I attended a Transportation Authority workshop last night on its new Mobility, Access, and Pricing Study (which, among other things, might recommend a fee to drive downtown, just like London, Rome, and Stockholm have) -- and I came away more convinced than ever that San Francisco is screwed if downtown greedheads fool people into approving Prop. H and defeating Prop. A.
Ours is one of five U.S. cities selected to collectively receive almost $1 billion in federal money to study and implement ways of reducing traffic congestion. Why? Because we're the second most congested downtown in the country after Los Angeles. Preliminary studies show traffic congestion cost San Francisco $2.3 billion in 2005 (in delays, fuel, health impacts, and slowed commerce), congestion consistently ranks as people's top concern in surveys, traffic has slowed our transit system to a crawl, congestion roughly doubles travel times, and half our city's greenhouse gas emissions come from cars. And if Prop. H is approved, there will be unfettered new parking construction, putting up to 20,000 new cars on our clogged roads, according to the Planning Department. This is madness!
I'm baffled why the Chamber of Commerce supports this because the evidence is clear it will hurt business (perhaps they're just blinded to reality by their slavishly doctrinaire devotion free markets and hatred of all things government). Study after study shows that more parking draws more cars, and in our built-out city, where there's no room for creating more lanes, that means more traffic congestion. And therefore slower Muni, which will cause more people to want to drive or ride bikes, which will cause even more congestion -- a feedback loop that leads to gridlock. C'mon everybody, think about this stuff for a second because it isn't rocket science. You can support more traffic or better transit, your choice.
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