Monday, August 18, 2014

Streetsblog's latest anti-car propaganda

Tom Radulovich

The anti-car bike movement in San Francisco has the Bicycle Coalition to lobby City Hall on its behalf, and it has Streetsblog to provide a daily account of the traffic war it claims is happening on American streets: those wicked motor vehicles are methodically mowing down cyclists and pedestrians. Streetsblog provides a daily account that one might expect to see in The Onion when it links stories of every accident in the Bay Area where someone is hit by a motor vehicle, regardless of who was at fault (See Streetsblog's body count in the traffic war).

Like the Bicycle Coalition, Streetsblog often has a sketchy relationship with reality and the facts as it pursues its anti-car agenda, as I pointed out earlier this year.

Like the Valencia Street Lie, Streetsblog's latest falsehood (Car-Free Households Are Booming in San Franciscohas gone national, since it was picked up today by Planetizen.

A succinct account of the issue on Streetsblog:

According to the American Communities Survey Census data, 30.7 percent of SF households were car-free in the average of data collected between 2010 and 2012. That’s up from 29.8 percent in 2009, and 28.6 in 2000. (Note: The 2013 SFMTA Transportation Fact Sheet incorrectly cited the latest stat as 21 percent.)

I get a result from the ACS website that confirms the Transportation Fact Sheet: only 21% of city households are car-free. Enter "Means of Transportation to work by vehicles available" in "advanced search" and it takes you to the table for San Francisco, where you are told that there are 445,739 households in SF and 95,154 of those have no vehicle available.

Streetsblog links to a different table that shows that there are only 376,653 households in the city, which of course gives them the 30.7% car-free percentage they prefer. Hence, the issue here is how ACS counts households. I have to admit that Streetsblog is right if the lower household number is correct.

But they couldn't leave it alone, adding this:

The stats show that car ownership is declining[in SF] almost as fast as the population is growing. The data don’t distinguish which specific housing units have cars, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that the residents of all the new condo buildings going up are car-free. But the broader effect is reverberating throughout the city — whether car-free residents are moving in where car-owning residents previously lived, or residents are selling their cars.

This is pure anti-car ideology, since, as a commenter to the article pointed out, motor vehicle registration is in fact increasing in the city: as of December, 2012, there were 463,923 in San Francisco, but as of December, 2013, there were 477,314 motor vehicles registered in the city (You have to subtract the trailers).

I've been tracking the DMV's numbers for more than ten years, and they show a steady rise in motor vehicles registered in San Francisco. In 2000 there were 451,879 in SF and now there are 477,314, which is the opposite of "car ownership is declining."

That means that Streetsblog's source has to denigrate the accuracy of the DMV numbers in a comment, though as "cwalkster" points out, it's unlikely that many vehicle owners fail to keep their registration up-to-date, unlike the ACS numbers, which are estimates.

Streetsblog also relies on a source that shares their anti-car ideology, Tom Radulovich, whose Livable City shares an office with another anti-car group, Walk SF.

Apparently not all local realtors got the no-parking space memo:

It probably comes as no surprise that the vast majority of San Francisco home sales include at least one on-site parking space in the sale. It also probably comes as no surprise that 80% – 90% of buyers include parking on their must-have list when home-searching. That’s not to say that a home without parking can’t sell at a good price. It does mean that on average it will take somewhat longer to sell, and is likely looking at a lesser price sales price than a comparable home with parking.

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At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The WSJ agrees with Streetsblog. It's Rob Anderson, blogger, vs. the WSJ and Streetsblog. I wonder which side I should pick.

At 11:33 PM, Anonymous morgan driver said...

I didn't think I needed to pick a side, but I agree with Rob Anderson.
As a person who drives, walks, takes transit (in that order), I certainly don't see less cars on the road at all.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

You mean the WSJ blog, not the WSJ full stop.

Picking who to believe based on who presents the information seems to not do justice to the quality or veracity of the source information. All blogs mentioned are pulling from the same source, are they not? Simply because you don't like Rob doesn't make him wrong.

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well yesterday on the way home from work I sure didn't notice the vanishing act LOL.

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

All those transpo, SFMTA, SFBC, sf.creepsblog types are amazing: they have absolutely no quantitative reasoning ability whatsoever. (Wonder why Safety-School Scottie Wiener didn't go to Harvard as an undergrad: his SAT math scores.) They'll believe anything that matches their basically suburban white America hipster preconceptions (notice how none of them are San Franciscans).

That article implies that 88% of the most recent 11,139 new households in SF consist of residents are living car-free! What kind of moron could look at that data and come up with such a bizarre conclusion?

And Radulovitch, jeeze, Livable City, Bike Coalition: his "livable city" is the 16 Street BART Plaza, it took a half dozen workers in hazmat suits two weeks to clean the human feces out of the escalators so they would run again.

That's the Radulovitch/SFBC/SMTA Livable City!

At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing. The SFCTA must also be in on the conspiracy because their data from earlier this year are showing car travel times are reduced and congestion on city streets is down:

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That story has already been discussed here. The writer, who has been embedded with the MTA and the SFCTA for years, talked to two people from the SFCTA and relayed the party line to readers of the Chronicle (Downtown traffic seems worse, but studies show it moves faster).

The line that the SFCTA wants us to buy: that their anti-car traffic policies are working and traffic downtown is getting better.

But the writer felt compelled to contradict the party line with this:

"Speeds through 95 percent of the intersections monitored in the city's core remained the same (58 percent) or decreased (37 percent)."

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Alexb said...

Aaah Yes, it's hard to argue,reason, and debate with these folks, I knew right-wing think tanks were biased, but it seems blogs like these are too biased and are copying the same thing.

The commentators are full of non-sense, acting as if cars are to blame for expensive housing and that they are subsidized and they want to increase traffic to think the it will magically make transit more in demand.

In New York City, where we have have somewhat decent transit compared to many other cities, decades of waiting atleast na hr to an hour and a half to get to work if not longer for many people in the suburban parts of the city where they have bike lanes, things haven't improved.

The fact that many households own cards doesn't mean that they don't use public transit on a regular basis at all, however the anti-car blog won't mention anything for alternative viewpoints. It's not enough to compromise or say well maybe in manhattan and parts of brooklyn we don't need as much parking, but in other places we do, No they simply want to outlaw cars, should we go back to horse and buggy, I mean cities were overcrowded then right?


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