Friday, October 04, 2013

An exchange with Walk San Francisco

From Walk San Francisco

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

Rob responds:

"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.

Okay, my bad. I assumed that you knew who your harshest critic in the city was. Your ignorance is evidence of how you folks, like the bike people, live in an echo chamber while brandishing an unearned self-righteousness. Like a few years ago when Elizabeth Stampe of your organization was apparently unaware of the city's annual studies on traffic accidents in San Francisco:

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.

It's simply not the case that the term "accidents" in this context means that "nothing could have stopped the death from occurring." As my post pointed out, in recent years the MTA has had real success in reducing pedestrian fatalities on city streets. I cited the city's latest Collision Report:

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.

See also page 21 of the report that tells us what the city is routinely doing to improve pedestrian safety:

SFMTA has implemented a variety of measures to improve pedestrian safety, including installing new pedestrian signs, crosswalk markings, parking prohibitions, signal timing settings, countdown pedestrian signals, audible signals, traffic regulations, speed regulation changes, road diets, and traffic calming measures. General signal upgrades also benefit pedestrians by installing pedestrian signals at intersections where these devices are not present and by improving the visibility of signal indications to motorists.

Natalie:
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.

This kind of  per capita calculation is problematic, as the SFMTA pointed out back in 2009 in its San Francisco 2008 Collisions Report:

In 2007 San Francisco had the highest pedestrian injury collision per capita rate among the largest cities in California (Figure 21). However, there are significant problems with comparing collision totals using per capita rates. Even after population size is accounted for, cities can have vastly different vehicular miles traveled, daytime populations, transportation networks, built densities, and walking rates. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, when looking at similar per capita rates for the Bay Area, recognized that “San Franciscans likely make more trips by walking than residents of other, less dense cities, which may account for the higher number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries in San Francisco County.”

See also the MTA's New York City’s Pedestrian Safety Study and San Francisco Data for a full discussion of this issue:

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.

But in your response to my question back in April, you said that "The SFMTA and the MTC did both make small inkind donations..." Specifically how large/"small" were those "donations"? Seems that city taxpayers did in part "pay for Walk to Work Day":

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.

Please do "try to convince" me otherwise about the role your organization is playing in creating a unjustified sense of emergency about the safety of city streets. My "point of view" on the issue is based on city documents. Hard to see exactly what yours is based on beyond pushing your organization's anti-car agenda.

You ignore one of the main points my post made:

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 (emphasis added).


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6 Comments:

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does not matter how harsh the criticism of a meaningless gadfly is. I'm shocked they wasted their time.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Right. Why should a special interest group funded by city taxpayers have to explain itself...to city taxpayers?

 
At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you pay taxes? LOL

Beyond the fact you probably pay next to none, you are a heavy user of city services, starting with your massively subsidized MUNI fare.

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I pay sales taxes, which, with Proposition K, finances the SFCTA with more than $80 million a year. Besides, everyone who rides Muni is subsidized, since fares cover only 25% of its operation.

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides, everyone who rides Muni is subsidized, since fares cover only 25% of its operation.

Well, there's 2 reasons to get rid of MUNI

1 - So we don't have to subsidize the leeches riding it

2 - So we don't have to worry about bike lanes screwing up MUNI

 
At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tell me that youre heading to keep this up! Its so great and so important. I cant wait to read a lot more from you. I just feel like you know so substantially and know how to make people listen to what you might have to say. This blog is just too cool to become missed. Terrific stuff, genuinely. Please, PLEASE keep it up!

 

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