Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cars and the city's economy

Anonymous wrote:
Caught some of last night's cityvisions radio show that you were a guest on. Even when the host on the show asked who/what the coalition for adequate review was, you managed to not answer. Give your readers the truth: CFAR is none other than Rob Anderson. At the end of the show, you also proved how delusional you are by stating that bicycling will never be a major part of a transportation system in an American City. You obviously haven't been paying much attention to what has been happening in San Francisco over the past 10 years---check back in 10 or 15 more for a real reality check. And your argument that motor vehicles are the life-blood of San Francisco's economy is pretty pathetic and totally lacking in evidence. Have the economies of cities throughout Europe that have made radical changes to accomodate bicycles---including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Berlin---collapsed? No, of course not!

Rob replies:
The Coalition for Adequate Review (CFAR) isn't obligated to release its membership roster, any more than the Sierra Club or the SF Bicycle Coalition. Tell you what, Anon, we'll swap rosters with the Bicycle Coalition---they give us their membership list, and we'll give them ours.

Are you saying that the city should completely redesign its streets on behalf of cyclists now on the assumption that in 10 or 15 years it will make sense? Pretty dumb planning, Anon. In the meantime, we're supposed to ignore the realities on our streets, where 98% of the population do not commute by bicycle.

No one is talking about "collapsed" economies. Muni aside, motor vehicles are in fact crucial to the city's economy. Check out the numbers provided by the Visitor's Bureau (http://www.sfcvb.org/research/): 15.8 million people visited San Francisco as their primary destination in 2006; they spent $7.8 billion dollars here, with $473 million of that going into city government coffers in the form of taxes and fees; more than 4.5 million people stayed in city hotel/motels in 2006, and 25.8% of those people rented cars; the 14% bed tax ("transient occupancy tax") alone will generate $210 million for the city in fiscal year 2007/2008.

It's bad enough that the city has a serious homeless problem that repels tourists in the downtown area. If you crackpots have your way, the city will continue to make it more difficult and expensive to drive in the city---remember the one million hotel guests who rent cars---which will be another reason for people to not visit San Francisco.

Apparently you would rather live in a European city. Don't let the screen door hit you on the ass on the way out of SF, Anon. Check it out: you live in the United States of America, a major American city, where the bicycle is nothing but a very minor means of transportation for a small minority of mostly politically motivated people.

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