Streetsie Award: Vote for The Bay Area’s Most Bad-Ass Advocacy Group of 2016
4:00 PM PST on December 27, 2016
Now, before we get into the nominations in this category, we have to say this: all the groups are great! People who dedicate their lives to making our cities safer, more livable, more equitable, and more sustainable deserve all the praise they can get. These are people who are smart and dedicated and give more than their pound of flesh. They are all underpaid and over worked...wait, underpaid? Often they work for nothing.
We ask Streetsblog readers to judge by several criteria, but in no way should this limit you. Which group had the most influence? Which group has shown the most growth? Which group has the most clearly delineated goals--and is showing the promise of achieving them?
Vote below. As these are tough decisions, feel free to vote for more than one. If you have a nomination that you think should be on the list, please leave a comment.
Here are our nominations:
1. San Francisco Bicycle Coalition: What do you say about SFBC? As in years past, they chalked up a solid list of projects and accomplishments in 2016. Under the leadership of their new director, Brian Wiedenmeier, just last week they helped get Uber's not-so-safe self-driving car off of the road. They were instrumental in getting Mayor Lee's Executive Order on safety issued, which has already resulted in speed humps on JFK, and has greatly accelerated improvements planned for SoMa and elsewhere. SFBC work on programs such as "Bike to Work Day" and the "Golden Wheel Awards" introduce more and more people to cycling, grow the base, and highlight politicians who support the cause. They continue to make a huge mark on improving San Francisco's streets.
2. Walk San Francisco: See those new bulb outs and enhanced crosswalks near your home? Notice that crossing signal that gives pedestrians priority by turning green for walkers a few moments before it turns for cars? Walk SF, in one way or another, is behind all sorts of improvements all over town. They keep the pressure on the mayor and the city to make things safer; they have been a major force in pushing Vision Zero. Under the dedicated leadership of Nicole Ferrara, they are campaigning hard for the legalization of Automated Speed Enforcement cameras, to get speeds down and make it safer to cross the street. Their "World Day of Remembrance" marches keep the pressure on city hall and make sure our politicians understand the human cost of sacrificing safety for parochial parking concerns. Walk SF is regularly featured in this blog, because of all the fine advocacy work they do (in fact, Walk SF has been a regular source of leads for Streetsblog). The also do regular walks about town, such as the Peak2Peak. Truly, Walk SF is a major force behind livable/safe streets progress
3. BikeWalk Alameda: This smaller, plucky group is all-volunteer. Founded by Lucy Gigli and Dan Wood in 1999, their most visible accomplishment to date is the protected bike lane on Shoreline Drive, completed in 2015. Less noticeable are the constant and small improvements they've advocated for all over the island--at the same time they've kept the pressure on for the long-term goal of constructing a bike-ped bridge from western Alameda to Jack London Square, to replace the cycling and walking hellscape of the Posey Tube. To this end, they've been gathering the raw data to make the case for the project. And like so many others in the advocacy community, this group of unpaid volunteers shows an amazing level of determination.
4. Bike East Bay: This coalition of advocacy groups in the East Bay had a great list of accomplishments this year, including the Telegraph Avenue protected bike lanes in Oakland, the Fulton Street protected bike lane in Berkeley, and the Oakland Bay Bridge bike path opening all the way to Yerba Buena Island. Under the leadership of Executive Director Rene Rivera and Campaign Manager Dave Campbell, the group continues to work with local advocacy groups to make sure bicyclist and pedestrian concerns are taken seriously in local cities from Richmond to Walnut Creek and Concord to Fremont. But that's not all: Bike East Bay also runs one of the biggest bike education programs in the country, offering free classes to everyone from adults who don't know how to ride to seasoned riders who want to pick up urban cycling skills. Under the leadership of Education Director Robert Prinz, the education program keeps expanding, this year organizing the first League of American Bicyclists certified teacher training course in the Bay Area to train a diverse group of new teachers.
5. SFMTrA: Shhhhhhh! These guys are secret. Perhaps SFMTrA shouldn't even be a candidate since they're not official and what they do isn't even legal. But how could we not list these dedicated advocates who literally risk arrest skulking around, sometimes at ungodly hours, putting in safe hit posts and making a mark for safety? They're also a new group, founded this year after the deaths of Heather Miller and Kate Slattery on June 22. Its members decided, given how many people are getting killed and injured, that it's immoral to just advocate if the city is going to take so long to plan and install safety infrastructure. So they took matters into their own hands. At this point it's hard to tell where the official SFMTA installations end and the unofficial ones begin.
6. San Francisco Transit Riders: This is the year SFTR is going pro. After a successful fund drive, through their "make transit awesome" campaign, they are hiring an executive director and shopping for an office. Who would have even realized, given the hard work of their dedicated board and their many accomplishments, that these transit Ninjas are an all-volunteer group? This year they had "Transit Week" to celebrate riders and workers. They also campaigned solidly to protect the progress they made on Mission and prevent any significant roll back of the Red Carpet/bus only lanes. Back in October, they hosted a forum of BART board candidates and were instrumental in getting Prop. J, which dedicated funds to transit, passed. They've been present every time there's push back on things such as boarding islands on Taraval. They're also not afraid to call bullsh*t on compromises on Geary's BRT project and others. As in years past, the SFTR was a major force in San Francisco politics in 2016.
So which group do you think had the most impact in 2016? Vote for one or more below. Poll will close at midnight at the end of 2016!
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