Tow Truckers Pledge to Reduce Fell Bike Lane Parking, Thanks to Sup. Breed

“Three tow trucks blocking the bike lane on Fell now. Forcing people on bikes towards vehicle traffic,” writes Patrick Traughber on Twitter.

Updated 9/5 with comment from the SFPD captain below.

Ted & Al’s Towing company pledged to make a stronger effort to avoid parking its trucks in the Fell Street bike lane, an illegal practice that forces bike commuters to veer into heavy motor traffic.

Supervisor London Breed on Bike to Work Day. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/8723284665/in/photostream/##SFBC/Flickr##

D5 Supervisor London Breed said that her staff came to an agreement with Ted & Al’s owner Larry Nasey and Raj Vaswani, the new SFPD Park Station captain. “Both were very responsive and helpful, and we are optimistic that this dangerous, illegal parking will not continue,” she said.

“Public safety is my greatest concern,” said Breed, who pushed the SFMTA to accelerate the installation of the neighboring bike lane on Oak Street last year. “When these tow trucks park in the bike lane, they force bicyclists into an active lane of traffic and jeopardize everyone’s safety.”

Nasey said he couldn’t promise a complete end to tow trucks stopped in the bike lane, since the driveway there is the only entrance they have to the building, and truckers must often wait for others to make room first. But managers will encourage truck drivers to move out of the bike lane more quickly, and to stop in one of the three traffic lanes available to motor traffic instead when car traffic isn’t too heavy.

“Had the bike lane been there [first], I never would’ve put my business there knowing the disruption it would cause,” said Nasey. “But because we’re there, and now the bikes are there, we’re trying to work it out so we can co-exist.”

Ted & Al’s drivers aren’t the only violators of the Fell and Oak Street bike lanes — all types of drivers can be found parking in them. In January, even SFPD officers were seen blocking the Fell lane to do business at the Bank of America branch there, with no apparent sign of an emergency. At the time, SFPD Park Station was overseen by Captain Greg Corrales. Vaswani, the new captain, hasn’t responded to an email requesting comment, and a call transferred to his office was apparently disconnected.

In an email, Breed encouraged members of the public to report tow trucks parked in the bike lane:

Note the truck number and send the time, date, and truck number to the SFPD at SFPDParkStation@sfgov.org and Mr. Nasey at larry@autoclinicsf.com so he can follow up with the driver directly.  Or, of course, you can always contact me and my staff about this or any other safety issue in D5 at breedstaff@sfgov.org.

Update: SFPD Captain Vaswani said in an email:

Our permits officer has advised management at the tow company that they need to either stage at another location to make that left into their garage, but may not block/park in the bike lane. We are also in communication with City Permits to make sure the management is aware that part of their permitting is they must follow conditions/laws for operation. Park Officers will take enforcement action by either warning/citing each tow driver if that bike lane blocked.

I also have personally driven by there to make sure they are keeping that area clear… I actually saw it on a photo your bicyclist posted on SFstreetblog about a week or two back and had my guys go out there hours later to take care of the problem.

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