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Yes on C: Streets for all of us

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(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

For decades, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the city. Powered by 10,000-plus active members, we win everything from bike lanes to more funding for transportation to policy changes in service of our mission — promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation.
Since our organization was founded in 1971, our city has changed dramatically. When it comes to biking, we’ve seen monumental growth in the number of people who bike, and many of our streets have been overhauled to be increasingly more welcoming to us, whether it’s more protected bike lanes or car-free streets.

But when I think about what our streets look like today, I know that we can’t only look at the asphalt, concrete and paint between two curbs.

The truth is that no matter how many protected bike lanes we win and no matter how many intersections are redesigned for pedestrian safety, our streets will never be truly welcome or safe if we do not tackle the homelessness crisis in San Francisco.

I made a resolution in 2017 to “embrace intersectionality” as the lens for my work as Advocacy Director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. This came after the November 2016 election during which I had spent months developing Propositions J and K, working closely with then- Supervisors John Avalos and Scott Wiener. This would have increased our city’s sales tax to invest approximately $100 million to transportation and $50 million to supportive housing and homeless services annually. While these joint measures did not succeed, our organization built new partnerships with homeless advocates and service providers.

We built upon these relationships to take a more comprehensive and compassionate approach to our bicycle advocacy, starting first with the Hairball, a complex knot of paths where Potrero Avenue, Cesar Chavez Street and Bayshore Boulevard meet beneath Highway 101. While we fought for physical design improvements, we also advocated for the establishment of two nearby Navigation Centers because we knew that there were dozens of people living there who were at the figurative and actual intersection of homelessness and transportation infrastructure.

I’m proud that both the temporary and permanent Navigation Centers have brought transitional, supportive shelter to people who were living at the Hairball and that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition took leadership in creating space for this conversation through a Bike Talks event.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is proud to support Yes on C so that we can bring real solutions to address the homelessness crisis here in our city.

Just as much as we will never accept that a car-centric city is the inevitable and unchangeable future for San Francisco, we should not accept the status quo of homelessness. Prop C is the most bold and most comprehensive plan to address the homeless crisis to date, and we believe that passing this measure will truly make our streets more safe and welcoming for everyone.

Janice Li is the current Advocacy Director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and is also a candidate for BART Board District 8.

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