Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Demagoguery by the bike people

A guy named Peter Smith has started "San Francisco Bike Blog," a forum for the city's bike people so that they can, among other things, spread misinformation about the EIR and the Bicycle Plan. Both Smith's blog and the SF Bicycle Coalition's website have a clock/calendar counting the days since a new bike lane was striped in San Francisco: "820 days with no bike lanes. What's taking so long?" The folks at SFBC know what's taking so long---the Bicycle Plan is huge and requires a thorough EIR---but they like to pretend that the city is dragging its feet, that cyclists in SF are being victimized by bureaucratic delay.

But it's worth pointing out once again that the only reason the city isn't implementing a bicycle plan right now---it's been more than three years since the litigation was filed---is that the city and the SFBC tried to rush the 527-page Bicycle Plan through the process without doing any environmental review. That was clearly illegal, and the court ordered the city to do an EIR on the Bicycle Plan, which it is now doing. The thing to remember next time you hear or read statements from the SFBC about delays in the EIR is this: They never thought the Bicycle Plan should have had any environmental review in the first place. But that won't prevent their constant demagoguing of the issue to whip up their membership's sense of grievance and victimhood.

Below is my comment to Smith's blog to his blog post from yesterday: "Justice was denied 823 days ago." He posted the comment, but he didn't reply, probably because even he realizes that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Comment to San Francisco Bike Blog (

The injunction is a “travesty of justice” and a “failure of civil society”? The real failure was on the part of the city and the SFBicycle Coalition for pushing the 527-page Bicycle Plan through the process with no environmental review in violation of the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

It always makes me laugh when you bike people hammer Mayor Newsom, who has given the SFBC everything it’s asked for, except for the veto of the Healthy Saturdays ordinance a few years ago. And he soon redeemed himself on that issue by engineering a “compromise” that did essentially the same thing. You’re coming in late on this issue, Peter, and you need to do some homework before you can have anything useful to say about it.

The text of CEQA is available online, as are many of the litigation documents. The SFBC’s website has a link to Judge Busch’s decision
, which did everything but accuse the city of lying about how it proceeded with the Plan. You could also read my blog, though that would be a painful experience for you. Just enter “Bicycle Plan” in the blog search engine, and you’ll get a lot of information on the issue[better yet, click on "Bicycle Plan" at the bottom of this post]. There’s no injustice here, unless you think—as apparently a lot of bike people in SF believe—that the city and the cycling community doesn’t have to follow the same laws as everyone else.

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