Members of San Francisco’s transportation board have asked transportation staff to delay the installation of a Ford GoBike station in Glen Park, citing a lack of neighborhood outreach.
The only problem, critics say?
Neighborhood outreach to install that Ford GoBike station has been underway for two years.
And that makes the process to install this particular Ford GoBike station rank among the longest, most robust neighborhood outreach processes for any of their stations in The City, Lyft confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner, a claim supported by myriad public documents.
Now, the controversy surrounding this particular Ford GoBike station may spur the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors to seek direct control over approving such bike stations across The City in an effort to provide more community input.
Supporters say it would give them more control and a better chance to nix unwanted Ford GoBike stations, while critics worry requiring an SFMTA board vote on every station would lengthen an already convoluted approval process.
The Randall and Chenery Street Ford GoBike station in Glen Park will be reviewed at the Tuesday, March 5 regular meeting of the SFMTA board, along with a presentation on the current Ford GoBike approval process.
Right now, public outreach is performed by Lyft, which operates Ford GoBike, as well as SFMTA staff. Often the Board of Supervisors member who represents a neighborhood will also provide input, and the bike stations are ultimately approved by an SFMTA engineer.
But board member Art Torres asked staff to delay installation of the station at Randall and Chenery Streets in a mid-January meeting, asking for more information about public outreach efforts.
“I want to revisit or at least have staff communicate why this Ford GoBike station was put at Randall Street at Glen Park when there seems to be substantial community opposition,” Torres said in January.
Ford GoBike’s expansion has been slowed citywide by the concerns of neighbors and San Francisco’s elected officials, the San Francisco Examiner reported previously. Recently, however, that freeze-out has begun to thaw: The Marina District will see its first two Ford GoBike stations installed in March, for instance.
There are 152 Ford GoBike stations in San Francisco right now with about 1,900 available bikes, but a full planned build-out would place 320 stations and 4,500 available bikes in The City.
While many of these planned stations meet with opposition from irate neighbors, the one slotted for Randall and Chenery stations is a particularly pernicious case.
That station was first proposed in February 2017 at a public workshop at the Excelsior Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, according to a memo written by SFMTA staff to their board. That location was suggested by neighbors through an online “Suggest-a-Station” tool.
It’s particularly well situated for those in the neighborhood trying to access BART, as it sits roughly halfway between 24th Street BART station and Glen Park BART station. It’s also at the corner of Dolores Huerta Elementary School, and some in support of the station hoped it would help parents more easily swing by to pick up their children.
The station earned ire from former Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, however, and ended up requiring more outreach meetings than many other Ford GoBike stations: the Glen Park Association saw a presentation from Ford GoBike staff after it was first suggested; an SFMTA Engineering Public Hearing was held in July, 2018; and then the matter returned to the Glen Park Association in October, 2018, according to the SFMTA.
At the tail end of that process, Torres’ claim that the community mostly opposed the station was mirrored by one community member at the January SFMTA meeting named Lori Stasukelis.
“I’m asking the board to put the Randall bike rack on hold,” she asked the SFMTA directors. “Concerned neighbors who know the traffic patterns and the safety issues of this location better than any City Hall traffic engineer nearly unanimously opposed the rack placement at Randall and Chenery Streets. And these neighbors and families came out in person to say so.”
Stasukelis and other Glen Park community members against the station cite traffic congestion as a reason to oppose the site. SFMTA maintains bike use would relieve traffic congestion as some people would stop driving their cars and hop onto bikes.
But despite the claim that the Glen Park community is united in its opposition, SFMTA heard directly from 104 people in support the Ford GoBike station at Chenery and Randall, and 73 people in opposition. Of those 104 people in support, 81 identified themselves as neighborhood residents, according to an SFMTA memo.
Many of those community members emailed the SFMTA Board of Directors in support of the station before Tuesday’s upcoming meeting.
“I just had arm surgery and am sitting here typing to you with one hand b/c I heard the Ford bike station at randall and chenery was put on hold,” one neighbor wrote in an email to the SFMTA. That neighbor added, “I live at 153 Chenery (Street), the same block as this bike station, and would very much like to use Ford GoBike on my commute to work. Please build this station.”
Mike Schiraldi, who founded a local group called Glen Park Urbanists, wrote to the SFMTA board “I have a three-year-old daughter who could very well go to this school one day, and I would love to have the option of walking her there and then getting a bike to continue on my way downtown.”
The greater-than-usual conflict between neighbors over Ford GoBike was observed by an SFMTA staffer in charge of bike parking, so-called “bikeshare” and “scootershare,” in an email to the Glen Park community in January.
“This has been the most outreach GoBike and the agency have performed on any single station, and we very much appreciate engagement with such an involved neighborhood,” wrote Adrian Leung, an SFMTA staffer. “Throughout this process, I have repeatedly heard neighbors share exactly the same perspectives regarding existing conditions, but still arrive at completely polar conclusions on the station.”
Lyft, which now operates Ford GoBike, reaffirmed its extensive outreach.
“Locating bike share stations near BART is a key way to support public transit and promote connections between sustainable modes,” said Lyft spokesperson Julie Wood. “Over the past two years, we have done extensive community outreach at this site, received a large degree of local support, and now stand ready to work with our partners to install this station as soon as possible.”