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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