And More Traffic Violence on Valencia

This driver allegedly assaulted a cyclist on Valencia. Image: from Michael Hardy's twitter
This driver allegedly assaulted a cyclist on Valencia. Image: from Michael Hardy's twitter

Michael Hardy was cycling back from the gym Wednesday on Valencia when he left the bike lane for a third time to get around double-parked cars. “I live around 24th and Valencia. Rode down to the gym at 18th. I was riding back at 3:45 p.m. As usual, there are cars parked in the bike lane: Ubers, pickups, dropoffs, Caviars, DoorDash.”

The driver of a blue Honda got impatient with him riding in the vehicle lane. So impatient, in fact, that as Hardy was struggling to get around yet another double-parked car, the motorist raced up at him, coming within inches, screaming out the window for Hardy to “stay in the God Damn bike lane.” Then the driver “threw something at me, rocks or something,” Hardy told Streetsblog. “I was like whoa, this guy is crazy.”

Hardy pulled out his phone and did his best to get some video, but without a dedicated bike camera, much of the incident wasn’t recorded. However, at three seconds in it’s clear the driver threw something at Hardy (meaning it’s an assault).

“Then he pulled into the bike lane and got out of his car.”

At that point Hardy forgot about continuing to record the video, fled between some parklets, and went into Valencia Subs, a restaurant near 22nd, seeking refuge. Fortunately, the driver didn’t follow him in.

“I haven’t had anybody get so violent before. Normally it’s just  a lot of shouting and stuff,” he told Streetsblog. Hardy, who’s lived and biked in San Francisco for some six years, will be filing a police report shortly. Meanwhile, he has a message for Supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Hillary Ronen, whose districts encompass the street: “We’ve got to make Valencia Street safer. It’s just too dangerous. I’m glad we have bike lanes, but we have to take it to another level.”

The other level he’s referring to is to have protected bike lanes on the length of Valencia from Market to Cesar Chavez. Of course, this is something the city has promised over and over and over again and, save a short pilot project for a few blocks, repeatedly failed to deliver. The latest news is there will be more outreach meetings this summer and construction will happen before the end of the year.

Pardon this editor for not believing anything he doesn’t see actually installed on the ground.

Meanwhile, before San Francisco, Hardy lived in Berlin, where he worked as a translator for many years. “When I biked in Berlin I can’t recall ever getting emotional. I can’t recall ever being afraid,” he told Streetsblog. “Nobody wears helmets over there because you don’t need them.”

He explained that in Berlin bike lanes are at sidewalk level, painted red to clearly delineate them from pedestrian space. However, “You’re not on the street with cars at all. And you see people of all ages riding over there, kids and people over 80.”

A sidewalk bike lane in Berlin. Photo: Streetsblog NYC/Aaron Naparstek
A sidewalk bike lane in Berlin. Photo: Streetsblog NYC/Aaron Naparstek

On Valencia, and in San Francisco generally, he remains concerned about the uneven and sometimes nonexistent action by some politicians to curtail the epidemic of traffic violence. He’s especially concerned a family is going to get killed by a motorist such as the one he encountered. “I see mothers with their kids riding up there on their cargo bikes, all the time. I just feel like, I need to speak up more about these things, me collectively, as bicyclists we need to make our voices heard and not wait for someone to get killed,” he said, audibly frustrated. “Maybe the politicians haven’t heard us or don’t understand how serious this is?”

In the meantime, Hardy said he’ll be getting a bike camera to better document such incidents.

Hardy on a Sunday social ride, which he leads.
Hardy on a Sunday social ride, which he leads.

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A bike commuter high-fives an advocate for protecting him on the southbound Valencia bike lane during a May protest. Streetsblog/Rudick

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