Today’s Headlines

  • Muni Narrows Cause of N-Judah Derailment This Week to Rail Problem (SF Examiner)
  • Young Girl Hit by Driver in South San Jose; Vague Details on Crash (BCN via Mercury News)
  • MTC Awards $33 Million to Innovative Bay Area Transportation Projects (SF Gate)
  • Despite Challenges, Ray LaHood Remains Upbeat in Interview with Sarah Goodyear (Grist)
  • Audit Questions Documentation of Projects for Ca. High-Speed Rail Authority (LAT, SM County Times)
  • Study: Half-Century of Urban, Freeway Development in Socal Threatening Wildlife (Coco Times)
  • “Sit/Lie Posse” No on L Signs Appear on More Bus Stops and Billboards Around the City (City Insider)
  • Portland Neighborhood to Get New Bike Corral Designed by Two Artists (Bike Portland)
  • Chevron Pours $1 Million into Political Races in Richmond (East Bay Express)
  • L.A. MTA Board to Consider Routes for Subway Expansion, Regional Connector (LAT)
  • It’s Official: New Jersey Governor Kills ARC (WNYC, NYT, MTR via Streetsblog NY)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • OK, I finally found where the current Transit First wording comes from. It was Proposition E of November 2, 1999, the same proposition that set the Muni on-time standards.

    The pre-1999 version said nothing about bicycles. The new wording including bicycles as part of the definition was put in place by popular vote.

  • “The new wording including bicycles as part of the definition was put in place by popular vote.”

    Waiting for Rob and Mick’s rebuttal…

  • Prop. E was about merging Department of Parking and Traffic and Muni into one department, along with new revenue and work rules. That’s how city voters saw that measure when they voted. I see a phrase about “protecting pedestrians and cyclists” in the text of the measure, and the ballot simplification folks put this in their summary: “It would replace the charter’s existing Transit First policy with a more detailed Transit First policy.”

    It’s fair to say that city voters didn’t understand that voting for this proposition meant putting cycling into the city’s transit first policy, thus giving the bike zealots a blank check for however they want to “improve” city streets.

  • Mock


    I am wondering if you actually read the text and arguments for Prop E? Or merely accepted Eric’s categorization of it at face value?

    I encourage you to read it. There are thousands of words in it, between the text and the accompanying arguments for and against. And as far as I can tell, there is just one casual throwaway reference to bicycles. The overwhelming amount of text talks about muni and only about muni. That is clearly the focus.

    So, technically did the voters approve a muni initiative that appeared to also support bikes? Yes.

    Did anyone vote for it purely on that basis, even if they disagreed on all the other stuff about muni, just because of that throwaway reference? Highly unlikely.

    Claiming a mandate based on a tangential rider to a muni-focused proposition is a tad ambitious. It is clear that the spirit of that initiative is elsewhere.


    Yes, you said the voters wanted it, not that they decided it. I agree that’s the case.

    But then how would you know what the voters wanted unless they had decided on it?

  • Rob,

    “It’s fair to say that city voters didn’t understand that voting for this proposition meant putting cycling into the city’s transit first policy”

    So it’s in there, but it doesn’t count. That works out nicely for your narrative.


    “But then how would you know what the voters wanted unless they had decided on it?”

    You are still having a very difficult time grasping representative democracy.

  • No, it’s not there for voters to see at all. A more “detailed transit first policy” is not the same thing as putting bicycles in that policy definition.

  • Well, it’s there now. If you think the City’s voters disapprove, there is a ballot initiative process for you to utilize.

  • Muck


    If CA Prop 8 on gay marriage last year had had a line appended to it saying that just the two of you must wear a turnip on your head every Monday, would you consider that that proposal had a solemn, binding, affirmative mandate from the people of this State?

    I don’t blame you for opportunistically claiming the voters supported an emphasis on bikes. But we all know that’s a crock. And you’re being disingenuous.

  • Disingenuity FTW!

  • It’s there, whether we knew it or not, and whether we like it or not!

  • Unfortunately (for Rob), SF has been overrun in recent centuries with johnny-come-lately progressives who support policies that the original voters may not have preferred (like increasing the horse, I mean vehicle registration fee 😉

  • I voted for the vehicle license fee, and I was sorry to see the statewide fee lose.

  • Rob, medal or chest to pin it on?


    Because that is almost the same thing. Take the five minutes that it took you to come up with that and school yourself on what representative gov’t is and while you are at it, read up on the history of Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

  • Muck


    Yes, it is there – a throwaway reference to bikes in a muni prop.

    That’s not a mandate. It’s a technicality.

    “Transit First” remains a policy of prioritizing public transit and not private transit.

    And remember that 4 people on cycles takes more road space, causes more congestion and requires more storage than a single car with 4 people in it. It’s not a solution for a crowded city.

    Public versus Private? The debate goes on.

  • smushmoth


    I only post as smushmoth, I don’t have any interest in having an account on this or any other site.

    As for where I got those numbers, I did a few Google searches, found TJ’s wikipedia entry, and followed the references.

    Tell me where do you get your statistics about the “right hook”, and how jumping lights or ignoring stop signs effects the safety of riders?

  • smushmoth, I know. I apologized quickly after.

    What stats on “right hook” are you talking about? I don’t recall ever referencing any numbers. I’m just out there everyday as a pedestrian or as a cyclist and am in constant fear of getting run over or clipped.

    I’ll google as well, but if you are looking at TJ’s regional numbers, that doesn’t clearly show anything about the popularity of a SF store compared to a competitor’s SF store.

  • “Transit First remains a policy of prioritizing public transit and not private transit.”

    No, that’s wrong. Look at the part of the City Charter that I linked, scroll down to the transit first definition, and you see that encouraging cycling is now part of our official “transit first” law. So the bike people and their many allies in City Hall can now do whatever they want to screw up traffic for everyone but the bike people, and it still falls under the legal definition of “transit first.”

  • Muck/Mick/Mack/M*ck,

    “And remember that 4 people on cycles takes more road space, causes more congestion and requires more storage than a single car with 4 people in it. It’s not a solution for a crowded city.”

    Did you really just say that? Wow, you have sunk to a new low.

  • Meck


    I give you credit for apologizing for the earlier mistaken identity. I am still waiting for Aaron’s but won’t hold my breath.

    But are you seriusly suggesting that four bicycles riding in formation in traffic take less space than the average car?

    Or that 4 bicycles chained onto four posts on a sidewalk somehow take less public space than a parked car?

    If so, I’d think I might like a fat wager on that with you, because it is clear to me that if you include the necessary and safe space between them, the bikes will always take more room.

    All forms of private tansportation are wasteful of public space compared with public transit. Which is why 99% of the text of the “transit first” doctrine was about “public transit”.

  • Meck,

    I didn’t apologize to you. I apologized to smushmoth.

    And I’m not going to engage you on such ridiculousness. You have been turning words around for over a week, and I don’t have the time nor the patience to deal with your circle logic.

  • When considering whether carpools should be preferred over bicycles, it’s interesting to look at real data. Otherwise, we are all just making stuff up, right? Carpool rates in San Francisco have been decreasing the last decade. From the US Census American Community survey 2006-2008, carpools made up just 7.7%% of commute trips in San Francisco, versus 10.8 in 2000. And three-fourths of these carpools were made up of only 2 people! Indeed, 4-person carpools constitute only 1% of all commute trips made in San Francisco. With the exception of kid-transport, for most non-commute trips, the percentage is even lower. (I have never seen 4 people carpooling together to grocery shop. The vast number of grocery shoppers come alone or with a small child in tow.)

    Now, because I do a lot of kid transport, I am a carpool nut. I have two carpools going in the mornings, and one for the afternoons. They average 3 – 4 kids in each. But for kid transport, however beneficial carpools are, for one way, either to school or back, I am driving alone. This is why I am a mean mom and make my kids take Muni whenever circumstances permit.

    Now as to congestion, even from my worst, selfish, most self-obsessed windshield perspective, when I drive the obvious problem for me is all the other cars in my way, especially the drivers who are talking on their cell phones, texting, clueless, lost, crawling at five miles an hour looking for a parking spot, don’t signal, have no idea where they are going, and have no idea how to drive in San Francisco. Second to this group are all the double-parked delivery trucks. (Oohh, you evil UPS trucks who double-park on Oak!) Third is the pedestrians who (legitimately) want to cross the street when they have the light or who (very illegitimately) wait until the light turns red for them and then saunter across, causing the entire intersection to seize up. Fourth are the buses that don’t pull over at bus stops, just put their nose in, managing to block one, maybe two lanes of traffic while they load passengers. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Muni drivers take special technique classes in this as some of them have it down to an art form.)

    Compared to all these obstacles/hazards, bicycles cause me very few delays at all. Bicycles clear intersections much faster then pedestrians and it is far easier to get around a bicycle than a double-parked truck. As far as parking goes, perhaps there are a few people on the planet who have never seen a bicycle, but for those unfortunates, I can assure them that 8 bikes can easily park in the space of a single car.

  • Meck


    Fake outrage is no substitute for evidence or argument. If you have no refutation, then silence is a very real option.


    Thanks for providing some real data and counter-arguments.

    I wasn’t thinking of carpools so much as four family members or friends choosing between one car or 4 bikes. I maintain the 4 bikes take more roadspace if they ride with a safe distance between them.

    As for slowing down traffic, it depends partly how they ride. If they ride left in a lane, or two-abreast, they are going to slow down traffic. I see this a fair amount. It’s also dangerous so maybe rider education can help there.

    As for double-parked vehicles, that is the bane of everyone’s life. But trucks have to deliver and they often have no choice. Which is why traffic cops generally give UPS trucks a pass, whether they double-park, park on the pavement or whatever. The world keeps needing to go round and they get more sympathy than a yuppie double-parking outside Starbucks.

    Finally, yes, bikes can be stored more efficiently but often are not. I frequently see them on sidewalks chained to lamposts etc. Maybe we need properly metered parking spots for bikes but that’s another discussion for another time.

  • Meck,

    I’ve given you so much to chew on. And I don’t feel the need to respond to every asinine comment you make with “evidence” as to why the junk you are spewing isn’t worth anyone’s time to read.

    And if double parked trucks are a huge problem, especially in the same location again and again, then yellow zones need to be established.

    How is a bike, chained to a lamp post, taking up more space then a car. Also, how often do you see a car with 4 people in it? I often find it entertaining (and saddening) to watch cars go by and count how many have only a single occupant compared to cars with more then one.

    While we are on topic, carpool lanes should only be used by vehicles with two (or three) driving age individuals in it. Carrying your kid in the back seat isn’t removing a vehicle from the road and should not be considered “carpooling”.

  • Meck


    “I don’t feel the need to respond to every . . comment you make”

    Clearly you do, as here. That was my point.

    “How is a bike, chained to a lamp post, taking up more space then a car.”

    It doesn’t. I never said that. I said 4 bikes with separation take up more public space than a car.

    “carpool lanes should only be used by vehicles with two (or three) driving age individuals in it”.

    Nope. Wrong again. The rule is two or three persons. Kids count. Dogs, cardboard cutouts and inflatable sexdolls do not.

  • Bicycles are about 6 feet long and can follow safely within about that same distance of each other. Two can easily fit side by side within a 10-foot lane. Even in the atypical circumstance of a fully-occupied car, cars are about 15 feet long and need 30 or more feet of additional following distance for reasonable safety. Your four bicyclists need about 24 road-feet of space. Your four car passengers need at least 45 road-feet.

  • Mick/Mock/JohnB –

    I no longer play your game and give you the pleasure of responding to your absurd arguing. Your “mockery” is thinly veiled.

  • Meck


    Even Mike apologized for his false accusations. But you claimed to have evidence. You lied. So yes, please, remove yourself from the debate, so that those who actually want to discuss the issues can do so without feeling harassed.


    I dispute your figures but at least you gave them rather than insults. So thank you for that.

    Assuming that all road traffic is moving at the same speed, then the separation between them should be similar, i.e. your 30 feet. If anything vehicles, with their superior brakes, require less surround space.

    Your example assumes two-aside riding of bikes. That is not the safest way to ride bikes, as it makes it much harder for cars to pass, and is therefore more dangerous. 4 bikes in single file, according to your own figures, require 42 lane feet (4 bikes plus 3 spaces).

    Moreover, a six foot bike only requires a 6 feet space from another bike. It requires considerably more space from a car and I always give bikes at least the same amount of space as a car, which is the 30 feet you cited. So that’s a total of 102 feet versus the 75 feet you cited for a car.

    So I maintain a car takes less public space than 4 bikes. I agree that for cars that are less utilized, the numbers change.

  • Can’t believe I’m contributing to this silly debate, but did everyone forget that 10 or more bikes fit in one car parking space? And the room needed for cars to access off-street parking?

    Mick/Mock/JohnB – Mike apologized for mistaking smushmoth for you. But case in point: you consistently respond without mention when I address you by your other names. I didn’t lie about anything.

  • No one can ever convince anyone else of what it means to have a pleasant life and a pleasant city, so historical and statistical facts are the only things worth arguing about.

    6 feet spacing between bicycles may be optimistic, but it is not unreasonable at normal speeds. The reason bicycles can stop more quickly than cars even with more primitive braking technology is because they weigh dramatically less than cars. The risk with bicycles is generally stopping *too* quickly and throwing yourself over the handlebars, not being unable to stop quickly enough.

    Yes, I assume side-by-side riding of bicycles. Cars would do it too if they were narrow enough to.

    You have a fencepost error in your math: the spacing is part of the required space, so four bicycles in a row would require 48 lane-feet, not 42. The space is also something you leave in *front* of yourself, not behind you, so bicycles need leave no more space in front of them behind a car than they must behind another bicycle. Cars have to leave more space in front of them because they can’t stop as quickly.

  • Meck


    My compliant was not that you brilliantly figured out that Mack, Mick and Mock are the same guy. I introduced that as a parody of your theme that everyone here who has ever disagree with you is really just the same person.

    Rather, it was your earlier allegation that I was a whole raft of other posters too. You claimed to have their emails and IP’s and that they were the same as mine. I called you out on that and you ducked. Hmmm.

    Now you change your story and instead it’s “because I reply to you when you call me other names”. No, I simply ignore the ridiculous parts of your posts and focus on the substance of your posts, if indeed there is any.


    I got 42 because I was figuring 4 bikes and 3 spaces between them. So that is seven times six.

    If we include “external spaces” too then surely it would be 4 bikes and 5 spaces, no? Making 54 feet?

    But again, I was assuming cars either side of them, and as previously stated, cars should give bikes more than 6 feet.

    I accept your point that bikes can maybe stop quicker. I still disagree about the prudence of riding bikes side-by-side but perhaps that is getting beyond the scope here, which was whether bikes should be lumped in with private or public transit.

  • No. The space required for any vehicle of any type is the space occupied by the vehicle itself and the stopping distance in front of it. Always in front, never behind, one gap per vehicle. A 15-foot car that takes 30 feet to stop requires 45 feet of space, and four of them take 180 feet. A 6-foot bicycle that takes 6 feet to stop requires 12 feet of space, and four of them take 48 feet. If you have one car in front of and one behind a bicycle, each vehicle has to leave its own safe stopping distance in front of it.

    The scope of this has rambled so far that just about anything and just about nothing is on-topic by now.

  • Meck


    OK, I accept your numbers, i.e. that a car with 4 people in it requires a total of 45 feet, and that 4 bikes carying 4 people requires 48 feet.

    Close enough for government work, as they say. And why it continues to be reasonable to consider them both space-squandering “private transit” rather than space-saving “public transit”, which is very much on the topic here, at least as defined by Rob.

  • Meck,

    First off stop baiting Aaron. He works for the blog and writes the weekly events calender.

    2nd, your premise about a 4 person car is a complete joke. Several people have put numbers up and reasons, but you continue to twist words until you feel you have won some sort prize.

    Here is a video that you can watch if you need some real life examples of bike parking.

  • Meck


    I don’t care where Aaron works. If he makes an allegation and then backs down when asked for the evidence he previously claimed “to know”, or changes his “evidence” on the fly, then he lied. You apologized for your error; he did not.

    And at the time, he was merely posting here just like you and I, and so should be held to the same standards of honesty and integrity. I am not baiting him; he is baiting me and as an “employee”, should know and do better.

    I already accepted Eric’s revised numbers, showing bikes using about the same space as a fully occupied car. And I acknowledged that not all cars are fully occupied, which Tao further addressed with her points about car pooling.

    Cars and bikes are both forms of private transit and neither should necessarily benefit from a policy of “(public) transit first”.

  • I did not revise any numbers; I corrected your bogus math for bikes in single file. Bicycles occupy less street space than even a fully-loaded car with the same number of occupants.

  • Meck, did you watch that video?

  • Meck


    Your numbers were revised from the original numbers that I floated.

    But no, 48 feet for the bikes and 45 for the car, from your own numbers. That is more for the bikes, not less.

    But close enough, as I said. Let it go.

  • No. My numbers have been consistent from the beginning. You changed the terms from four bicyclists riding together to four bicyclists riding in a row. Four bicyclists riding together, the way they would in real life, occupy less street space than four people sharing a car.

    Now it is time for me too to start insulting you instead of trying to be rational.

  • All this talk about numbers… how ’bout some visuals: And Meck, I’m simply not allowed to provide the evidence you want. I can’t discuss it further, but it’s on you.

    Folks, really, he has an incredible ability to adapt to whatever you say and go on forever. Just ignore him.

  • Taking less space gives bikes their killer advantage in traversing congested city streets. I win so many races with cars for that reason! All those cars lined up waiting for each other uselessly, while on a bike you can just “filter” to the front (before “rolling” thru the 4-way stop!! 😉 (only when absolutely safe of course!!1 😉

  • Muck


    Even using your numbers and assumptions, 48 lane feet is more than 45 lane feet, so the bikes take more space in this example.

    With my assumptions, the gap is even larger.

    And yes, of course the numbers change if the bikes ride side by side. Longtitudinal space usage changes to lateral space usage.

    But that is inconsiderate, dangerous and contrary to the Vehicle Code.

    Yes, don’t be insulting.


    That’s very convenient for you that you’re “not allowed” to cite the “evidence” that you claimed to have, given that we both know that it doesn’t support your allegation. But yes, I’ll rest my case there to spare you further embarrassment.

    However, next time you can’t win a debate with me on logic or the facts, kindly don’t lie or get personal