Uber Drivers “May Choose” Whether or Not to Endanger Cyclists

Just another Uber blocking the bike lane on Valencia. But according to a company message, now they can "choose" not to do this. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Just another Uber blocking the bike lane on Valencia. But according to a company message, now they can "choose" not to do this. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

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.

Frustrated by Uber drivers blocking bike lanes? The company has informed its drivers that they “…may choose to avoid pickups or dropoffs in bike lanes.”

This was communicated via an email sent out Friday to Uber drivers (it was forwarded to Streetsblog by a tipster):

The graphic from an email sent Friday to Uber drivers (forwarded to Streetsblog by a tipster)

Got that? Uber wants its drivers to know they have the option of not endangering cyclists. Or they can continue to break the law. Apparently to Uber, it’s their choice.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Brian Wiedenmeier reacted this way in an email to Streetsblog:

The SF Bicycle Coalition has been pushing Uber and Lyft for years to take some responsibility for the safety of people who bike. With tens of thousands of additional vehicles on San Francisco’s streets everyday, it’s encouraging to see some steps like this email being taken. The contradiction in wording here (“it is against the law” vs. “you may choose to”) is consistent with both companies’ inability to require their drivers to do much of anything because of their employment status. The more they direct drivers to do or not do certain things, the stronger the driver’s case is that they are employees, not contractors. It’s certainly been a frustrating barrier when it comes to driver education.

Streetsblog reached out to Uber public affairs to ask why they are telling drivers that they “may choose” to avoid pickups and drop-offs in bike lanes, rather than simply telling them they will be deactivated if they break the law and endanger people?

“We believe awareness is critical and it starts with education to encourage safe practices by both riders and drivers to help ensure the safety of everyone on the roads. We know there is more work to do and we are continuing to work with bicycle coalitions and road safety advocates on ways we can help contribute to safer streets,” replied a spokesperson for Uber.

Bike East Bay’s Robert Prinz, meanwhile, writes that Uber’s failings are a symptom of a larger problem with how the state licenses drivers. “Ride-hail driver training hasn’t been our focus in part because there is so much turnover, and nothing more than the state driver training standard required. As such, for more consistency there has to be increased…training requirements on the state level to apply to ride-hail operators or preferably to all drivers.”

“Although this is a step in the right direction, and it appears that Uber is making efforts to educate their drivers about the rules of the road, they are still riding a fine line by not mandating that their drivers avoid (un)loading in the bike lane altogether,” wrote Catherine Orland, former District 9 representative to the SFMTA’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and a longtime bike advocate who was instrumental in documenting bike-lane violations on Valencia Street. “If Uber continues to abdicate their responsibility to properly train their contractor drivers, how does this bring our city any closer to accomplishing Vision Zero?”

  • John Doe

    And? Literally none of that has anything to do with cyclists not following the laws.

  • John Doe

    Oh I see. So it’s ok to not follow the law if it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    Because failing to use hand an arm signals won’t cause a car to run into you, or cause them to slam on their brakes or swerve, which could cause an accident.

    How fucking short sighted can you possible be?

  • John Doe

    Wow… great counterpoint. Go fuck myself for wanting someone to obey the law. How old are you, 12?

  • John Doe

    … which has nothing to do with cyclists failing to obey the law… except they might not get hit as often…. go figure

  • John Doe

    There are things called “police,” and they routinely ticket motorists for disobeying the laws… yet don’t ticket cyclists… go figure.

  • John Doe

    If you came to a stop, you wouldn’t need your left hand on the brake anymore, would you? I mean, you’re stopped. And you have a rear brake to keep you from moving again….

    Go figure.

  • DesertRunner

    And they’re all pedestrians… Bikers have a reputation for a reason, though. For too many bikers, “share the road” means “get out of my way, @#*!#@, I have to win my virtual Strava race”.

  • MatthewEH

    Disingenuous whataboutist concern-trolling is a terrible look. Blocked!

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    John Doe: If you are going to claim the words and practice is synonymous, at least spend the effort to look the words up in the dictionary… Merriam-Webster (the dictionary recommended by all style guides for American English) even has a website.

    Per Merriam-Webster, Possible: being within the limits of ability, capacity, or realization. Practicable: capable of being put into practice or of being done or accomplished : FEASIBLE

    Merriam-Webster is has synonym guidelines for the words: POSSIBLE, PRACTICABLE, FEASIBLE mean capable of being realized. POSSIBLE implies that a thing may certainly exist or occur given the proper conditions. a possible route up the west face of the mountain PRACTICABLE implies that something may be effected by available means or under current conditions. a solution that is not practicable in the time available FEASIBLE applies to what is likely to work or be useful in attaining the end desired.

    So in a nutshell, a cyclist riding as far to the right as possible means riding within a foot of the curb. A cyclist riding as far to the right as practicable means positioning himself far enough left of the curb to avoid rocks, broken glass, standing water, pavement damage, gutter pan, and parked cars. It also means riding in a way that he can be seen by motor vehicles. Such positioning means lane positioning further left to be in the main field of view of the motorist.

  • John Doe

    I’m confused… are you agreeing the words are synonyms after seeing them listed as synonyms in the dictionary?

  • John Doe

    a worthless argument about the bike organization bitching about rideshare instead of encouraging cyclists to obey the law… got it.

    And that deserves what you said to me?

    Lmao and then you block me as if I insulted you somehow?

    Whatever you say, snowflake

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    The wording of the various states laws is very specific as “Practicable.” And yes, “…shit in the gutter?” is one of the reasons.

    But at this point I am going to stop feeding the troll. It is obvious that you are following Earl Landgrebe’s mentality “Don’t confuse me with facts: I’ve got a closed mind.”

  • John Doe

    Lmao. A closed mind?

    You’re fucking arguing semantics because you have no real argument.

    One foot from curb is gutter. Gutter is not street. So show me where “when riding in the street, ride to the right as humanly possible” means ride in the gutter… because you wouldn’t be on the road anymore genius.

    See, I can do it too.

    Fucking moron.

  • Geek__Girl

    Evil can take many forms. A bad pastiche of Snidely Whiplash from “Dudley Dooright” is usually not one of them.

  • Guy Ross

    Just as nothing about ride shares blocking the bike lane and endangering cyclists and pedestrians has anything to do with cyclists stopping at stop signs.

    Didn’t stop you!

  • thielges

    One of the clearest examples of a situation where the two words have different meanings for bicyclists is when riding in a narrow lane next to parallel parked cars. While it is possible to ride within a few inches of the cars, it is not practicable. Though it is possible to ride that close, if you do that as a matter of practice you will eventually get doored and end up at the hospital. So in that situation the law allows for bicyclists to ride further to the left and out of the door zone which on some streets positions the bicyclist in the center of the lane.

  • p_chazz

    Calling Uber “evil” simply because you disapprove of its business model is just an ad hominem attack, and a sophomoric one at that.

  • James White

    The key problem is that we haven’t designed our cities for these sort of things. It’s not just uber but the food delivery, UPS and FedEx, et al. We all want these services yet we haven’t designed the urban environment to safely handle them.

  • crazyvag

    Sure it does. When drivers fail to yield, people tend to die.

  • John French

    If I’m turning left at an intersection where I have the green light, I might never actually come to a stop, but I need to be ready to do so in case of oncoming traffic or pedestrians in the crosswalk.

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