Despite an official “Transit-First” policy in San Francisco, biking, walking and taking transit in our city have been historically underfunded and under-prioritized. This lack of funding and priority, means Muni is too often overcrowded and unreliable, our bike network has dangerous gaps in it and dozens of people are killed just trying to walk across the streets each year. Even with huge growth in ridership, bicycle safety projects still only get about 1% of the SFMTA transportation budget, and pedestrian safety projects also receive only 1% of funding.
Yet, despite the clear lack of dedicated space and adequate funding for safe, livable streets, there is a group of San Franciscans who think that there’s actually too much space given to sustainable ways to get around.
They’ve introduced the so-called “Restore Transportation Balance” initiative on this November’s ballot with the intent of rolling back the City’s Transit-First policy and devoting more public space and funding to (free) parking and less to bikeways, transit lanes and pedestrian safety improvements. We contend that this misguided “Transit-Last” measure will actually create more congestion, less safety on our streets, and fewer transportation options at a time when we need them most.
What are we doing about this? Your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will be working with partners to make sure our transportation system is moving forward, not backwards. Our Board of Directors voted last week to oppose this “Transit-Last” measure, while supporting two important transportation funding measures on this November’s ballot, which will advance and truly better balance our city’s transportation needs.
The first is the Transportation & Road Safety Bond, a $500 million general obligation bond dedicated to transportation capital improvements, including modernizing our transit system and investing in bicycle and pedestrian improvements. (It’s important to note that this measure will not raise local property taxes, as it only infills expiring debt.) And the second is a charter amendment linking population growth to transportation spending, specifically long-ignored transit & safe streets needs. This would fill a major gap in the SF Municipal Transportation Agency’s budget for the next two years, ensuring transit and Vision Zero projects are not left behind at a time they’re needed most.
Our City’s population has increased by 30,000 people since 2010, and it’s projected to continue to steeply increase. For the safety, health and affordability of San Francisco, we must continue to invest in sustainable, transit-first policies. As we move into election season, we will continue to update you on the ballot measures and how you can become involved. For now, please ensure that you are registered to vote, tell your friends about these key ballot measures and support the SF Bicycle Coalition’s “bike the vote” advocacy by joining or renewing your membership or giving a donation to support our work.