Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Streetsblog and Scott Wiener

SFBC photo, Dyami Serna

Streetsblog's Roger Rudick, in his interview with Supervisor Wiener, again waves the bloody shirt on bicycle accidents:

It’s been over a month since the deaths of Kate Slattery and Heather Miller. Mayor Lee has finally issued an Executive Directive to accelerate safety improvements. But why did it have to wait until two people died on the same night? That horrible night didn’t really highlight that the areas where they were killed are dangerous; we already knew that from the slow trickle of deaths and injuries. Why do we wait until some tragic spectacle to react?

I've asked this question before: How dumb does Streetsblog think its readers are? Maybe the real question is, How dumb is Roger Rudick'? 

Since neither of those fatal accidents could have been prevented by any "improvement" the city could make---one was caused by a motorist running a red light and the other was caused by a car thief speeding through the park---Rudick's question would normally be seen as pure demagoguery, except that Streetsblog's intellectual standards have always been so low you have to think that it's simple stupidity (see this and this).

Wiener probably understands that about those specific fatalities, but he flab-gabs around a bit before this:

But we also know that each of these Vision Zero projects are controversial; not within the transit community, but when you’re talking about traffic calming measures that reduce lanes and slow speeds, there’s often pushback and we see it everywhere. We’re getting pushback to our plans for Upper Market. There was pushback on some of the South of Market project. We have pushback on Mission. Pushback on Geary. Everyone is entitled to a point of view…but that pushback makes the process go slower. There are times when the MTA doesn’t want to pick too many fights, so they pick their battles.

"Pushback everywhere"! Where does it all come from? From the neighborhoods where City Hall is trying to foist its bogus "improvements" on city residents. Resistance to the Taraval project was about parking. The neighborhood resistance in the Mission was also about taking away street parking to make a bus lane. I don't know what the Upper Market pushback was about. 

And Geary? Not at all clear what Wiener is talking about there, though maybe he's just repeating the falsehood about the Geary BRT that he provided the NY Times two years ago.

Rudick complains about Mayor Lee's veto of the Idaho Stop earlier this year, and Wiener reminds him that there weren't enough votes: "I was the first co-sponsor and I was very supportive. And I was disappointed it didn’t go through. Clearly we don’t have the votes." Dang! The mayor won't allow city cyclists to ignore stop signs! The bastard!

Wiener on double parking in the city:

I believe SFPD and SFMTA are committed to Vision Zero. There are some really good people within SFPD who do want to see it happen. But double parking is one area where both agencies have just failed…it’s private automobiles, it’s taxis, it’s garbage trucks…it’s an unending situation. They cause traffic jams, they block Muni, they block the bike lane, it undermines our entire transportation system and makes our streets more dangerous. It is one of my significant frustrations.

This is hyperbole. People usually double-park in San Francisco because they often have no alternative. Taxis are supposed to find a legal parking space before they pick people up or drop them off? Ridiculous. Same goes for garbage trucks and city cops. Most neighborhood streets have only two lanes with parking on each side. Finding a parking space is often difficult to impossible for everyone. The notion that blocking bike lanes should be a big deal is the kind of special treatment cyclists have no reason to expect.

Wiener provides Rudick with an anti-car campaign riff:

Transportation funding is going to be a massive priority in the State Senate; the state does not do nearly enough for public transportation. It always takes a back seat to freeway funding and that needs to change. We need an urban transportation agenda in California where the Bay Area and Los Angeles work together to grow the transit pie instead of fighting over crumbs. If we’re going to expand subways to Western San Francisco and the Bay View, extend Caltrain and HSR downtown, build a second Transbay tube, and do all the things we need to do to absorb the two-million population increase we expect in the next 25 years, that has to be a high priority. I will definitely be working with the transit advocacy community on progressive transportation policy, Automatic Speed Enforcement, fire code reform, and creating greater incentives for local jurisdictions to build complete streets.

Randal O'Toole: "All you have to do is mention the words 'public transit,' and progressives will fall over themselves to support you no matter how expensive and ridiculous your plans."

Automatic Speed Enforcement has real practical problems, like in Chicago.

Wiener, like most Democrats, has always supported the high-speed rail boondoggle. And "subways to Western San Francisco and the Bayview"? The official price-tag for the Central Subway project is $1.58 billion, but I bet it will end up costing $1 billion per mile. 

That means a subway under Geary Blvd. to the ocean would cost more than $5 billion! Even a liberal Hillary Clinton administration is unlikely to pay for that, even if the Democrats take control of the House in November.

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