NPR Talk of the Nation: Rob Anderson and Noah Budnick

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By Yokota Fritz


Update - Show Notes: Host Lynn Neary displayed a very clear and obvious anti-cyclist bias in this show, labeling cyclists as "arrogant" and "self righteous," accusing cyclists of riding recklessly, causing collisions, getting in the way of motorists and causing road rage. Neary make Rob Anderson's speaking points for him -- she listed the potential problems of San Francisco's bike plan and let Anderson elaborate on them -- while all of her questions toward Noah Budnick were challenges about rude, law breaking cyclists. Neary allowed Anderson to respond to Budnick's points.

For example, Noah Budnick noted that current research that shows accommodating different transportation modes is not a zero sum game, like Anderson claims, but that traffic demand is elastic. Case after case shows that when commuters are given alternatives, they'll make use of those different modes. Anderson was then allowed to respond; he sneered a little about transportation "experts" -- you could almost hear the quote marks in his voice -- and expressed his distaste toward experts and planners who shove their design paradigms down the throats of the public.

Host Neary constantly brought up law breaking cyclists -- I think she was trying to get a rise out of Budnick. Budnick said that studies show that most accidents are caused by inattentive motorists, not cyclists. Noah also pointed listeners to "Why bicyclists hate stop signs" (PDF), but reiterated that Transportation Alternatives constantly reminds cyclists to obey the rules of the road.

Neary then introduced a guest from Seattle (I didn't catch his name), but he was woefully unprepared for the subject and didn't know what was going on with cycling advocacy. Seattle man was clueless about the pioneering work of traffic engineer Hans Monderman. When asked about bicycle education efforts, he lamely responded that cities hand out pamphlets to cyclists -- he was completely unaware that the Cascade Bicycle Club in his own city will teach bicycle safety education to 12,000 students this year.




San Francisco anti-bike crusader Rob Anderson and Transportation Alternatives Noah Budnick were guests today on NPR's Talk of the Nation radio program. The show will be available for online listening later tonight.

You might enjoy this exchange between Anderson and Robert Hurst over at Anderson's District 5 Diary blog.

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Comments:
There was no debate. They brought Budnick on just before they were through with me. He said something lame about how planners, engineers, and experts agree on blah blah blah, and that was it. NPR, just like KQED, really dislikes any real controversy because, oh dear, that might lead to, like, some negative comments. NPR-type progressives will defend to the death your right to speak, as long as it doesn't make anybody else mad.
 
Yeah, I listened. I was a little disappointed to be honest. Thanks for dropping by, Mr Anderson. You came across reasonably well, as did Noah Budnick.

Who was the guy from Seattle, anyway? Do you know?

Budnick's point about transportation elasticity is well established, by the way. 50 years of ever expanding roads only proves that traffic will expand to fill the capacity provided. Since, as you noted in the show, that there's no room to expand in San Francisco, it's time to try something different.
 
The show was severely biased. Rob Anderson is notable only for filing a lawsuit to block a sensible public policy. He has no transportation experience or credentials. (Last week's Wall Street Journal article did a great job of portraying Anderson as the isolated eccentric.) Yet his remarks framed the entire conversation. Noah was valiant, but clearly on the defensive the entire program. And yes, the NPR reporter from Seattle was clearly unqualified to talk on this topic. They obviously picked him because of the recent Critical Mass incidents there. A laughable conversation. Bicycling deserves better than this.
 
Hi Paul -- I should mention that readers should see Paul's commentary about the Wall Street Journal article the other day.
 
"Budnick's point about transportation elasticity is well established, by the way. 50 years of ever expanding roads only proves that traffic will expand to fill the capacity provided."

We're not talking about "expanding roads" in SF; we're talking about the best use of existing streets. It's not the so-called experts who will determine how the city uses its streets; the people of SF's neighborhoods will ultimately make that decision.
 
I agree: bicycling deserves better than this.
 
=v= Is this guy like a broken record or what?
 
What was clear was that Anderson had zero idea what he was talking about.

Mayor Gavin and the rest of SF's political establishiment should be deeply embarrassed that they've allowed a crank like Rob Anderson to put a stop to the city's bike network plan.

Just do the EIS already and start building out the bike network. Anderson's a nut job and a know-nothing.
 
Talk of the nation is an absolutely lame program...Neil Conen is a twit. I can't stand the program or the people who call in. I wish the program would be cancelled as part of the economic catastrophy.
I commute by bike from the Oakland hills to Alameda. It's a treacherous ride through many parts of the city...hostile motorists.
 
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