Friday, March 11, 2011

Open letter to David Chiu

Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum and David Chiu

The other day I speculated that, as a bike guy and a candidate for mayor, David Chiu could lead a useful discussion of traffic policy in the city, particularly City Hall's anti-car policies that are not only a massive inconvenience to everyone who drives in San Francisco but also threaten to damage the city's economy. Without any prompting from me, Chiu is evidently eagerly filling that role, though it looks like he's determined to ignore questions about those policies.

Here are some questions Chiu should answer to let city voters know what he will do to our streets if he's elected Mayor of San Francisco:

1. Do you support the city's plan to redesign Cesar Chavez Street and Masonic Avenue? The EIR on the Bicycle Plan warned us that bicycle projects will have "significant impacts" on traffic on busy streets, including delaying a number of Muni lines. How can this be justified in our supposedly "transit first" city?

2. Did you support the city's attempt to rush the 500-page Bicycle Plan through the process without any environmental review? If so, why? Judge Busch scolded the city in his decision ordering it to follow the law and do an environmental review of the Plan. Do you think his decision was wrong? If so how and why? (Candidate Herrera should also answer these questions, since, as City Attorney, he supervised that attempt to avoid complying with the California Environmental Quality Act, the most important environmental law in the state.)

3. Do you support a Congestion Pricing system in San Francisco that would charge city residents to drive downtown in their own city?

4. Do you ride in and/or support Critical Mass, the monthly demonstration by the city's bike people that snarls city traffic during the evening commute and costs city taxpayers $10,000 a month for a police escort?

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Railroads in the US and Europe

From High-Speed Train Talk:

"Look at the two pie charts on the map. Now consider the high-speed rail argument that we MUST have high-speed rail in the United States because it's so popular in Europe...The graph shows that Europe is far less smitten with rail transit than most of us have come to believe. In the European Community, 7.3% of the population travels by train, while 83.3% travel by car. That doesn't sound like trains, including the high-speed ones, are that popular!...

After the US copies Europe with a bunch of high-speed rail corridors, 83% of us will still be driving or taking the bus? Is that what you are trying to tell us, Mr. Secretary of Transportation?...

We have been saying for years that HSR will not---WILL NOT---reduce vehicle traffic from America's roads and highways.

Why not? Because If you overlay this high-speed rail map with a US map of the Interstate Highway System, you will see that the short, little red lines are a mere fraction of the routes Americans drive daily. And with the interstate highway system you have to include all the other roads and streets that are covered over with our automobiles. To all that car traffic, high-speed rail is totally irrelevant."

And high-speed rail will bankrupt California.