Monday, July 18, 2016

Double standard on blocking traffic

On the one hand, Streetsblog thinks parking in the bike lanes on Valencia Street is a problem and a safety issue. They aren't wrong. On the other hand, how are small businesses on Valencia supposed to get deliveries? This is a problem for small businesses in a lot of city neighborhoods.

But when progressives block the streets for political reasons, it's a different story. Critical Mass, for example, has been bullying the people on the streets of their city since 1992. Next year will be the 25th anniversary of that disruptive demo.

When Black Lives Matter demonstrators block streets, an anti-car site tells us that streets and freeways were always designed to be racist, so it's okay to block traffic during anti-racist demonstrations!

Streetsblog even argues that people obstructing traffic during demonstrations are only exercising their First Amendment rights! Black Lives Matter, but there's no such thing as Motorists Matter, since not blocking traffic---that is, when traffic moves well---is really about indulging "motorist entitlement."

The eagerness to arrest and aggressively disperse people protesting on highways seems inseparable from public officials’ identification with motorist entitlement — the presumption that drivers’ business must never be subordinated, and certainly not for a spontaneous public demonstration exercising First Amendment rights...

In passing the Streetsblog story on Valencia retails what I call the Valencia Street Lie:

It should be noted that none of this work detracts from the efforts of the late-great bike advocate, Mary Brown, former Membership Director at the SF Bicycle Coalition. In 1999, she successfully campaigned for the striped lane on Valencia Street, one of the first bike lanes in the city. Local businesses and others fought that simple change. But bike counts increased 144 percent the following year from that breakthrough accomplishment.

I've been writing about the Valencia Street for years, and I've never seen any evidence that "local businesses" opposed the bike lanes. In fact, in a follow-up study by the MTA in 2000, we see this:

The Mission Merchants Association, whose boundaries are Division Street and Duboce Avenue to the north, Guerrero Street to the west, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, and Folsom Street to the east, supports the bicycle lanes (page 6).

On the same page:

A common complaint from these responses was the proliferation of double-parking in the bike lanes along Valencia Street...It should be noted that double-parking on Valencia Street was a problem before the installation of bicycle lanes.

It's a problem without an obvious solution. Ticketing delivery vehicles punishes those trying to make deliveries to small businesses, which in effect will punish the businesses themselves by making it even harder to get deliveries.

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