Tired of Cars Blocking Bike Lanes? Here’s Something That Actually Works.

Cyclists are using a new app called Safe Lanes to collect data on blocked bike lane violations and just secured a quick transformation of a dangerous street in San Francisco.

A few weeks ago one of our collaborators reached out to ask if we could isolate our search results to a specific area of the map. Erin had been documenting blocked bike lane violations at 4th and 16th St. in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco and wanted to share the data she was collecting with a nearby property manager.

Blocked bike lane violations along one block in San Francisco

Once I added the custom search area, Erin wrote me to say:

“For the past year, the loading zone on the side street entrance on Campus Way has been closed due to construction and I have seen countless passenger drop offs/pick-ups and delivery trucks in the bike lane on 4th street at the main entrance to UCSF Mission Hall and the UCSF Walgreens that is in the same building. The facilities manager was interested in the data and information I presented and went to survey the space. He also saw a number of vehicles committing the blocked bike lane infraction and agreed to apply for commercial and passenger loading zones so these vehicles have a safe place to go.”

About a week later we got an email from the SFMTA informing us that the facility manager’s application was received and that a public hearing was scheduled for the end of the month. Once Erin shared that with me I put out a call to rally the troops to give comment at the hearing to ensure we would get ahead of any opposition that may stand in our way.

On the day of the hearing four of us went down to City Hall armed with screenshots of the blocked bike lane violations Erin had been capturing and made the case for why this block of 4th St. desperately needed designated passenger and commercial loading zones:

1. Hundreds of people commute along this corridor by bike daily.

Erin counted 84 cyclists riding down this one block of 4th street within 45 minutes of the morning rush hour.

2. Nearly as many people are arriving by Uber/Lyft and there is no safe place to drop them off.

Having dedicated passenger loading areas not only benefits cyclists it provides convenient and safe curbside access for people getting dropped off.

3. Removal of street parking is remediated by a parking garage less than two blocks away.

Establishing commercial and passenger loading requires removing parking spaces. There is a garage that can hold 300 vehicles less than two blocks away.

4. There is a very popular bike share corral at this location as well as multiple businesses that require a commercial loading zone.

Bay Wheels operates a 21 dock bike share corral on the corner of 4th street and consistently blocks the bike lane while they service and replenish it.

5. Reducing the number of blocked bike lane violations will help San Francisco achieve both its Vision Zero and climate goals.

It is well documented that the #1 reason people hesitate to ride a bike is because they are afraid of getting hit by a car. Providing a safe path of travel will encourage more people to commute by bike and thus reduce our carbon footprint.

After the hearing we were told that the committee’s decision would be rendered by the end of the week. About three days later we received the official word from the SFMTA.

The Safe Lanes team after our hearing at City Hall

And with that we have successfully converted five metered parking spaces to 100 feet of passenger and commercial loading space that will help Bay Wheels, UCSF and other nearby businesses safely access the area along with the hundreds of cyclists and people arriving by passenger vehicles daily.

On the heels of this victory we are working quickly to finish a new set of tools that will allow our collaborators to work together on custom “campaigns” to capture data in specific areas where safer infrastructure is needed. In the meantime signup here to be notified when campaigns launches and please consider making a donation to support our work!

Once the loading zones are installed, I’ll update this post with before and after photos and any data we can capture that shows their effectiveness.

Special thanks to Parker Day, Lindsay Meisel, Marcel Moran, Peter Belden, Erin C. and Cliff Bargar for their invaluable contributions and feedback on this post.

Safe Lanes is a grassroots advocacy platform that is empowering people with tools and data that can help us get safer infrastructure in the ground. Safe Lanes is free and it takes just seconds to get started. Interested in joining our team? We are always looking for people who are passionate about safer streets to help us transform our cities into vibrant, healthy spaces for everyone to work and live.

Safe Streets Activist / Designer / Engineer. Trying my best to make this world a safer, more equitable place. Creator of SafeLanes.org

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