Sunday, May 05, 2013

Polk Street: More silence from the progs

The Bicycle Coalition endorsed
Avalos for Mayor in 2012

After the city's progressive supervisors pulled a vanishing act during last December's hearing on the Fell/Oak bike lane project, the head on my post was The Silence of the Progs. Since all things bike routinely get unanimous approval by the Board of Supervisors, why didn't they speak up in support of the Panhandle project? After all it will remove 100 street parking spaces to make cyclists "comfortable" riding on Fell and Oak Streets. What's not to like for the city's prog leaders? My conclusion: they're gutless.

They're doing it again on the Polk Street bike lane project. Streetsblog is bitter at Supervisor Chiu---Polk Street is in his district---for not supporting the project, which was scaled down radically by the MTA  after much opposition from the folks in Polk Gulch. Chiu actually rides a bike in the city and has previously talked big about supporting everything the Bicycle Coalition wants to do to our streets, which makes his silence a major betrayal of the anti-car agenda.

But what about Supervisor Avalos, the main opponent to Ed Lee in the last campaign for Mayor of San Francisco? The de facto leader of city progressives has also been silent on Polk Street, even though he promised the Bicycle Coalition that he would support the project.

Nothing but silence on Polk Street too from Supervisors Campos, Kim, Mar, and Yee, all of whom pledged to support the Polk Street project in their responses to the Bicycle Coalition's questionnaire.

Later: I forgot to include Supervisor Farrell on the list. He's not a progressive, but he too promised the Bicycle Coalition that he would support the Polk Street project and is now silent.

What seems to be happening is a growing realization that the whole bike trip---the Bicycle Plan and the Bicycle Coalition---is a paper tiger politically in San Francisco. Local politicians are willing and eager to pander to the bike vote during their campaigns, but when these projects turn out to be less popular in the neighborhoods than prog doctrine assumes, they shut up and run for cover!

The bike lane project on Fell and Oak Streets, the Masonic Avenue bike lane project, and even the Polk Street bike lane project are all projects that will have a citywide traffic impact, not just on those neighborhoods.

City voters should be given the opportunity to weigh in on projects that impact their city---the whole city. All these projects---and the Bicycle Plan itself---should be put on the ballot to be debated and thoroughly vetted.

The Bicycle Coalition and City Hall don't want that, since it would likely put an end to all their bogus "improvements"---especially taking away street parking and traffic lanes to make bike lanes---to city streets.

Too much democracy can be fatal to special interests, and I suspect that the bike people and their lobbying organization are not the most popular special interest group in the city.

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At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, you make an interesting point about how the bike plan will impacts the "whole" city. What most angers me is the SFMTA should be looking at how to make traffic flow better, safer and encourage developers to include off street parking in their residential projects. Instead we get the SFMTA playing city building department demanding no parking be included in new developments, and for the entire focus of the agency to slow down or "calm" traffic and remove parking.

My questions are; Does the SFMTA have a plan to fix muni, do they have a plan to reduce their deficit, and do they have a plan to make traffic move better? I think the current SFMTA answer to all these problems is to just build more bike paths. What a city!

At 1:18 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

If the bike plan impacts the "whole" city, why is it then that the opinion of some merchant on Polk Street counts more than anyone else in the "whole" city?

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, that's a good question, Murph, though not in the way you intended. Of course it was more than a few business owners on Polk that made the MTA back off. There were a lot of other people in Polk Gulch that opposed the project.

My point: Why not let the whole city vote on the Bicycle Plan, including the Polk Street project? Or at least let the Polk Guch neighborhood vote on the MTA's proposed "improvements," like the city had the people living on Page Street vote on the traffic circles back in 2004?

The answer: the city and you bike folks would probably be rejected by a majority of city voters, and City Hall and the SFBC don't want to take a chance on that.

Also consider that the support from you bike zealots for the Polk Street project wasn't too impressive. Streetsblog reported that only 670 people signed a petititon in support. And when you look at the Folks For Polk website under "Our Places"---supposedly a list of businesses on Polk that support the project---there's not a single business listed.

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put it on the ballot, Rob, or shut the hell up.

- Ryan K

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why should I shut up? How could I possibly put anything on the ballot? I live on Social Security, and gathering the required signatures costs tens of thousands of dollars.

The Mayor and/or the Board of Supervisors should put the Bicycle Plan on the ballot, including the Polk Street project, the Fell/Oak project, and the Masonic Avenue project.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Why should I shut up? How could I possibly put anything on the ballot? I live on Social Security, and gathering the required signatures costs tens of thousands of dollars.

In the words of the bard - "Sucks to be you".

If it costs tens of thousands of dollars, why don't you start panhandling on Polk Street and raise the funds from the aggrieved merchants on Polk?

Or do I read this correctly that you think the SFBC should take their own money and put a ballot initiative onto the ballot to see if the people will vote against a status quo that is in their favor?

As they kids say - "LMFAO"

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

By trying to talk/write like "the kids," you sound infantile.

This is not about me, Murph. As I pointed out the previous comment, it's City Hall that should take the lead on this. The mayor can put something on the ballot by himself, and it only takes four supervisors to put an issue on the ballot. These folks are the city's political leaders, and they should act on this, instead of pushing these unpopular projects on reluctant neighborhoods.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha! Someone posted pretending to be me, that's interesting. There's no limit to what some losers will go to to try to smear and insult. I guess I will have to tie these posts to my actual Blogger account so some internet gangster will have less of an opportunity to try to be hardcore on the internet.

I agree with Rob, and in some respect, my internet doppelganger, we should put it on the Ballot.

-The REAL Ryan K.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

A few loud protesters does not a reluctant neighborhood make.

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Furthermore, you can see that Rob allows any comments on this site, ones that disagree with him most strongly, and even ones that are outright rude. Which is more than the thought police over at Streetsblog and the SFBC can say.

-Ryan K.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Murphs, I'm pretty sure there has to be some correlation between "status quo" and "public support", which some people, including myself, don't believe the Bike Plan has. What it does have is a vocal and active support lobby, who seem to have time to attend mid-day meetings and influence candidates for political office. The rest of us have lives, families, jobs, which don't always make attending a meeting of people trying to shout you down high on our list of "things I want to do". Does that make my opinion count less?

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, it's important to understand that the bike people are a special interest group that has a well-compensated lobbying organization---the SF Bicycle Coalition---that works full-time at redesigning our streets on behalf of their membership, which, according to the city's numbers, accounts for only 3.5% of all daily trips made in the city (see page 6 of this MTA study).

How have they been so successful so far? Along with the PC, trendy patina cycling enjoys for many progressives, the bike people always show up at public meetings to push their agenda.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much of the city ROW is bike lanes? How much is car movement/storage?

There is no war on cars, the cars have already won and are just beating a dead horse again and again and again.

-Ryan K.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Correction: I exaggerated the number of daily bike trips in the city: It's only 3.4% of all trips, not 3.5%.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Anonymous, quit being a chicken shit and stop impersonating me. I've already linked my posting to my google account, so you're just making a fool of yourself.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

"Ryan K", I think you are going to have a hard time convincing anyone that the bicycle lobby isn't the aggressor in the multitude of changes that have pervaded the city. Certainly it is fun to play the victim, citing examples of "uncomfortable cyclists", but that doesn't make it true. I don't even think the bicycle lobby could call itself willing to negotiate with language like "Get with the program or get out" or "Don't bring your agenda to *my* city". The bicycle lobby HAS started a war on autos, and there are copious quotes from individuals and organizations that the quality of life for drivers is something to be disregarded. Just remember that those drivers are riding motorcycles, carpooling, taking the bus to work, taking your kids to school, and shipping in your multitude of consumer goods from across the country to your doorstep.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

rkeezy - you don't have to show up to the meetings. You have Howard Chabner to show up to everything for you. And Mari Eliza. And Provan. And all the cabbies who don't work during the day. And so on, and so on.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And the bike people have MTA workers, whose salaries are paid by city taxpayers, to represent them, including Ed Reiskin, who makes $294,000 a year.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Since the Bicycle Coalition changed its website, all those incriminating questionnaires that the supervisors filled out when they ran for office are now down the old memory hole. I bet they're glad of that, since they show these folks groveling contemptibly before that special interest group. They all supported the Polk Street bike project in the questionnaires and now they're silent after all that neighborhood opposition surfaced.


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