Thursday, August 06, 2009

No "middle ground" on the bike issue

C.W. Nevius looks for the "middle ground" in the bicycle debate:

The bike-friendly city debate has fractured into lawsuits, name-calling and the inevitable rowdy meetings at City Hall---essentially losing sight of the middle ground that could lead to more reasonable and realistic bike policies. How did it get to this point? The same way as always: opposing groups of people who are absolutely, positively convinced they are right. Andy Thornley, the eminently reasonable San Francisco Bicycle Coalition program director, says the city has spent years making itself car friendly, and "now we should shape the city back to make it more convenient to walk or ride a bike."

Unlike his fine columns on homelessness in SF, Nevius's views on this subject are out of focus. We had to sue the city on the Bicycle Plan because the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has no other enforcement mechanism. The city left us no choice, since it refused to do any environmental review of its 500-page Bicycle Plan before it began implementing it on the streets of San Francisco

We had exhausted our administrative remedies by appealing the Planning Commission's endorsement of the Plan to the Board of Supervisors, which rejected our appeal in 2005. After that you either go home and lick your wounds or you take the issue to court. We took the city's failure to follow the law to court, where Judge Busch agreed with us, ordering the city to do an environmental review of the Bicycle Plan.

There was no "middle ground" available. The city was intransigent, cheered on by the not-so-reasonable SF Bicycle Coalition, which labeled us as obstructionists who were using legal technicalities to hinder an environmentally benign Bicycle Plan.

Nevius was conned by Andy Thornley, who projects a reasonable persona to the media even as he lies through his teeth.

Nevius fails to identify the main players in this controversy: the SF Bicycle Coalition, which operates as a quasi-city agency in SF; the City of San Francisco, which operates as an adjunct to the Bicycle Coalition; and those of us who were forced to sue the city to prevent the bike people from hijacking our streets on behalf of a small, fanatical minority of cyclists.

The Bicycle Coalition is as much anti-car as they are pro-bike. More than four years ago, Thornley, in a rare moment of candor, told the Bay Guardian what he and the Bicycle Coalition really wanted to do in San Francisco: "We've done all the easy things so far. Now we need to take space from cars." 

Taking "space from cars" means taking away traffic lanes and street parking on busy city streets to make bike lanes. It also means opposing all new proposals for parking garages, which meant opposing the underground garage in Golden Gate Park and the new garage UC Hastings just built in the Tenderloin.

They don't care about Muni. For them it's all about bikes. And don't forget that the bike people aren't just riding bikes: they are also saving the planet.

Katy Liddell is the kind of person the term "nimby" was coined to describe. She only cares about Second Street, where she happens to live. What about all the other streets the Bicycle Plan is going to screw up, like Masonic, Fifth Street, Cesar Chavez, etc? Forget it. Liddell isn't interested. She and the city agreed to negotiate the configuration of Second Street, and the rest of San Francisco is on its own.

The Bicycle Plan is the SF Bicycle Coalition's wish list. And the EIR on the Bicycle Plan the Board of Supervisors just certified is one of the last obstacles to the Coalition's dream of "taking space from cars" all over the city. Of course when you take away traffic lanes for cars, you are also taking them away from Muni, which is what the EIR tells us; the Bicycle Plan is going to screw up traffic for cars and for many Muni lines in "transit first" San Francisco.

The last obstacle to fulfilling the Bicycle Coalition's anti-car agenda is getting Judge Busch to certify the EIR of the Bicycle Plan. We are going to oppose that in court. If Nevius knows of some middle ground, he should let me know.

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At 3:48 PM, Anonymous robertholt said...

Why can't the city agree to implement the stuff that the EIR says has little or no impact first and then move on to look @ the more contentious / (EIR) predicted to have more impact projects and agree to rework them ?

That would seem like the middle ground (if it exists). I don't see anybody making any noises that this is their plan of action ....

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why should the bike people compromise? After all the Board of Supervisors just certified the EIR unanimously, no dissent, no debate. These folks are fanatics, which I don't think most people in SF understand.

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Ping Bingo said...

Robbie, you are so clued out. "Bike people" ( am i 1 cause i 0wn a bike?) hate cars. I love my car but its a stoopid decsision to drive the thing in the City. Or to try go down Mkt St. Its too f*&cing crowded with other dumb car drivers. Barely enuf room for the buses down there with all the stupid peopel trying to pick up their lazy ass friends. So i take my bike. I take it to work too. I can be there in 1/2 the time MUNI takes (i am in shape Robbie) i dont have to listen to a lot of dumb asses talk on t heir cell phones. your next lifetime you might understand this Robbie.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"So i take my bike. I take it to work too. I can be there in 1/2 the time MUNI takes (i am in shape Robbie) i dont have to listen to a lot of dumb asses talk on t heir cell phones. your next lifetime you might understand this Robbie."

Yes, well done. You should be in line for some kind of merit badge from your scoutmaster. Maybe he can help you with your prose, too, to try to hide the fact that you're a smug asshole.

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous robertholt said...

This is in Mirkarimi's regular District newsletter this morning - interesting.

Great news! After three long years without any new bike improvements in San Francisco (because of an injunction against the Bike Plan), the MTA gave legislative approval to 45 Bike Network Projects on June 26th. On August 4th, the Board of Supervisors approved the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Bike Plan. Now the City Attorney will present the EIR and ask the judge to lift the injunction, and hopefully in another month or two, we'll finally see some new bike improvements in the City!

We won five bike projects in District 5: a left turn lane on Scott approaching Fell, a bike traffic signal at Fell & Masonic, an improved traffic signal at Page & Stanyan, intersection improvements at Lincoln & 7th Ave., and bike lanes and sharrows on 7th Ave.

Unfortunately, two major proposed bike lanes in District 5 were not approved by the MTA: Masonic (from Fell to Geary) and McAllister (from Masonic all the way to Market). The Masonic bike lane is on hold while traffic calming plans are considered. The McAllister bike lane didn't pass due to MUNI's concern with minimum lane width, so this project needs more planning. For the Google Earth geeks out there, you can download the KMZ file pictures above here: SFBikeMap-District5.kmz. For more information on the Bike Plan in District 5 or to get involved, visit the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition website:

Free Bike Racks for Merchants!
Are you a merchant who wants a FREE bike rack outside of your business? The SF MTA is planning to install 700 bike parking racks free of charge over the next year, and they're prioritizing merchants who request them. Request your rack here:

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city is broke and has no money for anything, basic needs like health care are being cut back, and yet there's apparently money for zillions of bike improvements. Interesting priorities.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"The city is broke and has no money for anything, basic needs like health care are being cut back, and yet there's apparently money for zillions of bike improvements. Interesting priorities."

Also, if people bike instead of drive, the city cannot collect revenue from parking tickets. Hit with both barrels!

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, the city can't keep up with the wear-and-tear on pavement caused by automobiles, for example.

or the cost of emergency crews to clean up car accidents.

or the cost of patrolling car traffic.


At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

or the cost of patrolling car traffic."

Obviously, bicyclists never disobey the law and run over pedestrians on the sidewalks and crosswalks. ;)

Bicyclists get free parking. We could always put meters on the racks!

So how much of the bicycle tax pays for our public services?


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