Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bicycle Coalition's radical new agenda

Like the unions that have been looting the city's treasury for years, the anti-car SF Bicycle Coalition still isn't satisfied. Even though the injunction on the Bicycle Plan has been lifted---and before that Plan is even implemented---the coalition is already pushing a radical new agenda to further redesign city streets on behalf of a minority of cyclists.

The go-to guy for the bike people on the Board of Supervisors used to be Ross Mirkarimi, but apparently Supervisor Chiu is now filling that role. Fresh off a junket to Europe to see how those clever foreigners do these things, the Chronicle tells us (below in italics) that Chiu is full of enthusiasm for the Bicycle Coalition's radical new agenda. (How much did Chiu's junket cost city taxpayers?)

One of the ideas Chiu and the Bicycle Coalition are pushing is that of bike lifts (see the video below to learn how they work). Actually, this isn't really a completely new idea, since it was included in the Bicycle Plan (see the Network Doc., page 26) for Pacific Street, from Polk Street up the hill to Mason Street. That means that six blocks of street parking will have to be removed to install the bike lift on the steep, eastbound lane of Pacific. The bike lift itself will cost $1 million.

Ten years from now, 20 percent of the trips taken in San Francisco should be done by bike, more than double the current rate. That's the vision of Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who last month pedaled through the bike-friendly Netherlands on a fact-finding mission with other government officials from San Francisco, Marin and the North Bay.

Reaching that target would require a big infusion of funding and probably dramatic changes to major traffic corridors. Chiu plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday that calls for the 20 percent goal.

A report issued in 2008 by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency found that 6 percent of all trips in San Francisco were made by bike; officials estimate that, based on targeted bike counts, the number has increased since then. People walking, driving and taking transit account for the rest.

Mayor Gavin Newsom set a target of 10 percent for bike trips by this year. Chiu believes that the share of bike trips can and should be dramatically higher, if the city makes the commitment to make two-wheel travel safer and more convenient. Newsom, Chiu and other city officials want to promote biking as a way to improve health, ease traffic congestion and combat global warming.

To achieve the 20 percent goal, Chiu is taking a cue from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which recently unveiled a campaign called "Connecting the City." The plan envisions building a series of separated bikeways along such streets as the Embarcadero, Valencia Street, Fell Street, Oak Street and San Jose Avenue that create physical barriers between vehicles and bicycles. The plans also talks of creating automated ''bike lifts'' to help cyclists up steep hills and of building an over-water bike bridge to connect Fort Mason and the Marina Green.

The cost of the projects hasn't been determined, but the price would be steep. The city already plans to spend about $25 million over the next five years, mainly to build out its planned network of new bike lanes and add more on-street bike parking.

Striping new lanes and adding bike racks is far cheaper than constructing a bridge, elevated bike paths down the middle of the street and some of the other projects suggested by the Bicycle Coalition.

Chiu's push comes about two months after a Superior Court judge lifted a 4-year-old injunction stemming from a citizens' lawsuit that prevented San Francisco from moving forward with all but a handful of bike improvement projects outlined in the city's Bicycle Plan until an environmental impact report looking at the potential impacts on parking and traffic was completed.

Labels: , , ,