Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rob Anderson: Geezer from Hell

At 1:44 PM, MattyMatt said...
"I'd be interested in reading your rebuttal to the points brought up in the article."

What "points"? That, in Matt Smith's shockingly lame piece in the SF Weekly, I'm a "mean" person? Or that I harbor a "deep animosity toward the bicycle community" (Steve Jones in the SF Bay Guardian)? These folks---the bike people and their progressive enablers---are so unused to criticism here in Progressive Land that they don't know how to handle it. I mean, how can I criticize them? They don't burn fossil fuel! Actually, the Jones piece wasn't too bad. He seems to be a nice guy, and he evidently at least listened to what I was saying---or maybe he recorded our conversation. Smith, of course, didn't talk to me at all. Perhaps not coincidentally, last year I did a full-blown critique of one of his SF Weekly pieces here on D5 Diary. 

But note that both articles saw fit to point out that I was a "failed" D5 candidate for supervisor, as if I'm a bitter old man---the Geezer From Hell---and just hate people who ride bikes. Untrue. I just think it's foolish and dangerous to ride a bike in the city. And it's completely unacceptable to allow this tiny minority with the dangerous hobby to redesign the streets of San Francisco without doing a serious study of the impacts, which is what the litigation is about, not my alleged animosity to cyclists.

Smith is in fact a bike zealot himself. See a couple of pieces I did on him last year. Let me know if I was too "mean" to Matt here and here.

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At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't bicyclists, as tax paying citizens, have the right to decide if it's too dangerous to ride a bike in SF? Why should you decide that for us?

If I am one person who decides to take up a tiny bit of space on my bike, next to one other person who decides to take up four times that space in a car on the same road, why does tha car have more right to the space than the bike? This IS public space we are talking about.

You claim to be progressive but see no benefits to make room for bicyclist in this city. Your lawsuit seems misguided. You are using taxpayer's dollars to suspend alternatives to burning fossil fuels. You are out of touch with the reality of SF these days. Every bike lane creates more cyclists who are safe and helping the environment. Get a new hobby.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, I don't claim to be a progressive. I claim to be a liberal and a Democrat. No one is trying to take any of your rights away. You have a right to risk your life on a bike any time you want. All I am saying is that the people of San Francisco have a right to know what the city-cyclist alliance has in store for the streets of their neighborhoods.

At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You've made mention of the self-deluded, smug attitudes of "progressives" in the past and it seems this is still a stick in your craw as far as in regards to the bicycling issue. Well in this case you must be equally deluded to not consider the bicycle as a viable form of transportation as a decent percentage of the city do. To have the gaul to dub yourselves "ninety-nine percent" would be comical if you didn't bring a lawsuit and get granted this injunction only by a judge who was retiring and probably wanted to take a parting shot a big segment of the population he didn't like. It sounds to me one or two store owners (a tiny minority) who have badly place businesses shouldn't have so much say. Zuni looks to be doin' great business.
I've lived here 15 years and have always commuted by bike, shopped by bike, done laundry by bike, etc

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

If you bother to read any of the documents in the ongoing litigation---which you can get at the Superior Court---you will see that we got the injunction because we convinced the judge that the city was implementing the Bicycle Plan piecemeal even as the litigation was proceeding. Hence, the injunction to freeze things until September, when the matter can be heard on its merits. What's the big hurry? This Plan will affect most of the streets in the city. The people in the city's neighborhoods have a right to know what's in store for them and their streets. On Judge---or ex-Judge---Warren: I've read several of his decisions on other cases, and all I can say is that it's a shame he's retiring. He's very smart and never seems to be looking over his shoulder politically. He just calls them as he sees them and lets the chips fall wherever. On Market St.: There are more than a dozen businesses in that area that are all suffering since the street parking was taken away by the city last month. Take a walk through the area between Van Ness and Octavia and you'll see what I mean. It's kind of a retail no-man's land now. The thing that really made it "gauling"[sic] is that it was rushed through the process to be completed by Bike to Work Day. Now, that's arrogance and elitism!

At 2:45 AM, Blogger Jackson said...

I don't understand how you can maintain that riding a bike in The City is any more dangerous than walking or driving a car.

According to the CDC, 623 people died while riding a bicycle in the state of California between 1999 and 2003, at a rate of 3.6 per million in population. Whereas occupants of motor vehicles in the same area and period died at the rate of 46.4 per million (8,006 deaths). That means riding in a car is an order of magnitude more dangerous than riding a bicycle.

Walking, actually, is way more dangerous than riding a bike, with 4,052 pedestrians killed -- and I'd be willing to bet the farm that 99% of those pedestrian deaths involved a car, truck or bus fender. For more perspective, firearms accounted for 16,240 deaths -- making cars half as deadly as guns.

As for your argument that this affects small business disproportionately, you've only offered anecdotal evidence. While certainly compelling, that does not mean that there is, on average, any impact on business in The City (positive or negative) by removing parking spaces to create bike lanes.

Finally, while demanding The City comply with local, state and federal laws and procedures is admirable, this was obviously a good-faith effort to improve the environmental conditions in The City by decreasing the amount of car traffic (and, therefore, emmissions). So why are you surprised that you are being called a curmudgeon after challenging a popular and well-intentioned program on a bureaucratic technicality? That's what curmudgeons do.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To say that taking away those parking spaces is the reason those businesses are not doing well is very near-sighted. First of all, a parking lot was built to accomodate cars needing to go to those businesses. What's more, those businesses used to be shaded in the old freeway, and now the area is changing for the better. By calming traffic and making more "safe" space for bikes and pedestrians, more and more people are frequenting the area on foot or pedal, which, in the long run, will bring more business than when under the freeway. It will not be instant, buth businesses will eventually benefit. Otherwise, what was the point in changing the offramp? it was to open Market street and make it more enviting. The antique shop will get more foot and bike traffic because they can actually stop in this congested area on a whim. This is about taking public space back for everyone, not just cyclists.

The main problem I have with your argument is that you are not consistent with your reasons. When someone challenges you, you back down and say, "the people deserve to know what is going on in their streets." While I agree reviews are valuable, you have been quoted numerous places as saying the city should not support the dangerous hobby of a minority of cyclists. Which is it? Are you against the bike plan because of who it supports, or because it was not reviewed properly? You hide behind the environmental review process when challenged. Are you going to address the bias you displayed so visually before?

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I've posted information recently about a single business in the two-block area between Van Ness and Octavia Blvd., but his experience is typical of about a dozen businesses in that area (see earlier posts of verbatim public comments by these folks during an April 17 BOS committee hearing.)The issue here is in fact finding out what the impact of the Bicycle Plan is going to be before it's implemented and it's too late.

I don't mind being called a "curmudgeon." Matt Smith's pathetic piece in the SF Weekly called me "mean" without engaging in a discussion of a single point we're trying to raise with this litigation. What I mind is being hammered for simply raising the issues in the first place.

I don't deny that the city has good intentions by pushing the Bicycle Plan, but good intentions are not enough. On the other hand, the city has been sneaky and underhanded in how they've been implenting the well-intentioned Bicycle Plan, which we proved to the judge's satisfaction. Otherwise we wouldn't have gotten the injunction in the first place. We didn't get it on a mere "technicality." This is a substantive issue, a serious question about the whole process behind the development and implementation of the Bicycle Plan.

" have been quoted numerous places as saying the city should not support the dangerous hobby of a minority of cyclists. Which is it? Are you against the bike plan because of who it supports, or because it was not reviewed properly? You hide behind the environmental review process when challenged. Are you going to address the bias you displayed so visually before?"

It's both. I think the process until now has been sneaky and illegal. The judge agreed. The content of the Plan and the political/personal conduct of those in the city's cycling community are separate issues. I think the Plan itself is seriously flawed, and I think cycling in the city is essentially a crackpot trip. But let's get everything on the table with a proper review of the Plan, so that everyone knows what they are dealing with.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger MattyMatt said...

So wait -- does San Francisco have to review the environmental impact of the bike plan, or the small-business impact of the bike plan? I thought the plan was put on hold because of its uncertain impact on the environment, but it sounds like what you want is a review of much more than that. I'm not sure which. Could you summarize -- maybe in a new post -- the different potential impacts that you think the bike plan might have?

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The "environment" under CEQA means more than air and water; it also means the physical landscape of the city. Eliminating traffic lanes and parking is an environmental impact. And there are social impacts that must be considered, too, like the Plan's effects on businesses and neighborhoods.

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god. This is SO sad. And I mean as in pathetic.

I'm almost as old as this guy (I'm 56, he reportedly 63) and have been doing business -- as an entreprenuerial small businessman -- in SF for 28 years, almost COMPLETLY conducted by bicycle.

I do think there are proper processes to tilt a community towards this or that program -- and so environmental review of bike plans is unfortunately required. "Unfortunately" because there is NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER that encouraging bicycle use -- and DISCOURAGING automobile use -- in San Francisco really IS, indeed, a "no brainer". This guy's agenda seems far larger than simple equity, however -- he really IS against bike riding in the city, what with his anecdotes, lectures about safety, etc, etc.
Yo, pal, I gotta tell ya, yer just flat out WRONG. The only thing I can think appropriate to add -- because I'm NOT gonna waste any more time here (even to see if this is posted on or not, gets comments or reax, whatever) is "get a fucking LIFE, man." Hey, GREAT taking on city hall and the smug, self-aggrandizing twits over there! Good for you! But don't embarrass yourself with this truly laughable crusade. It really is roll-your-eyes dumb, frankly. Wowie....

(and not at all in any way connected to some bike shop or bike coalition or other

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Thanks for sharing, pal. Check in again when you want to congratulate yourself in public for being such a hip guy.

At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to be pro-bike. I ride my bike in the city regularly and I also have children that ride in the city at times. However, I've noticed an increasingly aggressive and antagonistic attitude on the part of bike riders and their political lobby. Although riders are supposed to observe traffic laws, I encounter many riders who blow through stop signs if they see the slightest sign of hesitation from a driver who arrived at the sign first and should have the right of way. Because I also ride a bike I'm particularly careful around bicyclists--but I'm often embarrassed by their behavior. And I'm finding that more and more riders are riding side by side, outside of bike lanes and won't budge for drivers patiently waiting to pass. "Share the road". Right.

Let's be realistic--most of us do need to rely on cars most of the time. Bicycles may be the answer for some small percentage of the population--and that's terrific--but the more likely answer is improved public transportation. Even so, San Francisco is not a kid friendly city in the first place and it's often necessary to drive children half way across the city for school and activities due to tight schedules. Driving a car in the city is already difficult. This is one of the reasons many people with kids feel like they have to move out of the city. Bikes are also no solution for the elderly, disabled, or people that have to carry large or heavy goods around. And let's not forget rainy and cold weather. I'm all in favor of bike riders and bikes but pushing through an overwrought plan that makes it even more difficult to drive a car or operate a business is myopic and doesn't account for the needs of the vast majority of people.--Athos

At 1:53 PM, Blogger tedsfiles said...

Hey Athos,
Bike riding is currently 5% of trips in SF. In Copenhagen, and parts of Japan, they account for 30% of trips. Imagine if you could remove 1 in 3 cars from the road. That would make your trip a lot faster. Increasing the priority for cars leads to worse traffic, just ask the city of Los Angeles. Bike lanes take up a very small amount of space. I think that the bike plan will bring major benefits for car users and other users by reducing car traffic.

Even Rob Anderson would have to admit, it is just a matter of time before the correct processes are followed, and the city gets to implement the plan.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This is only about San Francisco, which you don't seem to be familiar with. But thanks for sharing your irrelvant examples with us.


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