Uber and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Partner on Safety Videos

A car discharging passengers on Valencia. Will a new education campaign get ride-hails out of the bike lane? Photo: Streetsblog
A car discharging passengers on Valencia. Will a new education campaign get ride-hails out of the bike lane? Photo: Streetsblog

Note ‘call to action’ at the end of this post.

Today, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) announced the release of four videos, produced with their help by Uber, to educate drivers on how to safely co-exist with cyclists in San Francisco. From an SFBC announcement:

Starting today, the SF Bicycle Coalition and Uber are giving hundreds of thousands of Bay Area riders and drivers expert tips to make smart, safe decisions around people biking. With the SF Bicycle Coalition’s support consulting on content, Uber created and is distributing a series of four videos to regional users.

No safe streets curriculum has ever come close to reaching as many people as made possible by this partnership. It’s safe to bet this will be a model for safe streets advocates, companies and cities across the country.

You can see all the videos here. Or watch our personal favorite, the one that deals with Uber drivers blocking bike lanes to pick up passengers:



Other videos deal with speed, making turns, and understanding bike lanes and markings

Safe-streets advocates have long viewed ride-hail as a mixed blessing at best. While they reduce car ownership–and with it, the space necessary for car storage–some studies show that they end up putting more cars on the road overall and draw people away from sustainable forms of transportation, mainly, public transit and bicycles, not to mention walking. Others worry that they continue auto-based urban design and curtail efforts to make cities more human scaled.

Ride-hail services have also been a near-constant frustration for cyclists, with bike lanes all across the Bay Area regularly blocked by Uber and Lyft drivers discharging and picking up passengers. The tension between ride-hail services is felt strongest on corridors such as Valencia, where advocates have watched as their hard-fought-for bike lane has been transformed into the world’s longest Uber/Lyft drop-off zone.

But Uber and Lyft are here to stay. And the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, through this effort, is looking for ways to improve the situation. With luck, these videos will get distributed beyond Uber drivers, and will be seen by drivers of delivery trucks and other taxi services–not to mention private automobiles. As any Bay Area cyclist knows, many motorists seem fairly ignorant about what our laws actually say about interacting with bicycles or choose not to follow them. Unfortunately, law enforcement is often included in that pool. Can we hope Uber’s videos will get used in all driver-education classes?

And there’s some question as to how much bad behavior by motorists is a function of failure to understand, or a failure to care. For the latter, Streetsblog hopes Uber will continue pursuing ways to take punitive measures against drivers who put vulnerable road users are risk.

Either way, Streetsblog applauds the Bicycle Coalition on this collaboration.

Of course, the best solution is safer infrastructure that reduces the opportunities for dangerous car-versus-bike- and-pedestrian interactions in the first place. That means protected bike lanes and intersections.

Speaking of which, here’s the ‘call to action’:

Tonight is SFMTA’s 7th Street and 8th Street Safety Projects Open House. As part of Mayor Lee’s new Executive Directive on safety, SFMTA has been asked to put in protected bike lanes on 7th and 8th street in SoMa. As SFMTA explains it: 7th & 8th streets are intersected by multiple high-injury corridors on San Francisco’s High Injury Network, which is the 12 percent of city streets that account for 70 percent of the city’s traffic crashes. Staff will be on hand to explain how this project will make the street safer and more comfortable, and hear your feedback on how parking and loading can be better managed. Thursday, 5:30-7 p.m., Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission Street, S.F.

  • citrate reiterator

    Exactly. This “60 second” number is wholly made up, as far as I can tell; I would love to see some actual data about how long double-parked cars typically remain in the bike lane on average. I’ve personally never once observed a car on Valencia literally just pull in the bike lane to discharge a passenger and then merge back into traffic within 60 seconds. Most rideshare drivers, regardless of where they are, spend at least a few minutes interacting with their phones after drop-offs, and that’s to say nothing of the cars that have the driver waiting an undefined amount of time for a pick-up, or not in the vehicle at all.

  • citrate reiterator

    So you don’t argue that parking has very little to do with the situation on Valencia – great.

    And anyone who’s not in a car is a potential bicyclist or pedestrian. For example, I bike, use transit, walk, use ride-share services, and occasionally use a car share. Most people, of course, don’t only use one mode of transport in an urban environment.

  • Donovan Lacy

    If you have a car, but are commuting using other transportation options most of the time for your commute, it sounds like you could get by without having a personal vehicle and rent or rideshare when you needed a car.

    Regarding your plans for the southeast portion of the city, are advocating for people to drive to a transportation hub where they can park their car and then take some form of mass transportation into the city for the last mile? That sounds like MUNI, BART, Caltrain, Scoot, Bike Share, etc., and is what most people on this board are strongly in favor of. Have you finally changed your mind?

  • citrate reiterator

    Above, you literally wrote: “…it’s less safe for other vehicles who will be held up by the stopped car in the middle of the road, and may take risks to pass the obstruction.” Elsewhere, of course, you have argued that it is always safe to pass a stopped vehicle if you pass correctly, and that the only cost is being temporarily inconvenienced.

    So which is it? Is it a safety issue, or a convenience issue? Or is it a convenience issue when it affects other people and a safety issue when it affects you?

  • citrate reiterator

    The “paratransit” distinction is important because paratransit passengers have limited mobility and actually require door-to-door curbside service, meaning cabs may have no choice but to enter the bike lane to serve a paratransit customer. This is literally the rationale given when taxis were first granted the right to enter bike lanes in 2011. Taxi driver training also now requires a module on safely interacting with bike traffic. This doesn’t apply to Uber or Lyft.

    I happen to think that giving all taxis, as opposed to just paratransit vehicles and taxis carrying passengers with mobility issues, the right to double-park in bike lanes is also a bad idea; other cities (e.g., NYC, which doesn’t exactly have lots more parking than SF in its densest regions) do not allow taxis to occupy bike lanes. But that’s a separate argument.

  • RichLL

    Are you suggesting that Uber and Lyft don’t also have disabled clients? Or that private drivers do not pick up or set down disabled friends and family members?

  • RichLL

    Both. It’s a convenience issue if the person obstructed acts prudently and a safety issue if they do not

  • RichLL

    Double parking is just one of many examples and situations where a road user gets delayed and so has to decide what to do about that. Safely navigating an obstruction is an essential road skill to the point where I would assert that if you cannot do that then you should not be on the road.

    There are people out there who have been passing obstacles and obstructions for 50 years without an accident. It’s possible.

  • citrate reiterator

    The existence of individual people who have never been in an accident while merging is not evidence that their risk was equal to zero, or even that it was just as low as their baseline risk. Some people, of course, will have no lane-change crashes by chance alone. If you wanted actual evidence that merging into and out of traffic from a stop is 100% as safe as proceeding unimpeded (which again, you have literally argued against in this thread, in the case of cars), or that driving skill can completely mitigate any increase in risk, you would need to look at a large sample of drivers over a relatively long period of time. Cherry-picking some drivers who have never had this type of collision doesn’t tell you much about whether lane changes tend to elevate the risk of a collision or not.

    Put another way, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you’ll be mugged, and there are many people who have never been mugged despite being exposed to situations where it was possible. But that is not evidence that muggings aren’t a real problem, that you can actually reduce your risk of being a victim of crime to zero, that the risk was zero (or at least not elevated) for the people who were not mugged, or that people who were mugged must not have been as aware of their surroundings as those who weren’t.

  • RichLL

    Regardless, it is 100% possible to pass an obstruction with 100 safety, as long as you are patient and wait until it is 100% safe

    What you are really saying is that it’s OK to take risks to pass and, in that case, sure, there is non-zero risk.

  • Donovan Lacy

    Rich,

    Are you saying that everyone is able to identify and avoid all risks when passing. That would make everyone omniscient. I know that you are responding to a lot of different threads on this board but, I think you might want to rethink that last statement.

    Based on that logic any time there is a collision when someone is passing it would be their fault, given that “it is 100% possible to pass an obstruction with 100 safety, as long as you are patient and wait until it is 100% safe”.

  • RichLL

    No but what it means is that the kind of cyclist with bad judgement who might make a dangerous maneuver because of a double-parked vehicle is more likely to make a flawed maneuver in any other situation as well.

    And yes, if you pass when it isn’t safe then the resultant argument is probably your fault, absent special circumstances. I do not believe that the double-parked vehicle in such a situation is typically held liable and, in fact, is free to drive off if not directly involved in the accident

  • citrate reiterator

    Typically in this type of collision there is more than one vehicle involved. Even if you are a perfect driver, you can’t control what the person driving another vehicle might or might not do. As long as you are on the road you are therefore not 100% safe, and once you get below 100% we’re again talking about rates.

  • citrate reiterator

    Being on the road at all is a risk. You can’t possibly be 100% safe on the road because you don’t control others’ actions.

  • RichLL

    Of course, but you can certainly increase your risk by unsafely pulling out to pass because you are impatient, lazy or petulant.

  • RichLL

    Obviously anything can happen but, even so, sitting patiently behind a double-parked vehicle is safer than darting out into traffic and hoping to get away with it

  • citrate reiterator

    No, I’m saying that Lyft and Uber (and other private drivers) are not *mandated* to provide paratransit and accessible services in the same way that cabs are (and indeed a much smaller proportion of their vehicles are accessible).

  • citrate reiterator

    This is a tautology: of course passing unsafely is unsafe, by definition. A more relevant question is how much extra risk is borne by a cyclist exercising a reasonable amount of caution, who merges in and out of traffic because of a double-parked car blocking the way. Your contention seems to be that it’s zero — which I find very unlikely considering that lane changes are a frequent source of car collisions, that drivers are often advises to avoid frequent, unnecessary lane changes, and that drivers are usually better at noticing cars vs. bikes. If this increased risk is nonzero, then it follows that allowing double parking in the bike lane makes it less safe for cyclists, on average.

  • Rob

    please read the article and watch the videos before posting. none of the videos advocate parking next to a striped bike lane to unload passengers. the videos describe bike lane markings, ask drivers to be mindful of people biking and suggest places to load / unload passengers to avoid conflicts with people biking and points out that passengers should exit on the curb side to avoid dooring a passing cyclist. Nowhere is there a reference to parking adjacent to a bike lane to load / unload passengers.

    the videos are short and quite good. watch them.

  • Donovan Lacy

    Rich,

    Your originally post was – “it is 100% possible to pass an obstruction with 100 safety, as long as you are patient and wait until it is 100% safe.” When you were called out on this by Citrate you conceeded that being on the road at all is a risk. No one is 100% safe.

    You then characterize cyclists that pass a double parked car as “impatient, lazy or petulant,” which are the exact words most people would use to describe someone who willfully breaks the law by parking in the bike (petulant), becuase they are too lazy or impatient to park in a nearby parking garage. It sounds like you are projecting.

  • PaleoBruce

    RichLL “No, space for parking distorts the equation because it is immaterial to comparing the space available for motion. ” The irony hurts! Immaterial?!? Then that stationary parking lane can be converted into a bicycle lane for motion.

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