Care not crash - Page 5

The Bike Plan is finally free. Can it help soothe tensions between cyclists and motorists?

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The recent court ruling dissolves an injunction that halted the city's progress on planned bicycle route improvements, based on the fact that the city hadn't conducted a full-blown environment impact report on the plan. A previous order, issued in November 2009 after the EIR was certified, allowed some projects to proceed pending a June court hearing on the case (see "Complicating the simple," June 29).

"I am very gratified by the ruling from Judge Busch, who carefully considered an enormous amount of evidence in this case and found that the city met its environmental review requirements," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a prepared statement. "Today's decision clears an important hurdle toward making San Francisco safer for bicyclists and healthier for all of us."

"We're very proud," SFMTA chair Tom Nolan, said at the Aug. 9 press conference, adding that the decision to move toward more bike-friendly streets "was not hard for any member of our board."

Up to 20 projects could be completed before the end of 2010. "There are 35 [projects] left, and as soon as the injunction is lifted, the city is going to get to work striping," Rivera said. "The first of those projects we could see within a week of the injunction lifting."

Rivera said projects in the works included colored bike lanes, zones that separate car travel from bike traffic with plastic posts, and wider buffer zones. "It helps reduce friction and conflicts," she said. "And I think that that really helps to reduce the possibility of collision."

 

WIDENING THE DEBATE

Meanwhile, on a very different tack from the SFBC's diplomatic approach to reform, some activists have been taking matters into their own hands.

Every Friday afternoon since mid-June, a grassroots organization dubbed "Fix Fell" has set up camp at an Arco gas station at Fell and Divisadero streets. These activists object to motorists who block the bike lane waiting to fill up with cheap gasoline, as well as Arco's parent company, BP, for creating the worst oil spill in the country's history.

Protest organizer Josh Hart even links the two problems together, claiming that lax safety standards — which result in BP and Arco being able to offer the cheapest gas in town, creating the lines of cars that block bike traffic — are what led to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. Several protesters have been cited or arrested for blocking the entrance to the gas station, an action they say is meant to make the area safer for cyclists.

They were encouraged when, after a few rounds of protests, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently installed a green bike lane leading up to the gas station. Fix Fell issued a press release declaring partial victory, but vowed to keep fighting: "While these changes are welcome, they are not enough. Because these three blocks of Fell are the only level, cross-town route for cyclists to use, what is needed is a complete re-engineering of this section of Fell Street, putting safety for all street users first."

The group is planning an even bigger protest at the Arco station, complete with live music, on Aug. 20. Organizer Drake Logan sounded as if she was ready to challenge the automobile-dominated, oil-addicted status quo head on, starting with that particular intersection. Cyclists are "out on the streets having to risk their lives in order to get around without oil," organizer Drake Logan told us. "These are not livable conditions."

Fix Fell isn't the only organization proffering alternative visions for city streets. Author, activist, and Critical Mass cofounder Chris Carlsson says that since the 1980s, he's been pushing the idea of a network of bike-only passageways that would crisscross San Francisco.

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