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Valencia Street

Open Letter: to Those who Object to Our Valencia Coverage

Streetsblog publisher responds to letters questioning the quality and integrity of our reporting and editorials on the Center Running lane

An 18-wheeler in the center-running bike lane. Streetsblog didn’t create this–SFMTA did that

Recently, we have become aware of letters sent to our colleagues at other Streetsblogs and funders from a group of people angry about Streetsblog SF’s coverage of the Valencia center-running bike lane over the past 10 months or so. Some of the letters have attacked our journalism and threatened our funding. 

Some of the people chose to write to me directly as the head of the non-profit that publishes Streetsblog San Francisco. I thank them for their openness and wrote a response. As I can’t guess everyone that has received a letter from them or someone else, I thought I would share my response, lightly edited to remove any identifiers, so that you can read it for yourself. If you feel so moved to support Streetsblog SF with a donation, there’s no better time than the present.


I understand that you and some other leaders of advocacy groups are frustrated with Streetsblog SF’s coverage of the Valencia center running bike lane debacle. A couple of days before the board voted to approve the design of the lane we had a phone call where we recognized that though we disagree on this project, there are still many ways that we can and should work together and be respectful of each other.

I would submit that as the center running lane has so far lived up to our worst expectations, that we have lived up to our word. The amount of angry and depressed emails we get from commuters and others that use the street has been overwhelming. We could literally run a daily short with new pictures of cars, trucks, police cars and, yes, SFMTA and other transit vehicles blocking the lanes. Near misses, unreported crashes and one tragic death have become a common theme in our inbox.

Sometimes, such as when the news broke of the person killed on Valencia, the coverage is more intense. Other times it is less so. But stories on the Valencia center-running lane pop up only when there is a major news story. 

The last time was over three weeks ago when Roger Rudick, editor of Streetsblog San Francisco, wrote a commentary entitled, “Let’s Talk About the Real ‘Fatal Flaw’ on Valencia” where he pleaded with advocacy groups to join their members in calling for a new design. Before the lane was put in, SFMTA’s own polling showed that this design was supported by less than one in seven people that responded to their surveys. Given the avalanche of bad news since then in major news outlets and local news websites; that number is probably lower today.

We did not cause this either. Image via SFMTA’s Mid-Valencia Pilot Outreach Summary, November 2022

In short, Streetsblog SF is not the cause of the pushback that is occurring from everyday users of the lane. The cause comes from cyclists who are choosing alternate routes deflating the number of people shopping at local business, large groups choosing not to renew memberships, or the litany of social media posts that sack the lane everyday.

Streetsblogs coverage is a reflection of how people feel.

As long as the lane remains, people will continue to be angry that SFMTA is needlessly putting their lives at stake. As long as groups continue to front for it, they’ll be facing backlash from their members. Stories in Streetsblog won’t and can’t make that disappear.

I wish you the best as you try to navigate this problem that SFMTA created for all of us. Believe me, we look forward to the day this is no longer an issue.

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