Thursday, January 10, 2008

Newsom dumps Shahum

If he achieves nothing else in his second term, at least Mayor Newsom got rid of the Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum, who he rashly appointed to the MTA Board of Directors 18 months ago. Newsom must have realized he made a mistake early on, since, when he vetoed the Healthy Saturdays ordinance shortly thereafter, Shahum hammered him: "I think what you ultimately saw is a choice between free parking and the interests of the park...And unfortunately the mayor chose free parking. I think his talk about being a green mayor is starting to ring hollow with the major environmental groups in the city."

This remark was both nasty about the mayor who just appointed her and a typically obtuse Bicycle Coalition analysis of that issue. Shahum and the bike people have never acknowledged that there is a serious issue about access to Golden Gate Park for everyone, not just for her spandexed, elitist friends. She and the bike people opposed the new garage under the Concourse in the park, a $58 million gift to the city that now provides everyone---people with families, the elderly, and the handicapped---with easy access to the park. That---and making the Concourse a "pedestrian oasis"---is what Prop. J in 1998 was all about. As originally conceived, the Healthy Saturdays ordinance would have limited access to that part of the park for those people.

Shahum's claim that she is in favor of "sustainable transportation" also rings hollow, since it should be obvious by now that she only cares about bikes. If she really is concerned about Muni, for example, she would have to acknowledge that if/when her beloved Bicycle Plan is actually implemented it will surely degrade Muni service in the city. When you take away traffic lanes all over the city to make bike lanes, you're not only going to punish wicked car drivers but you're going to degrade Muni service by deliberately creating traffic jams.

The infantile Critical Mass, which the SF Bicycle Coalition endorses, is a good example of what the bike people really think: It's all about them and their dangerous hobby.

Newsom dumps Shahum (SF Chronicle):
One of those told she was being shown the door was Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, one of the most politically active advocacy groups in the city. Since she was appointed to the post about 1 1/2 years ago, Shahum hasn't been shy in voicing her opinion---at times at odds with the administration's positions. Two examples: the closure of certain roadways to private automobiles in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays and issues regarding litigation over the city's Bicycle Plan.

"And it's been made clear to me that the mayor has been none-too-pleased that the Bicycle Coalition didn't endorse him" when he ran for re-election last year, Shahum said Monday. The coalition did not endorse any candidate in the mayor's race. "I'm disappointed that somebody like myself who has been an effective advocate for sustainable transportation would be asked to step down," she said. When Newsom appointed her to the board, he was aware of her activist reputation. "She sees the world with a different set of eyes," the mayor said at the time. "She'll bring that advocacy perspective."

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