Hundreds of ordinary citizens, as well as scores of environmental and bicycle advocates, packed the fourth floor of San Francisco City Hall today for the SFMTA’s hearing on the city’s long-awaited Bike Plan.
The Board heard hours of impassioned public comment in support of implementing the city’s desperately needed Bike Network; they voted unanimously this afternoon to approve the Bike Plan EIR and finally adopt the complete Bike Plan.
The SFMTA Board voted on 45 of the 56 proposed projects, which will add over 34 miles of new bike lanes in San Francisco. There was a tiny handful of individuals who spoke in opposition to the specific details of a few bike network projects, although nearly all of them also voiced their support for creating more bike lanes in general. The SFMTA Board voted to temporarily table improvements on only one project, transit safety changes that are scheduled to be made on Second Street.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition helped to organize the hundreds of cyclists who showed up at City Hall at 8am for the public hearing. Many different city agencies, from the Department of Public Health, DPW and the DPT to the SF Unified School District and the Mayor’s office, all expressed their wholehearted support for the implementation of the citywide Bicycle Network. Dozens of local business owners also explained how an interconnected bike network would not only help to improve our environment and health, and increase transit safety for everyone, but would also tremendously benefit the city’s local economy.
“Today is an historic day for the future of bicycling in San Francisco,” proclaimed Mayor Gavin Newsom during a City Hall press conference this afternoon. “These bike lanes will improve our environment, enhance bike safety, and help people lead healthier lives.”
More Bicyclists Equals Safer Streets
Jared Blumenfeld, the director of the Department of the Environment, explained how having more cyclists on the roads actually increases traffic safety and decreases accidents. He cited transit safety statistics in London, where “…the number of bicyclists doubled, while the number of accidents halved, due to increased traffic calming and awareness”. In his remarks to the MTA Board Mr. Blumenfeld encapsulated the overall feeling in the crowded room quite well with his quotation of H.G. Wells:
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”
I could not agree more, and I am feeling most hopeful after today’s decision. I am also eagerly awaiting the 34 miles of new bike lanes and much needed bicycle infrastructure improvements that will soon grace the roadways of my beautiful city.