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An Open Letter from Tim Chan: Support Streetsblog SF in 2020 for a Better 2021

9:20 AM PST on December 16, 2020

My Dear Friends & Colleagues,

I am writing today to hope you will join me in supporting Streetsblog San Francisco

Tim Chan. Image via League of Conservation Voters
Tim Chan. Image via League of Conservation Voters

Since 2006, Streetsblog has covered the movement to transform our cities by reducing dependence on private automobiles and improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in the Bay Area. Our reporters have broken important stories about transit funding, pedestrian safety, and bicycle policy from day one. And our writing makes arcane topics like parking prices and induced traffic accessible to a broad audience.  Today, thousands of readers rely on Streetsblog SF, and our online community is the connective fiber for people working to make their streets safer and more sustainable. 

Usually, Streetsblog reaches out to readers for support twice a year, in the Spring and again at the end of the year. This year, Streetsblog SF cancelled their Spring drive, scheduled to launch on April 6, because of the uncertainty people faced in the early days of the COVID-19 stay at home orders. That makes this drive doubly important, as Streetsblog is hoping to raise $25,000 in donations in addition to our monthly donors and advertising revenue.

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But despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, Streetsblog SF continued to have a major impact.  For example, SBSF's coverage and amplification of advocate voices had a major influence on the outcome of the Caltrain ballot measure, Measure RR. Before it could go to the ballot, the measure needed approval from multiple boards in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. After a duo of San Francisco supervisors threatened to derail the process by introducing an alternate ‘dirty measure’ with political stipulations, Streetsblog SF was one of the loudest voices pushing back against their proposal. 

In the end, a single vote by SFMTA Board Member Cheryl Brinkman stopped the passage of a convoluted amendment to the measure that would have surely been challenged in court, if it even passed in November, threatening Caltrain’s ability to continue operating. Brinkman told Streetsblog its coverage had a major impact on her decision to vote “no” on the dirty measure.

Sometimes solutions journalism takes many hours of detailed research and reporting, and sometimes it’s about a quick reaction and a well timed question or even a Tweet. When Mayor London Breed issued the stay at home order for San Francisco back in March, she announced what “essential” businesses would stay open.

Her list included auto repair, but not bike shops or bicycle repair businesses. After a quick reminder over Twitter from Streetsblog and others that the bicycle shops are just as “essential” as auto repair, and with a followup blog post, the order was clarified to also include bicycle businesses. Because San Francisco was the first major city in California to issue such an order, and many cities copied theirs, this clarification helped keep those shops open and helped hundreds, maybe thousands of cyclists keep rolling.

This kind of journalism is needed in the Bay Area and the world today, in 2021 and long into the future. Please consider supporting Streetsblog SF today, or make a recurring donation, by clicking here.

Tim Chan, Steering Committee Member since 2017

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