Friday, March 24, 2006

Bush, oil, and the anti-car movement

Posted by Anonymous to District 5 Diary:

"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."

I agree. The emotion that fuels, so to speak, 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 think that, once gas prices get high enough, motor 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 motor vehicles and are willing to pay for it.

The self-righteous emotion on the fossil fuel issue blurs other aspects of the bike issue, too. Take safety, for example: even the SF Bicycle Coalition's own safety expert, Bert Hill, admits that most bicycle accidents have nothing to do with other vehicles: 45% are solo falls/accidents, and only 18% involve 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 motor 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 deserves 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.

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At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your safety figures about bicycles are misleading and VERY skewed.

While it's true that a large number of 'accidents' may occur without another vehicle, the majority of these cause no real injury. If you look at serious injury accidents (Requiring more than a few stitches) you'd see that the majority of those do, in fact, involve motorized vehicles.

Falling over due to inexperience with clipless pedals, for example, is much less likely to result in serious injury than being struck by an inattentive motorist who 'didn't see' the cyclist, who was riding in the proper and legal position on the road.

The majority of what people think makes bicyling a 'dangerous' activity is nothing more than either inattentiveness or aggressiveness on the part of motorists.

Bicycle lanes are great, but I see much more need in the areas of enforcement of current laws(for cyclists and motorists), and educating both drivers and cyclists on proper, safe, and LEGAL ways to share the road.

There are cities all over the world where cyclists and motorists share the road, WHY NOT HERE?

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

They aren't my figures; they are cited by Bert Hill, a SF Bicycle Coalition guy. Check out the article I cite. Do you have some alternative figures to cite? The problem is that there are no reliable numbers out there, because there's no requirement that emergency rooms or even the police are keeping score in a systematic way.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Bill McLaughlin said...

Yeah... it is very difficult to find accurate statistics. Another problem you'll find with the accidents reported by hospitals (emergency rooms) is that the numbers will be very skewed towards those with a higher economic standing.


They have medical insurance, and are more likely to go in for a fairly minor fall (even one involving no other bikes/peds/vehicles) whereas someone with no insurance (me, for example) might get hit by a truck (I later learned there was over $1000 worth of damage to the truck) limp to work and put in a full day, and later straighten their bike frame with a pair of 2x4's and go on to put another 5,000 miles on that bike.

Also... the people with more money are the ones that have more of a tendency to use their bike as a 'toy', for recreational purposes, thereby possibly having less experience handling themselves on the bike, both in traffic and on bike paths.

I like bike paths, but so do a lot of people, including people out walking, pushing strollers, walking the dog, roller blading, and those 'recreational' cyclists I was talking about.

Those of us that need to use the bike to actually get somewhere end up pushed off of the paths, and back to the streets (which we have every right to use), so you end up pretty much back where you started.

I've been in danger of getting hurt only twice in the past week, and both of those were deliberate attempts by someone who thought I didn't belong on the road to force me off.

I'm currently in Denver, but I've ridden in San Francisco (I was stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station)

I wouldn't consider myself a 'fanatic', I just enjoy doing something that improves my health, helps the environment, and saves me money. I've saved approx. $1000 since I started biking to work, and I enjoy every penny of that 'extra' income.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Good luck to you with your risky, money-saving lifestyle. The whole issue of safety is murky in SF because there is no good system for gathering the numbers on accidents. I suspect a lot more people are getting hurt riding bikes than cyclists want to admit.


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