Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Andy Thornley gets a promotion

After years at the Bicycle Coalition, Streetsblog reports that Andy Thornley is moving on:

Thornley sent an email to colleagues today announcing that he’ll be leaving SFBC at the end of the month. “After seven remarkable and profoundly rewarding years,” he wrote, “I’ll be moving on to a new adventure. I’m taking a position on the SFMTA’s outstanding SFPark team, working with that innovative, effective, award-winning program on the business of rationalizing the way San Francisco manages parking, for the benefit of everyone.”

This is an ideal job for Thornley, since he can continue his jihad against motorists and get on the City Hall gravy train with an inflated salary and generous benefits. After all, the Bicycle Coalition already functions like a city agency and gets lucrative city contracts. Why not just put them on the payroll?

Thornley will join other anti-car folks at MTA, including board members Cheryl Brinkman, Joel Ramos and MTA director, Ed Reiskin, who once told the Bicycle Coalition he wants to slow down city traffic on behalf of cyclists.

In a moment of uncharacteristic candor, Thornley succinctly stated his perspective and that of the Bicycle Coalition back in a 2005 Bay Guardian story: "We've done all the easy things so far. Now we need to take space from cars." And if you can't take parking spaces away from cars, you can at least make their owners pay dearly for them, a task Thornley will surely perform with great relish.

The big City Hall and Bicycle Coalition move "to take space from cars" was the attempt to rush the 500-page, two-volume Bicycle Plan through the process without any environmental review as per the strategy laid down by former Bicycle Coalition executive director, Dave Snyder. When the court rejected that attempt as clearly illegal, Thornley tried to give the bad news some spin in a conversation with cyclist Fran Taylor:  

Judge Busch didn't say that LOS is good or bad, said bike coalition program director Andy Thornley. Busch ruled that the bike plan is sufficiently ambitious that it needs a deeper environmental review than the seven-page CEQA exemption it received in 2005...

In fact the city did no environmental review at all. Those seven pages were nothing but a form the city filled out in a futile attempt to pretend that the ambitious Bicycle Plan project qualified for a General Rule Exemption, which meant that it couldn't possibly have any impact on the environment. That was a flat-out lie and the city knew it:

“The City hasn't cheated with its bike plan,” Thornley said. “We've actually been quite timid in pushing the question of creating safe bike and pedestrian right-of-way versus maintaining easy auto movement under CEQA. If taking back street space for bikes means reducing car capacity a little bit, that's a good thing environmentally. The city will now carry out a full environmental impact report to establish to what degree providing safe right-of-way for bicyclists might injure the environment. The process could take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars analyzing how much we're inconveniencing motorists. And when it's done, we'll be right back where we've been all along, struggling to make safe space for humans among the cars.”

In Thornley's cosmology, "humans" don't drive cars---or even need cars. Why doesn't everyone just ride bikes? As it turned out, "inconveniencing motorists," as the court-ordered EIR told us, involves making traffic worse for everyone but cyclists, including passengers on a number of Muni lines, who apparently won't be fully human until they start riding bikes.

Naturally Thornley supported the ban on allowing motorists easy access to the freeway at Market and Octavia, providing some obfuscation to justify that ongoing, traffic-snarling annoyance in that part of town.

This is the kind of keen judgment Thornley will bring to the MTA: He doesn't wear a helmet when he rides his bike, even though the evidence clearly shows that doing so can prevent serious head injuries and fatalities among cyclists. 

Since he's more personable than Leah Shahum, Thornley can be effective when schmoozing with the ill-informed media. In fact if/when MTA flak Paul Rose disembarks from the city gravy train, Thornley would be an ideal replacement to defend the often indefensible city traffic policies. He found it easy to bullshit C.W. Nevius

Andy Thornley, the eminently reasonable San Francisco Bicycle Coalition program director, says the city has spent years making itself car friendly, and "now we should shape the city back to make it more convenient to walk or ride a bike."

Another fox in the chicken coop!

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At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

providing some obfuscation to justify that ongoing, traffic-snarling annoyance in that part of town.

Really? Does it snarl traffic? Care to show any facts for your claim?

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another fox is in the chicken coop!

Sorry buddy - it's a full on fox den. None of you chickens allowed.

At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fucking prick is going to make driver's lives miserable. Is there any way to contest this? Hell, they should have to do an EIR about the environmental damage Thornley would do as people circle around looking for a free spot to park

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy is another "true believer". This is kinda like when our elected officials end up going to work for lobbyists.

So everyone has a favorite Andy story, here is mine. OK i confess I was a member of the SFBC and use to do their weekend rides before I saw the "light"...anyway Andy smoked these chic little brown cigs (I guess you dont get cancer from them cause they are all organic and there is no filter so they bio degrade). Anyway, most the bikers on these weekend rides did not smoke and they were too meek to say anything to God Andy...So one time when he put out his chic cig I asked "do ya think that butt washes into the waste water system and gets the bay fish addicted to nicotine? Such a long long silence .... very little sense of humor I guess.

At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally, there is public outrage when a lobbyist is appointed to a public position of power and policy setting. Not so in bicycling, a green-shielded protection zone of self-righteousness. Nationwide, bicycle lobbyists have infiltrated key transportation posts far exceeding bicycle mode share. The goal seems to be driving US productivity and lifestyle down to 1950's China levels - something China doesn't even want.

As an east-coast resident, going without a helmet seems like the SF practice of barebacking to protest the existence of HIV. I enjoy seeing the problems cyclists in SF have created for themselves. You are our crash test dummies - how worship of the bicycle creates new problems that other cities want to avoid. Over the years I enjoy watching the bubble of SF, a land of OZ without reality checks.

The difference between cyclists and pedestrians, drivers, and public transit riders is that cyclists view their choice as a lifestyle, while our choice is just one of transportation and getting where we need to go. Bicycling strains public transit and motor vehicle use. On nice days, public transit is under-utilized and loses more money when people cycle instead. In bad weather, it becomes over-crowded. The same is true when shared roadway is given exclusively to cyclists from motorists - it is overcrowded in bad weather. Transportation with fixed infrastructure functions inefficiently and poorly when mode demand depends on something as fickle as the weather. Seattlites and Portlandians seem to ride more in rain, but they wouln't live there in the first place if they disliked rain. Elsewhere, there will be more mode shift to create problems.

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I enjoy seeing the problems cyclists in SF have created for themselves."

What problem is that? The dozens of miles of new bike lanes? The appointment of Andy Thornley to SFPark? The expansion of bikes on transit? An upcoming bike share program?

I'm trying to find any tangible evidence of something that SF cyclists have done that has created an *actual*, *measureable* problem for themselves. Something that cyclists have done that has made their everyday existence worse, instead of better. I cannot name one thing. Please elucidate!

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

The problems of bike worship is like other religions forced on populations throughout history. Also, naive converts are lured into danger resulting in many getting harmed or killed in accidents. Motorcyclists don't go looking for recruits to put in harms way or use as martyrs the way cyclists do. We acknowledge risks and don't go demanding our own lanes and crucifixion of bad drivers. Bad drivers make even worse bicyclists and motorcyclists, likely to hurt themselves. Compare the behavior of motorcyclists and bicyclists, both vulnerable to larger vehicles, and the bicyclists behave much more like children.

All the bicycle accidents, and killing of pedestrians show how cyclists are unable to regulate their behavior as motorcyclists have done. Cops aren't doing enough enforcement either.

Public roads are for basic transit while respecting others, not race courses without red lights and use racing equipment. That is the social contract violated by many cyclists. Race courses have a different contract agreed to by users, so, its the only place racing behavior and equipment belongs, no matter the vehicle. If you want pedestrian right of way and use of sideWALKS and crossWALKS, dismount and become a pedestrian. Like a brakeless fixie? Ride it at a velodrome. There are no excuses for loud or missing car/motorbike mufflers on public streets either - belongs at the race track.

Reallocation road infrastructure disproportionate to use results in more traffic congestion and GHG pollution. Don't blame people for what they demand, however. That is as childish as claiming your religion is superior. Another problem with bike lanes are truck deliveries, very common in NYC. Trucks stop in outside lanes, travel or bike, but only cyclists get their shorts in a twist. At some point, people, like those in Toronto have enough and start to end the party - enough craziness, back to reality. The extreme is China where people are ditching bikes as fast as they can.

Bicycles, skate boards, roller skates etc. all go through booms and busts. Its very short-sighted to waste millions of dollars on long term infrastructure changes for short-lived fads. Roadway paint is the right level of investment, at most. The current bubble of bike riders will age, get knees like mine, and stop riding. Many young riders will leave the city to raise kids in the burbs, need to take them around, and have commutes too long to bike. The US population is aging and fewer children are riding, so, that spells decline in cycling and increase in public and private motorized transit. The 1890's, 1930's, and 1970's cycling booms died out and this one will too.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Bike Share programs is a long, off-topic discussion on its own. They are unsustainable without large taxpayer support, benefiting a small population, unlike MASS-transit. NYC was trying to privately fund theirs, the first in the US. Private bike shops rent to tourists and frequent riders have their own bikes, so the market for ride share clunkers is minuscule. Given SF hills, much fuel will be needed to transport bikes back to stations uphill.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Public roads are for basic transit while respecting others, not race courses without red lights and use racing equipment."

So every car with more than needed horsepower should be taken off the road as well?

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

No bans on power. Public transit vehicles and Lance Armstrong have more power than needed, so no ban on them either. Having it can get one out of trouble sometimes, a true point often made by motorcyclists. Poor decisions are required to make an asset unsafe.

Racing equipment for a bicycle would be racing shoes and pedals which can trap feet or make walking more difficult, and skinny racing tires that stop poorly in wet or dry. Racing equipment for a car include: racing clutches and motor mounts that require chirping tires to launch from stop; loud exhaust; slick tires which stop poorly in rain/snow; racing compound brake pads which stop poorly when cold; racing seat belts not allowing drivers to turn and look towards the rear and sides; unpadded roll cages, a potential concussion hazard without wearing a helmet - all negative safety factors or annoyances for public roads while most enhance safety racing.

Cyclists need to dismount and walk easily when street conditions call for it or they want to have the right of way enjoyed by pedestrians, hence why racing pedals and cleats are inappropriate, much like other sports cleats on the street. One might claim that cycling cleats are just like high power - they both encourage excess speed. Keeping speeds safe is the responsibility of any and every vehicle operator, motorized or not.

If safety fascists that prey on motor vehicles were to look at bicycles, diamond frames would be banned outside of racing! Frames used on bike share vehicles are much easier to mount/dismount and less likely to be caught on in crashes or quick dismount needs. Skinny tires and fragile parts subject to failure would also be banned. Cars have energy absorbing bumper requirements, so bikes need to survive minor impacts with minimal damage also. Bicycle safety is where car safety was 50 years ago and needs urgent government attention!

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Look, Mark, you're just a windbag who's free-associating here. Your comment isn't relevant to the post.

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Rob calls an anti-cyclist a windbag, now that's something.


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