Monday, February 14, 2005

Public comment on the Bicycle Plan

(Submitted to the Planning Commission during its regularly scheduled meeting of Feb. 3, 2005 in response to agenda items 14a and 14b)

Public Comment By Rob Anderson

Objecting to Exemption of project 2004.0420E, the San Francisco Bicycle Plan Policy Framework, from CEQA Review

This Document Will Have a Significant Impact on the Environment of San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bicycle Plan is a document that proposes wide-ranging changes affecting both the streets and the buildings of San Francisco, including lane changes, traffic “calming,” parking, pavement painting, tree trimming, street sweeping, and even funding for educational programs. Bicycle advocates in Planning even want to “integrate consideration of bicycle travel into all roadway planning, design, and construction.” This is overreach. We need to put bicycle use in San Francisco in a rational perspective:

According to the DMV, as of last year there were 447,585 autos, trucks, and motorcycles registered in the city. At most, the bike advocates represent 1-2% of the city’s population.

Planning’s Certificate of Determination says that one of the goals of the document is “to promote bicycling as a safe, healthy, cost-effective, environmentally beneficial alternative to auto use…” Riding a bike in San Francisco is an inherently unsafe activity, regardless of how environmentally benign it may be. Only a small fraction of the city’s population will ever be willing or able to use a bike as a serious means of transportation in San Francisco. It’s irresponsible of the city to encourage people to engage in what is an inherently unsafe activity.

Note should be taken of a number of references to the city’s Bicycle Coalition in creating this document. This is an organization that, until recently, listed on its online calendar taking part in Critical Mass as a recommended monthly activity.

The Bicycle Plan document itself tells us that bike riding in the city should be a “key component” of our transportation system. Realistically, bikes will never be anything but a very minor part of our transportation system, regardless of how many bike lanes the city paints. Automobiles (367,570) and trucks (63,353) and buses will always be much more important than bicycles.

The San Francisco Bicycle Plan is a document that is almost megalomaniacal in its desire to alter the city’s streets and buildings dramatically to satisfy a small, politically aggressive minority of its citizens.

A list of only some of my specific objections to the Policy Framework are listed below:

Action 2.7, which calls for the actual removal of traffic lanes to make bike lanes on some city streets.

Action 2.11, which calls for using a Shared Use Pavement Arrow on some streets to foster the illusion that bikes are equal to autos and trucks. This is irresponsible, since bikes will never be equal in any practical sense to much larger motorized vehicles.

Action 310, calls for amending the Planning Code to reduce auto parking spaces in buildings where bicycle parking is provided. In fact, the politically aggressive bike community has already undermined the city law that requires developers to provide a parking space for every housing unit built. The less parking for cars in the city the better the bike people seem to like it. Yet this short-sighted achievement will only lead to more competition for already inadequate street parking.

Action 3.15, wants the police to make bike theft a higher priority. The police surely have a better sense of their own priorities than the bike community and Planning.

Action 4.1, wants to permit folding bicycles on Muni buses, even though buses are already crowded, and route cutbacks are on the near horizon.

Action 5.9, wants in effect to allow the bike advocates to proselytize in the city’s schools to encourage children to engage in an unsafe activity.

Action 7.3, wants permission to push the bike agenda on a captive audience of the city’s public employees.

Action 8.3, This action item could be called, “And Tomorrow the World,” since it wants to ensure that “all current and proposed Area Plans’ objectives are consistent with the goals of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan.”

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