3 Ways to Support Better & Safer Bicycle Infrastructure in San Francisco

A safe, green protected bike lane on market street in san francisco
A protected bike lane on Market Street in San Francisco

“I want to see better & safer bicycle infrastructure in San Francisco.”

This is something I hear from experienced and new bike commuters all the time, so let’s dig in to 3 easy steps to make this happen.

Before I begin, I want to start with a reminder that although San Francisco streets can be improved, thousands of people ride their bikes safely every day. Don’t let an accident you heard of in the past dissuade you from riding your bike. Only with more people on bicycles and more demands for better & safer infrastructure can cities become the bike havens of the future. Looking at the SF traffic fatality data, bicycle fatalities are the least common and not rising even though there are more bicycles on the city streets every year.

What You Can Do Now

1. Get involved with the San Francisco Bike Coalition (Even if you don’t ride a bicycle!). They are an organization with a mission to advance the use of the bicycle for everyday transportation and create happier cities. In 2018 they helped get over 5 miles of protected bike lanes on the ground in San Francisco. They have lots of other achievements and goals in their strategic plan.

I want to stress that if you’re someone who doesn’t ride a bicycle yet, but claim you would if city streets were safer…THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO MAKE CITY STREETS SAFER! Wishing can only go so far. Support the organization that makes the change you want to see.

To achieve all these goals, the SFBC has a full time staff dedicated to making better & safer infrastructure for people biking and walking. They are meeting with city leaders leaders all the time to help make dreams a reality. When you join the SFBC or another local bike coalition you are giving them money to continue doing this work and adding your name as a supporter (plus many other membership perks). With more supporters, the SFBC has a stronger voice that’s truer to the community when pushing projects with city government. They’ll also update you with news related to projects and let you know when there’s more community support needed, which brings me to the next thing you can do.

2. E-mails. This is debatably the first thing you should be doing, but I thought without the information that the SFBC provides, it’s hard to know what or who to email! There are A TON of people you can e-mail, and it’s hard to know who has power to do what, but the most important one is YOUR supervisor. The Mayor, the rest of the Board of Supervisors, and the SFMTA Director are the other important ones. I’ve put them in the order of importance in the list below. You can always just paste everyone into your email every time to maximize visibility, but maybe a few well chosen names may get you more responses.

People You Can E-mail Now

  • YOUR district supervisor: Details (and a helpful map) below
  • The Mayor: MayorLondonBreed@sfgov.org
  • The Entire Board of Supervisors: Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org
  • The SFMTA Director: I don’t know his e-mail but you can guess
  • Sustainable Streets Division: Tom.Maguire@sfmta.com
  • The SFMTA Board: MTABoard@sfmta.com
  • Mayor’s Policy Advisor on Transportation: paul.supawanich@sfgov.org
  • Everything listed above conveniently comma separated to paste into your e-mail To field (or click here): MayorLondonBreed@sfgov.org, Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org, Tom.Maguire@sfmta.com, paul.supawanich@sfgov.org, MTABoard@sfmta.com

As for things to say, here are some talking points that you can mention in an e-mail:

  • Talk about how you ride your bike or want to ride your bike on better & safer streets.
  • Discuss the routes you take or want to take and why you think they’re safe or unsafe.
  • Mention that biking is a clean, healthy, and affordable means of transportation that thousands of city residents depend on for everyday transportation, and that the city should prioritize better & safer infrastructure.

Now back to YOUR district supervisor. Most of the decision makers in San Francisco are on the Board of Supervisors. You can e-mail all of the supervisors if you want, but each supervisor represents (and more importantly is voted on by) a district. In theory, the supervisors will always want to do what the people in their district want so they can stay in elected office. Check out their website to see a list of the board of supervisors, and a fancy interactive map below their names on the left sidebar shows which one represents each district. I’ve also added most of the info you need below.

A map of SF districts so you can email your supervisor and ask for better biking infrastructure!
San Francisco Supervisor Districts (and neighborhoods). If you’re not sure which district is yours from this map, enter your address on this tool.

Here are a list of all the current supervisors and their e-mails. I just used the e-mails they provided on their individual websites, and some of them just provided staff e-mails. However, their personal e-mails are always just FirstName.LastName@sfgov.org. Please let me know if this list gets out-of-date!

  • District 1: Sandra Lee Fewer – Sandra.Fewer@sfgov.org
  • District 2: Catherine Stefani – Catherine.Stefani@sfgov.org
  • District 3: Aaron Peskin – Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org
  • District 4: Gordon Mar – marstaff@sfgov.org
  • District 5: Dean Preston – prestonstaff@sfgov.org
  • District 6: Matt Haney – haneystaff@sfgov.org
  • District 7: Norman Yee – Norman.Yee@sfgov.org
  • District 8: Rafael Mandelman – Rafael.Mandelman@sfgov.org
  • District 9: Hillary Ronen – Hillary.Ronen@sfgov.org
  • District 10: Shamann Walton – waltonstaff@sfgov.org
  • District 11: Ahsha Safaí – Ahsha.Safai@sfgov.org

3. If you can, it’s even better to show up in person at any community meetings where bicycle infrastructure is being discussed. Sometimes the SFBC will keep you updated with any meetings that need more support, but they don’t spam you so best to check the event calendar too! Here’s a link to the Board of Supervisors upcoming meetings as well, but it’s hard to find out which ones include bike related topics.

As stated in a San Francisco Chronicle Article: “Cyclist’s death in SoMa prompts outcry, but action, if any, could come slowly.” Most of the improvements are coming slowly because of lack of community support. If these issues are important to you, take a second to send a few emails, get involved with the SFBC, and even show up to City Hall someday if you have time.

How You Can Stay Safe on your Bicycle

As a closing statement, I wanted to include some educational materials. Brush up on How to Look Behind You and How to Avoid Obstacles on your bicycle. The SFBC also has adult learn to ride classes happening regularly, check their event calendar.

Ride safe out there, and happy biking!

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