The bane of San Francisco cycling

Two years ago, high oil prices made Rob Anderson's crusade against bike lanes look dumb. Today, words fail.

Published August 20, 2008 7:42PM (EDT)

This is what is known as getting late to the story. The Wall Street Journal devotes ample Page One coverage today to Rob Anderson, the nemesis of San Francisco bicycling advocates. As reported here in How the World Works more than two years ago, Anderson has managed to bring San Francisco's ambitious Bike Plan to a complete halt, by successfully claiming in a lawsuit against the city that (quoting myself), "the plan had not received the level of environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act."

I wrote then that Anderson seemed to be enjoying all of the attention from cycling advocates driven mad by his obstructionism, so today must be a banner day for the "gadfly." For the rest of us, it's just one more dollop of frustration.

A few weeks ago, while riding in the Marin Century, I had the pleasure of pedaling a few miles in the company of Kim Baenisch, the executive director of the Marin Bicycle Coalition. I asked her what kind of things the MBC was working on. For the next 20 minutes, she gave me chapter and verse on an astonishing list of bicycling-related projects. But across the bay, San Francisco remains hamstrung, primarily due to the efforts of one man intent on defying the will of his community and the tide of history.

Best I can do is repeat myself again:

News flash for Rob Anderson: The price of crude oil spiked to a [non-inflation adjusted] 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.

That was two years ago. I think the sentiment holds up.

By Andrew Leonard

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

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