Furious and Fed up, Protesters Protect Three Blocks of Howard

Heart-broken cyclists, fed up with the weak city response, again demand all of Howard and Folsom get protected bike lanes now

Protesters did what the city hasn't--protected the eastern blocks of Howard. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated
Protesters did what the city hasn't--protected the eastern blocks of Howard. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19 at 12:30 p.m., there will be a demonstration for protected bike lanes held on the steps of City Hall. Afterwards, protesters will attend the SFMTA board meeting to demand protected bike lanes on Howard, Folsom, and all high-injury corridors

The bike lane on Howard, from 1st to 3rd, was protected on Friday evening by cyclists and supporters of safe-streets who, once again, put their bodies in the street for an hour to protest the dangerous conditions that cost the life of Tess Rothstein on March 8. It was the second Friday in a row protesters stood on Howard.

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Riders on Howard during Friday’s protest

How many people showed up to stand on the line and form another people-protected bike lane?

“It was really hard to count. We had people so far spread out.  I ran out of shirts 15 minutes in–and we have 100 shirts,” wrote Matt Brezina, one of the organizers of the protest. “We also had a lot of people join for part and then pass their shirt to a newcomer later in the event. People such as my brother’s wife Whitney was there with her two kids, but they supported from the sidewalk as she didn’t feel comfortable standing on the line with kids. We had several other people who joined on the sidewalk but didn’t stand on the line because they found the road too scary (really says something doesn’t it).”

A near-hit at a mixing zone. Protesters also want SFMTA to do away with dangerous mixing zones and poorly designed intersection treatments
A near-hit at a mixing zone. Protesters also want SFMTA to do away with dangerous mixing zones and poorly designed intersection treatments

Indeed it does say something. It says that people are fed up with the carnage and death followed by a reactive, partial response from the city–people such as Anthony Ryan, seen two photos down, who was hit on Ocean. Or people such as Bill Couch, three photos down, who was hit on Valencia. “Three people killed biking on Howard in less than three years: Tess Rothstein, Russell Franklin, Kate Slattery. 🌳🌳🌳Thousands ride Howard daily. Join this Friday 3/15 5-6pm on Howard at Fremont. Tell the city ALL of Howard needs Protected Lanes NOW! pls retweet,” wrote the organizers of the protest on twitter.

To SFMTA’s credit, some additional parking was removed and more protected bike lane was installed in record time after Rothstein’s death, but why does it always take a death to get some action, the protesters demanded to know? And then why is it always only one stretch here or there, instead of an ongoing, urgent effort that can really save lives?

The rallying call was simple: “Life > Parking”.

Under the bridge ramp sat stacks of unused Jersey barriers that could be used to create a safe bike space overnight, but simply aren't.
Under the Salesforce Transit Center ramp sat stacks of unused Jersey barriers that could be used to create a safe bike space overnight, but simply aren’t by a city that can’t seem to get its priorities straight

Life is greater than parking. It seems as if that should be mathematically obvious, but to too many city leaders, it’s anything but.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Examiner is reporting that more than likely, there will be no charges for the woman who doored Tess Rothstein.

More pictures and images of Friday’s protest below.

SFBC organizer Charles Deffarges and Anthony Ryan stand on the line Friday
SFBC organizer Charles Deffarges and Anthony Ryan stand on the line Friday
Bill Couch, seen holding the sign, was hit while riding his bike on Valencia
Bill Couch, seen holding the sign, was hit while riding his bike on Valencia
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Protesters protecting the lane from 1st to 2nd
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Matt Brezina thanks the troops after the protest and invites them to take a ride to Valencia
Cyclists waiting to ride across __STREET?
Cyclists waiting to ride across 2nd Street
  • brezina

    Cyclists and Scooterists! We had quite a few scooter users join us on the line & for the ride. Protected lanes are for everyone who rolls without the protection of a cage or the exhaust of an ICE. Thank you for showing up and reporting on this movement. The post-PPBL ride and hugs from friends were restorative for me personally after a tragic week. Protected Lanes NOW

  • p_chazz

    I’m guessing that the reason that bike lanes aren’t done in an “ongoing, urgent effort” is probably because that would take money, and would have to be planned into the budget, which is a lengthy process, whereas smaller projects can be done more quickly.

  • xc ❄

    It’s Bill “Couch” not “Counch”

  • Roger R.

    Thanks. Fixed.

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