Friday, April 22, 2011

Standalone cycling plans: risky enterprise

At a public forum last week at Mission High School in San Francisco, Al Lopez, 71, rested on his cane and addressed a panel of city leaders and department heads, including Mayor Edwin Lee and Nathan Ford, the city’s transit chief.“I’m a cripple,” Mr. Lopez said, and felt endangered by the proliferation of cyclists on streets and sidewalks. Dr. Frank Gilson had a grueling encounter with San Francisco’s bike plan: he found a $65 ticket on his car. The city recently reversed plans to remove 199 automobile parking spaces along 17th Street in the Mission to make way for a bike lane. Some merchants worried that removing parking would hurt business, and they objected to how they had been informed. Instead of notifying residents and businesses by mail — the standard procedure for nearly every other planning matter in the city — many in the neighborhood got the news when someone spotted a nondescript flier taped to a utility pole. Dr. Gilson, a former triathlete, thought the issue was larger. He said that cyclists had become a powerful political force, and that city leaders had forgotten that most people did not bicycle. The debate is fierce and gathers the same type of comments as in New York where cycling policy is under fire.

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