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« The Party’s Over | Main | Right-Hooked: Almost »

The San Fran’ Fiasco

California, often seen by the rest of the USA, if not the World, to have more nuts and flakes than a box of muesli than their share of eccentrics.

It is no small wonder when there are people out there like San Francisco’s Rob Anderson.

A wanna-be politician who last time he ran for office got 332 out of 34,955 votes. He lives in one room, on a hand out from the government welfare because he cares for his 92 year old mother.

And he has a blog. Well whoop-de-fucking-do, who doesn't have a blog these days?

Yet, in spite of his overwhelming insignificance being relatively unknown, Mr. Anderson, single handedly has managed to halt San Francisco’s plans to make that city a better and safer place for cyclists.

Anderson managed to persuade a judge that encouraging more bikes on the streets of San Francisco would cause more traffic jams, thereby causing more pollution from idling car engines.

No one pointed out that with more people commuting to work by bike, means less cars, therefore less traffic jams, and less pollution.

Now the court has ordered that San Francisco do an Environmental Impact Study before they can implement this plan. Of course, the city is going to take its own sweet time about doing that. It will be at least another twelve months before they even think about it.

Why is Anderson doing this? He doesn’t even own a car. It is a personal vendetta against cyclists, in particular Critical Mass. It seems a bunch of rude cyclists pissed our Rob off one day.

How can one individual like this yield so much power, and hold a city’s cycling community to ransom? Well it is a lot easier to stop something, than it is to implement something.

Cycling is a political hot potato anyway. I’m sure from the city’s point of view, they have plenty more pressing issues on their plate, like crime, the homeless, etc., to be worrying about a few cyclists.

The Wall Street Journal’s Blog commenting on the WSJ article on Rob Anderson said:

Why does San Francisco, the city that gave the world Critical Mass, seem to lag other American cities in becoming bike-friendly? Maybe because San Francisco gave the world Critical Mass.

See what happens when you make cycling a political issue.

Thanks a lot, Rob Anderson, and thanks a lot Critical Mass. You know what? You are perfect together, you deserve each other.

However, San Francisco and the rest of its cycling community deserve better.


Reader Comments (19)

We all deserve better. But nothing is more political than the one-sided perspective created by the power of the Big 3/SUV-Highway Contractors-Advertising-DOT-DOE entities. This story is a perfect example of what happens when the public debate remains skewed for decades. Only then do the rebels get the publicity.

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJack

...and yet Obama promises to change the economic structure of the United States to wind/solar power-based instead of petroleum. Here is one vying for the highest post throwing out wild visions of idiocy, do we expect more from vagrants, for them to save us from ourselves?
The same politicians in San Francisco have imposed fines for those that don’t separate their trash from recyclables. And that is our most progressive city?
Used to be responsible parents passed traditions on to their children; now it seems everyone is required to have tolerance for others (no matter how ludicrous), can’t call someone “retard” and has to be “politically correct”, another name for homogeny.
Why are we listening to them? Why have we forsaken our heritage?

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Rob Anderson has the same type of thinking as Critical Mass-that is why it pissed him off. As totalitarian governments don’t like religions, Critical Mass doesn’t like personal responsibility: it is the opposite of what it purports to be (critical mass would be one person, but its meaning has been perverted by the groups). Critical Mass (Rob) wants control.
Why do people join causes? Because they didn’t join a church or carry on family traditions that included accountability for your actions, taking credit in your own success or failure (more important), and it gives them a sense of belonging.
They want ethic and moral codes to be relative; that way anything can be justified. Yet these green-backers will readily join another group, vacillating between what’s cool at the time.
Instead of calling the jokers on their game, they can’t tell when they’ve been had.
Green supporters, carbon footprint buyback programs, activists of all sorts are here to stay. When do we call their bluff?

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Screw Rob, screw critical mass, and screw the politicians...I'm going to ride my bike the 40k to work regardless of these or any others. I ride it safely and courteously. Sure I get honked at, trash chucked at me, buzzed, etc. But in the end, I get to ride my bike, don't have to sit in traffic, and don't have to pay for a car, insurance, gas, etc.

Maybe one day they'll peel me off the road, but until then, I'll be enjoying the ride. We all need to stop bitching and start doing. If we all worried a little more about ourselves and a little less about everyone around us we'd be a lot better off

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJustin


Good post. I live in San Francisco, I ride to work everyday, I stop for Stop signs and red lights but I don't ride with critical mass. In fact, I take MUNI every last Friday of the month just to avoid them and being yell at by others just being on a bike.

There are plenty of folks like Mr. Anderson living in SF. Basically their model is

"I do what I like whenever I like it and screw you." Then when you question them they call you names.

IMHO, City of SF is feeding such folks. Most of their decision are aim at screwing themselves and others in the long run. Businesses are moving outside of SF, middle class are almost gone from SF, what's left are super rich folks and folks on gov. check.

Sad, because SF is such a nice place to live but action like Mr. Anderson and the City itself will have long term negative effects on SF herself.


August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRonald Lau

"Anderson managed to persuade a judge that encouraging more bikes on the streets of San Francisco would cause more traffic jams, thereby causing more pollution from idling car engines."

See, non-cyclists equate "more bike commuting" with visions of Critical Mass.

Dear SF Critical Mass: Reap what you sow!

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjim g

...rob anderson = anal, cranial inversion...

...just smart enough to know how to screw things up in the system but not smart enough to know what he's really looking at...

...this guy is stupid, selfishly absorbed & dangerous...

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbikesgonewild

Wield power, politicians generally aren't the type to yield to it. Remember when you used to tell stories about cycling? You used to tell us all sorts of interesting things about bikes too. Leave the complaining to the complainers.

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertr

Actually, Dave, there's a way around all of it that satisfies both cyclists and environmental concerns, and that's a congestion charge similar to the one used in London. When drivers have to pay to use city streets in the most dense areas, they stop driving. Fewer cars on the streets equate to better conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians. Air quality improves.

But it's unlikely to be politically feasible here. Too much surveillance is necessary and it smacks of Big Brother.

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEd W

I wonder why this guy matters. What a jackass. Three years from now, and we are saying....Who?

August 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRIHans

I also enjoy Dave’s historical perspective, yet as Bob Dylan’s words imply, what is new today is old tomorrow. How quickly we forget. Dave remembers.
So how will history remember Critical Mass?
Also, why do we need legislature based on specious conclusions?
With people driving less (and riding more), less money is available to maintain roads, including building bike paths and lanes. There’s no tax on riding bicycles. Does Obama have a solution for that, or is his answer a law to keep our tires inflated properly?
Dave writes on history happening right now, are we paying attention?
I also find it entertaining when someone like Rob Anderson makes the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

August 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Having been born and raised in SF and still living here, I'd have to say that at best, SF's board of supervisors are all candidates for the looney bin. They proclaim on Bike to Work Day what a progressive city we live in and how cycling will benefit the city in oh so many ways. But then, we allow idiots like this guy to block any progress with needed bicycle lanes. It's just typical of how City Hall works in this town. Say one thing; do another. For a city that is struggling financially, one would think spending money on an envirnomental report to determine if bicycle lanes are needed (or evil) is absolutely crazy, but that is what is happening. It's clear in SF that the minority are the majority and the further out your idea is, the better chance it has to see the light of day. I'll be checking the city code today to see if it is legal to put a machine gun turret on my handlebar. And as a sidenot, as one poster noted, SF will now be checking your garbage to determine if you are recycling properly. If the garbage company determines that you are not, then you will be fined. Big brother is here; where is the holding company?

August 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaltese Falcon

Former Mayor, Willie Brown, had the best solution for things like this -- "Build the bike lane first and THEN ask if anyone has any objections." In any society there are going to be folks who fuss -- about anything and everything.

So just do it and remember: "Don't ask too many questions 'cause somebody might say no and then you're stuck."

And it's easier to get forgiven then to get permission (ask T.E. Lawrence after his assault on Aqaba).

August 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

Ok, so every idiot has a right to his or her opinion. I have no problem with that. Rob Anderson can try his hardest to make everyone suffer and play his game, it's his right. What I have a problem with is the stoneless judge who let him get away with it.The guy is a quack. Toss him out of court on his ear and move on.
Next. Why is the city of SF ground to a halt? Because of spineless public servants.


August 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterErik Ewald

I just can't figure out why anyone would want to live in the city.

August 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Ryan

Interesting comment - about one possibly insignificant, irritated old man. From where I am, a long way away, it looks a lot like over-reaction though - merely one grumpy old man complaining about another. The point gets diluted in the whelter of irritation. Just an observation from over the horizon.

August 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Actually this isn't an over-reaction.
It’s the way government works today. Welcome.
You want solar power, good luck putting up the power lines to get the power where you need it, environments will stop you with court injunctions. Rob got a sympathetic lawyer (is that redundant?) to help with the paperwork.
This is the society we live in; don’t like it, elect different council members. Hold them accountable. Don’t let lawyers choose judges. Change it.
Apparently it’s the “old guys” that notice the change. Maybe the young will wake up. After all, you have to live with it longer.

August 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

It's amazing how 1 person can ruin it for all.

August 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRoman Holiday

Though Mr. Anderson was able to

"persuade a judge that encouraging more bikes on the streets of San Francisco would cause more traffic jams, thereby causing more pollution from idling car engines."

he didn't do so in a vacuum.

Those interested should check out the history of the California Environmental Quality Act. Here's a (pro-bike) overview: http://www.sfbike.org/?ceqa_glance

August 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterafl
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