Russian Hill and Polk Street businesses oppose SFMTA road safety plans

By: : – excerpt

Business owners and residents on San Francisco‘s Polk Street see cyclists as typically culpable in accidents with cars, scoff at the notion of global warming, and are strongly opposed to the SFMTA’s suggestions for improving their neighborhood.
This was the tone of a public meeting organized by the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association at the Old First Presbyterian church, Monday night March 18th.
View slideshow: Saving Polk Street
The Middle Polk Neighborhood Association has aligned itself with a movement called Save Polk Street, which has opposed the SFMTA plan in a poster campaign.
MPNA chair Dawn Trennert repeatedly had to appeal to Save Polk Street supporters in the crowd to show respect for pro SFMTA speakers. Mr. Reiskin was loudly booed and shut down while attempting to outline his plan for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along the stretch of Polk Street from Union Street in the north to McAllister in the south…

Howard Schindler, the owner of Nick’s Crispy Taco’s on Polk Street was loudly applauded after stating that while he was concerned about the accidents, he sees cyclists as responsible for many of them. “Bicyclists don’t pay full attention, they don’t make complete stops,” he said. Mr. Schindler suggested that the SFMTA plan would create a bicycle freeway, in which case he said, “Put them on Van Ness Avenue.”
“It was embarrassing,” said local resident Sue Hosking after the meeting. She had gone with the intention of outlining a compromise solution that includes both separated bike lanes and re-opening parking garages in the streets just off Polk. “I didn’t feel like I could speak, that crowd was too hostile,” she said and added, “They can’t have it both ways. Saying they are concerned about safety yet insisting on continuing these unsafe road traffic conditions just doesn’t work.”…
An observer at the meeting was Bert Hill, chairman of San Francisco’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, which advises the mayor’s office on cycling policy and works closely with the SFMTA. Mr. Hill was not surprised by the hostility of the crowd. “This is typical. We all hate to see changes that we don’t control. Things will calm down but (the proposals) will have to go more slowly. We saw similar reactions out in the west of the city, on Sloat Boulevard and Portola,” he said….

Updated: 2013-03-22
A group named Folks For Polk has formed a petition in support of the SFMTA plan, it is available at…
Another meeting, hosted by the Community Leadership Alliance, at which the SFMTA will again discuss the Polk Street proposals, is scheduled for Tuesday March 26, at the Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, Latino Room A, 4-5:30 p.m. … (more)


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