David Chiu: Bike Network Expansion Is Transportation Priority #1

Board of Supervisors and Acting Mayor David Chiu took a bike ride to City Hall with some advocates this morning. On right is SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum, back from her sabbatical in Amsterdam. Photo: Bryan Goebel
Board of Supervisors Prez and Acting Mayor David Chiu took a bike ride to City Hall with some advocates this morning. On right is SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum, back from her sabbatical in Amsterdam. Photo: Bryan Goebel

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who for the past 24 hours has served as Acting Mayor of San Francisco, said expanding the city’s bike network will be his number one transportation priority in the coming year, along with pedestrian safety and improving Muni’s reliability and performance.

“First and foremost, as someone who bikes every day, is ensuring that we’re expanding our bike network, starting with Market Street, but through all of the major thoroughfares in San Francisco, creating what I think of as bike thoroughfares that we can use to easily get folks around the city,” said Chiu, standing outside It’s a Grind coffee house on Polk Street, where he led a ride to City Hall with bicycle advocates this morning.

Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, was among those taking part in the ride and said as a bicyclist Chiu understands the importance of physically-separated green bike lanes, like the ones on Market Street.

“It is going to be an important year for San Francisco to build on its recent successes for better bicycling,” said Shahum. “City Hall leaders have the opportunity to make the city easier to move around with relatively low-cost, quick improvements, such as more physically separated bikeways on key routes like Market Street and Fell Street along the popular Wiggle route.”

Photo: Bryan Goebel
Photo: Bryan Goebel

Chiu, who represents District 3 and last year hired former SFMTA spokesperson Judson True as his top aide, also said pedestrian safety is a priority, and later at the Transportation Authority’s plans and programs committee meeting called on TA staff to conduct a study on pedestrian safety

“Every day, on average, there are two or more pedestrians that are injured on San Francisco’s streets. Pedestrians account for half of the people who are killed in traffic collisions in San Francisco, while overall fatal collisions have actually declined since the 1960s,” Chiu told the committee.  “New York City, Seattle, Boston, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam all have fewer fatalities per 100,000 residents than we do.”

In addition to the enormous human toll, Chiu also pointed to the amount of money the city spends on pedestrian fatalities, about $3.5 million per death, and more than $280 million annually.

“The city pays a significant amount of money every year settling lawsuits and dealing with the emergency care and other first-responder costs to accidents so it makes perfect sense to incorporate that information into the prioritization of infrastructure funding to get to a system that has a lower risk profile,” TA Executive Director Jose Luis Moskovich told Streetsblog.

Chiu said the study, which he would like to see completed by March, should have two purposes: to identify city agencies and departments that are working on pedestrian issues and then to find funding sources for current and future pedestrian projects.

“Finally, this critical issue is getting the attention it deserves. Too many people are getting hit on our streets,” said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk San Francisco. “A study is a good start, but we also need action. The city is tasked with creating a Pedestrian Action Plan to commit to making our streets better and safer for walking, and it’s time to get started on that.”

Last month, in one of his last acts as mayor, Gavin Newsom — working with pedestrian advocates — issued an executive directive setting targets for improving pedestrian safety.

  • Related, we are still awaiting the promise community outreach along the SoMa waterfront regarding 2nd Street… Hoped we would be done with that phase by now.

  • Sportin’ a new helmet, Dave!

  • Alex

    Well, I guess once you’re done draining all the money out of the MTA at least you can ride your bicycle. Thanks, Dave!

  • Nick

    Expansion through infrastructure or “expansion” through the addition of more Class 3 routes?

    If the former, how exactly?

  • bikes over Muni? Yeah that makes a lot of sense….

  • Al

    There is one advantage bike improvements have over muni improvements: cost. Major improvements can be had practically for the cost of street paint.

  • Good to have a bike positive ally in city hall.

  • Alex

    Al: Public transit is only for those not cool enough to ride bicycles, right?

  • Alex – why are you bitching at someone who wants a bike lane instead of someone who wants neither bike lanes nor buses.

  • Morton

    John Murphy,

    I took Alex’s commentt as simply saying that cycling should not be a higher priority than Muni.

    Not everyone is fit and feisty enough to go everywhere by bike.

    And ultimately, Muni is public transit and bikes are private transit.

  • Al

    I would love to see Muni improvements. Some of these could be cheap (changes in management and work rules, maybe). Others are very expensive (Geary BRT or rail). Same goes for bike improvements, though skewed more to the cheap side (road paving, redrawing lanes, putting in bollards, curbs or planters to make protected bike lanes, some signal changes maybe…) though there are expensive ideas as well (the Fort Mason bypass pier, the Trondheim bike lift, tunnel and bridge retrofits, the bike-sharing programs).

    I don’t want to support the one or the other on the grounds of public/private ideology– I support Muni because the city simply doesn’t have the space for everyone to drive their own car, plus the dangers and pollution of autos, not because buses are inherently superior to cars (or bikes). City transit policy should focus on getting people where they want to go at low cost and with low impact to the environment (both ecological and street). Bike infrastructure can do this for a lot of people, including many who aren’t biking today, and at an extraordinarily low cost. Public transit can serve many others, if at a higher cost. Private cars also have high costs, but they have their roles too.

    It makes not a lick of sense to pit bikes against transit.

  • Alex

    John: Show me where streetsblog is fawning over someone who wants neither buses nor bicycle lanes. David Chiu is green in the way that three month old lunch meat is green.

    I know it’s been mentioned before, but the bicycles uber alles mentality of Streetsblog is absurd at best. Chiu also mentioned pedestrian safety, yet the headline reads “BICYCLES BICYCLES BICYCLES”. Chiu rides a bicycle. Great. You guys done with the circle jerk yet? There are (other) important issues to be addressed. This is almost as bad as watching RescueMuni fawn over supervisor Newsom or actually endorse C. Chu.

    Morton: Agreed.

    Al: It *IS* silly, but that’s exactly what Chiu is doing. He’s pushing for bicycle trinkets and injurious public transit pork. You want to talk about low cost public transit improvements?

    What about leaving the TBMs in the ground near North Beach?
    What about pushing all-door boarding?
    System-wide POP?
    Short-run accountability? Even Chu said SOMETHING. Chiu? Ehhh.
    What about TVMs at busy stops???
    WHAT ABOUT ENSURING QUALIFIED PEOPLE END UP ON THE MTA BOARD? Chiu sure rubber stamped whatsherface the millionaire who claims to be in touch with the poor downtrodden masses despite her lack of transit knowledge.

    You wanna talk cheap on the level of cheap that bicycle lanes are cheap? Fine. What about more transit-only lanes (with or without additional enforcement)? What about streamlining stops (elimination of some, sure — also removal of stop signs as needed and enabling signal priority)?

    And, yes, what about the labor issues that Chiu will never in a million years touch as long as he’s beholden to Brown-n-Pak?

    What about simply not going out of your way to defend the rights of car owners?

    What about not advocating fare hikes as a first resort??

    His inaction, his silence on transit matters is almost as deafening as the meager words he’s spoken about transit. Like it or not, rail is EXPENSIVE. We’ve seen this with the T-Fail Street. The extra equipment procured for the 3rd St project merely served to prop up the metro. Now that it’s being put to use, the metro is sagging under its own weight. The MTA secured federal money to build the subway to nowhere, but not to operate it. This becomes ever more important as the MTA struggles to maintain its existing infrastructure.

    Like it or not, there’s more to being green than riding a battery laden two wheeled device.

  • Jim

    Chiu and Shahum, the experienced cyclists that they are, cover the brake. Nice.

  • show me the money

    It’s been two years, Supervisor. Other than complain about the Better Market St project schedule and set an unrealistic goal of 20% trips by bike by 2020 for which you’ve secured $0 in new funding, what have you done?

    From above :”Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, … said expanding the city’s bike network will be his number one transportation priority in the coming
    year, along with pedestrian safety and improving Muni’s reliability and


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