City's Bike Policy Shifts from "What If?" to "How Soon?" by Dave Snyder, SFBC Executive Director

I continue to be amazed by the change in tone at City Hall. In June alone, enough happened that it's worth compiling here.

I got a call from Supervisor Gonzalez's office asking if there's any money we need in the budget process besides funding for the Market Street study. "No, we're planning to meet our other needs with federal grant money, but thanks! Just make sure we get funding for the planning process necessary to make Market Street safe."

The previous week I went on a ride with Supervisor Sandoval. He wanted to explore lands we could buy to build bike paths, and insisted, "Look, I'm not doing your bidding, this is my agenda [to build a bike network that anyone of any age can use]. You're helping me." "OK, Supervisor, whatever you say."

That same week we got a call from Supervisor Daly's office telling us that he has held up a routine temporary parking elimination for street excavation until DPT takes some action on his earlier resolution to put bike lanes on Howard Street. "Cool."

And then Supervisor Peskin got involved with a proposal to improve the bike path in the Broadway Tunnel, breaking a logjam that has held up that improvement for two years!

And in May, Supervisor Leno called excitedly with an idea to raise several million dollars for bicycle and pedestrian projects from excess funds generated from parking garage fees.

These changes have made me change my strategy a little bit. I used to focus on policy change, not worrying so much about how long it takes to implement a new policy. I figured that once the hard work of achieving the policy change was done, it made more sense to spend our limited resources on changing the next policy, not fighting over the speed of implementation.

Now, I think it's time to make sure implementation happens more quickly. For example, a DPT program to install bike racks on city sidewalks has been stalled for a year due to bureaucratic delays. Another DPT program to help parking garage owners comply with the law requiring bike parking has also been stalled due to understaffing at DPT. Thanks to this Board of Supervisors, we'll get the Bike Network approved in a couple of years. But it won't do any good if there's no place to park your bike after your ride on the urban bikeway.