[Carfreeliving] Why so many hoops of our own making?
bicyclesf at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 28 15:38:26 MDT 2005
I wasn't sure about the traffic lane reduction plan for part of Market Street, so thanks for the correction. But the reason I said what I did about closing Market Street off to autos is that *it shouldn't be this hard* to do it. In Portland, several of their downtown streets are completely closed off to autos. Some of these streets even have 2 bus-only lanes per street! I appreciate the "getting done what we can" mentality, but I think that us advocates/agencies give in too easily. If we really thought that Market Street needs to be closed to autos, it shouldn't be that hard to get it done. We'd have some support on the Board. We even had a planning study about it, for goodness sakes! Let's fight the good fight., and not shrink from opposition. (Ironically, I bet most of the opposition will like Market Street once it is done, and they'll find that it brings them increased business.)
I also think a lot about all the hoops we make bike/ped/transit/traffic calming projects jump through, including making bike lanes be "trial" projects needing approval later, extensive public outreach efforts, the whole enviro review/CEQA/LOS thing, etc. I do appreciate the careful consideration all of these steps provides, however, I wonder how much tripping over our own shoes we make ourselves do. If the mayor of Bogota can completely transform his city with bike, ped, and transit projects in a few short years, why do we struggle and struggle to get just a few things done each year? How much of the process is absolutely required, how much of it is about saving the City from possible liability, and how much is done a certain way out of habit ("this is just how we do it")?
I am not asking these questions out of ignorance about city processes, but out of a real desire to see how much "extra work" we could cut away if the Board gave DPT, TA, etc. that direction. While I am sure this will get me slammed by folks, I just don't see much bold thinking coming out of any of our agencies or nonprofit groups these days. I wish we could really stick our necks out there with the vision of *what we really want*, and negotiate down from there if we need to, as opposed to bringing forward already watered-down/non-threatening projects and policies. Market Street is the perfect example of where we could have done something MAGICAL to make it the heart of our City, but we're only going to make it a bit better. A wasted opportunity, inho.
Something Dave told me last weekend is really resonating with me: pressure the desicion-makers, not the bureaocrats. Agencies, by their nature, don't want to get negative press or be too controversial. But, if their elected descion-makers tell them to do something, they have a responsibility to do so. Plus, they have political cover. With so many supportive Supes right now, are we wasting our potential political clout to make big changes? Don't get me wrong- I absolutely want to continue to work with staff at the agencies. They are invaluable in getting changes made. But, when leadership at a city agency says that something "can't" or "won't" happen, I want us to really think if that is true, and if getting support from elected decision-makers would be a way to see it happen.
The TA's CEQA/LOS working group will hopefully come up with some streamlining recommendations for bike, ped, amd transit projects. I hope they come up with some good, implementable ideas. But, I fear that we'll still be jumping through hoops of our own making.
Emily, I saw a quote of your's in some article about Market St about how we are not even removing traffic lanes. We are indeed removing a lane of traffic on some sections of Market St. In each direction btwn VN and 8th, there will be a transit lane, a car lane, and a bike lane.
As for closing the street, that is a discussion that will take a while to resolve. The bike lanes are improvements we can do now so we are moving ahead with those.
bicyclesf at yahoo.com
Acting Executive Director, Walk San Francisco
Advisory Council Member, Bay Area Air Quality Management District
Citizen's Advisory Committee Member, Metropolitian Transportation Agency
Past Chair, SF Bicycle Advisory Committee
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