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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