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Is BART Ready for the Big One?

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BART in San Francisco. The foundations of columns have been excavated and reinforced. Image: Wikipedia Commons.

BART in San Francisco. Column foundations have been excavated and reinforced. Image: Wikipedia Commons.

Last week, the White House and members of Congress renewed a commitment to completing “ShakeAlert,” a prototype early warning system developed at UC Berkeley that alerts users via cell phones and other means of an earthquake in progress. Although it can’t predict earthquakes, it sends a signal a few seconds before the most violent shaking starts, giving people a chance to duck under a table or take other precautions.

While that may not seem like much, it’s incredibly important for a few professions–and could potentially save many lives. Fire Department garage doors can automatically open, since they often jam in a quake. Surgeons can pause a delicate operation. And BART trains can apply the brakes.

So how does it work?

“It’s like the midnight ride of Paul Revere. You find out after the Red Coats have arrived, but it gives you time to prepare,” said Sarah Minson, a Menlo Park seismologist with the US Geological Survey. She also likens it to the delay between when one sees lightening and hears the accompanying thunder. Earthquakes come in two waves: the first one travels faster, but doesn’t do much damage. The second wave comes behind it; it’s the one that collapses buildings and derails trains. California already has some 400 sensors distributed near fault lines to detect these initial waves and send out the warning.

BART is participating in the system’s development. “We’ve had the beta in place since 2012,” explained BART Director John McPartland in an interview with Streetsblog. “We test the system quarterly.” When that initial wave is detected, ShakeAlert automatically cuts power and starts decelerating trains—to about the same rate they slow to when entering a station. Depending on the distance from the earthquake epicenter, that means 60 to 90 seconds of warning, which is enough to stop or significantly slow a train. The trains could stop faster, but then there’s a risk of “throwing and injuring passengers,” explained McPartland. The train conductor can decide to manually hit the emergency brake, if faster braking seems warranted.

The system actually had something approximating a real-world test during the Napa quake in 2014. That quake happened at 3:20 am and “we weren’t running any trains at the time,” said McPartland. “But the signal was received and everything seemed to work.”

Meanwhile, there was one very successful test of this type of system. The devastating 8.9 earthquake of March 11, 2011 in Japan triggered that country’s own warning system and 33 bullet trains automatically applied the emergency brakes, preventing any loss of life. California’s High-Speed Rail project will also have this kind of earthquake protection.
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Bigger Intersections and More Traffic Planned for Millbrae BART/Caltrain Station

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El Camino Real and Millbrae Avenue

Millbrae Avenue at El Camino Real in Millbrae, slated for expansion with even more traffic lanes despite its location at San Mateo County’s busiest transit hub. Photo: Google Maps

As the City of Millbrae inches closer to final approval of plans for new construction at the Millbrae BART/Caltrain Station, officials have quietly proposed adding new traffic lanes and traffic signals to intersections near the station. The traffic expansions aim to cram even more auto traffic through the area, worsening already hazardous conditions for people walking or bicycling to and from the station.

The draft Millbrae Station Area Specific Plan to construct two major mixed-use developments on the Millbrae Station’s surface parking lots and along El Camino Real west of the station was released last June. The draft proposed only two new traffic signals and no lane additions be considered to support additional auto traffic, and envisioned a redeveloped station area that would boost both transit use and retail sales by making major safety improvements for pedestrians.

“Streets and intersections in the Plan Area will be reconfigured to provide a safer and more pleasant walking and biking environment that can be enjoyed by children, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” states the station area plan.

But last Tuesday Millbrae’s City Council approved a set of General Plan amendments allowing city engineers to add new traffic lanes to El Camino Real and Millbrae Avenue – already eight lanes across, including turn lanes – as well as lane additions or new traffic signals to three other intersections. This despite the fact that the project’s Environmental Impact Report, adopted by the city on January 12, recommended against these traffic lane additions, calling them “legally infeasible.”

“The plan as laid out in text and drawings prioritizes the convenience of auto traffic and parking at the expense of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit,” wrote Sierra Club representatives in a January 22 letter to the City Council. They also wrote that it contradicts “the concept of a Transit Oriented Development.”

Intersection Expansions

Traffic lane additions planned for two El Camino Real intersections adjacent to the Millbrae BART/Caltrain Station. Image: City of Millbrae

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Can the Uber App Stop Reckless Drivers?

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Could cell phone technology help police stop a reckless driver before a crash results? Source: Wikimedia

Could cell phone technology help police stop a reckless driver before a crash results? Source: Wikimedia

Gyro-meters and accelerometers are circuits inside your cell phone that detect movement. It is part of how the phone helps you navigate and how the screen stays oriented. But it may also work to identify how harshly a driver is swerving, braking, and accelerating.

Last week Uber announced it is launching a pilot program to see if it’s feasible to use this technology to double check the ratings of its drivers. “If the rating is low, we ask why. It might be that a driver is unhappy about an unruly rider. Or a rider is worried that her driver was going too fast,” wrote Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer on Uber’s blog. “Either way, we need to check what actually happened…increasingly technology can help get to the truth.”

Uber is hoping they can eventually use the data to pro-actively determine if a driver is consistently accelerating and braking too hard or speeding.

But that leads to a second, more intriguing possibility—if this all works, couldn’t it open the way for monitoring all drivers? “Things are still in pilot phase,” explained Laura Zapata, a spokeswoman for Uber, who met with Streetsblog at their headquarters on Market Street. It is “definitely a big step that could be key for Vision Zero goals.” If Uber’s engineers can figure out how to use this data to identify habitual speeding and other reckless driving habits, and any legal hurdles can be overcome, there could be a future app that can be used by insurance companies and law enforcement.

There is already precedent. State Farm, for example, has its “Drive Safe & Save” usage-based insurance program. It tracks miles driven, speed, how often and how hard brakes are applied, and time of day/days per week a car is driven to apply a discount to the customer’s premium, explained Sevag Sarkissian, a representative for State Farm in the Bay Area, although he points out that it’s not legal to use all of that data in California. Janet Ruiz, the California representative for the Insurance Information Institute, told Streetsblog that many insurance companies offer a device one can plug into their car that judges how abruptly a driver stops and starts. But Uber’s project, she said, may be the first time a company is looking at a potentially universal way to track driver behavior in real time.
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Meetings Underway for East Bay and San Jose Bike Share Expansion

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Bike-Share is Expanding in the East Bay. Photo: Courtesy of Motivate.

Bike-Share is Expanding in the East Bay. Photo: Courtesy of Motivate.

A few weeks ago, Streetsblog was happy to tell you about meetings to get input for a huge expansion of San Francisco’s bike-share program. The East Bay and San Jose are moving forward with their plans as well, bringing the number of share bikes in the region from 700 to 7,000 over the next few years.

Motivate, which is managing the bike-share system throughout the Bay Area, held its first meeting on Monday in Berkeley. If you missed it, you can still give your input and suggest bike-share locations online at

“I can’t wait to jump on a bike when we bring this program to Oakland in the fall,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, in a prepared statement. “Active transportation improves public health, promotes economic development, helps the environment, and is fun and affordable. We’re committed to making sure that the benefits of bike sharing serve neighborhoods and residents across our city.”

“Berkeley is a vibrant, world-class city that is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. “Motivate’s partnership with MTC gives us another important tool in our efforts to combat climate change and makes bike sharing a reality in our city.”

The workshops are offered twice on each date, covering the same material. Each workshop will be focused on stations in that locality.

San Jose District 3 Bike Share Workshop

Co-sponsored by Councilmember Raul Peralez
February 4, 2016
6:00PM – 7:00PM and 7:00PM – 8:00PM
King Library, Room 225, 150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose

Oakland Districts 2 & 3 Bike Share Workshop

Co-sponsored by Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and Councilmember Abel Guillén
February 18, 2016
6:00PM – 7:00PM and 7:00PM – 8:00PM
SPUR, 1544 Broadway, Oakland

Emeryville Bike Share Workshop

Co-sponsored by Mayor Dianne Martinez
February 11, 2016
6:00PM – 7:00PM and 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Emeryville City Hall, Council Chambers, 1333 Park Avenue, Emeryville

Upcoming workshops will be announced online. And, of course, those unable to attend a workshop can submit station ideas any time online at suggest-a-station portal.


North of Panhandle Meeting Stressed Data and Parking Parking Parking

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Supervisor London Breed talking at the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association. Photo: Roger Rudick

Supervisor London Breed talking at the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association. Photo: Roger Rudick

Thursday night, I was exhausted from covering so many stories in this crazy city that I love. So I grabbed my laptop and headed out to my favorite Divisadero coffee shop to catch up on Facebook and maybe look at some funny cat videos.I walked in the door, ordered, and heard: “Hey Roger! So glad you could make it!”

It was Janice Li, Advocacy Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. She’d given me a tour of bike projects on Market Street and the Wiggle just the week before.

In my attempt to escape, I’d walked into the monthly meeting of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association. No sooner had that registered, when I turned around and found myself face-to-face with SFPD Park Division Captain John Sanford. Janice started to introduce us. “I know who he is. Glad to meet you Captain,” I said, shaking his hand. “I’m the new editor of Streetsblog.” I wondered if he’d read my piece where I jokingly compared his bicycle crackdown logic to the Spanish Inquisition.

Sanford and Captain Greg McEachern gave presentations about policing and crime levels in the area. They both asked that residents contact them immediately about any “quality of life” problems. They also talked about crime stats. McEachern mentioned that they’d start a foot beat on Divisidaro. It seemed odd there wasn’t one already on such a busy street, but I’d already heard that SFPD is not big on getting out of their cruisers.

Cathy DeLuca, Policy and Program Manager for WalkSF, gave a great presentation about Vision Zero and their goals for making streets safer. First, she helped get the audience up to speed on the current situation.

“At least three people walking every day get hit in this city,” she said. “One-quarter of all trauma patients are pedestrians hit by cars.” She explained that by focusing on the most dangerous activities on the most dangerous streets, the police and SFMTA can start to bring those numbers down.

“The city has gathered data and crunched the numbers: six percent of city streets are responsible for 60 percent of crashes. The top five things that cause injuries and deaths are speeding, not yielding, not stopping at stop signs, not stopping at red lights, and improper turning,” she said. “They’re not accidents. They are predictable events.” Above all, she stressed the importance of using data to dictate policies for law enforcement, speed limits, and street designs.

Next, Oliver Gajda, a planner from SFMTA, presented on the Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project, which is slated to start construction in a few months. The project will add a landscaped median, bus stop enhancements and raised bikeways. But instead of talking about the great things the project will bring, he focused on how the city will make up for lost street parking on Masonic.


Raised bike lanes and landscaping will eliminate street parking. Image: SFMTA

Raised bike lanes and landscaping will eliminate street parking on Masonic. Image: SFMTA

To add more parking, the city is considering blocks of nearby Turk, Central, Lyon and other streets for 90-degree, angled parking. An audience member brought up that she doesn’t like angled parking, because it’s hard to see oncoming cyclists. At that point, I chimed in. It occurred to me that if they’re re-configuring parking, why not add a cycle path between the curb and the parked cars, to created a simple protected bike lane? It would require blocks to make sure cars don’t pull up too far, but that’s cheap. Not exactly a ground breaking idea, so I thought.

Gajda was emphatic that there wasn’t room, and besides, they were building a bike lane on Masonic. I kept pointing out that building a raised bike lane on Masonic, as part of a relatively complex and expensive street improvement project, is not an argument for not building a simple parking-protected bike lane on another street. After all, the city is spending the money to reconfigure the parking regardless. Somewhere between 90 degree parking, which the city is considering, and parallel parking, there has to be an angle that will make enough room for a bike lane along the curb without blocking the car lane, even if that costs a handful of parking spots.

“You should suggest that,” said another representative from MTA.

“I just did,” I answered.

It’s unfortunate, but much of SFMTA is in a mindset that all safety improvements are necessarily complicated. They’re not. The agency also thinks safety improvements can only happen if the overall number of parking spaces is maintained. That’s an attitude that has to go. After that, Supervisor London Breed talked about the housing crisis. I was going to make a suggestion that if the city didn’t allot so much land to parking, there would be more for housing. But I decided it was time to move on to funny cat videos.

My takeaway from my first, impromptu community meeting: San Francisco is a city full of super smart, wildly dedicated, and truly awesome people. And Streetsblog, WalkSF, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and other groups for street safety have their work cut out for them.

See you tonight, Monday, Jan.25 at the Streetsblog Happy Hour at Virgil’s.


Bike Psych: Can Bay Area Drivers and Cyclists Get Along?

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Dutch Streets Segregate Car and Bikes with Curbs, Trees, Buffers and Phased Signals. Photo: Roger Rudick

Dutch streets segregate cars and bikes with curbs, trees, buffers and signals. Photo: Roger Rudick

Yesterday, John Robert Donovan, 41, of Mill Valley, accepted a plea-bargain that got him a misdemeanor conviction, two years of probation, 80 hours of community service, and a $4,134 fine plus court costs, as reported in the Marin Independent Journal. Last November, Donovan, who was driving a Tesla, reportedly got into a road rage incident with some cyclists on Shoreline Highway. When one of the cyclists flipped off his wife, Donovan overtook, cut them off, and braked—causing one of the cyclists to crash into his car. Donovan then drove off.

It seems not a week passes without some kind of car-versus-bike road rage incident.

Just last week, cyclist Danica Helb was pepper sprayed by a motorist. “I got a call from Sergeant O’Connor, who recorded a detailed description of the events,” she wrote in an email to Streetsblog. “He said he is investigating the case as a battery, and would be following up with the witnesses.”

And then there’s this madness from last year, captured on video. The driver nearly ran over a cyclist who was riding safely in the bike lane. But instead of apologizing, the motorist gets out and screams and kicks at the cyclist.

No doubt next week there will be another conflict. And another. People will continue to get hurt. Sometimes they are intentionally killed.

What’s really going on here?

Dr. Robert Nemerovski is a psychologist with practices in San Francisco and Marin who specializes in anger management. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the psychology of road rage. He’s also a cyclist. “I feel extremely threatened by automobiles–they’ve got metal and airbags and I’ve got nothing,” he said. “So when a car gets too close or cuts me off or doesn’t see me, even with my flashers and my obnoxious yellow outfit, it’s really a gut reaction that my life is in jeopardy.” Read more…


Mayor Vetoes Bike Yield But Advocates Must Never Yield to Regressive Politics

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The veto of Bike Yield can't be permitted to discourage advocates for safe streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The veto of Bike Yield can’t be permitted to discourage advocates for safe streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Mayor Edwin Lee officially vetoed the “Bike Yield” ordinance yesterday. Without enough votes to override, supporting supervisors will have to figure out a compromise plan, such as a pilot project. The bill’s author, Supervisor John Avalos, already prepared for that contingency. Not surprisingly, Avalos was frustrated with the Mayor’s veto. “SFPD has focused traffic enforcement on places where bicycling is common instead of on high collision corridors. It is clear we have a ways to go with our Vision Zero efforts,” he said in an email to Streetsblog.

The veto is also an opportunity for safe-streets advocates to take stock and get clarity on what transpired.

First, the Mayor’s veto. He said he is “not willing to trade away safety for convenience.” In response, Avalos wrote that “it’s disappointing to hear the Mayor confuse smart, targeted traffic enforcement with ‘convenience.'” The Mayor has often referred to the ordinance as if it would have legalized the “Idaho Stop” in San Francisco; that means allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield. Of course, that’s not the proposal, as this excellent editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out last September. Streetsblog has also attempted to clarify—multiple times.

Avalos and the other bill sponsors were responding to complaints from cyclists on the Wiggle and elsewhere because SFPD was cracking down on safety-minded cyclists for not coming to an absolute stop at stop signs. Cyclists might like an Idaho Stop law, but the proposed Bike Yield ordinance did not actually go there. It can’t go there; San Francisco can’t change state traffic laws.

All the ordinance would do is instruct the San Francisco Police to make citing cyclists who roll carefully through stop signs the lowest priority, so they can instead focus invaluable, finite law-enforcement resources on stopping dangerous traffic violations. In other words, the law was attempting to cajole the police into pursuing “Vision Zero” and the “Focus on the Five” most dangerous behaviors. Every minute a cop spends writing a ticket for a cyclist who went through a stop sign at less than six mph, is a minute he’s not out looking for a crazy cyclist who blew through a stop sign at 25 mph; or speeding cars that regularly kill people.

“We must focus our scarce traffic enforcement resources on behaviors that are creating dangers,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, a supporter of the Bike Yield ordinance. Police need to focus on cyclists who are “blowing through stop signs and red lights. Or doing things that actually put people in danger.”

Put simply, the Mayor vetoed a law that would have re-directed finite police resources from technical but benign offenses to things that hurt and kill.

Ironically, nobody illustrated the total disconnect better than Bike Yield opponent SFPD Captain John Sanford, whose crackdown helped start the whole thing. He was caught on video safely rolling through a stop sign on his bike; a practice he says creates “chaos on our streets.” On the same page of his newsletter where he explained his opposition to Bike Yield, he wrote that his law enforcement approach is “guided by my Christian faith.” Given the double standard, maybe he means in the spirit of the Spanish police of 1478?

Joking aside, deputies at city hall confirmed that the next step is likely a pilot Bike Yield on the Wiggle. Not great, but “it’s certainly better than the status quo,” said Wiener.

That may sound discouraging. But remember: San Francisco bike-share began as a 400 bike pilot. It’s now starting a ten-fold expansion. San Francisco now has miles of bike lanes. There are raised bike lanes on the way on Polk, Second and Masonic. This started with pilots on Market.

In other words, setbacks happen. Let’s hope Bike Yield will pass after it is reintroduced as a small pilot–and then grow into a larger change.

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Streetsblog Talks with the SF Bicycle Coalition Interim Executive Director

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Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Photo: SFBC

Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Photo: SFBC

This week Margaret McCarthy began a six-month term as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Interim Executive Director. She replaces Noah Budnick, who resigned last year. She starts with the SFBC in the midst of new and ongoing projects and, perhaps, a touch of residual tension after its first contested board elections. McCarthy is not a new face at SFBC, where she worked as Volunteer Coordinator and Program Director. Streetsblog sat down with her at SFBC’s new digs on Market Street to talk about the police, the politics, the plans, and the future of cycling in San Francisco.

Streetsblog: What’s first on your agenda for the SFBC?

Margaret McCarthy: So many things! I’m learning about some budgetary processes which I’m totally excited about. Those are the things that keep the organization running. In addition, there are some exciting bike projects coming up in 2016. For example, raised bike lanes on Masonic Street, Second Street, Polk Street–construction should begin on all of those in 2016. We’re excited about prospects for Page Street, a busy bike route that could certainly use some improvement. And I’m excited about the expansion of Bay Area Bike Share. Just to name a few!

SB: Tell me more about the raised bike lanes.

M: Right here on Market Street there is a two-block demonstration project. The SFMTA is trying four different treatments. It’s about the height of the lane, the slope, and the curb access and they want to see a few different things to see what’s going to be the most effective type of raised bike lane for San Francisco.

SB: How are they doing the intersections?

M: The bike lane slopes back down to street level. But this is a test project that will inform other projects. However, on 2nd street it will include raised sidewalks and bike lanes across the alleyways to slow car traffic coming out. The Caltrans raised bike lane guidelines did leave it open for bike lanes to go back to street level at intersections. The SFBC was disappointed and suggested it should have been better. The raised lane should persist across the intersections.

SB: What else do we have to look forward to in 2016?

M: Bay Area Bike Share expansion. This is going to be magnificent. We have under 400 bike-share bikes in SF right now. Very nice pilot, but it’s small. And with the expansion SF is going to go up to 4500 bikes. So I’d call that a significant expansion.

SB: Those are all in the city of SF?

MM: Yes, but with even more Bay Area-wide. This is huge! When it’s complete, SF will have the densest bike-share system in the US. How’s that!

SB: Pretty exciting.

M: (motioning to the window) I want one right here.

SB: It’d be crazy not to. Even if your office wasn’t here, it’s Valencia and Market.

M: And you’ve got to get off the streetcar here to go down Mission.

SB: What about the Bay Bridge bike path?

M: Obviously, we want a connected Bay Bridge. People would love to bike across it. But bridges are really slow projects. There are going to be meetings to get feedback on things such as “where would you like this to land?” or “Is ten feet suitable or do you need 15?”


M: (laughs) Those are some letters.

SB: Captain Sanford made it official that he hates bikes, did you hear?

M: Did he say that to you?

SB: (laughs) No. But he did officially say he’s against Bike Yield in his department newsletter. What do you do about law enforcement priorities?

M: This is really about Vision Zero. The SFPD has committed to “focus on the five.” This means they need to be focusing on the five most dangerous behaviors in the five most dangerous locations on a per-district basis. They have that data. And they have been charged by the chief with data-driven enforcement. And this is really where we want to see the SFPD move in 2016–fulfilling their commitments and keeping the promises.

SB: Focus on the five. Data driven. That’s great but I have yet to see the data that says bike rolling stops is one of the five.

M: Exactly! It’s not. They have the data. It’s not one of the five.

SB: What else comes to mind?

M: Oh gosh. We just have a lot of great projects. We’re expanding our community bike-build program. We partner with different locally based community groups and we take reclaimed bicycles from the MTA, from the police department and working with these community groups we redistribute them to their constituents. We run a workshop where we do basic maintenance together. They get to pick out a bike that’s the right size and fit for them. We offer a free bike education class. And then at the end of the day the participants get to keep the bicycle so this is a program that is taking bikes that have been sitting, often in warehouses for years, rusting. We get them into the hands of more San Franciscans who want to ride.

SB: So there was a little bit of a schism at the SFBC. Can you tell us what that was about and how you’re dealing with it?

MM: So, it sounds like you’re referring to the recent board elections, is that correct?

SB: Was there a schism I don’t know about?

M: No! Just want to make sure. So as you probably know on Dec. 30 we closed the board election here and we had more members than usual decide to run. We are extremely fortunate—I know many non profits have difficulty recruiting members to run for their board, so I think we’re in a great position with so many engaged, passionate members who want to serve the organization in this capacity. We’ll see what the results of that are, but regardless, I’m really looking forward to working with this group of people who are committed to making San Francisco a safer city for biking and living.

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Tonight Is First Community Workshop on Big Bike-Share Expansion

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A huge bike share expansion is coming over the next two years. Photo: Bay Area Bike Share

Near the end of 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to grow Bay Area Bike Share from 700 to 7,000 bikes. That means the City of San Francisco itself will go from having 350 to 4,500 bikes, giving it the largest number of shared bikes per capita in the nation.

The proposal was sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee, and approved by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Eric Mar, Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, John Avalos, David Campos, Norman Yee, and President of the Board of Supervisors London Breed.

“A robust and sustainable bike-share network will allow us to reap the benefits of bike share, including reducing traffic, improving public transit, and stimulating the local economy,” said Supervisor Wiener, in a prepared statement. “Through my work both on the Board of Supervisors and on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, I’ve pushed to bring bike share to San Francisco, and to expand it throughout the city. This is great news for our city, our transit system, and our residents.”

To kick off the expansion, New York-based Motivate, which manages the program, is co-sponsoring public workshops to discuss bike-share locations. According to a statement from Motivate, the public is invited to attend workshops where they live, work, or visit and provide input on potential stations. The first one is tonight.

San Francisco bike-share workshop dates:

January 12th, 2016
District 8 Bike-Share Workshop, co-sponsored by Supervisor Wiener
6:30PM – 7:30PM and 7:30PM – 8:30PM
Harvey Milk Rec Center, 50 Scott St, San Francisco, CA 94117
January 20th, 2016
District 6 Bike-Share Workshop, co-sponsored by Supervisor Jane Kim
6:30PM – 7:30PM and 7:30PM – 8:30PM
Gene Friend Rec Center, 270 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
January 21st, 2016
District 9 Bike-Share Workshop, co-sponsored by Supervisor David Campos
6:00PM – 7:00PM and 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Mission Neighborhood Center, 362 Capp St, San Francisco, CA 94110

The workshops are offered twice on each date and are tailored to the areas where they are held. If you can’t make one, there’s also a bike-share website for making station suggestions.

Other Bay Area cities, such as Emeryville and San Jose, approved similar contracts. Oakland and Berkeley are working to finalize agreements with Motivate. Motivate manages bike share systems in ten cities spread throughout the US plus Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada.

“The easier we can make it for people to get out of our crowded Muni buses and off our congested streets, the better our transportation system is for everyone,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district was included in the original pilot program. “And expanding the bike-share program will make it easier for people to choose biking as their mode of transportation.”

The goal is to have the 7,000 bikes available in the Bay Area by 2018.


My City Bikes Promotes Bike Commuting to Help with New Years Resolutions

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A Nielsen survey shows that 37 percent of Americans list “staying fit and healthy” as a top New Year’s resolution. “Losing weight” is close behind it, at 32 percent. That’s not much of a departure from last year. And, sadly, we’ll probably see something else repeated in 2016: most people won’t stick with it. In fact, roughly eight percent will keep those resolutions throughout the year.

My City Bikes, a Palo Alto-based organization with chapters in San Francisco and the East Bay, hopes it can get more people to ride by encouraging them to combine two top resolutions: staying fit and saving money.

“Bike commuting is a trick that can actually make it easier to stick to a fitness and weight loss resolution,” said Sara Villalobos, a spokeswoman for My City Bikes. “By rolling exercise and transportation into one, people can save money and time, which makes it a health habit that is easier to achieve.”

In addition to recommending bike shops that specialize in helping novice cyclists, the company provides a smart phone app to help guide beginners. The MyCityBikes apps provide specialized information for different locations, such as the East Bay and San Francisco. It prompts a user to select whether they are riding as a family with kids or as a commuter, for example. It list streets with dedicated bike lanes, provides safety tips, and shows the mileage of bike trails. It also lists cycling events with times, dates, locations and contact information, such as the Alameda family ride, which is held from 10 to noon on the first Sunday of the month.

They are not the only organization, of course, encouraging more people to get into commuting by bike. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition also offers events and classes for novice cyclists, such as its “intro to urban bicycling” and other cycling courses for adults. Health and physician groups also encourage bike commuting because “moderate activity for 30 minutes per day is effective at reducing risk for diabetes,” said Matt Petersen, Managing Director of Medical Information for the American Diabetes Association. And, he points out, diabetes risk factors overlap with heart disease and cancer.

Bike advocates have long argued that the best way to get new people bike commuting—and therefore healthier—is with improved infrastructure such as the long-awaited protected bike lane on Second. Or getting cars completely off Market Street. And census data shows that, albeit slowly but surely, Bay Area investments seem to be working. It’s hoped the health of the city will improve along with it.

In fact, several of San Francisco’s supervisors, including Jane Kim, have cited the health benefits of cycling as a reason to support the Bike Yield ordinance. “We need to make it easier for individuals to get out of their cars and onto bikes,” said Kim.

Either way, “Hopefully this year more people than ever will resolve to make cycling and other active transportation options part of their commutes,” said Villalobos. “We want to help them stick with it.”