SF Losing Face as NYC Shows Us Up

Ninth Ave. Before: looks a lot like Fell does today- multiple lanes of speeding traffic.   What does Grandma say when you suggest she ride her bike on this street?

Ninth Ave. After: The same street after NYC DOT improvements- Grandma friendly cycling transportation and a prettier streetscape to boot…

As New York City provides safer, attractive green routes for cross town non-motorized travel, San Francisco drags its feet coloring door zone bike lanes green.   They mean well, but the problem is so deeply rooted that we need an entire system reboot.  If we’re going to continue to have high speed, high capacity arterials through our city, we need safe, separated space for cyclists.  The Dutch understand- there can be no compromise on this point if you want people to have real transportation choice.   Just ask Leah Shahum who is taking an extended vacation in Amsterdam.

We’re happy that the bike plan injunction has been dealt a death blow,  but Rob Anderson simply exposed a vulnerability that was foreseeable more than ten years ago- ever since Greg Hayes started talking about the link between Automobile Level of Service (LOS) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  It’s time to make sure such a lawsuit never happens again.  But more than that, we need to sever the bizarre twisted state of affairs that allows environmental law to perpetuate car dependence.  It’s time for traffic justice.  It’s time that we go beyond bike lanes and begin to design urban streets where speeding is at least uncomfortable and mostly impossible.  It’s time that the city live up to its ‘transit first’ policy.    It’s time that we Fix Fell- one of the worst examples of the fifties traffic engineering debacle.  It’s time that we honor the countless victims of imposing highway designs through one of the densest cities in North America- those flowers and photos taped to utility poles that eventually turn brown and fade from sight.

The people of SF have been suffering for too long living with this traffic sewer among their midst.  And as NYC shows us, we can design high capacity streets in a way that is tolerable for people getting around without oil.

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