SFMTA Open House+ S4
The SFMTA presentation was interesting to say the least, it was interesting to see the city taking on such a major project that will take a lot of time and money to complete, which makes me hopeful that biking can become a more common form of transportation. However I found the presentation aspect to be a bit awkward and lacking completion. I learned that the project is still in its early stages where the SFMTA is still looking for public input as to what type of construction to go with. I discovered the different types of bike lanes they are coming up with, and I decided which topic I preferred. The posters and the various employees that surrounded the meeting were helpful in explaining the background of the project, especially the various types of plans they wanted to propose. I would have preferred something in powerpoint style that was more clear cut and explained by the SFMTA rather than having to read a bunch of posters and bring it all together. In my s4 project I hope to send my viewers home with something that inspires and intrigues people enough that they will want to go home and research the topic for themselves. It’s very easy to give a forgettable talk, but I want what I said and proposed to be remembered and taken to heart by those who listened to it. I either want to continue my topic on bike lanes or speak about Californias drought situation and perhaps how sustainable transportation can help to end it. In order to be effective I have to say things that people will want to look up and implement in their daily lives.
George Carlin is one of my personal favorite comedians, so it was of course I had to write about him a bit. Carlin was famous for his delivery, slow and carefully planned so that his audience can see where he is going but without knowing what he is going to say. Carlin talks constantly and swiftly, up until the punchline where he slows down and deliberately goes through the list of things you can’t say on tv. He tells a story like he’s having a conversation with the crowd, and is known for creating modern comedy that many others have copied. He enjoys the nature of his story, making it as inappropriate and uncomfortable as possible in order to get the audience to understand his viewpoints. George always said in order to get his audience to have the best possible time he had to be interesting and relatable, which is where the storytelling nature of his comedy comes from. His delivery is much like a Ted talk, very rehearsed and deliberate which keeps people interested and listening to what he has to say.
Freedom of speech
Here in America we are afforded the ability to say and do what we want (to an extent). Freedom of speech is probably the most important way of keeping society from being repressed, the founding fathers decided on this freedom so governments couldn’t decide what people can and cannot say, a topic still debated today. Saying what you want is a key tool to living in a free society, and should be upheld as long as we claim to be the pinnacle of freedom. As everyday our ability to say whatever we want is challenged by the media and various special interest groups, it’s important to remember that freedom is why our country was founded, and freedom is what will keep it running. An absence of freedom is the absence of America.
I think my speech went fairly well, much like my S2 I didn’t rely on what I had written, I used the facts i had memorized and used them as talking points rather than go through my script. I could have been way more rehearsed, I kept changing how I wanted to approach the topic so I never got a good base for an argument or plan for my talk, but I think I established an argument and explained it’s validity pretty well. I should have gotten my slides down to better flow with my speech but I didn’t get the chance to go over them as I had just changed a good amount of my material. Overall I think I had a good amount of information but the delivery wasn’t as solid as I would’ve liked it to be, but it seemed to be easily understood.
S3 Write Out
Hello everyone I’m Samuel Wilson and I’d like to tell you a little about bike lanes here in San Francisco. In my last talk I covered various violations that occur in bike lanes, and came to the conclusion that having bike lanes does in fact make cycling safer, but how can we put bike lanes in effectively and cheaply?
The biggest problem with our bike lanes is how long they take to make and how much they cost, which is why where they should be put is a hotly debated topic. As soon as I started my research I found out that bike lanes here in SF are actually fairly cheap to install, coming just shy of $450k for a mile of protected lane, compared to one mile of doyle drive that cost $571 million. (One traffic light costs the city about $280k so bike lanes are actually really cheap) But still, other cities are building them for less and building them faster, so if we have the resources how can we build them better?
In doing a little bit of research I came upon a few different studies taken by different departments of transportation across the nation, and found that protected bike lanes are the most expensive to build. Having to tear up part of the street, put in a barrier and then repave everything is extremely wasteful and inefficient construction. If you were to simply put in some basic kind of buffer like a fence or cones the cost of building the lane would drop $20,000. Creating protected bike lanes also brings up the problem of time, when roads have to be shut down it creates a major inconvenience for drivers and businesses, which is why it takes a lot of convincing for the city to actually go ahead with such intensive projects.
So in order to save all that time and money, how can we create bike lanes and protect them cheaply? Well in New York City because of the lack of room city engineers had to get creative, so they lined their bike lanes with potted plants and pieces of art to separate cars from the bikes. It took just 2 days to line most of the citys bike lanes, and accidents have since dropped 17%. And it was cheap too! Instead of creating a whole new area for bikes they simply turned their roads into a shared space, without changing the flow of traffic or ripping up the streets. So we’ve established that bike lanes don’t become that expensive or time consuming until you decide to completely separate them from the road, so how can we convince our city that it really is easy to create bike lanes at low cost?
We’re going to have to look at the different bike lanes throughout the city and their impacts both monetarily and on traffic. The bike coalition’s proudest accomplishments have been in golden gate park and market street. In Golden Gate Park the bike lane was moved behind parked cars in order to protect cyclists from traffic, but the project used almost $500k in paint alone and tens of millions of dollars to design and engineer over a 4 year period. Everything about the road had to be changed, lanes had to be moved, parking had to be moved and the road had to be widened and paved to create the bike lane. And of course since it cost so much and took so long the city wasn’t exactly happy to do it, although it now uses it to market tourism in the park. But switch over to market street, instead of widening the road and changing its layout city planners decided to paint bike lanes along the curb and protect them with plastic posts. Studies show its just as safe to have a curb between cyclists and cars as it is to have cones, yet one costs millions and one is relatively inexpensive. Either $450 thousand in paint and millions in construction and design or $450 thousand in paint and a couple thousand dollars for traffic cones? The answer is pretty simple, especially since safety is not affected. Cyclists are still separated from traffic, but in a simpler more efficient way that is of course cheaper.
Everyone can agree that bike lanes make the city a safer place, but it’s hard to build them when the city chooses the most expensive design. Yes there are replacement costs when cones get broken, but maintenance costs don’t even come close to being as expensive as ripping up the road to change its layout. The city already gets discounts on things like paint and and cones, so the price they would pay is much cheaper than what a normal citizen would pay. In order to make more bike lanes the city will have to think smarter not harder in order to become a more bike friendly place. It doesn’t matter if 10 or 50% of sfmtas budget is devoted to bikes if they use it for big expensive projects that ultimately hurt cyclists.
The bike lanes arent the problem, and neither is the budget. It all comes down to how and where the money is used to make cycling safer for everyone, thank you.
I think using “Youtube voice” would be a good strategy for a short or informal talk where you are communicating with the audience rather than speaking to them. The projection of your voice is almost forced and too loud, so anything beyond 5-6 minutes would seem abrasive and strange, but if the topic is as lively as your voice you might be able to get away with it. It works well on Youtube as a way to keep your attention, but in a talk people are more likely to tune you out if you come across as loud or abrasive.
Having done my speech on renovating and creating new bike lanes, I’d want to ask how the city could make safe bike lanes cheaply and sustainably with good quality materials. Having talked to the SFMTA about this issue I discovered that most of the cost of these projects is in the labor not the equipment, which deters the city from doing the projects. I’d ask if the city were going to go ahead with the project how much it would cost, how long they think it would take and if there’s any known way to bring the cost down so more projects can be done. If I had the ability I would also try to see if they could articulate any way the budget for maintaining and creating bike lanes could be increased, with the massive amount of money spent by the city every year there has to be a way to shift things around. I would target the city supervisors or perhaps an individual supervisor in an area where new bike lanes are being proposed, like the richmond. The Bike Coalition could be another potential audience as they have a lot of knowledge and research on bike lane installing and legislation.
Overall I think my s2 speech went pretty well, at first I got a bit ahead of myself and had to look at my notes, but then realized that all the material I wanted to talk about I had memorized from reading it over and over. I missed some of the information I put in my speech, but also expanded on some things I hadn’t planned to, and my voice was very loud and I made sure to constantly be looking around the crowd to keep their attention. I think since I didn’t use my notes I read more off the slides than I should have, but I did manage to reference back to Brianna’s talk in a segway into different material. I could have referenced more sources we talked about in class, but I felt it necessary to make as strong of connections to my topic as I could, in order to keep it simple while still being engaging and insightful. I think the material that I did present was interesting and worthwhile without being too in depth or detailed, the statistical figures about traffic citations and crash statistics were just enough to get you thinking about the implications of bike lanes without being too much information at once. I would have liked to include details from an interview from SFPD or perhaps a city supervisor, but I was unable to set up a time/ get in touch with them for a comment. Overall I think aside from leaving some material out and reading from the slides I gave an insightful and factual presentation that was interesting to everyone even if they didn’t care about the topic.