Thursday, August 11, 2016

Schmoozing with the Bicycle Coalition

Kristin Smith moderated a member Q&A with Bike Coalition director Brian Wiedenmeier
Kristin Smith and Brian Wiedenmeir

Last Monday the Bicycle Coalition had a schmooze session with their new executive director:

The formal portion of the event started at 7 p.m. Smith read questions from the SFBC members. The first question was on efforts to increase diversity. “Our membership is strong and steadily growing but we could do better to have it reflect the composition of San Francisco in terms of race, gender, ethnicity and geographic distribution,” Wiedenmeier said. “As a gay white man in my 30s, my experience is very different from a black person, a brown person, a woman of any race, or an older person. I won’t make assumptions about the experiences of other[sic].” He added that the organization has to get Spanish and Cantonese materials and on-staff fluency.

The reality: the bike fad in San Francisco has always been mostly about white men, not women or people of color.

And what about learning Japanese? Recall that back in 2003 the Bicycle Coalition, represented by Cheryl Brinkman and Mary Brown, tried unsuccessfully to get Japantown to eliminate a traffic lane on Post Street to make a bike lane through that neighborhood:

"The [Bicycle] Coalition has been pushing its plans to re-stripe Post Street...despite the community's continued opposition." (Japantown Task Force newsletter, pages 13,18, Summer 2003) 

On the coalition's website afterward there was a request for someone who spoke Japanese to help push that project, as if the language barrier was the real problem.

From the Streetsblog story:

“I don’t think the city has my back,” said David Bach, a office administrator for a San Francisco tech company, about the Mayor’s directive. “I want to see the pedal to the metal [in installing bike infra], not more smoke!” Bach, who commutes by bike every day from near the San Francisco Zoo to Howard and 7th, also asked why the city can manage to ban–--and enforce the ban–--on plastic bags and public nudity but not on texting and driving.

A moment's reflection answers Bach's question: plastic bags were distributed at supermarkets when you bought groceries and naked people on the street are noticeable, even in San Francisco. More enforcement of texting while driving would require a massive effort by the SFPD, which would probably mean the city would have to hire a lot more cops. Maybe the Bicycle Coalition can get its anti-car majority on the Board of Supervisors to hire more cops to enforce traffic laws.

In reality the public nudity ordinance is not enforced. Riding on the #24 bus past the Castro and Market intersection recently, passengers could clearly see a naked man. I asked the two city cops on the bus why they didn't arrest and/or give him a citation. They said they had to first have someone complain. I said I was complaining, and they just shrugged.

Wiedenmeir repeated his support for the dumb Masonic Avenue bike project, on which, by the way, the city will soon begin construction. The heavy equipment is beginning to arrive in the neighborhood, and large signs are announcing the construction schedule, which will screw up traffic on that major regional North/South street until next December! 

That will give people a good idea of what traffic will be like on Masonic after this "improvement"---separated bike lanes---is permanently in place.

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