Rob Anderson, SFBC, Chronicle Reporter to Discuss Bike Plan on KQED Radio

198055687_a04686270d.jpgKQED radio studio. Flickr photo: David Sifry

Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will debate and discuss the newly approved Bike Plan with Rob Anderson on KQED radio’s "Forum" program tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Anderson, the bicyclist-hating obstructionist who filed the lawsuit that has locked the Bike Plan in court, wrote on his blog this afternoon that he’ll be joined by Bert Hill, who sits on the Bicycle Advisory Committee, Jamie Whitaker of the Rincon Hill Neighborhood Association and Chronicle reporter Rachel Gordon. Anderson, who has compared bicyclists to "Islamic fanatics," had more choice words for bicyclists in the comments section of his post:   

I have no "personal ambition" at all, except to continue pointing out
how lame you people are, since no one else seems willing to do it. I’m
the only media critic in the city you bike zealots have, and you even
whine about that.

Thing is Rob, you’re not the only one, but for some reason the mainstream media — which often wrongly casts bicyclists as "scofflaws" and "holier than thou bicycle nuts" — seems to take you seriously. That’s why I’d encourage Streetsblog readers to call KQED and provide some balance: 866-733-6786.

  • marcos

    If only phone calls could burn the infidels on the radio itself!


  • Pat

    I forget, is it bicycles or cars that cause 43,000 deaths per year in the U.S.?

  • Turned out that the KQED broadcast was the Leah Shahum Show, as I was cut off after a few early comments. The moderator, a cyclist of course, then let Shahum do her speed rap without contradition the rest of the hour. Progressives do equal time!

  • Welcome to reality Rob.

    “Progressives do equal time!”


    “Put the bike plan up to a vote”


    “I have nothing but contempt for you!”

    I don’t care.

    “You’re going to screw everything up for everyone”

    We’re going to find out, whether you like it or not!

  • Leah & Judson did a great job on this today. It is incredible how skewed the debate can be though–there was an email from a woman calling attention to the fact that cars slow MUNI more than anything besides CM once a month for a few minutes here and there at certain parts in the city. The moderator immediately flipped this into yet another question about CM and even brought up a violent confrontation from Willie Brown’s days. This compounded with all the ‘Scofflaw!’ foamers is really remarkable.

    Why don’t we just be upfront and push back a little bit with all the carnage caused by out of control motorvehicles in the last week say? We don’t need to go back a decade for that.

  • marcos

    The weakest point was when the Rincon Hill neighbor complained of not being informed until last month about the engineering for 2d street, and the SFBC did not acknowledge that, just repeated how many people came out to testify as if to perpetuate an adversarial relationship.

    I think that we all know that rarely to testifiers at public comment accurately reflect public opinion. From my experience while serving on Western SOMA, let’s just say that the MTA was not exactly welcoming of our bicycle planning efforts and reciprocated by not telling us much about engineering proposals for the WSOMA SUD.

    And with so much of bicycle planning effectively privatized by the SFBC–the official city body responsible for bicycle planning, the BAC, was not mentioned at all during the segment–all the SFBC had to say was that we outnumber you and that your concerns are not really ours.

    One might understand how a politically powerful group that did not yet enjoy public support would try to slip things through and play sleight of hand. But when there is massive public support for enhanced bicycle facilities, the need for a bunker mentality is no longer there and maintaining that approach just projects insecurity.

    That said, we’re in a position where those on the panel whose cumulative impacts had led to a four year delay in progress are taking credit, celebrating their role in belatedly bringing these decade old projects to fruition.


  • marcos – we get your point, you hate the San Francisco Bike Corporation. Let me ask you this – if not for the SFBC, if it was just 100,000 individual cyclists, fractured in voice and with myriad of daily problems to deal with, would anything have gotten done?

    This member – and I am sure many of the 10,000 other ones – thinks this. “I have a fulltime job and a young son and a business to run, I don’t have time to work hard on bike lanes, go to every meeting, deal with MTA, so I am going to put my weight behind a small group of people who are probably more qualified than most, give them my proxy and therefore the power to accomplish something, and trust that they don’t screw up too badly”.

    This scenario plays out everywhere, every day, on every issue. If we get these 45 projects, the city will be a much better place than it was yesterday, and much better for cyclists than almost anywhere. Copenhagen it won’t be, but I’m drooling over the prospect of the lanes on Townsend, for bike racks on 18th, improvements on Portola, Division, etc…

  • marcos

    @John Murphy, what I hate is error that exposes others to injury and death. What I hate worse than that kind of error is denial over the circumstances which led to that error and subsequent error.

    What you appear to hate is when your friends are held accountable for their consequential error when others point out that they are responsible as much for delay due to error as they are to progress and that such progress must be evaluated against delay.

    What you are supporting is privatizing bicycle advocacy in a way that short circuits participation on the part of the full range of cyclists. I’m glad you like the SFBC. If they were effective as measured over the long term, I might be uncritical as well.

    What I hate is falling behind on policy and denial thereof.


  • marcos

    Also, this is PUBLIC POLICY not PRIVATE POLICY and should be an open process irrespective of the number of members paying dues to any private corporation.


  • SfResident

    Rob Anderson… you’ve had more than your fair share of “equal time.” You’re quoted in nearly every article about bicycling in this city, as though the sheer volume of your baseless rage has made you an expert on the issue.

    The people who are never interviewed in these articles are the individuals who have lost their lives because of our aging and outdated bicycle infrastructures. The people who are the real victims of the dangerous situation that you, perhaps more than anybody else, have fought tooth-and-nail to maintain. Those are the people who should be given “equal time” But they never can because your senseless and misguided crusade has taken away everything that they were.

  • fcp

    if there’s a parade, marcos will come rain on it. this absurd vitriolic obsession with the sfbc is rivalled only by the vigor of mr. anderson himself.
    this also just more proof that opposite ends of the political spectrum come around full circle in their paranoia to hold hands, in this case to claim that the sfbc is just a big conspiracy to rob “real” citizens of the city of their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • “…as though the sheer volume of your baseless rage has made you an expert on the issue.”

    Speaking of “baseless,” this charge that, since I oppose redesigning city streets for your zealous minority, that I must be motivated by anger. Otherwise how could I possibly oppose your oh-so-cool movement? In fact I am an expert on the litigation surrounding the Bicycle Plan, the only one you have in the media, and even that makes you folks mad. On the KQED program: Scott Shafer didn’t know what he was talking about on any level, and he allowed Shahum to dominate the program with her speed-rap monologues.

  • marcos

    @fcp, no bike lanes or new bike facilities was four years of rainy parade.

    Apparently those who make rain get a free pass, those who say the rainmakers are making rain are ridiculed.

    I wonder why I have a stack of solicitations from the SFBC that I’ve saved over the past five years asking me to renew my membership but have not seen SFBC turn that membership and those resources into anything more ambitious than heaving across the finish line a bicycle network that represents planning from 12 years ago.

    That pace of accomplishment is not sufficient by my measure, especially when compared to other jurisdictions with access to many fewer resources than we.

    Again, it was not me who set up the scenario where the SFBC got held helpless for four years by the likes of Rob Anderson, but it is me who is demanding accountability so that this lesson is learned and we might avoid getting caught in the well known trap of “group think” again.


  • thegreasybear

    Anderson wraps his mean-spirited obstructionism in a veneer of self-righteousness, but he’s no different from any other reactionary dedicated to attacking and suppressing a “zealous minority” for that minority’s supposedly unique failings.

    “Zero accommodation in our public sphere for that damnable minority!” Hmm, now when have we seen that mindset at work before?

  • marcos

    @thegreasybear, the SFBC, MTA, MEA and City Attorney left an opening large enough for Anderson to drive 99 percent of a CAR through.

    Your take-away lesson: blamestorm the litigant instead of acknowledging that our side really messed this one up.


  • SfResident


    “how could I possibly oppose your oh-so-cool movement”

    Thanks for proving my point. Baseless anger directed at a group you find culturally offensive. How petty.

  • marcos

    @SfResident, Anderson’s suit exposed the fact that the certain segments of the Bicycle Plan network would delay several Muni lines.

    Do you think it was a good idea that the City ignored the state law which requires that all projects be cleared so that they don’t delay public transit?


  • SfResident

    marcos, whatever (likely small) benefits that may have come from the suit seem to be epiphenomenal to Anderson’s reasons for filing it. He seems to be primarily motivated by an irrational personal hatred of bicyclists and his imagination of ‘bicycle culture.’ It reeks through all of his posts here, his interviews in the media, and the pronouncements he makes on his blog.

    Whatever… as a non-bicyclist I find a lot of the machismo posturing of some hard-core bicyclists obnoxious too but that doesn’t mean I mistake those folk for the community at large or reflexively oppose any attempts to make this city more bicycle friendly…

    The city shouldn’t have put itself in the situation where such a suit would be successful – that’s the take home message from this whole debacle. But even though he might be ‘right’ in a technical sense, Anderson’s still kind of an asshole.

  • “Anderson’s still kind of an asshole”


    s/kind of//;

  • marcos

    @SfResident, it doesn’t matter. The court found that the City did not act according to the law, and in at least one case, that law is congruent with the principles that this forum is supposed to promote: keeping transit fast as an alternative to driving.

    Don’t fool yourself that in politics, intent translates into effect.

    Anderson is dangerous to cyclists in that the delay has caused injury and possible death. But the group think of SFBC sycophants is even more dangerous, first because they claim to speak for cyclists, and second because they were the ones who tried to take a legal short cut and have yet to admit that their approach was flawed to the extent that they bear prime responsibility for the four year delay.

    @murphstahoe, why load perl, which is a heavy executable?

    $ echo “Anderson’s still kind of an asshole” | sed ‘s/kind of//’


  • William

    Totally agree with Anderson. And, specifically, the 2nd street bike lane will create chaos.

    “Criminal” Mass needs to be stopped, too, before a cyclist mob kills a pedestrian or impedes an ambulance, and thus, a huge lawsuit is filed against the city (taxpayers).

    Criminal Mass does more to prompt concerns against a bicycle advocacy efforts than anything. If this anarchist-led event was stopped once and for all, I suspect bicylists groups in the city would have a less dangerous, blantantly entitled (you pay for my biking to work) reputation.

  • marcos

    @William, cars grind our streets to a halt chaotically on an almost daily basis, fouling the air of our communities and visiting illness and early death on us, each motorists bearing partial responsibility for poisoning us.

    Give me creative anarchy over destructive chaos!

    That said, 2d Street Bike Lane needs work and the street probably nees its own mid range planning process to deal with how it negotiates the upcoming undergrounding of rail to the TBT so that the commercial killer that is subway excavation does not ruin yet another functional corridor as BART did Mission and mid-market.


  • @marcos re:PERL you are still living in the cycle/memory limited universe

  • marcos

    @John Murphy, the *nix philosophy is all about building on, chaining proven light-weight tools that do their job and do it well. perl is my weapon of choice for more complicated tasks, but why even bring up the editor when a short command line shell script will do the job cheaper and faster?



    @marcos – instead of attacking @John Murphy’s approach, why not fix the bug?

    $echo “Anderson’s still kind of an asshole” | perl -i -ple ‘s/kind of //’

    $echo “Anderson’s still kind of an asshole” | sed ‘s/kind of //’

  • marcos


    That came to mind the moment I hit “Post Your Comment” …

    Perl offers up a richer regex engine than sed, but so much can be accomplished with bash, awk and sed that the proficiency with the command line really puts gui interfaces to shame.

    What’s with this hyper defensive culture where suggesting refinement is tantamount to attacking?


  • Marc’s gonna hate me again for this, but he’s right. Being a cleric on bicycles serves no one and so on. Yeah Rob Anderson tells lies – he told lies about my neighborhood on his blog the other day. And using a court and lawyers and enriching the legal class to make policy is offensive on all levels.

    But the fact the bike people get EVERY SINGLE THING THEY WANT, and transit riders get kicked in the teeth at the state and local level, and the pass that all gets from the bike pros is kinda stupid. Choose-up-siderism serves no one. We can all get along if we all pay attention and we all realize we live in a very dense, very small city.

    So long as people like me, for whom riding a bike for every single thing is no longer an option due to several injuries, are excluded for those of you who can ride your bike till the cows come home, and block my bus or Metro train, well, guess what? that’s crap.

    What’s really crap is that it’s an even/or. And that cranks who live in rent controlled apartments and so on can get lawyers to spend my tax dollars on litigation, instead of mediation.

    Sucks all around!!!

  • “Yeah Rob Anderson tells lies – he told lies about my neighborhood on his blog the other day. And using a court and lawyers and enriching the legal class to make policy is offensive on all levels.”

    Could the bold, anonymous “Greg” provide some specifics about why I’m supposedly a liar? What’s really offensive is rationalizing the city’s lawless behavior. At least Marc understands that the city behaved irresponsibly in trying to push the Bicycle Plan through the process without any environmental review.

    “So long as people like me, for whom riding a bike for every single thing is no longer an option due to several injuries, are excluded for those of you who can ride your bike till the cows come home, and block my bus or Metro train, well, guess what? that’s crap.”

    Greg can no longer ride a bike because of injuries sustained while…riding a bike. When I asked him who was at fault, he dodged the question. Now that he can’t ride a bike, he’s become a zealous advocate of public transportation. Political narcissism anyone?

  • How is Greg “Anonymous” if Rob Anderson is having conversations with him?


    1) James Council fell asleep at the wheel while on duty as a Sheriff’s deputy and killed two cyclists who were riding single file on the shoulder. He was given 4 months home arrest. The bike people wanted that douchnozzle thrown in jail for a long long time, we certainly didn’t get that.

    2) The bike people get a lot of stuff because

    A) They show up. We were in a war with Caltrain and we beat them by going to the JPB meetings over and over and over and beating the JPB over the head. Not one person showed up to comment on two proposed fare increases during that timeframe and they sailed through. Caltrain threatened to kill Gilroy service (not a bike issue), all hell broke loose, Caltrain backed off.

    B) They participate. City riddled with potholes? Riders go around, mark them, note them, bring the list to the MTA. Are the N-Judah riders taking detailed (non-anecdotal) statistics of service disruptions and bringing them to the BoS?

    C) Painting bike lanes is cheap and the pavement is not represented by a union that refuses to concede anything, even work rules that offend everyone but the drivers themselves.

    Rest assured Greg, if I were suddenly elevated to Mayor of San Francisco my number one priority would be MUNI, not bike lanes. Fortunately, there are plenty of civilians willing to do heavy lifting on the bike lane issue. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of politicians willing to take bold moves for MUNI.

    But what I really want to know is Rob Anderson’s position on the scripting debate?

  • How is Greg anonymous if he posts under his own name, uses puts the name of his site in his user photo and links to his site from his profile?

  • Greg, that’s the problem I have with advocacy in this city. While the SFBC has made itself very powerful (and I don’t begrudge them effective advocacy and membership building), where in the world are the effective transit advocates? Having lived in NYC for 8 years and watched Gene Russianoff and the Straphangers Campaign, I’m at a loss to understand why this city doesn’t have a 10,000 member (or 100,0000 member or bigger) advocacy group holding political leaders’ feet in the flames to make MTA more functional.

  • Okay, sorry. I got the wrong Greg. But I’d still like to hear some specifics about the “lies” I wrote about the city’s plant to cutesify Divisadero Street.

  • marcos

    @Matthew Roth, Rescue Muni almost was that, but they got captured by SPUR, Newsom and Willie Brown when Prop E was gutted and amended a decade ago. Now, when Rachel Gordon calls out for community representation on a story, RM is first on her list.

    San Francisco activism is very non-profit, mediating and clientelist in character with little participatory democracy. I’d take issue with your assessment of the SFBC, for an organization their size, they are not very effective per member as they misuse their relatively vast resources focusing on minutae of interest, ignoring the big picture.

    The best way to make advocacy work is for the folks with the most skin in the game to be at the table. But that threatens entrenched bureaucracy which has all but captured and neutralized advocates.

    Organizing Muni would be interesting. I’d always thought it best to organize by line, creating line committees which would keep tabs on what’s working and not on the line. Organizing these committees would easy if folks who rode each line were given the resources to organize while riding. I’d brought this up at the TEP, as a means to ensure that the MTA had boots on the ground, as it were, but we are apparently reduced to “talk to the MTA hand.” (sorry Judson).

    But organizing Muni riders requires “significant initial capitalization.”


  • I just got through this thread. I have to say that Marc does have a point about the SFBC. I kinda wanted to have this said, but didn’t have a place to put it as I don’t have an Awesome Blog Read By Everyone. Perhaps Streetsblog could have a discussion about this.

    I was pretty shocked to receive an email from the SFBC the other day that said: “Just two weeks ago, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition won a near-doubling of bike lanes and passage of the city’s most ambitious Bike Plan. Now, we are asking you to make the most of this historic moment by helping us take San Francisco to the next level.”

    This is troubling on many levels. The SFBC did not single-handedly conceive or write this plan. And nothing was “won”, but merely a long delay (which could have been avoided if those who should have known better, would have paid attention) was ended. And again, this step was not “won” by the SFBC alone. But now they are sending emails which take sole credit for this “victory”, for the purposes of fund raising. Because yes, the email equates “taking SF to the next level” not with direct activism, or biking more, but with donating money to the SFBC.

    Of course, this is straight out of the book of the modern non-profit, it seems. All “successful” non-profits unfortunately seem to go the way of turning into fundraising machines, where most of their members’ only “activism” is to reach for their checkbooks to make even more “victories” possible.

    This is seriously worrying and I fear that if this trend continues, then the SFBC indeed might turn into something that claims to be the sole voice of bikers in this city, that will strike deals “on our behalf” without consulting us, earn questionable “victories” and discourage real and vigorous debate within the community in the name of “unity”.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  • Barna: We had over 200 members show up to City Hall to speak up for the bike plan. Many volunteer SFBC members went door to door to get nearly 150 support letters from businesses along the cooridors. SFBC staff worked hard to smooth out issues of concerned business owners and MTA staff.

    Fundraising is a natural part of a 10-person full-time organization, unless you wanted us to have our policies dictated by corporate fund’s grant processes.

    All members were and are invited to participate beyond donation– and welcome ideas of better ways to organize/mobilize if you’d like to provide them.

    If that’s not enough, advocacy isn’t a monopoly. As WOBO did with EBBC, if you want to see more or different actions, you can start your own group. And if you want it to be multi-modal, as Matthew recommended, get on it- I’ll gladly join you to fight for transit and walking, too.

  • marcSFBC, I am not saying that the SFBC doesn’t do valuable work. You do and I don’t regret being a member.

    But I was put off by the language of the email. So (since you asked) here’s an idea: I would be much more willing to donate money (beyond my yearly fee), if you would send emails that are upfront and say, in fact, that “fundraising is a natural part of a 10-person full-time organization, unless you wanted us to have our policies dictated by corporate fund’s grant processes”. If you can’t make ends meet with member contributions, then say so. Please don’t turn into Greenpeace or PETA – and I say that as an environmentalist vegan. 🙂

    Saying things like “if you want to see more or different actions, you can start your own group” cuts both ways. On the one hand it’s true of course, but on the other, it is a sort of “get with the program or get out” which in fact is often used to discourage discussions and dissent.

    I don’t want to start an org. But I do want to keep the group I am a member of, honest 🙂 Thanks for listening.

  • Barna: I hear you– and many of those comments have been made before– and, trust me, noone at SFBC wants to become a primarily-fundraising organization. Our Volunteer Nights are packed and our day-to-day volunteers (which have swelled due to the downturn in the economy recently) are the life-blood of our organization and we couldn’t function effectively with a passive membership. We understand that some people (myself included before being hired) can’t do more than give money, and that’s OK, too, but we depend on these active and engaged folks to get things done.

    As for grants vs member dues: I’ve worked in the grant-funded world, and it isn’t fun (see: ‘The Revolution will not be Funded’). Member dues gives us the latitude to respond to member interest and set our own path, not dictated by funding cycles and PO’s.

    The third point is, in all honesty the SFBC advocates for muni and pedestrians, but that’s not our mission and if we spent too much time on it, many of our 10,000 members wouldn’t be happy with their money going towards that. They pay dues to care about bikes, and while the connection is obvious to S’blong readers and commenters and staff, it’s lees clear to many average cyclists out there, even though it is moving in that direction.

    I’m not saying YOU should go start another org first and foremost– we’d love you to help shape the SFBC– but there are a few folks around town and commenters on s’blog who spend their time complaining and attacking only, rather than trying to build a better city. I’d love to see a strong member-based Transit Riders Union happen in SF- like LA’s BRU, or NYC’s Straphangers. I think it’s the only way we’ll get some appropriate funding for these necessary services.

  • Jackson Sam

    I have been watching this whole debacle play out for years now. Both sides of this issue is understandable. My own personal interaction with “bike people” and my own association with cars, leaves me and the rest of San Francisco in a place to tell our own unique narrative. Both of you are right and wrong at the same time.

    All, everyone’s stance matters – stopping the SFBC by court order has not been a bad thing. But, is Rob Anderson a stubborn, ridged character? Yes, no doubt about that.

    Bikes on the streets of San Francisco are dangerous. There is no denying that. The stats on injury and death prove bike riding in San Francisco is a moron’s fantasy. But, the SFBC’s determination to change the city and it’s streets is actually admirable. Progress will happen whether Rob Anderson “likes it or not”- is true. Do the “over the top” bike people disregard other citizen’s rights. Yes, they do. Are the bike people arrogant, snotty brats? For the most part, Yes. Do they have “right” on their side? Somewhat, but not at the expense of the rest of the City. They do not have any right to tie up traffic, they shouldn’t have any right to put their children at risk in canvas bike carryalls. Again stupid at the expense of other’s rights including their very own children.

    Now, the ideal of a better world is hardly wrong. The vision of the progressives that Rob snarls at, is an excellent vision. Cleaning and scrubbing the environment is a must. I admire the underlying sentiment, and support the idea of “going forward” into a better world. What choice do we have anyway? The SFBC, with their insistence in “being right” is spoiled brat behavior. Once admitted to – we might all be better able to move forward into the land of Oz if each side takes the stance of improving our world without shoving anything down anyones throat we all might “win”.

    Who are the bike people to tell us what is right? Little snots who run pedestrians off and out of crosswalks, who are often self-involved? Who is Rob Anderson to tell San Francisco what is right – the law? Yes. But, not blind adherence to it, or some blind stubbornness and sense of righteousness that would have others stuck with the way San Francisco streets are today.

    Both of you grow the hell up!

  • James

    Oh why oh why does everything related to bikes have to involve R.A.? Maybe once we stop listening to the bike zealots and ramblings of the injunction fool, the rest of us can try make better decisions on how to balance the needs of everyone for our public corridors.


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