Candidate statement for the 2019 SFBike Board of Directors and my thoughts on this election

A. About me

I first joined the Bicycle Coalition back in 2007. I’ve been a regular bike rider my whole life, but when I first moved to San Francisco, it took me six months or so to build up the courage to bike in our City. I love how much our bike infrastructure has improved since then and how many more people are biking. But we have so much more work to do.

B. My goals for a second term

  1. Establish a “Board Alumni” program to cultivate that community of members and better engage their talents in the organization.
  2. Engage members in reevaluating our process for making political endorsements and how we support the candidates and campaigns we endorse. I’ve heard loud and clear from both members and political candidates that our current endorsement process is too opaque.
  3. Engage members in reevaluating our board election process. I believe we should adopt term limits, which is generally a best practice among non-profit boards. I also support us adopting a board structure where a minority of the seats are appointed by the incumbent board. I believe this will keep us a member-led organization while also facilitating board members who would either not be willing to run for election or would be unlikely to be elected by our members.
  4. Continue to organize and promote events to build community among people who bike. In 2017, I led the effort to bring back the Bike Away from Work party. I hope to institutionalize that as a board and volunteer-led effort (allowing our staff to relax after a very long Bike to Work Day). I also want to revive the Love on Wheels event and identify a local brewery to re-imagine the Tour de Fat event. I’d love to organize a Poker Ride, possibly with stations where we visit partner organizations or communities. I want to organize a book club to discuss the book Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistance. Building community among people who bike is key to advancing our work, and it’s a lot of fun.
  5. Identify a tool or forum for inter-member communication. I am excited about the potential for using Salesforce Community Cloud to enable members to communicate and organize around campaigns and shared interests. This would tie these discussions directly to the coalition’s Salesforce database and help us activate and organize our members.
  6. Follow through on the board’s “Organizational Strengthening” effort where we are working with a consultant to identify key issues that are hindering the board’s work and making a plan to resolve these issues.
  7. Create a Board Policy for how we respond to vacancies on the board. We should have guidelines for when the Board should appoint someone to fill a vacancy on the board and how members can provide input.
  8. Engage members in revisiting our donation acceptance policy. Our currently policy is decades old and prohibits donations from oil and car companies. Our brave new world full of autonomous vehicles, Uber, Lyft, Jump, GoBike, Skip, Scoot, etc. is much more nuanced and challenging to navigate. Where do we draw lines? How do we engage good-faith allies in making our streets safer? Should the acquisitions of GoBike and Jump by Uber and Lyft change our relationships with these companies? Should we be wary of venture-funded transportation technology companies that want to monetize our streets and our personal data? These are complex questions we need to answer in a way that respects the variety of members’ opinions.

C. What’s up with the competing slates in this board election?

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a challenging couple of years serving on our board. When we talk about biking, we get along great. I’m particularly proud of how we worked together to develop our Strategic Plan. But when we debate internal, governance issues (how we run these elections, how the board communicate with members, etc.), too often we fall into factions and don’t trust each other. It’s been a dramatic three years for our board as we’ve become more diverse — both ethnically/racially and diverse in our opinions on non-profit governance issues.

  • SFBC Momentum: a group organized to “protect and expand members rights, democracy, and active power in the SF Bike Coalition.” They held a series of public meetings to develop a process for endorsing candidates, including a questionnaire they sent to all the candidates. The questions were decided on through a ranked choice voting by their members. Probably the most provocative questions are if the Coalition should accept donations from autonomous vehicle companies or TNCs like Uber and Lyft. They’ve currently endorsed 7 candidates for the 8 open seats. (Full disclosure: I’m on their organizing email list, but I have not attended any of their recent meetings and have not been involved in their endorsement process.)
  • Safety Together: their platform and priorities are to “prioritize protected bike lanes, engage underserved communities, and get more people biking.” They’ve currently endorsed 8 candidates for the 8 open seats. I don’t know how they decided on which candidates to endorse. Unfortunately, none of their candidates have yet responded to the SFBC Momentum questionnaire. This lack of transparency has led to suspicions about their motivations similar to the questions folks had about last year’s SFBC United slate I wrote about in the “Present Fears” section of my ramblings last year. I don’t know most of the Safety Together candidates, but they seem like a great bunch of bike advocates. I encourage them to answer SFBC Momentum’s questionnaire to help build trust and better inform our members.
  • Recommendations from the incumbent board: The current members of the board who aren’t running for re-election voted to recommend 8 candidates, 3 endorsed by SFBC Momentum and 5 endorsed by Safety Together. Interestingly, they endorsed only 1 of the 4 incumbents running for re-election. They will be posting a blog post on these recommendations soon.

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Jeremy Pollock

Jeremy Pollock

Amateur public policy geek, bluegrass musician, cat dad. Award winner for slow biking. Proud member of @sfbike board, running for re-election. He/him.