Cyclist’s death renews bike coalition’s push for safety improvements in SoMa

After another bicyclist was killed in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood last week — the fourth cyclist death in SoMa this year — a bicycle advocacy group took to the streets today to call on the city to make safety improvements.

A group organized by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition gathered at 14th and Folsom streets and handed out cards to passing bicyclists that were addressed to Mayor Ed Lee.

Cyclists signed the cards, which will be delivered to the mayor to encourage him to expedite projects that would increase protections for cyclists and pedestrians in the neighborhood.

“Stop with the endless planning and take action,” said Kit Hodge, the coalition's deputy director.

Today's event came after 78-year-old Cheng Jin Lai was hit and killed by a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus on Friday while riding his bike at Bryant and 11th streets.

Three other cyclists have been killed in the city this year, all in the same neighborhood.

An outreach event similar to this morning's was held in August at Sixth and Folsom streets following the death of 24-year-old cyclist Amelie Le Moullac at that intersection.

Hodge said many of SoMa's streets are treacherous.

“They're big and wide and fast,” she said.

She said that while the city recently approved changes to improve safety along Folsom Street — one of the main thoroughfares for bicyclists — “there are many places that are still dangerous.”

Jon Athan, who was riding his bike to work in SoMa, stopped by the Bicycle Coalition's tent this morning to sign a card.

“It's something people have been talking about," Athan said. “It's pretty clear that something needs to be done.”

He said that painting certain bike lanes green, as has been done on portions of Market Street, can help improve safety.

“It makes it as obvious as possible that bikes are coming down the road,” he said.

Deborah Cohen, who lives in Noe Valley and was also biking to work this morning, said she has been spooked by the recent spate of cyclist deaths in the area.

“It's really scary,” she said. “I've been biking slower.”

Cohen said cyclists also have to be responsible on the roadways.

“We have to be a part of it, being aware and stopping at intersections,” she said.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is holding an open house meeting this evening to show the public what changes are being made to Folsom Street.

The SFMTA's pilot project calls for a buffered bicycle lane and other changes on Folsom Street between Fourth and 11th streets. The redesign is scheduled to be implemented by the end of the year.

The open house meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the SoMa Recreation Center at 270 Sixth St.

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