Sunday, November 12, 2006

More Bike Debate: "Rob, you are a very very small person"

Anonymous wrote:
I believe you should do some research before you ask how the Bike Coalition can possibly know that people want bike lanes on San Jose. They know that people want it because they go into each neighborhood multiple times and conduct both bicycle and pedestrian/car/public-transit meetings for people to give their opinions and vote on multiple different versions of street designs for their neighborhood before the plans are submitted to be voted on by the city. It takes months to implement even small aspects of the bike plan. If the true problem is that residents deserve to know what is happening to their streets, a thousand-page environmental impact report filed with the city is not going to fill that void. By bringing this lawsuit on, not only have you cost the city money on the case, but the city and the SFBC will now have to divert time and money to producing something that does not alleviate the so-called main problem with the bike plan. To decide on one exact street design in order to comply with the review takes away the opportunity to be flexible during the planning and implementation process. The bike plan needs to be flexible in order to accomodate individual neighborhoods and situations, and you have taken that away. You have essentially shot yourself in the foot. Congratulations.

Despite the hole in his foot, Rob Anderson bravely wrote:

I believe you should also do some research before you post comments to this blog---on the law and CEQA, for example, which you don't even mention. The CEQA process provides more than doorstop-like documents; it also provides the public with a chance to provide the city with input on the Bicycle Plan project, which didn't happen in this instance. Besides, allowing the SF Bicycle Coalition to perform the public outreach function is highly improper, since they are an advocacy group that has a stake in the outcome of the process. The SF Bicycle Coalition is not a public agency.

"The bike plan needs to be flexible in order to accomodate individual neighborhoods and situations, and you have taken that away." This statement nicely epitomizes how the city and the SFBC have been proceeding thus far: They are deciding what happens to the streets in city neighborhoods without a proper legal process. And there's this: under the law, you either have a specific project that people can respond to or you don't. The approach you outline gives the city and SFBC way too much authority to do what they will to city streets. Given the anti-car policies already in effect in the city, I don't trust either of those entities to do the right thing, and I suspect that a lot of people agree with me. In short, CEQA already contains a system of steps and procedures that govern the review of projects like the Bicycle Plan.

Two Superior Court judges now agree that the city has not complied with that law. The implication of your comment is that the city and the SFBC are somehow not obligated to do so, which is the kind of arrogance that got SF into its present fix. San Francisco would have saved a lot of everybody's time and money if they had just done the right and legal thing in the first place by doing an environmental review of the whole Bicycle Plan before they began implementing it.

Suisun Salman wrote:
Rob - you really are a very very small person. Poor little fellah. I say we circle your block in Bike Lanes about 8 times and install a permanent critcal mass there... how bout that?Funny thing is I only bike a couple days a month! But at least I believe in reality! Pathetic, small, lesser: Rob Anderson.

A Much Diminished Rob Anderson wrote:
You've witlessly expressed your anger and contempt twice now, but you still haven't discussed the issues, like the Bicycle Plan or the litigation that convinced Judge Busch to order the city to comply with state law. Depends on what you mean by "reality." Here's the reality I believe in: There are 452,813 motor vehicles registered in SF, along with 1000 Muni vehicles, and 25,000 motorists commuting into the city every weekday. On the other hand, only 1-2% of the city's population commutes by bicycle, which tells me that redesigning city streets on behalf of cyclists without the proper study is, well, a little crazy. You bike fanatics seem to think you are great visionaries, but you're really in the grip of an ideology, which, like all ideologies, is not reality-based.



At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Suisun Salman said...

Incorrect! I have witFULLY derided you for your insane and obsessed lawsuit. You are clearly a small and weak person who wants attention and for some bizarre reason think you're going to accomplish something by making the city listen to you and jump through some hoops, costing all of us time and money.

Reality is that getting around this city on a bike is not as easy as it should be. I'm tired of hearing your quoted numbers. 400whatever thousand cars means nothing, how many of them are commuting intra-city every day? I also don't belive the 1-2% I'd say it's closer to 5% in many areas for those who live and work in the city, and it will only get higher - just watch for the next survey.

And finally, even if this did only benefit 1-2%, you're the pot calling the kettle black by forcing the city into a costly lawsuit that only benfits TWO people - your lawyer and your ego. That's about 0.00025% of the city's population, little monkey.

By the way, I'm not a "bike zealot" I ride a couple times a month. I also have countless friends who'd ride more often if there were more bikelines.

Welcome to reality!

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Witfully"? You're so clever you are able to invent new words. The SFCTA says 1% of city residents commute by bike. The 2000 Census said the number was 1.9%. You can't just pull a number out of your ass and expect anyone to take you seriously. What "survey" are you referring to? The 452,813 number you are understandably tired of is the DMV's count of the registered vehicles in SF---373,115 cars, 62,127 trucks, and 17,571 motorcycles/motorbikes. These vehicles are registered to people who live in the city limits, not commuters.

Two Superior Court judges have agreed with us about both the law and the facts. Why do you think that is so?

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Suisun Salman said...

uh huh... and how many of those 400,000 cars communte from SF to downtown SF, that's what I was asking. And the answer is not very many. In fact I'm willing to bet there are as many people (from nearby SF) riding bikes downtown as there are driving cars downtown.

It doesn't really matter anyway, you've succeeded in making the bike coalition a lot more determined and they'll be doubly successful next year.

Ride on champ.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You ask a question and provide a non-answer---"not very many." Could you be more specific? Of course you can't, because you are winging it; you don't know what you are talking about. Information on "modal" share---who uses the streets of the city and how---is available in, for example, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority's (SFCTA) Countywide Transportation Plan of July 2004. You can get a copy at 100 Van Ness on the 26th floor, where the SFCTA has its lavish offices---your transit dollars at work!

The SFCTA figures that the city's transportation system "carried" 4.5 million trips a day, most of them by car. Only 30% of those trips were "regional," that is, originating outside the city, which leaves around 3 million internal auto trips a day in SF. Bicycles only account for 1% of all internal city trips (see page 39 in the Countywide Transportation Plan). Transit accounts for 16.4% of all trips, and, interestingly, 28.3% of all trips are by walking.

Yes, the facts do matter, since reality---remember that, Suizie?---is reflected in the facts. Good public policy should also be based on the facts, as best we can determine them. The Bicycle Plan was/is not based on these transit facts; it's based on a fantasy ideology that I call BikeThink, a subset of GroupThink.

The SF Bicycle Coalition is not a public agency. They have indeed been successful in implenting their delusional agenda in SF, but they may have reached the pinnacle of their influence last year, when they got the BOS to unanimously make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan with no debate and no dissent.

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous mike anderson said...

Rob, as a SFBC member I must admit you have made a valid argument that has stood up in court. No organization should be of the belief that it is above the law. That being said, I am still saddened that your lawsuit has affected a Plan that has been changing the way people behave in a very positive way. As the SFBC says, if we "build" it(bike lanes), they will come. While I don't have a legitimate study to back the numbers, I am amazed at the increased numbers of bicycle riders throughout the city, and especially on busy streets such as Valencia, Folsom and Howard! These bicyclists are examples to the "99%ers", that maybe it's time for them to rethink their fossil fuel burning, pollution inducing form of transportation. You keep calling fellow bicyclists zealots. Personally, I find it hard not to be zealous about the health of our planet these days. The status quo of relying on oil is rapidly destroying our planet. You talk about how the bicyclist are inconvenicing the 99%ers. While this may be true, the 99%ers who drive are polluting the air I breathe every morning as i commute by bike each day. This is an assault to the health of 100% of the citizens.

I've read in the past that you are afraid of biking in SF. Well maybe one day, with the Bike Plan fully implemented and with hopefully fewer cars on the road, maybe even you will try it as one of the most efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly forms of transportation. And finally, I would love to see a study on how the business' are doing on Valencia street since the bike lanes were striped there. Are their studies showing that bike lanes have hurt small business'?

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Joel Young said...

First off, thank you for explaining your objections to the Bike Plan in great detail on this website. As a SF resident with some sporadic connections to people involved in lobbying and policy making, I probably wouldn't have gotten your perspective. I have a lot of respect for anyone who will stick their neck out in this way and try to explain what they mean.

However, it's all well and good to proclaim that all cycling advocates are zealots and then when you get some flames in return, say "See? I told you so!" — but it doesn't mean much. Suisan's (and others') name-calling isn't productive, and neither is yours.

I agree with you that there needs to be some respect for established process. After reading over what you've written, I suspect that if the Bike Plan is to succeed, it will need the added rigor and assurrances that an environmental review will provide — and that it will probably need some revision.

I still can't shake the feeling, though, that that's not what this is really about. Let's look at some quotes from your previous posts:

It’s bad policy, bad government, and, in the long run, it’s bad politics, since future political opponents in your districts will rightly use this issue against you if you vote to give this small, arrogant, politically aggressive minority a blank check on city policy by enshrining their dangerous hobby in the city’s General Plan.

I'm sorry, "dangerous hobby"? It sure is fun to take a ride through Golden Gate Park, but we're talking about commute alternatives, which are another beast entirely. Sure, biking can potentially be dangerous, which leads me to...

... along with the reckless notion of lane-sharing, where bike riders are encouraged to assert their right to share lanes equally with trucks, buses, and SUVs.

You haven't explicitly acknowledged that you're not a cyclist, but you did say that your primary commute methods are mass transit and walking. So, assuming that you haven't spent much time on a bicycle in the middle of traffic, I can understand if you hold this misconception that a bicycle "taking a lane" is dangerous. It sure feels scary the first few times you do it, but I can assure you that it's much safer in terms of visibility, showing intent, and generally not getting squeezed into the gutter. More education about this would not only lower the blood pressure of observers such as yourself who seem to think that cyclists are transgressing by acting in their legal best interest, but it would also remove a barrier to commuting by bike.

Bias can really color the results of a study. You bring up a good point that the Bike Coalition has a vested interest in the results of their studies, and although I have good faith in their efforts, I would be very interested in seeing some independent studies that asked the right questions. Your bias seems to be that cycling advocates (which include many thousands of SFBC members) are selfish ideologues, divorced from reality. From your quoted comments, it appears that your perspective on certain issues is a little less than realistic itself. If you'd like to drop the incendiary rhetoric on matters that you don't know anything about, then maybe you'd get some more reasonable reactions. As it stands, I really have to question what your motives are in hiding behind Process.

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous rob_anderson_hates_cyclists said...

Rob - saying that only by bringing the process under CEQA review will allow citizens to comment on street changes is disengenous. Every bike lane that has been built has been reviewed at several levels with public community meetings, public supervisor meetings (Land Use) and BOS meetings. Even the mayor has to sign off on every lane! Every street change has public notices. Every bike project already gets environmental review. Every street change goes through a legal process. (If it didn't the Bike Network would have been implemented by now.) There have plenty of chances for concerned citizens to get involved.

This suit has just added yet another level of beaucracy to San Francisco's stated goal of making this City a better place to ride a bike.

Rob, you know this lawsuit isn't going to change anything. The bike plan will get approved in the end. You're just a bitter cyclist hater who needs to move back to Boonville. If you really think you're speaking for all of these thousands of drivers, then where are all of your signatures of support? The Bike Coalition has 6000 members that want better biking conditions. How many members does your CAR group have?

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's good that you mention the BOS Land Use committee, since that is where a lot of the subterfuge goes on. A bike lane is rubber-stamped in a committee meeting and then rushed through on the agenda of the full board. The Market St. lane-grab---between Van Ness and Octavia---was the most flagrant violation of this process. The city gave local merchants notice, and then, when those same merchants raised a stink, the committee just ignored their desperate pleas to save their street parking. And, insult to injury, the whole process was accelerated at the mayor's request to get it done in time for Bike to Work Day! In fact, the segments that were implemented in the manner you describe did not get environmental reviews; they were given "categorial exemptions" under the presumption that bike lanes can't possibly have any effect on the city's environment. Even if your claim of a pristine process was true---and it isn't---the whole point of the litigation was that the whole Bicycle Plan project needs review at one time, since it is in fact one project. That's what CEQA requires. You can't piecemeal in a major project like this.

There is no new bureaucracy created by the court's decision. The Planning Dept. will have to do some kind of EIR on the whole Bicyle Plan before the city can continue implementing it, which will mean a lot of traffic studies of the targeted streets. What the city's neighborhoods need to see is the whole Bicycle Plan under review, instead of having bicycle lanes sprung on them, one street at a time, out of obscure BOS committees.

You call me "disengenous"[sic] and accuse me of being a "cyclist hater," which is simply untrue. I think city cyclists are often rude as individuals and arrogant as a political force in the city, as evidenced by Critical Mass and the SFBC. Do I need "signatures of support" to stack up alongside 6000 SFBC members? No, I don't, since I have the facts and the law on my side. Besides, as I never tire of saying, there are 452,813 registered vehicles in SF, a number that far outweighs those belonging to the bike cult. The reality is that the SFBC has been exercising political power way out of proportion to its numbers.

You may have me confused with one of my relatives with the Boonville reference. Though I've lived in Boonville a few times over the past 30 years, I'm not from there in any real sense.

Like the other commenters, you show no signs of knowing anything about either the litigation or the Bicycle Plan, which is an ambitious, two-volume, 460-page project. Some of it may eventually be implemented, but it is far from inevitability you seem to think it is.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger tedsfiles said...

Dear Rob,
I can't understand your stand against this. Calling the SF govt anti-car is not fair. I would (not) like to see any other city that has as many car lanes as SF.In this grid layout, there are simply countless lanes going in any direction. It would be interesting to see how much of it is dedicated to bikes. It must be a very small percentage. Surely it would not take much more to create the bike network.

In Amsterdam and parts of Japan, the level of bike commuting is around the 30% mark. They are humans like us, and therefore it is possible that people here could use them at this level. SF has almost perfectly cool weather for it, and much less rain.

Even if only 10% of people commuted by bike, it would make a massive improvement on traffic flow and air quality, by freeing up road space for the remaining cars.


Edward Re
An Australian who understands the car culture here, but thinks its days are numbered.


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