A cyclist maneuvers around cars parked in an unprotected bike lane along Valencia Street near 16th Street in the Mission District. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Video study approved to assess Uber, Lyft impact on Valencia Street bike lanes

Unusable. Dangerous. A “battlefield.”

That’s how cyclists described Valencia Street in a Tuesday meeting of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, where $145,000 was approved for the Valencia Street Bikeway Implementation Plan.

The street is a hub of nightlife and shopping that draws thousands of Uber and Lyft vehicles every day. Cyclists contend that those vehicles illegally, and dangerously, enter bike lanes to pick up and drop off their passengers.

Now, The City will tackle that problem in what may be a years-long process.

As part of Tuesday’s approval, transportation staffers will record video of Valencia Street to see how often vehicles — particularly, Uber and Lyft drivers — impede bike lanes. Staffers will also study creating a protected bike lane for Valencia Street, and potentially changing loading rules for businesses.

The study was requested by Supervisor Hillary Ronen and aided by an additional $50,000 secured in The City’s budget by Supervisor Jeff Sheehy. Valencia Street borders the districts of both supervisors.

“Because of the proliferation of Uber and Lyft cars, and Valencia’s car culture, it has become one of the most dangerous bike corridors in The City,” Ronen said.

Potential “recommendations” from the report may even include targeted traffic enforcement of ride-hails on Valencia Street, according to an SFCTA staff report.

In that report, staff wrote they’d have final recommendations for moving forward somewhere between October 2018 and December 2018, though some short-term safety measures may be taken in the meantime, supervisors said.

More than a dozen public commenters decried unsafe conditions created by ride-hail drivers on Valencia Street.

“An Uber driver abruptly swerved in front of me,” said Paul Valdez, who has previously organized the Ride of Silence on behalf of cyclists killed in traffic collisions.

“Every day, I ride on Valencia [Street] I arrive at my destination shaken, scared and angry,” said cyclist Kelsey Roeder, who commutes on the corridor.

The Valencia Bikeway Implementation Plan spans Valencia Street between Market and Mission streets, which bends west just past Cesar Chavez Street, and sees more
than 60,000 cyclists trek its length daily.

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