Thursday, June 23, 2016

Brian Wiedenmeir: Bicycle Coalition's new director

Say hello to Brian Wiedenmeier, the SF Bike Coalition's new executive director. Image: SFBC
Brian Wiedenmeier

From the Chronicle's story on the Bicycle Coalition's new director:

He said his focus as executive director will be to expand bike lanes to parts of the city that have been “left behind,” including the Excelsior, Bayview and Tenderloin neighborhoods and the Sunset District. “People bike there, too, and more people would bike if we had better infrastructure to make their ride more pleasant and safe,” he said.

Jeremy Pollock, a member of the bike coalition who helped spearhead opposition to the proposal to eliminate the member-elected board, said Wiedenmeier seems “sharp and motivated.” He encouraged Wiedenmeier to diversify the group’s image. “Critics of bicyclists in the city have this image that we are young, able-bodied white men...The bike coalition needs to continue to build relationships with communities of color and enable them to be leaders in the bike movement,” he said.

According to city documents, that "image" is correct: the bike movement in SF is mostly white men. From the 2012---and last---State of Cycling Report from the MTA:

The survey found the following underrepresented populations: Women: 74 percent of women do not ride a bicycle compared to 60 percent of men...Race/Ethnicity: 75 percent of Hispanic, 71 percent of Asian, and 83 percent of African-American populations do not bicycle compared to 61 percent of white respondents (page 25).

The cycling gender gap is nationwide (see also this).

Even in Portland, only 35% of cyclists are women.

Why do significantly fewer women ride bikes than men? This may be the answer:

Men also exhibit, on average, higher levels of sensation-seeking and risk-taking in a wide variety of settings. The basis for this well-established sex difference has a hormonal and neurochemical basis---it is not simply a product of socialization or experience.

That's why insurance companies charge men more for car insurance than women.

Two women on bikes were killed just yesterday by cars driven by---wait for it---men, which is why the Vision Zero approach to traffic safety won't eliminate traffic fatalities in the city by 2024---or by 2124.

And there's a sexual health issue for women spending too much time on a bike, though men have the same problem.

In his Streetsblog interview, Wiedenmeier has the party line on Masonic Avenue down:

The changes coming to Masonic are a good example of a complete street and I’m excited to see the incredible improvements. The bike facilities are going to be great, but it will also have a full street-scape improvement, with really appealing public art, a plaza at Geary…and a design with space clearly marked for biking. When it’s complete it will be a template for other street projects.

That is the opposite of the reality of the Masonic Avenue bike project. 

And what is it about the hyped-up language Bicycle Coalition bureaucrats like to use? "Excited," "incredible," and "great" in one short paragraph. Maybe that's a prerequisite for leaders of this special interest group, since one of Wiedenmeir's predecessors, Leah Shahum, couldn't form a sentence without hyperbole.

Wiedenmeir is taking over the Bicycle Coalition just as the bike revolution in San Francisco apparently is on the decline---a 7% decline according to the latest Bicycle Count Report.

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