Archive for January, 2018

Let’s Change The Script

I was talking with a co-worker after work when I heard it again.

“I’d bike in the City if there were protected bike lanes”.

I won’t try to put a number around how many times I’ve heard that or similar sentiments, but I hear them a lot. As a person who uses my bike for everyday transportation in the City, I intimately understand the pain points. I’ve been hit while riding. I’ve caught a tire on the tracks on Market. I’ve come back to a missing tire, I’ve had a seat stolen. I know first-hand this is not nearly as inviting a city to people biking as it could be. And that’s why I’m so inspired to work to change that.

We have ideas in San Francisco for how to improve our streets so they are safe for everyone, irrelevant of how they are getting around. We have grand visions like Better Market Street. We have smaller ones like the 8th Avenue Neighborway. Unfortunately, many of those plans remain just that, plans, and they require constant advocacy just to get built. Those of us who ride know that even as we start to lay down more protected lanes, we have a dearth of them, and what we are really missing is meaningful connections between the lanes we have right now.

As it happens, that coworker later admitted to driving to work. “It’s the fastest way”. We need to change that incentive structure. We need to get those folks out of their cars. It’s incumbent on us to help create those structures, whether that’s through better connections for people walking, biking, or taking transit.

I’ve shown up at the meetings to advocate for complete streets. I’ve organized my neighbors to try and show folks there are people who realize the future is creating better options for folks to get around and not fretting about every last parking space on the street. I’ve handed out fliers to folks in Golden Gate Park trying advocating for more car-free space. Every time I’m doing the work, the San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) is there, standing for what they believe in. That’s why I’m so honored to be a recommended candidate for SFBC’s Board of Directors in the upcoming election.

SFBC has been here doing the work for over 40 years. They have great folks who I see at all the meetings speaking up for a better San Francisco. They have great folks who work to make biking more accessible for women and trans folks who have made me feel so welcome. They have great leadership heading into the new Strategic Plan for 2018-2022. I just want to keep giving them the support and resources they need to do that work and to keep doing the work with them. We share a vision of what this city could be, and I can’t think of a better way to support that shared vision than to volunteer my time ensuring a vital organization like SFBC has what it needs to realize that vision. We share a vision where that coworker is parking a bike next to me at work. Let’s do that work and help make that a reality.

We can make this city a better place to bike, but I can’t do it without you. If you’re a member, I’d be honored to receive your vote. If you are thinking about becoming a member or need to renew, you have until January 21st to join or renew and still be eligible to vote. You can find more information about the timeline here. If you have questions for me, I’d love to hear ‘em.

Tapestry

It would be a lie to say I did not write at all in 2017. I got an op-ed published about biking which has lead to some cool developments. I’ve put together a few things for our nascent Grow The Richmond Medium page, and produced a lot of other content related to that. I’m still writing those Suspicious Activity Reports, and to say that Stripe is a document-heavy place would be…an understatement. But I haven’t just written for me, or for this space, or with a somewhat less intentional purpose than getting some thoughts out. And I still pay for the space. And it’s always a good way for me to organize my thoughts. But 2017 was a down year in that regard.

Why? Some of that other writing should explain it. I have a new job which demands and deserves a bit more of my energy. I joined a freaking board (I guess I’m an adult now?). I am running to join the San Francisco Bike Coalition board as well. YIMBY has been a wild ride, and helping to build up Grow The Richmond has been really rewarding. Getting to really know all those folks has been awesome. It’s better doing the work with friends. A lot of 2017 was about being better, and putting that work in to actually do it. If I have some small amount of influence I can exert to make things better, then I should oblige and do just that. In a tough year on the aggregate, I remain hopeful; if good folks keep getting involved, we can ultimately make things better.

Still, none of that is an excuse for not doing this. Which isn’t to say I’m big in New Year’s resolutions and I’m not gonna say I will do x number of posts. I’ve mused about the arbitrary nature of this day before and probably will again some day. But I’d say the same: none of that is an excuse to not try to be better, to not get back to the things you miss and value, or to tear down anyone trying to do that.

I do find myself doing things I value a lot, with new and old friends. But I still experience many occasions where I wonder about all the shows I’ve binged recently or why I got that last drink. Why am I doing the things I am doing? How intentional am I being? It’s a great time to think about some of the things you just do because you started doing them and ask why. Life is giving you this arbitrary moment. So take it.

Me? I’m gonna keep doing what I’ve been doing. Every day is a great occasion to honestly ask yourself who you are, who you want to be, and who you used to be. You can’t control who you were, but you can pick up the good threads of that person and keep lacing them through who you are now and in the future. Maybe you lost hold of a few over the years that you’d like to pick up again. I know I have.

So pick them up. Or let go of the ones you are tired of holding, the ones which are no longer you. My biking was way down last year, my running almost non-existent in the second half of the year. If they are both important things which center me, how do I weave them back in?

Physically taking care of myself is only one aspect, though. How do I have more productive conversations about how to make biking better in San Francisco? Or work to create a more equitable city for current and future residents? Probably not by dunk-tweeting. How do I avoid getting caught up in a statement and turning whatever it makes me feel into something useful instead of something that’s just gonna get a bunch of likes? How do I become that person, or more frequently be that person?

I don’t know. I don’t think there are any secrets, though. There’s no shame in not knowing. In fact I think the opposite. There’s a lot of strength recognizing what you don’t know and figuring out what you want to do to address that. Most of the time, it’s just doing the work. So as I sit on the cusp of a new year, I am working to figure out what threads to keep, which ones to discard, which ones to pick up again.

Who will we be in 2018? Let’s find out.

 
%d bloggers like this: