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Ford-Sponsored Bike Sharing Program Faces Backlash In Mission District

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The recent expansion of the Ford GoBike bicycle-sharing program is not going over well in San Francisco's Mission District.

Over the weekend, one of the bicycles was stripped of its parts and hung up a tree. A picture of the stripped-down bicycle was posted on social media, which drew cheers among local residents.

Erick Arguello serves on the 24th street neighborhood council and opposes the Ford bike-pods.

"They're collecting that data to let Ford know where to place their Chariot shuttle busses," Arguello said.

While he doesn't support the vandalism, he has seen this photo, and the long thread of cheers it is now drawing on social media. A bike stripping celebrated as a strike against a vehicle of gentrification.

"I'm sure a lot of people are saying, 'See? This is what could happen when that kind of company tries to come into this neighborhood.'"

And it's not just that bike hanging from the tree. At Dolores Park, every single one of the Ford Go bikes has had the back tire flattened.

"We actually rented one, realized it was flat, clipped it in and then noticed that the entire line was down," said Luis Fernandez, who lives in the Mission District.

Ani Rivera, who runs the Galeria de la Raza, said the frustration comes from the long simmering brew of neighborhood frustrations - everything from evictions - to traffic control.

"We're just sort of fed up, this is kind of like, this is it," Rivera said. " This is a larger issue around accountability and transparency from the folks that are making these decisions. That's what we're asking, to be transparent."

Fernandez said, "In general I agree with that. But if you can only have 1,000 bikeshares without some sort of sponsorship, and then you can get 7,000 with some sponsorship, I think the benefit outweighs the cost."

Like new homes and new restaurants, the latest change to the Mission landscape sparks another debate. Judging by the number of flat tires, these bikes may be in for some tough peddling.

"I think it's a shame actually. I think promoting responsible transportation using bicycles is a priority for any city," Fernandez said.

When asked for comment, the company that manages the GoBike program described this kind of neighborhood resistance as unusual and disappointing. They also think most residents support the program.

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