Today’s Headlines

  • Planning Commission Approves CPMC Development Plans (SFGateBCN via SF Appeal)
  • Driver Caught on Camera in Hit-and-Run With Two Bicyclists in Berkeley (SFGate, Berkeleyside)
  • BART Train Replacement Could be Delayed by Manufacturing Debate (SFGate, SF Examiner)
  • In Defense of the Electric Bicycle, from the Bottom of a Steep Hill in San Francisco (Atlantic Cities)
  • Spinlister Peer-to-Peer Bike Share Launches in SF (7×7)
  • SPUR: Big Wins, Big Questions as High-Speed Rail Moves Ahead
  • N-Judah Briefly Disrupted After Car Crash Judah and 26th Thursday Morning (SF Appeal)
  • Healdsburg Considers Proposal for Downtown Parking Meters (Press Democrat)
  • SF Examiner: “Ban on Using Cellphones on Bikes a Smart Move”
  • Golden Gate Bus, Ferry Service to Increase for Doyle Drive Closure (CBS 5. KTVU)
  • Why the Streets of Copenhagen and Amsterdam Look So Different From Ours (Atlantic Cities)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Mario Tanev
  • mikesonn

    @murphstahoe mentioned it in a thread yesterday. But yeah, the Berkeley PD has all the info now (make/year/plate) so let’s see if they go after this person. But the always reliable “I wasn’t driving” might be pulled out here and they could walk.

  • In regards to the article on electric bicycles, my thoughts having now ridden an electric bicycle for three years in San Francisco:
    1) For most San Franciscans, the additional cost and hassle of an electric bicycle (the additional weight, the additional fear of it being stolen given the investment you’ve made) makes a regular bicycle preferable. However, there are a number of very strong exceptions where an electric bicycle may indeed be a wise investment.
    2) Regular bicyclists should not dismiss, denigrate or even be unenthusiastic about electric bicycles. Electric bicycles help make bicycling in San Francisco safer and a more accepted mode of transportation.

    I got an electric motor kit three years ago to electrify my bike with an Xtracycle attachment so I could transport my tween daughter around without having to use a car.  We live up a big big hill.  (Next time you are in the Castro, cross 18th st, pause for a moment in the middle, face south, look up. That’s my hill.)  I can do many hills by regular bicycle in this city, including Clipper up to Portola, but I can only do the north side of Castro when I have a 25mph tailwind at my back. There are ways to wiggle up the south face (Noe Valley side) of this hill to make it easier, but coming from the north or west, I have to walk my bike from 20th to the top. (From a great deal of intimate experience I can officially state that Castro from 20th to 21st is the longest block on the planet.) On my electric bike, while I definitely have to pedal, I can make it up this hill with five bags of groceries or a hundred pounds of kid on the back.

    However, even though I must walk my regular bike uphill almost every return trip home, this is the bike I generally take. Why? Because I’ve found I enjoy being under my own power more than relying on a motor.  And because it is better exercise.  An electric bike is certainly more exercise than driving a car or taking Muni. I would equate it with a leisurely flat walk. My electric bike is always faster than Muni, and for distances under 3 miles faster than a car (especially taking into account time required to park.) It is great for hauling heavy loads. (The Xtracyle is also great for hauling bulky loads.)  And my electric bike is great for times when I absolutely, positively don’t want to sweat, say when going to the symphony (although lately I have been taking my regular bike to the symphony as well.)

    One thing in the above article I disagree with is the assertion that is impossible to avoid hills in San Francisco. This is not true. It is generally quite possible to avoid most hills, except if you live on top of one. (For example, the article shows a picture of Dolores Street. Who in their right mind would bike up the hills on Dolores when you could take San Jose/Valencia or Church?) So I would say while very few people living in SOMA, the Mission, Lower Haight, much of the Richmond, etc would find an electric bike worth the extra cost over a regular bike, an electric bike may be a very good option for folks who live up big hills, folks who need to haul children or goods up even moderate hills, or folks who may have disabilities that preclude them from riding a regular bicycle.  In fact, when you hear “I would ride a bike except … there’s no shower at work, I live up a hill, I have a bum knee, I have children, I have to buy groceries,” the answer you can very well give is “try an electric bike!”  (Then you may hear, as I often do, “But bicycling in San Francisco is so dangerous!  There’s no way I’m going to trust my life to the crazy drivers in this city!”)

    But why should you, a regular bike rider, recommend someone who drives a car try an electric bike when they will later just annoy you as they go whizzing past you up a hill?
    1) Someone on an electric bike is as vulnerable to cars as you are and has a vested interest in the city further accommodating bicycles as legitimate transportation. Any additional bike–regular or electric–serves to increase the number of bikes on the roads, the prime way safety for bicyclists improves (because car drivers become more aware of bicycles, expect them, and look for them, etc.)
    2) Someone on an electric bike becomes more aware and careful of bicyclists when he/she is later behind the wheel of his/her car.
    3) Someone replacing a car trip with an electric bike trip saves you money through less road wear, improves your air quality, and improves the collective future of the planet. And he/she also hogs up way less public space, uses very little energy, and reduces congestion.
    4) Someone replacing a Muni trip with an electric bike trip also saves you money. Muni trips are subsidized by the general taxpayer, and heavy buses do even greater damage to the roads than cars do. (This is not to say we should not view Muni as far preferable to private cars, only that bicycles are even more cost-effective, energy-efficient and less polluting.)
    5) Electric bikes have a top speed of 15mph.  Though they can accelerate somewhat faster than a regular bicyclist from a dead stop, their top speed is far less than what a regular bicyclist is capable of. They do not really pose more threat to other bicyclists or pedestrians than regular bikes, unless of course, they do stupid, selfish things, like go the wrong way down one-way streets or ride on sidewalks.  But such actions are the result of a faulty brain rather than the technology itself.
    6) Someone who rides an electric bike, may, like me, eventually find they prefer riding a regular bike. An electric bike can be a stepping stone to the realization that biking is not all that difficult, especially for those who right now think you pretty much have to be Lance Armstrong-like to bike at all.

  • @mikesonn  The “I wasn’t driving” works for criminal cases, but my understanding is that car owners are responsible for damages in civil cases even if the owner wasn’t driving.  So the cyclists may be able to get a settlement for damage to their bikes and any medical bills.

  • Mario Tanev

    I am just surprised that Streetsblog hasn’t reported on it. It clearly shows either extremely negligent or even malicious intent, yet I hear no outrage in the mainstream media about it.

  • mikesonn

    SFGate posted it and it’s still on their “3 top stories” thing they have but didn’t write much.

    http://blog.sfgate.com/stew/2012/04/27/berkeley-bicyclist-hit-run-video/?tsp=1 

    But I won’t hold my breath for a bunch of editorials and CW to come out in full protest mode.

  • Mario – we did a pretty heroic job of getting this to go viral. It’s on SFist’s top bar, on the front page of SFGate, on HuffPost, cyclelicio.us, etc…

    It was pretty neat on twitter watching dozens of people live-analyze the video, come up with partial plates, plug them into the CA-Smog database and get a match, note the aftermarket wheels, etc… all while dozens of others were trying to get the video placed into the media.

  • Aaron Bialick

    @google-cd6ac603016b207eed1e6a32f6c3abfa:disqus As the only SF staffer juggling plenty of other priorities, it’s not always logistically easy to get something out within the 24 hours since this came out. Basically, chill out.

  • Stay classy, SFGate commenters:

    “I know I’m going to look like a disgusting immature jerk when I say this, but when bicyclist go in front of me, they slow me down. It can get quite annoying when they are causing traffic, or when they start to hog the lane, they’re asking to get hit, or honked at. I know it’s the law to give right of way to them, but they should also consider those who are in cars if they want to stay safe.”

    “Karma?”

    “Sorry but can’t feel sorry for them after watching them running stop signs.”

  • mikesonn

    I’m glad SFGate commenters rarely leave their basement, still scary though to know those people are on the road thinking those kinds of thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    Thank goodness for relatively cheap, easy to mount, HD-cameras!

  • Mario Tanev

    Aaron, thanks for all your hard work. I didn’t mean in any way to accuse Streetsblog of punting on it. I just wanted to make sure it’s on your radar, that’s all.

  • The Greasybear

    sfgate’s comment sections are Exhibit A for the burning animus many motorists have against bicycling itself. Our local corporate media profits by pandering to, and sometimes, inflaming that hate–KTVU joins the jihad with a segment they’ll air today at 5pm focused on the uniquely awful behavior of those uniquely awful people who ride bikes. “Our cameras caught cyclists riding without helmets!” bleats the breathless voice-over. “Where’s your helmet?” shouts a reporter in a moving car driving alongside a cyclist in motion. “Breaking the rules!” screams the graphic. Perhaps it is inevitable media outlets funded by car industry advertising will feed red meat to the bike-haters, but if riders and advocates don’t get on the ball, this intensification of yellow journalism may lead to more violence and civic inertia.

  • mikesonn

    Anyone else just watch that crap on KTVU?

  • Jarrett M

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