Friday, September 05, 2014

Bike/anti-car movement worried about Prop. L

Joel Ramos, Mayor Lee's anti-car appointment to the SFMTA board, is worried about Prop. L, the initiative that opposes the City Hall, Bicycle Coalition anti-car policies that are increasingly unpopular in the city. He now returns whence he came, to Transform, with an anti-L op-ed that preaches to the choir.

Ramos struggles to simulate even-handedness with this:

There has been an understandable backlash as plans for protected bicycle lanes (e.g. on Polk Street, Masonic Avenue, etc.) and high-quality transit-ways (e.g. bus rapid transit on Geary Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue) have required the removal of curbside parking. But without these improvements, even those who are angry about the loss of public space for private cars will suffer down the road. If Prop L passes, streets will continue to get more clogged and more dangerous as car traffic increases with population growth.

Of course Prop. L is only an advisory measure that won't have the force of law. But the anti-car folks are apparently beginning to suspect they and the bike people really aren't very popular in the city, and this is the first chance city voters have had to express that antipathy. If the initiative passes in November, it will be a major turd in the punch bowl for the anti-car bike movement. 

Until now City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition have been pushing bike lanes through the process even when they are unpopular in the neighborhoods, like the nutty Masonic Avenue and the Polk Street bike projects Ramos mentions.

Only our successful litigation forcing the city to do the legally required EIR on the 500-page Bicycle Plan has slowed the city's anti-car movement.

Ramos supported the East Bay BRT project that was rejected by Berkeley and San Leandro, and he was annoyed when neighborhood opposition to parking meters surfaced two years ago. The Van Ness BRT project will make traffic worse in that part of town not only because it takes away street parking but because it will divert traffic onto the already busy Franklin, Gough, and Polk Streets.

Streetsblog announced last month the campaign in opposition to Prop. L:

The campaign is being managed by Peter Lauterborn, an aide to Supervisor Eric Mar, though Mar’s office isn’t officially affiliated with it. Lauterborn said endorsements are still being gathered, but that it’s already backed by Supervisors Mar, Jane Kim, Scott Wiener, John Avalos, and David Chiu. No currently elected officials have come out in support of Prop L.

Lauterborn is still listed as a "Legislative Aide" to Supervisor Mar, which seems like Mar's office is in fact "officially affiliated" with the anti-L campaign. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Lauterborn wrote that silly letter justifying the Masonic Avenue bike project, since he's also on record supporting the equally silly idea of filling in the underpass at the Fillmore/Geary intersection.

Speaking of that part of town, people are still wondering about that Planning Dept. map of Japantown that extends two blocks across Geary. Could this be part of the city's attempt to "preserve" Japantown---which has few Japanese residents---by expanding it? Who exactly will benefit from this subterfuge?

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