Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jason Henderson: Bike intellectual


Jason Henderson is considered an intellectual in the anti-car bike movement. Hard to see why based on his writing, but In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed is King. New Bay Guardian editor and bike guy Steve Jones has made Henderson a regular Guardian columnist, and his debut column highlights his anti-car zeal and provides some misinformation.

Henderson wants City Hall to push anti-car policies through and to ignore opposition from the overwhelming majority of city residents who don't ride bikes: 

[City] officials are dancing around the sensitivities of a handful of motorists and merchants---even to the point of ignoring actual data showing that San Franciscans just aren't as dependent on the automobile as some believe. For example, studies show 85 percent of people arrive to the Polk Street corridor without a car. Not only does this disconnect leave San Franciscans stuck in traffic, it is making our city less equitable for car-free households (which make up 30 percent of the city), as well as bicyclists and transit passengers who own cars but use them sparingly.

According to the MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet, only 20.5% of city households are car-free, not 30%. This report also tells us that 47.2% of city residents commute by motor vehicle---cars, taxis, motorcycles, etc.---but only 3.3% commute by bicycle.

The city's Polk Street survey found that of visitors to that neighborhood 15% arrived by car, 17% by transit, 58% on foot, and---wait for it---only 5% by bike. In Henderson's mind, that means it would be "equitable" for the city to take away hundreds of parking spaces to make separated bike lanes for his small minority special interest group. Polk Street has a booming restaurant scene and is increasingly a "destination" neighborhood. How could it be good for anyone but cyclists to make it harder for visitors to park there to shop and/or dine in the neighborhood? 

Henderson on the Van Ness BRT project:

Half of the households on Van Ness between Market and Lombard are car-free, yet they have poor transit service and are saturated with other people's car traffic and pollution. Will San Francisco prioritize the wishes of a few dozen drivers over tens of thousands of transit riders? That's the choice, along this and other key corridors.

Of course Van Ness Avenue is a state and federal highway, not primarily a neighborhood street. Almost all the people driving---or riding Muni---on Van Ness are on their way somewhere else.

At two recent public meetings on improving the 5-Fulton, motorists predictably protested the lost parking. Like the "Save Polk" debacle that sank cycletracks on that street, some of the opponents of the 5-Fulton plan tried to block the Fell-Oak bicycle improvements last year and are currently trying to sink safety improvements on Masonic.

Adding an express bus to that busy Muni line is a good idea, but it's not clear why the city has to remove parking to do that. Why can't the express use the same bus stops as the regular line without removing still more street parking in a part of town where it's in short supply?

To the adherents of BikeThink like Henderson, all of City Hall's anti-car projects on city streets are "improvements," but the approval of the Fell/Oak bike project was based on the safety lie, as was the Masonic Avenue bike project.

More facts ignored by Henderson: According to the MTA's Mode Share Survey Report of 2011, only 3.4% of all trips made in the city are by bike (5); 47% of the trips people make inside the city are by public transportation (7); 34% of city residents take public transportation to work (6); and only 3% ride bikes to work (6).



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19 Comments:

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Jason Henderson said...

"Of course Van Ness Avenue is a state and federal highway, not primarily a neighborhood street. Almost all the people driving---or riding Muni---on Van Ness are on their way somewhere else."

Oh give me a break. You are such a turd.

Almost all of the people driving on EVERY street are on their way to somewhere else, by definition. Unless your journey consists of less than 2 streets, the majority of the streets you move on are not the street on which your final destination lies.

But with respect to Van Ness, the majority of traffic on Van Ness is headed to a destination in San Francisco. Or are you proposing that most of those MUNI riders are headed to Mendocino County? Though Van Ness is designated as US-101, almost NONE of the through traffic from points south to the Golden Gate Bridge uses Van Ness. Most traffic diverts away from San Francisco completely taking CA-92 to I-80 to I-580 to re-enter US-101 in San Rafael. The rest takes CA-1.

You are so uneducated it's laughable.

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why can't the express use the same bus stops as the regular line without removing still more street parking in a part of town where it's in short supply?"

Because the 5L would then not be able to pass the regular 5, and that wouldn't make the 5L very "limited" now would it?

Up to you. You can have the 5L, or the parking. You get to be the dictator for a moment. You pick. What should we do?

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Almost all of the people driving on EVERY street are on their way to somewhere else, by definition. Unless your journey consists of less than 2 streets, the majority of the streets you move on are not the street on which your final destination lies."

And you are both a crappy writer and a poor reader. You wrote about the "households" on Van Ness and Lombard, implying that those are neighborhood streets.

By the way, I've got your book, and you won't be surprised that I think it's awful. I'll be writing about it here soon. At first glance, I notice that you spelled Tim Redmond's name wrong, and UC closed the Extension on lower Haight because of "seismicity concerns"? Even you must know that's bullshit.

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Because the 5L would then not be able to pass the regular 5, and that wouldn't make the 5L very "limited" now would it? Up to you. You can have the 5L, or the parking. You get to be the dictator for a moment. You pick. What should we do?"

I actually live on the #5 line and am familiar with the whole route. In fact passing is not such a big deal, especially if the regular #5 is pulled over in a bus stop.

 
At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Jason Hendu said...

By the way, I've got your book, and you won't be surprised that I think it's awful. I'll be writing about it here soon.

Thanks for the dough!

 
At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Jesse said...

Make the 5 and 5L better, but leave it exactly the same without any changes to transit lanes or parking....

Sounds like typical, magical, "car-think" logic.

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger alai said...

15% arrived by car, 17% by transit, 58% on foot, and---wait for it---only 5% by bike.

Oh, fair enough. Only a quarter of the space used for parking should be devoted to bikes instead.

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Make the 5 and 5L better, but leave it exactly the same without any changes to transit lanes or parking...Sounds like typical, magical, 'car-think' logic."

Nope. There's no evidence that any changes are necessary. What "transit lanes" are you referring to? McAllister and Fulton are both two-lane streets.

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Oh, fair enough. Only a quarter of the space used for parking should be devoted to bikes instead."

How do you get from 5% to 25%? You need at least five feet of street space to make a bike lane, which means that either a parking lane or a traffic lane has to be eliminated to make a bike lane.

 
At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Jesse said...

What do you mean "nope"? The bus is chronically congested and it's incredibly slow commuting to and from downtown. I guess you're fine with tens of thousands of people compared to a few cars here and there. You and your other car-minded friends seem to have a militant approach to any kind of improvements. It's no wonder this city's public transit is horrible if you and your "save" buddies have been halting any meaningful change for the last few decades.

"A road diet would also be implemented on Fulton between Stanyan Street and Central Avenue, reducing four traffic lanes to two, plus turn lanes. Aside from calming traffic, SFMTA planners said that change would allow for wider traffic lanes to safely fit buses. Currently, the buses must squeeze into 9-foot lanes, resulting in a high frequency of collisions with cars. The new lanes would be 12.5 feet wide."

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the #5 Fulton line is crowded and relatively slow. But that's what the limited/express line is supposed to mitigate. The issue is whether doing that requires removing parking spaces. The Geary #38L uses the same bus stops as the regular line; it just stops at major cross-streets. Why can't the #5L do the same?

Like to see some evidence for "the high frequency of collisions" between Stanyan and Central. The MTA has little credibility after using the safety lie to justify the bike projects on Fell/Oak, Masonic, and Polk.

 
At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But that's what the limited/express line is supposed to mitigate. The issue is whether doing that requires removing parking spaces. The Geary #38L uses the same bus stops as the regular line; it just stops at major cross-streets. Why can't the #5L do the same?

It's not the stops that slows the 5, it's getting stuck in traffic. The 38 is on Geary with multiple lanes.

The answer is simple. Remove the houses on the South side of Fulton, widen the roadway to 4 lanes and keep the parking. That way we can have the express lanes without losing the parking.

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"It's not the stops that slows the 5, it's getting stuck in traffic. The 38 is on Geary with multiple lanes."

That's simply untrue. I'm familiar with every inch of the #5 line, and I can't think of a single section either on Fulton or McAllister where other traffic is a big problem. The reality: It's a busy bus line in a densely-populated part of the city that picks up and drops off passengers at almost every stop along the route.

 
At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's simply untrue. I'm familiar with every inch of the #5 line, and I can't think of a single section either on Fulton or McAllister where other traffic is a big problem.

That's because you don't you know... "work, and shit" and have to ride it at peak hours.

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger alai said...

How do you get from 5% to 25%? You need at least five feet of street space to make a bike lane, which means that either a parking lane or a traffic lane has to be eliminated to make a bike lane.

You said it yourself-- 15% by car, 5% by bike. So it would be reasonable have about a quarter of the space devoted to private cars devoted to bikes instead, instead of the current zero. Ok, it might not be enough to make two separated lanes the whole way down Polk-- but what we can do is average it over several streets. You know-- three streets with car parking for every one street with high-quality bike lanes.

After that, give it a few years, and maybe bike traffic will make up 10% of traffic. And then we can re-think the distribution.

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"That's because you don't you know...'work, and shit' and have to ride it at peak hours."

Another comment from a remedial reader. I agree that an express line on the #5 route is a good idea. I just don't think removing parking spaces is necessary to do that.

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"After that, give it a few years, and maybe bike traffic will make up 10% of traffic. And then we can re-think the distribution."

Since cyclists are still a very small minority, even 10%---that's very unlikely---isn't enough to justify redesigning city streets on behalf of your often obnoxious minority.

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger alai said...

Yet apparently having 15% of the traffic is reason enough to devote half the roadway exclusively to parking cars. Funny how that works.

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

According to the Polk Street survey, that 15% is only the percentage of visitors to Polk St. who arrived by car, not the percentage of all motor vehicle traffic on Polk Street. Only 5% of visitors to Polk Gulch arrive by bicycle. According to the Bicycle Coalition and the MTA, that means Polk Street should be remodeled on behalf of that 5%!

 

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