Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The downside of progressivism in SF

Photo by Lance Iverson for the Chronicle

The chickens are coming home to roost here in Progressive Land, and they are riding bikes.

The downside of being the "left coast," the site of the Summer of Love, the birthplace of hippiedom and the counterculture: Critical Mass and the punks on bikes movement; the epidemic of graffiti/tagging that is supposedly an art genre, not vandalism; the annual pillow fight on the embarcadero that the city pays thousands to clean up; the Bay to Breakers "footrace" that, to the neighborhoods in its path, is like a Sherman's march to the sea, leaving widespread public drunkenness, public urination, and indecency in its wake.

Ever since Mayor Brown's unsuccessful attempt to stop Critical Mass, boorish behavior by cyclists has been endemic in the city. And there's not a damn thing City Hall can do about it now, in spite of the pious proclamations from the Bicycle Coalition and editorials like this in today's Chronicle:

The evolution of bicycle policy in San Francisco seems to be all about doing more to accommodate riders. It's time for City Hall to recognize that too many bicyclists are out of control---and more should be done to hold them accountable for rude, reckless and sometimes dangerous behavior.

Expecting a short-handed police department to deploy city cops to ticket cyclists seems fanciful.

The Chronicle, pandering to its "progressive" readership, has done its part over the years to enable this behavior and bring the city to this point. Back in 2007, when Critical Mass violence was calling attention to lawlessness by city cyclists---and Mayor Newsom was threatening a crackdown---the Chronicle ran a front-page story on the same day as Critical Mass, with a sidebar telling readers where to go to join the fun in screwing up traffic for commuters.

Recall too a 2010 Chronicle editorial ("New attitudes would help bicycling's golden age") on the Grand Jury's report on cycling in the city, calling for "new attitudes" by cyclists and more traffic enforcement, while denigrating our litigation forcing the city to do an EIR on the ambitious Bicycle Plan as an "obstructionist lawsuit." 

The Chronicle calls on city cyclists to obey traffic laws while sanctioning the flouting of the most important environmental law in California!

From the 2010 editorial:

Cycling's rising popularity doesn't make it immune to opposition. Other cities, notably New York, have faced revolt and taken out bike lanes where neighbors, drivers and merchants objected. No such rebellion has happened here, perhaps because an expansion of bike programs was held up by legal delays and is only now rolling out. Bond Yee, the director of sustainable streets for the Municipal Transportation Agency, suggested another reason. The city's famously drawn-out policymaking, built around hearings and lengthy comment periods, has accommodated most objections. "We're getting very little negative pushback," Yee said.

The Chronicle not only misunderstood/mischaracterized the litigation on the Bicycle Plan, but it fails to cover stories about the effects in the neighborhoods when the plan is implemented.

I was the only one who wrote about how the city rushed through bike lanes that took away street parking on upper Market Street despite protests by merchants in the neighborhood.

The Examiner wrote about protests by small businesses on Ocean Avenue when street parking was taken away to make bike lanes there.

And the Bay Citizen wrote about small businesses on 17th Street protesting the loss of their street parking to make bike lanes---and how the Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum tried to get two businesses to retract their critical statements.

Bay Citizen also broke the story about how the city and the Bicycle Coalition were rushing through bike lanes on the Panhandle without proper notice or information to support the project.

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At 8:22 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Will you retract your Ang comment now about the DA's office withholding evidence?

"In the meantime, District Attorney George Gascón has asked the medical examiner to expedite a report on Hui's cause of death."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/10/BA8B1O1H44.DTL#ixzz1rkIFxPl0

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bicycling in SF, generally, won't become safer until all people treat cyclists as vehicles. Presently, most people see them as dangerous pedestrians (see http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/09/03/a-unified-theory-of-new-york-biking/). When exiting a car, they don't, for example, let a cyclist pass before opening the door. If the bicycle were a car, they be more careful/considerate.
The best models for cycling behavior are

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Will you retract your Ang comment now about the DA's office withholding evidence?"

No, since he's handling the latest pedestrian fatality differently than the Ang/Cherney case, which languished suspiciously for months in the medical examiner's office. Now that he's been re-elected, he doesn't have to worry about alienating the city's bike people. Instead he can pose as a defender of public safety for all on the streets of the city.

Two years ago, when Gascon was Chief of Police, he criticized Critical Mass before he understood how much political clout the Bicycle Coalition has. Since then he has been more careful.

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems we have in SF is that the police department does not believe in general traffic law enforcement. I'm not making that up; two senior officers stated that at a recent community meeting I attended. They will do targeted enforcement at specific locations in response to complaints, but won't do any generalized enforcement.

The idea that general enforcement "doesn't work" is ridiculous, of course. And in the absence of enforcement, you end up with what we have today: nearly complete anarchy on the streets. Bikes are out of control; my own observations are that about 80% of cyclists rarely or never stop at red lights or stop signs, routinely ride on the wrong side of the road or on sidewalks, and believe that any law that delays them for even a few seconds is one to be ignored.

Drivers are not so far behind. I see blatant violations constantly; not just somewhat benign ones like failing to completely stop at a stop sign, but sailing through red signals (even driving around stopped cars in order to do so) and zillions of crosswalk violations that often required pedestrians to scatter to avoid being hit. (I wonder how many drivers and cyclists in SF know that it's illegal to enter a crosswalk when a pedestrian is ANYWHERE within the crosswalk?). It goes without saying that passing two feet from a pedestrian in the crosswalk such that they have to jump back (an offense I see daily from both drivers and cyclists) is far outside the law and should probably be considered reckless driving and cited appropriately.

Several safe driving practices that I continue to practice daily (on both my bike and in my car) result from random traffic law enforcement I encountered decades ago. When you get a ticket for failing to come to a complete stop, or for failing to stop before the stop line (few drivers/cyclists here seem to be aware of the existence of such a line) you are not likely to make those mistakes again. You will never convince me that general enforcement doesn't work, because it's human nature. Everyone know that there is no penalty for breaking traffic laws in SF, so they are ignored with impunity. There's not even much incentive to people to learn the rules in the first place.

As for the cyclists who (probably) ran the red light on Market, by all reports failed to make any attempt to slow down or stop, or even to change his path (according to today's Chronicle, cameras show that the crosswalk was largely empty of pedestrians) — I do not think he's guilty of manslaughter. I think he's guilty of vehicular homicide, because he knew, or should have known, that his actions were so reckless that it was likely they could result in someone's death. His actions after-the-fact show his attitude. I hope they make a serious example of him, one that includes prison time.

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

San Francisco has become a city of anarchists: especially cyclists who, largely, choose to disobey all traffic laws and give us all the finger for challenging them.

When will it end? When will they become respectful of traffic laws?

Go read the insane comments by the writer of "Holier than you Blog", where he, with great detail to attention, nitpicks and dissects every possible excuse on the planet as to why the killer cyclist was not at fault.

I could not believe some of the things the blog writer said. Truly insane, and self centered comments.

I hope the cyclists is charged with a serious crime. He did kill a person. He needs some serious jail time.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously. We need to start our own version of the "Hunger Games" where each neighborhood has to offer up a cyclist in tribute and they battle to the death on their fixies. The more traffic violations seen in a neighborhood, the fewer weapons the cyclist from that neighborhood gets to use in battle.

That will teach those fucking anarchists!

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Jono said...

This post was incorrectly attributed to Rob Anderson. The byline should have read "Buzz Killington," a special guest blogger here at whatever silly blog this is, on loan from everyone's favorite blog, Fun Things Are Bad Because Money.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Marcy Fleming said...

I'm shocked that 20% of bicyclists in SF obey the traffic rules. Here
in Oakland it's more like zero.
These spoiled thugs and thuggesses are out of control.
As far as progressivism goes the whole concept is a downside.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The 20% is only one commenter's opinion, not mine. Seems high to me, too. The Punks on Bikes phenomenon seems to be international in scope.


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