Advocates Demand Protected Bike Lanes

Huge Rally for protected bike lanes on Howard, Folsom, and on all dangerous corridors

Eva Orbuch and Sasan Saadat, friends of Tess Rothstein, were among those who demanded protected bike lanes today at City Hall. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick
Eva Orbuch and Sasan Saadat, friends of Tess Rothstein, were among those who demanded protected bike lanes today at City Hall. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

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Over 200 advocates for safe streets turned out at the steps of City Hall Tuesday afternoon to demand protected bike lanes on all of San Francisco’s high-injury corridors. “What do we want?” shouted District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, “Protected bike lanes!” replied the advocates.

Among those to address the crowd were Eva Orbuch and Sasan Saadat, friends of Tess Rothstein, who was killed while riding her bike on the morning of March 8. “Tess ran out to get the bus–I caught the next one. Just a random event,” said Saadat, explaining that Rothstein caught the bus from Berkeley to San Francisco and then used a Ford GoBike to travel down Howard on her way to work–and how she was killed just before the start of the protected bike lane past 6th. “A random event and I’ll never get to see her again.” He demanded protected bike lanes in San Francisco so this kind of pointless, random death never happens again. “Such a simple change to save lives.”

Marta Lindsey and Jodie Medeiros of Walk S.F. were also there to demand safer streets with a banner showing the six people who have died just this year
Marta Lindsey and Jodie Medeiros of Walk S.F. were also there to demand safer streets with a banner showing six people who have died just this year

“We sat Shiva, telling stories of her,” said Orbuch, who also demanded completed, protected bike lanes on Howard, Folsom, and other dangerous streets. She wants city leaders to remember others killed recently, such as Russell Franklin, Kate Slattery, “…and so many others who have died on our streets.”

After the rally, the demonstrators headed into the regular SFMTA Board meeting to demand protected bike lanes are extended on Howard to 3rd–as was already on the board’s agenda–but also that protected bike lanes be added to high-injury corridors throughout the city. And that the SFMTA build them with urgency.

Scott Fay, who has been hit himself, in front of City Hall--with a cab parked on the unprotected bike lane on Polk
Scott Fay, an advocate who has been hit himself, in front of City Hall during today’s demonstration–with a cab parked on the bike lane on Polk to further illustrate why unprotected lanes don’t work

During public comment period, some 40 people expressed their grief and pleaded with SFMTA to take proactive action to prevent more deaths.

“Tess was one of the warmest and most gentle people I have known. I think what hurts the most is the utter dis-proportionality of what a wonderful person she was with how stupid and unnecessary the manner of her death was,” said one speaker at the meeting. “People are asking for a fully protected bike lane the full length of Folsom and Howard? We need a network of protected bike lanes in San Francisco.”

“We have made a tragic, unacceptable choice to build a bike system that is dangerously incomplete,” said Supervisor Haney, who also pleaded with the SFMTA Board to start building a protected bike network immediately.

The Board voted unanimously for SFMTA to extend Howard’s protected bike lane to 3rd.

“This doesn’t go far enough–all of Folsom and Howard need protected and we need a list of all streets that need protected bike lanes built throughout the city,” said the Bicycle Coalition’s Charles Deffarges, as part of his public comments.

Some 200 advocates came to the steps of City Hall this afternoon to demand protected bike lanes
Some 200 advocates came to the steps of City Hall this afternoon to demand protected bike lanes

Board Member Amanda Eaken and others asked that the city do more. Tom Maguire, Director of SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets Division, said that Howard gets more complicated east of 2nd, because it’s a two-way street. “We don’t have a specific plan,” he said. “We haven’t talked with stakeholders.” Eaken said she wants SFMTA to start a 90-day plan to rate the highest injury streets and to start putting in safety features, including protected bike lanes, as short term pilots–without necessarily doing full outreach. “We can’t be in a constant cycle of catch-up,” she insisted.

Meanwhile, in a join statement with Supervisor Haney, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition announced that over 300 people have emailed Mayor London Breed, the Board of Supervisors, and the SFMTA Board of Directors to demand the following:

  • Protected bike lanes for the full length on Howard and Folsom streets
  • Fast-tracked progress on our bicycling high-injury corridors citywide in the next year
  • A streamlined approvals process for protected bike lanes

During the meeting, Maguire pointed out that construction to extend Folsom to the Embarcadero will begin this summer.

But all of this is too late for Rothstein, whose friends have published a letter to the mayor and other government officials, demanding safer streets.

“We need real, citywide, proactive, trans-formative change,” said Janice Li, Advocacy Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “This is not about parking or the bike lobby. This is about life and death.”

Supervisor Matt Haney addressing the SFMTA board
Supervisor Matt Haney addressing the SFMTA board

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Public works paved the roadway to the left, but left the bike lanes full of cracks, dangerous furrows, potholes, and other defects. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted.

City Lets Cargo Way Protected Bike Lane Fall Apart

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As cyclists who use Cargo Way in the Hunters Point/Bayview neighborhood know all too well, the bike lane, once celebrated as San Francisco's first on-street protected bike lane, is in a state of disrepair, with broken pavement, a dangerous, tire-grabbing groove, and a busted fence. And in a stark display of how some city officials regard bicycle safety, the city repaved the adjacent car/truck lanes in August, but skipped the bike lane.