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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