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Bikeshare expansion blocked in the Mission over gentrification fears

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The Mission neighborhood group Calle 24 did not approve Ford GoBike’s request to place a dock for the bicycles on 24th Street. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)

Ford GoBike’s expansion into the bike-friendly Mission District comes with a glaring exception: 24th Street.

In the Latino Cultural District, on 24th Street from Mission to Potrero streets, neighbors and advocacy groups representing Latinos have spurned bikeshare, citing fears of gentrification, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Erick Arguello, founder of Calle 24, a neighborhood group that represents 24th Street, said his group and others told Ford GoBike flatly, “no” when they asked to place docks for their “shareable” blue bikes on 24th Street, and close nearby. Arguello claimed the bikeshare companies cater to newcomers with means, and not longtime Latino neighbors.

“The way we shop, the way we travel, it’s a very different culture,” Arguello said. “We did say, ‘No, we don’t want bikeshare on 24th street in the Latino Cultural District.’”

In June, Ford GoBike launched its newest expansion, providing 3,500 blue bikes available to be rented, or “shared,” by smartphone app. New stations are cropping up at Valencia and 24th streets, along Mission Street, Bryant Street and other locations throughout the Mission.

But the “find a station” map, which shows new Ford GoBike stations and current stations in San Francisco, shows a giant hole around the 24th Street neighborhood.

“We are working closely with a number of community organizations in the Mission around station siting, and this area will be part of a future wave of expansion,” said Dani Simon, a spokesperson for Motivate, which administers Ford GoBike.

When bikeshare companies reached out, they said the bikes would benefit the community, Arguello said. National studies, including one by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, found most cyclists aren’t the “white urban hipster” many associate with the mode of transport.

Most cyclists, the study found, are actually people of color, and often poor. Ford GoBike has a $5 annual cash payment membership in its Bikeshare for All program for low-income communities, and some stations were placed in “communities of concern” with advocacy from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, though that doesn’t include the stretch of 24th Street.

Arguello said it also doesn’t make sense to install expensive infrastructure when the neighborhood already has big plans in the works.

Merchants, neighbors and Calle 24 said there are plans to create emulate “Chinatown or Japantown” on 24th Street, with Mayan “temples” at either entrance to 24th Street, new sidewalk “bulbouts” for pedestrian safety and repaved streets. The neighborhood is recognized by The City, and just recently, the state of California, as a protected cultural district.

Additionally, merchants were worried about losing parking, Arguello said, as preliminary proposals placed bikeshare stations in parking spots.

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