We’re so excited to announce that Claire Amable is our new Director of Advocacy. Claire has been at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for three years, as our Downtown Community Organizer, our Movement Building Manager, and now as the leader of our advocacy team.
How did you become interested and passionate about biking and transportation justice?
I grew up in downtown San Francisco where my father and uncles were bicycle messengers in the 80’s. I learned how to ride a bike at a really young age on Tenderloin streets and have taken Muni my whole life. I’ve never needed or wanted a drivers license because growing up in downtown meant that I could get anywhere in the city in 20 minutes or less on a bus or bike. However, that isn’t true for working class people living outside the downtown core. My passion for this work is rooted in my upbringing as a queer, first-generation, low-income San Franciscan and how those identities have limited my access to certain spaces, processes, and decision making.
My introduction to transportation justice began in high school when the school district cut yellow bus services from the budget. I stood alongside other teenagers on the City Hall steps to advocate for Free Muni for Youth and we won. Fresh out of high school, I became a community organizer at South of Market Community Action Network where I worked on the Folsom and Howard Streetscape Project and started a campaign to stop Muni fares from increasing.
Transportation justice has always been about working with communities to make public transportation and active modes of transportation more accessible to the masses, especially in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved.
What have been your favorite projects to work on as part of our advocacy team?
Gosh, there have been so many! As the downtown community organizer, it was rewarding to do work in the neighborhoods I grew up in. Some of my favorite projects include all the Tenderloin Quick-Builds, the 20mph and no turn on red pilot in the Tenderloin, and winning SoMa Slow Streets the first time around. Additionally, some of my favorite events have actually been in partnership with programs like Freedom From Training Wheels on the Golden Gate Greenway in the Tenderloin and our Bike It Forward Bicycle Repair at SoMa Sunday Streets.
What are you excited about to come for biking in San Francisco?
There is so much appetite for car-free and car-light spaces, from Car-Free JFK to Slow Streets. However, the distribution of these spaces is inequitable and the communities who could really benefit from them are oftentimes left out of the conversation. I’m excited about the organization’s commitment to equity and justice and the shift to slow down to prioritize relationship building, trust building, and repair in these same communities.
Riding a bicycle is such a joyful, freeing experience to me and I believe everyone deserves access to that kind of experience. From the children who ride Big Rippers in groups of 50 down Valencia Street to the gig-worker who makes deliveries on an e-bike, I am excited to demystify the generalizations about who bikes in this city and to make the act accessible to all through safe street infrastructure and policies.