Bike vs. anti-bike

San Francisco's cycling activists meet their match

Published July 5, 2006 10:32PM (EDT)

Somehow, it only seems right and fitting that San Francisco, home to some of the world's most aggressive bike activists, has spawned one of the world's most determined anti-biking activists. For every pedal action, there's an opposite and equal reaction?

Rob Anderson, described by the San Francisco Bay Guardian as a "63-year-old dishwasher, blogger ... and failed District 5 supervisorial candidate," who is motivated by a "deep animosity toward the bicycle community," has succeeded in bringing the city's ambitious Bicycle Plan to a screeching halt. In response to a lawsuit filed by Anderson claiming that the plan had not received the level of environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act, a judge issued a preliminary injunction halting any further action on completing bicycle-related projects that are part of the plan -- including, says the Guardian, any new bicycle lanes anywhere in the city or plans to allow more bikes on mass transit.

If you're thinking that using environmental legislation to stop bike lanes sounds kind of wacky, well, you're not the only one. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, naturally, is upset, as is the SFWeekly's Matt Smith, who wrote a column last week calling Anderson "mean" and "spiteful."

On his own blog, Anderson, who happens to be the brother of Bruce Anderson, the notorious gadfly founder of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, appears to be enjoying the attention. Most of his recent posts are devoted to poking at his critics and elaborating on his opinion that biking is inherently dangerous and will never be a suitable transportation option for the masses in San Francisco.

Of course, one of the reasons why biking is dangerous in the city is because the city is not designed to accommodate cyclists. Which is what the Bicycle Plan is attempting to address.

News flash for Rob Anderson: The price of crude oil spiked to a record high today. Smart cities should be looking for ways to enhance public transportation and make it easier for people to get around on non-fossil-fuel-consuming vehicles, like bikes. Getting in the way isn't mean, or spiteful. It's just dumb.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Bicycling Globalization How The World Works San Francisco