Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guy in a wheelchair and the bike people

Howard Chabner on what it's like dealing with city cyclists from a wheelchair:

October 12, 2012 was my last Physical Access Committee meeting as chair. I went to the full Mayor's Disability Council meeting on October 19, 2012, to present my usual report of the access committee meeting. I read my report, then read my resignation letter. Then I read the following statement:

I had planned to stop after reading my resignation letter. But a couple of things happened Wednesday, October 17, 2012--–two days ago---that I must mention.

I’m a volunteer tour guide at City Hall. A bit before noon I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch before my tour and, as I was rolling East on Fell Street between Masonic and Central, a bicyclist was riding West on the sidewalk. I asked him politely to please not ride on the sidewalk. I said please. I didn’t yell. As he sped past me he yelled something that I couldn’t understand.

A few minutes later, when I was between Lyon and Baker, near the old SP hospital, I heard a screech of brakes and tires behind me on the sidewalk, and felt the near presence of something behind me. Before I could stop and turn around, a cyclist sped past me from behind. It was the same cyclist. It was unnerving, to say the least. A woman was standing near the fence of the old hospital building, smoking. She told me she saw what happened and that the bicyclist came close to me. I told her he was the same cyclist as before. She was appalled, and told me she’s had many bad experiences with bicyclists. The cyclist was a white man, probably in his 30s, wearing shorts, a T-shirt and no helmet. I should add that in both places along Fell the Panhandle is just across the street and has a paved bike path, maybe 50 or 60 feet from the sidewalk where the man was riding.

After my tour, around four o’clock my friend and I were proceeding West on Fell, crossing Octavia. We had the green light and the pedestrian walk signal. We started to cross and were cut off, stopped in our tracks and almost hit by a cyclist riding northbound on Octavia, turning left onto Fell after the light had turned red. She didn’t see us waiting to cross, and probably didn’t even see that she had cut us off, because she was so focused on speeding up to make her turn, even though the light was red, and so lost in listening to her headphones. This cyclist was an Asian woman, probably in her 20s, and wearing headphones.

If it were possible to prove such things, I’d be willing to bet a lot that neither of these dangerous cyclists was a tourist.

This is what’s going on every day on the sidewalks and streets of San Francisco, and it’s getting worse. But Mayor Lee is doing nothing, President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu is doing nothing, the Board of Supervisors as a body is doing nothing, the MTA Board is doing nothing, and MTA management is doing nothing. Thank you for listening.

At the meeting, I didn’t describe the following event, but on Friday, October 19, 2012, at around 1:30 PM, on my way to the meeting, I had another encounter with a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk. I had turned left off of Fell onto Broderick, and was going Northbound on Broderick between Fell and Hayes. (I was on my way to have lunch at Acme Burgerhaus, on Divisadero near Hayes.) I was on the West side of Broderick, and a bicyclist was coming towards me, riding Southbound. He was a white man in his late 20s or early 30s. As he approached I asked him politely to please not ride on the sidewalk. I said please. I didn’t yell. He didn’t say anything but gave me a dismissive, arrogant look. There were no cars on that block of Broderick at that time, and later when I reached Hayes, there were no cars at the intersection of Broderick and Hayes, so conditions in the street were quiet and mellow, yet this cyclist was riding on the sidewalk.

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