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Bike Advisory Committee Works for Better Bicycling in San Francisco

The Bicycle Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting discusses safety and infrastructure. Image: Streetsblog.
The Bicycle Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting discuss safety and infrastructure. Members: Marc Brandt (D3), Ilyse Magi (D9), Paul Wells (D10), Bert Hill (D7), Diane Serafini (D8), Melyssa Mendoza (D5), Casey dos Santos-Allen (D11). Image: Streetsblog.

Streetsblog checked in with the dedicated volunteers of the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) on Monday evening at its monthly meeting. The BAC was created by an ordinance back in 1990. The group consists of appointees representing each of the supervisorial districts. It advises San Francisco on matters related to bike safety and infrastructure. The chair is Bert Hill, who is also a veteran Bicycle Education Instructor with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC). In a pre-meeting interview with Streetsblog, Hill said he wants more attention paid to roads where cyclists generally don't ride. His argument is that some roads are so intimidating that cyclists avoid them almost completely, so they don't get considered in the criteria for which roads get bike safety treatments in SFMTA's plans. "Is the criteria that you have to get someone killed to get checked off as requiring a bike safety project?" he quipped.

Once the meeting got underway, around 6:30 p.m., the committee heard from SFMTA about its plans to hire a vendor to assist in bike safety education. Next Libby Nachman, program coordinator for the SFBC, addressed the committee about several projects, including this year's upcoming "bike to work day," which will be Thursday, May 12. "We will celebrate with commuter convoys from every district, ending with a press conference on steps of City Hall," she told the BAC. The committee also celebrated the planned addition of more bike cars on Caltrain. "The addition of third bike car is something we fought hard for and we won last year," said Nachman. "It will significantly increase capacity for bikes on trains."

Bert Hill, chair of the committee, with his bike pin. Image: Streetsblog.
Bert Hill, chair of the committee, with his bike pin. Image: Streetsblog.

The Committee discussed their pleasure at San Francisco officially abandoning "Levels of Service," (LOS) basically, bureaucratic speak for state environmental laws that forced planners to view any transit or bicycle project primarily in terms of how it impacts the flow of automobiles. "Shame that it took over a decade to get change," said Hill to the committee, bemoaning how many bad projects got built under the LOS criteria.

Devon Warner spoke to the committee about the next planned "Ride of Silence" event in San Francisco, which will start at The Grotto Sports Basement on Bryant Street at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 18. The ride is part of an international, annual bike ride to commemorate cyclists killed or hurt on public streets. "The ride is extremely valuable," she said. "All of us cyclists have near misses every day. It could be any of us. We do want to inform the public that we’re human beings who just happen to be on bikes."

Near the end of the meeting, which adjourned around 8:30, Hill showed the group a video about his concerns on bicycle safety on a stretch of Bosworth Street, near the Glen Park BART station. This is a sore spot for Hill, who was rear-ended by a motorist while riding his bicycle on this stretch some two years ago. The video he showed seemed to push the committee towards the old vehicular-versus-infrastructure argument of cycling advocates, by focusing on sharrows on Bosworth Street, which in Hill's view are dangerously misplaced too far from the centerline of the lane. Marc Brandt of District 4 of the BAC opined that sharrows aren't the real answer and instead the existing guard rail should be moved over to form a protected bike lane on at least part of Bosworth. Hill agreed and said he wants the painted sharrows improved only as a quick, temporary fix.

The committee discussed many other topics, such as poor drainage on some bike paths and concerns about Market Street. The BAC meets the fourth Monday evening of each month, starting at 6:30, in Room 408 of San Francisco City Hall. For more information on how to participate, check out the BAC website.

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