Saturday, February 01, 2014

The bicycle movement's contempt for the law

Dave Snyder, Luke Thomas photo 

This from Steve Jones in the Bay Guardian:

[Assemblyman]Ting is working on the issue with the California Bicycle Coalition, whose executive director Dave Snyder is a longtime San Francisco bike activist. Snyder says Caltrans doesn’t allow bike lanes that include physical barriers against traffic, even though they are widely used in other countries and states and considered to be safest design for cyclists. “San Francisco is technically breaking the law because they have the best traffic engineers in the state and a good City Attorney’s Office and they know they can defend it in court if they have to,” Snyder said. “Most places in the state won’t do that.”

Snyder is more than a "bike activist." Before the advent of Leah Shahum, he was head of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for 11 years. (Shahum had her life-changing bike epiphany at Critical Mass, which is now an institutionalized flouting of city traffic laws.)

Like a lot of bike zealots, Snyder has little respect for the law as he pushes that agenda, since he formulated the city's unsuccessful, illegal strategy to push the Bicycle Plan through the process to avoid the environmental review clearly required by the law. From a 2004 email message from Snyder to a city employee:

We've deliberately bifurcated the bike planning process into two sections: the "bicycle policy plan" and the "bicycle network plan." The "policy plan" refers to bicycle parking requirements, education and enforcement policies, etc. In terms of changes to the street network, it says, only very generally, "we need to make improvements to the streets that connect every neighborhood to every other neighborhood with safe streets for people on bicycles." However, it makes no specific references to what kinds of changes we will make on which streets, and therefore, by itself, cannot by its nature have an environmental impact and is exempt from CEQA. In CEQA parlance, it's a "plan" not a "project." Nobody will contest this...The "network plan" on the other hand, could have an environmental impact. At some time this year, a complete network plan will be developed that contemplates hundreds of new bicycle lanes and paths throughout the city...It is this document, the "bicycle network plan," which is subject to CEQA review...However, as each of its pieces goes for approval, the Planning Department's MEA[Major Environmental Analysis] office can review those changes on their own and in the context of the whole plan. The first set of projects you'll get will have little or no traffic impact and therefore could either be categorically exempt from environmental review or clearly subject to a neg. dec. (Administrative Record, Volume 5, pages 941-942).

And that's exactly what the city tried to do: Over our objections, it rushed the Framework Document through the process and made it part of the General Plan and hid the Network Document---which was nothing but plans for redesigning specific city streets---at the SFCTA. Judge Busch gave this subterfuge short shrift in his decision against the city.

While he led the Bicycle Coalition, Snyder opposed the parking garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park---which has since become a huge success---brandishing his anti-car credentials with statements like this in 2000: "the most pernicious form of urban pressure: the automobile."

It's not surprising that Snyder thinks the City Attorney's office is "good." Dennis Herrera confessed several years ago that he advised the city to do an environmental review of the Bicycle Plan before the litigation was filed. When City Hall ignored his advice, like a good soldier he and his department fought that losing case tenaciously, wasting a lot of taxpayers' money in the process.

Although Snyder has never been anything but a bike guy, with the help of San Francisco progressives, he's reinvented himself as a transportation expert who now sits on the Golden Gate Bridge district board.

Thanks to Meter Madness for the link.

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