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Valencia Street

SFMTA’s Own Video Punks Valencia Center-Running Bike Lane

Video indicates SFMTA officials think they just need to educate people on how to use it

A still from the video. Note the turning car, which comes within just a couple of feet of the exposed cyclist. Believe it or not, the video presents this as a good thing.

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.

SFMTA dropped a six-minute instructional video on Friday, explaining to cyclists how to use the now-infamous center-running unprotected bike lane they installed on Valencia this past summer.

Advocates of all stripes were appalled by the video's implication, that the serious crashes that have occurred since the experimental lane's installation were a matter of people not understanding how to use it. Over the weekend the Tweet for the video was thoroughly ratioed, with about 43,000 views and over 50 comments as of Monday afternoon. Almost all of the comments were negative; many expressed outrage.

A Tweet from Maureen Persico, one of the founders of the People Protected Bike Lane movement in San Francisco.

"This video provides information on how to navigate Valencia street with the new safety measures installed, such as the center running protected [emphasis added] bikeway and several new traffic regulations that are part of the pilot design," goes the video's narration.

First, the narrator lies repeatedly and calls it a "protected" bike lane. There are no protective barriers--just a plastic curb that any car can easily mount and plastic posts that are designed not to damage or otherwise interfere with automobiles.

The video then describes how to navigate it as a cyclist mainly, but also as a driver, adding that U-turns and left turns are banned for motor vehicles. As we've documented, these turns happen continually and the video's not going to change that fact.

As Bruce Halperin points out in his Tweet above, clearly, if a street design is so confusing that it requires an educational video, it's failed. Besides, just look at the lead image, taken from the SFMTA's video, of a turning driver nearly clipping a cyclist waiting in the bike box. Going by the voice-over, the video makers apparently think having cyclists wait exposed in the middle of an intersection full of turning cars is a good thing.

Matt Brezina, the other founder of the People Protected Bike Lane movement in San Francisco, asked for people to be sacked in response to the video.

Meanwhile, successful, Dutch-inspired designs are intuitive and don't require an educational video. All they require are videos to show American planners and politicians who aren't familiar with them how they work. Those are the videos that SFMTA's Board of Directors and other politicians really need to watch.

As many people pointed out on Twitter, it's hard to believe the Valencia video isn't intentional self-parody. Maybe SFMTA staff made it because they're like a POW blinking in Morse Code, pleading for help from the bowels of One South Van Ness.

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