Avalos and Chiu vie for bike vote at Sunday Streets

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Avalos signs had the slight edge over Chiu signs at Sunday Streets, but all other candidates were absent.
Steven T. Jones

If yesterday's jam-packed Sunday Streets event in the Mission was any indication, only two mayoral candidates are vying for the votes of bicyclists, skaters, and strolling families who appreciate carfree streets: John Avalos and David Chiu. They were the only two candidates who showed up, and both had lots of supporters with signs to help campaign for them, with Avalos supporters enjoying a slight edge in overall numbers.

It's a testament to the lackluster field of mayoral candidates this year that Avalos and Chiu were the only ones campaigning at such a popular, cool, and high visibility event. It also foreshadows what is likely to be a tough fight between the two sitting supervisors for a constituency they each need to win.

With more than 13,000 dues-paying members, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is the city's largest grassroots political organization, an active and high-profile group of voters that both candidates have sought to stake their claims with.

Chiu often touts the fact that he doesn't own a car and bikes regularly, he took a fact-finding trip to Amsterdam with bike advocates last year, and he sponsored legislation setting the policy goal of 20 percent of SF vehicle trips being by bike by 2020. Avalos has the strongest progressive credentials in the race, he sometimes rides his bike from the far-flung Excelsior District, and he has close and deep relationships with many bike-riding political activists.

The choice could determine where bike-advocacy ends and progressivism begins, particularly at a time when Chiu has sought to marginalize Avalos and what was once a solid progressive majority on the board. Chiu has won over some SFBC leaders and snagged a few early endorsements from the bike community (such as SFMTA board member Cheryl Brinkman, who spoke at Chiu's campaign kickoff), but the endorsements are made by a vote of SFBC membership that is likely to be hotly contested.

Well, hotly contested by the only two candidates who seem to care about the bike vote.