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Berta’s response to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Candidate Questionnaire:

2016 District 11 Candidate Berta Hernandez

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

November 2016 Candidate Questionnaire

GENERAL (CITYWIDE) QUESTIONS

  1. Do you ride a bicycle in the city? (Yes/No)

No, I have a bicycle that needs repairs.

If “Yes,” how often do you ride and for what purpose(s)?

When I get my bicycle functioning, I plan to ride a couple of times a week for exercise and enjoyment, and, eventually, for transportation to and from work.

  1. The City has established a goal to reach 8% of trips taken in the city to be by bicycle as part of the 2013-2018 Bicycle Strategy. Our current bicycle mode share is 4.4%. Do you support this goal of reaching 8%?

Yes, and it should be higher.

If “Yes,” what would you do as Supervisor to help the city realize this goal?

As the socialist candidate, I am for free, safe, high-quality bicycles on demand, made to order for all who desire them. In the meantime, the City should implement a bike share program to make more bicycles available to low income San Franciscans. Not only that, the City should sponsor public facilities to repair bikes and teach people how to repair bikes. In my case, I would even benefit from a bicycle repair specialist who made house calls. I imagine there are many more people like me: working people who want to ride bikes, but don’t have time or resources to make sure their bicycle functions properly.

If we improve the infrastructure that supports bicycling, I think more people will want to ride bikes. When in I lived in Argentina, for instance, they had train cars exclusively for bicycles. I think we should do something like that here. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

Furthermore, I also think the culture of people who cycle is, in many ways, very insular and elitist. For instance, this spring just past, while attending a demonstration in the Mission against SFPD killings of blacks and Latinos, I personally observed members of the SF Bicycle Coalition, identified by a sign they were carrying, mocking the Aztec dancers who were performing the traditional opening ceremony as they have done at nearly every demonstration of our community for as long as I can remember. To say that the participants of the demonstration—members of an oppressed community in mourning—were shocked and infuriated by this behavior is an understatement. If the SF Bicycle Coalition is serious about increasing cycling in the City, it must broaden and diversify its community, and it simply cannot behave in this manner. I would like to know what the SF Bicycle Coalition intends to do to address this.

  1. Our City has embraced and adopted Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate all fatalities and serious injuries on our streets by 2024. Do you support Vision Zero?

How can someone be against keeping people from dying in the streets? Of course, I support Vision Zero as described above; it would be nice if it could happen even sooner than 2024.

If “Yes,” the city has yet to make significant progress since the introduction of Vision Zero in 2014. In fact, fatalities are on the rise. What would you do as Supervisor to help the city achieve Vision Zero?

The problem seems to have a lot to do with an increase in the both non-motorized transit—like bicycles—and motorized vehicles—like cars—with the population increase in San Francisco compounded by hundreds of drivers coming from out of town in their own cars to drive for ride share programs like Uber and Lyft. If we want to decrease the number of fatalities, we need to decrease the number of more vehicles on the street, which means we need more public transportation.

Most of the fatalities happen on street corners when drivers turn corners too fast to react to pedestrians in crosswalks. I want to slow down traffic on Mission Street. We need a transit plan that designates certain streets for public transit, pedestrians, and non-motorized vehicles only and diverts private autos to freeways and parallel streets, with perhaps certain times designated for deliveries. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

  1. Research and data has shown that building high-quality protected bike infrastructure is the most effective way to increase the number of people who bike. Despite this, there remain very few streets and corridors in San Francisco with protected bike lanes. Do you support the significant expansion of protected bike infrastructure, recognizing that this is often achieved by reallocating space on our streets that may decrease on-street car parking or vehicle travel lanes?

Yes.

If “Yes,” what is at least one street or corridor in your District that you think would most benefit from a protected bike facility and why?

The determination of where and how to improve bike infrastructure needs to be done in coordination with transportation experts (like the SF Bicycle Coalition, among others) and the residents of the District. It is of critical importance that something that will have such a profound effect on transit in the District not be imposed from the outside; otherwise it is bound to fail. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

  1. The SF Bicycle Coalition participated in the Mayor’s Transportation 2030 Task Force, which identified significant funding gaps for a safe, reliable transportation system. To continue building out the bike network, the original need until 2030 was $360 million, which has now increased to $660 million, by City estimates. Do you support increased allocation and funding for bike projects to at least match the percentage of San Franciscans who bike?

Yes, it should probably be even higher. It also should not be attached to pet projects of supervisors or the Mayor. It should be considered essential services, and it should be a consistent line item in the budget of the Department of Urban Planning or Public Works. Having said that, I do have other priorities, like housing, health care, and education.

  1. The Department of Public Health has used data to develop the “high-injury network” to show the 12% of city streets where over 70% of the collisions occur. This map has also shown that low-income communities are disproportionately affected by traffic collisions. If Supervisor, what would you do to prevent collisions in your District at these known locations?

I think we already said that creating dedicated corridors for pedestrians, bikes, and public transit and diverting private automobiles away from these corridors (as well as problem intersections) are critical measures that we can and should take to reduce collisions. We also need to come up with ways to enforce speed limits and protect pedestrians and cyclists that do not rely on police, like more civilian crossing guards, for instance. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

I am interested to look at this map and talk to concerned citizens, like you, as well as other transit experts to consider other ways to reduce collisions.

  1. Market Street is San Francisco’s most-biked street, with nearly 7,000 trips by bike counted here every day. The City is working on the Better Market Street

project, which calls for limiting private automobiles, creating a continuous, protected bike lane for the full length of the project from the Embarcadero to Octavia Boulevard and significantly advancing transit and pedestrian-friendly street design. Do you support this plan?

I haven’t seen the plan, but what you say sounds pretty good.

  1. Data has shown that the five most dangerous behaviors are all driver-related offenses: speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, improper right-hand turns, running red lights and failure to stop at stop signs. The San Francisco Police Department has committed to maintaining 50% of their traffic citations to “Focus on the Five,” a goal they have yet to meet citywide. Do you support Focus on the Five and smart, data-driven enforcement?

We support “Focusing on the Five,” and it is hard in principle to oppose smart data-driven enforcement. However, given the relationship of police with communities of color, we think that giving police the opportunity and the excuse to make more traffic stops is bad for public health. We need to find a different agency to guarantee that people understand and follow traffic regulations.

Anyway, I think people are more accountable to their community than to the police. Therefore, I think the answer probably lies in identifying community members with the energy and enthusiasm to carry out education programs and confront people for their bad driving and empowering these people with resources to do this work. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

I should add that bicyclists must also be accountable for their flouting of traffic regulations.

  1. As Supervisor, what will you do to ensure SFPD focuses enforcement on Focus on the Five or other known issues that make our streets unwelcome to bike on, such as double-parking in bike lanes, rather than ad hoc, complaint-driven enforcement?

See above.

  1. Bay Area Bike Share is in the middle of a game-changing, tenfold expansion of its system to become one of the densest bike share networks in the United States. Do you support the expansion and placement of bike share stations in your District, even if this may mean repurposing of on-street vehicle parking?

Yes, provided that the community is consulted, and their wishes are implemented. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

DISTRICT 11 SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

  1. The Planning Department led the Ocean Avenue Corridor Design Study, which was completed in 2015 after extensive public outreach. Recommendations in the study included a redesign and plaza treatment for the intersection of Ocean, Phelan and Geneva Avenues as well as the inclusion of a westbound bike lane between I-280 and Phelan Avenue. Do you support the study’s findings?

I am not familiar enough with the project to say whether or not I support it. From what I know about the process that went into developing it, it seems as though it was very thorough, open, and democratic. But I will need to read up on it.

  1. As San Francisco becomes a more expensive city to live in, we know that biking provides an affordable and sustainable way to get around. To increase access to bikes, the SF Bicycle Coalition organizes and leads Community Bike Builds. We reclaim unclaimed and abandoned bikes from the SFMTA, BART, the SFPD and other agencies, which are then repaired with the help of our volunteers. Neighborhood residents sign up with our partner organizations in advance to participate and receive a bike. As Supervisor, do you support this program and its expansion?

Yes.

  1. Do you agree that biking is an affordable mode of transportation?

It depends on the circumstances. For many people, bicycles will not meet their transportation needs. For instance disabled people, or families with more than one child who are of different ages could not possibly get around on bicycles. I can’t help noticing that most cycling enthusiasts have cars themselves for longer trips.

Nevertheless, in general, bicycles are cheaper than cars. However, not all bikes are created equal in this respect, and one gets what one pays for. As the socialist candidate, I am for free, safe, high-quality bicycles on demand, made to order for all who desire them.

If “Yes,” what would you do as Supervisor to increase biking in your District?

As the socialist candidate, I am for free, safe, high-quality bicycles on demand, made to order for all who desire them. In the meantime, I think the City can provide subsidies and incentives to increase the bike share program. We can also invest in bike repair shops where kids and youth can learn how to fix bikes. All youth and children should have access to a bike. If they can’t pay for them, the City should pay for them. See above.

More bikes, more spaces for bikes, and more bike lanes will encourage people to bike more. We could also have bike awareness days where we close streets to motor vehicles and promote bike riding. I’d also like to see the City sponsor some races for children and youth on Alemany Boulevard from Silver Avenue to Geneva Avenue. There is lots of room for creativity, compassion, and applied science on this issue. This is the kind of expertise I hope to access with the creation of a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others.

Now I have some questions for you, some of which I have already asked:

  1. Have you analyzed the social composition of your membership? Do you think it is diverse enough, not only racially, but also economically? (Yes/No) If no, what plans do you have to change this?
  2. You talk a lot about law enforcement. What is your position on the recent killings of blacks and Latinos by police, many of these killings occurring during routine traffic stops for minor or non-existent infractions?
  3. Would you be in favor of demilitarizing, defunding, disarming, and disbanding the police and the Sheriff’s department and replacing these agencies with a democratically elected community council to administer justice? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
  4. We are aware that you negotiated space for bikes on BART cars directly with BART management during a strike in which BART management was trying very hard to bust the union. Why didn’t you wait until the strike was over in order to guarantee that BART workers were included in this discussion?
  5. Given that BART riders and workers are displeased with how the “Bikes on BART” program has been implemented, how are you planning to reach out to public transportation workers and riders to implement future changes in bike infrastructure?
  6. Many undocumented workers are not taking advantage of the state law that allows them to get drivers’ licenses because the licenses have labels that identify them as undocumented immigrants. The community knows that the DMV shares this information with the I.C.E., also according to State Law (AB60). Would you advocate an initiative to remove identifying labels from immigrants’ drivers’ licenses and prohibit the DMV from compiling a database of people’s immigration status, which stigmatizes people on this basis and is a racist measure similar to those practiced under fascist regimes, in order to have safer streets? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
  7. Do you support an unconditional amnesty for undocumented immigrants? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
  8. Do you support the right to vote for all residents of District 11 regardless of their immigration status or whether or not they were previously convicted of a felony? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
  9. How will you support and participate in a democratically elected council of District 11 residents to decide policy, disburse funds, and implement solutions to transit problems, among many others? How do you imagine the decisions of such a body would influence the activity of your organization?
  10. You mention above how expensive it has become to live in San Francisco. Would you support a measure to declare housing an inalienable human right and a public good in order to give the City broader powers to stop rampant rent increases and develop 100% affordable housing? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
  11. Would you support a measure to increase the minimum wage to a true living wage of $45 an hour as a step towards tying all wages in the City to the cost of living? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
  12. What is your balance sheet of the Critical Mass movement of 1998? Would you consider mobilizing your membership to support other critical social issues, like Black Lives Matter or stopping evictions? (Yes/No)If no, why not?
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