I joined the Coalition because you sent out a convincing flyer about how you are gaining improvements in biking conditions. The packet of information you sent me does contain a lot of useful information, but most of it is a waste of trees. A letter from the Mayor. A letter to the next Willie Brown, Tom Ammiano, supporting a compromise. A sticker saying "I bike and I vote" (I do and I don't). Worst of all was a sticker with a peace symbol - a car and a bike - and the word "Coexist." I've changed the message. I won't say what to!
The whole attitude of your organization toward dangerous drivers, politicians, and the rest of our enemies projects a message of weakness. "We're prepared to compromise" means "We surrender." Although the abolition of motor transport cannot be achieved overnight, that is the aim of any serious environmental organization. If you try to meet the enemy halfway, you won't even achieve the compromise you seek.
Long live Critical Mass and to hell with politicians!
The ongoing debate regarding whether bikes or cars are to blame for accidents has me puzzled, as I see no reason to argue over the obvious. Yes, cars are bigger than bikes and can do much more damage and can kill cyclists and pedestrians. Therefore car drivers absolutely need to obey traffic laws and be hyper-aware of the people around them. Cutting down on car trips as much as possible is a great idea, and dangerous drivers should be punished.
On the other hand, bicyclists also need to obey the laws and ride safely. Too many bicyclists weave about, don't signal, don't wear helmets properly (and often don't wear them at all), shoot off of sidewalks unexpectedly, ride on the wrong side of the road, don't use lights or bright clothing at night, ride between cars, and in general take unnecessary risks. I've been on both sides of the car door, and I look out for bikes when I'm driving, but when in my car, I've come too close to too many cyclists who were doing stupid things to put all the blame on automobile drivers. We all need to exercise care and behave politely, whatever our mode of transportation.
Losing Ground in the Park
The impending Saturday closure in Golden Gate Park has become quite a political issue with an "us against them" mentality. It seems we may win, but what are we really winning? The closure area is great for new cyclists and rollerbladers but too busy an area for serious cyclists.
Hop on a mountain bike and ride some of the dirt trails throughout the park and see how far you get before you're met with a "Bicycles Prohibited" sign. They're everywhere and multiplying each month. Large areas of pristine dirt trails have been shut to bikes. Just last month they added what they're calling service roads (dirt trails) just west of 19th Ave. on MLK Drive, another large area totally closed to bikes. Signs read "Service road, bicycles prohibited."
The Park and Rec. Dept. will tell you it's because of damage to trails and safety. But horses damage trails as much if not more than bikes. What about the dirt motorcycle cops that ride these trails daily, and the flatbed trucks that rip the trails up all winter when they're wet? As for safety, people are still walking on these trails so why don't the truck drivers just slow down?
A few years ago I called Park and Rec. and asked that if I could organize a group of cyclists to help work on trails would they then keep more of the trails open. I was told there was no way the gardeners would agree to that because it would take their jobs away from them! Rather ridiculous since they obviously can't keep up with all the trails, which is why they're closing some of them.
We may win the battle but we're definitely losing the war. Soon bicyclists will be restricted to the boring asphalt bike path through the park.
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