Sunday, February 22, 2009

Little support for congestion pricing

Fresh off writing what read like a press release for the city's bike people on "fixing" the unbroken Masonic Ave. (see "The push to fix Masonic" below), the Examiner's Will Reisman gets it wrong on city voters' opposition to congestion pricing. The story about a Chamber of Commerce poll makes a simple error in addition that understates opposition to the idea of an extended zone:

In the study released by the chamber---which has publicly expressed skepticism about the congestion-pricing plan---61 percent of the 508 people polled were opposed to the proposal to charge drivers entering downtown during commute times. That number rose to 72 percent concerning the fee for the extended downtown section.

To get the 61% opposed to the downtown zone, Reisman added "strongly oppose" (45%) to "somewhat oppose" (16%), but the 72% opposition to the ridiculously expanded zone---Divisadero on the west to 18th Street on the south!---is only the "strongly oppose" number. If you use the same two numbers he used to get 61% opposed to the downtown zone---"strongly oppose" (72%) added to "somewhat oppose" (16%)---you get 88% opposed to that stupid idea.

Only 15% of those polled "strongly support" the much more limited downtown congestion pricing zone, with another 21% who "somewhat support" the idea. Only 36% of city voters support congestion pricing in downtown San Francisco.

Reisman again goes to Leah Shahum of the SF Bicycle Coalition for a reliably anti-car perspective on the poll: "The entire benefits equation of congestion pricing is left out...I think people would have answered much differently if they knew where the funding from the congestion poll would be going." Maybe, but it's remarkable that, even though the city is looking at a $575 million budget deficit, city voters are solidly against raising money by soaking city drivers even more than they already are.

Next time Shahum crows about a David Binder poll that shows overwhelming support for cycling in the city, we could say the same about his questions. Why not ask people if they support cycling enough to allow the city to take away traffic lanes and street parking in their neighborhoods to make bike lanes as per the Bicycle Plan?

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