Tuesday, December 8, 2015

San Francisco Bike Yield Law - Committee Hearing

For those of you not aware of this whole "Bike Yield Law" thing - it is a proposed ordinance by Supe Avalos that would set a policy advisory for the SFPD to have bikes rolling stop signs be a low priority enforcement activity.

It does not make rolling a stop sign legal. And it does not make enforcing someone buzzing a pedestrian a low priority enforcement. This is in response to the stings in the wiggle, if you see the Stanley Robert's videos all the cyclists getting pulled over are rolling a red in a completely empty intersection. In theory, the SFPD could still run a sting there and claim they were following the spirit of the policy advisory by solely ticketing cyclists who do not yield.

How the sausage gets made. The ordinance starts in committee - in this case land use and transportation. That's a 3 member committee that can block legislation from getting to the whole Board, even if the board would vote 8-3 for it. That's why the Board President is so powerful, the president assigns people to committee. This committee is Wiener/Kim/Cohen. If it passes committee, it goes to the full board, they vote, then they have to re-vote (usually a formality), then it goes to the Mayor for signature to make it law. If the Mayor vetoes the legislation, the Board can override his veto if they can get 8 votes to override.

I watched most of it yesterday. Avalos is the lead sponsor so he ran the show. Wiener and Kim gave statements for it, as did London Breed who showed up to give the statement. Campos and Mar are also sponsors of this legislation - 6 sponsors.

The hearing was very amusing. The SFPD showed up with a spokesman. He gave all these sturm and drang statistics about crazy cyclists. He stated that 30 percent of stop sign collisions were the fault of cyclists. Supervisor Wiener called him out - "You stated that 30% of collisions at stop signs are the fault of cyclists. Is that 30% of all collisions at stop signs, or just 30% of collisions that involve a cyclist, because my understanding is that collisions involving a cyclist at a stop sign are a minuscule component of overall collisions". The cop stammered and said "I see what you are saying" and "I don't have that information". There was another very badly misleading set of stats delivered as well. Greg Suhr deliberately crafted a misleading statement from the SFPD - fortunately Wiener slayed him. Wiener also said "I support cycling, but I don't ride a bike. I have a neighbor who loans me a bike when I need one, which is basically for bike to work day. I ride MUNI. And I know that people riding bikes is really good for MUNI"

Breed on the other hand gave a statement like "Enforcement on cyclists is unfair". I don't think that's very good framing. This isn't about fairness, this is about safety. The cops sitting in the wiggle eating donuts instead of focusing on real dangers, reduces safety.

Bruce Oka, a disability advocate who used to be on the SFMTA board said "this policy is trying to expand the ranks of the disabled". That's why I dislike Breed's framing.

If Oka's premise that enforcement improves cyclists behavior is correct, then we can deduce that enforcement will also improve motorist behavior. So whose behavior do we need to improve? The statistics on injury collision show us - it's the motorists who need to behave better. Let's say enforcement doubled compliance. Doubling cyclist induced injuries/fatalities would be worth it if we also cut in half the motorist induced injuries/fatalities which swamp the cyclist incidents.

Mayor Lee has gone on record that he will veto this. We would need two more votes. Yee has come out against this, which is bad news. My best guess to get 2 more is Peskin and ??? My best guess would be we don't get Farrell and Tang, so we need Cohen but....

The bike yield passed the planning and trandportation committee 2-1, with Malia Cohen VOTING AGAINST. If you live in Cohen's district, let her know you support this law, we'll have to persuade her to override Ed Lee's threatened veto. Ditto for any other supervisor.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Self Driving Cars

I am fascinated by Self Driving Cars. I want to do a writeup. One thing I find very interesting is the vast number of occupations that will have huge reductions or vanish, for which I cannot find a simple replacement brought on by this new technology. Here's a quick list.

Taxi Driver. Delivery Driver. Meter Maid. Traffic Division of police department. Ambulance Driver. Paramedics. Doctors and Nurses. Construction workers building parking lots/garages. Parking lot attendant. Auto body shop. Auto repair shop. Car manufacturing. Auto Advertising. Auto Dealer. Construction workers building new roads. Traffic Reporter (sorry Sal Castaneda). Car Magazines.

Curt Krone reminds me of Lawyers. No traffic court, no need for attorneys, judges, bailiffs, processing. Hey - no more DUI jury duty.

Nick Wade reminds me of the entire DMV. Also large parts of the traffic infrastructure is no longer needed, no speed limit signs, exit signs on freeways, etc... If stop lights still exist they sure won't need to be as complex. Do we still install guardrails? Probably in snowy/rainy regions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cycling for dummies

Had to write this down as it was so off kilter.

I was waiting to cross Healdsburg Ave on Mill Street, headed west to east. This is a 5 way intersection with 6 phases as northbound there is also a left arrow phase. A "person on a bicycle" rolls past me into the intersection, during the NB left arrow phase, stopping halfway across the intersection. There isn't really a median, he is just hanging out in the southbound lane of Healdsburg Ave. The light changes to give Southbound HBG Ave a turn, at which point he rolls across the NB lanes to finish his crossing.

The whole thing was pretty disturbing to me as it was super sketchy, this is a high traffic intersection serving the offramps of US-101 among other things. So I'm sort of shaking my head, and I threw in a crazy arm wave, admittedly to point out to the drivers behind me that I agree that what we just witnessed was completely screwed up.

At this point, the driver of a Healdsburg City truck behind and to the right of me (in the right turn lane) said "That guy isn't doing you any favors, is he?" I replied - "Why do I need that guy to do me any favors? He's just some crazy person and has nothing to do with me".

He said "I know but some drivers will see that and make it tougher for you" and I said "I understand that this happens, but it makes no more sense than me yelling at you because some drunk driver ran over a 12 year old kid, right? I just hope that dude doesn't kill himself, know what I mean?" We agreed, he gave me a thumbs up, and we moved on.

I got my green and headed across HBG Ave onto Mill Street, at which point I noticed the same cyclist. There was a line of cars lined up at the light, headed west. So this cyclist dude decides to ride past them going the wrong way in the Eastbound lane which now contains me and two cars behind me. He's carrying a 32 Oz Slurpee, wearing a helmet that has the chin strap disconnected, and...

He's on a rental bike. You know, handlebar bag and a map/etc...

"Sorry man!" - he says.

So this guy, who is apparently "not making things any easier for me" is some tourist from New York or wherever, riding a bike for probably the first time in 30 years. Do the anti-cycling forces hire these guys to go out and do stupid shit in order to beat back bike infrastructure projects? Perhaps it was one of the 30 or so random tourists I saw last week riding across the Golden Gate Bridge with no helmet and carrying a selfie stick with a go-pro on it.

I'm not taking any of this bullshit about cyclists being some monolithic faction - a "community" or "culture" if I have to be associated with this nimrod and have someone in the comments sections justify running over cyclists intentionally because he saw some random tourist trying to juggle a big gulp while salmoning into a screwed up intersection.