Municipal Bike Share

Below is the public comment I gave at today’s hearing on municipal bikeshare held by the Government Audit and Oversight Committee meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Good morning committee, my name is Chema Hernández Gil. I want to thank Supervisor Preston for organizing this hearing and requesting this report. I am speaking as a District 6 resident that bikes to get around San Francisco. I am also a former Bike Share for All user, former staffer and elected board director of the SF Bicycle Coalition and current political organizer for the SEIU Local 1021.

Over the past decade, I have spoken in favor of bike share to this committee because I believe that it has the potential to address many of the barriers to biking in our city, particularly for low-income residents, many of which are overburdened by transportation costs or living in places were having a personal bike is impossible or not practical, such as SROs.

When this current bike share program was approved, we were told by the operator that many of the shortcomings of the system would eventually be addressed. We were told cash payments options would be expanded for its low-income program. We were told that the current eligibility threshold of 200% federal poverty level would be expanded, potentially even meeting or exceeding Chicago’s 300% FPL threshold. We were told workforce development would be a priority. Despite my concerns of the public-private model, I was willing to give the initial system the benefit of the doubt. Since then, we have not seen any of these improvements, only further compromises that create further barriers to using bike share for low-income San Franciscans.

At this point, I am persuaded that the current model has failed. I believe that a publicly-funded, publicly-operated, ideally regional, bike share program that is fully incorporated with our existing municipal transportation network is the only way San Francisco can have a bike share system that achieves its full potential. Such a system could ensure that all San Franciscans, regardless of income or living situation, can access a healthy and effective form of transformation. Importantly, a municipal bike share would also create unionized public jobs that provide a living wage, making San Franciscans that do not bike supporters of bike share.

I urge you to work with community and labor stakeholders to move immediately forward with a truly public bike share system that meets the transportation needs of all San Franciscans. Thank you.