Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Warriors: What's wrong with Oakland?


Letter to the editor in today's SF Chronicle:

Remind me why the Warriors' owners are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to leave Oakland and build a new arena in San Francisco? Hasn't just about every home game this year sold out? Won't the new arena be much harder to get to for the current fan base? It's not near a BART station and has much less parking.

Also, won't traffic before and after the games be a mess on San Francisco streets? And I'm guessing ticket prices will go up. So what's the benefit to current fans?

Steve Ladd
Orinda

Rob's comment:

Benefiting the fans is not the idea. The Warriors' owners are the kind of guys that will never have enough money or enough balm for their egos. Traffic jams are only a minor consideration to them. More important: The new stadium will have more luxury boxes and make a lot more money---and they will own it. 

Lacob, a young version of Donald Trump, seems to think it's all about him, though he's not quite old enough to adopt the Trump comb-over. Lacob's public profile is too high and too obnoxious. His recent suggestion that Mark Jackson's job is in jeopardy was particularly offensive, since Jackson is doing a much better job as coach than Lacob is doing as an owner. 

The ass-kissing interviews of Lacob by local sportscasters are particularly nauseating. I miss Franklin Meuli. He went to all the games, but he had the good sense to spare us the non-stop public posturing and content-lite interviews.

Field of Schemes is good on stadium deals. A commenter to the Schemes story on the latest Warriors' stadium news points out a potential benefit of the new stadium location:

...it also appears to have already put a significant damper on the SF Board of Supervisors long term idiotic plan to demolish Interstate 280 in that area. With 2 major sports venues off that freeway stub now it would be insane to do so now. The Warriors have quite literally saved the city from their own insane leadership.

Actually, you can't blame this dumb idea on the supervisors. Mayor Lee is the main culprit/supporter of the tearing-down-280 idea, along with the anti-car bike nuts at Streetsblog, and the usual "good government" suspects at SPUR and the Planning Department.


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Build it and they won't come



by Michael Platt

Build it and they won’t necessarily come.


Imagine if you will some of North America’s best cycling infrastructure, including separated lanes, plus a civic government determined to make your metropolis a haven for pedal-powered commutes no matter what the cost.

And finally imagine nearly perfect weather for cycling: not too hot, not too cold, and snow so rare a couple of inches worth is front page news.

You’d have to be crazy to drive a car to work in such ideal conditions---and yet in Portland, Ore., a city consistently ranked the most bicycle-friendly in North America, cycling is hitting a wall.

Technically, Portland reached that wall in 2008, when the number of commuters riding[bikes] downtown plateaued at just over 6%---but the city kept spending anyway.

Despite new and better cycle lanes, the number of work-day peddlers remained stagnant after ’08, even dipping slightly, while the number of cars stayed the same.

Stagnation in the face of a landmark 2010 decision to invest $613 million into bicycle commuting in hopes of increasing that ratio to 25% by 2030.

Six years later the number of cyclists remains the same, and Portland is finally saying enough.

According to bikeportland.org, cycling’s most admired city has finally hit the brakes on spending, having slashed the budget for neighbourhood greenway bike lanes, a priority of that 2010 cycle strategy.

After two decades of free-wheeling finances, it seems even Portland has realized there’s only so much spending you can do for a fixed minority of commuters---and with the Oregon city in the midst of a financial rough patch, infrastructure that benefits only 6% of citizens was first to go.

It’s a cautionary tale for Calgary, as city council here considers a network of segregated bicycle lanes for downtown Calgary---the theory being that hordes of Calgary commuters are itching to cycle once the lanes are built.

Portland is proving that theory is at least partially wrong.

“That point is very valid, because the same thing happened to Vancouver after they spent additional millions, and the increase in cyclists was minimal,” said [City]Councillor Ward Sutherland.

“My concern is the original research for the city core, it was based upon a specific demographic of hardcore cyclists, not the average person---and it’s like, if we make everything perfect for the hardcore cyclist, everyone else will want to ride, too.

“But I don’t think that’s the case. When it’s -5C and the weather’s bad, it doesn’t stop hardcore riders, but there are plenty of people it does.”

It’s true that Portland’s experience has been mirrored in Vancouver, another city with a climate well-suited to cycling and a budget to match.

The most recent Statistics Canada data shows that bike commuting in the Metro Vancouver region inched to 1.8% in 2011, from 1.7% in 2006, while in Vancouver proper bike commuting went from 2.9% in 2008 to 3.8% in 2011.

As well a study of separated Vancouver bike lanes published in kitsilano.ca last fall shows almost no increase in use since 2009 when they first opened.

What both cities found is that the initial investment in bike infrastructure does attract new riders, but the point of diminishing return is quickly reached---and according to an 2013 City of Calgary report, Calgary is already approaching 4.7%, as measured on a May weekday.

When vaunted Portland can only attract 6% of commuters to cycling after building the best bike network in North America, can Calgary really do better?...


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