Monday, July 10, 2017

Bikes in the suburbs


Richard Hall

Dick Spotswood in the Marin Independent Journal (After spending millions, will bike investment pay off?):

...Take the hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent pushing cycling as a practical means of commuting. I’m not referring to money spent encouraging recreational cycling or facilitating bike commuting in densely packed eastern San Francisco. I’m pointing to the now-under-construction Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bikeway folly and the preposterous idea of spending a half-billion in toll dollars extending bike lanes across the suspension portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

A prime Marin example is the new $13 million bike bridge across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, by the Highway 101 interchange. Planners thought the span would be flooded by biking commuters gleefully forsaking their cars.

What we now mostly see is the occasional recreational cyclist or jogger. Nothing wrong with those folks, but the question remains, was the little-used bike bridge the best use of your taxes?

Professional transit planners are taught that automobiles are the enemy and that efforts to relieve traffic are counter-productive. They believe public transit is the answer, but lack the huge resources needed to make meaningful rail, bus or ferry expansions. They resolved this dilemma by devising a theoretical solution: bike commuting...

Not unexpectedly, when implemented in suburban and quasi-rural areas, those commuting to work by bike fail to achieve planners’ over-optimistic expectations. It proves Rentschler correct; it’s hard for planners to predict what they don’t want to happen.


Rob's comment:
Spotswood refers to "bike commuting in densely packed eastern San Francisco." But bike lanes here in SF are about the limited space on city streets, not about money. San Francisco can find the money to do whatever transportation folly it chooses (e.g., the Central Subway), especially with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi ready to provide federal money for city projects---and I say that as a Democrat. 

The real issue here is the limited space on city streets. To create protected bike lanes, the city has to remove limited street parking and traffic lanes on busy streets. This benefits the 4% of the population that ride bikes to work while making traffic worse for everyone else who uses city streets.

Instead, the city uses lies about safety to justify bike lanes: Polk and Masonic: Not so dangerous after all.

With its usual crude bias, SF Streetsblog links Spotswood's column: Commentary: Nobody Really Commutes by Bike.

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