Wednesday, February 12, 2020

More on San Francisco's "bike utopia"

The tragic death of a pedicab driver and plenty of near-accidents have bicycling advocates lobbying for a barrier. Businesses along the Embarcadero are nervous.
Letters to the editor in today's SF Chronicle:

Regarding “Road to bike utopia” (Feb. 10): I am disturbed that the issue of reduced car access and parking on city streets is framed by pitting needs of cyclists against business owners. 

Other citizens are impacted, too, including the disabled and the elderly. I drive my parents, who are in their 90s, to appointments and errands, and also enjoy taking them to beautiful parts of our city.

The Embarcadero is one such spot, where we use our handicapped placard to park on the bay side, and then take a stroll. Loss of accessible parking here would mean we just don’t go. 

I can push my dad’s wheelchair, but my mom can’t walk from blocks away. If there is to be no parking, where will the accessible drop-off points be, and will there be affordable parking near enough that they won’t be waiting for me for a long time? Does bike utopia exclude us?

Anne Seeman
San Francisco

Bike utopia? Who’s the genius behind our city street planning? I have lived between Fifth and Sixth streets on the Shipley Street alley for 18 years. The traffic has never been so unmanageable. 

The “new” Fifth Street now features no parking between Folsom Street and Harrison Street, the new bike lanes choke traffic down to one lane heading south on Fifth (one of the main arteries leading to both the Bay Bridge and the Brannan Street on-ramp onto Interstate 280 south).

Northbound traffic on Fifth Street because of metered right- and left-turn lanes also reduces to one lane, backing up onto the freeway. The Sixth Street and Folsom Street corridors are particularly challenging because of the bike and metered turn lanes. Rush hour seems to be an all-day event.

I’m all for biking to work (I own a bicycle and a unicycle), but rarely have I seen more than a handful of scooters, skateboards and bikes on Fifth Street. 

A figure of 4% to 5% of the population that bike to work has recently released; seems like things are way out of proportion for the remaining 95% of us who are stuck driving and parking on our new “improved” streets.

Michael Brennan
San Francisco

Rob's comment:
The city's estimate on bike commuting is 3%, though its Travel Decisions Survey 2017 (page 5) puts overall bike trips in the city at only 2%. Same for the Transportation Fact Sheet which also tells us that commuting by bike in 2000 was 2%. 

What happened to the city's bike revolution? Answer: It never happened, though the city's zombie anti-car, pro-bike policies keep shuffling along, pretending that it will happen any time now, while only making it harder to drive and park in the city.

The SF Chronicle, by the way, has long supported the bike movement and anti-carism in general: See More bike puffery in the SF Chronicle.

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The city still needs a Collision Investigation Squad

Back in 2018, I posted about the need for a Collision Investigation Squad like the one described above that would analyze every injury accident on city streets to determine why they happened and what can be done to prevent them from happening again.

Why hasn't San Francisco already done this? 

My answer:

One major obstacle is the advantage that not doing that gives City Hall. Without doing that analysis, the city can now simply lump all accidents under the "collisions" term required by the Vision Zero campaign.

They can then pretend that every injury accident and traffic fatality on city streets requires another job-creating "improvement" project on city streets of questionable safety value. Then they can brag about all the safety "improvements" they're making by listing those projects.

Every month the city does that with a video like this:

We now know that those "improvements" have made no difference in preventing fatalities on city streets. 

We learned years ago that we can't rely on the city to even count cycling and pedestrian accidents.

An important part of the mandate of a city Collision Investigation Squad would be to not only do a thorough analysis of every injury accident on city streets but to also make that analysis public.

As it is now, City Hall can pretend that all accidents/"collisions" can be prevented by making "improvements" to city streets. 

By beginning to practice genuine transparency about why and where accidents happen on our streets, City Hall would have to drop that pretense, not to mention the Vision Zero fantasy that all accidents are actually preventable.

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