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Bike coalition elects new board, rejects concerns about ride-hail funds

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A cyclist maneuvers around cars parked in an unprotected bike lane along Valencia Street near 16th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District Friday, August 4, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

A more ride-hail and autonomous vehicle-friendly San Francisco Bicycle Coalition may have just been born.

San Francisco’s most politically active transportation rabble-rousers just finished a contentious election for the Board of Directors.

A slice of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s 10,000 members have spoken and elected five members from the “Safety Together” slate, which was mostly comprised of technology workers.

Their rivals, a slate backed by a group called SFBC Momentum, questioned a total of $10,000 in donations the bike coalition accepted from Cruise Automation and Waymo, the Google-run driverless car company.

The bike coalition has a long-standing bylaw against accepting donations from companies that profit primarily from car or petroleum manufacturing. The Momentum-backed slate argued accepting money from ride-hails and autonomous vehicle companies was morally equivalent.

The Safety Together slate declined to fill out a questionnaire based on the issue. At a late January meeting for bike coalition members, some questioned accepting ride-hail money, and questioned the tech worker leanings of the majority of the Safety Together slate.

But despite these objections, the 1,248 bike coalition members who voted largely backed the Safety Together slate, which includes new board members software engineer Sarah Bindman, JUMP and Uber employee Meaghan Mitchell, Google engineer Brad Williford and Juli Ota, who is a part-time staff member at the bike coalition.

After the Safety Together slate’s win, “you’re going to continue to see the SF Bicycle Coalition push strongly for short-term improvements across all neighborhoods,” said Williford, “and you will also continue to see a focus on engaging our underserved communities.

Mitchell, a black woman who also said she would focus on diversifying the bike community, said “I’m happy that my message about the importance of having leadership that reflects the values and mission of the organization and its members did not fall on deaf ears.”

The SFBC Momentum-backed slate did not entirely lose out. Three of its members were elected including, Nic Jay Aulston, a co-founder of Bicis Del Pueblo, a group that helps people of color and low-income communities learn to bike, MonkeyBrains director of field operations Preston Rhea and tenants attorney Kelli Shields.

The board is set to host its next meeting on February 26.


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