SFBC's Clear Focus, Strategic Goals Yield Great Returns by Dave Snyder, Executive Director

The SFBC's strategic planning process, started last fall, has culminated in four primary goals: (1) create a citywide bicycle network, (2) gain a long-term, comprehensive traffic-calming plan, (3) educate other road users (motorists, transit drivers, police) about bicyclists' rights, and (4) promote a policy to shift travel modes from automobiles to more appropriate means. We feel these goals are most critical to the success of our mission: transforming this city's streets and neighborhoods into safer and more livable places through the promotion of the bicycle for everyday transportation, and the improvement of conditions for walking and transit.

Our progress to date is good, but the challenges mount. I am happy to report that Stuart Sunshine, the Executive Director of the Dept. of Parking & Traffic, recently wrote to the SF Chronicle: "A bicycle network, installed considering traffic impacts, will ease congestion as more people join the 24,000 daily bicycle commuters, already saving room in parking garages and on buses for people who choose to drive or take transit." As Polk St. and Arguello Blvd. are soon added to the list of safe streets, the number of gaps in the network is decreasing.

Our goal of creating a traffic calming program will fare well in next year's city budget: We expect about $1.3 million committed annually to measures to slow down cars in response to community requests. On the education front, some cyclists have reported better treatment from police, but we have a long way to go with the public in general. Promoting a mode shift to more appropriate alternatives may be the toughest nut to crack, but we're experiencing success here, too, in coalition with other groups working to change land use patterns to decrease the amount of car infrastructure provided.

Our recent success is heartening, but with every tailwind comes a headwind, and we have a long way to go. Though the Polk and Arguello proposals had only slight impacts on car traffic, they still provoked strong reaction from opponents, as evidenced in this week's Letters to the Editor column.

On the theory that the best defense is a strong offense, we are moving to close the remaining gaps in the bike network. The stakes are getting higher. We need your support. SFBC members are the most involved in the city; please do call and write your Supervisors, and, if you can, increase your financial support. A donation to the SFBC is an investment in safer streets and more livable neighborhoods.