City Attorney’s Office Files Motion to Lift Bike Injunction

bike_injunction_filing_crew.jpgStaffers for City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office deliver the massive filing to the courthouse this afternoon. Photo by Marc Caswell.

After more than three frustrating years without any major bike improvements in San Francisco, it appears what bike activists hope will be the final court showdown for the bike injunction is just weeks away. This afternoon, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office filed a motion (PDF) to lift the bike injunction, a filing that is 15 inches thick and argues the city has met all of its legal obligations.

From the press release:

Herrera’s motion argues that the completion of the environmental review underlying the original injunction, together with the growing number of bicycle-related injury accidents in San Francisco, justify dissolving the injunction. The dissolution would allow the City to move forward with the implementation of 45 separate bicycle route improvements that are intended to enhance the safety and usability of City streets for the bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists who make use of them.

A hearing on the motion has been tentatively set for September 24th at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Peter Busch.

"After years of environmental review and public participation, the San Francisco Bicycle Plan reflects an unprecedented consensus to create a City that is safer, healthier and more environmentally responsible," Herrera said in a statement. "I am confident that the exhaustive process we’ve now completed will finally enable us to move forward."

Andy Thornley, the program director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, got a look at the massive filing, which includes all of the documents related to the EIR and Bike Plan, and was pleased the legal ordeal might be coming to an end soon.

"It’s been a hell of a long time. A little while longer won’t kill us, but it just feels good to finally have all of that work delivered back to the judge, and the psychological benefit of saying ‘here ya go judge’," he said, adding that it’s still hard to predict what Rob Anderson’s attorney, Mary Miles, may have up her sleeve.

"It’s certainly no time to be complacent about how this thing is going to turn out," Thornley said. "But we feel pretty comfortable that the City Attorney and Planning and MTA and all of the folks who’ve been working on this for so long have done a great job and made a good case…but we’re not clear of this thing until the judge takes the handcuffs off."

The MTA Board certified the EIR and approved the Bike Plan June 26th, legislating 45 of the 56 priority projects, and the Board of Supervisors later followed, voting to reject two appeals. When Judge Busch lifts the injunction, the MTA has said it is ready to begin striping bike lanes and installing bike racks, though it has not released a detailed time line.

  • NoeValleyJim

    Sweet.

  • Hererra hasn’t done any work on the litigation, but he wants to take credit for it when he runs for mayor. If the Plan ends up screwing up traffic all over the city, his PC calculations will backfire, and he’ll look like just another prog asshole to city voters.

  • patrick

    @rob

    WAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

  • Thomas

    Mr Anderson:
    Haven’t got a chance to say thanking you.
    For having caused the city to spend hundreds of thousands of (tax) dollars to fight this unnecessary litigation.
    For having blocked even the installation of bicycle racks so cyclist can lock up their bikes safely,
    and in general, for going through all this trouble only to wage your personal vendetta against a city that dares to think a little bit more progressive when it comes to transportation.
    Thank you,
    and… no need to thank me back -we’ve heard quite enough.

  • g

    this is argued on process, of completing the appropriate review and safety in that making the streets safer for bicycles outweighs “impacts” upon automobile traffic — just like it could have been argued three years and 1.5 million dollars ago.

  • “no need to thank me back -we’ve heard quite enough.”

    Yes, of course you want me to shut up, Thomas, because you and your many like-minded friends already know the Truth here in Progressive Land. The real challenge for anyone with any intellectual integrity in San Francisco is to “dare” to challenge the lame, vacuous political consensus that covers SF politics like a dirty, wet blanket.

    In fact if the city had followed the law as we urged four years ago, it would have saved a lot of time and money. If Dennis Hererra had an ounce of integrity as a lawyer, he would have told the Board of Supervisors way back in 2006—when Judge Warren first gave us the injunction—that the city should call off the litigation and do an EIR on the Bicycle Plan, which the law clearly required. It’s legal malpractice when an attorney misleads clients into pursuing litigation that has no chance of success. In private practice, it’s your client’s money that’s at stake. In the Bicycle Plan litigation, his clients were the people of San Francisco and the money they pay in taxes. But Hererra, who wants to be mayor someday, clearly understood that his political future depended on pandering to the bike nut community, not doing the right thing and following the law.

    Interesting that you and the bike people think that you’re pet project, the Bicycle Plan, should have been exempt from the application of the most important environmental law in California, the California Environmental Quality Act. Not surprising, I suppose, given the monthly Critical Mass demo and the way so many of you folks behave as individuals on the streets of the city. Your cause is so pure and so righteous that something as trivial as the law shouldn’t be allowed to impede it.

  • ZA

    @ Rob Anderson

    Way to go Rob. What someone like me might have taken as mere caricature of your argument and motives instead finds honest meaning by your responses.

    For bicycles in San Francisco, they will always be a minority transportation mode, they are not ‘the’ solution for everyone for every trip. However, with facilities, they can become a significant minority of those trips, and improve the overall traffic conditions for every other road user. It’s a pity your efforts appear to not have been for *that* cause of effective equity for all.

    My tuppence: the geography of places like Eureka and Nob Hill are fundamentally bike unfriendly, but that is no reason to deny improvements elsewhere, where they can make a difference. A well-designed bike lane can obviate the need for the rider to ‘take the lane’ and the confusion and ill-feelings that can elicit from other road users. Every bike that takes a driver out of their car is a qualitative improvement for a MUNI bus sharing the same road. If the designs work as they should, pretty soon, we’ll be looking back at the disputes of the last years with even greater incredulousness.

  • Nick

    I have a feeling that there will be a lot to celebrate at this year’s Winterfest.

  • “Every bike that takes a driver out of their car is a qualitative improvement for a MUNI bus sharing the same road. If the designs work as they should, pretty soon, we’ll be looking back at the disputes of the last years with even greater incredulousness[sic].”

    This is the assumption that many of you folks seem incapable of examining. In fact, the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us that implementing the Plan is going to have “significant unavoidable impacts” on traffic and Muni all over the city. Unless you believe that a whole bunch of people are going to immediately switch to bikes, the Bicycle Plan is going to make traffic in the city a lot worse. Now you can argue that that’s a good thing on the way to a bike-friendly city, but you can’t argue that it’s not going to happen.

  • Thank You Rob, When these assholes deserve respect, they will get it and not until

  • Mrfred

    Its pretty hard to believe that anyone would be against making it easier for people to take alternative modes of transportation. Lanes go a long way in reminding drivers that bikers belong on the road too and making them safer for everyone. And compared to paying another Muni driver to run another bus, this is a pretty cheap way to encourage people to ride their bikes and exercise a bit more and away from the doctor, which isn’t exactly cheap and also happens to generally use plenty of tax dollars in its own way. Wouldn’t this also be a one-time cost? Maybe the toll roads isn’t such a bad idea, given many other cities have had for years to alleviate bad traffic and pay for road repairs.

  • patrick

    Rob, did you run for office? I think your diatribe against somebody running for office is a little hypocritical.

    Now, your argument against ZA was just a strawman, ZA talked about 1 bike replacing 1 car, which will obviously reduce traffic by 1 car, you then talk about the EIR saying there will be traffic impacts, which is a completely different issue than ZA was talking about.

    Sometimes slower traffic is a good thing, in fact most people want traffic slower in their neighborhood, they just want to drive faster in other people’s.

    Finally we certainly can argue it’s not going to happen, there have been plenty of cases where the supposed traffic Armageddon that’s been predicted never occurred, or was much less than predicted.

  • The EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us implementing the Plan is going to make traffic worse for regular traffic and Muni. Your belief that it’s not going to happen is based on faith, not on the facts.

  • patrick

    Assuming the EIR will be correct is equally an act of faith.

  • “My tuppence: the geography of places like Eureka and Nob Hill are fundamentally bike unfriendly, but that is no reason to deny improvements elsewhere, where they can make a difference.”

    I assume you aren’t too familiar with Eureka Valley. It’s a bike zoo. Including parents riding their children to Alvarado and Harvey Milk.

    The only bike unfriendliness in Eureka Valley is that motorists habitually speed and run stop signs on Eureka itself. This is a minor hazard to cyclists and a major hazard to pedestrians.

  • OrNot

    Rob: You seem to use the phrase ‘screw up traffic’ and ‘Significant Unavoidable Impacts’ — but aren’t those really just euphemisms for cars moving slightly slower, which protects pedestrians and cyclists?

    And as patrick pointed out, your precious EIR and LOS don’t take into account mode shift– which is just one of many reasons why it is an inaccurate and unnecessary measurement tool.

  • The Eureka/Castro Hill area is not bike-unfriendly if you have an electric-assist bicycle. I have a small electric motor in my back wheel and am able to get up the monster hill on Castro Street just fine. In fact, today I brought home five bags of groceries from Trader Joe’s straight up that hill on the back of my Xtracycle–a record for me!

    I have to also report that while biking down Folsom Street this morning, in two different places I encountered trucks that had double-parked in the vehicle lane and *NOT THE BIKE LANE*. Hence, miraculously, my path was not blocked, and I was not forced to merge into traffic. I thought perhaps I had been mystically transported to some other city where bicycle happiness is the rule. Now if we could just smooth out some of the pavement on Division Street so I don’t crack eggs on the way home . . .

  • the greasybear

    Rob Anderson likes to repeatedly declare the bike plan shall “screw up traffic.” But is that necessarily so?

    If you look at the MTA statistics, tens of thousands of cyclists are already part of “traffic” in the city. Bikes certainly won’t be “screwed up” by proper cycling infrastructure. Anderson must mean private automobiles, then.

    Shall private automobiles necessarily face gridlock only because of new bike lanes (as opposed to all the other things that gridlock cars on a daily basis which Anderson doesn’t mind)? Assuming for the sake of argument that a bike lane will create car congestion, Rob’s fevered Carmaggedon can ONLY come about IF motorists voluntarily choose to idle on the same specific streets–day after day, like idiot robots–rather than simply choosing to drive on nearby streets that don’t have “screwed up traffic.”

    Is that a reasonable premise? That our grid system cannot possibly work as intended, because idiot motorists shall never switch away from their current routes even if they become “screwed up?” No. The paucity of private car through-traffic on lower Market is instructive here. Few routes are more direct than Market, but Market is far too slow for most motorists–and traffic counts show they have switched to other, faster roads. Just like one would think they would–if one weren’t Chicken Little, or Rob Anderson.

    Sorry, Rob. Your dire predictions just aren’t credible. Motorists don’t sit idle when they have alternatives, and our gridded street system ensures motorists have alternatives. Should proper bike infrastructure slow private cars down enough, it is entirely reasonable to expect motorists will switch to faster routes. It’s not as if every street is getting bike lanes.

  • “The EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us implementing the Plan is going to make traffic worse for regular traffic and Muni.”

    Notice that he thinks the cars are the regular traffic and (I suppose) that everyone else is an irregular weirdo.

    Why should those weirdo pedestrians want to slow down traffic just to make it less likely that they will be killed or injured by us regular people who never get out of our cars?

  • Waiting a little more time, as Andy Thornley mentioned, actually can and will kill a few more cyclists. This whole process is a textbook case of how policy in America, much less SF, has been utterly divorced from common sense or greater public good. The idea that the injunction and subsequent delay made it a better program might be a good one on paper, but any cyclist who has been injured or killed in the meantime might have hoped for a speedier solution to an obvious problem.

  • Nick

    One can use 25th Avenue in the Richmond district as a case study in how the City removed traffic lanes and it did not “screw up traffic” or create a neighborhood backlash.

    Previously it was a fast moving street with 4 lanes of traffic. They reduced it to one lane in each directin with a Valencia-style center turn lane. The results are that traffic moves slower (which the whole neighborhood views as a good thing) and MUNI has not been negatively affected.

  • csf

    the main fallacy in Rob Anderson’s argument is really that he upholds CEQA as a law without imperfection in application. For example, the standard for for determining “significance” of environmental impacts is as a judgment call in many cases, because it varies with setting! It also slows down infill development in dense urban areas and it can be quite costly. Also, sometimes people cite that CEQA has to do with the natural environment when at times it has to do with impacts on the “physical/urban” environment. Thus, the example that if the flow of traffic is slowed down this is considered an “unavoidable impact” but it does not assume that people will change their behavior or that this may be a good thing! (so people will not drive as fast!)…

    also, what can be problematic about ceqa is that it leaves enforcement to “citizen court challenge”. while in theory, all things being equal, this would be a good thing, in practice “citizens” that are able to afford litigation use it to their advantage to halt projects just because they are worried about being slowed down or because they don’t like something while communities that should be able to use CEQA to protect themselves against bad impacts (such as environmental justice concerns) often don’t use it because it is costly, lenghty and time consuming to engage in litigation…

    while the intent of the law/ceqa is good, there are always potential problems with practice…no law is free of imperfection, and many laws are abused and misapplied… a quick search for CEQA reform and you’ll see it goes back quite far….

  • It isn’t “my” EIR. It’s the city’s, and the city entirely agrees with you crackpots that it’s a good idea to screw up city traffic on behalf of your small, goofball minority. But the folks who wrote the EIR reluctantly had to admit, as we predicted four years ago, that the Bicycle Plan is, in the EIR’s phrase, going to have “significant unavoidable impacts”—that is negative impacts—on city traffic and at least nine Muni bus lines. You folks have been doing nothing but talk to each other about the alleged benefits of the bike movement and traffic calming that you’re unmoored from reality.

    Yes, of course I understand that you folks think that bicycles are the most important part of our traffic. On the other hand, according to MTA’s numbers, we have 465,905 registered motor vehicles in SF; 35,400 vehicles drive into the city every workday; 48.2% of city workers drive or carpool to work; 30.8% commute via public transportation; Muni has 686,000 weekday boardings on more than 1,000 vehicles; and—wait for it—2.3% of city residents commute on bikes.

    Add it all up, and of course who can deny that it makes great good sense to redesign city streets on behalf of you bicycle hobbyists with a strong political lobby.

  • the greasybear

    Already, 120,000 bicycle trips are made daily in San Francisco (SFMTA State of Cycling Report 2008, page 13).

  • csf

    oh wait! and we ALL pay the taxes that built the roads and maintain them including the cyclists and the pedestrians but drivers feel a g@d-given-right to the roads… share the freaking road! yes, even public transit should share the road!! back in the day streets were for shared-use but cars came along and they make us feel entitled to city streets over any users… not surprising in our individualistic country… if india can slow down for elephants we can slow down for cyclist damn it!

  • Nick

    Say there is a base of 6% that do cycle for transporation each week. That is about 48,000 people out of 800,000 in the city.

    A Bike Network is far from inevitable, but when enough people have organized together it becomes harder and harder to keep saying that they do not belong.

  • patrick

    According to MTC, there are 963 miles of road in SF, according to MTA there are 45 miles of bike lanes.

    Average road lane width is 12′
    average bike lane width is 4′

    So being conservative and saying 11′ for road lanes & 5′ for bike lanes results in 10,560 mile-feet of roads, and 225 mile-feet for bike lanes, which is 2.13% for bikes. If the MTC numbers are actually for road miles, rather than lane miles as I assumed in my calculation, bike lanes are a much smaller percentage.

    That does not include parking for cars.

    According to MTA there are 603,000 parking spaces in SF, and 1550 public bike parking spaces, that is 0.25% parking spaces for bikes, and bike parking takes a lot less space than car parking.

    Cyclists are underserved, even when using auto favorable numbers. After the improvements are made for cyclists I’m quite confident that the mode share will significantly improve for cyclists, but I didn’t factor that in to my calculations.

  • SFResident

    I just want to take this opportunity to remind people that when Anderson ran for supervisor in 2000 he came in last place with 106 votes. That’s less than 1% of the vote total that the winner (Matt Gonzalez) took and about .35% of the total votes cast in the election.

    Rob Anderson speaks for a rather small and sad constituency.

  • ZA

    @ Patrick –

    Here are some spatial figures for you.

    Apparently 42 folded Bromptons per typical car parking space.
    16 (at least) mixed-bike peleton per car space in the lane.
    28 mixed-bike peleton per bus space in the lane.

    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/room-to-breathe-nyc/
    http://spacing.ca/wire/2009/08/27/42-folding-bikes-vs-one-car/

    Even if only at 25% of maximum potential, that’s more space efficient than a car!

  • patrick

    Thanks ZA, just another point in favor of biking being under-represented in this city.

    In addition to the above, bikes 0 damage to roads as road damage is based rougyly on the fourth power of axle load, so doubling the weight of the vehicle causes road damage to go up 16 times. Pretty much 100% of the cost of road maintenance is attributed to autos, plus the areas that bikers use are the least kept up portions of the road. Another area where cyclists are underserved.

    The bike improvements are long overdue.

  • soylatte

    Rob Anderson wins the award for most effective troll. Seriously, how can ONE guy so derail this many discussions? However apart from all the usuals who habitually engage with him (why? to what end?), I do question why Streetsblog gives him even more exposure by repeatedly giving him the “Word on the street” space on the front page. Is that really the best quote of the day?

    We should get over Rob Anderson. And we should get over ourselves. Somewhere, we screwed up. The city should have done the EIR, period. That it didn’t, is a huge oversight, and we wasted an untold amount of time and money with this now. Politicians love a good photo op (just as non-profits love a good donation-drive op), but truth be told, this is not exactly a “victory for bikes”. This is the end (or almost-end) of a long and totally avoidable delay. Of course, there never was any real high-profile discussion about WHY the EIR wasn’t done, let alone a spanking of those responsible for the “oversight”. Instead, by engaging in these troll fights, we feed the likes of Rob Anderson. The real losers are the bikers on the streets who will never get back the time lost.

  • Aaron B.

    Back to the idea of slow traffic being a good thing: (Rob, please read)

    Even if the cars are going slower, aren’t they (in many cases) really just taking more time to get to the same red light they’d otherwise be racing to and sitting at – which can only yield benefits in safety and fuel efficiency?

    Whenever I’ve driven in the city, the main thing I’ve noticed is how long I spend sitting at traffic lights and stopping at signs. Because of the frequency of intersections, even though the speedometer may be getting up to, say, 35 at times, the average speed of travel is always much lower. For this reason among others, it is my contention that automobiles are fundamentally impractical for widespread city use (along with extreme increase in danger, air pollution, etc.).

    Now, with stop lights/signs being such a significant impediment to traffic flow, how much would a lower top speed actually change the average speed? I consider this to be a major factor in the case for the superiority of bicycles as urban vehicles – though their speed typically averages 10-15 mph without stopping they are often not much slower than cars overall, and with a bike lane cyclists typically catch up with all cars at the light and spend a lot less time waiting at it (except for expressways).

    If anyone knows of any relevant studies on how such traffic calming projects have affected auto travel times, please share.

  • Aaron B.

    I also want to add that, on principle of equity, I don’t think motorists in the city deserve to have any contention against sacrificing travel time for the benefit of alternative transport in comparison to the slower travel times already sacrificed by those using slower alternatives.

    (Does that make sense?)

  • “Rob Anderson wins the award for most effective troll. Seriously, how can ONE guy so derail this many discussions?”

    This thread is about the Bicycle Plan litigation, to which I am a party. How has my participation “derailed” the discussion? I understand that many of you folks hate it when someone criticizes your religion, but you need to get over that.

    “Somewhere, we screwed up. The city should have done the EIR, period. That it didn’t, is a huge oversight, and we wasted an untold amount of time and money with this now.”

    The city’s failure to do an EIR on the Plan wasn’t an “oversight”; the city deliberately chose to not follow the law, even though we warned both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors about the false path they were pursuing more than four years ago. The city knew what it was doing, but it just assumed that no one would challenge them in court.
    http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2005/04/district-5-diary-to-supes-dont-do-it.html

  • Rob,

    You keep reiterating the bike plan will impact traffic and there’s not much disagreement there, and most questions in regards to that are over how bad it really will be, whether it might improve safety by slowing down traffic, influence what mode of travel people will choose once implemented, and whether it’s even a bad thing at all.

    Rather than engaging in discussion on those points though, you’ve keep returning to inflammatory language to describe those asking the questions.

    Now as party to the litigation, you are no doubt aware that it’s irrelevant to CEQA whether traffic is effected at all. The environmental review only requires the impacts be properly documented and made public, not whether the City may proceed. In fact, the transit first policy exists precisely to discourage driving. Just last year, voters voiced their support again for pro-bike/anti-car policy by voting for Prop A and against Prop H.

    So as not to derail this discussion any further, do you actually have any issue with the fact in the report? You yourself have quoted the report in your comments, which would seem to endorse the findings.

  • RP

    Spoiler Alert: Rob rides a bike.

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