Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Bicycle Coalition's new director



Dear Rob,

With executive director Leah Shahum’s departure our local bicycle coalition had an opportunity to reform itself and staunch the outflow of its members (they used to boast publicly of having 12,000 members but have been silent about their membership for some time; their 2013 annual reports contains no membership figures, although it does disclose statistics about volunteers and newsletter subscribers. 

Alas, instead of picking a new executive director who could direct the Coalition’s efforts on behalf of those who already ride bicycles, they are handing the post over to another human-powered-transit evangelist who appears to be just the guy to continue the faith-based crusade for the great mode-shift rapture in which all the sinful motorists eventually see the error of their ways and, through the miracle of cityscape re-engineering, become daily utility cyclists.

Among my circle of bike-riding friends, all of whose annual mileage is in the mid 4 figures, you will find no current members of the SFBC although some of us (including me) used to be members as recently as 2012. We are all adults; we all ride transit and walk; we are all licensed drivers and car owners. None of us sees the Coalition as representing our interests as committed cyclists or as San Franciscans. Oh, I suppose the Coalition’s efforts to school cyclists and taxi drivers in the rules of the road are a nice idea (although I see little evidence of this schooling on the streets). 

But its emphasis on screwing up roadways like JFK Drive and Masonic Avenue to fulfill its religious commitment to segregation of bikes and cars over more simple, inexpensive streetscape improvements (such as dedicated right-turn lanes to the right of bike lanes, helping to keep motor traffic running smoothly while guiding it and bicycles out of each other’s way) is at variance, to say the least, with what my friends and I view as what would be most valuable to our bike-riding experience and most harmonious with other traffic modes. We really don’t like being resented and despised.

Not all major bike coalitions choose this path. The coalition in Silicon Valley, perhaps influenced by all the rational, facts-based engineers down there, is a good example. Instead of ignoring valuable academic research (as the SFBC does with the UC bicycle injuries study) the Silicon Valley coalition actually co-sponsors academic research with their local teaching hospital to assist them with discovering what really works and what doesn’t. Sponsoring and underwriting research is something I recommended to the San Francisco coalition when I was a member and participated in their strategic planning brainstorm meeting. You can see how eager they were to embrace THAT suggestion.

Deane Hartley

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12 Comments:

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fortunately Corinne Winter is leaving the SVBC and that organization might actually become useful.

 
At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Among my circle of bike-riding friends, all of whose annual mileage is in the mid 4 figures"

I do not believe this. One bit.

 
At 5:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am already hearing push back about the proposed Second street project. I wonder if this new "leader" would be willing to show compromise instead of Shahum's hysterics?

http://www.sfdpw.org/index.aspx?page=1489

The removal of traffic lanes and parking for a new bike path on a street that is a feeder for the Bay Bridge could be the craziest idea they have hatched yet.

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

The Bicycle Coalition is a special interest group with a lot of influence on City Hall, but let's not forget that it's the city that's doing these projects, not the Bicycle Coalition.

The city's rationale for this project is the usual "safety" for cyclists and pedestrians claim, even though they/we have no idea how safe/unsafe city streets really are, since the city can't even count accidents properly.

 
At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"even though they/we have no idea how safe/unsafe city streets really are, since the city can't even count accidents properly."

Ah yes, THE STUDY strikes again. If the city counted all the crashes they would see that there are more than they originally thought and then conclude that the city streets are safer than they though... is that how it would work?

Of course, you don't need to to count every single crash to determine which streets are relatively safer or more dangerous. I'm sure you already know this though - much of your blog is about intentionally misunderstanding city cycling issues.

But I really came by to tell you that I'm anxiously awaiting YOUR hand-wringing on the new SFBC director. I don't want to hear some weak guestblogger - I want the king himself!

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous gneiss said...

One of the more important advocacy issues that Transport Alternatives championed in NYC was better reporting of crash statistics from the NYPD and the NY DMV. They created a site at http://crashstat.org/ where they mapped out all the crashs in NYC based on data provided by the NY Department of Transportation. This provided a geographic view of all crashes since as long ago as 1995 and included information about pedestrians and cyclists that sustained injury or death.

This data has helped NYC government officials and community groups target the most dangerous intersection and streets and also provided them with data to review the efficacy of measures they've implemented to reduce injuries at those intersections.

 
At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting that you quote bike nut Deane Hartley.

Hartley kisses up to you in order to curry your favor so he can try to enlist your (feeble) help towards a couple of his pet projects, as if he is a cyclist who thinks cyclists are bad.

Hartley ended his supposed membership in the bike coalition and assumed his current "position" based on two projects. Golden Gate Park and Masonic. Why?

Because Hartley does not actually ride his bike in the City and could care less if it's safe to ride in the City, he drives everywhere. He puts his bike on top of his car, and drives it to Marin County (using Masonic), where he screws up traffic for OTHER people at places he DOES NOT live. Your friend Richard Hall would probably want to hit Hartley over the head and straighten him up as he screws up Sir Francis Drake Road.

Hartley is not a particularly fit cyclist - he's not quite as rotund as you Rob, but he's still pretty much a lard ass. So he clogs up the hilly roads of rural Marin as he slowly pedals up hills at 3 MPH.

On special occasions, Hartley actually rides to Marin, and liked clogging up traffic in Golden Gate Park. He thinks he is a "fast" rider and would ride in the roadway of JFK, blocking cars. With the new configuration, instead of Hartley blocking cars, he is instead blocked by "slow" riders in the protected bike lane.

He's a joke.

 
At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

"I do not believe this."

Rob is pretty easygoing about publishing everybody's comments no matter how insipid (unlike Streetsblog) but I doubt he's going to waste space on his blog listing out a bunch of cyclists' daily GPS ride logs just to satisfy some commenter whose imagination is too constrained to entertain the possibility that some people ride bikes a lot more and see things a lot differently than she does.

As a daily bike commuter myself I have been frustrated and puzzled by the incuriosity of the MTA and especially the SFBC about what the actual causes are of bicycle accidents and close calls and where and how they happen most and least. Leah Shahum was recently quoted in a C.W. Nevius column as saying,
“The no. 1 way that people get hurt riding in the city is getting ‘doored’.” How does she know this? I have searched the SFBC and MTA websites and have found no such detailed analysis of bike crashes.

Of course I myself have my own hypotheses about what the biggest hazards are but without research and facts that's all they are...hypotheses. I sure as hell don't want public policy to be based on my own or anyone else's anecdotally-based guesswork. If, as Ed Rieskin attests, the MTA is examining the UC Study that is definitely a step in the right direction.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Anonymous wrote: "Of course, you don't need to to count every single crash to determine which streets are relatively safer or more dangerous. I'm sure you already know this, though much of your blog is about intentionally misunderstanding city cycling issues. But I really came by to tell you that I'm anxiously awaiting YOUR hand-wringing on the new SFBC director. I don't want to hear some weak guestblogger. I want the king himself!"

Of course I had to welcome the new head of that special interest group. Sounds like he'll continue Shahum's strident anti-carism. Since it will be business as usual at the Bicycle Coalition, am I supposed to be "excited" like you morons about the leadership change?

Typical that you're not familiar with the study you try to ridicule. It told us that the city ignored more than 1,300 serious cycling accidents between 2000 and 2009 treated at SF General.

Unlike know-it-alls like you, the city does in fact need to know where and why accidents happen, which is what most of its annual Collisions Report is about---analyzing specific streets to find out what can be done to prevent accidents.

The city is trying to come to grips with the UC study, which is why it hasn't published a Collisions Report since 2012.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Here's a link for the Collisions Report. See pages 8-16.

 
At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Deane Hartley said...

For what it's worth, the anonymous commenter who wrote the fictional mini-biography of me has filled it with so many inaccuracies that I doubt very much that she and I are acquainted.

She got closest to accuracy with her subjunctive comment about my posturing as a cyclist who thinks cyclists are bad. To set the record straight, I'm not posturing. Although I don't think all cyclists are bad I hold many of the ones I encounter in public in low esteem and do not wish them well. They have earned my low opinion by their behavior on the road in my presence.

 
At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

"better reporting of crash statistics from the NYPD and the NY DMV"

If this means that the new SFBC director will be a data enthusiast that is welcome news that I'm grateful to read, gneiss.

Let's pray that San Francisco can out-do New York by obtaining as close to ALL the data as possible, not just what the police and DMV collect.

If the SFBC were to sponsor or underwrite video surveillance of bike-corridor intersections, heck, I would volunteer to help them tabulate and I would donate to the cause.

 

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