Friday, February 14, 2014

An open letter to Sean Pyles

Photo by Matthew Woodson

Sean Pyles moved here from Chicago last August. He apparently believed all the pro-bike propaganda from the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall. He writes about his disillusionment in San Francisco magazine (I've Gotten into Two Bicycle Accidents Since I Moved Here). I try to disabuse him of any illusions about riding a bike in the city:


You make the mistake of buying the Bicycle Coalition/City Hall PR flim-flam versus the reality on the streets of this city. Take the 96% increase in cycling claim by the Bicycle Coalition: that's only an increase in the number of cyclists counted during commute hours for the city's annual bicycle count, not a count of overall trips by bike in San Francisco. You have to do a little digging to find out what's real and what's not. According to the city's own Mode Share Survey of 2011 (see page 5), cyclists are only 3.4% of all trips made in the city.

See also the city's annual Transportation Fact Sheet (see page 3), which tells us that 2.1% of city residents commuted by bike in 2000, and 3.3% commuted by bike in 2011, an increase of 1.2% in 11 years. Playing the percentage game, the Bicycle Coalition would trumpet that as a 64% increase, but you can see that it's not very impressive overall.

City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition can't be trusted to provide you and other would-be cyclists with the facts. Another example: the suppression of any coverage of that UC study that found that the city has been systematically under-counting cycling accidents in the city for years. You haven't heard about that study from the city's media, because they have studiously ignored it, though the NY Times wrote about it last October. 

They have to ignore it, since it shows that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than they've been telling the public, which would undermine City Hall's pro-bike traffic policies that soft-pedal, so to speak, the dangers of cycling. City Hall sees getting more people on bikes---even children---as a cheap way of dealing with traffic congestion, a green, win-win deal for everyone. The UC study on City Hall's radically flawed method of counting traffic accidents puts the lie to that irresponsible policy.

Reading the full report with the actual numbers, by my calculation the city failed to count 1,377 injury accidents to cyclists treated at SF General Hospital between 2000 and 2009. They did that because they've been relying only on police accident reports and ignoring many accidents treated at SF General, the primary trauma center in the city.

In short, you've been snookered by the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall into believing their propaganda about cycling in San Francisco. My blog is one of the few places where you can find a reality-based discussion of that and other traffic issues in the city.


Rob Anderson

Thanks to Streetsblog for the link.

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