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.

Labels: , , , , , , ,