Thursday, March 23, 2006

Anti-Car jihad targets Golden Gate Park

SF Examiner columnist Ken Garcia gets it right in his column this morning ("Another Spin Cycle in Latest Try to Ban Cars in Park on Saturdays," March 23, 2006). (Later: The link doesn't work on that Garcia column, but here's one a month later with similar contents: Special interests on cusp of hijacking Golden Gate Park). 

He understands that the latest attempt to ban cars from Golden Gate Park on Saturdays---they are already banned on Sundays---is just another front in the anti-car movement in SF, a movement that is profoundly elitist: "Funny that elected officials[Mirkarimi and McGoldrick] would have such disdain for voters that they feel free to ride circles around them."

But the truth is that the anti-car folks have disdain for regular people who need to drive into the park for access---people with families, the elderly, the handicapped. (And there's the monthly Critical Mass, listed on the Bicycle Coalition's online calendar, where the same people think it's cute and cool to snarl rush-hour traffic for working people trying to get home.) 

Now that the underground garage is operational, the anti-car folks are insisting that it be the only access to the eastern end of the park on Saturdays, too. The Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum told Garcia that the city lacks "safe, affordable recreational areas in The City." Garcia rightly scoffs at this fanciful notion, pointing out that the city has huge recreational areas available, including the whole western part of the park, the Marina Green, etc.

As Garcia also points out, city voters "overwhelmingly" rejected both ballot measures on Saturday closure in 2000. (The numbers: Proposition F---which progressives supported---lost 55% to 45%, and Proposition G, which they opposed, lost 62% to 38%. And let's not forget that the anti-car folks have consistently opposed the underground garage, both before and after city voters passed Proposition J in 1998, 58% to 42%.) 

Now the anti-car progs are trying an end run around the will of the voters via the Board of Supervisors, with the help of District 5's Ross Mirkarimi and District 1's Jake McGoldrick. Mirkarimi got the sole endorsement of the Bicycle Coalition in 2004, and McGoldrick chairs the little-known San Francisco City Transit Authority, which hands out millions of dollars to the bike fanatics every year so that they can put their anti-car jihad into practice on the city's streets, taking away traffic lanes for bike lanes, eliminating parking wherever possible, etc.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating about the anti-car movement, recall that the Bicycle Coalition's Andy Thornley indiscreetly tipped us off to their strategy last year: "We've done all the easy things so far. Now we need to take space from cars." (SF Bay Guardian, May 18, 2005) Which means taking away traffic lanes and parking spaces and whatever else they can do to make it as expensive and difficult as possible to drive in the city---a strategy, by the way, that also affects Muni, emergency vehicles, and trucks trying to deliver goods to the city's many small businesses. (Text of Prop. J)

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At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The anti-car fanatics logic is as follows: Cars require oil, oil requires a War in Iraq, Bush started the Iraq war for Oil, we hate bush.

It's neat, it's simple, and covers all bases. Problem is they dominate City Hall, and the Mayor will go along with this logic if it preserves his non-existent high poll numbers.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I agree. The emotion that fuels their self-righteousness largely comes from the fact that bikes don't burn fossil fuels, which makes them Good People by definition. Some of them---Sue Vaughn and Tim Holt, for example---even seem to think that, once gas prices get high enough, motorized vehicles in general will become obsolete, even though hybrid engine technology is getting better all the time. For those of us still inhabiting planet earth, it's reasonable to think that cars and motor vehicles are here to stay. People like the mobility and convenience of motorized vehicles and are willing to pay for it. Their self-righteous emotion on the fossil fuel issue blurs other aspects of the bike issue, too. Take safety, for example: even the SF Bicycle Coaliton's own safety expert, Bert Hill, admits that most bicycle accidents have nothing to do with other vehicles: That is, even if there were no other vehicles on the streets, cycling would still be an inherently unsafe activity. That city government is encouraging people, including children, to engage in an unsafe---though Politically Correct---activity is worrisome: There was no dissent on the Board of Supervisors last year when it voted 11-0 to make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan. The bike people are pushing the idea that bikes should have the right to share lanes with motorized traffic---including buses, SUVs, and trucks---on an equal basis, an idea so foolish it confirms the sense that these folks are fanatics, that the bicycle is really the political symbol of a utopian cult that has little contact with reality on the streets of the city. I agree, too, about Mayor Newsom. He gets a lot of credit for tackling the homeless issue in SF and the gay marriage issue, though his push on gay marriage arguably cost Kerry the election in 2004. But he's entirely conventional on other issues, like housing and the bike bullshit.

At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Private cars share many character-
istics with tobacco. Like tobacco, cars harm the health of users
and others. Road traffic crashes cause 1.3 million deaths and up to 50 million injuries per year globally. Nearly half of the deaths are vulnerable road users—pedestrians and cyclists, specially
children. Moreover, cars damage global sustainability. Like
tobacco, car use is seen as an individual choice and policy
responses to limit it are resisted by a powerful industry
lobby. There is a ‘war on the
roads’ in which the interests of vulnerable road users are
pitted against a powerful motor industry.


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