SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Cyclists riding along Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District are supposed to have the green lane all to themselves, but that’s not been the case.
“People used to think of Valencia as a bicycle friendly street,” says Jefferson McCarley, CEO of Mission Bicycle Company. “More and more what we’re seeing is people avoiding Valencia, avoiding a street with a bike lane which is kind of serving as a drop off pick up zone now for car services.”
When McCarley steps outside his Mission bicycle shop the problem is right in front of him.
“So right here,” he says pointing to a car. “Pulling into the bike lane.”
It’s a Monday afternoon, but come nights and weekends, things only get worse.
“On a Saturday night at 8 o’clock, between 7 and 8, there is one drop off and pick up from a car service every minute,” he says.
Brian Wiedenmeier is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
“You’ve seen it get to the point where people are putting their own bodies on the line to try and prevent double parking,” he says.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has heard the complaints and is trying to produce a solution – certainly not like the concrete barriers now protecting cyclists on San Jose Avenue, or the raised bike path on Valencia south of Cesar Chavez. It will likely look more like the arrangement now used in South of Market.
“From our point of view what would be easiest and what could be done fastest is a parking protected design,” says Wiedenmeier. “It’s just a change of paint and we’ve seen it done in under six months in other parts of the city.”
The sense of urgency really underscores the problem:
“Our world is changing and evolving, but our streets are not,” says McCarley.
Traffic habits are changing so quickly the city is struggling to keep up.
“If Uber and Lyft aren’t willing to take responsibility for the behavior of their drivers and change it, we need to engineer our streets so that it’s impossible for them to act illegally,” says Wiedenmeier. “That’s what it’s gotten to at this point.”