Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Bicycle Coalition, Debra Walker, and Rafael Mandelman: A love story

For some of us, the Bicycle Coalition's political endorsements are more of a warning than a serious recommendation about who to vote for. For this election, they're endorsing/warning us about Debra Walker (District 6) and Rafael Mandelman (District 8), two bike zealots who, in their enthusiastic responses in the Bicycle Coalition's questionnaire, struggle to stay under a 300-word limit.

One of Mandelman's answers barely makes the cut at 294 words, a response that includes a list of a dozen proposals "to decrease auto use" in San Francisco, and Walker provides a 254-word response to another question. The Coalition's questionnaire doesn't set a good example, since one of its "questions"---a passionate mini-essay on the evils of the present level of service ("LOS") standard for measuring traffic congestion---is 242 words long.

Even so they found it necessary to cut a couple of Walker's verbose answers, inserting "response truncated" instead of her verbiage. But hot air is what you get when you ask True Believers about their religion, as both candidates rhapsodize about bikes and eagerly match the Coalition's anti-car zeal.

I've written about Mandelman before. He's the "RoboProg" of this election cycle, that is, he stands out as the most knee-jerk "progressive" candidate in a crowd of prog lemmings.

If you think the monologues by Supervisor Mirkarimi are tedious, wait until these two windbags become supervisors!

Walker assures the bike lobbyists that she's one of them:

I am an avid bicyclist and proudly ride my turquoise, original Specialized Street Stomper, which I've owned since the late 80's. It is my primary mode of transportation. I do not own a car and do not find it necessary in our City. My bicycle has been an essential part of my daily life as well as on my campaign.

I don't find owning a car necessary---or a bike, either. (Nor do I find it necessary to capitalize "city.")

Walker's responses to the Coalition's questions suggest that she doesn't know what she's talking about:

I have spoken out for reform of our CEQA evaluation to include the effects of development on our city, especially as it displaces workforce and workers out of the city, thus contributing to suburban sprawl. I support revamping the criteria as it relates to LOS (level of service) evaluation of impacts of development. Instead of evaluating how development effects congestion (thereby opening the door for wider roads, more car lanes and other private vehicle solutions to counter congestion) we should be looking at the adherence to our Transit First goals as we assess developments.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is displacing workers and "contributing to suburban sprawl"? Hard to say what that can possibly mean, since CEQA is about doing enviromental studies of projects before they are implemented. I don't know of a single project in SF that will result in wider roads or more traffic lanes.

The reality is that it's a zero-sum game on city streets, with any "improvements" for cyclists coming at the expense of drivers and Muni passengers. In fact the city and the Bicycle Coalition want to narrow our streets---taking away existing traffic lanes---to make bike lanes for the bike people.

Walker's muddled response manages to convey her support for LOS "reform," which really means that the bike people want to eliminate it entirely. LOS is now the standard method of measuring traffic density by measuring how long it takes traffic to move through intersections. If the bike lobby can get rid of LOS, they will be able to jam up traffic all over the city without having to pretend to mitigate the effects of removing traffic lanes to make bike lanes.

They prefer the "auto trips generated" (ATG) methodology, which is really no method at all. If you take away traffic lanes to make bike lanes on busy streets, of course you are going to create traffic jams, which is measurable using LOS. ATG simply says that no additional auto trips are "generated" by bike lane projects, even though they jam up existing traffic. Get it?

One oddity is the Bicycle Coalition's endorsement of Carmen Chu (District 4), who isn't a bike person, as her answer to the first question shows: "I am currently learning to ride a bicycle and have used a bicycle for recreational purposes in the park. I primarily drive to work."

Chu gets an endorsement, even though she's unopposed for reelection and not a cyclist---or even a progressive---and only answered a few of the questions on the questionnaire, though she supports Sunday Streets and encouraging the city's children to ride bikes to and from school, which conforms to irresponsible Bicycle Coalition doctrine.

Maybe the Coalition is trying to enlist Chu's support for future use, to be deployed as the Bicycle Plan is implemented on city streets. But it's interesting that she didn't support---"no response given"---plans that the city and the Coalition have to screw up traffic on 2nd St., Cesar Chavez, and Masonic on behalf of cyclists.

The Bicycle Coalition couldn't find a single candidate in District 2 worthy of its endorsement, which is to that district's credit.

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At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Supervisorial race in District 8 has gotten particularly nasty, with all kinds of lies and distortions about other candidates appearing to come from Mandelman's camp (probably indirectly through groups that support him, so that he can't be directly blamed.) The lies and negativity that seem to be spewing from that side have opened my eyes to the kind of Supervisor he would likely be. Another Chris Daly with a complete lack of ethics is the last thing our city needs.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Mandelman is more personable than Daly, but then who isn't? Instead of doing the dirty work himself, Mandelman will be able to count on a small army of "progressive" thugs to do it. My "RoboProg" label isn't just an insult, though it's that too. It means that Mandelman is completely in the thrall of a dumb PC interpretation of important city issues. He doesn't deviate a bit from progressive doctrine on a single issue, which shows a complete lack of intellectual independence. It also reveals a dirty secret of local politics: after you strip away the smugness and the self-righteousness, you find that city progressives are really just plain dumb.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

LOS is outdated as in it only looks at number of vehicles processed by an intersection, not the number of people. If we start looking at service by the number of people served, then we can start making some informed decisions.

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

What does this mean in practice? Come off it, Mike. This is nothing but a variation on the phony ATG idea favored by the bike people. If you the LOS is degraded at an intersection by a development, it means that packed Muni buses are delayed, too.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

But if you take into account that the Muni bus is carrying 40 people and takes 2 secs to move through an intersection and an auto carrying 1 person takes 1 sec (so 2 people in the same time as a bus) then that should be addressed. A Muni bus and a car are not the same, but LOS treats them as so they were.

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stating the obvious, the thing about these progs and the bike coalition is their complete close mindedness. For people that choose not to ride a bike or take muni, the progs do not even consider the reasons. There are no acceptable reasons for having to drive a car. I love my bike but when I am "old" and cannot really ride it safely I do not want to rely on MUNI because I dont really feel safe taking MUNI even now when i am a reasonably young 57. Last time I took MUNI there was a fight...not pleasant experience.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

They are the same when you measure traffic congestion. If you delay a car containing only one person, you are also going to delay a bus with 40 passengers, a reality the bike people have never acknowledged. In defending the Bicycle Plan's EIR in court, the city acknowledged that removing traffic lanes to make bike lanes is going to jam up traffic and delay Muni lines on busy streets, but that was simply the inevitable result of the goal of trying to get more people to ride bikes in SF.

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most likely thing to delay a car with one person - is another car with one person.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

So why create unnecessary delays for either one?

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the only way to remove the delays for both, is to remove one car...

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The best way to delay both is to take away a traffic lane to create a bike lane.

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

The "zero sum game" you keep whining about may not quite be a myth, but it's very close.

It's pleasing to realise that car fanatsy adherents are increasingly just an irritation rather than a solid constipated barrier to diverse and effective urban travel.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Diverse and effective urban travel"? What crap! What's "effective" about deliberately jamming up traffic on city streets to make bike lanes? And, by the way, delaying Muni lines while you're doing it!

My "zero-sum" remark obviously refers to the limited space on almost all city streets. There aren't a lot of extra traffic lanes that can be eliminated without making traffic worse for everyone. And eliminating more than 2,000 parking spaces from the streets of the city will add to the congestion.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Philip said...

My "zero-sum" remark obviously refers to the limited space on almost all city streets.

No Shit Sherlock!

Of course there is limited space. The boundaries of the street are what define the street with its' sidewalk and carriageways.

Effective traffic management is about the policies guiding how that space is used - not whining that nothing can be done because there's no more space to consume.

Yes, I do realise that the whining in your case is really an outraged scream in the face of private cars being demoted from the top slot of traffic management policy.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You bike morons are the ones who have been whining ever since the injunction stopped/delayed the implementation of the Bicycle Plan. You folks were astonished and then angry to learn that not everyone in Progressive Land shared your goofball hobby.

"...the whining in your case is really an outraged scream in the face of private cars being demoted from the top slot of traffic management policy."

Interesting how you bike nuts routinely project your emotions onto me. I'm constantly being accused of being angry, but the anger is all in your little bike bag---that fashionable, over-the-shoulder bag. I got a remarkable dose of it back in 2006 when Judge Warren issued the original injunction against the city. What it showed readers of my blog was how stupid, hysterical, juvenile, and witless you folks can be when thwarted.

The hard part of the Bicycle Plan isn't implemented yet---Second Street, Fifth Street, Cesar Chavez, Masonic Ave. That only a small minority ride bikes in SF is the reality. The city's screwing up traffic for the overwhelming majority of city residents on behalf of you jerks may not go down as well as you think.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Well, since it will be implemented I guess it's just a game of wait and see now.

Is Rob right and the world will end? Good thing I'm only a Johnny-come-lately and I'll be ditching out on this town after I completely dismantle it, (evil laugh).

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, you're just another know-it-all jerk. The city is full of guys like you, who seem to think they're experts on public policy but who never read anything. Murphy's another one, but apparently you've taken his place in providing a steady supply of dumb comments to this blog.

No one is talking about the end of the world, just deliberately making traffic worse than it has to be for the overwhelming majority of people who use our streets on behalf of you bike nuts. What could go wrong with that?

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You bike morons are the ones who have been whining ever since the injunction stopped/delayed the implementation of the Bicycle Plan.

Takes a whiner to know one. You whine more than the Rangers.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Resorting to name calling? Nice touch Rob.

I just see the world differently then you. I'm not some know-it-all jerk, I'm just a guy trying to make it a better place for my (eventual) kids. I don't want to sit down in 20 yrs and have them ask me why I didn't do anything to change the way things were when I felt passionately about it.

I think we'll all be just fine. Take a deep breath.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You mean it's all for the kids? What a crock!

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "City" of San Francisco is often capitalized when it is described by City officials or by people referring to San Francisco as an economic entity, or as a proper noun being that it is the largest employer in San Francisco. While "city" can certainly not be capitalized, it commonly is.

Also, it's great you're writing so much about your thoughts and opinions. While I agree with nearly nothing you've said on the topics of Mandelman, Walker, and the SF Bicycle Coalition, I think your blog is awesome and obviously comes from your heart. Keep it up!

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Since punctuation rules say that capitalizing "city" without the "City of San Francisco" usage, it's really just another bit of civic narcissism by those who do so. We're oh-so special, "The City."

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

It's election season, get into the spirit - its ALWAYS all about the kids!

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...


At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yea..murphy and mikesonn are two of the biggest bike morons around. They disgust me.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Mandelman lost. Instead, the people of Noe Valley and the Castro voted in a guy who had this to say - very publically - about the Noe Valley Plaza

"I experienced this recently with the proposed Noe Plaza, at 24th and Noe, which would have been part of the City’s Pavement to Parks program. The plaza was extremely controversial and resulted in several contentious meetings in Noe Valley.
I publicly supported the plaza and almost certainly lost votes by doing so. But I believed the idea was a good one – at least for a trial period to see if it worked – and I thought it was important to let the voters know what my thinking was."

One Candidate (endorsed by rocky's dad) - Rebecca Prozan - signed a petition opposing the plaza. While she later backed off of this stance - she finished a distant third.

Mandelman took a middle road - he took no stance, running away from his base. Finished second.

Funny how that works.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

"yea..murphy and mikesonn are two of the biggest bike morons around. They disgust me."

Care to expand on that? Or am I a "bike moron" because I have been labeled one by Rob? Are you aware that anyone who has seen a bike in the last 20 yrs is a "bike nut" to him? I am an avid Muni activist, but that is lost on Rob because I also ride a bike - hence making me Satan incarnate.

But you keep drinking the kool-aid. I'm sure someday they'll be a gov't program to put everyone in a car since that is the only true means of transportation in this, or any, real American city.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Even though Weiner supported the plaza idea, I hope he's elected over Mandelman, a partyline prog of the most robotic sort. And Weiner is knowledgable about Muni and supported Prop. G, which is a good sign.

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob - you misspelled Scott's name. For that - one more parklet!

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, I made the mistake of using this misspelledhead by the N Judah guy as a reference.

Parklets are self-inflicted punishment---the city calls them "improvements"---for whole neighborhoods, not individuals. After they're installed, individuals then inflict the punishment on themselves by using them.

This outside area used to be referred as the smoking section. People who wouldn't consider drinking their lattes in a smoke-filled room don't seem to mind the diesel fumes and the carbon monoxide (which is odorless and invisible) with the parklets.

But the main idea behind the parklets, pavement to parks, is that city streets should be used for something---almost anything---besides actual traffic, especially motor vehicles. Pavement to Parks is nothing but a subset of the city's anti-car movement, led and cheered on by the Bicycle Coalition.


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