Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Congestion Pricing: More unpopular this year than last year

Photo by Cindy Chew for the Examiner

The Chronicle had a story earlier this month based on SFCTA talking points about the dumb idea of filling in the Geary/Fillmore overpass. 

Today the Examiner has another SFCTA-based story on the ultimate anti-car idea of Congestion Pricing, which City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition want to impose on everyone who drives in San Francisco.

That is, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), created to administer the Proposition K sales tax revenue for city transportation, is now propagandizing city residents in support of projects that will make it more difficult and expensive to drive in San Francisco, even though City Hall can't keep city streets adequately paved---and city voters were told that "maintenance of local streets" was at the top of the list for how Prop. K money would be spent.

Instead of paving our streets, the SFCTA is throwing $123 million into the Central Subway money pit.

The new head of the SFCTA spent her early career at the agency pushing Congestion Pricing.

The hook for today's Examiner story is the annual Chamber of Commerce poll, which found that Congestion Pricing is even more unpopular this year than last year: 72% to 21% against this year (69% to 26% last year). Not surprising that the Chamber is worried about charging people $3.00 to drive downtown, since it would obviously discourage people from shopping and visiting city restaurants in a large part of the city. Check out the map below of the area proposed for Congestion Pricing that includes Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and south of Market Street, a major part of the city's restaurant and retail industry.

The Chronicle's story on the poll yesterday didn't mention the Congestion Pricing results, but then the Chronicle didn't mention the results in last year's story either.  

Today's Examiner story also promotes the idea that there's a safety emergency on city streets:

With 21 pedestrian deaths and four bicyclist fatalities, 2013 was the deadliest year for such deaths in The City since 2001. Drivers were primarily at fault for two-thirds of these fatalities, according to the Police Department.

But according to the MTA's Collision Report, 2013 was a typical year for fatalities on city streets (see pages 17 and 23).

On the other hand, City Hall has a serious problem with how it counts accidents on our streets, as that recent UC study told us. By relying on police reports and ignoring accidents treated at SF General Hospital, the city has been seriously under-counting cycling accidents---and maybe other accidents, too. 

Neither the Examiner nor the Chronicle---or the Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly---have even mentioned that study. Why? Because it shows that riding a bicycle in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than the city has been telling us, which undermines City Hall's pro-bike traffic policies---and both the Chronicle and the Examiner support those policies editorially.

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