Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Send Leah Shahum money so she can keep screwing up city traffic


Leah Shahum and the Bicycle Coalition are weighing in---again---on the Fell/Oak bike project. Shahum in a fund-raising message (below in italics):

Every new bike project is still a battle. At each step of the way, there are people opposing the safety projects you’ve asked for. These people claim that the streets are fine for biking just as they are.

To a hammer like Shahum, the whole world looks like a nail. In the closed universe of militant cyclists, it's all about them and their rather risky transportation "mode."

As a long-time critic of the city's anti-car, pro-bike jihad, I don't think riding a bike is really safe for anyone on any of the city's streets, and City Hall can only make it marginally safer. I've long maintained that it's irresponsible of the city to encourage people to ride bikes, since it's inherently unsafe, regardless of how well-designed streets are. But City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition even encourage children to ride bikes in the city! (Shahum in the Bay Guardian: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them.")

But the point Shahum and the bike zealots hate to admit is that, according to the city's own numbers, only 3.5% of all trips in SF are by bicycle, which means that 96.5% of trips are by other means of transportation.

That raises this question: Why should the city redesign its streets to benefit a small minority to the detriment of everyone else?

Shahum again:

Did you know that a legal appeal was recently filed against the Fell and Oak safety project by a few angry neighbors? After years of your work to win separated bikeways on these three—just three!—critical blocks, the project is now in jeopardy...If a simple three-block project that’s underway, unanimously approved, and has huge support by the community can get derailed by a vocal minority, what does it mean for larger projects like Market, Polk and 2nd Streets?

Since this is a fund-raising message, Shahum exaggerates the very unlikely possibility that the Board of Supervisors will actually uphold the appeal and reject the project. Note that those opposing the project are described as "a few angry neighbors," while she's only working for "improvements"---for cyclists, that is.

Shahum and the city could find out how much actual support the project has by allowing people in the neighborhood to vote on it, like the city did in 2004 on the Page Street traffic circles. Shahum and City Hall won't risk that exercise in democracy again, since people on Page Street decisively rejected that "improvement" on their street.

Only "three blocks"? Yes, but the project eliminates more than 100 parking spaces in a neighborhood where street parking is already very tight; no safety problem has been demonstrated, in spite of Shahum's citation to a phantom police report below; and there are serious ADA issues raised by the project, a consideration never contemplated by City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition. If you are unable or unwilling to ride a bike in San Francisco, your interests are of little concern to your city government.

And from a Bicycle Coalitions press release on the project:

Though these streets see huge volumes of foot and bike traffic, the intersection of Oak and Divisadero intersection was the second most dangerous in San Francisco for people walking or biking in San Francisco in 2011, according to San Francisco Police Department data. In 2011, nine injury crashes involving a person on bike or walking were reported at that intersection alone. "These improvements will help people of all ages walk safely to and from our city's most beloved park," said Elizabeth Stampe, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco. "For too long, Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle have been like islands that you have to cross dangerous fast traffic to reach. This is an important step to calm traffic and make the streets safer for everyone."

Note that Elizabeth Stampe and Walk San Francisco are now essentially another front group for the anti-car Bicycle Coalition, since she's listed as a "contact" on the joint press release.

I read every report the city puts out on traffic accidents and injuries, and I've never heard of this alleged "Police Department data." Back in April, the MTA sent me some unconvincing accident numbers for that area to try to justify the project. But those numbers were only an afterthought, since from the beginning the Fell/Oak bike lane project has always just been about making cyclists more "comfortable" riding on the Panhandle. 

More from the press release:

For the huge and growing number of people biking in San Francisco, these three blocks of Fell and Oak streets are a critical central corridor connecting the well-traveled Wiggle and Panhandle, and one of the busiest East/West corridors for biking. Currently, there is only a thin, unprotected bike lane on Fell and no bike lane on Oak Street.

Shahum and the bike zealots of course ignore the sensible alternative to this project one block away from Fell and Oak: Page Street and Hayes Street, where traffic is light and both streets are flat, except for the block on Page between Divisadero and Broderick.

Shahum and the bike zealots like to believe---they have to believe it---that riding a bike in SF is "huge and growing," but, as I say, the city's own numbers tell a different story. I've been pointing this out for months now, but City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition choose to ignore the reality behind their own numbers: cycling in SF has only grown 1.4% in more than ten years!

From now on it's fair to say that maintaining otherwise can now accurately be called nothing but a lie.

From: "San Francisco Bicycle Coalition"
To: XXXX

Date: 12/06/2012
Subject: Fell and Oak in jeopardy (again)

Dear XXXX,

With over 23 miles of new bike lanes recently added, it may seem like opposition to bike projects has all but disappeared. But that could not be further from the truth.
Every new bike project is still a battle. At each step of the way, there are people opposing the safety projects you’ve asked for. These people claim that the streets are fine for biking just as they are.
Do you think that Oak Street is just fine? Masonic? Polk? 2nd? Is Market Street safe as it is? We don’t think so.

As our projects get bigger, so does the opposition. That’s why we need you more than ever. A special gift of $25, $50, $250 or $5,000 right now gives us the staffing and resources we desperately need to fight for your safety on a daily basis.

We cannot do all our work without your financial support.
Did you know that a legal appeal was recently filed against the Fell and Oak safety project by a few angry neighbors? After years of your work to win separated bikeways on these three—just three!—critical blocks, the project is now in jeopardy.

If a simple three-block project that’s underway, unanimously approved, and has huge support by the community can get derailed by a vocal minority, what does it mean for larger projects like Market, Polk and 2nd Streets?

Let’s not find out.
Leah Shahum
Executive Director
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

P.S. This week I will be at yet another Fell and Oak hearing testifying on your behalf on why we need this project on the ground and complete for your safety. Your SF Bicycle Coalition is on the front lines every day, fighting for the improvements that you deserve. Your contribution today will keep us well equipped for the victory of better biking tomorrow.

Labels: , , , , , ,