Cast Your Vote for the 2013 SF Streetsies — and Give to Streetsblog!

Ah, 2013, we hardly knew ye. But the year certainly had its memorable moments — a few good transportation improvements here, a few nonsensical and alarming statements from city officials there.

Now is your chance to vote on the best and worst of 2013 with Streetsblog SF’s second annual Streetsie Awards. Polls are open until Friday at midnight. Streetsblog will be taking a break from publishing for the rest of this week. We’ll post the awards round-up next week, and be back to our regular schedule on January 2.

And if you haven’t already, please make a donation to Streetsblog SF and help us cover the movement for more livable San Francisco streets in 2014!

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Best Quote From a City Official

  • SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin: "The most cost effective investment we can make in moving people in our city is in bicycle infrastructure." (41%, 128 Votes)
  • Sup. Jane Kim: “We should treat cars, in many ways, like a weapon. It has the same impact." (31%, 96 Votes)
  • <a href= Ed Lee's Transportation Advisor, Gillian Gillett: "Let’s be San Francisco and take down the freeway.” (28%, 85 Votes)

Total Voters: 309

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Worst Statement From a City Official

  • SFPD Sgt. Richard Ernst parking in a bike lane to blame victims killed on bike, saying it was his "right" to be there. (40%, 123 Votes)
  • Oakland's Rachel Flynn on bringing cars back to Latham Square: “We don’t know how to measure pedestrian and bicycle activity.” (20%, 63 Votes)
  • SFFD on "allegations from special interest groups": Sidewalk extensions "cannot possibly make our streets, pedestrians and bicyclists safer." (19%, 57 Votes)
  • Sup. David Chiu championing the watered-down Polk St. plan: "This moves forward the biking vision for the city." (9%, 28 Votes)
  • DA George Gascón sending "a message to cyclists" that "they’re held accountable to the same standard" as drivers. (7%, 23 Votes)
  • Sup. Mark Farrell coming out against parking meters: "On this matter, I am very, very sensitive." (5%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 308

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Most Frustratingly-Delayed Project

  • Geary BRT (47%, 140 Votes)
  • Better Market Street (37%, 109 Votes)
  • <a href= Ness BRT (16%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 298

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Worst Place to Park Cars

Total Voters: 287

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NIMBYs of the Year

Total Voters: 296

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  • iamjared

    To be fair to George Gascon… cyclists and drivers should both be held to the exact same standard, the California Vehicle Code. I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with his statement, especially considering he’s the DA, and it’s sort of his job to enforce the law.

  • Morgan Fitzgibbons

    The problem with the statement is that he doesn’t hold drivers accountable for their actions in killing people while they brought out all the guns to bring the one cyclist who killed someone to justice. It is most definitely not the same standard.

  • easy

    So many good options for the worst things.

  • I’m disappointed that you didn’t put my name on the ballot. under some kind of “worst statement” category. I would win in a landslide.

  • Mario Tanev

    Rob, sorry to break it to you, but you are old news. Your 15 minutes of fame were the bike plan lawsuit. Your shenanigans lead to recent relaxations in the environmental review laws for bicycle projects, so maybe you want to take credit for that? Now you are just a punching bag that people love to hate, but you’ve lost your actual impact.

  • murphstahoe

    You aren’t a city official, so you don’t really matter.

  • I can’t take credit for weakening CEQA. Your bike lobby, WalMart, Governor Brown, and Scott Wiener—who’s still lying about CEQA and the Bicycle Plan litigation—can take credit for that. Nice work! Bikes uber alles!

    Still waiting for you bike folks to acknowledge the UC study on how City Hall has radically under-counted cycling accidents in SF.

  • Mom on a bike

    Context is everything. This comment, dumb as it is at face value, is particularly galling when we’re talking about no-auto-crime-is-too-heinous Gascon. Well, take heart San Franciscans, at least we’re not quite at the point yet where pedestrians are held to the same “standard” ……

  • Perhaps some more relentless online self-promotion is in order. I’m shocked that you didn’t provide yet another link to that blog thingy of yours (where nobody’s allowed to comment except patrons of Moe’s Bar).

  • I was hoping to parody the Anatole France quote, but it doesn’t really work: “The D.A., in his majestic equality, forbids the cars as well as the bikes to speed over bridges, to crash in the streets, and to kill peds.”

    The reason it doesn’t work is that, for the most part, cars are free to do all of this with impunity.

  • My blog isn’t about me at all. It’s essentially an antidote to your anti-car, pro-bike ideology. You can comment there any time you want, Jym. I’d like to see you—or any of your Streetsblog comrades—comment on the UC Study that you have all been ignoring since last October.

    Or maybe you could write about it on your blog. Oh, wait…

  • murphstahoe

    More of a placebo, really

  • 94103er

    Sigh, that astonishing “UC study” again….wait away, then. Only I cared enough to take the bait of your flat-out pathetic fishing-for-debate study link to tell you that this study neither has particularly earth-shaking findings nor has any reason to be taken out of context of a series of similar metadata studies of traffic injuries/fatalities. The conclusions you make are yours and yours alone and seeing as you do nothing but troll here there’s absolutely no point in taking you up on any kind of debate on said conclusions whatsoever.

    Why, just a couple days ago SFist linked to some article with earth-shattering findings that bicyclists in the US are more likely to be injured than in a number of OECD countries. Whippy whip, what an amazing, surprising revelation there. But go ahead and add that to bolster some laughable conclusion that we are special in ‘Merica and should just accept that biking will never be safe here…despite the near-perfect correlation of bike-infrastructure improvements to decrease in incident rates in other countries.

    This is really getting pathetic. If you so desperately need more readers of your blog of truthiness then post away at SFGate or somewhere where people don’t have the brain power to see through your bullshit.

  • Suspicious lack of specifics about the UC study in your comment. “Out of context”? In fact the study resets the entire context of cycling and safety in San Francisco, since it shows that, incredibly, City Hall has been relying entirely on accident reports by the SFPD and not counting thousands of cycling accidents at SF General, the city’s primary trauma center.

    And, just as important, the most under-reported are “cyclist-only” accidents that have nothing to do with “infrastructure.” This study is why the MTA still hasn’t released its long-overdue annual Collision Report. How to handle the radical undercount of cycling accidents and still push people—including children—to ride bikes in SF?

    Nice try but clearly you haven’t read the study, which makes your attempted flim-flam “pathetic.”

  • murphstahoe

    Still waiting for you bike folks to acknowledge the UC study on how City Hall has radically under-counted cycling accidents in SF.

    Acknowledged. So what.

  • guest

    “Of all bicycle-related injuries at SFGH, 41.5% were CO injuries and 58.5% were AVB injuries.”

    “Costs for care were significantly higher for AVB injuries and increased dramatically over time; total cost for CO and AVB injuries were $12.6 and $17.8 million.”

    CO = cyclist only, AVB = auto-versus-bicycle

    Taken from the study you linked. Here’s the link for people who don’t want to click on this moron’s blog,

  • The cost to the city is surely of less importance than the injuries themselves. But the most significant finding of the report is that the city has been relying only on police reports to count cycling accidents, ignoring all such injuries reported by SF General. The report found that 55% of cycling injury accidents reported by SFGH were not matched with police reports, which means 1,252 cycling accidents between 2000 and 2009 were not counted in the city’s annual Collision Report (see page 22).

    Hard to believe that the city inadvertently overlooked all those accidents at what is, after all, the primary trauma center in San Francisco, though that may be the case. Either it was deliberate or it was evidence of shocking incompetence.

    The other important takeaway from the report: “cyclist-only” accidents are the most under-reported by the police reports, and they “were four times as likely to require intensive care unit admission.”

  • jonobate

    So from this study you learn that cycling in San Francisco is a dangerous activity, more dangerous than the “industry standard” methodology of using police reports would lead us to believe; SFPD underreports bike accidents; and City Hall relies on flawed SFPD data rather than forcing SFPD to improve their reporting or doing their own research.

    And seeing all that, you conclude that no-one should cycle because “it’s dangerous.” A more nuanced conclusion might be that because cycling is currently dangerous we should invest more in cycling infrastructure to make it safer, and force SFPD and City Hall to take cycling accidents more seriously.

    It’s analogous to sex education. Sex can be dangerous, so do we tell people “Abstinence only!”, or accept that they’re probably going to do it anyway and work to make it safer for them when they do so?

    Regarding “cyclist-only” accidents- how are these defined in the study? Without knowing this, it’s impossible to know whether better infrastructure could have prevented them or not. My guess is that many of these are preventable “cyclist-only” accidents such as being thrown off by Muni tracks or potholes, or being forced to swerve onto the sidewalk and into a parking meter to avoid a suddenly appearing car. Those sort of things could be prevented by better road layouts, road maintenance, and also better cyclist education.

    None of the conclusions of this study suggest that the problem of reducing the dangers of cycling is so insurmountable as to warrant an “abstinence-only” cycling policy. And even if they did, prohibition has not exactly been a success in the past, has it?

  • No, I don’t “conclude that no one should cycle because it’s dangerous.” But it’s fair to conclude that riding a bike in SF is a lot more dangerous than anyone thought. Relying on police reports may be an industry standard, but it’s hard to believe that it didn’t occur to City Hall to check with the city’s primary trauma center on these accidents.

    These terms are defined in the full report—only the summary is linked in the comment above—but “cyclist-only” isn’t exactly an arcane term, since it only means what is often called a “solo fall,” that is one that doesn’t involve a motor vehicle.

    That kind of accident doesn’t commonly happen because of poor cycling “infrastructure,” though potholes and train tracks can be a cause.

    The simple truth is that City Hall, in its eagerness to promote cycling, has significantly underestimated the dangers of riding a bike in San Francisco, which I think is irresponsible.

  • guest

    How many of these accidents are mountain bikers in GGP or the BMXers on the Embarcadero? We don’t know. Are those types of accidents considered biking in SF?

    “1,252 cycling accidents between 2000 and 2009 were not counted in the city’s annual Collision Report”
    Thats 140 per year. It’s hard to consider that number to be cause for alarm especially with no context. How many people per year slam their finger closing a car door or have their foot run over in a parking lot? Those accidents could result in a broken bone and trip to the ER. Should those be classified single car accidents and be included in this study? By applying the same logic you seem to be using to say bike accidents are being underreported and it’s a problem they should be included.

    I’m having a hard time understanding why you think this study is some sort of outrage or smoking gun like you seem to be. I just don’t see it. But for the sake of argument lets say something needs to be done to reduce those 140 accidents per year. What do you propose? What kind of safety improvements should be made? Or do you think bikes should be banned? You’re so quick to jump on anything that fits your bike are dangerous narrative, but you seem to never offer any ideas for solutions.

  • Upright Biker

    And how many unreported “pedestrian accidents” do you think a UC study could uncover? And what do you estimate is the shocking cost to the city foisted by these scofflaw “footists” (who insist on walking despite the known dangers) on the bubble-bummed motorists who are the only true taxpayers and responsibly-self-transported citizens of this great state!

    How safe and responsible these motorists are, as they securely travel alone in their automobiles to healthcare facilities with giant parking lots to receive treatment for their diabetes, their heart or lung disease, or perhaps to have a stomach stapled now and again!

    Tis the season! Let us sing their praises, in UC studies and blog posts!

  • The UC study found that 55% of the cycling accidents treated at SFGH were not matched by police reports, which means that 1,377 cycling accidents over a ten-year period were not counted by the MTA in its annual Collision Report. That’s an average of 138 a year. Add that number to the 630 cycling injury accidents reported in 2011 (page 22), and you have a total of 768 accidents, which would be a 22% gain and/or undercount. Seems significant to me.

    But the city’s failure in counting cycling accidents raises questions about their other numbers in the report, since their counting system has been shown to be defective.

  • guest

    34,000 peple died in car collisions last year. That is a number that is alarming and needs attention.

  • Mario Tanev


    Your argument seems to be that because a lot of bicycle injuries are solo falls, infrastructure is not at fault. But then, the rate of injuries in countries with good bicycle infrastructure are much lower, solo falls or not, so something has to give.

    Infrastructure ABSOLUTELY has a lot to do with solo falls as well:

    1. Train tracks with wide gaps and lack of proper markings. Competition with cars driving fast forces riders to merge through tracks in a fast and unsafe manner.
    2. Riding in gutter is more dangerous due to uneven/slanted surface, debris
    3. Riding next to parked cars (due to pressure from motorists) could result in hitting a mirror. It is also unclear if impact with open doors is counted as solo falls or not.
    4. Some riders are forced to ride on the sidewalk due to fear of collision with cars, but sidewalk riding is more dangerous in other aspects, due to uneven pavement and obstacles.
    5. Many riders choose to ride too fast in order to keep pace with automobiles in order to avoid harassment.
    6. Many of riders ride light racing bicycles in strained positions in order to attain higher speed (to avoid harassment), but those bicycles are harder to control.
    7. Single-phase left turns are dangerous since the person needs to extend their left hand to signal, thus reduce control of their bicycle. It is doubly dangerous if they also have to cross tracks at the same time. Implementation of a two-phase left turn would reduce this hazard.
    8. Motorists don’t realize the consequences of their actions lead hazards for bicyclists. A swerve in front of a bicycle even without the bicycle and car colliding can result in the bicyclist losing control.
    9. Traffic lights timed for cars mean that bicyclists race to get through them or risk stopping at every corner.
    10. San Francisco is a hilly city and hills make bicycles more difficult to control. That’s why you shouldn’t try to direct bicyclists to ride on hills, which you’ve personally been doing when opposing the Fell/Oak project. Lack of infrastructure on the flat streets increases the volume of bicyclists trying for the hills.
    11. Lack of infrastructure leads to fewer people bicycling, which leads to the sense of being alone. When there are no bicyclists around cyclists tend to make more unsafe maneuvers because there is no example and no peer pressure. Just like cars drive more slowly in a nice neighborhood with trees, bicycles ride more slowly when there is a relaxed vibe.
    12. Conversely, narrow bicycle lanes cause those who need to pass to go too fast, and into traffic, which then brings up some other issues already mentioned.

    The real question is how many bicycle solo falls are on a separated cycle track, like the panhandle. No report has looked specifically at solo injuries in cycletracks, but reports have shown an across the board reduction in injuries. Thus, you cannot make the conclusion you make.

  • jonobate

    You could copy/paste the definition of “cyclist-only” accident from the study, if you wanted to provide some clarity to the discussion. Given that you’re using the apparently high rate of “cyclist-only” accidents as a stick with which to beat cyclists and the City, the onus is on you to back up your assertion that “cyclist-only” accidents have nothing to do with “infrastructure”. (That’s exactly how you phrased it, although you now seem to be backtracking from that statement.)

    Bottom line is, we all already know that cycling can be dangerous in San Francisco. That’s a major focus of the reporting here on Streetsblog! And we already know that SFPD can be incompetent when reporting cycling accidents. Holding SFPD and the City to account on cyclist safety is another major focus of the reporting here on Streetsblog!

    So what exactly is the shocking revelation that we didn’t know before this report was published?


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