Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why the SFMTA censored my comment

An immediate rapid design process of the area.
The SFMTA refused to post my comment below to its blog story about the agency's response to the recent death of a cyclist:

Polk Street was safe before all the latest "improvements" for cyclists. Since cyclists are still a tiny minority---around 2% of commuters, according to the city's own numbers---what about the more than 90% who don't ride bikes? 

Traffic congestion has been a serious problem for some time. Making bike lanes requires taking away traffic lanes and street parking on busy city streets, making congestion a lot worse than it has to be. 

All the ongoing design "improvements" do is make driving in the city a lot harder than it should be. 

Besides, most bike accidents are "solo" falls, which Bert Hill told us way back in 2005: https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Mission-Not-Impossible-Urban-cycling-is-2698415.php 

Riding a bike involves intrinsic dangers that City Hall can't realistically eliminate. If you insist on riding a bike, you should at least do it without illusions about safety.

Rob's comment:
Since my comment has no obscenity and no personal attacks, why would that public agency refuse to post it? Evidently the agency found the contents of the comment unacceptable.

Taking the topics in the comment in the order they were raised:

1. The comment I was responding to cited the so-called improvements the city made on Polk Street several years ago. I called the city's claim a lie that Polk Street was unsafe before the current "improvements," since the city had no evidence to support that claim. I also pointed out that the city routinely used the dubious safety claim to justify other city bike projects (see this, this, this and this).

2. The city's own numbers show a significant decline in cycling in the city.

3. Of course creating bike lanes on busy city streets requires taking away traffic lanes and/or street parking. The Masonic Avenue fiasco is the most prominent recent example.

4. "Solo falls" for cyclists: bike experts themselves tell us this is the most common type of cycling accident, not being hit by motor vehicles. I provided a link to the 2005 story featuring city bike safety expert Bert Hill and bike messenger/author Robert Hurst.

The city's media has exercised self-censorship about that UC study that found that riding a bike in the city is more dangerous than City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition have been telling us for the same reason: the information was unacceptable to everyone in the city's anti-car movement, which includes the local media. The study emphasized the serious nature of solo/"cyclist only" accidents.

Hill himself was hit by a car while riding his bike in 2014.

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At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live off Howard street and with the new "improvements" I think they have really screwed up Howard by moving cars out a lane to create a bike lane. Why? If you are driving a car you need to make a right turn going west you need to cross past the car lane, and the visibility is horrible to even check to see if a bike is coming...you need to make this crossing way before the right turn. Well as a bike rider also honestly i liked the way it was.

At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment was rejected because it contained a URL link. The software can't tell the difference between a link to a news story and a link to a virus or porn site.

Get rid of your tin foil hat.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Bullshit but nice try.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

I am also a daily cyclist on Eighth, Folsom and Howard Streets and I agree that the new "safe, protected" lanes are no improvement. The previous poster correctly describes the visual hazards of placing parked cars in the sight-lines between the motor lane(s) and the bike lane. I can provide lots of helmet video of cars suddenly crossing in front of cyclists in the bike lane as the cars enter and exit alley streets. The new bike lanes have also proven to be magnets for distracted and inattentive pedestrians. And bikes must now ride over cracked, dangerous pavement and sunken drain grates that used to be hidden under the parked cars. The previous, more-conventional bike lanes were much less dangerous and terrifying.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gregski please reconsider your terrible life choice of daily bicycling. As a nation we cannot afford the massive influx of trauma cases due to solo falls due to people like you (please see the SF General study).

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Strenuous, failed attempt to be clever. We can afford it, but we shouldn't encourage it. Instead, the city should try to inform cyclists and would-be cyclists about that there's only so much the city can do to make it safe.

Gregski is a cyclist who understands the hazards and does it anyhow. He also provides important feedback on City Hall's "improvements" to our streets, which mostly punish everyone who drives on city streets.

The recent City Hall reaction to the death of the woman who was doored has been particularly craven and motivated by something like political panic, the assumption of which seems to be that if it tries harder it can actually produce safety for all on city streets, particularly for cyclists.

Vision Zero is nothing but a slogan that City Hall is trying to sell as a safety policy.


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