Here is Save SF Bike’s vision for keeping the Bike Coalition democratic and reinvigorating this great organization we are all committed to. We will work to include these priorities in the SFBC’s new Strategic Plan, and then we will work to support staff and members in implementing the plan.
Click on each bulleted item below for more information
Strengthen the Ongoing Work of the SFBC
- Increase pressure on the City to achieve its goal of eliminating all deaths and serious injuries by 2024The Bicycle Coalition has done great work advancing the goal of safer streets and we will support this process to ensure that our streets are no longer dangerous for the most vulnerable users, particularly bicyclists and pedestrians. Rapid implementation of data-driven safety designs in the most dangerous corridors is especially important.We commend the Bicycle Coalition for its work in pressuring the Mayor to issue an Executive Directive on Vision Zero. Based on the City’s history of slow progress on safety reforms, we nonetheless understand that the Bicycle Coalition will need to keep the pressure on to ensure improvements on our streets.
- Support police reform efforts to promote police respect for bicycle ridersThe SFPD needs to better understand the experience of people biking in our city and respect and protect our rights to use the public right of way. Enforcement should be proportionate to the behaviors and their impacts on people in our city. The disrespectful treatment of people biking by some police officers is a symptom of this same root problem that leads to racial disparities in SFPD’s stops, searches, arrests, and use of force. Save SF Bike believe that the best way for the Bike Coalition to help accomplish real cultural reform of the SFPD is to work together with other police reform organizations and coalitions.
- Accelerate the cross-town network of safe bike routesA safe network of bike routes enables anyone, particularly youth, seniors and new bike riders, to crisscross our city comfortably and safely. We support enhanced bike lanes and finding ways to address gaps in our network. This should include a mix of near-term, low-cost projects and larger scale rearchitecting of streets.
- Include all voices to update the strategic planThe Bicycle Coalition’s advocacy power is limited when we are seen as being solely focused on bicycling related issues. Forming alliances is a powerful way to bring the larger message to the community and decision makers. Public transit riders, pedestrians, and bicycle riders have much in common – all are forms of transportation that promote sustainability as a highly effective antidote to societal ills including pollution, traffic congestion, and fossil fuel consumption. Sustainable transportation is especially important for the transit-dependent and low-income communities of color most at risk for injury on San Francisco’s streets. The case for sustainable transportation is the same as the case for a healthy public, economy, and future. Bicycle Coalition’s Strategic Planning process should make a concerted effort to include the voices of our allies and align our goals with there’s wherever possible.
Build the SFBC’s Political Power by Expanding and Diversifying
- Rebuild membership, which has declined over 10% since its peak in 2011Despite over 30% increase in the number of people biking in San Francisco since 2011 (according to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency citywide bike counts), the Bicycle Coalition’s membership has declined over 10% from its peak in 2011. The Bicycle Coalition needs to find creative ways to recruit new members and make sure our existing members keep renewing. And when members consciously decide to leave the organization, we need to listen to their reasons why and learn from them.
- Empower member advocates by cultivating and supporting member-led initiativesMember-led groups of volunteer advocates are dedicated and passionate, because the biking improvements they are working on usually affect them personally. Member-led groups are responsible for many of Bicycle Coalition’s victories. Member meetings in which members present ideas and get feedback from other members is a great way to kickstart member initiatives. We believe the Bicycle Coalition should encourage, support and guide members in effective advocacy that aligns with the coalition’s values. In the end, everyone will benefit.
- Broaden outreach to San Francisco's diverse population and invest more in underrepresented communitiesThere is a common misconception that bike riders in our city are all young, able-bodied, professional, white males. In reality, San Franciscans of all backgrounds bike, but none more so than the poor and communities of color, the same groups under threat of displacement to suburbs burdened by streets far deadlier than San Francisco’s and terrible to non-existent transit. The image of bicyclists needs to be expanded to embrace this diversity. Meaningful attention must be paid to low-income and communities of color. The Bicycle Coalition must commit to long-term coalition building with communities that do not have the luxury of making bike advocacy their top priority.
- Expand fundraising opportunities with new board members from diverse networksFundraising is an important part of board service. By involving more board members from different areas of the city and with different networks, fundraising opportunities can be expanded and diversified to support a financially healthy organization.
Improve Board Accountability and Transparency
- Follow the bylaws and state lawThe board has a fiduciary duty to follow the organization’s bylaws and state law. It is troubling that the board does not take greater care to follow the law. For example:
In 2015, the board ratified a vote for a bylaw change to abolish member voting rights, but the bylaw referendum did not follow state law in that it did not provide sufficient notice to members and it did not clearly explain the effect of the bylaw change on member voting rights. Only after Save SF Bike threatened legal action did the board rescind the bylaw vote, which is the only reason members can vote for the board this year.In January 2016, the board seated (not appointed) three candidates to three vacancies on the board caused by these three candidates not receiving a sufficient number of votes to be elected according to the bylaws. The bylaws permit appointment of up to three candidates per calendar year, but there is no provision for ‘seating’ candidates.A board member announced his resignation in April 2016, but changed his mind in June – after pressure from members to fill the vacancy with the next highest vote-getter (a Save SF Bike candidate) from the last election. The bylaws do not have a provision for reversing a resignation.We believe the board should be held accountable to following the bylaws and state law, and threat of legal action should not be required to make the board do so.
- Keep the Bike Coalition democratic with member rights intactSFBC grew as a member-based, grassroots organization. The SFBC should remain accountable to its members, who have ultimate control of the organization through their vote. We are strongly against changing the bylaws to remove member voting rights.Last year’s bylaw vote in which the board attempted to abolish member voting rights eroded trust in the SFBC. Therefore, the number of members required to vote (the quorum requirement) on eliminating member voting rights should be increased from its current 5% to a more reasonable 25%. This sends a clear message that member votes matter. It will ensure that any vote to make such a significant change in the organization’s governance would involve a rigorous debate and substantial engagement with members.
- Improve the transparency, accountability, and openness of board meetingsSave SF Bike recommends the following improvements to make SFBC board meetings more welcoming, transparent and accountable:Member should be allowed to comment on items before the board takes action on them. At most recent board meetings, members are only allowed to comment at the end of meetings.Board meeting minutes should record how board members voted on items. They currently do not.Avoid indiscriminate use of closed session at board meetings. The SFBC board overuses closed session at board meetings to exclude members from relevant discussions. Closed session should be limited to only those items that require confidentiality such as potential litigation or discussion about SFBC personnel issues or salaries. The Ralph M. Brown Act provides guidance on acceptable closed session topics. All other board discussions should be open to members.
Ensure Fair Board Elections
- Implement ranked choice votingThe SFBC’s current “winner-take-all” format for board elections encourage groups such as ours to endorse slates of candidates and discourage us from supporting additional candidates. Compared with winner-take-all elections, Ranked choice voting (RCV) in multi-winner contests allows more diverse groups of voters to elect candidates of their choice. This promotes diversity of viewpoint as well as diversity of candidate backgrounds and demographics. RCV helps to more fairly represent the full spectrum of voters. We are disappointed by the board’s rejection of RCV for 2016 and see it as a lost opportunity to learn lessons from last year’s election.
- End board endorsements of board candidatesThe fact that SFBC board endorses candidates discourages capable members from running for the board, which contributes to less member engagement in the board election process. While we appreciate the need for a well-rounded board, a better approach is to advertise what skill sets are needed to encourage members to come forward, instead of the board hand-picking their favorites and discouraging others. Diversity on the board is a benefit for the organization.
- Implement term limits for board membersTerm limits could be implemented as three consecutive two-year terms, after which a one-year pause must be taken before being eligible to serve on the board again. The IRS favors term limits for nonprofits and 70% of nonprofits have term limits according to BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2010. To keep an organization nimble and attentive to changing needs, it’s important to have new directors join the board by creating vacancies through term limits. Term limits prevent a concentration of power within a small group, especially dangerous when the directors are out of touch with the membership.
Do you support this platform? Become a Save SF Bike candidate: Become a Candidate