Supervisor Shocked to Hear Uber and Lyft Violate Bike and Transit Lanes

SFPD Report Should Surprise No One Who Bikes and Takes Transit in San Francisco

Drop offs and pickups almost continually block the bike lanes on Valencia during the peak hour. Photo: Streetsblog.
Drop offs and pickups almost continually block the bike lanes on Valencia during the peak hour. Photo: Streetsblog.

Some two-thirds of citations for driving in transit lanes and bike lanes, failing to yield to pedestrians, and other motor vehicle violations, are issued to Transportation Network Company (TNC) cars such as Uber and Lyft–this according to a study from the police department of violations in downtown San Francisco.

The findings were presented at yesterday’s regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee.

Here’s the breakdown from the SFPD report:

Source: SFPD/via GovTV
Source: SFPD/via GovTV

Commander Robert O’Sullivan, San Francisco police liaison to the SFMTA, said (as shown in the above graphic) that the study ran from April 1 to June 30. Out of 2,656 citations, 1,723 were done by cars with Uber and Lyft stickers.

What makes the numbers so shocking, said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, is that they are so disproportionate. “You have one out of four cars being a TNC in the district I represent,” he said. “You would think the number of violations would be the same, one out of four, but what you’re seeing is the opposite–almost three out of four are TNC drivers.”

O’Sullivan assured the supervisor that officers are not targeting TNCs. Instead, they simply recorded which cars had Uber or Lyft stickers when they wrote the citations.

Commander O'Sullivan presenting the TNC report. Image: SF GovTV
Commander O’Sullivan presenting the TNC report. Image: SF GovTV

Of course, the report is not surprising to advocates in the safe-streets community, which even has a Twitter feed for Uber/Lyft violations. Over a year ago, a group of volunteers, lead by Catherine Orland, District 9 representative to the Bicycle Advisory Committee and longtime member and volunteer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, tabulated similar results about TNCs (and others) blocking the bike lanes on Valencia. “I’m glad SFPD is collecting data,” she said to Streetsblog. “Data is an integral part of achieving Vision Zero.”

“It was really astonishing to see the number of TNCs that routinely use the bike lane as the drop off spot with no regard to the fact that cyclists are using it,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who sits on the committee. He joined a protest for protected bike lanes on Valencia this month.

“These numbers confirm what our members experience on the streets of San Francisco everyday: Uber and Lyft drivers violating the law and threatening the safety of people who bike and walk. Now that SFPD data proves they are doing so in numbers far disproportionate to their share of traffic volume, this should be a wake-up call to the city and the industry,” wrote Brian Wiedenmeier, the SF Bike Coalition’s executive director, in an email to Streetsblog.

“Supervisors discussed concerns we at Uber share, namely how best to address traffic congestion and improve public safety on San Francisco streets. Uber is committed to being an active partner in working to make improvements in these areas. Every day in San Francisco, thousands of people use Uber in ways that complement–rather than compete with–public transit, bicycling and walking. Our aim is to continue contributing to a robust, multi-modal transportation network that works well for everyone,” wrote Alex Randolph, Uber public policy manager, in an email. And Chelsea Harrison, communications manager for Lyft, wrote that: “We are supportive of holistic efforts to address congestion and have been in conversations with city officials for months to engage collaboratively on a pilot program to do just that.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Hobson, Deputy Director for Planning for the County Transportation Authority, explained at the committee meeting that San Francisco has few real means to control TNCs, which are regulated by the state like any other privately owned car. Peskin said he will ask the City Attorney to look into suing. “This is a pattern and practice of thwarting public safety laws. There’s got to be a legal path here if the state will not allow us to regulate TNCs.”

Streetsblog would like to point out that while San Francisco currently has little power to regulate TNCs, aside from continuing to issue citations, it can, obviously, regulate street design. As the human-protected bike lane protests have shown, TNCs aren’t an issue when they are physically prevented from stopping in a bike lane. Properly designed protected bike lanes and intersections can make much of this a moot point. And banning private cars from Market Street will make much of this a moot point too–more so if the Supervisors and SFMTA have the fortitude to ban all cars, instead of just privately owned ones. Continuing to do studies and discuss parking needs, and tearing out unofficial safe-hit posts, instead of installing protected bike lanes as quickly as possible–not so much.

“How many cyclist have to be injured on high injury corridors before action is taken,” said Orland, who wants to see protected bike lanes installed and Uber and Lyft reigned in by regulators. “Some people are only persuaded by hard data. Now the safety of San Francisco’s residents has to be prioritized.”

  • Harris

    “If the perception of the general public changes so that double parking is seen as a shitty thing to do”

    That’s already the perception. But it’s a case of “do as I say; not as I do”. So as I drive around I curse the delivery trucks and cabs that double park. But when I have to pick up my dry cleaning and there is nowhere to park within a hundred yards of my cleaner, then I’m going to double park for the couple of minutes it takes. As you said, “there is no practical alternative”.

    I think the solution is more about acceptance. I accept that in a city I will get delayed by other road users acting in this way. I allow more time for my trip, I am patient, I do not make unsafe passes just to shorten my journey time, and I try and stay calm.

    And anyone who lacks either the skills to pass safely or the patience to slow down and wait, probably should not be on the road anyway.

  • Boy things escalated quickly, didn’t they?

  • It is obvious to everyone that you did not invite me which will be seen by all who acknowledge my tremendous knowledge (which is everyone worth knowing) that this is a failure on your part to apply simple logic.

  • Stuart

    I don’t think adding loading zones and hoping for the best, or giving up, are the only possible options. For instance, state level legislation that added requirements for TNC operators around clear ways of reporting illegal driving, clear and serious (more serious than getting low user ratings) consequences for reported drivers, and transparency on all of this to regulators.

    If allowing rampant safety violations by their drivers jeopardized their ability to continue to operate in California, I expect we’d suddenly see Uber and Lyft care a lot more about solving the general problem (not just double parking).

    Once TNC drivers aren’t showing complete disregard for traffic laws, it will be easier to see where changes to the streets are really necessary.

  • Stuart

    And why appear so desperate to personally attack a fellow contributor

    It’s fascinating that you think that simply identifying your alternate accounts by the handle most people here know you by constitutes a personal attack.

  • Harris

    Goes to motive. You believe that such an association discredits me and so you try that gambit rather than engage the topic with me, presumably because you know from past experience that if you do then you will lose.

    I am in fact flattered to be associated with the poster you cited who, as I recall, won over 90% of the debates he engaged in here before he retired.

  • Stuart

    That’s nothing, take a look at the subthread ending here:

    For someone who likes to talk about being zen and avoiding conflict, he seems to spend a lot of time thinking about how to assault cyclists without getting arrested. Serious issues.

  • TimDoyle

    The Uber and Lyft car drivers are absolutely ridiculous. The spend minutes at a stop sign or green light because they don’t have a ride and are looking at their computer screens for a ride. Also the mid-street random U-turn has almost cleaned me out on my bike a few times. What Travis Kalanick and the Techies don’t realize is that the roads are finite. Throwing infinite cars onto finite roads creates chaos. San Francisco’s roads and streets have gotten worse not better because of this ride “sharing”? economy.

  • Corvus Corax

    Look! RichLL has resurrected his old RichRoLLed sockpuppet. When I first started reading Streetsblog (about a year ago) I saw too many posts by one commenter, RichLL, saw people cursing and blocking him for the troll he is. And I remember seeing the name RichRoLLed, often in the same thread. I wondered then if they could be the same commenter, but before I could ascertain the answer, RichRoLLed disappeared, and I gave it no more thought. But as time went by, I saw curious patterns – if not actual phrases – that had been RichLL’s stock in trade – in posts under different names, and I came to realize that RichLL was posting under many, many names – almost too many to count.

    Just in the last few days, I have seen him posting as Harris, Kraus, and RichRolled, again, often in the same thread.

  • Harris

    FYI, 50% of the names you allege are RichLL are names I have never heard of.

    So if you really believe I am RichLL, rather than just one of his admirers, then you are disturbingly wide of the mark.

    But keep it up – it’s hilarious

  • Actually, I just learned his particular language quirks same as everyone else.

  • Harris

    Don’t pander to Corvus. He is the original RichLL. Join me in fighting his scurge.

  • Harris

    You misunderstood totally. The discussion there has nothing to do with cyclists. The topic was how to defend yourself against someone who engages in the violent crime of false imprisonment, and deadly force is allowed in that context.

    Any cyclist who goes about his own business is in no danger from legal self-defense.

  • Stuart

    I’m just providing people the information they would already have if you used one account like everyone else instead of operating over a dozen Disqus accounts and regularly changing their names. Whether knowing who you are discredits you in their eyes has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with their previous experiences with you.

    Goes to motive.

    You use a fleet of ever-shifting accounts, including having posted on this site using multiple accounts on the same thread, sometimes agreeing with your own posts using other accounts, which even you once claimed to think was over the line:

    I do believe that one should not post to the same thread with more than one handle.

    I provide people context they would normally already have.

    I’m comfortable letting those facts stand on their own and leaving readers to decide what they say about our respective motivations.

  • Harris

    If nobody stalked a contributor then I suspect that nobody would need to engage in the tactics that you allege. Sadly people like you and Corvus make that impossible. And Disqus provides the functionality to thwart stalkers for very good reasons.

    But this is all really a distraction. If you could simply and easily refute me you would. If my points were not damaging to your cause, you would ignore me. But instead you are endlessly stalking and alleging and going off topic rather than discuss the issues, because you know on the issues you lose every time.

    Why are you so scared of the truth? Why the obsession?

    Oh, and BTW I never use more than one handle at a time. So you lie about that as well.

  • CheerTheGallows

    First of all Uber should have been banned from the outset.

    Second, the only way Uber should get any changes in our city’s infrastructure is if THEY pay for it. If they get special drop off spots they need to cover ALL costs for conversion of use and they need to rent those spots from the city forever.

    No city should ever bend over backwards to accommodate a shady company whose fundamental business model is based on violating the law.

  • Rick Laubscher

    It’s time that a journalist in this town took a very hard look at SFPD’s traffic detail and the number of citations issued per officer vs. other major jurisdictions. If the number is significantly lower, demand answers of the Chief, the Police Commission, and the Mayor. If it’s in line with other jurisdictions, then productivity isn’t the issue; understaffing is. More traffic cops, more tickets to scofflaw drivers. When Lyft and Uber drivers get a couple of points on their driving record for moving violations, you’ll see their behavior change…or the out-of-town TNC drivers won’t come here as much. Either way, cyclists and peds are safer, and congestion decreases.

  • Stuart

    Oh, and BTW I never use more than one handle at a time. So you lie about that as well.

    Really. So you aren’t also the owner of the “bobfuss” account that you renamed after me in a fit of pique, who shares this thread with you?

    And you aren’t both “GregKamin” (previously “Penchant”) and “Red Monk” here?

    I’d give you the benefit of the doubt and think maybe you did it accidentally because you simply can’t keep track of which account you’re logged in as at any given time, except that you referred to yourself as “he” instead of “I” when sticking up for yourself, which makes it obvious that it was intentional.

    Why the obsession?

    If you want to flatter yourself by thinking it requires obsession to notice when you pop up here (or on an article linked from here) using a new account, knock yourself out. In reality, just reading the site regularly is plenty.

  • CheerTheGallows

    “a form of car sharing which has the potential to reduce congestion”

    Seriously!? Uber has tremendously *increased* congestion as well as pollution, fossil fuel consumption, etc. in SF.

    And by the way, no one is “sharing” anything in the Uber business model,

  • Harris

    Seems unlikely – it has merely moved it from one transportation mode to another. when I take Uber, it merely replaces a cab drive or a trip in my own vehicle

  • CheerTheGallows

    Only if they pay for it.

  • Harris

    The obsession is not noticing something, or thinking that you have. The obsession is endlessly droning on about it. That tells me that my arguments threaten you and are effective, so I will continue.

    I have seen zero evidence that I have any more accounts then you do. Prove it. Personally I think you are Corvus, roymeo and Murphy. Isn’t this fun?

    One handle at a time is something I maintain. I would make no apology for using the anti-stalking techniques that Disqus thankfully provides.Stalkers and trolls like you sadly make that necessary.

  • Stuart

    That tells me that my arguments threaten you and are effective

    Yes yes, we all know your shtick. If someone replies to your comments, it’s because they are threatened by them. If they don’t reply, it’s because they are threatened by them and afraid. If they call out your trollish behavior, same thing. If they block you because they are tired of your trollish behavior, same thing.

    By an amazing coincidence, every possible outcome is proof to you of how great you are.

    Prove it.

    Yawn. You want me to say I can’t prove conclusively those accounts are yours, and then you can announce that since I can’t meet the bar you’ve unilaterally set, you win the internet. We all know this routine too, but hey, if going through the motions makes you happy, go for it.

    I know it’s you, and the people here I’m alerting to your new accounts know it’s you, which is all that matters to me.

    Pointing out that you can’t even stick to the ridiculously low ethical standard of not sock-puppeting that you yourself set was just an amusement. (Mostly I was curious if you felt any shame about it. Since you are lying about it, instead of doing the admit-it-but-not-really-admit it that you seems to love so much when one of your accounts is called out as an alt, I’m guessing yes.)

  • Stuart

    And I remember seeing the name RichRoLLed, often in the same thread. I wondered then if they could be the same commenter

    Or perhaps an obvious parody, whose name is a combination of the name of the account being parodied, and a famous form of internet trolling?

    I know your heart is in the right place, but constantly accusing *everyone* of being RichLL really isn’t helping. If the commentary track parodies show up again, are you going to go after them too?

  • Harris

    To summarize your essay, you cannot prove what you claim but you endlessly make allegations here without ever addressing the topic or demonstrating that you can refute my points.

    Whether I am Rich or merely emulating him because of his success and intelligence is ultimately not important. What is important is that we seriously discuss the issues rather than engage in personal attacks.

    And yes, people should only use one name at a time. Glad we agree.

  • CheerTheGallows

    If we’re going to accommodate these companies with loading zones (and I’m not saying w should accommodate these companies in any way). These companies need to pay for all costs of conversion of use and they need to rent the space from the city at full market rate, at minimum.

  • CheerTheGallows

    “Seems unlikely”

    Perhaps it seems unlikely to people who apparently don’t know the actual facts, like yourself.

    Uber/Lyft have added tens of thousands of cars to SF streets every day. Many of these cars come from East Bay or even as far away as the Central Valley.

    Automobiles are the dinosaurs, my friend. And yes they persist.

  • Harris

    Again, each Uber ride does one of two things. Either:

    1) It simply replaces another mode of transport, so no extra congestion, or

    2) It is a new trip, which means greater economic activity.

    I don’t see the issue.

  • wiz1014

    1,715 downtown violations in 3 months…that’s 27 per day not counting weekends…that’s all…???

  • HappyHighwayman

    Just one day of riding would show how many cars stop in the bike lane. And they get super angry at you if you call them out on it, which is how America works. America don’t like being called out for ANYTHING, and I’m not surprised. “I’m driving in the bike lane? F you for calling me out”. That’s America right there.

  • It is obvious to all clear thinkers that I have indeed won the internet. Let it be known!


  • Whoa, go easy with that “prove what you claim”, self. Don’t go raising the bar or anything amongst the rabble.

  • Liam Furey

    The practice would change very quickly if the company itself was cited everytime this happens.

    SF has been getting bent over by big business for too long now.

  • pickles94114

    I pull safely in front, get out my cellphone and very obviously take a photo of them in the bike lane – most get very nervous about that & leave. I email the photos with license plate number to Lyft or Uber support and ask them to please educate their drivers… they always respond and usually say they’ll contact the driver. Who knows if it does any good, but it definitely shows the drivers know they’re doing something wrong when they get caught.

  • Seriously, one could make a mint by ticketing Uber/Lyft for this offense on just one block during any weekeday. It just goes to show what SFPD’s priorities are.

  • Why not? It’s even got a handy bungee cord.

    Exposing them to Ford logos at that age is a problem, though.

  • We used to have the Valencia Insurrection Against Bike Lane Encroachment (V.I.A.B.L.E.) and Helpful Upper Market Bike Lane Enforcement (H.U.M.B.L.E.) taking this to the next level. Just some snappy bureaucrats in reflective yellow vests putting up orange traffic cones for safe passage around the stopped car.

  • I do that to the most egregious offenders. Nothing is ever done.

    Share the photos in public and some ex-communications major with a job title like Grand Poobah of Social Media, soon to be replaced with a bot, will post something purporting to be really sorry that happened to you and stressing that safety is their #1 priority.

  • “So your big point is” someone is a scurge.
    “You do realize, I hope,” you’ve been playing too much Game Boy Advance?

  • Harris

    I feel sure he means well, but he gets a tad too OCD to be taken credibly.

  • Max Chanowitz

    It’s called “Freedumb”. Part of the American ideology is the sense of entitlement to do whatever dumb, selfish crap you feel like — and to get very angry at anyone that calls you out and infringes upon your God-given Freedumb.

  • HappyHighwayman

    I can see why sometimes cars get bricks through the window.
    One truck parts every single morning in the bike lane. I’m thinking of duct taping a sign to his windscreen. A polite sign.

  • Tony Schultz

    Agreed.. I actually appreciate Ride Sharing companies however, they need to be regulated better (and I’m not quite sure why they aren’t) I’m pretty sure it has something to do with our State Senator wonder boy Scott Weiner being in the pocket of Uber and Lyft though! Seriously Scott? Getting people out of their cars and into Uber’s doesn’t solve anything except to pad your retirement. Politicians have no common sense!

  • Kill Uber

    I wonder what Alex Randolph has to say about his employers admitting that they never intended to complement public transit after all.


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