Polk Street Showdown: Directing The SFMTA To Revisit Their PlansApril 8, 2013
With the Polk Street “bikes versus business” Showdown in full swing, last week SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin called for the Agency to revisit their proposed plan to remove an estimated 170 street parking spaces along Polk Street to make way for dedicated bike lanes and parklets stretching from McAllister to Union Street.
In his report to the SFMTA’s Board of Directors on Tuesday, Reiskin noted the “loud and consistent message from the community expressing concerns” for their proposed Polk Street Improvement Project plan, directing the Agency to bring back additional proposals for different configurations that have less parking loss along Polk Street for consideration.
The next public meeting for the Polk Street Improvement Project, the last of which was a rather raucous and one-sided affair, is currently scheduled for April 27.
∙ Polk Street Showdown: Bike Lanes Versus Parking & Local Opposition [SocketSite]
∙ Polk Street Improvement Project: Overview Slides [sfmta.com]
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
To ease tensions at the next public meeting, Reiskin and crew should lead with this video.
Let’s keep this in perspective people…
From what I’ve read about the meeting, Ed Reiskin said that the number of parking spots that would potentially be removed hadn’t been decided yet. When pressed, he estimated that a maximum of 170 street spots might be removed.
What that means is that there might be substantially less than 170 spots removed.
But now that the car-centric folks are operating in high dudgeon about somebody impeding their constitutional right to park their car on the street, the number one hundred seventy has somehow taken on a life of it’s own.
I’ve never found Polk St to be that treacherous on a bike with the current shared lanes. Polk isn’t as highly trafficked as Van Ness, Gough, or Franklin. While dedicated bike lanes would be a nice luxury, in this case I (as a cyclist) don’t have a strong opinion either way. Street parking also seems like a nice luxury, for a different group of people.
I agree with you James^.
I bike 70% of the time to my job on Polk St. I drive the remainder for very real and necessary reasons, IMO. It seems to me that the status quo is working well. If timed right, I can ride my bike (safely) down Polk hitting mostly green lights. I rarely feel threatened by cars; at least no more threatened than any other part of SF.
The folks opposed to these changes make a living, pay their taxes, employee others, and serve the community along Polk. Yet, the banter of bicyclist that have commented here, particularly about banning such businesses, have NOTHING invested. Other than their time for letting us know that cars = evil and bikes = all that is right in our society.
Coincidentally, the one accident I have witnessed involving a bike and a car was when a cyclist ran a red light and hit the SIDE of a car. But there are no pictures on statics sighted so that one incident will be viewed as a car hitting a biker.
There really needs to be middle ground with consideration for all. Not just bikes. We all, in the end, want safer roads.
Great video… here’s another good one:
At the last meeting, Reiskin was absolutely clueless, absolutely unprepared. He had a bunch of his staff there (on OT presumably) and couldn’t come up with a single relevant fact about why this was needed and what the proposal involved. The number 170 was on one of his slides, just a few slides with pretty pictures of Polk St. which pre-judged the issues (if all you have is a hammer, everything you see looks like a nail ….). Pathetic. David Chiu was just as pathetic at the Old First meeting with nothing useful to say except “let’s listen to what everyone has to say” – where’s the leadership you’d expect from the Mayor of Polk St.?
What exactly is wrong with Polk now? It is not dangerous, I bike it to get “north” and after 10 years am still alive to talk about it.
^^^ Yeah Polk doesn’t bother me either. But you and I have decades of experience cycling in an urban environment. We’ve already figured out how to bike with the poor state of the streets.
This change isn’t for the benefit of experienced/jaded cyclists. It is to make the streets open to cyclists of average or below experience.
Without changes like this the street precludes the majority from giving cycling a fair shake as a way to get around.
So the bike lane is to help new bikers feel “more comfortable”? Or is your theory, if we build it, they will come?
This still seems to me like bikers are asking an awful lot from business owners and Polk Gulch residents to allow a VERY small percentage of the population to feel more comfortable riding through OUR neighborhood. If I want to ride my bike all the way down to 24th street, will you take away 50% of the street parking and provide me with a 2 way bike lane through 24th as well?
I do not own a car and yet I do not complain that 1000s of cars are affecting my daily life anytime I need to move around by a small minority of drivers actually living here or patronizing my neighborhood’s businesses.
If you’re bothered by cyclists, that’s a sign they’re not that small a percentage.
There’s so much potential. Build it.
Yes, part of the purpose of the bike lane is to make new, or less experienced cyclists feel comfortable.
Yes, part of the theory is “if you build it they will come”, and there is lots of evidence supporting this theory.
Many business owners vehemently opposed Sunday streets, until it was implemented against their wishes, and it turned out to be a huge boost for business. Then they completely reversed course and fully supported it. Business owners are not always the experts on how a change will impact their business.
A recent study found that aside from grocery shopping, drivers spend the least on average compared to people who arrive at a business on foot, transit, or bike.
The SFMTA Board Member that is the strongest advocate for removing street parking is Cheryl Brinkman who came from Livable Cities, another non profit that was started by the same guy who started the Bicycle Coalition. Cheryl sees her job as funneling public funds to her cronies in both organizations. Don’t believe me? Do a Google for yourself.
This helps explain what happened after voters passed Prop. E to create the SFMTA. Voters wanted to 1.) Fix Muni and 2.) Eliminate the budget deficit. What do we get instead?
A new bloated bankrupt agency with more debt and no plan to fix Muni.
The San Francisco Bike Coalition and their group of “transit activists” have found out a way to get huge amounts of SFMTA public funds for “consulting” costs as well as Federal Funds.
Please note how many of the leaders do NOT live in San Francisco, and how many have never had a job in private industry. (There is a surprising amount of trustafarians at the SFBC btw)
“Only 3% of trips in SF are made on bicycles. By the city’s own numbers, there has been no great increase in cycling in San Francisco since the year 2000. Look at page 3 of the city’s latest Transportation Fact Sheet to verify that reality. “In 2000 2.1% of city commuters rode bikes to work, and in 2010 3.5% of city commuters rode bikes to work. That’s again of only .13% a year for eleven years!” (SF Examiner)
The reason the bike lines are being added to Polk Street is to slow the traffic down and make it more safe for the 85% of Polk Street shoppers that do not use a car to arrive at their destination. Two people are injured every month on that stretch of Polk Street and it is incredibly dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians.
To continue the current configuration for the 15% of incredibly privileged automobile drivers is really bad planning and policy. Of course wealthy privileged people complain and organize when their “free” perks (paid for by the taxpayer) are being taken away. Remember when we tore down the Central Freeway and the West siders attempted to stop it by putting it on the ballot? How did that work out? And the resulting transformation of Hayes Valley has been great for everyone. This will work out the same way.
The bike lane is only part of the proposal.
The majority of improvements are to benefit pedestrians. Improved sidewalks, intersection bulb outs, and parklets.
“In 2000 2.1% of city commuters rode bikes to work, and in 2010 3.5% of city commuters rode bikes to work.”
Wow, an increase of 66% in the number of commuters in only 10 years! Damn near doubled!
“to allow a VERY small percentage of the population to feel more comfortable”
I assume you’re referring to the 15% of shoppers who drive to Polk.
The 85% of us who don’t deserve to have a safe and comfortable street. You can drive a block farther to park. Get over it.
^^^^ you’d only have a block more to walk *if* MTA didn’t kill any proposals to build parking garages (there are several suitable spots in the neighborhood) or *if* Planning Commies Moore and Sugaya didn’t demand less and less off-street parking in new developments. Reiskin admitted as much at the meeting.
didn’t kill any proposals to build parking garages (there are several suitable spots in the neighborhood)
Can you point me to an actual proposal from a developer for a parking garage? I haven’t seen any in years in this area, not since the city stepped in and built the Bush/Polk garage.
For all of you in favor of removing parking spots, remember that cars pay for the roads around here. I’m sure you would love a car free city, but then where would all the tax money come from to pay for your services. Quite a few people in the City use cars (there are more cars than legal parking spaces), and a lot of people drive into the city for work. All of those people spend money and pay taxes here. If you want a car free city, move to the middle of nowhere and make one. People sometimes have to drive because (a) they are handicap and can’t walk (yes, yes, you probably hate old people and the handicap too); (b) people with multiple children need cars to cart the kids around (I’m certain you hate kids being single and all); and (c) vehicles deliver the goods that you buy (yes, we can grow it locally, but we can’t get it to your favorite restaurant or store without a truck (or we can just dig up the whole of Polk street and turn it into a farm complete with cows and gardens).
That is not true, and has been debunked many times. Roads are paid by taxes.
Cyclists pay for roads just like anybody else. And more than their share since bicycles do create the same level of wear and tear that cars do, but yet pay their taxes just like anybody else and the use they get from roads is limited by faster vehicle traffic.
Also car driving creates all sorts of externalized costs that drivers will never pay directly but that every taxpayer has to foot, whether he’s a driver or not. No war has ever been started to ensure the continuous supply of burritos that fuel my bike. Accidents, deaths, pollution, depleting resources and making our future harder to predict…
Not that there’s anything wrong with everyone paying for our current way of life. We’re all in this together, right? Now can I get my bike lane pleaaaase?
But the argument “I pay for this road, get away from it” is another misunderstanding on how everything is paid for. And it’s a 20-year old argument that still pops its head once in a while.
As lol points out, the vast majority of roads and highways are paid for by non-automobile related taxes, and roads are only a small fraction of the true costs of cars.
In particular, city roads are almost entirely paid for by property taxes, as there’s nothing left over from the federal and state highway funds. The gas tax, which makes up the majority of the highway fund only covers about 50-75% of the costs of our current highway system (which does not include city roads at all). The remainder of the funding comes from federal income and other taxes.
Drivers only pay a fraction of the costs they create, whereas non drivers pay a huge amount compared to their utilization of roads, and get a tiny fraction of money spent for their benefit.
So if you are concerned about costs, fear no more: drivers are getting more than their shasre of subsidies.
“In particular, city roads are almost entirely paid for by property taxes, as there’s nothing left over from the federal and state highway funds.”
yes, and the vast majority of people who pay property taxes also drive cars. There are a very small minority of homeowners that do not own a car.
the number of renters who own cars are smaller but they do not pay property tax, meaning they do not pay for the roads.
Young white 20 and 30 something yr olds who make up most of the bike commuters are also not homeowner and they are not paying property taxes. Meaning they are not paying for their fair share of the roads.
Oh, did I forget to mention sales tax and payroll taxes go to pay for roads as well? My bad!
And of course the issue is not how many property owners drive cars, but the complaint by car owners that they are paying more than their fair share, which is completely bogus.
On top of that, SF MTA says about 30% of households in SF own no car…
yes, and the vast majority of people who pay property taxes also drive cars. There are a very small minority of homeowners that do not own a car.
Everyone who uses a property pays property taxes, renters very much included. Unless you really believe that landlords are paying property taxes out of their own pockets (lol). Those folks need to see a tax accountant very soon, as they’re probably making all sorts of other mistakes when figuring out their income and taxes for the year.
And on top of that remember this applies to those who take transit or walk as their primary means of getting around, it is not a bike issue at all, just like these polk street changes are not solely for the benefit of cyclists.
The changes are to benefit transit users and pedestrians as well. And since EVERYBODY is a pedestrian at some point of their journey, these changes are to improve the safety of all.
Welcome Bay Area Driver. Glad to see you got the slap down that is reserved for any newbie who would even think of disagreeing with the bike n-z-s or I guess bike mob.
Bay Area Driver– you will learn to ride a bicycle and embrace it and then it WILL improve your health while saving western civilization.
Sure, anybody who thinks that drivers should pay their fair share, or even dare to inform drivers that they are not in fact paying their fair share, is a bike nazi.
It doesn’t matter that the subject is only partial to benefit bikers, merely mentioning that drivers are subsidized means your are a bike Nazi.
Just to clarify, as it’s been mentioned numerous times above:
There changes are to improve safety for ALL users of Polk st, not just cyclists. Yes, even drivers, as long as you see improving safety to be an improvement for drivers, as well as the fact that a driver becomes a pedestrian while walking to or from their destination.
“On top of that, SF MTA says about 30% of households in SF own no car…
Posted by: lyqwyd at April 9, 2013 4:48 PM”
that sounds about right. but the renter vs. homeowner numbers are not equivalent.
For some perspective, there are 2100 on street parking spaces within a one block radius if the proposed redevelopment, 5100 on and off street spots. Removing 170 spots equals 8% if the on street spots and 3% of the total available parking respectively.
And that’s IF they remove the full 170.
Oh the plight of the poor “Bay Area Driver”. If anything Bay Area Driver’s lives is more impacted by too many “Other Bay Area Drivers” than bike lanes or widened sidewalks.
When I see traffic clogged at rush hour around town, it’s not on streets with bike lanes, but streets that lead to freeway access.
EVERYBODY is a pedestrian at some point of their journey
I am sure there’s a “futurist” house that has a car elevator leading into the foyer, all of this from the comfort of your own car seat. Who needs legs anyway?
@ bear: It’s not the number of spaces that would be removed; It’s the LOCATION of those spaces; metered and adjacent to businesses.
And those locations are very important to the business owners.
Having experienced parking on Polk you’re lucky if you can park 1/2 block from the store you’re patronizing during most business hours. Most of the time you’re 1 to 3 blocks away and you’re usually going to a few places. Therefore you’re walking already (except maybe futurist).
Parking 1/2 block away will therefore have little impact. It just won’t be riiight on Polk.
Plus, as others said, this is the worst case scenario.
but the renter vs. homeowner numbers are not equivalent.
It doesn’t matter, for a variety of reasons.
Just a few of those reasons:
1) Homeowners that drive less than average are also subsidizing all the drivers out there that drive more than average.
2) There are renters that drive cars as well, whom are being subsidized by all the renters and owners that do not drive
3) The two facts that a) driving is subsidized, and b) some people don’t drive, means that drivers do not pay their fair share. The original claim was that drivers are paying more than their fair share, which has been thoroughly debunked numerous times.
Facts don’t really matter to the car fetishist crowd. You know they are losing the debate when they start throwing out the “Nazi” word. They really don’t have a leg to stand on and they know it.
They do have some political clout though and the Polk Street Merchants Association is trying to ram their agenda down everyone else’s throat. I am guessing that most of these “merchants” are in fact car commuting from Marin and The Peninsula and are trying to preserve their taxpayer funded perks. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t try to cloak your rhetoric in moral outrage: you are just trying to look our for your self-interest.
Disabled people have both Muni and Paratransit to get around. The pedestrians who are injured and killed tend to be disabled, so that community has the most to gain from traffic calming. Groups like Walk SF, who represent the disabled community and other pedestrians have come out in favor of the Polk Street plan.
I personally have two children and frequently carry both of them and four bags of groceries on my cargo bike. I am getting up there in years too as I am pushing 50. It is something that most people can do if they put their minds to it. I am telling anyone how to live, but I know from experience that it is possible. I drive, walk, bicycle and take Muni, so I can speak to the experience of all users of the street.
I won’t both with the rest of “bay area driver” Straw Man attacks as they have been demolished by others already.
Small business owners on Polk Street are supposed to believe that the MTA and the Bicycle Coalition understand what’s good for their businesses better than they do.
The Polk Street neighborhood is an inspiration to other city neighborhoods fighting parking meters and bike lanes.
Hey its Rob Anderson, whose innovative use of CEQA to delay bicycle lanes cost The City millions and ended up wasting everyone time, to no purpose. I figured you would be leading this Quixotic charge.
What percentage of the vote did you get when you ran for BoS again? I forget the exact amount, was it 3%? 5%? That is about the amount of San Francisco citizens who agree with your faux-populist anti-cyclist crusade.
If the Polk St. business owners are right about their need for parking, shouldn’t they be working towards establishing dedicated off-street parking for their customers? There’s never been a guarantee that the city will provide subsidized on-street parking in perpetuity. Basing a business strategy on a continuous handout really isn’t prudent or safe.
Or maybe the Polk St. owners don’t really think that their businesses are at risk and are simply raising a ruckus to retain the public support of their private enterprises. Why not? Everyone likes free government cheese.
Rob Anderson’s site is VERY persuasive. It is nice to read the OTHER side of the story regarding Polk Street and the citywide bicycle plan.
I’ll bring back my example of Chinatown merchants vs. the City in 1990 about the removal of the embarcadero Freeway.
The very same arguments were used: “this is gonna kill business”. Merchants who had taken years to find their footing were scared sheetless of any change.
Fast-forward 23 years later and SF is a much better place to live. And Chinatown is still as busy as ever.
Much ado about nothing.
Are the people regularly getting run down by cars supposed to believe that the business owners have their interest in mind?
And of course as I and lol have already pointed out: business owners often do not know how a change will affect their business, they just generally oppose change.
Example: business owners strongly opposed Sunday Streets, which turned out to be a boost for business.
Except for large grocery stores, drivers spend the least on a monthly basis at local businesses when compared to those who arrive by transit, bike, or foot.
And large grocery stores are supposed to have sufficient parking baked into their business model.
If they don’t, they are externalizing their costs, like Trader Joe’s who deliberately undersizes their parking offer and where demand overspills into the street (Masonic) or a nearby parking (Bay st / Safeway’s parking). Whole foods is another example on 24th street.
And yet with insufficient parking, they still manage to thrive. Proof that parking is not everything in the city core.
I think neighbors from throughout the City should attend the next two scheduled workshops and have a sit-in holding signs that say,
“No Means No.
Let Polk Street Be.”
I think the SFBC needs to be stopped on this effort – when a community says no, it means no. Trying to force your religion on them only makes other neighborhoods take notice and respond to help Polk Street neighbors.
^If local communities have veto power on bisecting thoroughfares then the Rincon Hill neighborhood should move to shut down the Bay Bridge.
No one so far on the anti-bikelane side has dared to address these questions:
When the Embarcadero Freeway was torn down 20 years ago, 100s of merchants of the Chinatown district showed up against.
1 – Is SF a better city for it?
2 – Are the merchants worse off today than they were 20 years ago?
The answers are a no-brainer.
In short, more paced traffic allows human-powered transit and makes for a safer and better city which in turn is good for business. Win-win-win
That doesn’t mean no cars, but a more human friendly environment.
This isn’t a bike initiative, it’s a safety initiative, But, nice try jamie. You’re typical deceptive tactics aren’t going to work.
San Francisco neighbors have already spoken all over the city, which is why these type of safety improvements are being made throughout the city.
Truth will continue to win out over deception and ignorance, and SF will continue to make improvements for the safety of all road users.
One of the Directors of the MTA Board recently reminded us at a Board meeting that this is a transit first city, not a transit only city. I take that to mean that the first priority of the MTA should be to fix the Muni and restore Muni service, not to provide bike paths and street calming. If there were a Muni service more people would take it. It is a little hard to rely on a bus that isn’t there when you need it.
One little discussed fact is that around 33% of Muni’s budget comes from cars. The more cars you take away, the less money Muni has to operate with. I think it is called “biting the hand that feeds you.”
But as you yourself point out it is transit first, not transit only, your argument would make more sense if it were transit only.
MTA is making improvements for Muni, but that does not preclude it from making other improvements as well, particularly these improvements which are focused on the safety of all, the bike lane is only a small part of the project.
Regarding your percentage, that is a completely bogus argument.
First, these improvements are about improving safety, not removing cars. Second, removing 170 parking spaces is such a small amount it would have no discernible impact on muni’s budget, assuming it was a 100% loss in revenue. Third, if people did actually stop driving because of this, then they would start taking the bus, meaning fare revenue would increase and become a larger portion of muni’s budget, resulting in no net loss to the budget. Fourth, if people actually did stop driving, there would be less traffic, meaning improvements in trip speed for muni and drivers. And all of these great benefits with increased safety for all, so it’s win-win-win.
@lyqwyd…. regarding “bogus” issues, the “safety” issue for bikes and pedestrians on Polk has been shown to be bogus, as Polk street only qualifies as a brief mention in the latest city accident report. When one reads the SFMTA fine print you will realize OVER half of the accidents involving bikes on Polk (during the last 3 years) are caused by bicyclists ignoring stop signs and signals.
There are two cases listed of pedestrians being injured by bicyclists as well in the full version of the report.
When the new two way bike route is installed, does anyone really believe bike riders will stop at each signal and stop sign?
No-one believes that that motorists will stop at every stop sign either.
As for traffic signals, there’s no requirement to stop at a traffic light
1) Your comment does nothing to prove that mari eliza’s comment is not bogus.
2) From SF MTA (via Examiner article):
“The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says Polk Street from Sacramento to McAllister streets is among the 7 percent of city streets where the bulk of the most severe pedestrian collisions occur annually.”
“Polk has been identified by the city as a high-injury corridor for pedestrians,” said Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe. “It has many wide, one-way cross-streets whose high-speed traffic poses the greatest risk.”
So yes, these changes are about safety, and no, it’s not just about bikes.
Took me about 30 seconds to pull that… you car fetishists aren’t even really trying… but I guess if you were actually concerned about using facts to support your arguments you would be on the other side of the debate…
Somehow this whole discussion made me think of this short video which I hope both cyclists and drivers would think is rather funny…
“We are The Cyclists, the intermediate stage between humans, and pure energy.”
We are the Bicycle Coalition. We own the city.
We own the MTA and the board of supervisors.
We have Tenants Union on our side
Hell with home owners and drivers.
They only pay taxes so we get free rides.
Just pay and shut up!
@anon funny vid!
Your unsubstantiated claim that cyclists don’t pay their way has already been debunked numerous times.
This project is about safety for all road users, even those like drivers who don’t pay their fair share for the roads. I’m sorry you put your personal convenience above the lives of others, but you will continue to be disappointed.
By the way, I’m a driver and homeowner, not a cyclist, and I prefer that we pay our fair share, and make improvements to minimize the number of deaths caused by irresponsible drivers.
Pay attention on the road drivers, and follow the rules.
To all the folks who think Polk Street does not need a separated, protected bike lane, I offer my experience yesterday and my letter to the mayor and Supervisor Chiu. I walk or bike along Polk several times a week and patronize a couple dozen stores there. Nevertheless, EVERY store owner I have ever informed of this seems to think my needs are unimportant in comparison to the needs of their driving customers.
Dear Mayor Lee:
Yesterday while bicycling along Polk Street, I was nearly hit by a driver who, honking, yelled at me to stay in the bike lane. There was no bike lane, merely sharrows.
I will not bore you with the details of this driver’s law-breaking actions, but I will ask you to throw your support behind the SFMTA’s proposal for separated and protected bicycle lanes on Polk Street.
I am fifty, female, and ride conservatively. But I am not safe riding on Polk Street. Please, can we get a protected bike lane on Polk Street while I am still alive to use it?
Anyone who bikes often in the city experiences the harassment that Sarah relates above. No-one cycling in a safe and legal way should be exposed to such intimidation from someone driving a lethal machine. Not only is it uncool and discourteous, it is also illegal and oppressive.
This is what is meant by increasing the comfort of cyclists on the streets. We don’t need bike lanes strewn with rose petals, we just want get to our destinations safely and without being threatened.
Yeah, I meet the occasional douche as well from time to time.
But my experience has been that drivers are overwhelmingly respectful of cyclists. It’s just that inadequate street design sometimes creates conflicts.
I drove down Polk Street yesterday. I witnessed four people on bikes run stop signs or red lights and watched as one angrily swerved around a stopped car that was waiting for a pedestrian to cross the street.
I’m for a protected bike lane but something needs to be done about scofflaw biker behavior as well, it’s out of control and hurting the cause of law abiding cyclists.
^ I wholeheartedly agree. Not all cyclists behave that way though.
There’s a belief among many cyclists that if they can get away with something there’s no harm in doing it. The ongoing culture is that the most daring are the ones to look up to.
Market and 12th street is typical. One cyclist out of 10 will stop at the red light. Sometimes when the guy at the front has decided to stop, many behind will stop. But then a guy comes from the back, passes everyone then everything goes. Lemmings culture. Just shout 5-0 and everyone suddenly remembers traffic laws.
We still need these darn bike lanes on Polk.
I find that water balloons work well on cyclists not following the rules. They get really pissed but I think they will think twice about runnin another stop sign or passing Inappropriately
Jill – I’ve had stuff chucked at me for “not following the rules” before. Except that I was actually following the rules.
A lot of people (both cyclists and motorists) are ignorant of safe/legal cycling knowledge that applies to the crazy wide range city street configurations.
The LAB offers a class in cycling technique called Road 1. Some cities offer the class for free. It will give you the confidence to bike safely and legally. Unfortunately the class can’t help much about the harassment.
There’s a belief among many drivers that if they can get away with something there’s no harm in doing it. The ongoing culture is that the most daring are the ones to look up to.
There I fixed that for you. Pretty much every driver on the road speeds. If you don’t believe me, take 280 sometime when the road is not congested with traffic (pretty much anytime outside rush hour) and set your cruise control at the speed limit. Then count how many cars pass you vs. how many you pass. The times I have done this the ratios are 10:1 or even higher.
There is probably a few elder drivers who never speed but they are in the extreme minority.
This past weekend, I stopped at Starbucks on Polk and Vallejo and just for the hell of it, I watched 20 bikes go through that intersection. Only one of 20 even did a rolling stop. Of the other 19, not one even bothered to check for cross traffic. On the other hand, a cyclist did actually stop for me yesterday in the intersection… So there’s that..
@NoeValleyJim: Nobody once was talking about freeway motorist behavior. Come on. Apologist b.s. like that does nobody any favors. There is a real problem with scofflaw cyclists in town, and “nana nana boo boo cars are bad too” doesn’t change anything.
So it is your serious contention that it is fine for motorists to break the law and risk other people’s lives but not okay for cyclists to do so, even though automobiles kill about 100 times as many pedestrians as cyclists?
That is a very strange position to try and defend indeed.
No, it isn’t my “contention” at all. People who drive too fast are idiots. as are far too many scofflaw cyclists in this town. You’re not willing to be reasonable about this topic, clearly. First you insert freeways now you’re inserting several silly strawmen while putting words in my mouth. Pretty weird stuff seeing as how youre normally a voice of reason on here.
Let me put it this way:
Let’s say I own a manufacturing plant and my defect rate is 174 broken widgets a year. I know that Station A caused 172 of the defects and Station B caused 2. Which one should be the focus of my attention? Obviously neither is perfect, but Station A is overwhelmingly the one that requires time and attention.
NVJ is right about his car speed analogy.
Drive on wide street in SOMA like Harrison or Bryant at the speed limit then look at the car traffic passing you by (and silently cursing because you slowed them down). Everyone knows you almost never get ticketed in a City for doing 5 to 10MPH over the limit.
But bad behavior from my fellow cyclist annoys me
1) because it reflects badly on all cyclists including myself,
2) it’s an illegal behavior that has no sanction, therefore I feel silly respecting the law and arriving later than the law breaker (I still do though),
3) kids are watching us and adjusting their behavior accordingly,
4) people expect the worst from cyclists and can get too defensive, which then can turn dangerous.
There’s a typical behavior I have seen these past 3 years at 4-way stops: pedestrians see me approach, and they’ll either speed up their crossing or just stay on the curb waiting for me to blow the stop sign. I have to explicitly give them a sign I will heed to them.
No, it is apple and oranges and pie in the sky apples and oranges at that. Sky fruit. Think about it, how many more fatalities are caused yearly by intra and interstate trucking accidents than bicycles? What would happen to our food aupply without trucks? no, in a perfect workd it would be rail. … Because how much safer is rail than trucking? …. It is the same argument, basically. Anyway, it doesn’t pertain to the fact that as cycling is becoming more popular in SF, due to clear city initiative, many bikers are strident scofflaws. Bad motorist behavior? it was and is constant unfortunate fact I liife. More bikes, everywhere? Behaving poorly? That’s new.
Anon: you are halfway on the path to enlightenment 🙂
lol: every day I slow down at a four way stop to let a car that has the right-of-way go ahead of me. I slow down and slow down and even stop and balance on my pedals, then I realize that the car driver is not going to go first until he sees clear proof that I am stopped, so I put my feet on the ground and wait for him to go first.
Yes, badly behaving cyclists are a problem, but not our biggest transportation problem or even our 10th biggest. I would sure rather share the road with a badly behaved cyclist than a badly behaved automobile driver though, wouldn’t you?
We’re on the same page. The 2 issues do exist and of course I watch out more for cars than other bikes. Traffic cameras with automated ticketing would curb bad driving habits I think. After all, we can send a bill to GG crossers, why not drivers doing 40MPH on Larkin?
The issue with cycling is that there is no formal cycling education and not sanction towards law breakers. The only sizable sanction unfortunately is accidents and the crazier are often the more skilled who see 2-3 steps ahead.
Then you have a new kid who learned from watching the others do their tricks and thinks he knows. He can get into a really bad situation. The culture has to change.
Yes, we need more law enforcement of cyclist violations and less physical enforcement. I’ve been in group discussions with police departments on this issue in the past and there are two reasons why cops don’t enforce more. The biggest reason is budgetary. The other has to do with the tools that cops have for issuing a ticket. In most jurisdictions there’s just one list of fines for moving violations so everyone pays the same. Even though a Hummer blowing through a STOP sign is a lot more dangerous that doing the same on a Vespa, they both get fined the same amount. Same goes for a cyclist. So cops are reluctant to slap a cyclist with such a large fine for an infraction that physically cannot cause as much harm.
The solution is a two (or three) tiered fine structure so the fine is more in line with good old p = mv. Take it to the extreme and fines would be calculated as something like $40 + (vehicle_weight * 0.04). A cyclist would pay maybe $45 while a Hummer would pay $260. Seems a lot more fair and reasonable than fining everyone a flat $200 regardless of the physical momentum that they wield in the street. We already enshrine this variable rate somewhat in the sense that large vehicles (semi trucks, buses) receive higher fines than personal cars for the same infraction.
It is time for a city wide bike registration fee for adult and teenage bike users! The sticker would have to be on your bicycle at all times when riding in the city, and riders would also need to have some form of picture I.D. as well in case they are pulled over. The next step may be proof of insurance as well. Why not? Everyone else has to have it when operating a vehicle.
If you want to use public streets and demand special right-of-ways, it is then time to start being good citizens and play by the same rules, pay the same fees and obey the same laws as the rest of us.
^ Amen to that. After all, University campuses have bike registration and parking enforcement. No picture ID though.
In your system, skinny hipsters would pay less;)
I think the formula should be mv2, because it’s the total energy that actually creates the harm.
Equality4all – And of course you need to extend that sticker/insurance requirement to joggers too. So why not all pedestrians? Where should we apply the sticker? How much insurance should every biker/runner/jogger/pedestrian carry?
Insurance is a big issue. To insure yourself but also others for any physical harm you could cause.
I mentioned the insurance for a reason.
I have been witness to a bike rider running a stop sign and hitting a car. Police, fire trucks, ambulances arrived and everyone was pointing at the driver as if she did something wrong when she was completely in the right. Both myself, and two other people stepped forward and related what we saw as the driver was quite upset. This was at the corner of Pierce and Green and the bike was coming down the hill (north) at great speed and unfortunately the cyclist was horribly injured.
I kept in touch with the driver who it turns out is a nearby neighbor and she mentioned to me that she never was able to receive any compensatoin for damage to her car, but the bicycist did try to bring legal action against her, but it was dropped after initial depositions.
Equality4all: your neighbor could, if she wanted to, go to small claims court (which is the process for any claim, insurance or no, though an insurance company might opt to settle sooner).
We require car drivers to have insurance because they routinely cause damages to others in the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, so in many cases there would be no hope of compensation if not for insurance. With bicycles, the chances of this happening are less likely, and the amounts are likely to be much much lower, so insurance is not necessary (when’s the last time your heard of a reckless cyclist demolishing someone’s kitchen?)
Cyclists may also be covered under home insurance policies (general liability).
There are of course exceptions, but they are rare.
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