Monday, August 03, 2009

To the supervisors: "This is nutty stuff. Don't do it."

Hi Rob:

As the subject line would suggest, I'm doing a story for the SF Appeal ahead of tomorrow's hearing. I know we've discussed this multiple times, and your opinion on the bike plan is hardly secret, but I wanted to get in touch with you and see if you planned to attend and what you plan to say. And, if the plan sails through the BOS as expected, what you plan to do next. I also wanted to see if you'd given any thought to what I asked you earlier---if a revised bike plan in some form would please you, the hallowed, holy "middle ground." That's it. Let me know if you want to participate in the article.

Chris Roberts

I want to attend the hearing, but since I'm caretaker for my 93-year-old mother, it's hard for me to take a big block of time to do that sort of thing. I just don't know if I can attend. And of course all the usual bike assholes will be there to comment, which will take up a lot of time. Planning will surely make a long, boring presentation of material that most people are already familiar with. They often literally read documents that are already in the public domain.

Once the supervisors certify the EIR, the city will return to Judge Busch's court to get him to certify it. We will contest that, and both sides will file briefs on the issue of the adequacy of the EIR. It will be up to him to make the final call.

As I've said before, I think it's bad public policy to take away traffic lanes and street parking on busy streets to make bike lanes. There are of course some streets that the EIR claims can be converted without any negative impacts on traffic, but the problem is that we can't trust the city to make these judgments, since it is now in the hands of the bike nuts. Planning lied about the Bicycle Plan in 2005, and the City Attorney lied in its paperwork during the litigation. Many of the people who work in MTA and Planning are bike nuts themselves.
I would say something like this to the supervisors:

"Both the Planning Dept. and the City Attorney lied four years ago when they told you that the Bicycle Plan only needed a 'general rule exemption' under CEQA, since that designation is reserved only for projects that can't possibly have any effect on the environment. They knew the GRE designation was untrue, but they simply figured the city could get away with it, whisk the Plan through the process and save a lot of money for the city by not having to follow the law and do an EIR. But---as we tried to warn you at the time---the litigation ended up costing the city a lot more, didn't it? Just as important, Planning and the City Attorney also knew that that's what you folks wanted to hear. The advice city departments give to you is often tainted by political considerations, as I'm sure you know.
Planning and the City Attorney are lying to you again about this EIR, which is inadequate on so many levels I don't have time to enumerate them. We have submitted a comment today that goes into more detail on the shortcomings of the EIR.

As elected officials you must know that if the Bicycle Plan was put before the city's voters it would probably be voted down. The whole bicycle delusion is an elitist, very aggressive political movement of a minority of city residents who want to redesign city streets in their interests at the expense of the overwhelming majority of city residents who don't ride bicycles.

You must be aware of the political dangers of implementing this Plan. If you screw up traffic on behalf of an unpopular minority of cyclists, you could get a lot of negative feedback from everyone else who uses city streets, especially since the EIR tells us, as we predicted years ago, that the Plan is going to make traffic worse all over the city. And, just as important, it's going to make it worse for a number of Muni lines, a system that already has serious ontime problems. You can't take away traffic lanes on busy streets without degrading Muni service, since Muni has to use the same streets as everyone else. This is nutty stuff. Don't do it."

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At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Rotan said...

Bike nuts are the future Rob! Welcome to god's world!

At 11:07 AM, Blogger missiondweller said...

Rotan: I think human evolution shows otherwise. If you want to live in a bicycle utopia move to Amsterdam or Treasure Island.

Rob, thanks for keeping us up on this. I'm going to send Mirkarimi my opinion on this and remind him of the ongoing problems with our already painfully slow Muni system.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I've been riding MUNI as long as I've been riding a bike in San Francisco, and I've noticed the darnedest thing, Rob. Every time my bus or streetcar is slowed up, it's always a car doing it! Actually, it's always a whole bunch of cars.

In fact, traffic congestion seems to be made up of cars. It seems that no matter how much work we do to accommodate them (one-waying streets, getting rid of pedestrian crossings, building or replacing freeways), they still clog up traffic. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a metropolitan area in the country that does a good job of moving cars around without crippling congestion, no matter how many or how few freeways they've built.

You seem to have succumbed to some sort of Stockholm Syndrome around the private automobile, Rob. Nothing riles you faster than the idea of space being taken away from them... no matter how little. Close to 1/3 of San Francisco's area is reserved for vehicular use, but the striping of 40 miles of 5'-wide bicycle lanes sends your blood pressure skyrocketing faster than an overdose of amphetamine.

Your cry to the masses, however, has so far fallen on deaf ears: "Don't take away their space! They'll punish us! They'll clog up the streets more! They'll clog up YOUR street NEXT!". "Do not offend the motorist" seems to be your credo. A few decades ago it would have been significantly more believable, but the last 50 years of urban development have taught us a useful lesson: it seems that when it comes to accommodating the private automobile, you're damned if you don't, and you're even more damned if you do. In fact, it seems that the more a city favors automobiles infrastructurally, the worse its congestion becomes.

Why do you think your beloved "Prop H" only garnered a third of the vote when it was put to the polls in San Francisco? For someone who claims with such almighty assurance that the bicycle plan, if put to a vote, would fail, how do you explain your misprediction about "Parking for Neighborhoods"? It seems San Franciscans have gotten the memo, with the exception of yourself and a couple of the sock puppets on this blog.

Take away space from private cars and MUNI will move faster. Favor other forms of transportation and everyone will benefit. Even drivers will benefit! Traffic expands to fill every available bit of space... take space away and it shrinks. This is sound traffic engineering principle, but every time it's mentioned you talk about it as if it's some sort of voodoo.

San Franciscans are tired of the terrorism of the private car and its powerful lobby. Like everyone else, we've been sold down the river with false promises about a world of enhanced mobility and convenience, and gotten nothing but congestion, pollution, obesity and death. Worst of all, this privilege is reserved for those willing to pay for it. The rest of us, whether we're on our bicycles, or on foot, or on public transit, have been swept to the side in the name of an empty "Progress". Thanks for continuing to represent the dream with your false populism and sneering antipathy towards cycling.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

missiondweller - cars have nothing to do with evolution other than perhaps interfering with the propensity of natural selection to select out the obese.

And you admit that MUNI is screwed up already. Rob has frequently disagreed, for a very long time he claimed that the 38 ran like butter. His position, which is counter to that of the other couple of hundred of thousand MUNI riders, is one he has to take to deflect the argument that people are taking to the bike because they are sick of MUNI.

Frankly, the bike plan won't add as much delay in a year as the accident on the F yesterday and the one at West Portal last week did in two specific incidents. If we are concerned with MUNI, stopping the bike plan is hardly the low hanging fruit.

If you are sick of MUNI, you have limited options, especially if don't own a car or can't afford parking near downtown. The bike plan opens up better options for a lot of people.

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

Rob - why don't you put your money where your mouth is and get the bike plan on the ballot. And then we'll really know won't we.

And while you're at it - buy yourself a car and see for yourself how much sense it makes to drive one in the City. It's incredible that you are the supposed champion of the C.A.R. and you're not even forced to drive one.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'd love to see the Bicycle Plan on the ballot, because I bet it wouldn't pass. A few years ago, when the SFBC was in a sulk about delays in implementing the Plan, they threatened to put it on the ballot. But it was all bluff, since even Shahum and Thornley understand that the bike people aren't terribly popular in SF.

I can't afford to buy a car, even if I wanted one, which I don't. I get around fine on Muni and on foot. It surely makes sense for a lot of people to drive in our rapidly gentrifying city: people who live here, tourists, truck drivers (all our goods are delivered by truck), bus drivers, etc. I'm not interesting in "forcing" anyone to do anything. It's you bike people who are determined to shove your goofball hobby down everyone else's throats.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Rob - you didn't do proper outreach. The only other opponent of the bike plan says "I was never notified". This after your friend Miles presents to the BoS with a lifesaver or something in her mouth. We may be bike-nuts but at least we have respect for the BoS. Not that her presentation suffered, she mumbled into her suit througout her time.

I think we need to certify the sanity of the Judge who found for you in the first place. Not that you didn't have a case - I just can't figure out how you were able present a coherent case.

I really expected more.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I expected nothing more from you, because you are a stupid man who never does his homework. Ms. Miles is a lawyer not a media dude like me. If you knew anything about the litigation---which you would if you actually read my blog---you would know why Miles won in court: she had the law and the facts on her side. It was an easy call for both Judge Warren and Judge Busch. The city did zero environmental review of a project that's going to completely remodel our streets on behalf of assholes like you. Now that they've done the review, it has confirmed what we said more than four years ago---the bicyle plan is going to fuck up traffic for everyone but the bike nuts.

Don't kid yourself about the outcome before Judge Busch on lifting the injunction. He won't do it if we have a good legal argument, which I think we do. See you assholes in court, dude!

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger jh6736 said...

"The private car and its powerful lobby"?? Excuse me?? Just what lobby is that?? Between the bike nazis and the pedestrian nazis in this town, there's hardly room for anything resembling that! This is the only town in the U.S. where the pedestrian culture is not only NOT to look both ways for traffic before crossing but to ignore it completely! Ditto the cyclers, whose primary delight is their ability not only to ignore traffic laws but to create congestion whenever and wherever possible!

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"San Franciscans are tired of the terrorism of the private car and its powerful lobby."

What a windbag you are, Michael! Why don't you ever take the time to be brief? If San Franciscans are so tired of private cars, why are there 465,905 of them registered in the city? Why is there more than one registered vehicle per household in SF? Why do more than 48% of city residents commute by car and only 2.3% commute by bike? Why is it a good idea, as the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us, to slow down Muni lines in the city, which is the only serious alternative to driving in SF? (30.3% of city residents commute by public transportation.) How are we going to get people to use Muni more if the city deliberately makes it move slower on city streets with the Bicycle Plan?

At 9:08 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Bikes don't slow down cars. Cars do.
Bikes don't slow down MUNI. Cars do.

If 52% of San Franciscans don't drive to work, that's reason enough to not let us be held hostage by the same old ideas which dictate that the only prevailing concern in a public project is making sure the maximum number of private cars can travel through an intersection.

Maybe then we can stop having one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the country.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

People have already made their transportation "mode" choices---they use cars and Muni. Only 2.3% use bikes to get to work. Cars and Muni must use the same streets. You're proposing punishing people who drive---making it as expensive and difficult as possible to drive in SF---to get them to abandon their cars? A difficult proposition politically, since cars are obviously important to many city voters.

And all our goods are delivered by truck. 35,000 people drive into SF every day to work. Millions of tourists drive to the city every year, and tourism is our most imporant industry. So let's make it more difficult for tourists to move on city streets at a time when that important part of our economy is suffering because of the recession.

Great transportation policy!

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

You're the only person who thinks most tourists drive in San Francisco, so we're not going to beat that dead horse. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I'll repeat. 52% of San Franciscans don't drive to work, yet we all have to be subject to the delays created by private car traffic. MUNI doesn't cause transportation delays. Trucks don't cause transportation delays. And barring the monthly self-satisfied orgy which I will not name, neither do bicycles.

If your bus takes an hour to get downtown in the morning, it's because there's too many private cars clogging the streets. That's pretty tyrannical, in a city where the majority of commuters don't drive to work.

For someone obsessed with the idea that striping a couple thousand square feet of bicycle lane will subject the entirety of San Franciscans to the whims of a minority, how about the fact that we all have to suffer from the destructive effects of car culture every morning even if 52% of us don't drive to work?

You have no answer to that, so you'll repeat the same tired old yarn.

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

How do you think tourists get to San Francisco? They either drive in or fly in to SF airport, where many rent cars. A smaller group no doubt takes BART or Greyhound. The Visitors Bureau survey I cited in an earlier exchange found that more than 25% of city hotel guests rented a car to either get here or to get around once they are here. You have no numbers to demonstrate whatever your point is.

"If your bus takes an hour to get downtown in the morning, it's because there's too many private cars clogging the streets."

Yes, because that's the way so many people choose to travel in and out of SF, much to the distress of you bike nuts. So you want to punish them for this choice by making it as difficult and expensive as possible to drive in the city. I think that's not only contemptible elitism on your part, but it's also going to be damaging to our economy. You can't magically extract autos from the flow of traffic in SF as opposed to trucks, buses, ambulances and other emergency vehicles. All you're going to do is make traffic unnecesarily worse for everyone.

I think traffic moves pretty well in SF right now. All you and your bike nut allies are going to do is make traffic worse on behalf of your crackpot bike obsession.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

25% of tourists renting a car in San Francisco means 25% of tourists renting a car in San Francisco. By your ridiculous logic, this means the remaining 75% did as well, they're just underreported. Sort of like the Republicans who insist we still have a conservative majority... if the numbers don't agree with you, just say they're a lie!

European tourists, who are the backbone of our tourist economy, do not drive in San Francisco. They walk and take public transit, or ride around in tour buses. Most hotels in the city don't even have parking. Are they going to dither around for an hour trying to park their rented car on Nob Hill while they stay in one of the most walkable cities in the United States? Why'd they come here, and not Phoenix?

And removing traffic lanes can speed up traffic. Auto traffic is far more elastic than you're willing to admit, but once again you let your fears outweigh the evidence from actual traffic engineers, you know, those people who have spent years studying how to make vehicles move around faster.

Rob Anderson: more expert than the experts. Facts be damned!

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"25% of tourists renting a car in San Francisco means 25% of tourists renting a car in San Francisco. By your ridiculous logic, this means the remaining 75%did as well, they're just underreported."

In your haste to play the gotcha game, you've failed to read carefully. The Visitors Bureau survey was only of people staying in city hotels. We don't know how the other 75% got here, but it's safe to say that most drove into the city in wicked automobiles. Do you think they rode bikes to get here?

"European tourists, who are the backbone of our tourist economy, do not drive in San Francisco. They walk and take public transit, or ride around in tour buses."

Please provide some evidence for these assertions. At least I provided a number from the Visitors Bureau hotel survey. The problem is we don't have numbers to show what you assert.

"Rob Anderson: more expert than the experts.Facts be damned!"

I've provided the only facts about San Francisco in this exchange. Of course you're the sort who places great store in "experts." Like the "experts" in Planning that told the BOS in 2005 that no EIR was necessary for the 500-page Bicycle Plan!

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

"In your haste to play the gotcha game, you've failed to read carefully. The Visitors Bureau survey was only of people staying in city hotels. We don't know how the other 75% got here, but it's safe to say that most drove into the city in wicked automobiles. Do you think they rode bikes to get here?"

The mental contortions required to type this are absurd.

Safe to say that most drove into the city... why? You do forget that nearly every hotel has an airport shuttle. And BART goes to the airport. And there's those things called "taxis". But no, that unreported 75% drove into the city in a rent-a-car, too, so that they could enjoy the wonder of visiting one of the most compact, walkable cities in the Western hemisphere and driving around searching for parking everywhere they go.

You're right that you're the only guy to introduce numbers into the discussion. Numbers that disagree with your basic premise.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Let's walk through this one more time, Michael. We have the Visitor Bureau's survey of people staying in city hotels, which says that more than 25% of those folks rented cars in SF. How did the other 75% get here? Of course some took shuttles to the hotels from the airport, but just as many probably rented cars at the airport. And some others no doubt drove their own cars to SF. How many other ways are there for people to get here? Greyhound, BART, SamTrans, etc. What else? We don't know for sure, because we don't have the numbers, which makes your sneering tone unjustified, since all you have is your faith in BikeThink. You're just another know-it-all prick, Michael, one among many here in Progressive Land.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

By the way, I rode by the entrance to the garage in Golden Gate Park at 10th and Fulton the other day, and the garage had its "full" sign on, which means 800 cars in the garage (it must have been a free day for the de Young). Where did all these people come from, and why weren't they walking or riding bikes in the city? What's wrong with them?

At 12:31 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

800 cars. Wow.

There were multiple thousands of bikes out at Sunday Streets. And guess what - many of them were tourists, who arrived in San Francisco on (hold your breath...) on a BICYCLE.

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

800 cars. So that's the equivalent of what about 4, 2-car N-Judah trains would carry.


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