Friday, May 03, 2013

Nevius on Polk Street: "There isn't enough parking"

C.W. Nevius does some more hand-wringing about the city's supposedly "convoluted civic process" in a column about Polk Street. His assumption always seems to be that city projects should somehow move smoothly through the system and be implemented without opposition from the neighborhoods, because, you understand, City Hall's projects are always so perfectly conceived when they emerge from the city bureaucracy.

On the other hand, he acknowledges that there's limited space on Polk Street for protected bike lanes:

There isn't enough parking. Or enough room for bikes...The buzzword at the latest meeting was "compromise." Except it's impossible to have a compromise. The street is too narrow; the traffic flow is too congested. Sooner or later a decision will be made since the changes are timed to happen when Polk gets repaved in 2015, and one of the groups will be unhappy. That's when the protests, accusations and lawsuits begin. That's how it usually works in San Francisco.

Nevius's analysis is out of date, since apparently the MTA has already backed off on the idea of protected bike lanes the length of Polk Street. The "protests" by business owners and residents of Polk Gulch have already taken place, and City Hall has suffered a major defeat in its ongoing attempt to implement the Bicycle Coalition's agenda on the streets of San Francisco. It's only the Bicycle Coalition and the folks at Streetsblog who are "unhappy."

There could have been a lawsuit if City Hall had tried to implement the bike lanes over neighborhood protests, since the city has done no real environmental review of that "improvement." Everything the city wants to do to neighborhood streets is by its definition an "improvement." The traffic impact of taking away all that parking on Polk Street would have been significant, especially combined with the future Van Ness BRT project one block over.

In short the system actually worked this time, unlike how it rolled over small businesses on Market Street, 17th Street, and Ocean Avenue. And it only worked because of the vigorous opposition of the people of Polk Gulch.

Nevius himself announced recently that he has stopped riding his bike downtown because of safety fears ("Sooner or later I was going DOWN"), but he includes this in the Polk Street column without comment:

Tim Hickey has been using his bike as his primary transportation for four years, sometimes taking his 20-month-old son, Liam, with him. He's been hit by cars three times and believes protected bike lanes are the only reasonable solution. "My wife would not let me take Liam on Polk," he said. "It's too dangerous."

Mrs. Hickey must know by now that she's married to a moron who's willing to risk the life of their son on his bike after he's already been hit by cars three times! The only "reasonable solution" for most people would be to stop riding a bike in the city. This is more evidence that we're dealing people who are a lot like religious fanatics.

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At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad that the only people mobilized and motivated enough to show up to these meetings are the merchants on Polk St. The majority of the citizens of SF prefer to have the option to drive a car, ride a motorcycle, or take a bus or train to get where they are going (evidenced by the number of commutes being taken on bike versus other means). And how many people who do switch to bicycles do so because their preferred way has become so unpleasant? I've never understood the psychology of making others miserable so they will join your cause.

Unfortunately the "true believers" of the Bike Lobby will forever believe that everyone wants what they want, statistics be damned.

-Ryan K.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My impression is that a lot more than small business owners on Polk Street, including a lot of people who live in the area. Nevius repeats the 71% increase in cycling distortion, because he never seems to read anything. I've deconstructed the claim that there's been a radical increase in cycling in SF a number of times over the years, but so-called journalists like Nevius are too lazy to do the reading or the analysis themselves.

Somehow they think a soundbite from Leah Shahum---who's nothing but a lobbyist for a special interest group---must be based in reality.


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