Friday, October 31, 2008

Calling all lemmings: Critical Mass, then a celebratory "after-party"

These two notices (below in italics) appear on the SF Bicycle Coalition's online calendar with this hypocritical disclaimer:

*Events not officially sponsored or organized by the SFBC are marked with an asterisk. We post events that might be of interest to our SF area members; we do not necessarily endorse any particular group or perspective you may find represented here. Contact us with questions.

Here's my question: Can the SFBC cite a single event, group, or perspective it has ever listed on its calendar that it didn't endorse?

Notice that the Critical Mass "After-party" is co-sponsored by Supervisor Mirkarimi, a longtime supporter of the illegal, traffic-disrupting monthly demonstration by the city's bike people. Funny but in his campaign literature Mirkarimi doesn't mention either Critical Mass or his vote to make the Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan, even though it had had no environmental review, which the Superior Court found to be illegal. Nor does he mention his leadership to "reform"---i.e., eliminate---level of serice (LOS) traffic studies for projects in San Francisco. Once Mirkarimi's bogus LOS reform is in place, the city will be able to quickly take away street parking and traffic lanes all over the city as envisioned in the city's ambitious Bicycle Plan.

Critical Mass *Fri., Oct. 31 6pm, Justin "Pee Wee" Herman Plaza, Market @ Embarcadero
While this ride is not organized nor endorsed by the SFBC, we have a keen interest in happy bicycling every day in San Francisco. To that end, we encourage all participants to ride courteously and respectfully. For more info, see the
Critical Mass website.

Mark Sanchez Critical Mass Halloween After-party*Fri., Oct. 31 9:00 PM at Sanchez HQ - 988 Valencia Street (at 21st)
Mark Sanchez for District 9 hosts a Critical Mass HALLOWEEN Afterparty co-sponsored by Avalos and Mirkarimi campaigns and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Costumes and Dance Shoes Encouraged!

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At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but the lemmings would have to be a majority, wouldn't they? And we all know that bicyclists are the minority of road users.

I'm gonna say that the real lemmings are the ones out clogging up the freeways so much that the traffic backs up onto SF streets, not the group of counterlemmings who slice through the traffic jam on bikes.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Typical bike person response: nothing about the SFBC's hypocrisy, Critical Mass, Mirkarimi, or LOS "reform." Just Bikes are Good and Cars are Bad. And the lame comment has to be anonymous!

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments made anonymously will be disqualified. Comments that do not address every point in the post will also be disqualified.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not disqualified, but, as I've noted on this blog before, the city's political community---when it isn't congratulating itself for being "progressive"---engages in a laughably chickenshit political dialogue: the chatboards where almost all of the contributors are anonymous, the anonymous websites attacking Mayor Newsom, and the mostly anonymous comments I get from critics here in Progressive Land.

And as a kind of corollary: so many commenters feel compelled to respond to critical remarks directed at the bike people but are undisturbed by the massive development projects facilitated by our progressive leadership. Are bikes really more important politically than, say, the Market/Octavia Plan, which includes 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness that could literally cast shadows on our historic Civic Center? Supervisor Mirkarimi validates UC's lies and greed by allowing property zoned for "public use" for 150 years to be turned into a grotesquely large housing development on the old extension property. But all is forgiven because he's been slavishly devoted to the SF Bicycle Coalition's agenda!

It's simply lame---and, more importantly, damaging to San Francisco.

At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all important stuff, but people respond to the bike stuff on here particularly because you are known as a sort of anti-bike public figure.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay, but maybe you can direct me to a single media outlet where progs and bike people discuss development issues seriously. It isn't happening at the Guardian, SF Weekly, Left in SF, or Fog City.

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the Guardian is a regional paper read mostly by suburbanites, SF Weekly is a bullshit entertainment rag, and I have no opinion on Left in SF or Fog City because I haven't read them.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay. You haven't missed much with Left in SF or Fog City. My point remains this: there's nowhere in SF, either online or in hard copy, where the issues I deal with here on District 5 Diary are discussed. I should also include BeyondChron, another doctrinaire leftist online project. The beginning of all wisdom in discussing politics in SF is after you abandon leftist ideology (rightist ideology is not a serious influence in SF). That means abandoning class struggle, identity politics, multiculturalism in its many inane forms---what Richard Rodriguez called "the costume party"---and the half-baked notion that something called "peace" is a serious alternative to something called "war."

And then there's the new twists to progressivism from the philistines in and out of the city's Planning Dep: the transit corridors theory and the residential highrise idea, though even calling this kind of crap an idea is a stretch.

Okay, I digress, but the point is these issues aren't being discussed anywhere else, which I find shocking in a supposedly sophisticated political community. It's all about bikes!

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make some really good points in that last comment, Rob.

The fact is that people who ride bikes are pretty passionate about them. They often join advocacy groups and do things like educate themselves about transportation issues, etc. They're often politically involved in various ways and may take on the character of a 'bike crusader'.

It may be because the bike issue is something they deal with every day. At the center of the bike issue is the subject of bike lanes.

Most of the time, biking in the city is no problem for me, but I'm a very experienced rider with lots of time in the saddle around city traffic. Even so, many times I'll be riding along in a completely legal and safe manner, only to have some seemingly crazy motorist go apeshit because I'm on 'his' (or her) road. They may pass aggressively, honk or yell, or threaten to hit you (or in fact, hit you) with their car.

This contest almost never happens in a marked bike lane, though, where space is clearly delineated.

So for bike riders in the city, the issue of bike lanes may feel like a life and death one, which is why it shouldn't surprise us that many cyclists pay more attention to it than the other worthwile issues you discuss on your blog.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, I get the crazy motorist thing, and I'm really not against making cycling in SF safer. It's just that that needs to be done without screwing up traffic for everyone else.

But I don't see that many commenters to this blog are particularly well-informed about the bike issues in SF. Few of them seem to have read the Bicycle Plan or any of the documents from the litigation against the city re the Bicycle Plan. It's mostly snarky comments directed at mean old Rob Anderson and informing me that Bikes are Good and Cars are Bad.

And I rarely get any comments at all about the awful developments progressives on the BOS are promoting. Prog politics in SF seems to be mostly about identity politics and bikes.

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the bike issue is really about 'progressive' politics at all. When I ride a bike, I don't really think of it as a political act and I certainly don't identify it with any particular wing of the political spectrum.

But that's just me. I'm sure there are cyclists who ride for self-congratulatory moralism, but I think they are the exception rather than the rule.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Whether you are in a minority or not, the bike people in SF are represented by the SF Bicycle Coalition, which endorses Critical Mass and, with their many allies in city governmet, tried to push the Bicycle Plan through the process with no environmental review. You may not be interested in the SFBC, but in effect they are represnting you politically.

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

Ok, that illustrates how bikes are the center of the SFBC's concerns, but doesn't illustrate how bikes are 'prog politics'.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Bikes are central to prog politics in SF. Of course gay issues are, too, but there's no controversy about gay marriage and gay rights in SF. You have to read the Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, BeyondChron, Fog City, etc. to learn this stuff. City progs are now all in dither about state and national politics/issues, but the bike issue dominates the agenda locally.

It's important to understand that the bike fantasy fits in with what our progressive Planning Dept. and BOS think about housing and development in the city, which means the false "transit corridors" theory, which holds that we can construct residential highrises and a lot of other housing along the city's main streets because these thousands of new residents will ride Muni or bikes. City government is packed with a lot of overpaid people working on the bike bullshit and on overdeveloping city neighborhoods. The bike people and the Planning Dept. people and the MTA people---there are 10 people in MTA working on bicycle projects---are all on the same page on these issues. Overdeveloping our neighborhoods---we have to build up, you know, like Manhattan and Hong Kong---will provide thousands of new housing units. Transportation for all these new residents? Muni, BRT, and bicycles! Even though Muni is already crowded now and the city has no idea where it's going to get enough money to make Muni what it should be.

When you look closely at the bike issue in SF, all the other issues fall into place. What's remarkable is that these dim bulbs in Planning, on the BOS, and in MTA seem to think they are "new urbanism" visionaries. It's all trendy bullshit, which is harmless enough in itself, except that once all these highrises are built we can't undo it (e.g. Fox Plaza and 100 Van Ness).

At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm for bikes and against highrises, though.

It does take a certain density to make transit work (from a strictly linear, mathematical sort planning perspective), but I don't think highrises are going to save MUNI.


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