Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pave Polk Street and leave the neighborhood alone

Streetsblog: "This is what the opponents
of a safer Polk Street are fighting against"

Except for the lie about "a safer Polk Street," Streetsblog's caption for the above photo is right: People in Polk Gulch don't want the city to take away a lot of their street parking to make bike lanes. I stopped in briefly today at the community meeting on City Hall's anti-car project. 

The MTA set it up the same way they set up the meetings on screwing up Masonic Avenue: an "open house" format, where people mill around looking at often irrelevant "options" on the project pinned on the wall, even though the city already knows what it wants to do: take away a lot of street parking to make bike lanes. The claim that they just want Polk Street "to work for everyone" is of course a lie, as is the claim that the street has a serious safety problem. It's all about making cyclists "comfortable" practicing their rather risky and foolish transportation "mode" on city streets.

People who own businesses and residents on Polk shouldn't have any illusions about what the city wants to do and will do if they don't continue their opposition. Like religious fanatics, they'll keep coming at you with their "improvements."

According to the city's own numbers, cyclists in SF take only 3.5% of all trips in the city, according to a study the MTA itself paid for. The city used to claim that cyclists constituted 6% of all city trips, but the study didn't support that number. City Hall and the MTA are catering to this small, PC minority at the expense of everyone else that uses our streets based on nothing but the safety and "improvement" lies, just like they did on Masonic Avenue and the Panhandle bike lane project.

The "open house" format has the effect of diluting and defusing dissent, while fostering the illusion that the city is being reasonable and is open to discussing different options. Ed Reiskin won't again make the mistake of taking center stage and allowing himself to be the focus of neighborhood anger on this project. It was surely not only humiliating for him personally, but it undermines the city's notion that people want these so-called improvements to their streets.

People in Polk Gulch should invoke my Leave the Neighborhoods Alone Plan and insist that the city just pave the street and then go away and leave them alone.

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At 6:55 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

If they want to be "left alone" - they can pave their own damn street.

Whoops - it is NOT THEIR STREET.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

To follow - if you look at the recent census statistics, the Polk Street Corridor has among the lowest income levels in the entire city. It is pure hubris for them to demand that the rest of the city subsidize a repaving of the street in their neighborhood yet protest modifications to the layout.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, it's a city street that the city is supposed to pave. Instead of doing that, the MTA wants to impose its "complete streets"
program on Polk Gulch, because, you understand, no city street is really complete until it has a bike lane, preferably made by removing a lot of parking first.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Paving streets is a "subsidy" to the neighborhoods? Business owners and property owners are already paying taxes to get stuff like that done. In fact the city is borrowing money to pave our streets, even though the MTA itself brings in more than $178 million from its parking lots, parking meters, parking tickets, and parking permits. And then there's the Prop. K sales tax administered by the SFCTA that brings in another $80+ million a year. The money is spent unwisely, to put it mildly, including $123 million for the Central Subway.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

It's a city street that the city is supposed to pave, and put traffic lights, stop signs, bike lanes, sidewalks, parking meters, bike racks, street trees, etc... around as part of the system. If you are part of a system - you don't get to pick and choose what part of the system you like and what part you don't. There is precedent - there are roads like Bear Gulch in the Santa Cruz Mountains that were taken private, and now the people on that street can do whatever they want.

In fact the city is borrowing money to pave our streets - money that will be repaid by the highest income citizens of the City. Hint: They are riding the Google buses and they want bike lanes on Polk.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

So to get Polk Street paved the residents and business owners in Polk Gulch have to accept all the MTA's "improvments," including the bike lanes and removing all that street parking because the Google punks want bike lanes?

Not an argument that the neighborhood is likely to find convincing.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing like seeing who can shout louder to build false consensus. Put this and the bike plan to a vote, cowards.

Ryan K.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

City Hall will never put the Bicycle Plan on the ballot, because even the anti-car Bicycle Coalition enablers in City Hall understand that it would be rejected by city voters. The city's bike people are surely the most unpopular special interest group in San Francisco.

And City Hall won't let the residents of Polk Gulch vote on their latest "improvements" to Polk Street. They tried that with the dumb Page Street traffic circles back in 2004, and the people living on Page---and the SF Fire Department---rejected the traffic circles. Too much democracy can be fatal to the schemes of special interest groups.


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