Commentary: The Eds Respond to Frustration With Fell/Oak Bikeway Delay

Note: The discussion on the Fell and Oak bikeways begins at about 11:05.

Mayor Ed Lee and SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin (a.k.a. “the Eds”) faced questions about the city’s extensive delivery time on the Fell and Oak bikeway project at Google’s recent “Fireside Chat” forum. A questioner asked why the project is coming in 2013 rather than this year (though, as of last week, staff has moved the timeline up a few months to next winter).

Reiskin repeated the SFMTA’s assertion that it’s not a “delay” at all, and claimed that complaints about losing car parking are important enough to prolong safe bicycle access for the public. As for the mayor, he said he would “bring leadership” to the project and mentioned that he’d rode on the route in a caravan of public officials before pointing to progress on the long-awaited JFK Drive Bikeway (which, as of last weekend, still hadn’t started construction despite promises of starting in January).

Technically, the SFMTA is correct that Fell and Oak’s official delivery date was originally set for the fall of 2013 in project funding documents [PDF] approved last summer. But its public relations staff hadn’t openly announced that fact at public meetings or elsewhere, and expectations were still mostly set on this year based on the originally proposed date for a trial in June 2012, which Mayor Lee told Streetsblog a year ago he wanted to implement “quickly.”

When staff told Streetsblog recently that implementation would wait until some time in 2013, it was, by and large, news to most people who’ve been following the project. The main reason for the delay (what else to call it — a “timeline change”?) cited by the SFMTA is its decision to abandon what would have been an efficiently-delivered trial project in order to create a more permanent project that tries to appease pushback from car owners over 80 parking spots (despite the roughly 120 overnight paid spaces opened at an adjacent lot last May).

“We had been talking about trying to pilot something sooner, but we have run into a pretty significant amount of opposition in the directly impacted neighborhood… and we don’t want to steamroll over folks,” said Reiskin. “We’re taking the time to try to find ways in which we can mitigate the parking loss.”

Good public process and outreach are key in turning out the best project possible. But that’s not the same as letting the terms of public safety improvements be dictated by those who want to keep on receiving precious public space to store their private automobiles for free — a status quo bias which has “steamrolled” nearly everything else on the city’s streets for most of the past century.

H/T Streetsblog commenter Mike Sonn for the video.

  • Can I get the Eds to ride Cesar Chavez from 101 to Pennslyvania?

  • Bullshit on it not being a delay. I hope the SFBC is regretting ever endorsing Lee.

  • mikesonn

    Remember to let Ed Lee know you can easily provide 20+ people to protect him so he really doesn’t have to experience it.

  • mikesonn

    +1

  • J

    If it takes this long to complete a single project, I hope they have another 10-12 projects in the works. Otherwise it’ll be another 50 years before any real network of protected bikeways is completed.

  • SFMTA is supposed to be a non-political agency but whenever stop consolidation or removing parking spots is mentioned, it seems to be anything but.

    It’s time for the SFMTA to either grow a pair or be abolished.

  • If parking is really the issue, implement a residential parking permit zone in this neighborhood pronto so that it’s no longer a big doughnut hole of free parking right in the center of the city in one of the most important transit corridors.

    This area is currently bounded by residential parking permit areas J, S, R, P and L. Right now there is an incentive for everyone from these permitted areas to park their car here, especially if it’s a car they use infrequently. Also, since this is the closest all-day free parking to the Civic Center, it attracts people from the west side of town (or out of town altogether) to park here and then take Muni the last 15 minutes to work. (This is exactly the reason residential parking permit areas were first created.)

    Why is free car storage for this select group of people (an amenity most San Franciscans don’t have) more important than the safety and comfort of thousands of bicyclists who are asking for a tiny amount of space along three measly blocks?  Yes, it’s understandable that the people who both own a car and park it on the street in this neighborhood (a minority of the residents) don’t want to give up their free parking. If I were getting free parking and didn’t care about the environment, the economy, or the health and safety of my fellow human beings, I would howl at losing it, too.

  • marcos

    “Good public process and outreach is key in turning out the best project possible.”

    Except when the issue is parking meters and there is no bike facility involved, in which case it is all NIMBY neighbors whining about losing their free parking.

    When I left the North Mission parking meeting that is hopefully the starting point to good public process and outreach, Ed Reiskin and I unlocked together and both biked home into the night.

    @H:disqus If it takes this long to complete a single project, I hope they
    have another 10-12 projects in the works. Otherwise it’ll be another 50
    years before any real network of protected bikeways is completed.”

    HA HA HA.  Stop,  you make me laugh.  The reason why the useless bikeway in GGP went through is that it gored nobody’s ox.  The reason why it gored nobody’s ox was that it is practically useless, improving where there are no impediments to or dangers in biking.

    @MrEricSir:disqus “SFMTA is supposed to be a non-political agency but whenever stop
    consolidation or removing parking spots is mentioned, it seems to be
    anything but.

    It’s time for the SFMTA to either grow a pair or be abolished. ”

    Aside from the testicular bias, the MTA is supposed to be an INDEPENDENT agency.  Politics is the way that we allocate scarce resources.  Stops versus speed is a POLITICAL decision that balances the needs of competing communities and tries to fashion out a way of a allocating those scarce resources to meet the needs of the most people as well as and conform to existing public policy.

    Let’s condition support for a MTA revenue measure in November on charter reform to make the agency responsive and accountable.

  • Anonymous

    “But [good outreach] is not the same as letting the terms of public safety
    improvements be dictated by those who want to keep on receiving precious
    public space to store their private automobiles for free — a status quo
    bias which has “steamrolled” nearly everything else on the city’s
    streets for most of the past century.”

    Great quote. And great to have an article pointing out the bias of the MTA towards cars, especially when they say the opposite.

    I sometimes (only sometimes!) feel bad for these guys. It’s *really* hard to work through an addiction — in this case, their and society’s complete addiction to cars. Even though they know they have an addiction to something bad, it’s really hard for them to stop indulging in it. After all, it makes no sense that they are delaying improving the safety of some people (cyclists) for the convenience of some (motorists who want their unhealthy and destructive car-addicted lifestyle to be subsidized). There simply is no way to rationally argue your way out of that one. All you can do is throw your hands up and go: “Yep, I know it’s bad, but what can I say? I’m addicted! … Help?”

  • mikesonn

    But even worse, like @KarenLynnAllen:disqus points out, there isn’t ANY parking regulation for that area.

    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/pperm/documents/2011_RPPmap8.5x11_001.pdf 

  • Look at the Ed’s. They’re in a tough spot. They’ve either got the drivers howling at them, the bicyclists howling, or the residents howling. They can’t win.  Feel their pain.

    No doubt the Ed’s suspected drivers would howl the worst, which is why the plan doesn’t require any sacrifice from this contingent. But there actually is a way to make a win-win (or pretty darn close) out of all this.  And the way is to use this opportunity to create attractive carrots to get residents to go car-lite or car free.

    This neighborhood has as much potential to go car-free as almost any in the city. It is in walking distance of shopping and services. It is a quick shot via transit or bike to the Civic Center or downtown. It is not up a humongous hill. It is full of young people. It will soon be connected to some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the city. And the price of gas is rising. Just the hassle of getting a parking permit will make a lot of people wonder, “Is this car really worth it?” Give them a reason to say no!

    If the city can convert just 80 residents who currently park cars in this neighborhood, then the reduced parking spot problem goes away. Everyone is happy. No more howling (or at least not over this.)

    SFMTA should:
    1) Institute residential parking permits.  (Yes, the residents won’t jump for joy.)

    2) When they announce the permits, sweeten the deal by offering as thank you to anyone in the neighborhood who will donate their vehicle to one of 20 San Francisco charities (or whatever the appropriate number is), one of two Healthy San Francisco packages. (Limited time offer.)

    Package A:  One year-long Adult “M” Muni pass (Value $744. Would be put on person’s Clipper card), plus two months free membership in City Carshare or Zipcar (Value $50).

    or

    Package B:  One spiffy new bicycle (maybe get Public Bike to donate some of their 7 speed bikes? Value $650?) plus two months free membership in City Carshare or Zipcar (Value $50) and a year’s free membership in SFBC ($35).

    I think both City Carshare and Zipcar would jump at the chance to gain new members.  And there’s got to be enough bike stores in the city who would donate a bike or two to improve SF biking infrastructure. (I would guess people would choose a MUNI pass over a bike 2 to 1?) The cost of the Muni pass to the MTA is essentially free. The whole thing would hardly cost the city anything at all.

    Again, SFMTA would need just 80 folks to take them up on this offer and bike lanes are in and the pain is gone. Plus there would be less pollution in the city, less congestion, healthier citizens, lower health care costs, less road damage, etc.  If they get more than 80, that’s just gravy for all parties involved.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant idea. I wish the city was this progressive ….

  • marcos

    Oooh, you didn’t do one thing that I wanted you to do when I wanted you to do it so I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU!

  • marcos

     @jd_x:disqus is that bike way really the most dangerous stretch of bike path in San Francisco or is it the one that has the most better off cyclists? 

    There are probably more dangerous bicycling trouble spots by the numbers along Market or under the Central Freeway that remain unaddressed.  There is no coordination between observed dangerous cycling conditions and prioritization in the improvements queue.

  • Ryan Holman

    If you continue to watch the video, the bay bridge bike path comes up. Reisken basically casts it aside as unrealistically expensive and Lee mentions private funding. I wish there was more enthusiasm for the project, it would close a vital gap in the regional network.

  • Guest

    actually the hayes buss is often full during commute hours bypassing me as I wait and young couples with kids live here too. but i guess that is of no concern, right?

  • @86883e1d8289f5b704d6504ff6f52ab9:disqus I know, right? I mean, who are we to want to hold our elected leaders accountable for the fact that they campaigned on issues but are now doing a 180.

  • marcos

    Given some of the conservatives I’ve seen the alternative transportation community cavorting with, David Chiu, for instance, I guess it all depends on what progressive means, huh?

  • Guest, Your concern of being crowded out of Muni by people going car-free is quite unfounded. Anyone ready to trade in their car for a Muni pass likely takes Muni extensively already. This would just give a financial incentive to do away with a car little used taking up valuable public space and preventing the installation of safe bicycle infrastructure. In addition, adding protected bike lanes will enable many, many people who now take Muni to bicycle more often, reducing the load on Muni. (I would think people on the most crowded routes would be among the first to try out biking so as to have a more pleasant transportation experience.) And even if all sixty became brand new Muni riders, they are not all go to show up en masse at the exact same time and place trying to get on your bus on your route. 

    I’m not sure what your point about young couples with children is. As it stands right now, the particulate matter of this neighborhood from automobile traffic is directly dangerous to their children’s health. Those families will benefit a great deal if we can get people out of cars and instead biking, walking and taking transit.

    I know people have an instinctive tendency to be fearful of change and assume it will hurt them, no matter the change proposed. It’s important to realize just how much the current arrangement is costing you and those around you in terms of taxes, health, and opportunities lost.

  • marcos

     @google-c1054b713ae4d63cc3ebaf620c20fb35:disqus There is only one thing that politicians understand, and that is imminent threat of losing power and public support.  If you cannot provide that challenge to power at the level of a credible recall threat, then you’d best prepare yourself for being lied to and let down.  I’m not saying that is good or right.  That’s how they roll having to balance multiple competing constituencies.  The best you can do is to have a politician roll your way more than half of the time.  Deal with it or figure out another hobby other than electoral politics.

  • mikesonn

    Rise up, @google-c1054b713ae4d63cc3ebaf620c20fb35:disqus ! Rise up!

  • marcos

     @KarenLynnAllen:disqus “Your concern of being crowded out of Muni by people going car-free is
    quite unfounded. Anyone ready to trade in their car for a Muni pass
    likely takes Muni extensively already.”

    I contest the premise.  Muni is being structurally disinvested by the City.  It is already at carrying capacity on many key routes during peak hours.  There is a limit on how much mode shift the system can absorb under these circumstances.  We would all like to see a mode shift of 10% per year, but that would crush the system given its current portfolio of rolling stock and staff.  Muni could probably not handle more than a scant handful of percentage points mode shift per year, > 3% would be pushing it.  Sad but true.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn:disqus rise up, single issue advocates, rise up out of your single issue silos  and realize that you’re operating under a complex political context where it is not all about you and your needs.

  • mikesonn

    Reduced traffic would speed routes which means more runs per hour and therefore increased capacity.

  • mikesonn

    Yeah, fight for parking or don’t fight at all.

  • Mario Tanev

    One thing that irks me is that Lee considers the bay bridge bike/pedestrian path a fun thing, not a basic transportation necessity. We need to change the conversation in this town, so that it is never acceptable to have motorized transport be the only option. If that mentality were changed, so could the cost of the bike/pedestrian path. All that needs to happen is for one lane in each direction on the west span to be taken from cars and given to bicyclists and pedestrians. But that will not happen for as long as car traffic is considered important, and all other traffic is considered just fun.

  • Shmoozilla2000

    Way to be disingenuous mikesonn.

  • mikesonn

    If no one steps up for cycling and Muni, who will? Are we not allowed to fight for what we want? But car owners are? I’d say that Potrero/N. Mission folks that came out in droves to fight against the singular issue of parking management aren’t realizing they are “operating under a complex political context where it is not all about you and your needs”

  • peternatural

    Mode shifts don’t all flow to MUNI. Pre-2012, my wife commuted by MUNI. Now, she uses an electric bike. Her commute time is a third of what it used to be. She still gets a monthly fast pass because her work pays for it, so MUNI is not losing out on any revenue, but seats are freed up. She gets more exercise. The only downside is she can’t listen to as many audio books as she used to… DAMMIT!

  • Shmoozilla2000

    I wish Karen would provide data to back up her assertions about parking regulations, emissions, gas prices, what have you, instead of just making stuff up.

  • mikesonn

    She does often, click on her icon to go to her profile and read her past comments.

  • Marcos, I agree that indeed some Muni lines may be at or near capacity, but, again, anyone ready to give up their car is likely already biking or taking Muni extensively. And even if this program did net 60 additional Muni riders who took, say, as many as 4 trips a day, that would be adding 240/680,000 Muni passenger trips per day, which would be 4 hundredths of a percent increased load, a change so small it could not accurately be measured. 

    For the physical and economic health of the city we should definitely make Muni pleasant, safe and reliable for everyone, and figuring out how to add more service on the most crowded lines is part of this. As Mike noted below, reducing traffic congestion would significantly help Muni’s throughput, increasing capacity.

    As to whether encouraging the population of the entire city to go car-free or car-lite will decimate Muni service, as we create more and better bicycle infrastructure, a high percentage are likely to go car-free by relying much more on bicycles than Muni use. I found that dropping down one car three years ago has meant both fewer car trips and *fewer* total Muni trips for me, because as I gained confidence I could get almost anywhere in the city by bike, I have found bicycling usually faster, more direct, and more convenient than Muni. (And I value the exercise it offers and the opportunity to be out-of-doors.) My husband, an avid cyclist, hardly takes Muni at all, and my son prefers to bike as well. My teen daughters often prefer Muni to biking, partly because they find traffic intimidating, partly because we live up a big hill. But when they take Muni it’s a double bonus for traffic reduction because it avoids two car trips–me driving them to a place and then me returning home after I’ve dropped them off.

    It is likely that economics are going to push people into going car-free or car-light whatever we do. If politicians are smart, they will realize that creating safe and pleasant transit and biking options that make this transition a lifestyle improvement rather than a lifestyle reduction will, in the end, cause them far, far less pain than multitudes of unhappy people who are faced with the choice of biking on dangerous, polluted roads or taking miserably crowded buses.

  • All I can say is thanks to @86883e1d8289f5b704d6504ff6f52ab9:disqus for stating the obvious in the most condescending of ways. Do you really think that I am driven by the sole issue of whether or not they improve Fell/Oak? I don’t even ride there.

    Or maybe, just maybe, this being a transportation blog, we’re going to discuss issues relevant to that subject?

    The point it was those who were duped into supporting Lee thinking he would actually have a spine should have known better. I didn’t vote for him and we’re getting about what I expected from him.

  • Shmoozilla2000, The data backing up my assertions has been presented repeatedly on Streetsblog. I assure you I make none of it up. Check out this article for extensive data and links to studies:

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/10/12/commentary-drive-a-car-in-the-city-time-to-embrace-bike-infrastructure/

    As to parking regulations, most people who live in San Francisco are fairly well-acquainted with them, but if you live out of town you can check out the MTA website:
    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/phome/homeparking.htm

    As to gas prices, I find the weekly EIA data (US Energy Information Administration) interesting to follow

    http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/

    If you are interested in learning more about Peak Oil, this is a good article

    http://www.washington.edu/news/articles/commentary-in-nature-can-economy-bear-what-oil-prices-have-in-store

    As to what-have-you, I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific.

  • marcos

    @KarenLynnAllen:disqus I was writing about the general case of Muni’s posture with respect to absorbing mode shift from autos, that there are some limits that need to be considered.  And we need to keep in mind the more unpleasant aspects of the big picture: the topological impediments to cycling such as hills and wind, the needs of the non-healthy folks who will never be able to bike (again) no matter how safe and the other elements of public policy that create traffic congestion that delays transit. 

    Currently the City sees seniors and disabled, those who cannot bike, the transit dependent as plantation dwellers with no place else to go and whose special needs can be ignored.

    @mikesonn:disqus “Reduced traffic would speed routes which means more runs per hour and therefore increased capacity.”

    And pricing parking to create availability and make parking more convenient as compared to transit or making parking so expensive that folks drive down to jobs in the south bay reduces traffic how again? 

    Rezoning for increased residential without putting augmented transit into place as units go online elicits mode shift how again?

    These are all is a systems in motion over time as well, and the maintenance and operations funding curves are not boding well.

    If you’re not willing to revisit your assumptions when confronted with evidence that they are faulty, how can you expect for a motorist who hears nothing but shrill froth from the alternative transit groupthink to revisit theirs?

  • marcos

     @google-cd6ac603016b207eed1e6a32f6c3abfa:disqus I think that the logistics of the bay bridge are an impediment to its use as a bicycling corridor.  The bridge itself is 8 miles, most folks don’t bike that far on flats.  The bridge rises up 85′ or so at the west anchorage.  It then crests at, what 300′ at YBI.  Then it begins a 4 mile moderate grade to the Oakland anchorage where it is another 5 miles to reach the closest destinations.  In reverse, the east bay side is a 300′ climb up a grade and into the afternoon winds.

    Dedicating a single lane in whatever the reverse commute direction is (managing that would be a headache) to bikes and peds would be infinitely preferable to blowing $300m on a side track.  But not so much to privilege the incumbency of autos, I’d want to see that the if structural impediments of a tough slog of a commute that would only appeal to a segment of the cycling community would make this a good public policy choice.  It would be cheap and reversible tho, so a pilot project to take data would be okay. 

    Taking a lane in each direction for transit, however, would be cool.

  • marcos

    @mikesonn:disqus it is only you and the sfbg that see this as a ‘parking war.’  there are valid criticisms of staff’s proposals that staff was just not hearing until we made them listen.  There is a difference between opposing parking controls on principle and pushing back hard on staff when they decline to negotiate over reasonable changes in their proposal. 

    You might think that variable price parking as presented by staff is the perfect proposal.  But I don’t think that it is a stretch to conclude that there are a range of varied proposals that are roughly equivalent which will move us in the direction we want to go. 

    One-size fits-all policies appropriate for a NCD or R* district might not be appropriate for a mixed use neighborhood.  That is not radical, that is reasonable.  Our neighbors are not demanding free parking by any means.

    Some of us fought to get the EIR started on the bike plan in what, the 2006-07 FY budget.  I urged Ross to find $1m to get the ball rolling but the SFBC and City Attorney assured us, no, we’ve got it covered.  Greg Hayes and I alerted them to this in 2002 and thy assured us no, don’t worry, we’ve got it covered.  I wrote the resolution for Ross that set City policy to move away from LOS to a more sustainable non-auto centric metric.  We’ll find out tonight at the MTA CAC if what staff produced moves us forward as pertains to insulating transit from delay due to projects like SFPark availability pricing or if it just gives the green light to development with impacts mitigated in the aggregate and down the road.   My achievement at the TEP was to get the 47 rerouted to serve the big box corridor in SOMA along Townsend onto Caltrain so that there would be a more direct, intense rapid service to a multimodal station and so that folks might be able to shop via transit.  We worked with Nick Carr’s group to traffic calm our notch of the North Mission. 

    I’ve not been fighting for sustainable transportation for some time now and not ineffectively.

    @google-c1054b713ae4d63cc3ebaf620c20fb35:disqus If you all were duped into supporting Ed Lee, and many of us saw his coalition coming from afar, then why should we trust your political intuition when it comes to balance competing constituencies to move the non-car agenda as far as fast as is politically possible under the circumstances?

    Don’t get me wrong, on some issues Ed Lee has a much less petulant tone than Newsom and does not carry himself like a spoiled entitled child, but any time that rubber hits the road and it is the 99% up against the 1%, we know that Rose Pak and Willie Brown give Ed Lee 1% latitude and no more.

  • @86883e1d8289f5b704d6504ff6f52ab9:disqus please go back and reread my comments where I specifically indicated I did not vote for Lee and figured this is how he would act.

    I don’t speak for SFBC so I won’t make any claims on their behalf.

  • mikesonn

    @google-c1054b713ae4d63cc3ebaf620c20fb35:disqus Don’t bother.

  • Shmoozilla2000

    Karen, how about your assertion that residents of DMV Heights don’t care about the environment or the economy? Was that in the Chronicle? Did you mail out a survey, go door to door and talk to people? Or were you just being self-righteous?

  • peternatural

    Except Karen asserted no such thing. Oops.

  • marcos – take a gander at the heavy bike commute traffic on the GG Bridge. While the bridge itself is only a mile and a half, the South End of the bridge is 5 miles from the job centers in SF, and at minimum a couple of miles and a hill from Sausalito, the nearest residential center. Your generalization is completely false. 8 miles is trivial.

  • Shmoozilla2000

     
    Here is what she said:
     “Yes, it’s understandable that the people who both own a car and park it
    on the street in this neighborhood (a minority of the residents) don’t
    want to give up their free parking. If I were getting free parking and
    didn’t care about the environment, the economy, or the health and safety
    of my fellow human beings, I would howl at losing it, too.”

  • Shmoozilla2000,
    I believe you are referring to this comment I made lower down in this discussion thread:
    “Yes, it’s understandable that the people who both own a car and park it
    on the street in this neighborhood (a minority of the residents) don’t
    want to give up their free parking. If I were getting free parking and
    didn’t care about the environment, the economy, or the health and safety
    of my fellow human beings, I would howl at losing it, too.”

    I presented this as an opinion, not a statement of fact, but I am glad to back up my opinion with the facts on which I based it.

    Fact: The residents who are objecting to the loss of 80 parking spaces place a greater priority on access to these parking spaces than they do to the proposed three blocks of protected bicycle infrastructure that will connect up the major east-west bicycle artery of the city. Whatever their reasons for this prioritization, I don’t think this can be interpreted any other way. For now, the city also agrees that these 80 spaces are more important than connecting up the major east-west city bicycle artery.

    Fact: the adult human body needs 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as walking or biking) each day to be healthy.

    Fact: 5 in 6 Americans do not get 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

    Fact: People who use active modes of transportation (walking or biking) are much more likely to get the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise.

    Fact: People improve their health when they walk or bike to work.

    Fact: Providing safe, comfortable bicycle infrastructure induces people to bicycle.

    Fact: The additional health care costs due to someone not getting 30 minutes/ day exercise is $544 per sedentary person.

    Fact: The US spends 17% of its GDP on health care,  (2% of its GDP on diabetes alone.)

    Fact: Countries with high rates of cycling participation such as Denmark and the Netherlands spend less than 9% of their GDP on health care with better health outcomes in almost every measurable category.

    Fact: “If everyone
    in America lost weight and returned to the same weight levels of 1991, we would
    save one trillion dollars. We would cover all the uninsured, and we would be
    able to quadruple the money for medical research.” (Milken Institute)

    Fact: The average cost of car ownership per year in the US is $8776. (estimated by AAA)  For people residing in San Francisco, 90% of this sum leaves the local economy.  (Only 80% or so if the car is financed through a local credit union or San Francisco-based bank.) Median household income in San Francisco is $65,519. People who are car-free have more money to spend in the local economy than if they owned a car.

    Fact: Drivers impose on their fellow citizens external costs of $.47 a mile (in 2005  dollars) from particulate matter-related health costs, accident costs, cost of congestion, and road maintenance and repair costs. This number does not include costs due to carbon emissions, noise pollution, water pollution, other ecological damage or damage to buildings due to vibrations. So every mile that could have been walked or bicycled but was instead driven in a car costs San Franciscans $.47.  (Transit–since it is subsidized and buses do appreciable road damage and diesel buses emit particulate matter–does not save San Franciscans quite as much, although the congestion savings of transit are considerable.)  See http://www.spur.org/publications/library/article/estimatingtheexternalcostsofdrivinginsf09012005

    Fact: 40% of all trips taken in the US are under 2 miles, easy biking distance.

    Fact: in the 2008 San Francisco State of Cycling Report conducted by the SFMTA, the top three hindrances to biking in San Francisco among infrequent and non-cyclists are “not comfortable biking with cars” (79%); “too difficult to cross major streets” (73%) and “not enough bike lanes (75%).  These were also the top three hindrances reported by frequent cyclists, except that “not enough bike lanes” was first (80%), and not comfortable biking with cars was second (71%).

    Fact: Half of all heath care costs in the US are paid for by businesses and individuals, the other half are paid for by taxpayers.

    Fact:  American imports of foreign oil account for roughly half of the U.S. trade deficit.

    These are just some of the ways bicycle use reduces health costs and has positive effects on both the environment and the economy.  But let’s turn our attention to my use of the word “care,” which, again, was an opinion, not a statement of fact, but probably the most controversial aspect of what I was saying.

    To care is (from my dictionary) “to feel concern or interest; to attach importance to something.”  Now one could argue that even the most callous coal magnate would “care” if all oxygen were to disappear from our planet’s atmosphere tomorrow, so in a sense everyone “cares” about the environment to some extent. And most everyone would also care if all money, goods and services suddenly ceased to exist overnight. But I think most of us would say that a mother who prioritizes a phone conversation about a television show over her toddler wandering into a busy street does not “care” about her child, that the appropriate preference has not been made.

    At some point there is a moral, ethical distinction to be made that cannot be discerned by a scientific study or public survey. So yes, if someone says they care about the environment or the economy but prioritizes free parking over bicycle use, I can’t but believe either they don’t understand the consequences of their prioritization, or they are insincere. And at some point willful ignorance of the consequences of one’s actions is a choice, and implies culpability. (Now if someone wants to argue that the circumstances of their life demand that they give little priority to the environment, the economy, their long-term financial well-being, their own health, or the health of their fellow citizens, that is indeed a different matter. And if their circumstances are truly extreme, I may even agree with them. But again, that would be a matter of opinion, not an assertion of fact.)

  • peternatural

    http://disqus.com/guest/b061ae0867336435bc888589c1dc4e26/ Yes, I know what Karen wrote, and it’s not what you claimed.

    This statement:

        “If I didn’t care about the environment, then I would favor free parking.”

    is not the same this:

        “If a person doesn’t care about the environment, then they favor free parking.”

    Or this:

        “If I favor free parking, then I don’t care about the environment.”

    Least of all this:

        “If a person favors free parking, then they don’t care about the environment.”

    Anyway, you should drop it, or come up with something substantial, because this is boring.

  • Shmoozilla2000

     People who live in the neighborhood can support the bike lane AND be concerned about the impacts its installation will have on their daily lives. My 2 cents as a resident of the neighborhood. Sorry to bore you Peter. Please return to your circle jerk foks, I won’t interrupt again.

  • Anonymous

    In terms of Muni absorbing more passengers, I think there is some low-hanging fruit that that can be picked with relatively little cost (but more political will). Essentially, speeding up service (as mikesonn says) allows you to make more runs for the money, increasing both capacity and passenger satisfaction, and could be done with things like signal priority and exclusive (and enforced) lanes. And reliability is vital, because most of the memorable crush-loads people experience aren’t the result of a lack of capacity, but a messed-up schedule: there’s probably a skipped run there, or just one that was five minutes late and then delayed further by the masses of passengers that had been waiting. Solving that would probably require measures unpopular with the union. Again, politics, not money. It can be done if enough people demand it.

    Parking: yes, SFPark actually benefits drivers. Yes, this may actually lead to an uptick in the number of cars. But not all that much, really: you’re going from near-100% occupancy to… 90% occupancy. Ok, so there might be a few more drivers taking short trips instead of staying all day– but it’s usually the commuters who cause the worst traffic. In the long run, I think it also makes it easier, politically, to discuss the pros and cons of replacing parking spaces with other purposes: if you can show that people pay $17 an hour for a given block of parking, but that Muni would save $25 an hour plus a lot of passengers’ time if it were used as a transit lane, then that’s a much easier sell than trying to take it away when people believe it’s their entitlement, and that it’s impossible to find parking elsewhere.

    Driving to the south bay? I find this a strange fear. You expect people to move to a place where one of the major attractions is alternative transportation and access to local job centers, pay a hefty premium for doing so, and then ignore it to sit in traffic? The combination of living-in-the-city fashion and Silicon Valley money does lead to this result, but it doesn’t mean that we should base long-term planning on it. If it’s a real issue, well, you can limit residential parking construction in the increased residential– in other words, what’s already happening.

    Rezoning is a long-term plan, which will have effects over decades. Restriping streets can be done in a month. It makes no sense to impose limits on population for the next fifty years, just because we don’t have enough buses today.

    And while transit systems may have a challenge dealing with peak loads, increases off-peak are just gravy: more fares for scarcely any more expenditure. Transit systems have a lot of problems, but “too much density” is generally not one of them.

    And maintenance curves for roads and highways (and asthmatic children) aren’t great either. Let alone that gas price curve…

  • Anonymous

    I think it would help to make a poster that demonstrates the need for the Fell/Oak bike lanes. It should show the four proposed streets which connect the corner of the Panhandle with the intersection of Page & Scott: Hayes, Fell, Oak and Page.

    For each street, it should have an elevation profile (with distance), all to scale, so that it’s clear how they compare. I’ve tried to do this with Google Earth, but I’ve hit some bugs (it’s now showing a 20-foot cliff on the route), and getting things in the same scale is tricky. In addition, I’m a little dubious about the elevation data they use: it seems to show the block of Baker in front of the DMV as being only slightly less sloped than the block to the south, which is absurd.

    You could add some data like distance, elevation gain, maximum slope and average slope.

    If this could be done, though, I think it would make a persuasive image.

    The image below is supposed to be the Page St. and Oak St, but they’re not quite right– especially that second bump on Oak.

  • Peapod mom

    I wonder where the SFBC gets data for those handy maps with street grades and so forth? It seems like not enough of the bike skeptics have seen those maps. Perhaps they’re a handy tool for outreach, too. You could snip insets from the maps and also show side-view elevations like you were trying to create there.

    Every now and then I try to point out to the naysayers who think we all should be using Page (as if that’s never occurred to us before–?) that the climb up there from the Panhandle is impossible for many of us if we’re loaded down with kids in the back or with a cargo bike with a surfboard or…use your imagination.

  • marcos

    @465e3c020e944cc091ce94c6ffbb5c7d:disqus I thought that the City provided that field in the street centerlines GIS shape file, but no.  It is trivial to calculate grade by performing geospatial database queries on the street centerline and terrain elevation datasets to calculate slope of a street segment.

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