SF “Parking for God” hurting bike riders – Castro neighbors got a mitigation plan for that.
San Francisco, August 18, 2016 by John Entwistle, Jr. – For bicyclists Tuesday’s decision by the SFMTA to allow hundreds of cars to park illegally on streets in the Castro/Mission nexus means one thing. More bike crashes and ambulance calls. This is a major setback in a city where some 500 bicyclists per year are injured on the streets with the 17th St. bike path contributing a big chunk to that figure. Not wanting to fight City Hall, residents have a great plan to mitigate the impact by protecting the local bike lane.
Homeowners on 17th Street living alongside the ”Scott Wiener Railroad,” a three block stretch of dangerous non-revenue MUNI tracks that have sent hundreds of riders to the hospital are trying to get SFMTA to mitigate this problem by providing a two way protected bike path.
Now as The City chokes the area with even more cars every weekend some are asking if that Euro style bike path should be extended through the Mission as a mitigation measure for the SFMTA’s pilot weekend parking program. The José Sarria Bike Path would extend the bidirectional protected pathway idea from the Castro to the Bay.
An SFMTA survey from December showed that 74 percent of neighborhood residents and 79 percent of park goers and frequent visitors want median parking gone. On the other hand, 95 percent of those who attend nearby churches want to keep it around. This is a fight that started years ago with no EIR or CEQA or study of any sort.
Supervisor Scott Wiener and the SF Bike Coalition has been AWOL from day one. “We’ve got to pick our battles,” said Renee Rivera, the group’s acting executive director when asked in 2010 by the New York Times to explain their silence.
Six years later Supervisor Scott Wiener chose those exact same words when explaining his inaction regarding bike safety as well as that of the department he oversees as Chair of the County Transportation Authority in Streetsblog SF (8-15-2016).
“But we also know that each of these Vision Zero projects are controversial; not within the transit community, but when you’re talking about traffic calming measures that reduce lanes and slow speeds, there’s often pushback and we see it everywhere. … There are times when the MTA doesn’t want to pick too many fights, so they pick their battles.”
Apparently mothers with their kids getting maimed riding on the 17th St. bike path because of The City’s negligence is not controversial. Or perhaps the esteemed local candidate for State Senate doesn’t think mothers and children pushback hard enough?
What is absolutely for certain is this. A lot of people have been harmed very seriously because Supervisor Scott Wiener and the SFMTA have done nothing to protect bike riders on 17th Street from hazards well known to The City back in 2011 and reported to him in writing back in July of 2014.
Additionally, now that we have watched the hearing in detail we note that SFMTA is framing this as one set of neighbors against another, or religious versus non-religious, if you will. This is a false contest. These groups have no local disputes of note, or interest in starting such. They barely know each other.
The Church folks need to get to church on Sunday and Saturday and SFMTA is providing weekend service levels which are very low. Allowing this car solution saves SFMTA a fortune in drivers and operating costs on the weekend.
So SFMTA Planner John Knox White just earned himself a pay raise (two very large ones, actually) by forcing this private automobile “solution” and making it look like the churches were sticking it to the rest of us or the neighbors just hate church goers while the real villain in this story is the SFMTA. Worse yet, they get to be the referee even though they rigged the fight to save some money.
In any case, I pray that all these folks will agree to the idea of upgrading the bike path along 17th Street as a safety measure for everyone and as a responsible and strong mitigation to the stress on the streets in the area caused by the increased number of cars.