When I ride my bike out of my driveway in Marin County most weekday mornings and head across the Golden Gate Bridge to my office in downtown San Francisco, I feel that I’m doing a lot more than keeping myself trim and enjoying the majestic scenery. I also know that I am riding into the most bicycle-friendly big city in America: San Francisco.
I take pride that the organization I lead played a role in making it possible for many more people to bike to work and, in doing so, help create a healthier environment.
Recent approval in March of a measure, the San Francisco Tenant Bicycle Access in Existing Commercial Buildings Ordinance, is the most progressive stance on bicycle parking in commercial buildings in the country. I’ve been informing building owners and managers that they will soon need to accommodate bicycle parking for their tenants’ employees, if they ask for it. The ordinance is awaiting San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s signature and I anticipate he will sign it soon.
It’s amazing to me that ten years ago, it would have been impossible to contemplate that the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco, which represents the commercial real estate industry, would find common cause with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. But it has happened, thanks to the early outreach efforts of the bike coalition and Supervisor John Avalos’ office. In speaking with BOMA members, it’s clear that they feel the success of this ordinance was due, primarily, to their early involvement. I’d say that process is a model that all elected officials in San Francisco should follow!
I can assure you that commercial property owners are committed to providing workspaces for a new generation of workers who demand greener workplaces and enjoy riding their bikes to work. With the increase of technology companies in The City, I see the change manifest before me, every day. The bicycle coalition, quoting San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency statistics, says there has been “a dramatic 71 percent increase in the number of people biking in San Francisco in the last five years. Commercial corridors, like Market Street and Townsend Street, saw some of the largest growth.” In my opinion, providing bicycle parking in commercial buildings is a no-brainer as the numbers reflect the reality: San Franciscans love to bike to work.
And yet there are many unanswered questions to enabling more employees to bike to work in downtown San Francisco. How many bikes can we accommodate? How do we achieve a reasonable framework of rules supporting the growth of biking in our city?
City Hall has said 20 percent of all vehicle trips in the city should be by bike by the year 2020. The SFMTA’s just-released bike survey showed that about 3.5 percent of vehicle trips in the city are taken by bike. Reaching the 20 percent goal will require an ambitious effort, and I’m confident that early collaboration with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and elected officials will net positive results.
BOMA San Francisco is an organization whose members share the values of a city that prides itself on promoting the benefits of a sustainable environment and a transit-first philosophy. I feel that promoting the bicycle as a commute option is a step in the right direction. And so long as elected officials continue to reach out early to affected parties like BOMA when crafting public policy, the chances for achieving productive outcomes will be high, regardless of this issue.
Meade Boutwell is president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco: www.bomasf.org