PeopleForBikes Event Brings Together Advocates and Ideas
Last night, roughly 100 bike advocates, business representatives and others met at a PeopleForBikes “DRAFT” session, to talk about new technology, bike share, and how to make San Francisco a more bike-friendly city. It was held at Timbuk2’s factory store in the Mission. The meeting, which mirrors similar meetings in other cities throughout the country, is intended to help advocates network (and imbibe) together. From the PeopleForBikes website:
Our meetups are for people who love bikes, biz and beer. They include group announcements, four five-minute speeches from featured speakers, and time for networking at the end. There is so much innovation happening in the bike world and DRAFT is our way of building community around the good ideas people have to share.
The meeting started at 6 p.m. with networking and Fort Point beer. “It’s cool that PeopleForBikes is bringing people together,” said Kurt Wolfgang, who works with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). “It’s local, and people get a beer and, at worst, they learn something new.”
Eric Angerer, a Bike Coalition member, came with the hopes of learning more about safety. “Too many of my friends have been hit on bikes,” he said. “I’m advocating for safety strategies.”
Rich Behrens was there to network. He wants to find a way to dedicate more of his time to bike safety advocacy. And with good reason. “I was hit last year at Arguello and California–the car crushed my bike. The police were horrible,” he said, adding that it took them 50 minutes to show up and then they refused to take a report.
After a tour of the factory floor, Michelle Nadeau, Marketing Manager at Timbuk2, kicked off the formal, five-minute presentations. Many of the movers and shakers of bike advocacy and business development were there. Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz of Motivate, which runs Bay Area Bike Share and bike share services in many other cities in North America, gave an update on their efforts.
“Ford is supporting our system, which uses the same bike model as the Citibank bikes in New York…Motivate is one of the largest bike share operators,” he explained. “We ran a pilot for three years [in San Francisco] and will expand from 700 bikes to 7,000.” He talked about how Motivate is doing a series of community outreach meetings to get feedback on good places to place bike-share stations.
“We’ve done about 20 workshops.”
Janice Li, advocacy director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, talked about four things that can help get more people on bikes.
The first, she said, is just to give bikes away. “Through Yellow Bike and a program with SFPD we literally give bikes away,” she said. Secondly, “what if we rethought what our streets look like?” She showed a photograph of a Sunday Streets Event. “What if it looked like this every day? Streets should be for people!”
She also talked about working with Sacramento to build statewide policies for the future, rather than today. As an example, she cited SFBC’s work to ban Uber’s robot car, which was videoed running red lights and making illegal turns that could endanger cyclists. “That car was was thrown into the street–we have to build policies for tomorrow.”
Lastly, we have to think big and beautiful, she explained. She showed a rendering of Market Street with gardens and a huge pedestrian promenade. “What if Market Street looked like this instead of the sh*t show it is today?”
An audience member asked about blowback to street improvements from local businesses and how to deal with it. “Winning people over–studies don’t convince,” she said. “You have to have face-to-face conversations with business owners. You have to talk with people.”
The audience also heard from bike technology developers. COBI demonstrated their integrated bike-cell phone system. It features a handlebar mount with a large battery that one can plug a smart phone into to keep it charged. The smart phone then displays, through their application, mapping data and links with a controller on the handlebars to control music, mileage and other features. It also controls lights and turn signals. A representative from Archer Components talked about an electronic gear shifting system for bikes.
Overall, it was a fun and friendly exchange of ideas about bike technology, advocacy and safety, among a group of people who believe strongly in making San Francisco streets more livable and bike-friendly.
“We’re all here because we believe biking is the future,” said Nadeau.