Friday, June 13, 2014

The Valencia Street lie lives on
















The lie about Valencia Street, deployed last year by the MTA and the Bicycle Coalition to justify taking away street parking on Polk Street to make bike lanes, is now being used to justify doing the same on Telegraph Avenue in the East Bay. From the East Bay Express:

In recent years, research in the Bay Area and across the country has increasingly demonstrated the positive impact that new bike lanes bring to neighborhoods. Notably, an improved roadway for bikes often equates to increased business for local retailers.

The phony "research" in the story includes falsehoods (below in italics) about both Valencia Street and Polk Street in San Francisco. The Valencia Street lie:

When the debate about the Valencia Street bike lanes first began, "People were so worried it would decimate the businesses," said Kristin Smith, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition communications director. "Obviously, Valencia Street is not struggling." San Francisco installed those lanes in 1999, and since then perceptions have shifted in favor of bike lanes. "We do see much more support," she said, adding that there is, however, lingering resistance from merchants concerned about car parking.

Readers of this blog know that is simply untrue, which I pointed out a year ago: the Valencia Street bike lanes were made by removing traffic lanes, not street parking (see page 3 of Valencia Street Bicycle Lanes: A One Year Evaluation).

The Polk Street lie:

But in a city like San Francisco, the reality is that sacrificing parking spots for a bike lane is a good bet for business, Smith argued, pointing to a recent survey of hundreds of people on Polk Street, a key north-south route. That study, conducted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, found that more than 75 percent of people on Polk Street do not travel by car and that people who ride bikes or public transit or walk all spend more per week in the area than drivers...Improved cycling access on Polk Street is a matter of safety, too. On average, one pedestrian and one cyclist are hit by a car every month on Polk Street, according to the city.

That Polk Street survey found that only 5% of those visiting the area arrived by bicycle! The Bicycle Coalition and City Hall interpret this survey as justifying installing separated bike lanes on Polk Street by taking away more than 100 street parking spaces against opposition from small businesses and residents in the area.

The claims about safety are equally dubious, since the last Collisions Report from the city didn't find Polk Street particularly dangerous. Instead the phony safety claim is what the city uses to justify taking away street parking in city neighborhoods to make bike lanes over neighborhood opposition, like it did on the Fell/Oak bike project, on Ocean Avenue, and on 17th Street. [Later: Masonic Avenue is the best example of how the city uses the safety lie to justify a bike project.]

San Francisco has increasingly demonstrated the value of bike lanes and the growing interest in cycling. Two-thirds of Valencia Street business owners said that when the city reduced car lanes and installed bike lanes on the street, a main thoroughfare in the Mission District, their business improved, according to a San Francisco State University report. Only 4 percent said the changes hurt sales. Additionally, more than two-thirds of employers also said the Valencia bike lanes added convenience for their employees. This touches on another proven benefit to local economies: Companies located in downtown centers across the country attract younger employees better if their offices are easily accessible by bike, according to a recent joint report by PeopleForBikes and the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

When the debate about the Valencia Street bike lanes first began, "People were so worried it would decimate the businesses," said Kristin Smith, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition communications director. "Obviously, Valencia Street is not struggling." San Francisco installed those lanes in 1999, and since then perceptions have shifted in favor of bike lanes. "We do see much more support," she said, adding that there is, however, lingering resistance from merchants concerned about car parking.

But in a city like San Francisco, the reality is that sacrificing parking spots for a bike lane is a good bet for business, Smith argued, pointing to a recent survey of hundreds of people on Polk Street, a key north-south route. That study, conducted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, found that more than 75 percent of people on Polk Street do not travel by car and that people who ride bikes or public transit or walk all spend more per week in the area than drivers. This benefit is clearly illustrated by the overflowing bike corrals that dot the city, Smith said. "Those people are going to the restaurants and shops. You just get more of a thriving, engaging commercial corridor." Improved cycling access on Polk Street is a matter of safety, too. On average, one pedestrian and one cyclist are hit by a car every month on Polk Street, according to the city.


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9 Comments:

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


When the debate about the Valencia Street bike lanes first began, "People were so worried it would decimate the businesses," said Kristin Smith, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition communications director. "Obviously, Valencia Street is not struggling." San Francisco installed those lanes in 1999, and since then perceptions have shifted in favor of bike lanes. "We do see much more support," she said, adding that there is, however, lingering resistance from merchants concerned about car parking.


Can you be more specific about which part of the above is a lie?

 
At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait so you do agree that it hasn't hurt business right?

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

In supposedly "transit first" San Francisco the bike/ transit crowd removed a complete Muni line, the 26, because there's no way bicycles and the buses could have intermingled on that street. The losers are the SF residents who relied on that line.

Will they do the same on Polk, remove the 19 line? These are sneaky, creepy people who have no qualms about lying if it gets them privilege over everyone else.

The list below is from YELP, establishments that Muni and the SFBC did not include when they determined the "positive impact" of bike lanes:

Another Monkey - CLOSED
280 Valencia St
Michael Rosenthal Gallery
365 Valencia St
Thrill Of The Grill - CLOSED
535 Valencia St
Bombay Ice Cream - CLOSED
552 Valencia St - Mission
Z-Barn - CLOSED
560 Valencia St
Valencia Street Books - CLOSED
569 Valencia Street
780 Cafe - CLOSED
780 Valencia St
The Summit - CLOSED
780 Valencia St
Modern Times Bookstore - CLOSED
888 Valencia St
X21 Modern - CLOSED
890 Valencia St
Room 4 - CLOSED
904 Valencia St
Encantada Gallery of Fine Art
904 Valencia
The Touch - CLOSED
956 Valencia
Valencia Chiropractic - CLOSED
969 Valencia Street
Carte Blanche Gallery - CLOSED
973 Valencia
Valencia Interiors - CLOSED
974 Valencia Street
Lot 7 - CLOSED
974 Valencia St
Spork - CLOSED
1058 Valencia St
B3 - CLOSED
1152 Valencia St
Valencia Healing Arts - CLOSED
1193 Valencia St

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Can you be more specific about which part of the above is a lie?"

Where's the evidence that any "people" were worried about eliminating traffic lanes on Valencia to make bike lanes? Read the city's follow-up study I linked. The only concerns were from the city about traffic and safety, neither of which turned out to be a problem. The Mission Merchants Association supported the change, and it was praised in the media.

After the lanes were removed on Valencia, the traffic dispersed onto nearby parallel streets, like Mission, Guerrero, and Dolores.

First lie: that there was any serious opposition in the first place from local merchants, since there was no street parking removed to make the bike lanes. Second lie: "lingering resistance from merchants concerned about car parking." This implies falsely that parking was an issue in the first place; it was not.

But Big Lie is in using the creation of the Valencia Street bike lanes to justify the separated Polk Street bike lanes, which will require removing 100-170 parking spaces on Polk Street.

The two projects cause completely different impacts on the restaurants and small businesses on the two streets: the Valencia Street bike lanes were created by eliminating traffic lanes, not street parking, and they have clearly had little impact on either traffic or safety in that part of the Mission.

The Polk Street bike lanes will require eliminating scarce street parking on Polk Street that small businesses in the area object to losing for their customers and residents object to losing for their vehicles. Those who used to use those parking spaces---shoppers and local residents---will have to fan out into the surrounding area to find parking, thus creating more traffic congestion in the area.

 
At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love SFTHEN's use of the word "creepy" regarding how the SFBC could care less about how their "brilliant solution" (Brinkman) on Polk impacts public transit speeds as well. I have never cared about urban planning issues until I became outraged as well at how the SFBC "have no qualms about lying if it gets them privilege over everyone else."

While pedestrians, commercial vehicles, emergency services vehicles, MUNI and private cars must SHARE the road, the bike creeps demand separate dedicated private lanes which cannot be shared with any other user group. And just to add insult, the bicyclists make sure to not follow any traffic laws or street signals, cross walks, or stop signs.

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Kristin Smith is a "communications director," aka, spokesperson, for that special interest group. Seems like the Bicycle Coalition is turning into a jobs program for unemployed progressives with 18 people on its staff.

This how this special interest group describes Polk Street:

"Polk Street is much more than the flattest North/South route. It also has undeniable local flavor---it’s a vibrant small business hub that caters to the largely car-free neighborhoods that surround it. Unsurprisingly, most people arrive to Polk Street by foot, transit or bike..."

Unsurprisingly, that only 5% arrive by bike is unmentioned. And exactly how taking away all that street parking to make bike lanes is going to help what is now a "vibrant small business hub" is unexplained. It will also surprise people in that neighborhood to learn that its "largely car-free."

 
At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that "special interest group" is one of the largest organizations in SF. how many people are in the "restore transportation balance" special interest group? that's what i thought.

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say a group representing only 2.5% of commuters in San Francisco IS a special interest group. Rob would know better than myself, but I believe the largest percentage of commuters use automobiles to get to work.

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, commuting by bike is now supposedly 3.6%, according to the Transportation Fact Sheet, page 3. But solor commuters in their cars accounts for 36.6% of all commuters. But when you add carpools and taxis to the total, it's over 46% by car.

 

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