Saturday, September 29, 2007

Want to Vote on Critical Mass?

If you'd like to register your opinion on Critical Mass, go to this site to take part in the Chronicle's online poll that accompanies Rachel Gordon's article in yesterday's paper:

The questions asked: "Critical Mass has at age 15: 1) helped bicyclists make gains, 2) hasn't changed the car culture significantly, or 3) has alienated most people."

So far #3 has 83% of the votes; #1 has 13%, and #2 has 5%.


"Your comments about biking are very disappointing and hateful"

Paul C wrote:
It might be hard for you to see the commonality since your choice of words about critical mass convey a deeply flawed understanding of what it is about. I invite you to participate in critical mass just once to see the positive energy shared amongst participants, the vast majority of whom are everyday riders, San Francisco residents, on their average beater bikes. The positive energy also extends to the law enforcement officers on the ride. Bicycling in San Francisco (and in most cities in the U.S.) is more unsafe than it should be. Dangerous conditions are caused by neglect of our roadways and bike lanes, poor design of roads and intersections for bike and pedestrian traffic, and dangerous drivers. I do not deny that this gathering is disruptive, but it seeks to demonstrate that bicycle riders are as an important part of street traffic as any other vehicles. It shows that there is a strong contingent of bicyclists in San Francisco who choose this form of transit, and whose concerns should be heard by city hall and drivers on the roadway. Cyclists are at an extreme disadvantage in both of these venues. I will not argue that this is as important or monumental as the civil rights movement, but this act of civil disobedience demonstrates that many choose an alternative path from the mainstream automobile culture. Bicycling is a healthy, fun, convenient, and environmentally friendly way to get around our city. This group deserves the respect and consideration needed to ensure rider safety.

Rob Anderson wrote:
So Critical Mass is all about "positive energy"? You concede that it's "disruptive" but still seem to think that making it harder for commuters to get home from work is a good thing. Hard to see how angering those who drive and take the bus---many of whom are city voters---advances the cause of cycling. Seems like mostly bad PR to me, but don't let me stop you from indulging yourself at the expense of everyone else. Why isn't Critical Mass done on the weekend? Seems like the point would still be made without screwing up a weekday commute. Speaking of expense, I wonder how much it costs city taxpayers for the 40 cops on overtime who "escort" Critical Mass? Cyclists are not at any disadvantage at all at City Hall, since the mayor and the board of supervisors have given the SF Bicycle Coaltion everything they've asked for so far---without, however, consulting the city's voters. Maybe you and your politically juvenile pals should put Critical Mass on the ballot as an advisory measure and see how it does with city voters.

Tom Hilton wrote:
Absolutely right--comparing Critical Mass to the civil rights movement is obscene. Critical Mass is an event in which people who think the law shouldn't apply to them gather in numbers sufficient to guarantee that it doesn't. It's pure selfish joyriding, and any supposed environmental agenda is 100% rationalization. (What's more, all of the improvements in bicycle safety---which I support---have been achieved in spite of Critical Mass, not because of it.)

Terry Z wrote:
$3000 Bikes? Critical mass is 99% beaters, mine was $300 and I think that's rather pricey for the crowd on average. But anyway, this Paul dude is right. Rob - you should check it out some time. I'll buy you a beer if you do.

Anonymous wrote:
Your comments about biking are very dissapointing and hateful. I'm sorry you feel the need to stoop so low.

Rob Anderson wrote:
"Hateful" and "low"? How so? Could you be more specific? Interesting too that, like a lot of my pro-bike critics, you make your comment anonymously.

juannie wrote:
my wife and i are taking my 3 year old son on the halloween critical mass in a little trailer and we will laugh and laugh it's so much fun. critical mass is the absolute best fun you can have on a Friday night. stop by and partake, and stop being a cranky old man for a few hours.

Rob Anderson wrote:
Yes, I occasionally see cyclists pulling their small children in those little canvas trailers. I saw a husband and wife team towing their child only recently in front of my apartment building, as they cruised through the intersection without stopping at the stop sign, a bit of reckless negligence that shocked even me. It's one thing for you crackpots to put yourselves in danger as you disrupt commuting traffic---and anger motorists---but to put your child in the same danger is simply child endangerment. I may be a "cranky old man," but you are an unfit parent.

Michal Migurski wrote:
Seconding Terry---not many $3K bikes out there from the rides I've participated in. Besides, if you're going to play the class warfare card, what kind of "working people" drive to work in downtown SF? The parking costs alone will buy you a decent bike in a month, so I highly doubt we're talking about janitors and rustic shopkeeps here. Regarding hateful comments, calling bikes a "recreational a political lifestyle" (as the Chron quoted you today) is a low, cheap shot. I use mine for my SF/OAK commute, which doesn't sound recreational to me. I certainly agree that the Civil Rights/Critical Mass comparison is a bit specious, but what can you do? It's not Tim Holt's fault he's a hack. I'll be there today riding in the mass, because like a lot of cyclists I agree that the best way to make streets safer for riders is to periodically remind drivers that they're not the only ones on the road, which seems to require getting them to slow the heck down for a few minutes. (Not commenting anonymously, apparently unlike a lot of your pro-bike critics)...One more thing---bikes ARE commuting traffic. The uniform vehicle code says so, but drivers can't seem to remember.

Rob Anderson wrote:
I didn't refer to "janitors or rustic shopkeepers," but to all the working people who are trying to get home from work, whether by car or by public transportation. My "recreational accessory" gibe seemed to annoy a lot of you bike people. Okay, I'll modify the thought to make it more exact: "I think bikes are primarily either a recreational accessory or an accessory to a political lifestyle. Only political ideology could motivate people to risk life and limb just to get to work." Most cyclists in SF ride bikes because it's the politically correct thing to do, not because it's a safe and sensible way to get around the city. Note too that Critical Mass itself involves nothing but recreational cycling.

Anonymous wrote:
Yes, The leaders of this "progressive city" have given the bicycle (the most efficient and cleanest form of transportation) its just due. They like other leaders in the country (corporate and political) are recognizing the mainstreaming of a serious issue, Our Dirty Air. The math is simple; more bikes and trains and less cars = better air and less asthma. But you and your injunction threw a wrench in our spokes so to speak. Hopefully, Mayor Bloomberg in N.Y. doesn't face such opposition as you, your attorney, and Judge Busch from his ivory pulpit preventing healtheir living and that is the simple essential we're talking about. The Chronicle painted the right picture of you. That Adequate Review stuff is just a disguise. The 99% part of the plaintiff title is a blatant example of your bias. Your quote in the Chronicle is perfect representation of the real you. I'm sorry you think of the bike as a "recreational accessory." So, you pissed me off again and will get me to act. I'm going to ride my bike (the only thing I've transported myself on for the last 15 years) down to critical mass. Congrats, Rob. You just caused 1 more cyclist to clog the streets this Friday, uh wait a minute, isn't that what cars do 24/7?

Rob Anderson wrote:
What's going to be your argument when, as is beginning to happen now, motor vehicle engines no longer run on fossil fuels and don't pollute the air? I can only assume that Mayor Bloomberg of New York City will, unlike SF's political leadership, follow the laws of New York State as he deals with his city's traffic problems. Judge Busch ruled in our favor because he's in an "ivory pulpit[sic]"? In fact, he ruled against the city because it was obvious to him that the city was proceeding illegally in implementing the Bicycle Plan. You can read about his decision here.

jenny wrote:
Why is it that cyclists think that stop signs do not apply to them??? Why is it since a year of living in the city only ONE cyclist has announced themselves while coming from behind while walking with my child in in the park. I have also seen parents with trailers run stops, you are a moving vehicle, get a f**king clue, obey road signs for your childs sake!

Ari K wrote:
I ride across town to work in the financial district. I am one less car. I am one less elbow on the 38. I am one more parking space available to you. I give you a better chance at making a light. My wife tried riding to work, but was scared of a section in fisherman's wharf. You know Rob, that section you sued the city to prevent painting a bike lane on? So my wife tried the bus, but it's too slow for her. So she drives to work, every day, from out in the avenues to the heart of the financial district, where she parks. She's one more car ahead of you that makes you miss the light. She's one less parking space available to you, making you circle the block. She goes to work at 9, and leaves at 5. She is one more car that makes downtown a standstill during commute. She would rather be on her bike, and she tried, but that one section you sued the city and won, kept my wife in the car. You really do a service for your fellow drivers. When they are stuck in traffic, circling for parking, and breathing in fumes, they have you to thank. thanks Rob.

Rob Anderson wrote:
I haven't owned a car in more than 20 years. I get around on foot and on Muni very well. Like everyone else, if I have to be somewhere, I leave early enough to get there on time.

Jon L wrote:
Rob, I saw your quote in the Chronicle this morning "Bikes are really nothing more than a recreational accessory---and an accessory to a political lifestyle here in Progressive Land". I hope you weren't misquoted. I applaud you for contributing to the public forum that makes our democracy work. If you don't mind, I'll make a contribution as well. I ride a bicycle for recreational purposes about once every two weeks. The rest of the time I am on my bike, pedaling to work, running errands or visiting friends. I agree that it is beyond the pale to impose my political beliefs on drivers while I am riding and that is why I too disagree with the adversarial behavior we have seen in the Critical Mass rides. My sole concern riding is to be safe, so I obey all rules of the road and I practice my freedom of expression to other riders who brazenly flaunt the most basic traffic laws, by running red lights & stop signs. I'm the guy who yells: "Stop signs are for stoppin" & "Sidewalks are for walkin." When I began riding, I'll admit that seeing this behavior made me somehow think it was acceptable and I was one of the runners, because I desperately tried to maintain my momentum. (Here's a little secret, its easier to pedal if you maintain speed. And it becomes more tempting to keep that speed the longer you ride & the more tired that your legs get.) So even though I may wish that I was free to ride without stopping, I have come to accept that I don't live in that world. I read the vehicle code for bicycles, CVC 21202. (I recommend this to everyone.) The SFPD has a laissez-faire attitude toward bicyclists who violate traffic laws. Cops need to cite bicyclists and Critical Mass would be a great place to start. Civil disobedience has a price and if anyone really believes in the idea that traffic laws should apply to bicyclists should be willing to pay the price that the law imposes. Fight for what you want in the courts. Fight for what you want in the legislature. Being a bully in the street does not make anything better. That's why we have a rule of law.

So here's my other beef. The city was sued to delay implementing the bike plan. Bike lanes let drivers know where I will be on the road. This is safer for the bike rider & less frustrating for the driver. The routes that exist now steer riders onto better suited streets and away from most residential streets. I wish we had railroad right of ways or canal paths in this city like they have in the East Bay. Bike paths could be placed there & completely remove the bike/driver interaction. That's not the city we live in though. So when the environmental impact report comes back, let's get on with developing a sensible network that works for drivers and riders. FYI, I may be in the ride tonight. I'll be the one riding as close to the right curb as practicible, stopping at all lights and signals, yielding to pedestrians and signalling before all turns and lane changes. The last I rode, the pack lost me after the first mile. Thanks for listening.

Rob Anderson wrote:
Again, the city was clearly proceeding illegally when it made the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan and began implementing it without doing any environmental review. Before the city eliminates traffic lanes and street parking to make more bike lanes, they need to do some serious study, including traffic studies. Assuming the EIR on the Bicycle Plan is adequate, the city will then create more bike lanes where that is appropriate.

Anonymous wrote:
I only read as far as the tripe comparison to Rosa Parks. You[Tim Holt] are an idiot. You ride with idiots. I have never despised a group of people more. Despite the honest and supreme intentions of some, the outlandish, rude and often disgusting behaviour of quite a few riders has left me cold, uncaring and unfeeling for this cause. I too ride a bike and though I've been happy to see some of the changes, the methods to get those changes and the offshoots of some of those methods piss me off no end. Extending peoples bus rides home, harassing women and children in cars, preventing pedestrians (who have rights too) from stepping off the curb while the ever-so-proud hooligans overtake the streets is not my idea of anything good. It's stupid. I hate it. Until you get rid of the a**holes this will never be more in my eyes and I will never join.

georoad wrote:
Ari K: unfortunately, Rob Anderson is actually the one in the bus behind your wife's car. Or walking on the sidewalk. Apparently he does have a driving license as he has referred to driving "friends" cars. With regards to riding, try a no-cost bicycle traffic class where you learn how to ride in SF with or without bike lanes. I likewise invite Rob Anderson not only to a bicycle traffic class, but a critical mass ride. Perhaps after opening his mind so he could understand that bikes are the best form (for safety, economically, environmentally) of personal transit.

Catherine Bednarczyk wrote:
"Bikes are really nothing more than a recreational accessory." Are you serious? Believe it or not, there are people out there who find it unnecessary to use an automobile for their commutes and do NOT consider their mode of transportation as mere accessories. I have no beef with you, I just find it ridiculous that you would make such a comment. I've saved the little money I have left over after paying my bills, utilities, and overall necessary expenses to purchase a decent, albeit a little rusty, commuter bike because I do not have the necessary means to purchase a form of transportation that costs more than my yearly income. Someday, after school, I will purchase a car, but at the moment my bike is my car and I find it offensive that you made that comment.

Rob Anderson wrote:
I amended/clarified my "recreational" statement above: "I think bikes are primarily either a recreational accessory or an accessory to a political lifestyle. Only political ideology could motivate people to risk life and limb just to get to work."

Devin Kruse wrote:
re: Bikes are really nothing more than a recreational accessory. I guess until we run out of gas the car luddites will never get it. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe was vilified by motorists for widening sidewalks and replacing car lanes with bike and bus corridors. He's been accused of trying to eradicate the automobile from the French capital. But the new bike scheme has been so successful that his poll numbers are shooting up.

Rob Anderson wrote:
Again, what's your argument going to be when engines run on non-polluting fuel? We live in San Francisco, not Paris.

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