There’s something odd afoot and I’m not sure what to make of it…a mini-PR offensive was launched last week that had some contradictory components. Following the shocking death of two racing cyclists in the South Bay hills, run over by a cop or sheriff who fell asleep at the wheel, also badly injuring a third cyclist, most bicyclists felt that maybe, just maybe, the local authorities might start paying attention to how unsafe it is to cycle around here. The Comicle rushed in to the save the day. They published this hilarious article which puts the blame for 2/3 of all bike-car accidents squarely on the shoulders of the bicyclists. The source? Why it’s that always objective and reliable California Highway Patrol and local police records. What a joke!
Anyone who has bicycled regularly for any length of time around here has had the experience of seeing a fellow or sister cyclist get doored or driven into or worse, or come upon a cyclist sprawled on the ground, and seen how the police routinely take statements from anyone at the scene EXCEPT other bicyclists! The presumption at all points of contact between cyclists and motorists is that the cyclist is at fault. It’s quite difficult to even insert into the record a contrary point of view.
This coming Monday night I’m going to be on a radio show with the Bike Coalition’s Leah Shahum, the MTA’s Bridget Smith, and anti-bicycling crank Rob Anderson:
On Monday 3/31/08, 7:00pm to 8:00pm, the topic for City Visions Radio (91.7.FM) will be: “Planning for San Francisco’s Growing Biking Population” Call in during the show at 415/841-4134 or e-mail us.
I hope you cyclists will call in and demand a thorough and radical alteration of our city streets in favor of safe cycling, traffic calming, and reduced car access wherever possible. It might get weird and even ugly with Anderson on there, since he’s the guy who filed the lawsuit that stopped the current bike plan in its tracks, ostensibly because inadequate environmental review was done before it was implemented.
And that’s the other part of the inexplicable PR offensive under way. On Thursday night the city bureaucrats working on the Bike Plan held an “open house” at 101 Grove to push their plans… but in the course of an extremely uninformative and tedious presentation of everything we knew already, they admitted, in sparkling bureaucratese, that the question of when the Superior Court would lift the injunction that is stopping the bike plan’s 34 miles of lanes and sharrows and other minor improvements from being worked on is “outside of their knowledge base.”
Typical of San Francisco’s turgid democracy, the commissions and departments and agencies that hold public hearings to provide the public with “input opportunities” are expert at numbing minds and squelching any passion or enthusiasm anyone might have. These public consultations are a formal charade, an exercise in fake openness. I’ve been attending hearings on the Bike Plan off and on since 1994 (another one here). The sheer tedium of the process is what is most noteworthy about it. The fact that the grand successes of the Bike Plan are still only painted bike lanes, when places such as Copenhagen or Berlin have extensive networks of healthy and safe sidepaths that make cycling in those cities incredibly easier, speaks to how tepid our efforts have been locally.
Anyway, we’ll be arguing about all this on the radio on Monday night. Someone is pushing this moment though, and I don’t really see why or who. Is it all because of the headline-grabbing deaths of those racing cyclists a few weeks ago? Or is something else going on?
In any case, I’m still cycling. In fact, I’m going up Twin Peaks semi-regularly again. Here’s my favorite spot on Twin Peaks Blvd. because it’s where you suddenly feel as if you’ve left the city, going above it. These are mostly invasive species so I know it’s not a properly “natural” spot, but in the midst of the French broom and blackberries and odd flowers, I always hear a lot of birds and bugs, and the sounds of cars and the sense of the city just drifts away… after about 25 minutes of heavy pedaling it’s a sweet moment every time, whether in fog or sun, midday or at dusk…
And after you go through this spot, you wind your way up hill and come up this view:
Any botanist friends want to identify those flowers? Goldfields? or something like that… anyway, this is the best time of year for a spectacular show of wildflowers sprouting on all of SF’s hilltops. Here’s lupine I think, with a bit of a view behind:
Of course when you’re up on Twin Peaks on a crystal clear day, the reward is like having an ice cream sundae! Here’s a zoomed up view of Mt. Diablo looming over the east bay hills, with Potrero Hill looking rather diminutive in the foreground:
And just to prove I took these photos myself, here I am in my favorite spot on the top of the south peak:
Critical Mass rolls in another couple of hours… if you see this right way, maybe I’ll catch up with you during the ride… Happy Trails!