It's no secret that San Francisco's cops hate cyclists — they won't investigate hit-and-runs, they blame cyclists for accidents and harass them, they run them down in bike lanes — so it's no surprise that they stand by idly while San Francisco's busy biking lanes are turned into pick-up and drop-off zones by Uber and Lyft drivers, forcing cyclists to swerve into traffic.
Activists stationed volunteers on Valencia Street between 16th and 18th, in the Mission District, logging incidents in which cars illegally stopped in the bike lanes and timing them to see whether they stayed for less or more than 10 minutes, and counted the number of cyclists that had to swerve to avoid each car.
Between 6 and 7 PM (the "death trap" hour), on just one block, 53 cars illegally stopped in the bike lane, forcing 205 cyclists into traffic.
Most of the cars bore Uber or Lyft emblems and were dropping or picking up passengers. Several police cars and two beat cops were observed passing the illegally parked cars, and none of them took any action.
Before anyone comments about the terrible behavior of cyclists, please read this: a peer-reviewed empirical study found that the vast majority of cyclists are courteous, safe and law-abiding, and that the story of the psychopathic cyclist is largely an urban legend driven by confirmation bias.
The West side of Valencia between 16th and 17th saw some of the most flagrant disregard for safe operation of motor vehicles between 6 and 7pm. During the 6pm hour, on the West side of Valencia between 16th and 17th, motorists double parked at least once every two minutes. Furthermore, according to the data we collected, over 61 percent of traffic in the 6 to 7pm hour is comprised of cyclists. 205 cyclists were forced to merge into the vehicle travel lane during this hour, compromising their safety and forcing them to squeeze into a narrow travel lane alongside faster moving vehicular traffic. On multiple occasions, we observed cyclists taking evasive action and being forced to quickly maneuver out of the bike lane to avoid collisions with motorists who pulled over or pulled out abruptly, without signaling. This compelling data paints a clear picture of the threat to public safety posed by cars double parking in bicycle lanes. I hope that city officials and SFPD will carefully study this data and take action to ramp up enforcement–and prevent inevitable tragedy on this high injury corridor–before it is too late.
Collecting Data to Push for Safer Biking on Valencia
Correx: The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition was not involved in this work