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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