Mayor Ed Lee has made it clear that he has no plans to take leadership on funding San Francisco’s vision for making bicycling a mainstream mode of transportation.
During a question-and-answer session at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Eric Mar asked the mayor how he will help fund the SFMTA’s Draft Bicycle Strategy, a compass to guide the city toward its official goal of having 20 percent of trips by bike by 2020. Essentially, as the Bay Guardian put it, Mar’s question “is simply asking the mayor whether he will put his money where his mouth is.”
But in the mayor’s tepid, convoluted answer (reprinted below), he never says that SF needs to invest more in bicycling.
In other words, Lee said “No.” He’s not going to put his money where his mouth is. All those feel-good statements about building 100 miles of protected bike lanes? Apparently, Lee has no intention of following through.
Instead of embracing calls to allocate a relatively modest sum to help put SF on par with cities like New York and Chicago — which are getting safer streets and better economic outcomes out of their investments in bike infrastructure — Lee asserted that the city is already doing enough to encourage bicycling.
According to the Bike Strategy, the “20 percent” vision would require an investment of $500 million in infrastructure like protected bike lanes — which would still amount to less than 8 percent of the SFMTA’s capital spending, according the SF Bicycle Coalition. With a smaller investment of $200 million — the scenario deemed most realistic by the SFMTA — the city could reach a bike mode share of 8 to 10 percent by 2018. Currently, the agency only has $30 million in funding secured for bicycle improvements during that time period.
To put the $500 million citywide network of safe bicycle infrastructure in perspective with other SF transportation projects, the 1.7-mile Central Subway costs $1.6 billion, the replacement of Doyle Drive with the Presidio Parkway costs roughly $1 billion, and BART’s newly proposed expansion of Embarcadero and Montgomery Stations would cost an estimated $900 million. As Bikes Belong’s Martha Roskowski noted during her San Francisco visit last week, “It’s a drop in the bucket of the ‘great big spending’ of the city. It’s really a question of priorities.”
But in his statement, Mayor Lee failed to even acknowledge the need for increased investment in bicycling — a turnaround from his occasional pro-bike rhetoric, and a huge disappointment to San Franciscans who took it to heart.