Thursday, November 29, 2007

What we're up against

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is, according to their mission statment, "committed to achieving clean air to protect the public's health and the environment." Their stated goals are to:
  • Attain and Maintain Air Quality Standards
  • Increase Public Awareness of Positive Air Quality Choices
  • Develop and Implement Protocol and Policies for Environmental Justice
They're the ones behind the "Spare the Air Days" when we all get to ride transit for free so we can all breath.

I wonder then how they can explain this memo that was sent to their employees who, in the course of their duties have to travel around the Bay Area.

I guess when the Board members have their own reserved parking spots in the private garage its easy to become divorced from reality...

In other news, I've recovered the lost sound files for the long promised BORP episode. They need about six hours to be edited but they're next up so stay tuned!


todd said...


Unknown said...

Ignoring the humor of an air quality board opposing cycling, this is an issue that surfaces regularly. Employers who either support or don't oppose bike commuters but then get upset if those same cyclists want to bike to a meeting during the day. I think the worst I heard was a poster at Bike Forums who had been told that he could walk but not bike between buildings at the industrial campus he worked in. Just one more reason more people need to understand the reality of the risks of cycling.

Anonymous said...


Dear Michael Rich, BAAQMD "Human" Resources:

I understand you are the author of a memo (dated August 9th) that has gone out to BAAQMD employees telling them they won't be allowed to cycle during work hours. By the grace of God, tell me this was a prank. A sick joke perhaps? A late April Fool's Joke?

Now I'm beginning to fear this memo was actually for real. If this is true, do you realize how ridiculous this makes you look?

There are thousands of kids throughout the Bay Area who are suffering day and night from asthma because of motor vehicle traffic, and you are chastising the very employees who are living the kind of lifestyles that would begin to reduce this shame? Perhaps BAAQMD needs a fleet of Hummers to protect their employees when they go about the very important business of improving air quality in the Bay Area. Why not tanks?

Your memo is currently making the rounds on the internet and you have become a laughing stock. Congratulations. Can you even begin to see the absurdity of your words or are you and your agency simply too wedded to personal automobility at any cost? Perhaps you are suffering from carbon monoxide inhalation, and need a long bike ride down the coast to detox?

I know now why you call it the Bay Area Air Quality MANAGEMENT District- you don't sincerely want to IMPROVE air quality- you just want to MANAGE it. Manage the toxic soup we are all forced to breathe at a level of toxicity where the federal government won't take away our precious highway funding. Manage it at a level that will allow rich people to continue driving their 4x4's through poor neighbourhoods and causing cancer, asthma, and premature death without mothers and fathers sisters and brothers picking up sticks and stones and confronting the blindly habitual motorists slowly killing their children and leading us into climate chaos for which we will be judged without mercy by perpetuity.

Perhaps instead of worrying about liability for collisions, you could provide cycle training to reduce the risk. And as you would know if you did any actual research on the topic, cycling is much safer than driving when cyclists ride safely and predictably. But I imagine that in your closed minded little world, cyclists are just in the way of your Lincoln Navigator.

Navigate this:

Your policy is shortsighted, uninformed, and counterproductive to the stated policy and aims of your organization, as well as your moral duty to protect our air quality. You are failing the taxpayers of the Bay Area who pay your salary. You should be fired. Better yet, the social norms that allow a memo like this to go unquestioned in an agency like yours should be systematically dismantled for good.

It is 2007, not 1955. Wake up.


Joshua Hart
Bay Area resident currently living in Bristol UK

(currently forwarding your memo to all my European friends. Do you hear that sound? It's their chins dropping in disbelief, because they didn't believe me when I told them that Americans could be this far in denial about cars and their impact on the environment.)

Yokota Fritz said...

This is ridiculous. Grrrr...

jh083650 said...

The sad fact is that for most workplace insurance will not cover an employee who in the view of the insurer purposely chooses to "unneccesasrily endanger" themselves, I.E. a car is safer than a bike in a traffic accident. As a lifelong asthma sufferer and bike commuter I know cars kill and sicken people, but I also know an insurance company will try anything to weasel out of a $30,000 accident claim. I may be wrong, but I've seen a lot of silly workplace insurance regs over my 20+ years working to doubt it.

Thomas said...

On Spare The Air days, transit is encouraged, but bikes are not mentioned. With a biking range now spanning six counties (Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, and Santa Cruz),with a possible future extension into Los Angeles, I would have little use for motorized transport. To use public transportation throughout my biking range can cost over $700 per month, for VTA, SamTrans, Muni, AC transit, Santa Cruz Metro, CalTrain (all zones), Hwy 17 express, Dumbarton Express, and portions of BART. I would hate to even think about how much taxi fare for my biking range would be, with a single ride from Sunnyvale to San Francisco being over $100

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Pierre M said...

Interesting read, thanks for sharing