Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Bike News Roundup #8

No helmets for Streetsblog

I do the Bike News Roundups
to at least mitigate somewhat the steady stream of uncritical anti-car, pro-bike propaganda from City Hall, Streetsblog, and the Bicycle Coalition, not to mention CityLab, Planetizen and all the other anti-car sites.

That the bike movement is as much anti-car as pro-bike is confirmed by the recent story in Streetsblog USA: Improving Biking Is as Much About Slowing Cars as Building Better Bike Lanes. The clear assumption: if cycling is to gain, motorists must lose.

This has long been the assumption of San Francisco's Bicycle Coalition, as its former executive director Leah Shahum affirmed: "Imagine streets moving so slowly you'd let your six-year-old ride on them."

What she's imagining is traffic gridlock in the city, with her imaginary six-year-olds and her adult comrades weaving in and out of that designed traffic congestion. (Shahum doesn't have any children she can send out to play in the traffic.)

It's typical of Streetsblog USA to picture people riding bikes without helmets, since they denigrate helmets as a safety accessory for their readers, many of whom are cyclists.

Note too the comments to the story by yours truly engaging the True Believers on the tenets of their faith---BikeThink. I can comment to stories in Streetsblog USA, unlike Streetsblog SF, which banned me several years ago for making too many comments that annoyed the faithful.

* Last month Lucy Madison, who lives in New York City, wrote an op-ed for the NY times. She began by noting the increase in cycling in that city: "New York City is in the midst of a cycling boom. New Yorkers are riding bikes more than ever, both as a commuting option and a recreational activity."

But there's a downside to more people on bikes:

Seconds after she set foot in the crosswalk, a cyclist plowed into my mother with such speed that he broke her collarbone and multiple ribs. (My mom, who followed pedestrian laws with a near-religious fervor, had a green light.) She fell back on her head, fractured her skull and lost consciousness soon after. The cyclist was cited for disobeying a traffic device. The next day, my mother was declared dead at the hospital.

Her mother was hit in Washington, D.C., but Madison notes that kind of accident is not unknown in New York:

The number of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists rose more than 40 percent from 2012, when there were 243 crashes that injured 244 pedestrians, to 2015, when there were 349 that injured 361 pedestrians.

It's also not unknown in San Francisco: see this and this. Madison was able to get cyclist/pedestrian accident numbers for New York, but we can't do that in San Francisco. 

Under the Vision Zero slogan/policy, City Hall only provides accident numbers and a high-injury network map showing where most traffic accidents happen, not why or who was responsible, which gives the city a blank check to make whatever "improvements" it wants to city streets, most of which make it harder to drive in the city and have no discernible impact on safety.

Governors Highway Safety Association

* Apparently the bike lobby is abandoning the lie about Valencia Street and instead is pushing to eliminate street parking on the street to make a protected bike lane, like the one planned for Masonic Avenue. After the negative feedback the city got on the transit lanes on nearby Mission Street, the city probably won't rush into that Valencia Street makeover.

Child Passenger Safety Week

* Good idea to make sure the kids are buckled in. But what about this? Children and the bike cult, since many cycling deaths are caused by rear-end accidents.

* Something cyclists and runners have in common is thinking about whether short rides are better than long rides or sprints are better than long jogs: Sprinting vs Jogging: Which Is Better For Your Health? and The Virtue of Short Rides.

* BikeShare hardware is vandalized in the Mission and not welcomed in Bernal Heights where, like many neighborhoods, taking away parking is an issue. Burrito Justice is a bike guy, and he maps it out for cyclists in that part of town, whether you're going by BikeShare or not.

* We learn from this MTA document (pages 63,64) that the city is planning to spend more than $600 million on bicycle projects in the next 20 years:

San Francisco’s Bicycle Strategy, building on the 2009 Bicycle Plan, lays out the key investments needed for the City to promote cycling for everyday transportation. The Strategy proposes investments to enhance and expand the City’s bike network to accomplish its goal of 20% bicycle mode share. Full Build-Out of the Bicycle Strategy is designed to provide a system in San Francisco that offers cycling as an equal choice for transportation compared to other modes. Investments in this category will lead to safer routes and connections for bikes citywide, secure parking for bikes, and access to shared bicycles.

As I've pointed out, 20% of trips by bicycle in San Francisco won't happen any time soon, if ever (The 20% by 2020 fantasy). Note that the paragraph doesn't say "by 2020." The implication of the below suggests that even the MTA admits that 20% by 2020 always was a fantasy:

As the population of San Francisco grows and increases in density, traffic congestion will increase unless the City is thoughtful and efficient about the limited use of the public right-of-way. Currently, the existing bicycle network accommodates a 3.5% bicycle mode.

The city's Transportation Fact Sheet (page 3) puts the 3.5% (or 4%, the updated percentage) of bike commuters, or all trips by bicycle---the two distinct numbers are often confused---in historical perspective: it took 14 years to achieve, since 2% of city commuters rode bikes in 2000.

* Streetsblog says a recent study reached an unsurprising conclusion:

People on bikes are exposed to the highest levels of pollution per mile—surprise! But, say the authors, bike riders can reduce their exposure by “choosing dedicated pathways that are away from traffic sources.” Yes, of course. And every bike commuter would love to have that choice.

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