Commentary: San Francisco Needs a Bicycle Mayor
Can you picture a typical morning commute, except instead of wading through traffic, you are accompanied by half the population on a bike? In Amsterdam, we were already at that point in 2016, and the numbers keep growing. Yet it wasn’t always like that.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Amsterdam was being planned around the car and cycling numbers were steadily declining. In the 1970s however, a strong voice from civil society accompanied by the right political will gave back the streets to the people and transformed the city into the bicycle paradise it is today.
At BYCS, a Dutch non-profit organization, we are convinced that local leaders from cities around the world can help transform our urban environments for the better by advancing the bicycle as a lifestyle that boosts local economies, safety, sustainability, community and both physical and mental health. We believe in the ambitious goal of 50 percent of cycling trips made in cities across the globe by 2030.
From our office in Amsterdam, we’ve been building an international community of advocates and activists that are accelerating change in their respective cities around this shared belief. Together, they form the Global Bicycle Mayor Network and have grown to 100 mayors across four continents.
In Mexico City, Mexico, for example, Areli Carreon is taking action against social and political challenges through the leadership of cycling activists and her organisation Bicitekas. In Cape Town, South Africa, Lebogang Mokwena is diversifying her cycling community by supporting more women of color to learn how to ride bicycles. In Paris, France, Thomas Couvry is working to give voice to a positive, unbiased and inclusive cycling culture by organizing rides such as BikeLife. In Baroda, India, Nikita Lalwani is breaking the commuter caste system and motorized-traffic domination, role modelling equality and everyday cycling for everyone.
Each Bicycle Mayor has strong roots in their community and as an organization we strive to amplify their voices and coordinate a united, international call for more bike-centric cities. We are looking to elect individuals who can be a representative face of cycling progress in their city.
San Francisco would greatly benefit from having a liaison between cyclists, government organizations and other urban stakeholders, an individual who can give a positive message and showcase the tremendous benefits of bicycle culture. US cities have a great deal of challenges moving forward, from reaching Vision Zero targets to increasing cycling infrastructure, achieving mobility justice to developing accessible public spaces. These are all issues that could be advanced by a Bicycle Mayor.
If you think you are the right person for this role, you can apply here. Or email lucas [AT] bycs.org for more information.