EDITORIAL It's an odd year for Bike to Work Day: San Francisco is in the middle of an ambitious plan to improve the city's bicycle infrastructure and it's utterly stalled. The city can't add a single new bike rack, can't add a single bicycle route sign, can't take a single step to improve bike safety, and can't move forward on any of the 60 projects that are in the hopper. Every single transportation improvement that involves bicycles is on hold for at least a year.
For that you can thank Rob Anderson, a dishwasher and blogger who thinks bikes are unsafe in the city and recently wrote on his blog that "if the Bike Nut Community (BNC) gets its way on city streets, traffic in the city will be made unnecessarily worse for everyone, with more air pollution as a result, as motorized traffic idles in traffic jams, squeezed into fewer lanes after the BNC creates bike lanes by eliminating traffic lanes and street parking."
The lone antibike nut filed a lawsuit claiming that the city's bicycle plan lacked adequate environmental review, and in a departing slap at San Francisco, Judge James Warren signed off on an injunction blocking all bike improvements just before he retired. Now the city has to complete its entire plan at least another year's work then complete an environmental impact report (EIR) on it, and then return to court to get the injunction lifted. It's costing money and time, and it's making it harder for what should be a safe, healthy, pollution-free method of transportation to pick up more adherents in what ought to be the nation's most bike-friendly city.
But there's not a lot anyone can do about Anderson and his pro-car crusade (yes, he says very clearly on his blog, district5diary.blogspot.com, that he's pro-car and that "cars are a great invention, and they are here to stay"). In another year a judge will toss out this ridiculous injunction, and the city can get on with its planning.
But it's critical right now that city hall not sit back and wait. The bicycle plan needs to be funded, and the project planning needs to continue moving forward at full speed, so that when the EIR is completed and the city is allowed once again to implement new programs, the projects will be ready to go. This lunatic lawsuit shouldn't give Mayor Gavin Newsom an excuse to defund bicycle programs for the next year.
The truth is, thousands of additional people have begun to ride bikes to work over the past few years, and that's had nothing but a positive impact on the environment. Bikes can and should be a central part of the city's transportation infrastructure. That's the lesson for Bike to Work Day. *
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