SF legislator to Uber, Lyft: Get out of the bike lane

A cyclist rides on Valencia Street as a bike safety activist stands on a painted lane divider to advocate for protected bike lanes.

San Francisco District 9 supervisor Hillary Ronen sent a letter to ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft Tuesday, asking them to use geofencing technology to find safe places for pick-ups and drop-offs — and to test such a system on Valencia Street, notorious for ride-share cars blocking the bike lanes.

“At this point, Valencia is completely out of control with bikes, cars and pedestrians struggling to safely navigate the street,” the letter reads.

Geofencing would tell passengers where to go for a safe pick-up and directs the car-share driver to that location.

The letter asks the companies to work with the city to identify places for the cars to pick up or let out passengers, and to enforce that use of the technology.

Ronen pointed to the size of the street and driver behavior as causes of the driver-cyclist conflicts.

“The lack of space on the street forces your drivers to break the law and block the bike lane when they drop off or pick up their customers,” Ronen wrote, also alluding to “your drivers’ disregard for existing traffic and parking regulations.”

Rec and Park officials have already said that the drop-off and pick-up activity at Dolores Park clogs the area around 19th and Dolores streets. On Valencia Street, drivers are competing with the bike lanes — and the concentration of rideshare traffic on Valencia is much higher than on neighboring Dolores.

Though Ronen voiced support for infrastructure changes — like protected bike lanes — that would physically bar cars from entering the bike lanes, she noted in her letter that such a project would take time, study and funding to complete.

Her letter was sent hot on the heels of another letter from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to the ride-sharing companies, asking them to participate in a pilot program testing dedicated ride-share parking spots.

Lee proposed having Lyft and Uber share anonymized travel data with the city to help it understand traffic patterns. Along with the dedicated parking spots, the proposal also includes geofencing to restrict pick-ups and drop-offs in dangerous areas.

A pilot corridor to test Lee’s proposal has yet to be identified, and an aide for Ronen suggested that Valencia would be a good candidate.

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16 Comments

  1. Ricardo Rodriguez

    There are really no places to drop off people whether private cars or ride share cars on Valencia st even if the person is disable or has other health issues I myself and many others do not patronize businesses on Valencia Street or Mission Street for that reason I know that this hurts the businesses along the streets because the city caters too much to these bike riders and there unsafe way of navigating around the city not to say that all of them are like this but there are many several times myself and family members have almost been hit by these bike riders and as for rideshare cars they keep a lot of intoxicated people off the road I have one situation that I have heard of from a friend that was cited for dropping off his elderly mother at a doctors appointment on Mission Street because there are no places to really drop people off

    • Thomas Hennicker

      If there’s no safe place to load and unload passengers, we should absolutely fix that. We don’t need to allocate every bit of sidewalk access for free private parking.

    • Every person on a bike is another car not in traffic. Ever bike parked on a bike rack is another car not taking up a parking space (or double parking – Dangerous!).

      More bikes means more, not less parking.
      More bikes means less, not more traffic.

      Not everyone can afford a car and not everyone can legally drive a car. Ithinking taking away bike lanes, making it unsafe for these people, is a good idea.

  2. ROBERT

    Bike lane on Valencia? Bad idea, rightly or wrongly. Valencia is a merchant corredor: shops, restaurants, etc – and that means people getting in and out of cars. That’s just the reality and it ain’t gonna’ change. It means a constant stream of Fed Ex and other delivery vehicles double parking. That’s just the reality and it ain’t gonna’ change. Does anyone have a count of daily bike riders? Do they absolutely, positively need Valencia? How about motor vehicles? What’s the ratio, about two hundred fifty to one? Are the bike riders riding to a Valencia destination? Are they spending any dough on Valencia, or just passing through? Granted, the bikers may be neighborhood residents but commerce does talk, or should at least. If the bikers are headed downtown or to Sixteenth St led them head over to…no, that won’t work. How about…no, that would be full scale slaughter. Well, of course there’s…shoot, crazy drivers on that boulevard as well. What’s the answer? Our leaders can’t figure this one out other than to blame Uber and Lyft? Newsflash: time to one-way the whole Mission from top to bottom. Dolores one-way, Guerrero one-way(in spite of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on its so-called beautification), Valencia one-way, Mission one-way, South Van Ness one-way, Folsom needs to be one-way as do Harrison and Bryant. Give the bikers their lane, heck, give them their lanes. Only in San Francisco can such a reasonable request as a safe bike lane get so politicized and flat out bungled. Our myopic traffic officials in their efforts to make the streets safer have merely succeeded in making drivers impatient risk-takers. How many times per day does 16th and Guerrero back up for a block or more because some idiot driver just can’t live unless they hook that left turn? We deserve better. We deserve better officials. How many more years until that Van Ness project is completed?

    • Hunter

      Wrong: Merchant corridors are the best place for more walking/biking/transit because of the lively street activity and property values (extensive private parking should be allocated where it’s cheaper and less dangerous for everyone). Every major street in SF should have a loading/drop-off zone for private drivers and Lyft/Uber/taxis, especially as more and more residents use them instead of driving themselves. Many studies have been done that show people arriving on foot/bike spend more monthly than folks in cars: https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2015/03/the-complete-business-case-for-converting-street-parking-into-bike-lanes/387595/ BOOM. Get your head out of the past, or just move to Fremont.

    • Valencia didn’t used to be a merchant corridor back when Michelle Tea was writing about it. It was just like several other Mission streets that I’d use as an example but have also become much more livable over the past 5 years….I wonder what happened.

    • Roy Crisman

      The Valencia that Michelle Tea wrote about was hardly a merchant corridor, it was 4 lanes of fast traffic and closed stores. I’d point out how it was like some of the other streets in the Mission that one would never ride a bike down if one knew better like Folsom, but bikelanes have gone in there, too, and mucked up my comparison as they’re also starting to become liveable streets.

    • Grafton E.

      A count of cyclists using Valencia? Hundreds of cyclists (or more) use Valencia every day! 250 cars to 1 bike? NO WAY. I lived at Valencia and Duboce for years and saw the incredibly high volume every single day. Yes, cyclists are patrons of Valencia merchants – I’d argue moreso than car drivers simply by ease of parking and navigating quickly to the sidewalk. Bikers need Valencia because *newsflash* the bike lane is present there (!) unlike many other streets… Also, it just makes the most sense geographically for traversing the city on a bike… or would you rather have them pull some other non-existent bike-friendly street out of their arse (Mission on one side, Guerrero and Dolores (hills) on the other)?

  3. Jonah Chiarenza

    Not the first time this has been considered by the city – a great idea to try on congested streets with unprotected bike lanes! https://www.sfmta.com/news/project-updates/curb-management-workshop-update

  4. noevalleyjim

    The City caters too much to these rideshare and other car drivers. Cars should be forbidden from through traffic on Valencia and only be allowed to drop off locally. This should be enforced with bollards so that emergency vehicles can get through but not these reckless law breakers.

    More parking spots should be converted to white loading and blue handicapped spots. Healthy people can walk a few blocks from a parking structure.

  5. Business districts in the city usually have limited parking, which makes it hard for taxis and those making deliveries to local businesses to function without double parking. Hard to see how making it even harder on behalf of cyclists is going to help.

  6. Chris Sro

    THis absolutely needs to happen. Glad that the wheels of change are starting to turn. There are plenty of driveways and empty areas on Valencia to briefly pull into to safely unload. These are just lame excuses by lazy drivers and people who have an axe to grind with those who choose not to drive but take more green methods of transportation. Shame on you motorist apologists.

  7. marcos

    Before the sidewalks were widened in 2009, there used to be a center “turn” lane that served for a truck loading space and could have done TNC pick ups and drop offs. But what one livability hand giveth (to restaurants to take up public space with tables) the other livability hand taketh away.

    The bike lanes went in in 1997 when the 4 lane road was converted to bike lanes traffic lanes and center strip. There was an awesome skateboard lane between the double double yellow lines during the freeway period in the early/mid 1990s.

    Does the Supervisor realize that if we build 5000 new condos that there will be that many more people trying to get around town, and if they can afford these housing prices, will probably be taking TNCs. What one livability hand giveth (to developers) the other livability hand taketh away.

  8. marc salomon

    Before the sidewalks were widened in 2009, there used to be a center “turn” lane that served for a truck loading space and could have done TNC pick ups and drop offs. But what one livability hand giveth (to restaurants to take up public space with tables) the other livability hand taketh away.

    The bike lanes went in in 1997 when the 4 lane road was converted to bike lanes traffic lanes and center strip. There was an awesome skateboard lane between the double double yellow lines during the freeway period in the early/mid 1990s.

    Does the Supervisor realize that if we build 5000 new condos that there will be that many more people trying to get around town, and if they can afford these housing prices, will probably be taking TNCs. What one livability hand giveth (to developers) the other livability hand taketh away.

  9. Sean

    If the goal is to seperate bicyclists and cars making biking easier, faster and more attractive what if a bike boulevard were made 1 block over in a mostly residential street? Using automatic inground bollards that would only allow residents to enter. Then timing lights for 13mph. The alternate solution would be to eventually turn Valencia in to the proposed no car Market St the city has on the table. No cars on Valencia is where this issue is going. That’s fine if the residents and businesses want it and can make it work. As a full time rideshare driver I currently don’t stop on Valencia & Mission it’s not worth the risk of a ticket. For pick ups I ask the rider to compromise and meet me in a spot I can legally wait on a side street or alley. For drop offs I let them know I need to pull into a loading zone or parking spot. If one is not available I’ll have to turn the corner and drop them off nearby. I don’t speak for all drivers but definitely for myself the last thing I want to do is get in someone’s way or hurt a cyclist and contribute to damaging the brands of the companies I work with in rideshare.

  10. Maybe they could make Valencia a one way Street with one lane for traffic, the other for pick up and drop off, and maintain he existing bike lanes. I also like the idea of moving the bike lanes closer to the side walk and car parking would be on the side of the traffic lanes.

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