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Explainer: Here’s how SF’s supervisors get to work

Man rides bicycle across a street
District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar rides his bicycle through the Sunset District during his commute to San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco Calif., on Friday, July 1, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

Ever wonder how your elected representatives get to work? 

Technically, there’s a city law on the books that says supervisors and all city employees should ride Muni at least twice per week—but it’s more of a suggestion than a requirement.

A 1996 report from SF Weekly found few supervisors actually taking the bus. And back in 2015, seven members, including now-Mayor London Breed, took on a challenge to ride Muni to work for 22 days straight.

We, too, were curious. So we reached out to the current board about their transit habits. Their responses ran the gamut.

Board President Shamann Walton, who represents District 10, said he usually drives, but it depends on what he’s up to that day. He said he’ll take public transportation if he has to hop from meeting to meeting downtown. 

Supervisor Dean Preston also takes the bus to work often, but said he walks, too, now that the bus route he used to take has been suspended. 

Supervisors Ahsha Safaí and Hillary Ronen said they drive their electric cars to work most days. Sometimes Ronen takes the 49 Van Ness/Mission bus line if she’s working late, she said. 

Supervisor Gordon Mar also drives an electric car most days, but will occasionally ride his newly acquired e-bike to work. Supervisor Myrna Melgar bikes, too, and they both use City Hall’s ground-floor bike storage. 

On Friday, The Standard took a misty bike ride with Mar to check out his commute from the Outer Sunset to City Hall. 

Donning a bright orange helmet and reflective tape velcroed around his ankle, Mar rode up on a gray Cannondale, his bike storage pass flapping in the wind. He agreed to go slow up the hills so my acoustic bike could keep up.

District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar poses for a portrait on John F Kennedy Dr. during his bicycle commute to San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco Calif., on Friday, July 1, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

Riding up 34th Avenue, Mar said getting an e-bike has changed his outlook on slow and car-free streets and prompted him to work toward creating safer places for pedestrians and bikers in the Sunset. Mar said he thinks e-bikes in particular have opened up cycling to older demographics. 

Mar said his favorite part of his commute is through Golden Gate Park along Middle Drive, which he said tends to be very quiet in the morning. He said he also likes riding on Page Street, and said his commute made him realize just how many people use those thoroughfares during weekday commute hours. 

“Being able to take JFK Drive is great,” Mar said. “You can see how many people are out here today.”