Friday, May 01, 2015

Ed Reiskin and the Bicycle Derangement Syndrome

What is it about bicycles that encourages people to do and say foolish things? Riding bikes is mostly for young white men, but there are older white men whose mid-life crisis puts them on bicycles in an apparent attempt to be cool and, while they're at it, struggle against growing old.

Let's call it the  Bicycle Derangement Syndrome (BDS). Unfortunately, the guy in charge of the city's transportation system is suffering from an advanced case of that malady. 

From the SF Examiner on Tuesday:

Ed Reiskin, transportation director of the SFMTA, stressed the importance of the Masonic Avenue improvements, saying years ago his wife would not let him ride his bicycle along Masonic Avenue with his then-young daughter in tow because it may be unsafe. Masonic Avenue has long been one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. From 2007 to 2012, according to the SFMTA, 117 people were injured and two people were killed in traffic collisions “It’s like a minifreeway,” Reiskin said. “It’s really uninviting [to bicyclists]. Even crossing Masonic on foot is not a great experience.”

It must have been a sobering experience for Reiskin's wife to learn that even their child is an accessory to her husband's BDS affliction.

Like it was for Tim Hickey's wife. From a C.W. Nevius column:

Tim Hickey has been using his bike as his primary transportation for four years, sometimes taking his 20-month-old son, Liam, with him. He's been hit by cars three times and believes protected bike lanes are the only reasonable solution. "My wife would not let me take Liam on Polk," he said. "It's too dangerous."

Which city streets in particular does Hickey think are safe to take his infant son on his bike? There really aren't any, since a simple fall can cause serious injury---especially for children---or someone running a stoplight can be fatal to both father and child.

And this guy interviewed by Nevius:

With so many sad stories, you'd think the riders would begin to wonder about [the danger of]urban cycling. But art professor Anthony Ryan, who was hit by a car on the way to work at San Francisco State, says that isn't going to happen. "All implants," he said, tapping his upper row of front teeth. "I landed face first, and my teeth were all over the street. But I haven't quit. I sold my car three years ago. I guess I'm either committed or I should be committed."

Later: I meant to add Noah Budnick to the list of those who clearly suffer from BDS:

On Tuesday, March 29[2005] T.A.'s[Transportation Alternatives] Projects Director, Noah Budnick, struck a deep pothole and crashed as he bicycled in Brooklyn near the exit of the Manhattan Bridge bike path. Noah was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where he remained in intensive care for nine days. On April 13, Noah was airlifted to Boston where he is now undergoing rehabilitation for the head injuries he sustained in the crash.

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At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't get how your average biker can make the three block climb going northbound on Masonic. Why are they even picking that street for a bike lane? For example, the "wiggle" was a route to avoid hills, I'm sure there is an alternative north bound route that is available that does not have heavy traffic and does not have to negotiate a hill.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

Becoming a parent requires a lot of growing up and some sacrifice. Its time to put away the motorcycle, bicycle, skydiving, and mountain climbing toys and stay safe to be around and raise your child. Welcome to mini-van or SUV ownership! Thankfully the wives of the two men you gave as examples have enough common sense to set some limits for them, that the public needs to!

Happy May Day comrades! :-)

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How exactly does putting your kid in a car seat qualify as "raising a child". The most likely place for a child in the US to die is in a car seat. Take your child outside and play with them.


At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Does Ed Reiskin's wife allow him to ride a bicycle to South Van Ness where he works? There are three lanes in each direction and qualifies for a freeway.

Any bicyclist with common sense would take side streets, Central, Lyon, Baker instead of Masonic.
Maybe Reiskin is one of the daredevils.

Every EIR says bicycle ridership on Masonic is low. A waste of $18 million for an unnecessary bike lane.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't know where Reiskin lives, but I agree it's madness to ride a bike on Van Ness, with our without a child.

To understand the Masonic bike project you have to understand the bike zealot perspective that sees any busy street that moves traffic well as a "traffic sewer." That revealing term suggests that people driving motor vehicles are shit and can be disposed of and ignored.

Of course it's a waste of money, but the real issue is that it's going to make traffic on Masonic, a major regional street, a lot worse based on the fact-free assumption that enough cyclists will use it after this project is implemented to justify making traffic worse for more than 44,000 people who now travel on it every day.

Only someone who thinks it's sensible to take his small child on his bike in city traffic can believe this project is good for the city.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. It's absolutely crazy to take a child in city traffic, but it's perfectly sensible to have that level of traffic in a city to begin with? Being around the traffic, either by foot or bicycle is negligent, but building vehicle infrastructure to encourage and support dangerous traffic is somehow ok.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, you got it.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess that clears that up.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Ultra-Phil said...

I am annoyed by the BDS term. It implies that as you get older you take to the car out of "safety". Please! That is the same argument my sister in-law uses for getting a over-sized SUV, she "feels" safer". Yeah! I say "lose the diaper!". Im 40+ and I ride my bike in the city because parking sucks (and has sucked for years prior and Muni is unreliable). I get where I need to go in 15 to 20mi, no hunting for parking.One less car (you should be happy!) And the reality of Masonic is that it's a speedway that people tolerate but don't admire. (sort of like those people who tell you how to raise your children)

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Riding a bike is not about "getting older," though one sees a surprising number of older guys like Reiskin doing it. It's more like a belief system and a practice that takes over a large part of your life, kind of like you, actually. Racing around the city at 20 miles per hour on a bike is not a good Darwinian survival strategy, dude, but then at your age presumably your reproduction age has passed, which is all evolution cares about.


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