Polk street Saga

There were some gleeful tweets flying around yesterday with this news: 85% percent of people on Polk street arrive without a car. Why would this be trumpeted with glee? Because it throws a wrench in the arguments of the merchants of Polk street who are trying – with apparent success – to decimate the plans for a separated bike lane on Polk street.

It’s great that their doomsday predictions of business dying off under the oppression of safer streets are being countered by hard data, but it’s also confusing – nay, disturbing – that their framing of the issue is so wholly accepted. Regardless of how many times this notion that bike lanes kill business has been debunked, the SFMTA and the SFBC seem willing to engage with the merchants on this matter and try to convince and reassure and woo them. They need to be told to bugger off because they talk bullshit and their profits do not lead the game.

It’s a happy, or at least convenient, fact that business isn’t actually harmed by livable streets because, given the implicit acceptance of the importance of that concern, it gives advocates more ground on which to stand. But what the city should be doing is send a clear message that the profits or parking of a few do not trump the safety of the people or the aim to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on oil that fuels wars and costs lives.

Seat thieves

You read that right. Thieving thieves are thieving seats. The least I would like to do is kick their shins but since I don’t know who they are and I am a bit of a coward, a rant on a blog will have to do.

On Sunday, I went to Rainbow Grocery in the middle of the afternoon and parked my bike at their bike parking on Folsom street. When I was done with my shopping, my bike seat had disappeared! Wtf! Granted, it was a quick-release but people shouldn’t take other peoples’ bike seats just because they can.

That evening I went back to Rainbow (my companions and myself have many collective sweet teeth which require frequent trips for treats) and walking out I saw another bike at the Folsom parking with its seat missing.

Now, I’m still in my positive constructive SF mode so this post will actually end with a very constructive piece of advice: according to the empathetic security guard who seemed happy that I relieved him from his boredom, there is bike parking inside the Rainbow parking lot and if you park your bike there there is no risk of theft because the entrance is always dutifully guarded. I dutifully took note and shall always park my bike there and I am also dutifully passing the tip on to you, dear handful of readers. Although maybe you have more common sense/less trust than me and already do this anyway.

Happy Spring

Ok, so this is SF and I guess we’re supposed to be positive and say “awesome” all the time and my last few posts have been a bit grouchy. So here’s a picture of our beautiful bridge on Norooz, the Persian New Year.

bridgenorooz2013

Norooz, which translates to “New Day”, happens on the exact day and moment of the spring equinox (this year it was on March 20th) and is then celebrated for two weeks. Sure, it was foggy and drizzling when I took this picture, and I was shivering on my bike thinking about soup instead of the spring outing I had envisaged – pushing up the Marin Headlands in a joyous baptism of sunshine and fresh air…  Nevertheless, the equinox did occur, spring is here, and Golden Gate Bridge is beautiful even in the fog.

Safe and happy biking to you all!

Yesterday I was biking, in the bike lane, southbound on Webster street. I approached a red light at an intersection where right turns are allowed (it might have been McAllister). I looked behind me to see if any cars were approaching. There was a taxi signaling a right turn. Being courteous, and following the fucking law, I moved into the lane to my left so that the taxi driver would be able to merge into the right-most lane (that’s what the dashes are for) and make his turn. Instead, he pulled up to my left, stopped, and shouted out of his window “I’m going to need to make a turn here”. I replied along the lines of “Yes, you’re supposed to use this lane” pointing to my right. Before I even finished he yelled aggressively “NO; YOU’RE THE BIKE LANE, YOU NEED TO BE THERE” though I didn’t catch that second sentence clearly because at that point he had made his right turn in front of me and was speeding away.

Just to be very clear: when cars want to make a right turn, they are not supposed to cut in front of cyclists. That’s how a lot of accidents happen. They are supposed to merge into the right-most lane first. Check out this page on the Bike Coalition’s website titled Bike Lanes & Right Turns, which quotes CA vehicle code 21717:

21717.  Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100. 

Interestingly, the Bike Coalition page states that they teach new taxi drivers the rules of the road. I guess yesterday’s taxi driver was playing hooky that day so he could spend it yelling and throwing peanuts at people who biked by his porch. (Yes, I’m convinced that’s how he spends his days off)

It’s alarming that this guy, who drives a car for a living, does not follow the rules of the road. More alarming yet, he is ignorant of the rules of the road. To top it off, he is obnoxious, self-righteous and aggressive in his ignorance. Should this be called Taxiing à l’Americana?

In any case, the taxi company was DeSoto. If you’re one of the lone souls who has stumbled on this blog I encourage you to call them and tell them off.

Continuing on my road after this altercation, I reach Market and Octavia. At the intersection a cyclist had just been hit by a car and was receiving help from paramedics. No obvious injuries as far as I saw, but the guy was seated and looked very dazed.

Two days earlier, on Thursday night, I witnessed a woman on a motorcycle get hit by a car on Divisadero. There were no obvious injuries, but it took the woman a long time to be able to get up, she was very dazed, and will probably have some serious back issues. She told me and the other people gathered there to help that she was about to celebrate her 65th birthday in a few days.

So I have a humble plea to drivers: please don’t ruin old ladies’ birthday celebrations by hitting them with your cars. In fact, please just refrain from hitting people on bikes and motorcycles generally.

To close this Sunday edition I’ll leave you with a couple pictures of fine parking on Valencia yesterday.

valencia car in bike lane

valencia car in bike lane1

The Asshole Series

Today I launch The Asshole Series with a picture of a car in the bike lane on 14th street, between Guerrero and Valencia.

You might notice that it was shot at quite a distance. This is because when the driver saw me stop behind her and look for my cell phone, she started driving away (in the bike lane) until she found  an empty parking space a few spots ahead. So I guess I was useful.

asshole