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Friday, August 1, 2014

Transportation Ballot Measure Fails to Balance Transportation Needs

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 3:02 PM

A bunch of people have collected 17,500 signatures to push an initiative onto the November ballot dubbed Restore Transportation Balance in San Francisco. You'd assume with a name like, the measure might actually address balancing transportation needs of the city’s population.

Then again, you might also assume the Tea Party is about tea.

The major parts of the initiative are aimed at exclusively benefiting drivers. According to the initiative, "balance" can be achieved by allowing more free parking at metered spots, lowering parking fees, prioritizing cars over bikes, and the putting motorists on the SFMTA board. 
Let's be clear: the Initiative is patently silly. First off, the website for the initiative claims that 79 percent of households – note that it’s not 79 percent of the total population – own or lease an automobile. There’s no source listed by Restore Transportation Balance, however Wikipedia disagrees with this figure, claiming that the 2010 census shows it's something closer to 71 percent of San Francisco households that own or lease cars. 

The initiative’s website also claims that 50 percent of San Franciscans “who work outside of their homes drive or carpool.” Yet according to a 2011 SFMTA mode share survey, that figure was much lower, with 27 percent of commuters driving to work and 7 percent carpooling.

Even if the numbers from the Restore Transportation Balance are wrong – they certainly don’t offer any sources for these statistics – they still represent a sizable chunk of the population, specifically the driving population. That’s fair. Motorists have rights, too. In addition to riding a bike, I also own a car and I want to be able to drive places when necessary. But what's not fair is the balance, or lack thereof, in this transportation measure.

What have we done to piss San Francisco motorists off enough to lead to this kind of transportation measure?

Let's look at the facts: overall, drivers suck up a huge amount of resources from the city. While Restore Transportation Balance notes that “Today, motorists pay a greater share of the SFMTA’s budget than do Muni riders,”, but that’s only fair. Motorists do far more damage to the roadways, and to the air quality, and cause more injuries, and ultimately cost more for the SFMTA than all of the other transportation modes combined. So it seems natural that motorists should pay for more of the budget. At this point, cyclists are the ones really getting screwed with only about 1 percent of the SFMTA budget going toward cycling projects, while bikes comprise 3.5 percent of commuters in San Francisco. 

At this point, we're more curious about the fact that burning fossil fuels isn’t a crime.

When it comes down to voting day, we won't tell you how to vote. All we will ask you to do is look up the word "balance" before you head to the polls. 

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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