Bike coalition members vote on future

The politically powerful San Francisco Bicycle Coalition faced a crisis of direction last month, and a new vote has cemented a new direction for the bike advocacy group.

By nearly two-to-one, bike coalition members voted to strip away their right to vote for new members of its board.

Members opposed to the change said a “yes” vote would weaken the bike coalition’s political clout, which it uses to push San Francisco for new bike lanes and laws favoring bicyclist safety.

The group often wins, political watchers noted to the Examiner, so much was at stake.

The bike coalition asked its members to change its bylaws because it said a quirk in state law forced the group to turn over sensitive member data to any potential candidate for the nonprofit’s board. But in order to close the loophole, it argued, it needed to shift away from a member-elected board to an appointed-board system.

More than 900 of the bike coalition’s 10,900 eligible members voted, with 619 in favor of the changes and 332 opposed.

Lawrence Li, president of the bike coalition’s board of directors, said he agreed with the members’ decision.

“By voting, you have made the change that was demanded in order to better protect your privacy,” Li wrote, in a statement to members. “With this change to a Board-elected Board, your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is no longer required by California state law to share your contact information with other members, and, as is our long-standing policy, we will not share your contact information with anyone else.”

A group of more than 60 past and present bike coalition members started a group called Save SF Bike Coalition. In a statement, the group said the coalition presented the vote with flawed arguments.

“We call on the Bike Coalition Board to rescind this unfair and deceptive vote immediately and restore our rights as Bike Coalition members,” the group said, on its website.

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