Genentech shuttle drivers take course on how to safely navigate streets with bicyclists

A collaboration between a local tech company and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition may be seen as a positive step for some who have gone on the attack against commuter tech shuttles.

For biotech giant Genentech, courses offered by The City's bike coalition on professional driver education seemed like an excellent opportunity for Genentech's quarterly safety training, spokeswoman Lisa Slater said.

The company provides shuttles to help employees commute to its South San Francisco campus.

The company recently paid for bike coalition Program and Design Manager Eric Tuvel to attend its safety meeting, where 62 of 75 drivers with its shuttle operator, Compass Transportation, were taught about safety maneuvers such as how to make a right turn across a bike lane. Drivers were also informed on how to safely drop off and pick up passengers on streets with bike lanes and how bicycle infrastructure and merging lanes work.

Those who were not in attendance are required to make up the training.

“We would certainly do this or a refresher course again,” said Slater, adding it demonstrates Genentech's ongoing support for The City's Vision Zero policy to eliminate pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities by 2024.

Compass Transportation Account Manager Ken Ackermann noted Genentech has more than 800 active members in its bicycle club and called it a “win-win situation for all.”

The bike coalition launched its professional driver education program in 2012 with a series of classes educating new and veteran taxi drivers. Last year, the coalition partnered on a video teaching Muni operators how to best navigate the streets shared with bicyclists.

Of the four bicyclists killed in traffic accidents in The City last year, all were hit by operators of large vehicles. Given how most tech shuttles run during commute hours, when the bike lanes are most full, the training makes sense, said bike coalition spokeswoman Kristin Smith.

“We're in conversations and hope that companies will follow Genentech's lead,” she said. “And have more caution on how they use the streets with bikes.”

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