Thursday, February 12, 2015

Vision Zero and the numbers shell game

The whole city is now a "high injury network"

It turns out that there apparently is no Dept. of Public Health study that finds that Polk Street is dangerous. Instead, as per the Vision Zero maps, every busy street in San Francisco is now part of a citywide "high injury" network. Instead of providing an analysis of the accidents on Polk Street---where and why/how they happened---that the apparently defunct annual Collisions Reports used to provide, the city is now blanketed in blood red to show that danger lurks everywhere. 

This is convenient for the MTA and City Hall, since they can now cherry-pick numbers on accidents that we never get a chance evaluate to justify any and all "improvements" to city streets, as they continue to implement the Bicycle Coalition's agenda on our streets:

My original inquiry:

From: Rob Anderson 
Sent: Wednesday, February 11
To: DPH, PublicRecords
Subject: Polk Street

The SF Bicycle Coalition refers to a study of Polk Street by the Department of Public Health finding that street a "high injury corridor." Can you provide a link to that study or tell me how I can get a copy?

Rob Anderson

The response from the Department of Public Health:

From: DPH PublicRecords
Date: Wed, Feb 11, 2015
Subject: Polk Street
To: Rob Anderson

Mr. Anderson,

The information you are looking for is located on the Vision Zero SF website that was just launched:

The study of Polk Street and finding that it is a high-injury corridor is from the Vision Zero High-Injury Network map. Additional maps on the website related to Polk as a high-injury corridor are the pedestrian and cyclist specific high-injury corridor maps on this pageThe High-Injury Network is also part of the Vision Zero Strategy accessible from this page.

I hope that helps answer your question.

Nancy Sarieh │ Public Information Office
San Francisco Department of Public Health│101 Grove Street│415.554.2716

Following up today with a message to Paul Rose, the MTA's "Media Relations Manager":

From: Rob Anderson
To: Paul Rose

Mr. Rose:

Instead of the study I was hoping to get, the Dept. of Public Health has simply linked me to the Vision Zero site and those maps.

But the question remains: Where do the accident numbers to make the maps come from? Instead of the numbers and the analysis of specific streets we used to get in the annual Collisions Reports, it looks like most of the streets in the city, not just Polk Street, are now designated as "high-injury" corridors.

This creates the impression that there's an ongoing bloodbath on city streets. This of course pleases the Bicycle Coalition, which has always tried to create that impression to promote the agenda of that special interest group.

Is the MTA going to publish another Collisions Report soon to give the public an overview of the numbers and some analysis of exactly where the most serious problems exist on city streets?

Stories in the Examiner and the Chronicle have cited both the SFPD and the MTA on traffic accidents and injuries, and now the Dept. of Public Health joins the scrum, creating the impression that no one city agency is in charge of that important information.

By the way, did the city conduct a bicycle count last September? If so will there be a report soon on the results, or is that count now going to be done every other year?

Rob Anderson

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At 2:51 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Nothing like a group citing themselves as their source.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

One city department collaborating with another. That would be fine if they were working together to give the public useful information about which streets are the most dangerous and why---and then figuring out how to make them safer. The MTA used to try to do that with their annual Collisions Report.

The reality of what's happening on city streets was nicely summarized by the SFPD in that Chronicle article last month:
"Police Commander Mikail Ali keeps records of all the traffic collisions and deaths and said the majority of them share something in common.
“A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior,” he said. He said he’s been accused of blaming the victim in the cases of those pedestrians and bicyclists who caused their own deaths, but said showing the truth behind these collisions rather than lumping them together as statistics is important. “If we play this kind of sterile, numbers-only game, people surmise that it’s fairly innocuous behavior that’s causing these fatalities when in fact it’s very clear what the behaviors are,” he said. “The hope is that the public will change their behavior voluntarily.” He shared a Police Department list of the circumstances behind each traffic death in San Francisco in 2014, and it’s true. The behavior---by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike---is often downright shocking."

Yes, and more bike lanes and bulb-outs won't have a significant impact on all this dumb behavior, which is not uncommon among the human species.

Interesting that the SFPD has "a list of the circumstances behind each traffic death in San Francisco in 2014," but they don't share that information with the public. Why not?

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Commander Ali was doing the public a fine service by collecting and communicating detailed causes of traffic fatalities.

His reward, of course, is to be removed from his post and relegated to the airport...

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That figures. His detailed analysis of fatal accidents didn't conform to MTA/Bicycle Coalition ideology that puts the blame for all deaths on our streets on motor vehicles. Contrary to the Vision Zero fantasy, the cause of accidents and death on city streets is human behavior, since---this bulletin just in---people will often behave recklessly, which can sometimes have fatal consequences.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

If there is any "deadly traffic" along the Polk Street corridor it's probably not due to cars traveling on Polk but rather due to traffic on the cross-street, especially commute feeds like Pine. Thus destroying the Polk St. business community in order to put in "safe" bike lanes will do nothing to prevent collisions of cars with Polk cyclists running red lights, etc.

Since on the subject, why has Scott "Mr. Traffic Safety" Wiener demanded protected bike lanes, with attendant removal of street parking, in his neighborhood on Castro Street? After all, that's where a bicyclist killed a pedestrian and where his community gathers in the fabulous urban Jane Warner Plaze.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That's the first I've heard of the Castro bike project. Do you have a link for that?

Wiener's full of shit on a lot of things. He loves to talk to the media, and reporters are often too dumb or ignorant to challenge him.


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