Bicycle Coalition Demands Change after Pedicab Driver’s Death

After years of safety plans languishing in interdepartmental hell, SFBC renews calls for fixing the Embarcadero

A vision for a relatively simple and safe bike lane proposed over four years ago by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Image: SFBC
A vision for a relatively simple and safe bike lane proposed over four years ago by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Image: SFBC

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Kevin Manning, the pedicab driver who was struck by a hit-and-run motorist two weeks ago on the Embarcadero, died this morning from his injuries. “With our deepest sympathies, our hearts go out to Kevin’s family, friends, and those that worked with him,” wrote the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, in a statement about the tragedy.

Manning was giving a ride to a family on June 27 when his pedicab was hit at the corner of Sansome and Embarcadero. The passengers of his pedicab and another, including two children, sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

The Coalition is hoping the incident will increase pressure on the city to immediately start constructing the long-delayed Embarcadero Enhancement Project, which will include protected bike lanes.

From the SFBC’s statement:

Nearly the entire length of the Embarcadero is identified by the San Francisco Department of Public Health as a high-injury corridor; between 2006 and 2011, data shows that 84 people were injured on the Embarcadero while biking or walking, including two fatalities. We know that since 2011, there has been at least double the number of fatalities due to traffic crashes. The SFMTA and Port of San Francisco know this, yet they have been dragging their feet on making necessary improvements to make the Embarcadero safe. We have grieved too many times.

The Coalition didn’t pull any punches in blaming city bureaucracy for Manning’s death. “…it has been over four years since their planning began,” wrote the SFBC, in their statement. “This death is a direct consequence of unnecessary delays and a lack of interagency cooperation.”

UPDATE 7/11: “We express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Kevin Manning,” wrote Paul Rose, spokesman for SFMTA, in an email to Streetsblog. “Previously, the city has implemented several projects on The Embarcadero to improve safety, including … Installing a dedicated left-turn bike box and bicycle traffic signal for people biking northbound” and “Roadway striping adjustments have been made near Battery and Sansome to address vehicle/bicycle conflicts.”

“We are working with the Port of San Francisco, who have jurisdiction over The Embarcadero, in finalizing our conceptual design. Designing a project of this scale on The Embarcadero is not only extremely complex from a technical perspective, but we have to ensure that The Embarcadero continues to support the businesses and industry that rely on the street for access and operation,” wrote Rose in an email to Streetsblog sent the day after the crash.

But as the city demonstrated in its quick construction of safety fixes on streets in the South of Market neighborhood, it was more than possible to dramatically improve safety when city bureaucrats were forcefully motivated by a Mayoral Executive Directive.

That’s why the SFBC made it clear in its statements that it is not willing to accept preserving car and truck access as an excuse for putting lives in danger. “These kinds of delay tactics from the SFMTA and Port of San Francisco are unacceptable and, frankly, threaten the lives of thousands who bike the Embarcadero every day,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the SFBC. “The only answer to their irresponsibility is for the City to make immediate and urgent change.”

Advocate and SFBC member Patrick Traughber had this to say in a post on social media, including urging advocates to contact the proper elected officials:

His [Kevin Manning’s] death could have been prevented if we had protected bike lanes on the Embarcadero. The installation of those protected bike lanes has been in planning for years, but delayed. Please email Aaron Peskin and Ed Reiskin and ask them to finally install these protected bike lanes on Embarcadero. Their emails are aaron.peskin@sfgov.org, ed.reiskin@sfmta.com. … For more information about the history of delays getting these bike lanes installed: http://www.sfexaminer.com/cyclists-say-stalled-embarcadero…/. RIP Kevin.

This evening, advocates are planning a protest to demand improvements on Townsend Street, another long-delayed (and apparently now unceremoniously canceled) road-safety project. It will be tonight, July 10, from 5-7 p.m., at 5th and Townsend. Given Manning’s death, the Embarcadero is also going to be on the minds of protestors who are fed up with the delays and hand-wringing on essential city safety projects.

  • David

    It took 4.5 years for Golden Gate Transit to build its new bus stop at Perry & 4th in SOMA because of the city’s red tape. The fact that anything at all happens in San Francisco is shocking.

  • p_chazz

    Proposition E in 1999 created SFMTA by combining the Department of Parking and Traffic, SF Municipal Railway and the Taxicab Commission to create a de-politicized transit agency that was supposed to make things better. Sounded good at the time, but if anything, SFMTA is worse, much worse than the predecessor agencies! What we have now is a remote bureaucracy run by commissars who think they know better than everyone else and do not play well with others. Break up the SFMTA! Declare that it is a failure and break it up or reform it.

  • City Resident

    It is tragic that the pedicab driver died due to injuries sustained from simply doing his job. Since the SFMTA is moving too slowly to protect bicyclists, perhaps CalOSHA should step in? It’s my understanding that California banned smoking in restaurants and bars through state labor laws, as a worker protection measure. After workplace injuries and deaths, remedial steps must be taken. In addition to protected bike lanes, automated speed enforcement cameras are needed.

  • That is not the problem. Post-Prop E SFMTA has accomplished more safe infrastructure than pre-Prop E DPT, it just needs to be constantly and consistently improving.

  • p_chazz

    Correlation is not causation. The safe infrastructure was built because of an increased focus in recent years on investing in safe infrastructure.

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