PEOPLE POWER: Your Voices, Our Lanes

Editors: This story was originally published in Issue 163 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine, one of many perks of membership in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.  

Put two more in the win column: Turk Street and Upper Market mark two big protected bike lane successes for 2018. In the last year, protected bike lanes were constructed on San Jose Avenue, Valencia Green Gateway, Seventh, Eighth, Division, Folsom, 17th and Mansell streets. More than ever, our grassroots street campaigns have been leading to fast, meaningful change in our streets. These new safe streets don’t come easily, though. Most, if not all, of our campaigns for new bike lanes are hard-fought. At every step of the way, the push for the changes that are so desperately needed comes from thousands of voices. People power — the collective power of you, our members — is the secret to winning these campaigns.

Even before the City decides where to allocate resources for street improvements, members help shape the process. On Valencia, for example, there were until recently no plans for any type of bike lane improvements. As more and more SF Bicycle Coalition members organized and joined direct actions like the “people-protected bike lanes,” City officials began to pay attention to the dangerous riding conditions on Valencia, and things started to change. With the support of hundreds of members, we were able to push for funding and planning for Valencia. Protected bike lanes on Valencia by the end of 2018 are now a very real possibility.

In the case of bigger streetscape projects, flexing your people power muscle carries even more weight. Through surveys and public outreach events, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) invites members of the public to shape their projects. In the case of Folsom and Howard streets, we used these opportunities to tell the SFMTA what we wanted to see for these busy bike corridors. Our strong and effective SoMa Member Committee helped organize hundreds of people to attend various open houses and share with City staff our vision for Folsom and Howard streets. Now, protected, two-way bike lanes are on the table for the future of these streets.

The last hurdle for any street campaign is the approvals process. Any bike lane project will have to go through two or more public hearings before being fully approved. Members’ voices are the make-or-break element at the public hearing stage of the approvals process. Convincing City officials is very hard when the inevitable opposition to a needed bicycle lane project surfaces. At City Hall, it’s crucial that we have as many people as possible in support of the project. Ultimately, your stories and experiences are what convince decision makers that a protected bike lane is necessary.

As your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we stay on top of City projects, work with community partners and keep things on track. But it is your involvement, whether through neighborhood expertise or the continued energy to push towards a win, that fuels our work and allows us to win the street campaign victories that we’ve seen over the decades. Here’s to you, our members, as we work together for more victories in 2018 and beyond!

3 key 2018 campaigns where people power will make the difference:

  • Market
    • We’ve been talking about it for years, and now the time has come: We have an historic opportunity to completely transform 2.2 miles of our most popular bike route into a truly welcoming place for people who bike. It’s going to take a huge effort to win big changes, so join our member-driven effort for a Better Market Street.
  • SoMa
    • Everywhere you look, SoMa streets are transforming for the better. To keep the many bike lane projects in SoMa on track, we need your help in holding the City accountable. Join our campaign for safe SoMa streets.
  • Valencia
    • Want to be part of shaping the future of a vastly improved Valencia Street? Thanks to members like you, we won funding to develop a protected bike lane on Valencia Street. Join the member committee to engage in a City-led planning process to make Valencia Street a showcase for a great bike lane.

The Tube Times is published quarterly as one of the many benefits to members of the SF Bicycle Coalition. For a complete list of membership benefits, or to join/renew today, click here.

Become a member and you'll improve your commute and get discounts at shops across the city.