Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Valencia Street lie

What the city wants to do to Polk Street

Trying to reassure business owners on Polk street about the city's plan to remove their street parking, the bike people and the MTA like to point to Valencia Street as an example of how bike lanes didn't hurt business there. From the MTA's Complete Streets site---city streets, you understand, aren't really "complete" until they have bike lanes: "On Valencia Street, 65% of business owners feel that the introduction of bicycle lanes has positively impacted their business." [Later: Apparently even the MTA understood that the statement is deceptive, since they removed it from their site.]

From Streetsblog:

“Business people are innately conservative,” said Bert Hill, a sustainable transportation advocate who chairs the SF Bicycle Advisory Committee and ran for election to the BART Board in 2010. “Their whole livelihood depends on there being sufficient customers, so they’re inherently nervous about [the improvements], in spite of the fact that communities that have made the change, like Valencia, like Market Street, are generally doing much better”...When bike lanes were installed on Valencia Street and car traffic was calmed with a road diet in 1999, it resulted in a revitalization of the street, despite merchants’ fears that the project would kill business.

These folks surely know that no parking spaces were removed on Valencia Street to make those bike lanes. Anyone familiar with Valencia knows that it still has street parking, which means the claim qualifies as a lie.

See page 3 of a city report in 2000 on the Valencia Street bike lanes that were created by removing two traffic lanes.

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