Thursday, February 28, 2013

Polk St. fights City Hall---and the Bicycle Coalition

Leah Shahum and David Chiu

From yesterday's SF Examiner:
 

“It’s going to kill business,” said 90-year-old Rita Paoli, owner of City Discount, a kitchen supply store at 1542 Polk St. “Go pick up a few dishes. Just weigh them. You try and carry them...” [this]is the driving sentiment among many Polk Street merchants, according to Dawn Trennert, co-chair of the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association. “It’s all very bicycle-driven,” Trennert said. But Leah Shahum, head of the bike coalition, cited a number of studies that show that when similar improvements are made, business increases. Such is the case along Valencia Street in the Mission district and in different areas of New York City. The loss of parking is inevitable if such improvements are made. “With a limited right-of-way there’s only so many options you have,” said Shahum, adding that there are 360 parking spaces along the affected part of Polk Street.
 
I don't know about New York City, but the Valencia Street bike lanes were made by eliminating a traffic lane, not street parking. And whatever the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall want to do to our streets is by definition an "improvement."
 
The folks on Polk Street need to know some background on Leah Shahum and the Bicycle Coalition: First, they are anti-car, as statements by Shahum and other officers of the Coalition over the years make clear.
 
When the city swooped in and eliminated street parking on upper Market Street in 2006---rushing it through in time for Bike to Work Day---Shahum lectured small business owners who protested the loss of parking about the need to accept change! 
 
Shahum pulled the same thing on 17th Street merchants a couple of years ago.
 
City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition took away street parking on Ocean Avenue in spite of protests from small businesses.
 
City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition recently succeeded in eliminating more than 100 parking spaces on the Panhandle to make bike lanes. 

City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition are planning to eliminate 167 parking spaces on Masonic Avenue---all the street parking between Fell Street and Geary Blvd.---to make bike lanes.

Your supervisor, David Chiu, is not likely to be much help, since he's a dedicated bike guy. During his recent unsuccessful campaign for mayor, he didn't deign to answer my questions about the issue.

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