Sitting at the SFMTA hearing to consider a large number of bike plans today for six hours was arduous, informative, heartening, and of course entertaining. An incredible range of people spoke, including families with children (often the children were in attendance, sometimes mauling their parent while they spoke), business owners, tech guys, financial district employees, and one or two people who seemed to have just stumbled into the room and began talking. The only radical Leftist (self-identifiying as a commie and anarchist) had a charming, small Chihuahua with him.
All in all this was a good meeting, with a great amount of success to be happy about. The SFBC’s organizing work payed off with about two hundred people showing up to voice their two minutes of support for the plan. The board heard not just from the tough-lunged and able-bodied, but also the recovering, the ill, and the previously injured. With the exception of the cab driver there to protest the 2nd street bike lanes, who cited a ‘love-hate’ relationship between cyclists and cabbies, and then proceeded only to hate on the bike plan and cyclists, expressing his hope for the for the success of the CEQA litigants (though he did attempt to commiserate with cyclists deeply overburdened by the compactness of the new fangled ‘green cabs’–their trunks, he opined, cannot fit a cyclist who gets a flat or does not want to ‘ride all the way’), the plan’s opponents were not the rabid anti-bike nuts we’ve come to dread and expect from the outsized and outspoken presence of litigious obstructionists Miles and Anderson (more on Miles below).
Now for the fun. According to my notes, there were a number of entertaining reasons to be at the bike plan hearing today. They are, in ascending order of fun, humor, and (non)suprise with all due respect to their human vehicles:
1) Bike plan proponent, handsome gray-haired business-guy type, introduces himself: “Like the weather, I’m in my low-to-mid fifties.”
2) The guy who seemed to wander in near the end of the meeting and whose closing point to protest more bike infrastructure was: “No pedestrian ever ran anyone over.”
3) The woman who seemed to just wander in and start talking but who was actually Mary Miles who some speculate is a closet Dadaist. Ms. Miles, attorney and Rob-Anderson enabler used her two minutes to loop the following a few times: ‘Cease this meeting now, this is illegal, the injunction prohibits…’ Repeat. It was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to an attempt to make a ‘citizen’s arrest.’
4) Rincon Hill residents discussing the threats and resignation to living in their neighborhood as if they were Navajos confined to an arid and impoverished region of the Four Corners. Rincon Hill unveils plans for Left-Turnaggedon bunkers.
5) Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach and Russian Hill resident spoke up for the need for all people in the city to have bike access. This rather well-off and savvy business man stood in line and said his piece with everyone else. If anyone wants to promote a liveable streets cage match featuring rich guys, I’d suggest and bet on Rob Forbes against ‘Let them Eat Cars’ Don Fisher of Gap Inc. any day.
6) South Beach dude who spoke and unironically affirmed his own stereotype–brought a huge map showing his favorite driving routes, complaining that the 2nd street bike lanes would hamper his cruises to the “Marina and Pacific Heights.” I shit you not. (That said, maybe we should leave our mentions of ‘Rainbow Grocery,’ farmers’ markets, pot dispensaries, and our obsession with Zeitgeist on sunny Saturday afternoons out of our public comments as well. Alright, no one actually mentioned Zeitgeist and the dispensaries, but there were a few Rainbow Grocery shoutouts…did you know you get 10% off there with a bike membership card? ahem.)
*Update* Adam (South Beach dude) and I had a bit of a back-and-forth in the comments (see below) after I posted this message, belitting his social interest in San Francisco’s wealthy but architecturally-challenged Marina district. To counter the claim that I am insensitive and out-of-touch hipster critic who just doesn’t understand the appeal of a neighborhood with sports bars, bike shops with Range Rover parking, and made up girls in sex pants, I am posting these photos to demonstrate that I do indeed have friends that enjoy the Marina. Jade’s got the shirt to prove it (see both photos).