Editors: This story was originally published in Issue 157 of our quarterly Tube Times magazine, one of many perks of membership in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
On June 1, 2000, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition took a major step to elevate the voice of our then-2,877 members: Gaining 501(c)(4) status.
This wonky tax category meant that for the first time in the organization’s history, we could endorse bike-friendly candidates running for office and actively campaign to make sure these candidates were elected. We continue to exercise this powerful muscle as our membership has ballooned to over 10,000 people and now dig deep every November as Election Day rolls around.
Since 2000, the progress in the ways we get around the city has been incredible. City leaders have risen, fallen and termed out. Ballot measures have moved the city to live up to its transit-first policy and have helped raised money for expanding the bike network, building people-friendly parks and repaving our streets for a smoother ride.
With a major federal election looming and a crowded ballot, this is our moment: Your vote counts. Let’s make 2016 the year San Francisco invested in its transportation and elected the right leaders to guide us forward.
You Vote, We Endorse
Our slate of endorsements is one of the biggest ever, and we couldn’t have gotten here without member input. Let’s take a look at how we came to our endorsements.
First, our 15-person member-elected Board of Directors decided which races to consider endorsing. We then reached out to every campaign in those races with a questionnaire, surveying political candidates on their positions on a variety of biking and transportation issues we know our members care about.
This year, response was overwhelming. With a growing SF Bicycle Coalition membership and transportation as the city’s top priority, candidates seek our endorsement more than ever. In the end, we received 33 completed questionnaires for candidates in 11 different races.
Next, our members weighed in. We posted all of the candidate questionnaires online for the public to view, showing easy-to-read scorecards of where candidates stand. Do they bike? Do they support more protected bike lanes? Where do they stand on Vision Zero? For two weeks after posting the candidate questionnaires, our members voted on which candidates they prefer. The final results of the member polling significantly influenced the final decision on who to endorse, which is made by our board.
This year, in addition to voting for Supervisors, San Francisco voters will also vote on 24 different local ballot measures along with one regional measure for BART. Staff closely reviewed all 25 propositions, analyzed the impacts on biking and the relevance to our membership, then gave detailed presentations to our board for each measure.
At their August meeting, the board reviewed all of the information presented and finalized the slate for both candidates and ballot measures.
We Need to Invest
Out of the 25 local and regional measures going before voters in San Francisco on Nov. 8, there are three that your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has strongly endorsed. These measures will continue the critical investments our transportation networks require.
Vote Yes on Props J and K.
Vote Yes on Measure RR.
Vote Yes for transportation.
All three measures raise significant funding so that transportation remains affordable, safe and reliable. In 2014, the City took the first step to ensure the future of getting around in San Francisco would be reliable, safe and affordable for everyone. The $500 million general obligation bond passed with 72 percent approval and our endorsement.
We knew this was only the first step that came out of the Transportation 2030 Task Force, which detailed a wide range of funding measures to keep our city’s infrastructure strong. Propositions J and K is our city taking the next step.
In order to build out our connected and integrated network of protected bike lanes, and to plan, design and construct the people-friendly streets San Franciscans deserve, we need the resources to get us there. Not only do Propositions J and K raise a projected $13 million per year for complete streets projects, they protect against Muni service cuts in the future and help fund affordability programs like Free Muni for Youth and Free Muni for Seniors and People with Disabilities.
A transit-friendly city is a bike-friendly city. Not only does connecting your bike to transit increase mobility and open up different ways to get around, it also encourages less car use. Having a healthy transit system is inherently good for biking, which is why your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is asking you to vote yes for BART.
As a unique district comprised of San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, BART has few options to find the funding to keep their system moving aside from raising fares. One of their options is to ask voters to approve a general obligation bond, which is why it’s critical we pass Measure RR to do just that.
The numbers speak for themselves. Not only does BART move 430,000 passengers around the Bay Area every day, 60,000 of those trips are within San Francisco alone. This adds up to 129 million BART trips per year! Measure RR puts 90 percent of the revenue raised into repairing and replacing critical infrastructure that has deteriorated over decades of use. The final 10 percent of funding will be used to expand bike access to stations, repair and upgrade elevators and help to relieve crowding on trains, adding up to 100 percent impact for the everyday BART rider.
This year is your chance to weigh in for better biking, better transit and transportation that works for the Bay Area. Vote yes on Propositions J and K, and vote yes on Measure RR.
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.