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Mission advocates call for new ‘moratorium’ on bikesharing

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A dismantled Ford GoBike hangs from a tree in the Mission. (Courtesy Anandi Wonder/via Twitter)
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The Mission District is calling for its second “moratorium.”

Though a 2015 proposal called on city leaders to stop market-rate development in the neighborhood, citing gentrification fears, this newest moratorium has a different target: bikesharing.

Some Mission District advocates have asked Ford GoBike to respect a moratorium on bikeshare expansion in the neighborhood, calling for a large swath of the Mission to be off-limits — including locations near the 16th Street and 24th Street BART Stations.

Jon Jacobo, a council member and co-chair of the Calle 24 group, which oversees the historical district on 24th Street, confirmed advocates have called for a pause to bikeshare expansion in order to develop more inclusive, community-driven bikeshare plans.

Though he agreed he was essentially describing a moratorium, he said the word was “politically charged” and isn’t one he’d use.

“I think a lot of people think the equity piece isn’t what it should be [in bikesharing],” Jacobo told the San Francisco Examiner. “We don’t want this.”

The Mission Economic Development Agency is also among the organizations asking for more time. “MEDA has asked that Mission Street installations be paused while a community process and impact report are done,” the organization said in a statement, also citing affordability concerns.

The call for a moratorium follows the tumultuous rollout of Ford GoBike in San Francisco. In June, the number of bikes available Bay Area-wide expanded to 3,500. Calle 24 asked Ford GoBike and its partners, Motivate, to not expand onto 24th Street. Now, other organizations in the community have broadened that ask.

The requested freeze also coincides with a rash of vandalism against Ford GoBike stations across The City. So far, about 15 stations and 400 bikes have been subject to vandalism, confirmed Motivate spokesperson Dani Simons. Many of those bikes have had their tires punctured, though Simons was unable to provide the cost of repairs.

Graffiti at one kiosk at 17th and Dolores streets read, “FORD IS TRACKING YOU,” as seen in a tweet from San Francisco resident John Entwistle. This is an apparent reference to former Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields, who told investors in 2016 that Ford GoBike’s data may allow the company to track its customers, helping what it sees as a more profitable venture: private bus services.

“The opportunity is not bikes. That’s not why Ford’s in it,” Fields said, according to financial news service The Motley Fool. “The opportunity is data, and the data is super valuable.”

That tracking concerns Jacobo, who said immigrant communities are especially fearful as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and ramp up actions under President Donald Trump.

Simons told the Examiner, “There’s no telemetry and no tracking on the bikes, no GPS. Any data we share is anonymized.”

Jacobo said Mission organizations also hope for a socioeconomic impact report of bikesharing in the neighborhood and a reduction of costs for biking over certain time limits for low-income cyclists.

“We’re trying to figure out what the right path forward is, and do it in a thoughtful way,” he said.

But first, they want a pause.

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