SF Mission groups want bike sharing to slow its roll

Ford GoBike share on 19th and Mission Streets. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

A coalition of Mission District organizations, called United to Save the Mission, is calling for a study of how the expansion of a bike sharing program impacts residents, especially low-income ones.

Details of how the study would be done are not clear yet. Calle 24 Latino Cultural Corridor co-chair Jon Jacobo, speaking on behalf of the group United to Save the Mission, said it would explore the concerns that the group has about Ford GoBike’s accessibility to people of all income levels.

A spokesperson for the Mission Economic Development Agency, another United to Save the Mission member organization, said the coalition supports a “pause” on the program.

“United to Save the Mission supports a pause on the Ford GoBike Rental Program while a community planning process and impact report are done that will ensure the program has a strong equity component and meets the needs of our working-class community members,” wrote MEDA’s Christopher Gil.

It’s unclear what such a pause would look like on a program that has some 20 active stations in the MissionFord GoBike has already pulled out of the 24th Street corridor after pushback from Calle 24. Others have taken direct aim at the bikes, slashing tires and in one case stripping a bike down to its frame and leaving it in a tree, KPIX reports

“When you put something into a neighborhood, whatever it is, it has a ripple effect,” Jacobo said.

That effect could include anything from impacting traffic to favoring one socioeconomic category of the population as users to unspecified effects of where the stations are placed.

Jacobo said many of the groups in United to Save the Mission, which includes everything from tenant advocacy nonprofits to artist groups, were also frustrated that they had not been consulted by Motivate, the company that operates the bike sharing system sponsored by Ford.

“What we want is to be able to take a look at what an equitable transit project looks like for the Mission District, [and] for planning to be done with the Mission, not over our head,” Jacobo said.

He said it wasn’t decided yet what specific changes the coalition would be asking for from the bike sharing company – they could include everything from no bikesharing in the Mission at all to maybe having only some stations in designated areas.

“We want to have discussions and have a community evaluation process,” Jacobo said. “What comes from that is the direction we want to travel in.”

United to Save the Mission has met with Motivate to discuss concerns, Jacobo said, but discussion of what could be done to address those concerns was tabled for a later meeting.

For its part, Motivate says it’s ready to listen and figure out what can be done.

“They shared their concerns and we totally respect Calle 24 and USM, where they’re coming from, very much. Even though we may not agree on everything, we know that they bring an important voice to the Mission and agree that we need to work together to fight displacement in the Mission,” said Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, a spokesperson for Motivate.

“That said, our mandate is to provide … affordable transportation options to San Francisco and the Mission and so we’re proud that the bike share will make it easier for Mission residents to get around no matter their income.”

Using the bikes generally costs about $15 a month, which allows the user to take an unlimited number of rides so long as they last less than 45 minutes. For people with very limited incomes, those who have CalFresh and qualify for discounted utilities and Muni passes, GoBike is available for $5 for a year, with unlimited rides lasting up to an hour. After the first year that rate goes up to $5 a month.

Aside from the price point and the corporate branding, residents have raised concerns about data collection. In 2016, Ford reportedly made very clear that it would be using the bike share network to collect data.

Investment media and services company The Motley Fool reported in 2016 that a Ford executive had presented the bike sharing investment as a data gathering venture to support its recently acquired commuter shuttle service Chariot.

“What we’re doing differently in San Francisco … is we put telemetry on that bike,” said Jim Hackett then, later adding, “The opportunity is not bikes. That’s not why Ford’s in it. The opportunity is data, and the data is super valuable because it tells us these invisible paths that people are taking in this complex city in terms of how they want to get around.”

But Motivate insists that the bikes do not contain GPS or any telemetry equipment whatsoever, and are not tracking any data about riders or where the bikes travel.

“There is no GPS and no telemetry on Ford GoBikes,” said Motivate’s Cosulich-Schwartz. “Motivate is the owner-operator of this system and we have not included GPS or telemetry as part of our program.”

Ford is merely the sponsor for the program, Cusolich-Schwartz said, and does not make the bikes or control the program.

What is collected is information about how many bikes are at each station, to make sure bikes are available when consumers want them. Data collected at the stations are anonymized, and as the program progresses, will be shared publicly on a dedicated web page that currently details the type of information collected.

“We share anonymized data publicly that helps government researchers and the public understand how bike share works and helps people make public policy,” Cuslich-Schwartz said.

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20 Comments

  1. How ridiculous and disappointing. As someone who has lived in the Mission for many years, this makes me feel like neighborhood groups shouldn’t be allowed to be involved. This is a service for the entire city, and nimbyism is ruining the program. The city needs have more of a top-down approach and say “these bikes are a service for everyone, and we’re going to put them in.” I am so sick of this stupidity.

  2. marc salomon

    “Jacobo said many of the groups in United to Save the Mission, which includes everything from tenant advocacy nonprofits to artist groups, were also frustrated that they had not been consulted by Motivate, the company that operates the bike sharing system sponsored by Ford.”

    Many Mission residents are frustrated that United to Save the Mission and every other combination and permutation of the same city funded nonprofits are organizing above and beyond and to the exclusion of existing residents.

    Remember, it was the organizing failures of these perennial characters that led the Mission we all knew to this point. How many more bites at the apple to they get until we all realize that this approach is rotten to the core?

  3. This is so disappointing and frustrating. The locals of the Mission want and need these bikes. I honestly wish the city would just say that they are not allowing people to dispute them, because it’s a service for the whole city. The Nimbyism really needs to stop.

  4. Bettye Kins

    Let’s see. I have lived in the Mission for years and have never been contacted by any “community group” in the Mission. None. Oh, my skin is probably the wrong color.

    • Michael Andrade

      Probably, Bettye, because you walk around with blinders on or you ignore them on social media, because as a Mission resident for years I see their outreach all the time.

  5. Sally Yu

    Why doesn’t Calle 24 try to work with its groups to focus on reducing gang crime in the area or other more useful purposes than reducing needed bikes?

  6. John Thompson

    The Mission has become one of the most conservative districts in San Francisco.

    adjective
    1.
    holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation

    noun
    1.
    a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes

    • Donna. H

      Mission has been experiencing blindingly fast hyper-gentrification and socioeconomic disruption where people live, work, have friends and family Things have changed incredibly rapidly in the Mission. Concern over the pace of change, and who loses and wins do to those changes is a valid human reaction.

      Dismissing those concerns with word tricks, and reverse racism claims is hurtful. People think the changes are driven by powers who don’t understand and want to understand the history and roots that exist. People think the change makers are positively hostile to their traditions. Calling those concerns conservative is word game tacit.

      • John Thompson

        “”People think the change makers are positively hostile to their traditions. Concern over the pace of change, and who loses and wins do to those changes is a valid human reaction.””

        Sounds like a conservative to me…….

  7. Phil Jones

    Bike Share is a net positive for the city. It reduces congestion, replaces lyft/uber rides over the same distance, and makes safer/cleaner streets for everyone. How you could be against this CITY-WIDE initiative is nothing but self-importance bordering on intentional maliciousness. The people against this program are so twisted against a singular corporate sponsor (who isn’t even running the program!) that they’re cutting off their ear to spite their space.

    NYC and DC have wildly successful Bike Share program. In other countries they’re even more popular including ECOBICI (sponsored by CLEAR CHANNEL) in Mexico City with 444 stations and over 6,000 bicycles.

    I live in the Mission, I bike to work, I don’t have a subscription for Bike Share at the moment, but I’m happy it’s replacing car rides or lyft rides for people in the area.

    • Rubella

      I love bikes. I love that we live in such a bike friendly city. That being said I think this program is way overkill in my neighborhood and is serving a small slice of visitors who come here.

      I’m within 2 blocks of 3 of these bike stations – a bit excessive IMO, and what I see are tourists using these, not residents with families to get to school, or who need to commute with more than a backpack, bike then BART then bike again, or those who cannot afford to arrive at work dripping with sweat. These are AirBNB rental people, helmetless and without experience biking in urban settings.

      There may be a slight decrease in hired car usage by tourists who are fit and coordinated enough to ride a bike around, but the bridge and tunnel folks who come to the hippest new “wait in a queue for an hour artisan (wine bar, bakery, chocolatier, etc…)” aren’t using rented ugly cruisers with a car logo plastered all over them.

      At those ridiculous costs, residents in the Mission can afford to purchase their own bike but likely they already have one, or use the bus / BART or their own vehicles to get around.

  8. Donna. H

    About the pricing, is there a monthly pricing? I understood from their website info pages, that one can rent by the day or buy membership for the year/ with a monthly pay available. That there is no buy a month’s worth option.

    At $ 150 for a year, that sound heavy for something that that hasn’t proven itself for most people, but good for some people.

    If the option was, add $15 dollars a on a clipper card for a month’s trial, I’d try it.

    Is there any disagreement, that the color scheme and amount of advertising on these bikes and parking stations is excessive?

  9. Ricardo

    Not to mention the impact on parking since there are many that use their cars and trucks for work and also people that come to the mission to visit businesses and it has an impact because don’t want to come because of how difficult it is to find parking and like many of us family and friends won’t even visit us due to parking concerns and not to mention how much of a magnet these stations are for trash since the street cleaner can’t clean these areas all you have to is walk around to see these dirty stations that are not cleaned. What many don’t understand is that many of our residents in the Mission can’t ride bikes due disabilities and require cars or paratransit to get around as for relieving congestion there is more congestion than ever and for a city that wants to go green it’s a city of green house gases as for San Francisco overall it’s not a bike city due to hills and what happens when the rainy season comes and these bikes are not used? Many of these folks will use rideshare or transit

    • Ricardo, thank you for listing your concerns. I’d like to address them one by one

      1) Parking – The more people bike, the less people drive. The less people drive the more parking there is for people who actually need to drive, such as those who are shopping, picking up relatives, people who are required to drive for work, people with disabilities as you mentioned. Getting more people to bike means less people driving, which helps traffic, parking, greenhouse gases, and people who have no choice but to drive.

      Each station takes about 3 parking spots (though they can be smaller) but has 30 bikes. Imagine if 15 people who would have driven to the Mission instead take a bike. That is 15 cars not looking for parking.

      If you want less traffic and more parking, then you want more bikes, not less.

      2) Trash – I too have seen some of these stations littered with trash but I’ve also seen our streets littered with trash (I picked up a bag full of diapers from the street this morning). The bike stations are maintained by the bike share program and are cleaned more often than the city streets street sweeping schedule. Unfortunately in our neighborhood many people feel it is acceptable to litter, but that isn’t the fault of the bike share and they clean more frequently than the city does anyway. More bike stations means more frequent cleaning

      3) Bike vs hills and rain. Some parts of San Francisco city are hilly, but the vast majority is not, and most hills can easily be biked around due to the great bike routes throughout the city. As for weather, SF has 300 sunny days a year, and only a handful of days where it rains all day, even in the rain season. Just because there are a handful of days or places some people won’t want to bike doesn’t mean that we should scrap the whole bike share.

      I hope I have addressed you concerns and am always eager to hear feedback.

  10. Katie Kilkenny

    Calle 24, think of how much respect you would have been given if you proudly welcomed these bikes (especially since in our part no parking spaces would be taken). Perhaps you put up concern about not having the bikes on 24th st and it was agreed to not put bikes there. Seems fair. Then you would have put out how great it was for the young adult latinos’ raised in this neighborhood were a part of an ever changing world. Instead you alienated your own young culture. Shame on you for perpetuating this us and them. I have lived her longer than some of my latino neighbors and i am appalled that the young adults of this ‘hood have been ostracized directly by Calle23.

  11. Marc Brenman

    What are the objections to bikeshare in the Mission? I wish the writer had been clear about this.

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