The Big Lie about a "surge" in cycling
Like all special interest groups, the Bicycle Coalition just repeats its talking points when the media calls. That's what representatives of special interest groups do. But it's lazy, negligent journalism for the Examiner and the Chronicle to simply accept what Leah Shahum says and incorporate her bullshit into their stories.
From this morning's Chronicle:
It's no secret that San Francisco hasn't invested much money in bicycling improvements---almost nothing until the past couple of years. But even those relatively small investments have led to a surge in the number of commuters riding their bikes in San Francisco. Over the past five years the number of trips being taken by bicycle have increased by 71 percent.
From yesterday's Examiner:
Biking has increased by 71 percent since 2006, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages cycling policies in The City, is hoping to build out its network to meet the demand.
By the city's own numbers, there has been no great surge in cycling in San Francisco since 2000. All the reporters have to do is check page 4 of the city's latest Transportation Fact Sheet to verify that reality. In 2000 2.1% of city commuters rode bikes to work, and in 2010 3.5% of city commuters rode bikes to work. That's a gain of only .13% a year for eleven years! Only Leah Shahum can call that a "surge" in cycling.
Those numbers are verified on page 3 in the 2012 San Francisco State of Cycling Report.
The MTA's Mode Share Survey on page 6 tells us that only 3.4% of all trips in the city are made by bicycle.
For a thorough analysis of the numbers, see a previous post.
The Chronicle says that Leah Shahum "is pushing for the most aggressive version of the plan," the $500 million version. No shit! Of course she is.
The city will never spend enough on bicycles to satisfy Leah Shahum: "We are lagging behind other American cities and even other California and Bay Area cities in how much of the transportation budget is dedicated toward bicycling."
Recall that Shahum thinks spending $550 million to add a bike lane to the west span of the Bay Bridge is a reasonable investment.
But the real question is, Why is the city spending all that money on behalf of 3.5% of the city's population? Especially since those "improvements" will often mean taking away traffic lanes and street parking on busy city streets to the detriment---slowing traffic for everyone and making it harder to park---of 96.5% of those now using city streets?
City Hall is redesigning city streets on behalf of a small, obnoxious minority based on the "mode shift" theory, which holds that once all these changes are made, a lot more people will ride bikes, thus permanently solving the city's traffic problems. From a 2010 city brief in the Bicycle Plan litigation:
The City found that, despite the significant impacts from approval of the Bicycle Plan...the benefits of approving the Plan outweighed the unavoidable impacts it created (page 25)...the City determined that by implementing the Bicycle Plan, more people would chose[sic] to ride a bicycle than currently do---the idea of "mode shift" (page 26)...Nothing in the Statement[of Overriding Considerations] downplays the number or magnitude of traffic or transit impacts, or overstates the number of bicyclists, the primary beneficiaries of the Project's benefits (pages 27, 28, "Respondent City and County San Francisco's Opposition to Petitioners' Objections to City's Return," emphasis added ).
The city has no evidence that a significant number of people will give up driving and start riding bikes after these projects are implemented. And one of the "unavoidable impacts" of these projects will mean delaying a number of Muni lines in our supposedly "transit first" city. Bikes uber alles!