A year ago Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Michael Yaki held a press conference to announce city-wide improvements for cyclists. With Critical Mass events and front-page bike stories from the previous summer fresh in their minds, city officials were looking for ways to satisfy the public outcry for safer streets. So what has happened since then? Have Brown and Yaki kept their promises? The Tube Times offers this report card.
Unsatisfactory Partial Bike Network Implementation
Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) hearings lasted for months, but despite a huge public turnout, the bike network was rejected. Isolated street improvements were approved for Polk St. and Arguello Blvd., but Howard St., Fifth St., Second St., Fell St., Oak St., Marina Blvd., and Seventh Ave. were all denied the necessary safety improvements. Without clear policy from the Mayor's office, the DPT was frozen. Its visionless compromises divided the impact of auto congestion equally among drivers, MUNI riders, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Needs Improvement Traffic Calming
The city intended to initiate two neighborhood traffic calming projects and create a demonstration bicycle preference street. To date, DPT has ignored the city's transit-first policy and refused to support traffic calming, MUNI-lanes, or bike lanes that impact car capacity. DPT's Bridget Smith (who led traffic calming efforts in Sacramento) hopes to cultivate an interest through a series of public meetings in early 1999 with support from the city's Transportation Authority. The TA is leading a traffic calming project in Bernal Heights. Getting DPT Executive Director Stuart Sunshine to support Ms. Smith's efforts is a top priority for the SFBC.
Needs Improvement Funding
The DPT promised to stop relying on state and federal grant money to pay the salaries of its two bike program employees. At press, only one of those salaries now comes from the city's general fund; the other is still paid with federal money. With other money, the city has committed to the ongoing maintenance of bicycle facilities such as road signs.
Satisfactory Bicycle Aware-ness
As promised, green bikes belong stencils are appearing on approved city bike routes, marking where cyclists should ride when bikes and cars are expected to share a lane. The Mayor hosted a press conference declaring bicyclists' ÒabsoluteÓ right Òto the road.Ó The city has also hired a new bike safety coordinator, a position funded by a $200,000 grant.
Needs Improvement Bike Parking
The Mayor confirmed the city's intention to ensure secure bicycle parking in all city buildings as well as public and private parking garages. He also announced plans to study a downtown bike station on Sansome near Market, then the project languished due to lack of funds. Thanks to the efforts of Supervisor Leslie Katz, legislation requiring bike parking in all existing parking garages and showers and parking in all new construction of garages has been passed.
Unsatisfactory A Transportation Summit
When the Mayor announced the summit at his State of the City address, advocates worked hard to keep the idea alive within the administration. With the hire of Maria Ayerdi, a meeting of regional stakeholders was convened to discuss summit goals. Within days, the Mayor postponed the summit until after the election, despite its being delayed three times before. Supervisor Yaki, who first proposed the summit, never pursued the idea. Instead, Yaki negotiated for the Golden Gate Park Parking Garage