Saturday, December 09, 2006

City and progressives are anti-car

Tom Radulovich

It's not just my opinion that the city's progressives are anti-car, not just pro-bike. If that isn't true, why do they always oppose creating any new parking in the city? Note for example that city progs oppose the garage UC Hastings is going to build near the law school on the edge of the Tenderloin. The SF Bicycle Coalition (Andy Thornley), the Sierra Club (Rick Galbreath), and Transportation for a Livable City (Tom Radulovich), are all on record as opposing the 430-space garage. But even the SF Planning Dept. (Dean Macris) and the Dept. of Public Health (Rajiv Bhatia) went on record as being opposed to a garage that would mostly serve the 1500 students, teachers, and staff at Hastings Law School, with some of the spaces being reserved for public use. It's fair to conclude that both city progressives and the City of San Francisco itself are anti-car.

Hastings has a genuine need for parking, as law students, teachers, and staff are in and out of the school at all hours, attending classes and using the law library. Since the school's location is on the edge of the Tenderloin district, students need a safe place to park other than the streets, which are dangerous at night. Even though Hastings is providing more than twice as many parking spaces for bikes than originally planned in the new facility---up from 30 to 65---the Bicycle Coalition still went on record in opposition to the garage.

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At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Gabrielle said...

Why in the world should we have more parking? There is just enough parking in the city for SF residents now. That works fine for me. Commuters and shoppers also have plenty of parking and if they don't like walking a few blocks they can take BART. Spoiled law school students who are afraid to come to "a city" without driving should go to school somewhere else (like LA).

That said - it is very important to improve the safety around hastings by getting the scumbags off the street and hiring more cops. We also need to make Muni more usable and make bart run 24 hours a day. All of those solutions are better and cheaper than having more parking. More parking only encourgages more out-of-towners to clog our roads and erode our quality of life.

Does that make me anti-car? Hell no. Cars are great and I enjoy using mine. I feel fortunate, however, to live somewhere where I don't need my car all the time, and I applaud the efforts of the City of SF which you call "anti-car" as very much PRO San Fracnsico.

- Gabrielle Wiseman (lifetime resident, Richmond Dist)

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why do we need more parking? Because there are more cars in the city every year, which is partly do the apparently inexorable gentrification process. People with money tend to have cars. Schools in SF are a big industry---SF State, USF, Hastings,etc. Hastings is a law school with a national/international reputation, and of course not all those students live in SF. Anyhow, schools bring thousands of people into the city every day. Not all of those students/staff find it practical to take public transit. Then you have thousands of other commuters coming into the city every day, since SF is, as always, a major job center for the region. And the SF Convention and Visitors Bureau says that around 15 million people visit SF every year, with about 25% of those folks renting cars to move around the area while they're here. (Tourism, by the way, is the city's largest industry, and tourists spend more than $7 billion a year in the city, generating more than $400 million in tax revenue.) Within SF more than 200,000 people commute to their jobs---both within and outside the city---via automobile, a number that is only going up according to Census figures. There's more than one car per household in SF, a number that, according to the SFCTA, is also going up due to gentrification. Yes, you are fortunate to need your car less than others do, but you are evidently in a minority even in SF. I'm very much "pro San Francisco," too, but I think we need to make practical arrangements for our workers, our employers, and our main industry, which is tourism. People drive, and they need somewhere to park their cars.

Though you don't mention bicycles as a major transportation "mode," the SFCTA's Transportation Plan estimates that only 1%---about 7,500---of the city's commuters get to work by bicycle, and that number is not likely to grow much in the next 20 years.

At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Joanne Minsky said...

When a car has a parking space, it isn't on the road. I love to see cars parked, because, they are not driving around. Full parking garages are a joy.
Many people only use their cars on the weekend. If there were secure, guarded parking garages in an S. F. industrial area on a bus line, just as there are secure storage buildings, we could get a lot of cars out of town. But, that is just wishful thinking.
Bikes aren't the answer. We have an aging population, a lot of disabled, people whose jobs don't permit food shopping every day, people with families, people who go places after dark, people for whom a bike is just not a reasonable answer. Shopping by bus is a lot better, but it means there are a lot of things you just can't do. Shopping is limited to what you can carry at one time. For groceries, that will mean two bags, at best, one for many older or disabled people. For those who have one, or access to one, a car is freedom. A taxi isn't the same. A Share Car works for a lot of people, and a rental for many others. But for me, and everything I have to do, I need a car.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Bikes aren't the answer." No, they are only a small part of the answer. Many more people are always going to move around by car and bus than by bike. The whole bike thing is more of a political fantasy than a transportation "mode" that is going to make a big difference on the streets of the city. What's really shocking to me is that apparently our entire ruling elite in SF has bought into the bicycle mythology.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Lawrence Rhodes said...

I am trying to change peoples attitudes about transportation in San Francisco. I have to say MUNI is managed poorly. The drivers are surly. They rush through their routes with little concern for their passengers. We all know WHO these drivers are. I personally advocate electric vehicles. Everything from electric assisted bicycles to three wheeled 4 door 4 passenger mini electric cars. I can do a lot with an electric scooter. I don't have to depend on MUNI & I can use this low speed vehicle(20mph max) in the bike lanes & I can park on sidewalks. I also don't have to exert myself unless I want to. San Francisco is a Mighty Mini City. I advocate mini transportation. One can ride a bicycle and use MUNI when they don't want to huff and puff up a hill. For those who can ride up hills I applauce you. Otherwise many people will not & electric vehicles of every type are available to them. I personally own or have owned an electric bicycle, electric scooter, electric moped, electric motorcycle, electric car & electric truck. My current project is to bring 10 foot long 100% electric cars into San Francisco. These vehicles are simular to the Xebra available from ZAP. However for the rigorous hill climbing conditions of San Francisco I planning something with a little more power & range. At 10 feet these cars can be parked at 90° to the curb. This will give the SUV drivers another option other than driving a monstrous vehicle around the corner for a loaf of bread or heaven forbid driving downtown. Lawrence Rhodes Electric/Solar Vehicle Advocate.

At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shoot, if I knew my bicycle didn't work after dark, I wouldn't use it at night. Perhaps I need to tell my bike that it doesn't work after the sun goes down!

And perhaps I need to tell my shoulder bag that it can't carry a week's worth of groceries anymore. But then I'll have to tell my cargo rack that it can't carry my daughter in the bike seat anymore because, you know, perople with kids can't use bikes.

It'll be great when I get too hold to operate this burden of a bicycle. When my eyesight, hearing, and reflexes go I'll finally have the qualifications to pilot four thousand pounds of steel around the sidewalks of downtown!

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The after-dark parking concerns of students at Hastings are real, since that neighborhood is pretty dicey, day and night.

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that being against that particular lot necessarily means they are "anti-car".

Also, it seems that a parking lot might very well further depress economic conditions in the area while creating more dark and hidden areas for illicit activities.

One of the best crime stoppers is to have people actively using the streets, not just buzzing through them insulated by car. The 'eyes on the street' neighborhood-watch approach has been shown to work.

On the other hand, parking lots are a favorite haunt of rapists, robbers, and murderers.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not in itself, perhaps, but in the context of their other political projects---Healthy Saturdays, opposition to the garage under the Concourse, opposition to downtown parking, opposition to the city law of one parking space for every new housing unit built, Critical Mass, and their published comments and writings. In fact, when you look at the comments of the SFBC's Andy Thornley on the SEIR for the planned garage at Hastings, you find none of the concerns you cite mentioned at all. Thornley mentioned housing, pedestrians, and questioned the need for the garage at all.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

From Paul:
We have the same problem here in Portland Oregon. The funny thing is, it rains more than half the year and we get 3-5 months of freezing temperatures. Who would want to ride their bike or walk in that? Perfect example, last year on a major road near my house the city spent a whole year (and $15M) on a road contruction project on a 2,000 foot section of a heavily used 1 lane road. More lanes would have been nice, but no, they widened the sidewalk, and added a median and bike lanes to both sides. Nice.


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