Cycling is a great way to commute to work and to stay healthy. It is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause mortality (Celis-Morales et al. 2017). UCSF already recognizes this and promotes biking as a transportation mode. Citywide, bikes make up about 4.4% of all commute trips (as of 2014).
Unfortunately, the cycling infrastructure in San Francisco still needs a lot of work to be a viable option for students and staff. Too many people are injured or killed each year on our streets. We only have 13 miles of protected bike lanes and a single protected intersection in the entire city. Researchers in Montreal have found that such infrastructure is used 2.5x times more often than the unprotected bike lanes common in San Francisco (Lusk et al. 2011). Thus, in order to grow the cycling mode-share among UCSF employees, university officials should also focus on advocating in City Hall to get better infrastructure built. As the second biggest employer within the city limits, UCSF’s desires carry a lot of weight and pushing for better, safer infrastructure would benefit the health of the city’s population.
It is especially pressing now that we have our first Ford GoBike station at Mission Bay and we’re slated to get three more in 2018, plus the first one at Parnassus soon after. It would be a mistake to not ramp up advocacy at the same time to ensure that students and staff feel comfortable and safe while using bike share around our campuses.
There is already a group dedicated to promoting cycling as a transportation mode within San Francisco, the San Francisco Bike Coalition. They advocate for better infrastructure and help train people in urban biking. They have a great presence at City Hall. UCSF already offers a small discount to join the SF Bike Coalition. I believe UCSF should go further and offer to match student and staff donations to SF Bike. A $35 donation plus a $35 match would go further than than a discount on the $35 membership.
Our tagline is
UCSF: Advancing Health Worldwide
Matching employee donations would help advance health here in San Francisco among UCSF’s own personnel by making bike commuting more attractive and more common.
Celis-Morales, Carlos A, Donald M Lyall, Paul Welsh, Jana Anderson, Lewis Steell, Yibing Guo, Reno Maldonado, et al. 2017. “Association Between Active Commuting and Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and Mortality: Prospective Cohort Study.” BMJ 357 (April): j1456.
Lusk, Anne C, Peter G Furth, Patrick Morency, Luis F Miranda-Moreno, Walter C Willett, and Jack T Dennerlein. 2011. “Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street.” Inj. Prev., January. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, ip.2010.028696.