Lyft ‘geofencing’ program also being tested on Chestnut Street in the Marina, AT&T Park, and near the Westfield Mall


From here on out, all Lyft pickups and dropoffs on Valencia Street between 16th and 19th will be diverted to side streets, the ridesharing company announced in a blog post last week.

The move is the latest in an ostensible ongoing effort to improve cyclist safety along the busy corridor, on which from January 2012 to December 2016, 204 people were injured and one died in 268 reported collisions. Portions of Valencia Street, unsurprisingly, are among Lyft’s most-visited destinations.

The decision to permanently divert rides off the three-block stretch of Valencia Street followed a three-month pilot that shunted half of customers requesting rides on the popular Mission thoroughfare onto lesser-traveled sidestreets.

“With so many different users of the street and a street design that has largely remained unchanged, it’s no surprise that the corridor has experienced growing safety concerns — particularly around increased traffic, double parking, and bicycle dooring,” reads the blog post by Debs Schrimmer, a senior transportation policy manager at Lyft.

Lyft’s decision to implement the program permanently was first reported on Monday by the Examiner. Mission Local was the first to report on the pilot program in March.

The March experiment used so-called “geofencing,” which limits where drivers can pick up their passengers. From March to June, the pilot took place on the identical streets as the future permanent program: Valencia Street between 16th and 19th streets, the three blocks that account for 27 percent of all Lyft rides on Valencia, per the company.

“Given the findings of this pilot program … we decided to move our project from a pilot to a permanent feature within the Lyft app,” Schrimmer wrote. “This means that currently, anyone requesting a ride on Valencia Street between 16th Street and 19th Street will be redirected to a pickup spot on a side street.”

But Lyft acknowledges that its geofencing efforts are not enough to improve the corridor’s safety conditions. The pilot, which attempted route pickups and dropoffs to loading zones along Valencia’s side streets, found that “existing curb space is insufficient and that the city needs more loading zones.” This, according to the company, will help its program on Valencia Street.

Obtaining city-approved curb space, akin to a taxi stand, has long been a goal of Lyft, Uber and other ride-share outfits in San Francisco — and the subject of contentious negotiations.   

Other bike-friendly experiments are underway on Valencia Street. In March, the city installed flex-posts along portions of Valencia Street to prevent cars — as well as Lyfts and Ubers — from pulling up next to bulb-out curbs and putting cyclists in danger. Lyft cited protective bike lanes as another strategy to reduce harm to cyclists along the corridor.

While Valencia is in the Vision Zero High-Injury network — the 13 percent of city streets accounting for 75 percent of severe and fatal collisions — it is not the only corridor where Lyft is diverting pickups and dropoffs: The effort is being duplicated in the Marina on Chestnut Street between Fillmore and Scott, also a busy corridor, according to a Lyft spokesperson. 

Lyft is also utilizing the geofencing technology at frequently visited locations and event venues — including AT&T Park, some BART/Muni Stations, Westfield San Francisco Centre, and San Francisco International Airport.

Uber did not respond to Mission Local’s inquiries about whether it is considering similar policies.

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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9 Comments

  1. We need to create ride-sharing pick up points every few blocks throughout the city and require all rides to go through those stops. (similar to bus stops)

    This is an important building block for larger scale on-demand shared transportation. The city should be spearheading this effort and trying to push it through.

    Carpool Ride Sharing + Bike Sharing + Motor Scooters are the future. The city should embrace it and shape a plan that makes this transition work.

    Nobody is going back to city buses and yellow cabs. It’s not 1983 anymore.

    1. The arrogance of those who suggest buses are a thing of the past really mean they are too good to use them.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. You could have been polite, too, but you weren’t. More evidence the human race is going down the tubes.

      JE

  2. Ask the neighbors who are dealing with the Ubers and Lyfts on the side streets how they feel about the intrusion. How safe are the residents dealing with the excess traffic and parking? Privatization of the city streets for the benefit of corporations infringes on the public.

    1. Saving this article and comment as a perfect example for whenever anyone asks me why nothing ever gets done in San Francisco to solve our *important* problems.

      If you read the article at all, even just the short bit to the second paragraph, “the move is the latest in an ostensible ongoing effort to improve cyclist safety along the busy corridor, on which from January 2012 to December 2016, 204 people were injured and one died in 268 reported collisions.” This is not at all for the benefit of the corporations. It’ll inconvenience them if anything by making them loop a block, no small effort on a weekend night, and by riders having to walk a hundred feet (the horror). It’s for biker and pedestrian safety. I was hit by a Lyft/Uber couple weeks ago who passed me and then darted into the bike lane directly front of me. This happens all the time, if you hadn’t noticed.

      re: Your “concern” towards people who choose to live on sidestreets in the Mission, one of the most bustling neighborhoods in the city, uhm, if they’re already living along the pigsty that are the midnight Saturday Valencia puking and pissing corridors, I’m sure they are tough enough handle this if it affects them.

  3. And last, regarding this bit: ” In March, the city installed flex-posts along portions of Valencia Street to prevent cars — as well as Lyfts and Ubers — from pulling up next to bulb-out curbs and putting cyclists in danger. Lyft cited protective bike lanes as another strategy to reduce harm to cyclists along the corridor.” Y’all realize these are used as dedicated parking/stopping zones by cars, right? They’re designed so they can just slip right through there, wait like it’s a McDonald’ to-go line, and drive off when they’re all done blocking the bike lane. I use the shared (i.e., main) lane in these spots, and actually along most of Valencia, til they get it right.

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