Saturday, April 12, 2008

How the bike people prevail: "They show up at meetings"

The bike people have already successfully convinced officials to put a $100 million bike lane on the SF Bay Bridge[later: that's not true. Instead there's going to be a study of the issue]. They are now going for a bike lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge but this time for a mere $53 million.

How are they so successful at promoting an essentially crackpot idea? A Caltrans spokesman explained it to Matier and Ross years ago:

"They show up at most of the public meetings," explains Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss. And not just the big ones, but those little subcommittee meetings that car drivers don't even know about, let alone show up for to voice their opinion. In the case of the Bay Bridge, the bicyclists have been making themselves heard since early 1997, when then-Gov. Pete Wilson proposed the new bridge. "They went from a position where they were a longshot to a unanimous vote of the (16-member) commission to build the lanes," says regional Metropolitan Transportation deputy Steve Heminger.

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At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

infrastructure is expensive. You should have a look at what a freeway onramp costs!

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a small minority of people are using the legally established process in a way the government wasn't expecting to impose their agenda?

Rob, this is how many (if not most) of your detractors feel you have behaved, legal backing or no.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Then that makes us even. Now let's discuss the merits of the issue---the Bicycle Plan, the litigation, BikeThink, traffic in the city, and the Bicycle Coalition's free pass from the local media. A little perspective: The Chronicle, the Guardian, the SF Weekly, BeyondChron, Fog City, and Left in SF are all on board for the bicycle fantasy. Not to mention the entire city government---the mayor, the BOS, the Planning Dept., the Planning Commission, MTA, and the SFCTA. This blog is the only consistent critic the bike people have in SF. Even the diabolical Don Fisher---one would think he would be my natural ally, but maybe, like Warren Hellman, Fisher thinks someday he's going to be loved by the city's left---has been AWOL/silent on the bike issue. All I can do is light one little candle in the darkness.

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Placing a bike lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has nothing to do with the Bike Plan or the SF Bike Coalition.

According to the story, a bike and pedestrian lane is part of a $119 million dollar plan (approved 14-3) that would not only create a a bike and pedestrian lane, but the movable barrier would allow the lane to be converted into a traffic lane during commute hours.

The only opposition mentioned in the story came from Caltrans. An appeal to fear over a barrier scaring drivers and causing more accidents. That is a logical fallacy, but even if that didn't invalidate the claim, it is contradicted by past experience when a temporary barrier reduced accidents by 30%.

Speaking of logical fallacies, you are quoting a separate article about the process on a decision to add a pedestrian/bike path on a different bridge. This is the fallacy of guilt by association, which you continued in your comment, referring to the "issue at hand" and then naming off organizations, agencies and officials who are not involved in placing a pedestrian/bike path on the Richmond-San Rafael bridge.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Even though it's about a different aspect of the issue, this post is one of many I've made about the bike fantasy in general. I think spending hundreds of millions for bike lanes is nutty. Your plodding analysis misses the point while also being a good example of BikeThink.

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you don't want to actually discuss this, just deem it nutty? If I were to say I think spending hundreds of millions of dollars on car lanes is nutty, that would by an opinion equally valid as your own.

Would you please define what you call "bike think" so I can directly address your issues and avoid missing the point?

Since you'd rather discuss the Bay Bridge instead, I think it's worth pointing out there is no pedestrian access between mainland San Francisco and Yerba Buena/Treasure Island. By building a bridge without a pedestrian path, a large portion of San Francisco residents are being denied access to the island unless they either purchase a car or are restricted by limited Muni service on a fixed schedule and at a fee to access the island.

The bicycle advocates who've pushed for a bike lane on the Bay Bridge have used a legally established process to gain equal access for all residents and visitors, not just those who can afford a car.

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


the bike path being built on the eastern span of the bay bridge has actually been predicted to save Caltrans $ by making it easier for them to perform routine bridge maintenence without needing to close traffic lanes on the bridge.

maybe you and the members of the coalition of adequeate review (oh yeah - it's just you)should start showing up at meetings to voice your opinion.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cost estimates in that story sound fishy... CalTrans put the cost of a third lane, movable barrier, and changes to the approaches at $119 million.

But the cost of adding a bike lane alone at just under half of that, the $53 million Rob quoted in his blog post. Since that wouldn't include a movable barrier, all they need to do is put down the same concrete barricades they use when doing construction.

Figuring the pedestrian and bike ramps up to the bridge would still cost several million alone, even though they'd be simpler than the freeway approach, that still means tens of millions for something that doesn't need to be any more complex that a concrete barricade.

At 12:09 AM, Blogger John Spragge said...

OK, the merits. Reasons to promote cycling:

1) Politics and national security
Driving gasoline or diesel powered cars enriches Osama bin Laden's hundred closest friends and relatives.

2) Climate change
Cars and light trucks account for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. The most common means of generating electricity to power electric cars releases as much or more.

3) The economy
Bicycles provide one of the most affordable transportation options going.

4) Health
Inactive lifestyles caused 28% of all premature deaths in the United States. Cycling offers low-impact aerobic exercise, a critical part of any healthy lifestyle.

Against this overwhelming weight of reasons to promote cycling, what have you offered so far?

1) Danger
The health risks of not exercising (see above) far outweigh any supposed hazards of cycling, and (according to your own sources) cycling with proper safety gear poses less risk than many other common forms of physical activity.

2) A belief Americans won't cycle
The Wright brothers and Lance Armstrong would disagree. And it seems that your fellow Bay Area residents disagree with you as well. In the process of participatory democracy, you admit you have steadily lost because the advocates of cycling show up and present their case well. I'd add that cycling advocates present their case well because we have an overwhelmingly good case to begin with. It seems that your compatriots, through your own cherished political processes, have rejected your case.

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Oscar LaVargas said...

$53 Million is insane. It's reflective of how pathetic our bureaucracies are. Give me 50 grand and some trucks full of concrete and the job is done. Death to the government! Death to the unions! Death to the bureaucrats! Death to the middle managers! Death to the simpletons!

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any money spent on nutty bikers is money better spent on motor vehicles.

Motor vehicles are a-priori evidencie of superiority of design, power, beauty and stuff like thaty-thar.

Doesn't matter if its fifty bucks or fifty million.

Not one dime!

Not even one single dime!

Walking is *so* yesterdfay. Biking is like, 19th century. Today is about GAS powered cars.

Cars, forever!

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Congratulations on being the biggest douche in the universe.

Your Mom

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Congratulations for being both witless and gutless, Anon.


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