Friday, April 05, 2013

Big Lie on safety pushes anti-car agenda

It's important to understand that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco are special interest groups with an anti-car agenda

Some people seem to think that the Bicycle Coalition is a city department. That confusion is understandable, since City Hall and the MTA treat it like one, including giving it lucrative city contracts to stage Bike to Work Day ($50,000 a year!) and other events. 

These organizations foment a chronic sense of emergency about the safety of our streets to push "improvements" to city streets that are designed to make it harder and more expensive to drive in San Francisco. 

The SFBC's Leah Shahum has been explicit about waging war on cars to make it safe even for children on bikes: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them." 

The only way that can happen is by creating gridlock on the streets of this major American city, a notion that doesn't bother Shahum, who had her life-changing bike epiphany during Critical Mass, the monthly demonstration by the city's bike people that deliberately snarls traffic for people trying to get home from work on the last Friday of the month. (Critical Mass also costs city taxpayers $188,000 a year for a SFPD escort.) 

Well, are our streets getting more dangerous, and are more people getting injured by those wicked motor vehicles? No, and that increased safety has nothing to do with bicycle lanes and other "improvements." 

In fact the city's own studies show that over time our streets are actually getting safer, for which we should be grateful to the MTA, which is doing something right. It's carefully studying dangerous intersections and streets to figure out how to make them safer. See the latest Collision Report that puts current and past traffic accidents in SF in historical context.

The Bicycle Coalition and Streetsblog are now whipping up indignation about the city's delay in creating the protected bike lanes on the Panhandle by citing an alleged safety emergency. 

That's simply a lie, which you would only know by reading this blog. The rest of the city's media act as megaphones for the MTA and the Bicycle Coalition. A good example is the Examiner's Will Reisman, who might as well be on their payroll:

Repeated setbacks to bike-related projects on Fell and Oak streets might delay the final completion of the plans until the end of this year, further angering cyclists and community groups. After years of contentious debate, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages traffic policies in The City, approved the projects in October. Along with adding bike lanes---separated from street traffic by physical barriers---55 parking spaces would be removed and pedestrian safety enhancements like reduced crossing areas would be made.

In his pseudo-objective account about the project's alleged "safety enhancements," Reisman talks only to supporters of the project, even though there was substantial opposition in the neighborhood to removing all that street parking---actually more than 100 spaces, not 55---which is in short supply in this area.

As I documented during the run-up to the city's approval of this project, it's all about making cyclists "comfortable" riding their bikes on Fell and Oak Streets. The safety angle was nothing but an afterthought to justify a completely unnecessary project. Why anyone with any sense would even want to ride a bike on these streets is an interesting question, since Page Street and Hayes Street are safer nearby alternatives.

The Bicycle Coalition is pleased that Supervisor Breed, who's turning out politically to be Ross Mirkarimi in drag, is on board for this foolishness:

A central element to the project is the physical separation between fast-moving vehicular traffic and the people using the new bikeways. Supervisor London Breed recently recognized physical separation as a matter of public safety by emphasizing that everyday that passes without it exposes people walking and on bikes to undue danger.

No evidence is required for Breed to get on the phony "safety" bandwagon.

The Bicycle Coalition "demands" that the Panhandle project be completed by Bike to Work Day! Like the way the Bicycle Coalition and the city rolled over small businesses on Market Street in 2006 to make bike lanes in time for Bike to Work Day.

Elizabeth Stampe

Elizabeth Stampe
of Walk San Francisco cranks up the propaganda machine every time a pedestrian is killed in the city, regardless of who's at fault. The city's latest Collision Report (pages 20, 21) tells us that, like cyclists, pedestrians are responsible for many of their own injury accidents.

An added hazard is the increased use by pedestrians of electronic devices, which, like distracted driving, is causing a growing number of injuries.

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More on rejected CEQA "reform"

by Kathy Hamilton
April 4, 2013

In a stunning decision, March 27, 2013, Judge Frank Roesch of the Alameda Superior Court ruled that a key provision of AB 900 (Steinberg 2011) was unconstitutional. The part that was struck down concerned the requirement to have litigants bypass Superior Court and go directly to the Court of Appeal. It’s a separation of powers issue; the legislature can’t pass a law that precludes plaintiffs from going to the Superior Court. The constitution gives that power to the Superior Court and the citizens the right to access the court system.

The Planning and Conservation League (PCL) brought the state to court and challenged only the provision of the law that was struck down. The lawsuit argued that the Legislature overstepped its constitutional authority in dictating to the courts at what judicial level a specific case should be initiated, depriving citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed access to all the courts of California. 

Judge Roesch concluded in the oral ruling, “It is inescapable to me that the provision of AB900 found in Public Resources Code section 21185 [which would create exclusive jurisdiction in the California Court of Appeal] is so inconsistent with the constitutional mandates of where writs of mandate can be brought as to be unconstitutional." 

The judge also said that the Court does not lightly declare statutes unconstitutional. Note: Before the passage of the bill, there was an attempt by the Judicial Council to advise the legislature that it was overstepping constitutional authority, but the legislators didn’t listen.

Attorney Antonio Rossmann, whose firm represented the case for PCL, reminds us that when the law first passed, the statute was a product of last minute maneuvering by the legislature in late 2011. It was brought before the legislature in one day; in fact the last day of session therefore the bill did not have thorough examination by the members. 

The process is called “gut and amend,” which essentially means they take the content out of a seemingly harmless bill and substitute it for something that the legislator wants to get through fast and without the scrutiny of others...

This was similar to what to the bill that was tried at the end of 2012, authored by former Senator Rubio, which would have harmed CEQA had it passed. It was pulled at the last minute by Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg with a promise that he’d be back next session to improve and modernize CEQA. Many in the environmental community are skeptical and concerned about tampering with the CEQA law...

More on the decision at the Plannng and Conservation League 

Learn more about CEQA at CEQA Works.

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