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Documents reveal which streets SF is considering for Uber, Lyft curb pilot

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Mayor Ed Lee struck a deal with Uber and Lyft to pilot converting curb space into passenger loading zones in exchange for trip data. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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A list of areas where parking spaces may be converted into Uber and Lyft loading zones has been narrowed to eight streets across The City, from the Marina District and Hayes Valley to the Inner Sunset and Fisherman’s Wharf, according to documents obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.

Of those eight streets, one will see the concept test-driven and perfected before it rolls out citywide.

Mayor Ed Lee wants to pilot creating curb spaces in one neighborhood for Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up and drop off passengers in an effort to sharply reduce dangerous double-parking. Cyclists, drivers and pedestrians say their lives are endangered when ride-hails swerve into other lanes to pick up passengers.

Part of the plan would potentially see some streets “geofenced,” which would electronically restrict where Uber and Lyft drivers could pick up passengers from within the app itself.

In exchange for use of curb space, the ride-hail giants would hand over driver trip data to help The City ease traffic congestion that drivers have said is exacerbated by Uber and Lyft vehicles double-parking.

If the pilot successfully mitigates dangerous traffic behaviors, the plan could become a citywide phenomenon; for now, it remains in early stages while detailed negotiations between the ride-hail giants and San Francisco proceed.

A review of draft plans, email communications and city-created maps reveals where transit officials, Uber, Lyft and the Mayor’s Office are considering launching the pilot.

Those streets are Hayes Street between Laguna and Gough streets in Hayes Valley, Clement Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues in the Inner Richmond, Irving Street between Eighth and 10th avenues in the Inner Sunset, Chestnut Street between Scott and Fillmore streets in the Marina District, 24th Street between Castro and Church streets in Noe Valley, Bay Street between Powell and Columbus streets in North Beach, and perhaps Howard Street — either between Second and Fremont streets or Third and Fourth streets — in South of Market.

Uber vehicles are seen in a traffic jam on Hayes Street in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood Monday, November 27, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

One or two locations will be chosen from this list of potential streets, sources with knowledge of the discussion told the Examiner.

Neighbors in these areas expressed a range of feedback on the potential pilot, from tentative excitement to outright opposition.

“It’s a problem, there’s no question,” said Paul Bosco, owner of Lucca Delicatessen on Chestnut Street in the Marina, referring to double-parking Uber and Lyft vehicles. His customers frequently complain about a lack of parking, he said.

“I’m not saying to do the whole street,” Bosco added, “But if there’s one zone for Uber, Lyft and a passenger zone, I think it could help.”

Andrew Foy, general manager of Bay City Bike Rentals & Tours on Bay Street, another potential ride-hail curb pilot site, said he would welcome the pilot if it meant his bike-renting customers would no longer need to dangerously navigate around double-parked Uber and Lyft vehicles.

“It’s more of an issue in other parts of Fisherman’s Wharf where it’s tough to ride, and there aren’t places to pull over,” he said. “It makes it less safe for our customers.”

Jason Henderson, a San Francisco State University professor of geography who specializes in urban transportation, has raised concerns at Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings over the proliferation of ride-hail vehicles near the One Oak development project in Hayes Valley — coincidentally, near another potential Uber curb pilot site.

“Attracting Uber and Lyft to this stretch of Hayes Street is impractical to me,” Henderson told the Examiner. “We need to be saying we’re a transit-first city, not an Uber-first city.”

However, draft plans from The City show many of the pilots were chosen in neighborhoods where Uber and Lyft vehicles already pick up and drop off passengers in large numbers. The City argues this is a way to lessen the impact of ride-hails where they already are.

A passenger loading zone is seen along 4th Street near Howard Street in San Francisco, Calif. Monday, November 27, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

“With the concerns expressed by the community, I made the request we use Hayes Valley as the location for the pilot,” Board of Supervisors President London Breed told the Examiner. She said constituents frequently tell her Uber and Lyft vehicles gum up traffic in the neighborhood.

Speaking to a potential Uber and Lyft curb pilot in the Marina District, Supervisor Mark Farrell said he is “open to any ideas, or pilots, that will improve safety and reduce traffic congestion” but said robust community outreach is needed first, as well as “binding commitments” from ride-hail companies.

Supervisor Sandra Fewer also said a “community process” is necessary before considering the pilot in the Inner Richmond District. Supervisor Aaron Peskin did not return requests for comment.

As recently as Nov. 3, Gillian Gillett, director of transportation policy for the Mayor’s Office, convened a city staff meeting to discuss possible locations for the experiment.

Her email and other draft documents reveal just what data The City may ask of ride-hails like Uber and Lyft, as well as further details on the plan than officials have previously revealed.

The City wants Uber and Lyft to provide data on the number of pickups and dropoffs at various intervals in the provided city curb spaces, data on the number and location of instances when ride-hail drivers slam their brakes while driving, raw GPS data of vehicle locations, vehicle collision data and wheelchair accessible trip data, among other information.

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