Saturday, April 20, 2013

Polk Street project: Lies and anonymity

Gavin Newsom and David Villa-Lobos

Not surprising that the Bicycle Coalition and the MTA/City Hall support the "improvements" to Polk Street. It's their project, after all. But there are no names on the Folks for Polk website. Under FAQ they cite the MTA, the Bicycle Coalition, and Streetsblog. Seems like the website and the Facebook page---they've edited out my comments there---were created by the city and/or the bike people. Otherwise, why the anonymity?

Paul Skilbeck, "a cycling specialist journalist"---for him it's all about bikes---on provides another pro-bike column on Polk Street (the first was discussed here) that recycles the Valencia Street lie along with some new bullshit, including a slur---that opponents of the project packed the March 18 meeting---from an anonymous source.

Skilbeck calls Polk Street "one of San Francisco's most dangerous streets," which is a straight-up lie, since Polk rates only a mention (page 25) in the latest city Collision Report, and not a single Polk Street intersection is on the list (page 8) of intersections with the most accidents.

The head on Skilbeck's story trumpets the endorsement of something called the Community Leadership Alliance, which seems to be a one-man operation---David Villa-Lobos---with a sketchy website.

The slur:

The CLA decision runs counter to an earlier suggestion by the SFMTA that it might consider revising the project proposals in response to a stormy meeting of the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association on March 18th. It has since emerged that merchants along Polk Street are said to have admitted that they stacked that meeting with friends and family from out of town, according to sources close to the CLA.

Anonymous "sources close to the CLA"? Could that be Villa-Lobos himself?

Streetsblog is unscrupulous enough to pass on someone else's anonymous slur, even making it the head on their story. They "haven’t had a chance to get the opponents on the record" to deny the charge, you understand, but they had time to repeat it, along with the lie about the safety of Polk Street.

Skilbeck: "The safety benefits of the SFMTA's plan are not in dispute. The controversy surrounds the impact on businesses of reducing parking spaces on Polk Street." But they are in dispute. The city still hasn't provided any serious evidence that Polk has a safety problem.


Mr. Bert Hill, chair of the San Francisco Bicycle Advisory Committee, said, “Much the same happened on Valencia Street and upper Market Street a few years ago. Merchants tend to say 'I will go out of business'. OK, it may not be good for every business, but it will be good for commerce overall, so if we are talking about what's good for the prosperity of the city then these changes are beneficial.”

Hill is a long-time bike activist---I first blogged about him way back in 2005---in San Francisco, so he knows the Valencia Street example is untrue, that no street parking was eliminated to make those bike lanes. That makes Hill a certified liar, along with Andy Thornley and Dave Snyder---leader of the Bicycle Coalition for years before the Shahum regime---who provides a comment on the article. Recall that Snyder was the author of the devious, illegal City Hall strategy to sneak the Bicycle Plan through the process without any environmental review.

The Bicycle Coalition and the city are worried about the opposition to the Polk Street project. They were able to push through anti-car "improvements" on upper Market Street, Ocean Avenue, and 17th Street in spite of opposition from small businesses on those streets.

But the Polk Street neighborhood is better organized and determined to prevent the bike lobby and City Hall from taking away their street parking to make bike lanes. It would be a serious, much overdue, much-deserved defeat for the Bicycle Coalition and the anti-car MTA, which is why they're piling on the lies and slurs in a desperate attempt to push this project through.

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At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Folks for Polk said...

Folks for Polk here, Rob.
You were asked to ‘keep it real and civil’ on our Fb page then requested to participate in a one-to-one conversation via email. Apparently ignorant of Folks for Polks’ mission to foster civilized public discourse, you were blocked when you persisted in a fact-free rant. When your clear misinterpretation of statistics was challenged, you retreated to the safety of your sniper blind, aka blog. I invite you once again to make your points where you aren’t grandstanding but mano a mano with the facts:

Perhaps you haven’t traveled the globe, but I have. You may choose to disbelieve the data, but you cannot deny the evidence: alternative means of transport make economies thrive. Here’s why this matters to us: We love the US and it will be outranked and outperformed if we do not progresses in this regard. If you choose to hold back progress, do it within the sphere of your own life, not in our city and not in our country.

As to anonymity, we chose to remain anonymous because
1). like many others on websites, including, we aren’t out to grab the spotlight as individuals
2). the vitriol leveled at people who front their ideas is frankly pathetic and not worth being distracted by.

We all know that bullies were often themselves bullied and made to feel diminished so we do understand. But actually no one likes the bully’s M.O. of lies and intimidation so you haven’t conquered your past after all. And, as I wrote earlier, you are ruining your health and your life by keeping yourself in a constant state of rage.

I’m happy to continue an exchange of ideas via email and maybe even in person, but on the grounds, again, that it remain real and civil.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My response to this bullshit is here.


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