Friday, May 12, 2017

Brian Wiedenmeier, meet Matt Smith

Bike advocates live in an alternate universe, which is why I call their agenda a fantasy, since there's an unrealistic assumption underlying that agenda that it's possible---even a duty---for government at all levels to make riding a bike safe.

Bike advocates think doing that is all about "infrastructure." If they had protected bike lanes throughout the city, cyclists wouldn't have to worry about the danger of motor vehicles, and then men, women, children, and the elderly could all ride safely on city streets! (In reality most cycling accidents are "solo falls.")

Streetsblog's recent story on a talk at SPUR---a friendly audience for the bike message---by the Bicycle Coalition's Brian Wiedenmeier is a good example of this delusion:

San Francisco has made strides in increasing bicycling’s mode share, but its bike infrastructure is still bad. That was the conclusion of yesterday’s state of cycling talk at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association. “I had three or four near misses on Market street just getting over here,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “So from our perspective it’s pretty crappy.” He said that the key to getting better, safer infrastructure for bikes is to rely on data when making decisions about lane and intersection construction...

Does Wiedenmeier mean Vision Zero "data"? According to that slogan disguised as a safety policy, every busy street in the city is part of "a high-injury network," since where most traffic accidents happen is---wait for it---on busy city streets.

Well, did Wiedenmeier have three or four "near misses" while riding his bike to SPUR? What was the nature of those incidents, and how would "infrastructure" have prevented them? Sounds like he was so rattled he couldn't clearly recall.

The infrastructure he wants: "protected bike lanes on all major streets," which means taking away traffic lanes and street parking on the busiest city streets, essentially remodeling city streets on behalf of a small minority and making traffic radically worse for more than 90% of those who now use city streets.

Wiedenmeier's experience reminds me of Matt Smith's 2005 account in the SF Weekly of his hair-raising daily commute by bike:

These conflicts are extraordinarily stressful, and on those mornings I find myself spending the first part of the day numb with low-level anger and fear. And I'm what you might call an ace at this: I've bike-commuted in big-city traffic for the past 25 years.

Nothing much has changed over the years. The moral of the story: riding a bike in San Francisco is dangerous and can't really be made safe. Don't do it, or if you do it have a realistic sense of the dangers involved. Even experienced cyclists get hurt on city streets.

We can be sure that Wiedenmeier wasn't referring to the "data" in that UC study that he and the Bicycle Coalition---along with Streetsblog and the rest of the local media---have been ignoring for years, since it showed that riding a bike in San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than the SFBC and City Hall have been telling us for years.

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Most Americans agree with SF

New York Magazine

...Since the early 2000s, the public’s views on sex and marriage have changed drastically, as the percentage of Americans who say gay relations, conceiving a child outside of wedlock, extramarital sex, and divorce are morally acceptable have all increased by double digits.

These shifts have been powered by the growing liberalism of America’s elderly — itself a product of the success of social movements and, well, father time thinning the ranks of more conservative generations. By contrast, America’s growing intolerance for cruelty to animals is driven by the sensitivities of those under 50...

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Sometimes a cover-up is necessary