Friday, April 12, 2013

Walk to Work Day: Paid for by city taxpayers?

 
Here's a message I sent to Walk San Francisco:
 
Walk San Francisco:

Does your organization get city money to stage Walk to Work Day? As you know, the Bicycle Coalition gets $50,000 from the city to put on Bike to Work Day every year. Do you have a similar city contract? If so how much in taxpayers' money do you get to promote your organization?

Regards,
Rob Anderson

Walk San Francisco responds:

From: Natalie Burdick
natalie@walksf.org

Hi Rob,

Thank you for reaching out to us.

This event was not funded by the city. Walk SF organized the event, recruited corporate sponsors for the event and staffed with volunteers (as there are only two employees here). The SFMTA and the MTC did both make small inkind donations however (along with several other corporate donors like Ritual, FunCheapSF, etc.). They provided ad placements on a total of 15 buses and 500 Clipper cards.

Did you walk to work today? Or do you in general? SF is a very walkable city, but sadly 800 people are hit every year by cars (about 3 a day). This year, seven people have already lost their lives due to car crashes---these deaths and injuries are preventable by and large, and Walk SF is working to advocate for the changes needed to reduce pedestrian collisions in the city. Feel free to visit www.walksf.org to learn more.

Thank you, Natalie, for your prompt response. No, I didn't walk to work today, since I'm retired. But I don't own a car and walk and take Muni to get around the city, which, as you say, is a very walkable city.

Could you provide some specific dollar amounts for the SFMTA and MTC donations?

Your organization's support for City Hall's anti-car bike projects on Fell and Oak Streets and on Masonic Avenue is particularly galling, since those projects will result in eliminating more than 200 street parking spaces in a part of town where there's a limited supply of parking for people who have to drive but don't have garages to park their cars. Not to mention that none of these streets has a bad safety record. These projects aren't going to make those streets safer; they're just going to make traffic congestion worse. But that seems to be part of your organization's agenda, which seems to be the same as the anti-car Bicycle Coalition's agenda.

Yes, it's sad that people get hit by cars and die in traffic accidents. But, like the Bicycle Coalition, your organization is pushing its agenda by creating the impression that there's some kind of safety emergency on city streets, a bloodbath that can only be stemmed by making it more difficult and expensive to drive in San Francisco.

The facts are otherwise, as reported in the city's latest Collision Report that puts the city's traffic accidents in historical perspective. The city's streets have actually been getting safer for everyone since 1990 (pages 4, 5), though injury accidents to cyclists are up, evidently because there are more people riding bikes in the city. It should be noted, however, that, according to the SFPD's reports, cyclists are responsible for half their own injury accidents due to their own recklessness (page 24, 25): "Fault for collisions seems to be evenly split among bicycle riders and motorists according to the SFPD collision reports."

Something similar is the case with pedestrian injury accidents, though the percentage of pedestrians responsible for their own injuries is lower than cyclists. As you can see on pages 19 and 20, pedestrians are responsible for a third of their own injury accidents. But the trend over the years is clear: the city's streets are getting safer for pedestrians. In 2000 there were 32 pedestrians killed on city streets, while in 2011 there were 17 killed, which is indicative of the long-term trend.

In short it seems that the MTA is already making the kind of changes that have been making our streets safer for years. It's disingenuous to pretend otherwise, and we should give credit where it's due.
 

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7 Comments:

At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're an ass.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Isn't that a legitimate question? Walk San Francisco, like the Bicycle Coalition, is an increasingly important anti-car organization in SF that lobbies City Hall on important traffic policy issues. If city taxpayers are paying to support its agenda, they have a right to know that.

 
At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to know too.

Bob R.

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

From: Natalie Burdick

Hi Rob,

Thank you for reaching out to us.
This event was not funded by the city. Walk SF organized the event, recruited corporate sponsors for the event and staffed with volunteers(as there are only two employees here).The SFMTA and the MTC did both make small inkind donations however (along with several other corporate donors like Ritual, FunCheapSF, etc.). They provided ad placements on a total of 15 buses and 500 Clipper cards.

Did you walk to work today? Or do you in general? SF is a very walkable city, but sadly 800 people are hit every year by cars (about 3 a day). This year, seven people have already lost their lives due to car crashes---these deaths and injuries are preventable by and large, and Walk SF is working to advocate for the changes needed to reduce pedestrian collisions in the city.
Feel free to visit www.walksf.org to learn more.

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should enforce stop sign violations by autos and bicycles alike, as well as ticket pedestrians for unsafe jaywalking, versus taking away lanes making drivers irritable, making right turns harder because of bulbouts, making crosswalks less visible and actually endangering pedestrians because of the islands being installed with vegetation (see 5th and Judah). I feel less safe as a pedestrian the Inner Sunset due to the risky driving maneuvers people are executing simply because the traffic has gotten so much worse on 7th Ave. And this phenomenon is observable in area subject to "improvements". One only needs hang out at the Octavia onramp for 10 minutes to see some of the crazy stuff that happens, none of which happened before the old onramp was removed.

Ryan K.

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the Octavia Blvd. free on-ramp---the ban on the easy right-turn onto the freeway from Market Street---is another bit of progressive, Bicycle Coalition folly that we've been living with since the awful Octavia Blvd. opened to traffic back in 2005.

 
At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,

I just found your posting today and wanted to follow up on two points:

"Thank you, Natalie, for your prompt response. No, I didn't walk to work today, since I'm retired. But I don't own a car and walk and take Muni to get around the city, which, as you say, is a very walkable city."

You're welcome.

"Could you provide some specific dollar amounts for the SFMTA and MTC donations?"

I most certainly could've -- but you actually never sent this follow-up request to me, you only posted it here on your blog and therefore, I was never able to reply.

Regarding the following:

"Yes, it's sad that people get hit by cars and die in traffic accidents. But, like the Bicycle Coalition, your organization is pushing its agenda by creating the impression that there's some kind of safety emergency on city streets, a bloodbath that can only be stemmed by making it more difficult and expensive to drive in San Francisco...It's disingenuous to pretend otherwise, and we should give credit where it's due."

Walk SF disagrees -- it's sad that deaths that are preventable, are not prevented. Accidents assume nothing could have stopped the death from occurring. This simply is not the case.

Speeding is the number one cause of serious injury and death, and that's due to cars driving too fast, particularly on a limited number of corridors in the city that are designed and feel like freeways rather than streets where people live and walk.

Moreover, there is a 'safety emergency' when one considers that San Francisco has the highest pedestrian injury and fatality rate in the state AND we have the second highest percentage of pedestrian fatalities from car crashes in the nation -- at almost double the national average.

But to your original point, taxpayers did NOT pay for Walk to Work Day. However, taxpayers DO pay for the emergency services (police, medical, etc.) that the city bears when a pedestrian is killed or seriously injured on its streets.

From reading this blog post, I appreciate you have a perspective that is distinct from Walk SF. I would certainly not try to convince you of otherwise now that I understand your point of view, but it's unmerited to claim that Walk SF is disingenuous in its mission and work.

Natalie/Walk SF

 

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