Leah Shahum: "Imagine streets moving so slowly you'd let your six-year-old ride on them"
|Photo by Gene Hwang|
Under its uber-progressive new ownership, the SF Examiner is joining the Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly---both of which it also owns---and the SF Chronicle in pushing the politically correct agenda of the Bicycle Coalition and the MTA at the expense of everyone else who uses city streets.
On Tuesday the Examiner had a hand-wringing story on the city's "riskiest" intersections---that is, intersections that are risky for cyclists. The next day it had another story worrying about the safety of streets for cyclists on the city's bike network.
From the intersection story:
At Market and Octavia, The City's response has been an extension of a small, raised island to prevent motorists heading eastbound on Market from turning right onto the freeway on-ramp at Octavia. A red-light camera to catch scofflaws has been approved, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has yet to receive the money to turn it on. That's left the raised concrete as the only protection for pedestrians and bicyclists.
I first wrote about this intersection back in 2005, commenting on a Warren Hinckle story and an item by Matier and Ross. The latter informed us that the right-turn ban happened because then-District 5 Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, at the request of the Bicycle Coalition, carried a resolution initiating the ban in 2004 before the intersection was open to freeway traffic. Since then motorists coming from the the Castro district haven't been able to make that easy turn off Market Street. Instead they have to go to 13th and South Van Ness to get on the freeway. This is traffic management by the Bicycle Coalition that we've become familiar with over the years, the main purpose of which is to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to drive in San Francisco.
It's still not clear why the city doesn't try changing the traffic lights at that intersection so that cyclists and eastbound motor vehicles don't share a green light, like at the Fell/Masonic intersection, allowing motorists who want to get on the freeway to make that easy right turn without endangering cyclists heading down Market Street.
The story quotes only Robin Levitt:
The reason why this intersection is so dangerous has nothing to do with bike lanes, sharing the road or etiquette, according to Hayes Valley resident Robin Levitt. In order for Octavia Boulevard to be rendered safe, it needs to be "more like a city street and not like a freeway," said Levitt, who sits on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Market-Octavia plan area. Because the approach to Octavia from U.S. Highway 101 is on a bare, elevated roadway and not a boulevard with streetlights and landscaping — like the rest of Octavia — drivers approach it like a freeway, said Levitt, who noted that when a new building at Oak Street and Octavia Boulevard replaced a blighted empty lot, drivers slowed down.
Yes, Levitt sits on the M/O Citizen Advisory Committee, which is packed with dumb "smart growth" advocates who are pushing the highrise development of the area---40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness! That committee also supported allowing UC to rip off the old extension property on lower Haight Street for a massive housing development. (Earlier posts featuring Levitt here, here, and here.)
Levitt is also a former member of the Bicycle Coalition's board of directors. Odd that the Examiner cites his stupid idea about that intersection as if it has any credibility. Journalism as stenography! According to Levitt, once all the new construction in the area is done---bringing thousands of new residents into the area---motorists will slow down, the intersection will no longer be dangerous, lambs will lie down with lions, and I'll be the Pope of Rome.
From the other Examiner story on the city's bike routes:
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency recently evaluated all the various bike routes in The City, scoring each path based on comfort, terrain, speed of nearby cars and other factors. Each segment was rated on a scale of 1 to 4 based on traffic-level stress. A Level 4 bike path was deemed appropriate only for the most "strong and fearless riders." Unfortunately for cyclists, that Level 4 rating includes nearly all of Market Street, The City's most-traveled bike corridor. Only smaller, protected pathways in areas such as Golden Gate Park and the Presidio garnered Level 1 ratings, which indicate that conditions are safe for cyclists between the ages of 8 and 80.
This just verifies the reality that most people recognize: riding a bike in San Francisco will never really be safe for anyone, especially for eight-year-olds. It just shows how far down the bike nut path City Hall has gone that encouraging children to ride bikes on city streets is a serious consideration.
But the Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum doesn't think that's good enough. As she told the Bay Guardian, she wants to make our streets safe for even younger children: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them."
While you're at it, imagine gridlock on the streets of San Francisco, which is what even the attempt to bring this about will create on our streets.