Bicycle Plan May See Another Day in Court, Main Opponent Says

If city government prevails in court tomorrow, expect to see more lanes and clearer paths for bicyclists.

The San Francisco Superior Court will hear closing arguments Tuesday to determine whether the city's Bicycle Plan, which seeks to meet the demands of San Francisco's large and growing bike constituency, will go forward as planned five years ago.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission unanimously adopted the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Bicycle Plan in 2005. In 2006, however, opponents, led by blogger and former District 5 supervisor candidate Rob Anderson, successfully filed for an injunction on the project until a full-scale Environmental Impact Report was conducted, as required by state law.

In the drivers' corner, Anderson is still leading the fight to stop the bike plan in its tracks ... er, lanes. He said he and attorney Mary Miles will file an appeal if the injunction is thrown out after tomorrow's arguments. He sees the Bicycle Plan as largely political, and believes the city is buckling to pressure from progressives and the outspoken cyclist community, despite the obvious and adverse consequences on traffic flow and pollution. His main argument, now backed by the completed EIR, is that stalled Munis and cars as a result of additional bike lanes will emit more smog.

"The bicycle is the politics to San Francisco. It's like the crucifix to Christianity," he told us.

Furthermore, he says that despite his efforts to regularly blog his objections, the issue has by and large stayed out of the public eye.

"Until people start taking away lanes, the people in San Francisco won't know about it. ... This is just nuts. I think if the majority of San Franciscans had a chance to vote, they would reject it. But we'll never get a chance to vote, because the bike people and their enablers in City Hall will make sure of that," Anderson said.

Conversely, the city argues that the need for bike reform outweighs the environmental impact and is banking that more people will trade in their Clipper cards for helmets. Anderson called this a "fantasy" that ignores those who simply cannot ride bikes, such as the disabled.

But when the city came back with a surprising statistic last year that the number of San Francisco bike riders had increased by 53 percent since the injunction began, the court partially lifted the injunction and gave the city the green light on 45 of the most low-impact projects, including the creation of sharrows, or shared lanes.

The project ultimately calls for additional bike lanes, traffic signal improvements, more bike racks, and painting the pavement to create clearer pathways for cyclists.

Anderson said he will be in court tomorrow to hear the arguments.

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