Bike Advisory Committee Works for Better Bicycling in San Francisco

The Bicycle Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting discusses safety and infrastructure. Image: Streetsblog.
The Bicycle Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting discuss safety and infrastructure. Members: Marc Brandt (D3), Ilyse Magi (D9), Paul Wells (D10), Bert Hill (D7), Diane Serafini (D8), Melyssa Mendoza (D5), Casey dos Santos-Allen (D11). Image: Streetsblog.

Streetsblog checked in with the dedicated volunteers of the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) on Monday evening at its monthly meeting. The BAC was created by an ordinance back in 1990. The group consists of appointees representing each of the supervisorial districts. It advises San Francisco on matters related to bike safety and infrastructure. The chair is Bert Hill, who is also a veteran Bicycle Education Instructor with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC). In a pre-meeting interview with Streetsblog, Hill said he wants more attention paid to roads where cyclists generally don’t ride. His argument is that some roads are so intimidating that cyclists avoid them almost completely, so they don’t get considered in the criteria for which roads get bike safety treatments in SFMTA’s plans. “Is the criteria that you have to get someone killed to get checked off as requiring a bike safety project?” he quipped.

Once the meeting got underway, around 6:30 p.m., the committee heard from SFMTA about its plans to hire a vendor to assist in bike safety education. Next Libby Nachman, program coordinator for the SFBC, addressed the committee about several projects, including this year’s upcoming “bike to work day,” which will be Thursday, May 12. “We will celebrate with commuter convoys from every district, ending with a press conference on steps of City Hall,” she told the BAC. The committee also celebrated the planned addition of more bike cars on Caltrain. “The addition of third bike car is something we fought hard for and we won last year,” said Nachman. “It will significantly increase capacity for bikes on trains.”

Bert Hill, chair of the committee, with his bike pin. Image: Streetsblog.
Bert Hill, chair of the committee, with his bike pin. Image: Streetsblog.

The Committee discussed their pleasure at San Francisco officially abandoning “Levels of Service,” (LOS) basically, bureaucratic speak for state environmental laws that forced planners to view any transit or bicycle project primarily in terms of how it impacts the flow of automobiles. “Shame that it took over a decade to get change,” said Hill to the committee, bemoaning how many bad projects got built under the LOS criteria.

Devon Warner spoke to the committee about the next planned “Ride of Silence” event in San Francisco, which will start at The Grotto Sports Basement on Bryant Street at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 18. The ride is part of an international, annual bike ride to commemorate cyclists killed or hurt on public streets. “The ride is extremely valuable,” she said. “All of us cyclists have near misses every day. It could be any of us. We do want to inform the public that we’re human beings who just happen to be on bikes.”

Near the end of the meeting, which adjourned around 8:30, Hill showed the group a video about his concerns on bicycle safety on a stretch of Bosworth Street, near the Glen Park BART station. This is a sore spot for Hill, who was rear-ended by a motorist while riding his bicycle on this stretch some two years ago. The video he showed seemed to push the committee towards the old vehicular-versus-infrastructure argument of cycling advocates, by focusing on sharrows on Bosworth Street, which in Hill’s view are dangerously misplaced too far from the centerline of the lane. Marc Brandt of District 4 of the BAC opined that sharrows aren’t the real answer and instead the existing guard rail should be moved over to form a protected bike lane on at least part of Bosworth. Hill agreed and said he wants the painted sharrows improved only as a quick, temporary fix.

The committee discussed many other topics, such as poor drainage on some bike paths and concerns about Market Street. The BAC meets the fourth Monday evening of each month, starting at 6:30, in Room 408 of San Francisco City Hall. For more information on how to participate, check out the BAC website.

  • Mario Tanev

    With LOS gone, where are discussions of parking-protected lanes on Valencia, Folsom, 17th, Sloat, etc?

  • ride_it_like_you_stole_it

    Did LOS play a role in those designs?

  • PaleoBruce

    > SFMTA about its plans to hire a vendor to assist in bike safety education.

    Someone once told me that dog training classes are really about training the dog owners. The risk to pedestrians and bicyclists in San Francisco is caused largely by untrained motorists. Let’s train the motorists too.

  • RichLL

    I cannot speak to the actual reasons for abandoning those ideas but there are two reasons in general for not doing that even if the usable width of the road is not reduced.

    First, on streets where where almost every building has a garage or driveway, then there may not be enough on-street parking to provide much protection anyway. So with the new Masonic plan, the parking was just removed – some blocks have a lot and some have little.

    But of course that is highly unpopular with the people who live there.

    Second, in a case like Valencia with over-flowing side-walks at night, putting the bike lane next to the side-walk would just mean getting obstructed by drunk people rather than double-parked Uber cars. Even as it is I see people walking in the bike lane at night.

    Also, having it as an extension of the side-walk will encourage strollers, wheelchairs, skateboards, shopping carts etc. Maybe they are all valid forms of non-powered wheeled vehicles, but they are not conducive to the idea of a high-volume, high-speed bike lane.

  • Anna Marrie

    B.S! Almost all bicyclists also either drive cars or have driven cars. The two safety issues that piss me off are on the bike end. : 1) stop blinding everyone with your stupid flashing LED lights. YES! I can now see you but nothing else. hate that. 2) Mommies and Daddies who cant give up anything in life, including a bicycle built for two (s.heads) or other ill- designed contraptions with BABIES in the carriage whilst blissfully getting a work out, spending “quality” time with the kids,and motoring home (sans motor) from GOOOOOGLE or whereever they store their heads before shoving them up their arses. It’s DANGEROUS. You know it., I know it., and your dead kids will know it when you get blind sided in this overcrowded HILL-RIDDEN death trap of a pedestrian/biking city.

    yikes. okay. I’m done. …. but seriously, it’s dangerous.(and irritating apparently).

  • murphstahoe

    really? flashing LED lights bother you more than drunk driving and texting and driving?

  • Anna Marrie

    no, not “IN LIFE” but in general. Meaning, Ive never encountered a drunk driver that I am aware of. I bet lots of people have not. Doesn’t mean they aren’t right next to me but I can’t say that for sure. I only mentioned two things that I experience on a daily basis (not in theory).
    Also, I’m talking about legal behavior that I would prefer be illegal. Because they are dangerous and could result in death just like the already illegal dangerous behavior of driving drunk. You are kinda making my point for me.

  • Anna Marrie

    of course dog training is training the owner. Dogs can’t read. Dogs give a rats booty about structure and societal norms. We decide that stuff and then once we apply it consistently we are trained and of course ergo so is the dog. I’m not an untrained motorist. I just want your stupid bicycle built for two schmucks and baby off the road. Go to Golden Gate Park. Roads are for the transportation of thousands of strangers. Why is your baby here? Just poor judgment. (“oooohhh , but it’s legal”) So what? It’s stupidly negligent. Just a pet peeve I guess. I find it astonishing.