We are excited to introduce our newest addition to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition staff. Chris Bannister joins the team as Volunteer and Membership Coordinator, with a background in in public health and youth development. Chris is a Southern California native who is now a dedicated advocate for transportation equity and social justice. In his role as Volunteer and Membership Coordinator, Chris works alongside the organization’s 10,000+ members to encourage San Francisco to become a bike-friendlier and healthier city.
What made you want to join the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition?
Having worked in the nonprofit public health sector, I come from a background that’s deeply ingrained in the roots of social justice and social equity. Much of the work that I have done has been dedicated to developing solutions and accessible resources for youth and young adults in communities that have been historically overlooked. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is an organization that does an amazing job not only bringing developing transportation solutions to the forefront, but also bringing socio-economic and transportation affordability issues to attention as well. This is something that I think affects all of us and that I believe everyone, regardless of identity, can get behind. I am truly grateful to be a part of this amazing team and to continue my ongoing development in the city that I love.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
So many things! I’m really excited to get to know all of our wonderful volunteers and Bicycle Ambassadors, and am equally excited to get involved with the many different communities that we serve. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is an organization that is ever-evolving. I’m excited to see our mission and advocacy grow beyond our initial work, and become something that will hopefully outlive us all.
What sparked your initial interest in bicycle advocacy?
I first started biking in San Francisco a couple of years ago at the recommendation of a friend. I had just had knee surgery and was looking for a way to keep active without completely destroying my body; biking seemed like a good fit. At the time, I was living in the Outer Sunset, across the street from the beach, and was commuting every day to SoMa. Having never biked in San Francisco before, I began to better understand the geographical landscape of the city and in turn understand some of the barriers that prevented some folks from riding in the city (lack of bike lanes, access to bike parking, theft, safety concerns, harassment, etc). Biking allowed me to see San Francisco in a totally different light and understand the need for transportation equity and advocacy. Seeing the work the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has done inspired me to do my part, become a member and get involved. Fast forward to today, and here I am!
What inspired you to work with nonprofit organizations to promote social change?
Growing up, my mom was a huge social advocacy supporter and was heavily involved in a number of community movements in Los Angeles. As a kid, my mom taught me the importance of in-person outreach, and that maintaining an open dialogue with the folks you surround yourself with is essential to creating change. I believe this also aligns with the values of our organization.
Is there anything you would like to see improved on the streets where you most often ride?
I still live in the Sunset, which is a pretty bike-friendly neighborhood, although compared to other parts of San Francisco, there aren’t many protected or dedicated bike lanes. Irving and Lincoln Streets are high-traffic corridors with a lot of commuters, but there’s little to no bike presence on these streets. I’d love to see more dedicated bike lanes in and around the Sunset.
Is there anything that you would like us to know about you?
I am a big movie fanatic, and enjoy going to concerts. I am always on the lookout for the next best burrito. On the weekends, you can probably find me in a diner somewhere or on the beach. Come say hi to me if you see me out and about!