Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The bike movement as "hate agenda"?

Since I'm the only consistent media critic of the bicycle fantasy in the city---Matier & Ross are Johnny-come-latelies---people might think I'm pretty much alone in my opposition to this goofball ideology and its practitioners, especially after reading Rachel Gordon's puff-piece---and hit-piece on me---on Critical Mass in last Friday's SF Chronicle. But it seems like I'm speaking for a growing number of folks in SF who find the behavior of the bike zealots exasperating. Below are some messages of support from that usually-silent majority:

* Does anyone realize how crazy an anti-car agenda is in San Francisco? San Francisco has lots of big hills and WIND. Only an athlete who doesn't care about sucking in a lot of polluted air and who doesn't have passengers or freight and who has a bicycle with a lot of gears could hope to use bicycles as serious transportation. Oh, and it would help if he doesn't want to go anywhere or go too far--especially into any dangerous neighborhoods. Does Critical Mass ride up the real hills or past the housing projects in Hunter's Point? Of course not. Let's restrict the Critical Mass ride to a course which takes it up all the biggest hills in the city and down all the most dangerous streets. Does anyone realize how anti-disabled, anti-senior, anti-kid, and anti-fat people the anti-car agenda is? It's so discriminatory it could be considered a hate agenda.

* Cyclist manners? What a joke! I have personally experienced how rude and freaking demented bike people are. One was speeding on the sidewalk and nicked my 96 yr old grandmother. She walks with a cane and nearly lost her balance. The bicyclist stopped and gave us a dirty look then got back on his bike and took off. One morning I was waiting for light (on Arguello) to turn so I could turn right onto Geary Blvd. A biker was hiding in my blind spot...actually 2 bikers. When the light changed and as I began to make my right turn, the 1st biker shot ahead forcing me to slam on my brake. He then stopped and gave me a dirty look. As I attempted to finish my turn the 2nd biker threw his water bottle at my car. I guess I should have felt their presence and sat in my car waiting at the corner till they passed me before making my turn...or not be allowed to turn right at all so bikers have exclusive right turns on the road...I am a supporter of sharing the road with pedestrians, animals, bikers, other cars. I understand Pedestrians have the right of way. I do stop to allow pedestrians to cross the cross walk even when they sloooow down and glare at me. What I do not understand is how bikers can demand special treatment on the road when they don't obey the traffic laws...

* I grow tired of the shrill complaints of an overly zealous SF bike lobby. I am an avid walker, take mass transit whenever possible, and use my car only when I need to leave the BART area. However, I am persistently confronted by bikers riding on the sidewalks of San Francisco, going the wrong way on roads, or in other ways acting completely disrespectful toward both car drivers and pedestrians. After nearly being hit by unapologetic bikers in violation of traffic laws on numerous occasions, I have no patience or sympathy for bike riders in this city: get a car, use mass transit, or walk.

* The Bicycle Coalition Questionnaire that you gave a response to has some rather specious wording, viz, "An estimated 4% of San Francisco adults (30,000+ people) currently commute regularly by bicycle." Where is this data? (rhetorical question, but hey maybe they go by a different route that no one sees.) And further, 'would you actively support an official city goal that 10% of commute trips...be made by bicycle by 2010...?' Does the 'Plan' include a fallback for when this fantasy goal is not met? That is, does it budget for reversal of the changes in year 2011 when the bicycle fad is over and nowhere near 10% of the commuters are on bikes? Or will people be forced to ride bikes to meet the quotas?

Labels: , ,


At 9:54 AM, Blogger georoad said...

I'll tilt at your windmill, Rob.

One "fact" you claim is that cyclists are exposed to more pollution. However, there are quite a few studies showing that the concentration of most emission gases is higher inside the vehicle than outside. One category important to human health that more than one study shows is higher outside is particulate matter (many measure at two sizes). However, every other category is higher inside (including buses, large / small cars, import / domestic). Here are some links (google "pollution levels inside vehicle", also):


So while walking is going to have higher exposure than cycling (since it is slower), walking and taking the bus (or walking and driving) is likely to have even more than cycling alone.

I know of your impeccable honesty, and look forward to your hearing of your continued fact checking.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, I don't recall ever mentioning this. Do you have a citation? It seems like a minor issue at best, but your argument is counter-intuitive. More important: If the Bike Nut Community (BNC) gets its way on city streets, traffic in the city will be made unnecessarily worse for everyone, with more air pollution as a result, as motorized traffic idles in traffic jams, squeezed into fewer lanes after the BNC creates bike lanes by eliminating traffic lanes and street parking.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger georoad said...

So the Level of Service argument. Certainly having all the autos makes public transit worse; if I choose to pick up my groceries on bike rather than car, Level of Service is not as good a measure as Trip Generation. If I have 4 errands to do, starting up the car each time, the mean and max flow of the road is less important than all the intersections that I have to idle at anyway.

When you are taking the bus, focus on how much time other vehicles use of your time compared to the traffic signals--

Starting up motor vehicles is always the most polluting, as the catalytic convertor and engeine warm up. Trip generation is a better representation of the environmental impact of motor vehicle exhaust than the flow rate of Level of Service.

In addition, Level of Service makes the assumption that motor vehicles are the end all / be all. Public roads are for public use; the public expense for the bike lanes is a miniscule compared to the land use decision for on-street parking.

Costs for automobiles and motor vehicles is dispersed more than the cost of cycling. The latter is born nearly 100% by the individual, where society and the weakest of society bear the detriment of motor vehicles.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Certainly having all the autos makes public transit worse."

You can't separate out the different "modes" of travel in the city that way. If you set out to make it harder for people to drive cars in the city, you are also going to make it worse for buses, cabs, and even emergency vehicles. Of course my assumption is that cars are here to stay. The pollution issue around cars, by the way, seems well on the way to being solved, as the electric/hybrid technologies are increasingly practical for automobiles.

The notion that a lot of people will ever be willing to do serious grocery shopping on bikes is further evidence of how out of touch with reality you are. It's not going to happen, nor does it need to happen. Cars are a great invention, and they are here to stay. Bikes will never be a serious means of transportation for a large number of people. My impression is that both mountain biking and biking in the city is more of a speed/thrill trip than a serious means of transportation. Cyclists in the city like to speed down the hills in my neighborhood toward downtown. Even people cycling in the flat parts of the city seem to get a kick out of going fast. My conclusion: Bikes are really nothing more than a recreational accessory---and an accessory to a political lifestyle here in Progressive Land.

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous wenk said...

Mr. Anderson, why do you even bother wasting time replying to someone like this "georoad" person? Both of the georaoad comments here are all but unreadable, with complete lack of any semblance of logic. Most people with at least an eighth grade education know the simple difference between "your" and "you're" -- georoad apparently doesn't.

Our dear Mother Earth is unaware of where the fouling of her air comes from -- if one measures the air quality above a Critical Mass route it will be track of the worst pollution for that day.

But of course the cyclists are innocent, *they* didn't emit those noxious gases. They merely stalled the cars.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Chuomo Fosset said...

oh god rob, get over it. biking is on the rise, here and all over the world. It's the best way to get around most of the city and people are figuring that out. It's not going away amigo....

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Tyrell Shoji said...

Here's a great article. Though you might need a WSJ account to read it. Shows what smart people are doing in smart cities! SF soon to follow.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"oh god rob, get over it. biking is on the rise, here and all over the world. It's the best way to get around most of the city and people are figuring that out. It's not going away amigo."

There's no hard data showing that biking is "on the rise" even here in Progressive Land. If bikes are the "best way to get around most of the city," why do most people in SF drive or take Muni? Bikes seem to be more of a PC fad than a serious means of transportation, but cars are here to stay.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Thought you might need a WSJ account to read it. Shows what smart people are doing in smart cities! SF soon to follow."

There are several points made in the article that counter your notion about bikes and "smart people": As the author notes, the Netherlands and Denmark are "flat, compact, and temperate," which is not a good description of conditions in San Francisco. Note too that, once the government made driving in downtown Amsterdam so difficult, shops began moving out of the heart of that city, a problem SF will be facing if it continues down the anti-car, bike nut road.

And the last anecdote in the article tells us about a mother from Amsterdam trying to get her 8-year-old daughter to ride her bike to camp on the busy streets of Columbus, Ohio. Seems like the little girl has more sense than her mother.

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Tyrell Shoji said...

Seems like the girl was a victim of the pathetic monkey-culture that you advocate, not the other way around. You can't change the facts, Rob. Your hate will eventually eat you up if it hasn't already.

You just cant' change the facts, and the facts are that people want to ride bikes. They don't because the city and the "car-nut-culture" are hostile and dangerous.

Frankly I think this has more to do with the US, and California in particular, than the mode of transit people choose. People are generally pretty inconsiderate here whether behind the wheel, on the bus, or biking and you'd get a lot more progress made if you went after that problem rather than making up fantasies about rogue bicyclists terrorizing the populace.

I can skunk that fantasy in one nip - go downtown any time during the day and witness the number of agressive cars running red lights - often pushing their way RIGHT THOUGH groups of pedestirans while the cops do nothing. Tell me what's a bigger problem, that one or a few coco's riding on the sidewalks?

They are both problems that should be dealt with, but neither happens because of "bike nuts" or "car nuts", it's because of inconsiderate buffonery in the culture in general.

- krokus, fast flip. Dig?

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Chuomo Fosset said...

When I say "Bikes are the best way to get around much of the city", I say it because it's a fact!

100% of people who try biking in say, the Mission agree with this - I suggest you take a poll.

Many still won't do it for three reasons:

1) Agressive and unsafe motorists
2) Street crime, especially bike theft which the cops do nothing about
3) Lack of bike lanes to keep the cars out.
4) Lack of safe bike parking

All of these are facts man. Do you prefer the status quo? Why not make things better by letting people have what the want? Better bike infrastructure and less cars! Facts are facts!

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, what your are claiming are not "facts" but only your opinion. The problem with all your claims is that there are few reliable figures on how many people ride bikes in the city. The best figure is the 2000 Census, which found that 1.8% of city residents commute by bike. But even that number is unreliable, when you consider that since 2000 there's been the dotcom bust and the 9/11 attack, a double whammy that devastated the city's economy. SF actually lost population after 2001.

Yes, of course the Mission is the most bike-friendly area in the city, because it's really the only part of the city that's flat.

I'll say it again for you remedial readers: I really have nothing against "better bike infrastructure" in the city. What I object to is putting that infrastructure in place---removing traffic lanes and street parking---without doing any environmental/traffic studies beforehand. That's what our successful litigation against the city's implementation of the Bicycle Plan was all about. The city now has to do an EIR before it makes any more bike lanes, which is what both the law and common sense require.

"Better bike infrastructure and less[sic] cars"?: This is the problem with the present bike movement in SF---it's as much anti-car as it is pro-bike. You bike people seem to think it's a zero-sum game, that only by being aggressively anti-car can you promote cycling in the city. This is an unwise strategy, since the city now has 460,150 registered motor vehicles, not to mention the thousands of tourists---tourism is our largest industry---and commuters driving in and out of the city every day. Those are the facts that you folks are failing to take into account, which makes your anti-car approach both unwise and politically unsustainable.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger rob said...

Rob, I think you are very out of touch if you think that bikes aren't practical for many people. I ride a bike or a scooter, having given up driving a car here because trying to find a parking spot is hell.

Things like City Car Share and Zip Cars help with the "groceries problem", as do things like online grocers that deliver....much more efficient to have a truck drop off your groceries than to make a special trip. Of course, the more people give up owning a car, the more economically viable such options become because of economies of scale.

The fact is, there isn't enough room in the city for everyone to have a car.

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone tell me why cyclists think it is ok to speed down Battery Caulfield like a bat out of hell when the speed limit is no more than 25 and there are 2 sets of speed bumps because of the apartment buildings that have exits on to it and for the pedestrians that walk it. I should not have to fear for my fucking life and my child's because some spandex wearing asshole needs a rush.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home