Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A good investment


Jason Henderson: Bike intellectual

Jason Henderson is considered an intellectual in the anti-car bike movement. Hard to see why based on his writing, but In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed is King. New Bay Guardian editor and bike guy Steve Jones has made Henderson a regular Guardian columnist, and his debut column highlights his anti-car zeal and provides some misinformation.

Henderson wants City Hall to push anti-car policies through and to ignore opposition from the overwhelming majority of city residents who don't ride bikes: 

[City] officials are dancing around the sensitivities of a handful of motorists and merchants---even to the point of ignoring actual data showing that San Franciscans just aren't as dependent on the automobile as some believe. For example, studies show 85 percent of people arrive to the Polk Street corridor without a car. Not only does this disconnect leave San Franciscans stuck in traffic, it is making our city less equitable for car-free households (which make up 30 percent of the city), as well as bicyclists and transit passengers who own cars but use them sparingly.

According to the MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet, only 20.5% of city households are car-free, not 30%. This report also tells us that 47.2% of city residents commute by motor vehicle---cars, taxis, motorcycles, etc.---but only 3.3% commute by bicycle.

The city's Polk Street survey found that of visitors to that neighborhood 15% arrived by car, 17% by transit, 58% on foot, and---wait for it---only 5% by bike. In Henderson's mind, that means it would be "equitable" for the city to take away hundreds of parking spaces to make separated bike lanes for his small minority special interest group. Polk Street has a booming restaurant scene and is increasingly a "destination" neighborhood. How could it be good for anyone but cyclists to make it harder for visitors to park there to shop and/or dine in the neighborhood? 

Henderson on the Van Ness BRT project:

Half of the households on Van Ness between Market and Lombard are car-free, yet they have poor transit service and are saturated with other people's car traffic and pollution. Will San Francisco prioritize the wishes of a few dozen drivers over tens of thousands of transit riders? That's the choice, along this and other key corridors.

Of course Van Ness Avenue is a state and federal highway, not primarily a neighborhood street. Almost all the people driving---or riding Muni---on Van Ness are on their way somewhere else.

At two recent public meetings on improving the 5-Fulton, motorists predictably protested the lost parking. Like the "Save Polk" debacle that sank cycletracks on that street, some of the opponents of the 5-Fulton plan tried to block the Fell-Oak bicycle improvements last year and are currently trying to sink safety improvements on Masonic.

Adding an express bus to that busy Muni line is a good idea, but it's not clear why the city has to remove parking to do that. Why can't the express use the same bus stops as the regular line without removing still more street parking in a part of town where it's in short supply?

To the adherents of BikeThink like Henderson, all of City Hall's anti-car projects on city streets are "improvements," but the approval of the Fell/Oak bike project was based on the safety lie, as was the Masonic Avenue bike project.

More facts ignored by Henderson: According to the MTA's Mode Share Survey Report of 2011, only 3.4% of all trips made in the city are by bike (5); 47% of the trips people make inside the city are by public transportation (7); 34% of city residents take public transportation to work (6); and only 3% ride bikes to work (6).

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