 17 people didn't choose to ride bikes they wouldn't have been injured in this way in this particular place.

Since we also know that most cycling accidents are "solo falls" that have nothing to do with other vehicles, clearly there's something risky about riding a bike.

I see a lot of people riding bikes in SF who shouldn't be---people in terrible shape who can barely sit on a bike; people so old they probably have a hard time crossing the street; and young clueless dudes in knit caps darting around in traffic like speed freaks.

It just seems irresponsible of City Hall to give riding a bike a PC stamp of approval, encouraging people to ride bikes in city traffic---without warning them of the real dangers---who are more likely to get themselves hurt than to get fit and/or to take up a healthy way of life thru cycling.

 
At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the City doing about warning people about the dangers of walking in the City? What is the City doing about warning people about driving in the City? Getting around on a bike has risks just like every other mode of transportation.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I've been driving, riding buses, and walking in the city for years, and I've never been in a serious accident.

But City Hall's pro-bike, anti-car policies imply that riding a bike is a win-win deal, both green and safe, which it will never really be, since, as bike experts themselves tell us, most cycling accidents have nothing to do with other vehicles.

Except for pushing the bicycle fantasy, the city is doing its part to make our streets safer, since our streets are actually getting safer for everyone but cyclists.

 
At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> I've been driving, riding buses, and walking in the city for years, and I've never been in a serious accident.

So what? I've been riding a bike just about every day in the City and never been in a serious accident. What does that prove?

>> But City Hall's pro-bike, anti-car policies imply that riding a bike is a win-win deal, both green and safe, which it will never really be, since, as bike experts themselves tell us, most cycling accidents have nothing to do with other vehicles.

Where is it implied that it's "safe"? The pro-bike, anti-car policies make sense on a lot of levels and the City is making improvements to make biking "safer" but no mode of transportation is "safe".

>> Except for pushing the bicycle fantasy, the city is doing its part to make our streets safer, since our streets are actually getting safer for everyone but cyclists.

Stat to back that up? Cycling accidents may be up, don't know, but there are a *lot* more people biking.

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Of course I can "back that up," since that information is in the San Francisco 2009 Collisions Report of April, 2011 (There should be a new one out soon).

I always write about these reports when the city publishes them (here and here on the above report), but you bike folks never seem to even read them, let alone publish an analysis, probably because the city's numbers don't support the SFBC's and WalkSF's campaign to whip up public hysteria about the safety of our streets.

See pages 4 and 5 for the overall downward injury trend on city streets and page 23 for the bicycle collision totals. From page 23: "Bicycle-involved collisions have not declined recently like other collision types, instead going up every year since 2002. This increase in collisions has coincided with a statistically significant increase in the number of bicyclists riding on various city streets, as measured by annual counts..."

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2011/05/collisions-report-pedestrian-injuries.html

Your comment - "Turns out that when you look at the accident numbers overall in the last ten years, including the cycling accidents there, that it was all a lie, that there was no increase in accidents for anyone there."

So which is it? No increase in accidents or "our streets are actually getting safer for everyone but cyclists"

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Look, moron, that was written about the Fell/Masonic intersection, not the city as a whole. Your desperate search for ammo makes you a careless reader.

 
At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah ok I did post too hastily. Cyclist accidents have relatively stayed the same but other modes have decreased. Well you just proved the point - more improvements for cyclists are needed and that's what the City is working on. Besides, you're missing the larger point - perceived/actual safety issues aside, this is THE major east/west route for cyclists and it sucks. The Oak and Fell improvements are necessary and overdue.

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're missing both the large point and the smaller points. Since Montoya couldn't support the safety rationale for the project, all he and the city are left with is the "making cyclists comfortable" justification.

That a bike nut thinks riding a bike on Fell and Oak Streets "sucks" isn't much of justification, but that's apparently enough for the city to take away a lot of street parking in a neighborhood where it's already deficient.

If the issue was put to a vote in this neighborhood---like the traffic circles on Page Street were back in 2004---you bike zealots would lose, but of course the city will make sure no one gets a chance to vote on the issue, just like city voters will never get a chance to vote on the Bicycle Plan or Critical Mass.

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well luckily the City, unlike you, realizes that the needs of the thousands of present and future cyclists that use that route out-weigh the needs of a handful drivers that use those parking spots.

And blah blah blah "put it to the voters". The voters vote for this in every election when they elect the representatives that are currently pushing for all these bike improvements.

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, but the city did see fit to hold a neighborhood election on the Page Street traffic circles, and the neighborhood voted against them. Which is why this neighborhood won't get to vote on this project. The bike people's enablers in MTA don't want to take a chance on having it rejected.

 
At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Page St traffic circles were a joke - too small to make a difference and actually redirect/slow traffic.

Nice try Rob.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, they were so lame both the neighborhood and the fire department rejected them.

But the point is that the city allowed the neighborhood to vote on them. Why not allow the Panhandle neighborhood to vote on removing street parking to make the bike lanes?

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First have the panhandle vote for RPP - not that you even know what that is.

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The neighborhood won't get to vote on anything, just like city voters will never get a chance to vote on the Bicycle Plan or Critical Mass.

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RPP, read up asshole.

Your ignorance is showing.

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rode my bike around the city for years before bike lanes existed and somehow never crashed. Now I can't ride my bike and won't ride a tryke and can't afford a powered type. These days though I have trouble seeing bicycle riders and just hope they aren't stupid or assholes. A graying boomer...

 
At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Montoya:

I strongly object to the bike lane proposed Oak and Fell Streets. These streets are like freeways through San Francisco. Would you place bike lanes on freeways 101 or 280? Of course not. In fact, I feel bicycles should be banned on Fell and Oak, just like on 101 and 280.

There are numerous other side streets, with much less traffic on them, to safely allow bicyclists get to their destinations safely and at the same time to allow drivers of cars to more safely use Oak and Fell streets.

Thank you.

Greg Scanlon
Richard Atondo
135 Scott Street
San Francisco, CA. 94117

 

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