Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bike News Roundup #4

Mayor Lee

I became a critic of the bicycle movement in San Francisco during our successful litigation against the city's Bicycle Plan, which the city was illegally implementing on the streets of the city without any environmental review. 

I still think that redesigning city streets on behalf of a small minority is a bad idea. I also believe that riding a bike is intrinsically dangerous and that City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition are irresponsible in encouraging the unwary citizenry---even children!---to start cycling with no realistic understanding of the dangers involved.

What critics of the bike fantasy don't need is allies like Ann Pfoser Darby in New York City:

At a previous meeting, Ms. Pfoser Darby denounced proposed bike lanes as a taxpayer-financed amenity for the undocumented immigrants she claims are their main users...Ms. Pfoser Darby’s willingness to openly share her opinions is not new, but her outspokenness on undocumented immigrants has reverberated with the election of President Trump, who she said is “finally doing something about the illegals.” She remained adamant about her position on the bike-lane proposal: “I said the truth — the bike lanes are made specifically for the people who come into the country illegally.” She said she surmised cyclists using area bike lanes were undocumented immigrants by their lack of English and nervous mannerisms.

Or like this guy in Ross, who tried to run down a cyclist in his SUV.


Existing conditions
Turk Street

The Bicycle Coalition is upset that the city is backtracking on a plan to put a protected bike lane on Turk Street between Market St. and Gough St. As the photo above shows, like most streets downtown, Turk has only two lanes with parking on the side. Hard to make a protected bike lane without a major impact on parking, loading, and access for fire trucks.

A company in the Netherlands has an app that tracks how its employees get to work. The idea is to reward those who ride bikes to work to encourage "sustainable" transportation. But even in the Netherlands, cycling can be risky:

The Netherlands has the most cyclist deaths in Europe as a percentage of total traffic. Over the past years a quarter of people killed in traffic accidents in the country were cyclists. The worldwide average is 8 percent, according to accident figures the European Commission published. According to the figures, there are 570 fatal traffic accidents in the Netherlands per year, of which 185 of the victims were on bicycles. Hungary and Denmark are next on the list, with bicycle riders accounting for 16 percent of the fatal accidents.

But of course more people cycle in the Netherlands than in other countries. Still...

A recent article by a Portland State professor explored why girls in Portland don't cycle as much as boys raised a perennial issue in the cycling community: Why don't as many women as men ride bikes? I posted in 2009 about that disparity revealed in the 2008 San Francisco State of Cycling Report: Only 23% of city cyclists were women. That hadn't changed much by 2011

I suggested a few answers to why that continues to be true in 2015: Why aren't women joining the bike revolution?

On the other hand, women in East LA are using bikes as an organizing tool. They call themselves The Ovarian Psychos:

City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition are still trying to put lipstick on the pig they created called Octavia Blvd. Recall that all good liberals and progressives---progressives are liberals on steroids---supported the 1999 ballot measure that prevented the Central Freeway ramp from being rebuilt. Instead, a new Octavia Blvd. would be created!(See Octavia Boulevard: A "progressive" fiasco.)

According to the Voter Information Pamphlet (page 156), some of the folks responsible for the new, unimproved Octavia Blvd. we have today: the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Tomorrow, Calvin Welch and the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Jane Morrison, SPUR, John Burton, Art Agnos, Carole Migden, Tom Radulovich, the San Francisco Democratic Party, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, Robin Levitt, the Harvey Milk Club, and Walk San Francisco.

The Central Freeway used to carry 100,000 vehicles a day over Hayes Valley. Most of that traffic is now on Octavia and other surface streets in the area, creating gridlock in that part of town for most of the day.

Streetsblog is putting a smiley face on the Octavia Blvd. expressway that now carries more than 60,000 vehicles a day through the heart of Hayes Valley to and from the freeway:

The street closure and events this week, meanwhile, were part of the overall “Octavia Boulevard Enhancement Project,” which is in turn part of the Market-Octavia Area Plan to make the boulevard and surrounding streets safer and more pedestrian-friendly.

Surprised to learn from the Governors Highway Safety Association that many pedestrians and cyclists killed on the country's streets are drunk:

State Highway Safety Offices and their partners should broaden their anti-drunk driving campaigns to encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to consider safer transportation alternatives after heavy drinking. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported today, the ratios of fatally injured alcohol-impaired bicyclists and pedestrians have not fallen as dramatically as the proportion of impaired motor vehicle drivers killed, and this remains a significant problem. In fact, surprisingly, more than one-third of pedestrians and one-fifth of bicyclists killed in crashes in 2014 were legally drunk.

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