Thursday, January 09, 2020

PTSD and the bike lobby

In Tuesday's Examiner:

A duo that is notorious in transit and bicycling circles for efforts to block local bike lane projects is back in action. Attorney Mary Miles and car advocate Rob Anderson, who successfully tied up city bike lane plans for years with litigation, have filed an environmental challenge to the Page Street Bikeway Pilot that could potentially delay the project (They’re back: Frequent bike lane foes challenge Page Street project, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez).

More than five years ago I wrote about the remarkable post-traumatic stress people in the city's "bicycle circles" were still suffering years after our successful litigation against City Hall's attempt to rush the Bicycle Plan through the process without any environmental review (See also this).

Why would the courts allow us to "tie up" the Bicycle Plan for years? Because way back in 2006 Judge Busch understood that the city was clearly violating the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

Significantly, the city didn't appeal Busch's decision, since City Hall knew at the time he was right. City Hall simply assumed in the beginning they could get away with doing no environmental review of the 500-page Bicycle Plan that takes away thousands of parking spaces and dozens of traffic lanes to make bike lanes on busy city streets.

This kerfuffle is about an appeal of the city's latest anti-car "improvement" to our streets, the Page Street Bikeways Improvement Pilot, which of course will make it harder for those wicked motorists to access the freeway via Octavia Boulevard (an earlier City Hall traffic planning fiasco). You understand, of course, that whatever the city does to our streets is an "improvement."


SFMTA staff have written in reports that the point of making the project a pilot is to measure those impacts, with planned reviews to see who is impacted, and how.

This is typical of Rodriguez, whose bike-related stories are based on the MTA's line on its projects (see also Another Rodriguez puff-piece on Masonic Avenue). Not surprisingly, he gets a sound bite from the Bicycle Coalition retailing the safety lie to justify the project.

He also talked to our new District 5 Supervisor:

The appeal may serve as an early test for newly sworn-in Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the neighborhood encompassing the soon-to-come Page Street bikeway. “I have been a long-time advocate for bike safety improvements along Page Street,” Preston said in a statement. “As to the vote on the appeal, I look forward to the hearing and learning more.”

In spite of his ideological pretensions, Preston is no rebel. He's never had the spine to even mention during either of his campaigns the Masonic Avenue bike project that runs through the middle of his district. Of course he will support the project after a display of pseudo-objectivity like above. His reference to the bogus safety issue is the tip-off.

When the MTA starts a "pilot" project, it's just preliminary to implementing a project:

Miles and Anderson argued in the appeal...that the pilot’s purpose and duration are not to collect data but to implement a bicycle project “on behalf of” the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which the challengers call “a private lobbying corporation.”

We "call" the SFBC that because that's what it is. Many may think the SFBC is a city agency, since its agenda is methodically implemented by the city, but it is in fact a "private" organization that lobbies for cyclists, a special interest group.

More Rodriguez:

The project was approved in November by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, but drew some objections from Haight Street merchants who feared that some drivers would shift from Page Street to Haight Street, gumming up traffic there.

Anyone familiar with those streets knows that this project is nowhere near any Haight Street businesses and, project or no project, unlikely to have any affect on Haight Street traffic.

I saved the most contemptible city argument parroted in the story for last: 

That additional traffic on Page Street has threatened children attending John Muir Elementary School with potential traffic collisions.

People in that neighborhood know there's a crossing guard there during school hours. Besides, like most city schools, parents often drive to pick up their children at that school.

The phony children-threatened-by-cars argument was also used to justify the Masonic Avenue bike project:

The array of nearby schools — including the University of San Francisco, San Francisco Day School, and Wallenberg High School — puts thousands of students at risk of the speeding vehicles...

I've never heard of a single student hit by a vehicle in that neighborhood, and the Day School has a crossing guard during school hours at the Golden Gate/Masonic intersection.

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