Streetscast: An Interview with David Chiu

David_Chiu_bike_commuter.jpgSupervisor David Chiu doesn't own a car and walks, bikes and takes public transportation. 

District 3 Supervisor and newly-elected Board President David Chiu says he would be willing to consider a car-free Market Street and study an idea by the Transportation Authority to charge drivers a user fee to manage congestion.

Though he was cautious, and didn't express outright support for a car-free Market Street, a concept resurrected by Supervisor Chris Daly last year, he said he is well aware of examples in other cities where closing down major thoroughfares has worked to attract more foot traffic and business.

"I think that most drivers of private vehicles have bad experiences anyway going down Market Street. Most people don't choose to use Market Street as a thoroughfare.  So, I would be open to looking at examples but I think we need to do this in close conjunction with not just transit experts but the local business community along Market Street."

Chiu sat down with Streetsblog San Francisco in his City Hall office for a brief interview one day after rising to one of the most powerful positions in city politics. I saw it as an opportunity to present our first Streetscast:

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Chiu also expressed his support for the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) and said he held his first meeting with MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford last week. 

"I very much want to make sure that there is a lot of focus from the Board of Supervisors on the effectiveness of MTA," said Chiu.

Other highlights from the interview:

  • On the bike injunction: "I very much support moving as fast as we can to lift the bike injunction and moving forward with really developing all of the bike paths that we need."
  • On the budget deficit: "It will affect our ability to invest more in the programs around public transit and public transportation. All this being said, I think right now in this budget crisis it is critical for us as a city to think about whether there are innovative programs that either will not cost money or could potentially save money to move forward in certain areas."
  • On bureaucracy and dysfunction in city government: "We are a city government that is well known for having a great deal of public process to allow everyday citizens to weigh in on governmental decisions and to really have a meaningful input. That input is often at the expense of being able to move quickly with things and this is certainly an area that I think I and others would love to move faster than we've been able to."
  • On District 3 transportation issues: "District 3 is the densest neighborhood not just in San Francisco but really on the West Coast, and it is incredibly important that the transit options in my district are robust. And frankly I find those options often to be somewhat lagging on a number of respects. Obviously we don't have enough bike lanes in the district. Muni is late 30-percent of the time."
Flickr Photo: Greg Dewar, N-Judah Chronicles