Friday, July 25, 2014

Susan King, the injunction, and PTSD

The Injunction we got against the city's Bicycle Plan way back in 2006 was traumatic for the city's bike people, followed by Judge Busch's decision later that year that ordered the city to do an environmental review of the 500-page Plan, keeping the injunction in place while that was done. You still see references to these decisions whenever a bike writer tries to recap events of the last ten years.

The latest reference is in this week's Bay Guardian puff-piece on Susan King (King of the commons):

At the time[of the first Sunday Streets] when city officials and nonprofit activists with the Mode Shift Working Group were talking about doing a ciclovia, King was worried that it would get caught up in the "bike-lash" against cyclists at a time when a lawsuit halted work on all bike projects in the city. "I thought that would never fly," King said. "We started Sunday Streets at the height of the anti-bike hysteria."

It would be fair to call this a lie, since there was no "anti-bike hysteria" at all, but I suspect that King actually remembers the injunction as a traumatic event.

All the hysteria was directed at this blog, since I was a party to the litigation and spokesman for the group: Pro-bike commenters called me, among other things, "a fucking simpleton," "completely stupid," "just dumb," a "lame-brain," a "magnificent jerk," a "piece of trash," a "scumbag," a "cynical dickhead," "pathetic," and a "very very small person." Bike guy Matt Smith of the SF Weekly came unglued after the injunction, calling us "mean," "spiteful," "cyclist haters," and "bike haters."

Leah Shahum called us obstructionists who were "perverting" environmental law with our litigation, though she clearly didn't know what she was talking about. The Bay Guardian called me "a lone antibike nut."

My favorite comment: "reading your shit just kind of makes me sick." My ideal reader!

King talks about the first Sunday Streets:

Immediately, even before the first event, King and Sunday Streets ran into political opposition from the Fisherman's Wharf Merchants Association, which was concerned that closing streets to cars would hurt business, and progressive members of the Board of Supervisors who were looking to tweak then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose office helped start the event.

Business owners on Fisherman's Wharf were alarmed because the first they heard about closing streets in their neighborhood was a story in the Chronicle. Like the business owners on Polk Street, Ocean Avenue, 17th Street, and Market Street, they apparently didn't understand that the bike people know their interests better than they do.

Like the Chronicle and the Examiner, the Guardian gets the inevitable soundbite from the head lobbyist for that special interest group, the Bicycle Coalition:

As a bike event, the cycling community has lent strong support to Sunday Streets, with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition strongly promoting it along the way. "The success of Sunday Streets has been a game changer in showcasing how street space can be used so gloriously for purposes other than just moving and storing automobiles. At every Sunday Streets happening we are reminded that streets are for people too," SFBC Director Leah Shahum told us.

In Shahum's worldview, people who drive motor vehicles won't be fully human until they start riding bicycles. Using city streets for, well, traffic is seen as a poor use of that space. And according to official anti-car terminology, parking is now called "automobile storage," motor vehicles are "Death Monsters," and busy city streets are "traffic sewers."

Like the Bicycle Coalition, Susan King opposed the parking garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park.

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At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You fail to note that this Sunday Streets was an overwhelming success and the businesses have been BEGGING for repeats of the event ever since.

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm not arguing about the success Sunday Streets has had. I just object to allowing Susan King to rewrite history with the false claim that there was any "anti-bike hysteria" when we got the injunction.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

It must be nice to live in Leah's world where no one has to go anywhere.


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