A dramatically expanding bike share company that is set to place some 31 proposed bicycle-dock stations on the streets of the Mission District this year and next year will be steering clear of one: 24th Street.
There, the neighborhood group representing the Calle 24 Cultural District – a stretch of 24th Street that is recognized by the city and state as a protected cultural District – was anything but thrilled with Ford GoBike’s (formerly Bay Area Bike Share) plans, which include adding some 3,500 bicycles under its program in San Francisco by the end of next year.
“There’s a lot of cultural social and economic impacts that it would have on low income working class community. Part of our vision is to preserve this area for working class families. This doesn’t really fit into our vision and mission,” said Erick Arguello, who heads the Calle 24 Latino Cultural Corridor group.
Arguello called the bike share company backed by the Ford Motor Company “very corporate.”
“I think it will be a clash on 24th Street,” he said and questioned whether the service that allows bicycles to be rented from the stations using a smartphone application will benefit the local community.
Dani Simon, a spokesperson for Motivate, the bike-share company that runs Ford GoBike in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the conversation with community groups including Calle 24 is ongoing.
“We really want this to be seen as an asset to all communities around the city,” said Simon.
But Arguello said that his group will not negotiate. “We told them no, and there will be opposition,” he said.
Simon said that the company has done rigorous community outreach, including more than 30 town hall meetings with residents, to gauge approval and need in the city’s neighborhoods.
She said the company’s vision is to bring “affordable means of transportation to neighborhoods for people that need it.”
In an effort to remain accessible to low-income community members, the company offers a first time, year-long membership at a $5 rate for anyone who is eligible for “the Muni discount program and other affordability programs.”
Arguello said that the neighborhood council, representing businesses, residents, nonprofits and artists, was first approached by the bike share company some three months ago.
“We appreciated that the company approached us… Most of the time things happen without even asking the community,” said Arguello.
Regionally, the company hopes to expand to 7,000 bicycles in the Bay Area by next year, which can be rented from select stations via the app or through the Clipper Card system.
A map showing the company’s proposed stops excludes the corridor stretching from Valencia Street to Potrero Avenue along 24th Street, with the closest stations proposed at 24th and Valencia streets and at 24th and Mission streets.
Simon said that the stations will vary in size, with smaller stations holding 15 to 20 bicycles and larger stations holding as many as 30 to 50 bicycles.
“The station could go into a plaza, it could go on sidewalks, or in parking spaces,” said Simon. “We really try to be creative and try to work with communities to figure out where the best places [for them] are. Obviously, the sidewalks are crowded and that space is precious.”
Arguello agreed, and said that is precisely why bike share should not set up in the cultural district.
“24th street is a very narrow street – some of these stations are about three to four cars long,” he said.
Parking, Arguello feared, could become an issue. “Neighbors are constantly complaining about not enough parking,” he said. “[Ford GoBike is] proposing [the stations] on the street and at the plazas.”
Arguello added that his group has its “own plans for its own community.”
The group wants the plazas along 24th Street where the bike stations are proposed, such as the 24th and Mission Bart Plaza, for example, to remain accessible for community members to utilize as performance, event and social spaces.
The group is also mulling over its plans for streetscape improvements – “our vision is to become a Chinatown or a Japantown,” said Arguello. “Some people have talked about creating Mayan temples on the entrance of 24th Street, representing Latin America.”
Arguello also questioned the need for the app-based bike share program along the transit corridor and whether its utilization by the local community.