Saturday, December 03, 2011

Workshop on screwing up Panhandle traffic

Photo by Volker Neumann

Today's Public Workshop on the city's plans to screw up Panhandle traffic on behalf of the city's bike lobby was of little use to those familiar with the ideas already available on MTA's website. Essentially the "improvements"---every meddlesome anti-car MTA project is of course an "improvement"---involve either taking away street parking or traffic lanes on Fell and Oak Streets to make a protected bike lane. The MTA material talks about improving safety on the streets, though the city's own studies don't show that those streets are particularly unsafe now.

The workshop's Powerpoint presentation tells us of the bike movement's ambitions: "Goal of 20% of trips by bicycle in 2020" (page 4). The only way that can be achieved is by creating something like gridlock on city streets, a prospect that doesn't bother the anti-car movement. Like the Bicycle Coalition's earlier goal of "10% by 2010," it's unlikely to be achieved, but that doesn't mean that the attempt won't make city traffic a lot worse---for everyone but cyclists, that is---than it has to be.

Another "City Goal": "Climate Action Plan: Increase bicycling and walking as alternatives to driving." That is, cyclists aren't just riding bikes; they are also fighting climate change, which is why they are morally superior to the rest of us who rely on cars and buses. The only realistic alternative to driving for most people in San Francisco is the Muni system, which, oddly, is barely mentioned in this presentation. That's probably because the city's definition of "Transit First" in the City Charter has been redefined as per the third Goal: "Bicycling shall be promoted by encouraging safe streets for riding, convenient access to transit, bicycle lanes, and secure bicycle parking." Transit itself is apparently now a secondary consideration for our city's transit agency.

Page 6 provides a graph showing the increase in bicycle use in the city since 2006. But the last two city bicycle counts show a diminishing increase, which I pointed out in my analysis of the 2010 report a year ago. The next city count report, due to be released soon, should tell us whether the city is redesigning our streets on behalf of a PC fad that's already on the decline.

At todays' workshop, I asked the young woman leading the discussion in front of a misleading "traffic volume" chart how many cyclists now use the Fell and Oak Streets every day. She thought that the number was 2,000. The chart she was standing in front of was supposedly showing motor vehicle volume, but it did so on an hourly basis, which made figuring out the daily volume difficult. The Powerpoint presentation at last year's workshop on plans to screw up traffic on nearby Masonic Avenue helpfully provided the actual daily traffic volume for that busy street---more than 32,000 vehicles a day (page 26).

Previous reports tell us that Oak and Fell Streets combined carry 67,000 vehicles a day, which means that the city wants to screw up traffic for 67,000 motorists on behalf of 2,000 cyclists because they aren't "comfortable" (page 15) riding on those streets now.

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At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, look at this way, pretty soon the city will be one big free parking lot. That should make you happy.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Apparently you're having trouble dealing with the substance of the post. How does taking away street parking lead to making the city "one big parking lot"?

At 7:55 PM, Blogger mw said...

Can we please just skip ahead and fail at the 100% by 2100 goal? It'll save having to work through the seven additional missed goals for every decade between now and then.


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