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Bike lane protest highlights hypocrisy of ride-hail use at Global Climate Summit

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Luis Geronimo, an MBA student at Wharton University of Pennsylvania’s San Francisco campus, high-fives bicycle advocates with People Protected Bike Lanes on Howard Street near the intersection with Third Street on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

While hundreds of protesters filled the streets to protest the Global Climate Aciton Summit’s broad, sweeping discussions over climate change, a smaller protest nearby made a far more focused point:

Why are so many people attending the summit arriving and leaving by ride-hails like Uber and Lyft?

A group of about twenty cyclists from the advocacy group People Protected Bike Lanes joined hands in a line down Howard Street near Third Street, near the climate summit, to symbolically and bodily protect cyclists from a mass of double-parking Uber and Lyft vehicles.

The Global Climate Action Summit has brought leaders, advocates and environmentalists from all over the world to San Francisco’s Moscone Center to discuss a warming world. But it’s not just the double parking and blocking of bike lanes beside Moscone Center that has the group irate, said its organizer, Matt Brezina, nor is it merely the lack of bicycle infrastructure nearby, even as world leaders from cycling-heavy countries visit.

It’s also the inherent hypocrisy of riding fume-emitting vehicles — cars — to a climate summit in the first place that has his eyebrows raised. Automobiles are the number one source of emissions in California and San Francisco, Brezina noted.

Bicycle advocates with People Protected Bike Lanes high-five a cyclist on Howard Street near the intersection with Third Street on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

“It’s a mess,” Brezina said, of nearby traffic. San Francisco “made the most half-assed accomodations for bike users — it is dangerous. And what awful priorities — we have leaders like Anne Hildalgo of Paris visiting,” he noted, at a summit “dominated by cars with no safe place for people to travel by zero emissions alternatives.”

Notably, the climate summit is a several-block walk from the most transit rich area of San Francisco — downtown — which plays host to Ford GoBike bikeshare stations, BART, Muni trains, Muni buses, red transit-only lanes to facilitate public transit’s swift movement removed from vehicles, and taxis, which are under clean vehicle requirements from San Francisco transportation officials.

Bicycle advocates with People Protected Bike Lanes demonstrate along Howard Street near the intersection with Third Street across from the Global Climate Action Summit on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Speaking of which, cyclists weren’t the only ones to decry the alleged onslaught of ride-hail vehicles at the climate summit.

Barry Taranto, an 18-year taxi driver who worked The City’s streets during the climate event, noted the swarms of Uber and Lyft vehicles presumably hailed by Moscone Center attendees.

“Lots of them [Uber and Lyft] using the transit lanes to pick up, and at the taxi stands picking up, they’re swarming all over the place. It’s kind of ironic to me climate change people are taking them, rather than the greener fleet,” he said, noting The City’s strict clean vehicle requirements for taxis.

“They’re not taking us, it doesn’t make sense,” Taranto said.

Bicycle advocates with People Protected Bike Lanes cheer on an enthused cyclist on Howard Street near the intersection with Third Street on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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