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    I 100% agree with you.

    A bike coalition should be about establishing a membership base and growing it, supporting existing cyclists, and organizing for political and cultural change.



    I like this, but it’s a bit odd they don’t show the Central Subway when the tunnels are already dug at this point.


    Christopher Childs

    I agree, this is a genuinely challenging issue.

    Parking, traffic, and transit are all interdependent pieces; we can’t adjust one without affecting the balance of the others. If we eliminate parking mandates, transit needs to be concurrently improved, or we just make everyone’s life worse. The people who buy into zero-parking developments won’t feel like they got a good deal; they will feel like they made a very high compromise on their quality of life, since the world doesn’t start and end with Muni and BART. Or they’ll just park a car on the street anyway.



    What if creating public transit that works relies heavily on removing on-street parking to free up space?



    The article was talking about parking entitlements for new residential and business structures and not on-street parking. The voters and taxpayers have made conscious decisions going back for decades to ensure that roads are designed and funded to be wide enough not just for vehicles to travel, but also for vehicles to be able to stop when they get to their destination.

    To try and pull that rug from under the feet of the 600,000 plus people who rely on cars on a daily basis would be an act of unprecedented malice and disrespect, and would lead to the mother of all fights. And realistically the voters would quite simply not accept it and would throw out any politician who suggested it.

    There are of course parking meters, parking restrictions and residential permits that all constrain free unlimited parking. But for much of the city the ability to park close to businesses and residences is absolutely crucial. You need a more thoughtful and less cynical approach.

    The key to reducing peoples’ dependence on cars is to create public transit that works. We the people aren’t willing to take that on trust and will not give up cars until you have delivered.



    I’m in the East Bay, not SF, but I personally have been very effective when working within structures that aren’t inherently bike-specific, either by providing support to organizations already doing great stuff or by helping to bring together individuals with similar interests to represent their own communities. This way it’s not just the “all powerful bike lobby” swooping in, but neighbors talking to neighbors.

    There is indeed the risk that some of our coalition members might not be on board, or that we might get less “credit” for successes, but so far the benefits and increased support from a broader network have far outweighed those downsides.

    Our organizational goals were developed as part of an open and community-driven strategic planning process early last year, which has helped immensely. As mentioned in the article, the SFBC will be going through a similar process later this year, so I’ll be very interested to participate and see how the outcomes of that process affect their organization going forward.



    A good first step would be to formally adopt a policy that the primary function of streets is to enable movement of traffic. Parking should be secondary. So when a conflict arises on using street space for transportation there’s an option to convert space used for parking into transportation.

    The status quo leaves many people expecting that streetside parking will be a perpetual entitlement. This stifles the city’s ability to grow and accommodate the needs of its residents to get around.



    The LACBC is an anti-partner in fighting for change in city hall, as are many of the local NGO’s that claim to do so. Not only do they not help, they suck away resources and attention – a net drag on efforts to improve conditions on the streets.

    The LACBC called and emailed dozens of activists in NELA to shut up about North Figueroa. They did, and we got nothing but more death.

    “Hey, can we use the names and emails in the RideFigueroa list we all helped build up to contact our neighbors and continue to organize?”

    Here, have some social justice: more government work for the LACBC, more lobbying at Metro for contracts, more recreational politics free cycling events, less organizing at the local level, no voter education, no growth in membership.

    The war is nearly over, and we’ve lost. Third rate crap is the rule even when we do get projects. Our NGO’s are parasites and structurally incapable of addressing the problems they were created to work on. We’re back to where we were without the shiny, fun, rebellious edge that helped in the mid-2000’s.



    I’d really like to be shut up with some proof that my criticisms are untrue, that this social justice talk has led to direct material and cultural change that makes my life and the lives of others walking and cycling less likely to end in a car crash, due to diseases of a sedentary lifestyle or pollution.

    All I get back is a bunch of personal attacks and venom, so far.

    If it moves the ball forward and projects get approved, we build a greater political voice for people riding bikes and walking, then yay, I’m all for it. If not, I have less than zero time, I have a deficit of time I’ve already sacrificed on the altar of “trust in the NGO and the process”.



    That’s fine as long as SFBC also understands that, in becoming more inclusive, it also has to take into account broader and sometimes less convenient narratives.

    So if Mission, ChinaTown or Bayview residents tell SFBC that they don’t want bike lanes because of the connotation of gentrification, then SFBC either has to accept that and change policy in those neighborhoods, or commit the error we both note of trying to “re-educate” those communities.

    SFBC and similar organizations have historically responded to minority resentment about bike lanes, bus lanes and pedestrianization projects by branding as “buybodies” or “rabble”. That’s arrogant.

    So the real question is this. How open is SFBC to paying the ideological price for broadening its currently very narrow appeal? How flexible are their imperatives? What you’re describing is a lot easier said than done.



    Sorry, Mark, but there is no other reasonable interpretation of your words and you have failed to explain what else you could have meant.

    Obviously you do “care” because you have now twice tried to rationalize your comment when a more appropriate response would surely have been to simply admit that you were joking


    Damien Newton

    “I wouldn’t describe myself as a bicycle advocate, although I am a person who rides a bike; it’s not my most important identity,” she stressed. “If you told me I could never ride a bike again, I’d be sad, but before I am a person who rides a bike, I am all these other things…
    I’m guessing that nobody has any issues with this. I’ve heard Janette Sadik-Khan say almost the exact same thing.

    So I’m guessing people have trouble with this, “I see my work as using a bicycle as a tool for social justice.” Is it really a bad and scary thing that someone wants to make sure their bike advocacy is making lives better for bicyclists in traditionally disadvantaged communities beyond just those that bicycle really that controversial?



    I did nothing of the sort, but read into it as you will. I honestly could not care less what you think.



    By “effective advocacy” I mean understanding and working to address the needs of anyone who bikes, and coming up with solutions that also benefit many of those who don’t. And even if the SFBC is perceived, wrongly or rightly, as only getting involved for selfish reasons, why would other communities care if their shared goals are still being achieved? At the very least, by engaging these organizations and communities more, the SFBC will have a better understanding of their needs and concerns.

    Not broadening the coalition is what results in what you referred to, which is uninformed outsiders “telling” communities what they need which results in less support and less useful outcomes. The very thing you are complaining about (SFBC becoming more inclusive) is part of what will address the other thing you are complaining about (SFBC patronizing the broader community).


    Damien Newton

    C’Mon…the change of leadership at LACBC had nothing to do with what’s been happening (and not happening) in Northeast L.A., the change in City Council leadership did.


    Jeffrey Baker

    My experience tells me that most bicycle-swallowing potholes are caused by utility crews. Is this new department also responsible for coordinating excavations by utilities?





    A useful rule of thumb is that as soon as an organization includes the word “justice” in its goals, it ceases to be effective. The word has become meaningless what with social justice, economic justice, racial justice, environmental justice, legal justice, transportation justice, the list never ends.

    What happened to the good old-fashioned words like “liberal” or “socialist”. Or have they all become discredited?



    “thereby creating a larger coalition of supporters with more effective advocacy and bargaining power”

    Sure, but if the reaching out is little more than a crude attempt to garner their votes and support, then the local community will see right through that. This should not be a “white man’s burden” re-education program and the problem right now is that SFBC does a good job of talking and a lousy job of listening.

    So SFBC (and other transport advocate groups) show up at meetings to tell the Chinese in ChinaTown they must lose car access from Stockton, tell the Asians in the Sunset they must mess with Taraval. tell Hispanics in the Mission that they must have forced right turns, and then wonder why almost all the staff and board of these organizations are white.

    And when non-white people tell SFBC that bike lanes help gentrify their neighborhood, you don’t tell them they are wrong. Otherwise the manifest destiny of their venture will be more failure.



    It’s not clear how this results in safer streets and actual social justice.

    This does appear to have increased the number of non-profit jobs available for people who don’t seem to be doing a very good job of advocating for the causes they are hired to champion.

    I stopped all giving and community work with the LA County Bike Coalition after we were sold out by that organization and “social justice” was used an an excuse to stop a bike lane project in an area with a high proportion of low income non-white utility cyclists.

    The LA Bike Coalition has become a jobs act for people dedicated to lip service and not community service. The 2,000+ petition I helped build up has been used to advertise the bike coalition, and not as a tool to effectively organize and advocate for actual, physical, cultural, change in the way the city is planned and operated.

    My neighbors have died, my commute is loud and dangerous and polluted and we’ve lost 7+ years obeying the “process” and listening to non-profits.

    Now we’re being told we’re not “diverse” enough. Well take a look at the streets and tell me we’re not diverse enough. I support meaningful, rapid, change in the way our city streets are designed and the way our culture is oriented towards cyclists. Beyond that, start your own NGO for your social justice causes or you can expect a continued dwindling of your membership and dues.

    Our local non-profits are, for the most part, a bought and paid for subsidiary of the governments and departments they claim to lobby for change. They are constantly fighting for a pay check from government agencies instead of working form the ground up to build up a self-supporting membership and social network of private donors.

    I’ve grown incredibly cynical about this whole “social justice” bent I keep hearing about while I’m watching neighbors die in the streets like stray dogs. We can do better than this.



    I don’t often agree with Murpstahoe but he is correct here. HSR cannot operate with at-grade crossings. Unless the trains are speed-restricted at that location anyway.



    Yes. Exactly this.

    2014-2015 SFBC accomplishments: pushing uphill important infrastructure projects: 2nd street, Masonic, Cargo Way, Market Street Plan (with private auto turn restrictions), San Jose Ave, list goes on…

    2015-2016 SFBC accomplishments: attempted election coup by foaming SJWs (half-successful, half-thwarted), ham-handed city hall interactions over Vision Zero, more cyclist fatalities, and now pandering to identity politics (“WTF riders”, seriously SFBC?!), apologism for the very same groups causing SFMTA to water down important projects like Mission Street for transit, etc, list goes on…

    Effective advocacy groups need to be about practicality and the real facts on the street, not pandering and virtue-signalling.


    SF Guest

    I make no argument this may be a missed opportunity for adding new homes (but I would still choose not to live at any site with known toxins whether or not it’s cleaned up); however, Brisbane residents and its planning commission have the final say.

    As RichLL points out:

    “But those same [Brisbane] residents vote on this and you and I don’t, so they may not care whether we listen or not.”

    The City of SF cannot simply dictate to an adjacent city we’re building umpteenth houses and you have to follow our model unless both cities can reach a joint agreement.



    Only in areas where it will run much faster than in blended operation with Caltrain on the Peninsula.



    False. No “special infrastructure” for HSR running blended with Caltrain and its remaining at-grade crossings on the Peninsula. Over time, grade separations will continue to be built as funds and local politics permit … just as they have and will with Caltrain.



    Mostly white areas typically have high housing costs. The cheaper areas are usually “majority minority”. If you really wanted cheaper housing you would not have consciously chosen an area that is 87% white.

    But hey, I don’t care if someone feels more comfortable when surrounded with similar colored faces. I just think that people like that shouldn’t be lecturing others on the value and importance of diversity.



    The reason I wouldn’t be happy with this result is that it’s kind of emblematic of the current development pattern, where a great deal of money is spent on infrastructure, including all of the above things (which are nice enough)– but the amount of housing is limited, in no small part because of car traffic concerns. As a result, those transportation investments are not very cost-effective when considered on a per-capita basis, while the limited amount of housing is only affordable to those who can easily afford cars anyway. It’s stupid and wasteful.



    But it’s not that simple. Part of the idea here is the bike advocacy should serve to advocate for a broad coalition of bike users, instead of just the people who are typically most active in the organization. People who don’t wear spandex need bike infrastructure too; bike lanes that serve neighborhoods like the Tenderloin are important. It’s not about changing the group’s focus, but rather hearing from a broader range of voices than “the usual suspects,” especially people who depend on cycling rather than choose it as a lifestyle.

    Ride down Market St. often enough and you’ll run into people riding $1,000 bikes carrying $400 bags. You’ll also see a guy riding a beat-up BMX bike, maybe popping the occasional wheelie. What does that guy think about bike infrastructure in SF and what does he want from the city? Which one is more likely to be active in SFBC efforts?

    And by all means, if you see the SFBC transformed into a group that doesn’t do any bike advocacy anymore, you can tell me you told me so.



    There’s enough excess land to add rail in the sides and/or median of the current 980 alignment without eliminating or curtailing the freeway.



    One of the biggest reasons there is no bike infrastructure, and that biking isn’t considered “transportation” is because the industry, and our society only has 2 versions of biking: kids toy, adult toy (for racing / triathlon / mid-life crisis gift).

    Transportation and economic opportunity are linked. Environmental justice and bicycling are linked (intentionally and unintentionally). Looking at these “intersectional” issues broadens the potential number or advocates, allies and impact.


    Brian B

    What thoughtful discussion! And fascinating that bay bridge capacity is lower now than in 1937. Anyone familiar with what capacity we could get out of the bridge with high-speed autonomous buses (which are synced and could travel even more densely than human-driven). With a couple dedicated lanes, and connections to autonomous vanpools and cars at either end, it could be a much faster commute than today, but am wondering if it could provide enough capacity to make a second tunnel unnecessary.



    “Gash”? 980’s a grade-separated road; replacing it with a busy, street-level boulevard would be far more hazardous to pedestrians. Meanwhile, West Oakland is rapidly becoming a more desirable neighborhood — “gash” and all — to the point where there’s now endless kvetching about gentrification and “displacement” (as if the integration of a former monolithically black ghetto represents a loss of “diversity”).

    If the issue is a matter of being “green,” push for faster adoption of electric cars. Face it, you folks simply hate drivers and the autonomy we enjoy, setting our own timetables. Enough with the current vogue for contrived congestion, for oversized gnat lanes and your affection for those lumbering, passenger-hated fart-boxes. Punishing and infuriating drivers creates road rage, not “calming.”

    This is California. Stop trying to turn it into the Bronx.



    You complain that a (landscaped, grade-separated) freeway is a “gash,” but you’d replace it with a busy, at-grade street crossing — or a rail yard? WTF????



    For bus lines, the number is preceded by the term “fart-box,” not “the.”



    Hear hear! It’s not about distracting bike organizations from their core goals, but understanding where those goals and needs intersect with those of other organizations and individuals, thereby creating a larger coalition of supporters with more effective advocacy and bargaining power, and better representation of the communities they serve. Of course people who don’t want to see bike advocates succeed would rather they remain an insular and isolated community.



    That’s true. BART service though should be running between San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. The dense cities.



    Wow, and all this time I thought I was moving away from high rents.



    Murphy, so your big point is that you moved from Noe Valley (70% white) to Sonoma County (87% white) and you wish to reserve the right to lecture us on diversity?

    You know, the very thing you made a conscious decision to move away from?

    You are the very last person to be in a position to claim the moral high ground here, not that that has ever stopped you.



    Why do you care? Wouldn’t it be in your best interest for the bike coalition to collapse? Or would be upset that you’d have to find a new “debate club”



    Tell it to Tamika. Your movement is being hijacked by these “justice” warriors who, ultimately, do not share your values or goals at all.

    But yeah, since terms like “left-wing”, “socialist” and “communist” are all verboten these days, everyone is “progressive” and a “social justice warrior”.

    Like who doesn’t like progress and justice, huh?



    It’s the fact that people like you aren’t worrying that is the worrying part. You are oblivious to the threat that chazz is describing.



    Not worried one bit



    Left Wing?

    They’re just freaking bikes lady!



    But you have to keep the numbers focused on the organization’s mission. What happens is that organizations get hijacked by SJWs who want to change the group’s focus to so-called social and economic justice issues.



    Every left wing organization sooner or later gets into a bout of navel gazing introspection over how it can be more politically correct than thou. That’s because there is cadre of members who care not for the mission of the group, only for taking it over to advance their SJW agenda. Act UP SF is a prime example. It was created to expedite the release of AIDS drugs and devolved into a dysfunctional, Trotskyist organization.



    I offered no opinion about the desirability of such infrastructure. I merely pointed out that, in the grand global scheme of things, 101 having 10 or 12 lanes is not outlandish or excessive. That China freeway has four times as many lanes but then China has four times as many people..

    Whether it actually happens or not isn’t a matter for you or I, but rather for the people who will continue to move to this location. They will have the money and the votes to decide what kind of city they want.



    Great interview thanks! Jeff was being modest as the East Bay BRT project does include some significant bike amenities. The buses themselves will provide on-board bike access and bike parking at most stops, and the striping plans include a bike lane on 11th Street in Downtown Oakland, on E 12th Street completing the gap between Lake Merritt and Fruitvale, and on International Blvd from around 54th Ave out to 84th Ave or so. The bike lanes are pretty standard and unremarkable for the most part, but they do provide a little bit of space for bike riders in parts of town where bikeways are currently few and far between.

    These are kind of old, but the East Bay BRT striping plans are available to view online here for anyone who is interested:



    And that’s something to aspire to?

    Even if you widen the freeways (at unfathomable expense), all those cars need somewhere to go to, which means vast parking garages and widened local streets as well. It’s not something that should happen, and it won’t.



    Some day in the near future when everyone is walking around wearing augmented reality goggles this problem will be solved with a virtual fig leaf app.



    You already tried that line.

    And no, your only crime is unreflected bias.