Sunday, July 02, 2006

Its not easy being green: Judge stops San Francisco bike plan on environmental grounds

Last week San Francisco’s cyclists woke up to find out that the city’s bicycle plan, a comprehensive road map to an integrated bike network had been put on hold by a judge’s temporary injunction in response to a lawsuit by Citizens for Adequate Review. (C.A.R.)

How could we arrive a time when a healthy, sustainable, and environmentally sound plan to provide transportation choice could run aground because of lack of environmental review? Could it be because the metrics we use to arrive at a conclusion are biased toward the convenience of drivers?

We go to three experts to get some insight –
Listen to the podcast or
go to Bikescape in itunes

Rajiv wrote this article (PDF) about "level of service" standards.

He also mentioned Sally Cairns who wrote this article (also a pdf) about where traffic goes when capacity is reduced, sort of the inverse of "induced traffic", or the "build the roads and the cars will come" theory of traffic.

San Francisco's "transit first policy" is enshrined in the city charter.

Check out the sfbc's LOS page.

Cyclecide's Pedal Monster is coming... July 21-23


Jym said...

=v= Though a landmark piece of legislation in many ways, CEQA is dated in some respects and has been amended in ways that make it resemble a particularly convoluted slice of Swiss cheese. I am not a lawyer, but what I've gathered from a few years in environmental journalism is that its basic approach to car emissions, written in 1970, is to keep cars from idling by widening roads and otherwise speeding them up.

There have been amendments made since then, and in 2002 a new model for emissions was put into place, which explicitly considers bike amenities a mitigation, and only demands review of bike lane stripings designed to worsen traffic, which is presumably what the CAR/wingnut lawsuit purports.

What does this all mean? Not sure, but it seems we need a good environmental lawyer to straighten out this mess. The city attorney doesn't seem to be figuring it out.

Oh, and as for your title, Ford has kidnapped our favorite frog and is forcing him to shill for SUVs. FREE KERMIT!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just wanted to drop a quick line to say two things.

First, your piece on the bike plan was a fantastic piece of citizen journalism. I'm glad that there are people like you out there doing this kind of work, talking to the parties involved about the issues that affect us. Keep up the good work.

The second thing that I wanted to note was a comment made when the group was talking about the woman who was hit by a truck several years ago on South Van Ness. Someone (I can't remember who) said that she was riding on the right, "where she was supposed to be." I just wanted to remind everyone that cyclists are not legally supposed to be in a turn lane if they are not turning. Not only is it illegal, it is also unsafe.

Anyway, keep up the great work. I'm looking forward to your next podcast.

David Bruce said...

I understand the argument that a lower LOS for cars encourages other forms of transportation. But I don't like it when this logic leads to more congestion and pollution. As much as I love to ride in a safe path, I also love to breathe. I imagine that a lower LOS for cars means more pollution and congestion. So, instead of just fighting this lawsuit as bad for bikes, wouldn't it be useful to address its’ valid issues?

jon said...


Sally Cairns who was mentioned in the show, has written a lot about this. All of her stuff is at the link below. Be sure to read the article about "dissappearing traffic."

There have been numerous example of traffic capacity being reduced amid great panic about what the effects will be in terms of congestion and pollution. Over and over, the traffic that was removed simply dissapeared as drivers rearranged their schedules, telecommuted, used transit or the shiny new bike lane. As I said in the show, traffic is not like a balloon. If you squeeze it in one place, it does not neccesarily bulge out somewhere else.

Stay tuned to BS for a show on the last few years' changes on Valencia Street in San Francisco. Two of four traffic lanes were removed to make way for bike lanes and the traffic is moving more smoothly than ever.


Mom said...

Great show. Thanks for doing that!

However, I was very concerned when I heard one of your panelist say that reducing capacity for cars is "the opposite of 'if you build it, they will come'. If you build it, they won't come...". We need to be very, very careful about how we present this concept. I think what the panelist meant to say was, "if we don't build it, they will find a safer, healthier, more effiecient and fun mode to come by." If we give the impression in any way at all that reducing automobile capacity will keep people at home (or send them where there is more auto capacity), we will never get the local business interests on board.

jane_shift said...

anyone know where the photo of the many stoplights is from?

Anonymous said...

Show the judge this video.

Critical Mass San Francisco October 2007