Cyclists cheer as SFMTA Board approves Bike Plan projects

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By Rebecca Bowe

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San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum (right) and cyclist Lynn Howe moments after the SFMTA Board declared its unanimous support for 45 new Bike Plan projects.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board approved 45 San Francisco Bike Plan projects earlier this afternoon, a move that will nearly double the number of bike lanes in the city.

The unanimous decision prompted cheers and applause from cyclists who turned out at the MTA hearing en masse to voice support for the citywide Bike Plan. Some 200 people signed up to comment at the hearing, and the overwhelming majority were supporters donning hot-pink stickers distributed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition that screamed, “Double the number of bike lanes.”

For more than three hours, the board heard personal stories from people who get around by bike: parents, seniors, students, health-care workers, teachers, lawyers, landlords, scientists, and even a 14-year-old boy named Cameron who told the MTA Board that he gets nervous about getting “doored” while riding his bike. ("Sharrows," the San Francisco-grown road markings that depict arrows in the bike lanes, are designed to keep cyclists out of the car-door zone to reduce the danger of being doored, or slammed by an unexpected door. The bike plan calls for marking 75 miles of on-street bike routes with sharrows.)

Fewer than 20 speakers voiced opposition to the plan, and most took issue with a proposal for Second Street that would reduce parking to accommodate new bike lanes and restrict left turns at various intersections. Several representatives from the South Beach Mission Bay Business Association and the South Beach/Rincon/Mission Bay Neighborhood Association said there hadn’t been enough community outreach conducted in their neighborhood, and called the plan for Second Street “flawed” -- but most voiced their general support for enhancing bike lanes in the city. The MTA Board ultimately voted to remove the Second Street project from the package of projects up for approval, setting it aside for further discussion.

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They want to ride their bicycles. They want to ride their bikes.

There was one speaker, however, who voiced very strong opposition to the plan. Mary Miles, an attorney who successfully sued the city on behalf of client Rob Anderson for moving the Bike Plan forward without first conducting an Environmental Impact Review, secured a three-year injunction on the plan that has been an endless source of frustration for the cycling community. “Let me remind you that the injunction is still in effect,” Miles said. “We are appealing these actions. I strongly advise that you stay your actions. Just stop now, instead of wasting everybody’s time.” It may have been a tense moment inside the hearing room, but in the overflow room on City Hall’s first floor, the crowd was laughing out loud. Shortly after, a representative from the City Attorney’s office noted that there were no legal issues barring the MTA Board from approving the 46 near-term bike projects that day. However, there will almost certainly be several more legal hurdles to clear in the short term before the plan can be implemented.

According to Mayor Gavin Newsom, who spoke at a press conference later that afternoon on the steps of City Hall, the new bike projects will be underway by the end of the summer. “By sometime in August, we will hit the ground -- literally -- not running, but sprinting,” Newsom said. He also said the debate should not be framed as one of cars and parking vs. bicycles, instead calling for “a new narrative of collaboration and partnership.”

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum, whose organization has some 10,000 members, was clearly thrilled about the passage of the bike plan. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years,” she told the crowd outside City Hall. “And this is the most significant step the city has chosen for sustainable transportation.”

Comments

"Rob, live with it. Maybe now you can get a life."

I can live with it, Patrick Monk, RN. The question is whether the people of San Francisco will be willing to live with it.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Jun. 30, 2009 @ 7:38 am

Oh glen, exactly what 'free speech blog area' are you referring to. It seems to me that your 'points' are appearing with, unfortunately, increased regularity, which kinda refutes another of your 'points', doesn't it. So what exactly is your point, if that's not too personal a point to raise and press.
Rob, live with it. Maybe now you can get a life.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN. on Jun. 29, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

Its interesting that I post non-personal attacks and make points and yet my posts never appear on the Bay Guardian free speech blog area.

Yet again proving that free speech is cool when it agrees with you.

Posted by glen matlock on Jun. 29, 2009 @ 11:33 am

Soon the interesting part of this process will begin---implementing the Bicycle Plan. The EIR tells us that the Plan will have "significant unavoidable impacts" on loading, traffic, and a number of Muni lines.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Jun. 29, 2009 @ 6:55 am

Life is full of trade-offs, Rob. The existing car-focused system has long had significant impacts to bicyclists' safety and all we're trying to do now is find a bit more balance on our roadways.

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Jun. 29, 2009 @ 8:00 am

Yes Rob, I think we the people can live with it, we're a pretty hardy bunch and have had to learn how to live and survive with the screwed up priorities of a succession of corporate sponsored administrations. Your experience of the inequities of SF politics may predate mine. I arrived in the early '70's, just in time to witness the desolation created by Justin Herman and Urban Renewal. It's been downhill ever since.
You know it's kinda strange how things play out. Of course your opposition to the bike plan has probably, directly and indirectly, cost millions of dollars, but the end result has probably been a far more extensive and codified committment to creating a more 'livable city' that promotes 'alternative' means of transportation and weakens the stranglehold of the oil industry and automobile culture that has had such a negative economic,environmental and health impact on us all. The exposure and attention that your crusade has focused on these issues has significantly increased the awareness and numbers of people who now seem to be realising that a change has gotta come. So on behalf of us all, many thanks for, inadvertently, rallying so many new converts to our cause.
In closing I will take this opportunity to respond to one particular derogatory remark you made about me way back when. Something along the lines of "..who cares if he's an RN..". I can assure you that the folks I visit every day care. I am also 'proud' of the fact that I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up, though it took over fifty years. It is an honor and a blessing to have the opportunity to spend my 'working hours' helping folks deal with the many medical and emotional, personal and familial, problems that trouble them. Our fucked up system of greed, indifference, political opportunism and personal aggrandisement is making it tougher every day. Our current puppet Mayor, Slick Gavin, is just the latest in a long line of miscreants. Willie was bad enough, but at least he had hutzpah, a sense of humor and an authentic personality, unlike this vacuous little toady. But I digress, just wanted to get in one final dig as I assume you are one of Newsom's little twitterlings.
In future it would be nice if you used my full 'title'. RNCM. Registered Nurse Case Manager. But then again, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN. on Jun. 30, 2009 @ 5:04 pm