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Another Scooterist Sent to Hospital by Valencia Center-Running Bike Lane

Plus SFMTA Citizens' Advisory Council officially asks for its removal

A crash in October. Advocates have “preconceived notions” because they don’t want people getting hurt and killed while SFMTA experiments. Photo by “Josh” used with permission.

A scooterist was hit by a motorist making a turn across the center-running bike lane as an undeniable pattern has emerged about the dangers of the design. From Mission Local, which broke the story Thursday:

The woman was riding an electric scooter on Friday afternoon [Oct. 20] just before 3 p.m., when the driver of a Toyota drove into the painted green lane in the middle of Valencia Street near Sycamore Street, through a large gap between the bollards and bus lane curbs surrounding the bike lanes. 

“She screamed, and then you could hear a collision,” said a cyclist not far behind the woman at the time, who identified himself as Josh. He said the woman was conscious but “unresponsive.” 

Photos obtained by Mission Local show that the driver and passenger exited the vehicle, with the woman prone on the ground beside her scooter. 

Witnesses called for help, and the woman, who Josh described as “moaning in agony,” was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance. 

Although official data won't be available until next year, anecdotal reports indicate that this crash is at least the fourth serious collision since the center running bike lane was installed last spring.

There are undoubtedly more.

Meanwhile, "In the 57 months before the Valencia Center Bikeway was installed, there were 54 crashes involving a person on a bike or a scooter," over the same blocks of the street, explained advocate Luke Bornheimer, citing city collision data. There were also two pedestrian fatalities.

A common scene: first responders coming to the aide of a downed scooterist on Valencia last August. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

The takeaway: even based on incomplete crash data, the center-running bike lane already has a similar to higher injury rate than what it replaced. In other words, initial evidence is showing that the center running bike lane is not "better than nothing," the reason given to justify the installation in the first place. This is consistent with experiences in other cities with center-running bike lanes. Last April the SFMTA board approved center-running after it was falsely presented as the only available option for making Valencia safer.

Importantly, SFMTA's own evaluations show zero serious injuries on the section of Valencia from Market to 15th, since its traditional, Dutch-style curbside protected bike lanes were installed in 2019. On that section SFMTA's own data also shows a near elimination of double parking on the bike lane and a huge decline in close calls, coupled with a 50 percent increase in overall cycling numbers. And those improvements were evident almost from the day it opened.

Aaron Leifer, CAC Chair, addressing the SFMTA Board. Image from the SFMTA video feed/GovTV

It's because of these numbers that SFMTA's own Citizens' Advisory Council (CAC), a 15-member body, presented a resolution Tuesday, October 17, officially requesting that the SFMTA remove the center-running lane. "The SFMTA CAC recommends abandoning the current unintuitive and dangerous center running bicycle lane pilot on Valencia," Aaron Leifer, CAC Chair told the SMFTA Board of Directors during its regular meeting on October 17. "We've heard consistent feedback from cyclists that the middle bikeway is unsafe. They don't like it. They don't want to use it," he said in response to a question from a commissioner.

He added that cyclists want a protected bike lane on the sides of the street rather than the center, or that they want the street closed to through traffic.

***

Note from the editor: Many readers and advocates reached out recently to lend support and donate money to show their appreciation of our work. They have my gratitude and our promise to continue reporting on San Francisco streets through the lens of international best practices and safety, adhering to the principles that have guided Streetsblog's 17 years of covering the safe and livable streets movement.

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