Follow the Money: Will Next Year's State and Local Budgets Fund Bicycle Safety? by Dave Snyder

Surplus funds in government coffers could solve major safety problems in a few San Francisco neighborhoods if cyclists can influence budgets being developed right now at the state and local level.

San Francisco's 2000-2001 draft budget is expected to include funds to expand DPT's new traffic calming program, which will permit the city to design traffic calming schemes and to apply for federal construction dollars. Two major SFBC priorities are not funded in the draft budget: a Market Street Bikeway Study, and a study of the impact of a SOMA area bike lane network.

The Market Street bikeway study was called for in a separate, recent study of the street by the city's Transportation Authority. The SOMA study is necessary because the 1998 Board of Supervisors proposal for bike lanes on Fifth Street has been shelved by the City Planning Department. Environmental Planning Officer Hillary Gitelman says that the Department does not have the resources to conduct the study which is required before the Board may vote on it. The Planning Department did not request funds in this year's budget to conduct the study.

Board of Supervisors Finance Committee Chair Leland Yee can put both studies into next year's budget. Cyclists should contact Yee's office immediately: Supervisor Leland Yee, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlet Place, SF, CA 94102, or at 554-7752.

The Mayor presents his budget proposal June 1. The Supervisors will amend it by mid-July before sending it back to the Mayor for final approval.

The cost of our local budget requests - about half a million dollars - is pennies compared to the $5.3 billion the Governor has promised to give away to transportation projects around the state. The Governor directed zero dollars to bicycle and pedestrian improvements. The SFBC, along with the Surface Transportation Policy Project, is trying to change those priorities and direct $250 million to safety enhancements, which we could use to implement bike lane projects in the inner Sunset and the "wiggle" bike route in the lower Haight.