An honest debate

At the SFMTA meeting last Tuesday, director Ed Reiskin unabashedly stated that safety will have to be traded off to minimize parking loss (at 0:36:10). His priorities are shameful, but at least things are clear.

I’ll comment on only one of the other many questionable points: he states that while 15% of people arrive on Polk by car, that percentage is still substantial and that to affect it would negatively impact businesses whose profit margins are already low (at 1:14:27). Aside from demonstrating the ludicrous and morally corrupt perspective that I’ve already discussed, that statement is also plainly obtuse. Even if people in cars were to visit Polk street in smaller numbers, this would be more than made up by the increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians.

Hence, all is good, money will still be made.

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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.