Another Crash on Valencia

Reena with her road bike.
Reena with her road bike.

Sunday evening, Reena (she asked Streetsblog to withhold her last name), 34, was returning to San Francisco after a long ride through Marin on her carbon fiber road bike. She turned onto Valencia for the last few blocks to her apartment in the Mission. She was pedaling along at a leisurely eight mph, riding in the bike lane and watching out for opening car doors on her right, when somewhere between 14th and 15th, something hit her from her left.

“It happened so quickly and I flew off my bike–I was trying to understand how this happened when I hit the pavement,” said Reena. “I landed on my left side. I’m really, really bruised up. I went to the emergency room. I have a lot of soft tissue damage–no broken bones that we have discovered yet. It could have been a lot worse.”

Indeed, it could have been much worse, as Josiane Feigon, who was riding behind her, can attest. “She was absolutely in the bike lane,” said Feigon. “And then an SUV just completely turned right into her–like absolutely did not see her. And all I saw was her flying off the bike.”

Both Feigon and Reena said the driver and her passenger stopped immediately and they were apologetic and helpful. “She admitted fault at the scene,” said Reena. “She apologized profusely. She was very nice, so concerned, also very shaken.”

Reena and Feigon said an off-duty paramedic stopped to help and police arrived shortly afterwards. Both cyclists were impressed by the level of care and attention. The motorist even drove Reena and her bike home. Later, neighbors helped Reena get to the emergency room to get checked out, as the adrenaline from the crash slowly wore off and was replaced by terrible pain.

From what Reena and Feigon said, this was not a case of a malevolent motorist–although nobody seemed to know what motivated the driver to turn directly into the bike lane without warning. However, it still seems a bit far fetched to call this an “accident.” Instead, this seems to be yet another indication of bad road design that makes crashes inevitable.

“When SF Bicycle Coalition members first won bike lanes on Valencia in the 1990s, it was a huge win for people who bike and all-around public safety,” said Chris Cassidy, spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, of Sunday night’s collision. But with additional population and so many more people riding bikes in San Francisco, the dangers of having a major bike corridor consisting of nothing more than a striped lane are now screamingly obvious–even on those rare occasions when the bike lanes are not blocked, they’re just not safe. “The scourge of Ubers and Lyfts illegally blocking those lanes with no corporate or city accountability means that they’re now all but useless,” said Cassidy. “San Franciscans are in dire need of protected bike lanes on Valencia to restore safety for everyone using this vital corridor.”

This should be an easy fix. The SFMTA opened a very short pilot-protected bike lane on the southernmost end of Valencia earlier this year, although Reena quipped that that is the only portion of Valencia where “nobody rides.” Meanwhile, some bike advocates are so fed up with Valencia they’ve taken matters into their own hands, installing safe hit posts around intersections–only to have them ripped back out by the city. Others protest by putting their bodies in the street to form a “people protected bike lane.”

The short section of Valencia with a parking protected bike lane. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The short section of Valencia with a parking protected bike lane. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

The protests and direct action seem to be getting some traction in City Hall finally, albeit too slowly to help Reena and others. The SF Examiner reported last month that Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Jeff Sheehy, whose districts encompass Valencia, are urging SFMTA to study protected bike lanes for the length of the street.

In fact, Sheehy’s office told Streetsblog that he will be at the next “people protected bike lane” protest this coming Thursday. Streetsblog  also has inquiries in to Ronen and the SFMTA on updates on any movement towards actually getting some infrastructure improvements, and will update this post accordingly.

A bike commuter high-fives an advocate for protecting him on the southbound Valencia bike lane during a May protest. Streetsblog/Rudick
A bike commuter high-fives an advocate for protecting him on the southbound Valencia bike lane during a May protest. Streetsblog/Rudick

Reena, meanwhile, says she’s done riding in San Francisco.

“It’s so stupid and asinine,” she said of the city’s lack of safe infrastructure. “All these European cities have protected bike lanes–why don’t we have this in San Francisco? I just don’t understand it.”

The next people protected bike lane protest will be in two days, on Thursday, September 14, from 5 to 7 p.m., on Valencia at 18th, a few blocks from where Reena was hit.

Reena in Marin a few hours before her crash
Reena out riding before her crash.
  • • No doubt the SUV-driver routinely pulls into bike lanes, with complete impunity, to the point where it’s just a conditioned response. Looking for a bicyclist is of course optional.

  • CheerTheGallows

    I definitely appreciate this important coverage, but I must take issue with the misleading headline, “Another Cyclist Crashes on Valencia.”

    It should read, “Another motorist hits cyclist in bike lane on Valencia.”

  • Cliff Bargar

    “From what Reena and Feigon said, this was not a case of a malevolent or irresponsible motorist–although nobody seemed to know what motivated the driver to turn directly into the bike lane without warning.”

    How could you describe this as not being the case of an irresponsible motorist? She didn’t look where she was driving her car.

  • Shouldn’t that headline be “Another cyclist crashed into on Valencia”?

  • A A

    “Looking for bicyclists is optional.” Indeed! Last Friday I was riding east on Waller in the Upper Haight. I crossed Clayton when it was my turn. When I was reaching the end of the intersection, an SUV going north on Clayton started making a right turn towards me. I screamed and the driver abruptly stopped his car. The guy didn’t stop at the stop sign and didn’t even bothered to look in front of him before turning. But wait, that’s not all. Two days later, on Sunday, the almost same thing happened. This time I was riding on Clay going west. I stopped at a stop sign as there were two cars on my right at an intersection – I didn’t look at which one it was – but also with 4 stop signs. The driver of the first car and I made eye contact and he drove through the intersection. Then I started riding and when I was in front of the second car, the woman behind the wheel started to proceed though the intersection! Once again I screamed and she stopped. Both times the drivers said that they didn’t see me and that they were sorry. Both times I was wearing one of those ugly yellow jackets which are supposed to make you more visible. Both Clay and Waller are supposedly bike routes.

  • Roger R.

    Fair enough. I changed the headline slightly.

  • Roger R.

    A valid point. Thanks Cliff.

  • City Resident

    I’ve had the same experience in the Upper Haight and, I’d guess, many cyclists have. Driving a car seems to be widely viewed as a casual activity. Behind the wheel, it’s all too easy to forget one’s potential to maim and kill.

  • spencer_e9876

    “All these European cities have protected bike lanes–why don’t we have this in San Francisco? I just don’t understand it.”

    The reason is simple: a lot of motorists in San Francisco have a fanatical and irrational hatred of cyclists, and loudly bitch about any and all investment in bicycle infrastructure as being giveaways to a niche population.

    I mean, I sympathize with them up to a point, because San Francisco is unquestionably a difficult city to drive in – but bicyclists are pretty far down the lists of reasons why that is the case.

  • norando

    I’m not a driver and I absolutely loathe cyclists who ride on the sidewalk, do not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, and otherwise feel that they rule San Francisco streets. I have to cheer every time I see an idiot like the one on Hyde and Jones who flew down Jones, not watching or caring, and rear-ended a car STOPPED LEGALLY AT THE STOPLIGHT. To me, one less cyclist.

  • Hmm, was the driver making a hurried U-turn to grab a parking spot?

    Changing a lot of outdated traffic regs would help and then, enforcing the ones that are already on the books.

    My biggest pet peeve as a motorist and cyclist are people on motorized two-wheeled vehicles. San Francisco has GOT to require them to observe the same traffic laws as other motorists. The lane-splitting and using bike lanes is out of control and dangerous for all concerned.

  • Oofty Goofty

    I’m thinking of having a bunch of stickers printed up saying “Screw you — I park where I want” or “My convenience is more important than your life” and smacking them on cars parked in the bike lane.

  • Eric Rodenbeck

    Bicyclists are not “other motorists,” by definition. Here’s what happens when bicyclists follow the same traffic laws as motorists: total traffic chaos https://archives.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2015/07/30/this-is-what-happened-when-bicyclists-obeyed-traffic-laws-along-the-wiggle-yesterday

  • Jack Hughes

    What I fail to see in the article is any support that the bike lane is especially dangerous.

  • Corvus Corax

    This is an article about a woman who was injured through no fault of her own; and you come here with hate, to rant about other cyclists? Really? Have you no shame?

  • norando

    Yes, really. This cycling moron is simply part of the problem, they think they own the streets and they do NOT. I am patiently waiting for the day the pendulum swings back and the Alliance goes the way of the dodo. She was at fault, she’s a cyclist somewhere cyclists do NOT belong….on the road with cars. She should stick to her driveway

  • Corvus Corax

    Disgusting!

  • norando

    Thank you, I consider that a compliment, coming from such as you. Stop bothering the adults and go back to whatever uber-liberal useless activities you waste your time at.

  • Corvus Corax

    Take care lest you choke on your own bile. It must be hell, being filled with so much hate and anger. Go outside, take a walk, some deep breaths, enjoy our lovely weather. Or not.

  • Cynara2

    Did she not check the map before she came here from Ohio? This is not Europe.

  • norando

    I would take a walk if it were not for the damned cyclists who are not satisfied with forcing cars from the road, now they want to force pedestrians off the sidewalks. I’ve been nearly run down many times by these overentitled, undereducated, overlypuffed egotists. One day I’m going to start clotheslining them off their bikes and see how they like that response.

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