Rachel Kraai: "I'm considered brave and crazy..."
Below is a transcription of the public comment by the SF Bicycle Coalition's Rachel Kraai before the Board of Supervisors' City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee on April 17, 2006. This is the meeting during which this BOS committee---including Supervisor Mirkarimi---voted to implement part of the Bicycle Plan by eliminating almost all of the street parking on Market Street between Van Ness and Octavia Blvd. to make bike lanes. The committee did this in spite of the vigorous opposition of many small businesses in the area. Adding insult to injury, they rushed it through at the behest of the mayor to get it done in time for Bike to Work Day. The message the SF Bicycle Coalition was sending then and is sending now: the safety of cyclists---as if merely painting bike lanes on Market Street makes it safe---trumps all other considerations on the streets of San Francisco, including the interests of the city's small businesses.
Thank you, Supervisors, for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Rachel Kraai. I am a six-year San Francisco Resident, pedestrian, transit user, and a bicyclist. I'm also the newest staff member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and I'd like to speak as a new staff member. I have a simple point today. I began working at the SFBC over one month ago, and it is astounding. In that time, the number of people that I've spoken to who are interested and passionate about riding bicycles in the city but who are simply scared. We have volunteers, and we even have an intern who comes in for almost one full day a week who does not bike in the city because they're terrified by the prospect of getting on busy city streets where there is not space for them to ride.
I'm considered brave and crazy by some of these people for going down Market Street to the major economic hub of our city daily. This is an incredible shame in our progressive city. People are blocked from using sustainable transportation to get to the city's major economic hub. To feel safe, these people need a designated space to ride in. The visual distinction of a bike lane is mental as well as physical in making people feel that they belong on the street. Without a bike lane these people feel that the street is for cars only, and the rules of the road belong to cars, not to bicycles. I'm also a resident of the Mission and use Valencia daily. The popular Valencia bike lane is one of the major feeders into this stretch of Market. Valencia serves current and potential bicyclists in the Mission, Glen Park and Noe Valley. In this city, which professes that [inaudible] a sustainable green policy, these current and potential cyclists want a safe way to get to the major economic hub of our city. Thank you.