There’s never a dull moment working at your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — a fact that’s rung true for Janice Li during her time serving as a Community Organizer. As Janice steps into her new role as Advocacy Director, we caught up with her to look back on how much she’s accomplished for people who bike in SF, and where she has her sights set for the months and years ahead.
Janice’s start on the SF Bicycle Coalition staff was painful, with 78-year-old Cheng Jin Lai hit and killed by a Muni bus operator at Division and 11th on Janice’s first Friday at the office. Soon after that tragic event, Janice met with Mr. Lai’s family, who lived in affordable senior housing in SoMa.
“I remember weeping as I offered my deepest condolences to the family in Cantonese,” Janice recalled. “I keep the photos that Mr. Lai’s daughter shared with me at my desk. Every time I pass by that harrowing intersection, a surge of emotion wells up in me. The same is true when I pass by 14th and Folsom, or 6th and Folsom, or 2nd and King,” and other sites of fatalities for people biking.
“The fatalities affect me every time. They never get easier to deal with and the feeling never washes away,” Janice said.
In over two years as a Community Organizer, Janice has worked hard to make San Francisco a safer and more enjoyable place for people of all ages to bike. Her work and successes have included the recent victory for the Wiggle, our efforts to see the San Francisco Police Department honor their promises to embrace Vision Zero, and increasing space for bikes on board Caltrain and BART. Through it all, she has sought to give voice to the perspectives of our 10,000-plus members, and to ensure that every project is designed and implemented in a way that best serves the community.
“My job only exists because I’m advocating on behalf of our members,” Janice told us. “After moving to San Francisco from Buffalo, New York in 2013, I got to know the city block by block, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the wealth of knowledge that our members have shared with me along the way.”
In her new role as Advocacy Director, Janice’s commitment to our members remains front and center.
“Just like a bicycle, our movement needs to be a human-powered machine. I’m wholly committed to growing and expanding our membership to ensure that our advocacy is inclusive,” Janice said. “We have to be engaging with, and advocating alongside, our members and allies every step of the way.”
Janice grew up riding bikes with her family on bike trails through local parks, after they’d moved to the U.S. from Hong Kong. Despite her mom’s familiarity with biking, it was difficult to find streets in San Francisco to comfortably ride on with her mother during a visit here last year.
“Our city needs more places where people like my mother can bike and share that joy that I find when I ride my bicycle every single day,” Janice said. “I’d feel pretty good if some day in the future, I don’t even have to think twice about where to bike around San Francisco with my mom because we’ve made our streets safe and inviting for everyone.”
One of Janice’s first big decisions as Advocacy Director is who to hire to join her team as Community Organizer. (Pssst, you can apply here.) Janice hopes that you’ll share the opening far and wide.