Letters to the Editor

Questioning the SFBC's Politics

Dear Editor,

I'm glad to see that the SFBC is now able to campaign freely on bicycling issues, but I'm less than heartened by its new policies. In my district (8), the SFBC was a major contributor to Supervisor Mark Leno's re-election effort. Although Mr. Leno was far from the worst of Mayor Brown's appointees, and emphasized his progressive (and pro-bicycle) positions in the months leading up to the election, his voting record often favored the interests of big business over a people-oriented, livable city. (Consider his positions on the Municipal Utility District, the SFPUC contract, the ATM fee ban, the live-work development moratorium, owner-move-in evictions, and Ammiano's campaign reform proposal.)

True, Mr. Leno has been a good friend of the bicycling community, and has done some commendable work on other issues. Nonetheless, I am concerned that the SFBC, in its zeal to promote the bicycle, has become a captive of a single issue. I lived in Oregon during the Bob Packwood days, and recall with dismay the many liberals who voted for Packwood because of his pro-choice stance, ignoring his otherwise highly conservative positions.

I could understand a (qualified) endorsement of Mr. Leno, or a multiple-candidate endorsement by the SFBC, but the SFBC's zeal in campaigning on his behalf frankly disturbs me. The SFBC has been one of my favorite organizations for some years now, and is remarkable for its positive effect on life here. However, if promoting bicycling means turning a blind eye to other issues, or campaigning for less progressive candidates, I'll have to question the wisdom of being a member.

Thanks, and go by bike,
Mateo Burtch

Editor Responds

Readers should know that the writer was not alone in his questioning of the SFBC's endorsement in District 8. We received similar complaints from a handful - but an impassioned handful - of members. Independent-thinking among city officials appointed by the Mayor has become a rare thing indeed, but it is just that which makes me feel secure in the endorsement of Leno.

Just a few examples: Leno was the only Supervisor besides Tom Ammiano to support Prop. F for the car closure in Golden Gate Park; he resisted intense pressure in casting his vote in support of Polk St. bike lanes; he authored important legislation to encourage more dense housing, vital to making alternatives to the car viable; and he has been a strong champion of both the Duboce Bikeway and the budding City Car Share.

As to the issue of the SFBC being a single-issue organization, it is important to remember that most people join the SFBC because they want to see more sensible transportation policies implemented, namely more bike commuting encouraged, in order to make our city more livable. We would be foolish to assume that our members necessarily agree on the host of other political issues. That said, the SFBC will seriously analyze our successes and failures in our first foray into candidate politics and consider how we can improve for next time. Anyone interested in helping in this process, please call Leah at 431-BIKE, x-2.

Send your Letters to the Editor to Tube Times, SFBC, 1095 Market Street, Suite 215, San Francisco, CA 94103, or email them to shahum@sfbike.org by the first of the month prior to publication.