Video shows ‘reckless’ drivers ignoring bike lane in Bay to Breakers traffic

Viral tweet prompts calls for protected bike lane on Folsom Street

Video of drivers swerving into a bike lane on Folsom Street is grinding the gears of cyclists on social media.

People who bike often have to deal with drivers ignoring bike lanes, but cyclists said traffic from Sunday’s Bay to Breakers event elevated the problem to a whole new level.

“This isn’t a bike lane. This is a planning disaster,” tweeted Brad Williford, who captured the traffic crush on his helmet-mounted camera.

The video showed car after car swinging into the green-painted bike lane on Folsom Street, as the drivers tried to escape traffic from the annual cross-town footrace. Drivers seemed to ignore the bike lane altogether, and run through it like a regular auto traffic lane.

The Twitter video garnered more than 56,000 views as of noon Monday and prompted calls for the installation of a protected bike line. The video drew the attention of District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents South of Market among other neighborhoods.

“It’s insane,” Haney told the San Francisco Examiner. “It’s reckless and dangerous to put people in that situation.”

Williford, a software engineer who shared the video, not only rides a bicycle for his commute but sits on the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors.

Williford told the Examiner that a physical barrier like vertical posts could help people on bikes stay safe on Folsom Street. He also said swapping the parking and bike lanes on nearby streets to provide protection for cyclists has “made a night and day difference.”

Bad drivers aren’t just an annoyance — there has been one cyclist fatality at Folsom and Sixth streets, according to SFMTA, as well as 88 pedestrian injuries and 72 cyclist injuries in traffic collisions.

The SFMTA says about 59 percent of collisions occur due to unsafe motorist behaviors, including speeding, running red lights, and encroaching on the pedestrian right of way. About 42 percent of collisions with cyclists are T-bone collisions.

That data has prompted the SFMTA to plan protected bike lanes for Folsom Street, slated to finish between 2021 and 2023, with concrete buffers planned to protect the bike lanes from scofflaw drivers.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said, in a statement, “We are aware of the challenges here and have plans to complete a protected bike lane along the full length of Folsom Street. Project approval is pending SFMTA Board action tentatively scheduled for June.

He added, “Installation requires relocation of the overhead trolley bus wires, so cannot be done as quickly as several other recent protected bike lane projects. Following approval this June, we will identify opportunities to advance the wire relocation work as quickly as possible.”

But Williford is hoping SFMTA and The City can provide some temporary changes to protect the bike lane while people await the full project to be complete.

That’s something the SFMTA did on Howard Street after the death of Tess Rothstein, 30, of Berkeley, who was struck and killed by a truck driver while she was on her bicycle commute.

“Even some quick, basic changes like putting more posts and better paint could make a big difference,” Haney said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of areas in my district like this, where we put out bike lanes but they’re not complete, with cars weaving in and out.”

Even places with commitments for full bike lanes need “urgent, immediate” changes, Haney said. He added that Walk SF and the SF Bicycle Coalition are going to convene a District 6 safety summit to identify similar streets that need safety treatments nearby.

Williford and other people who bike are in luck: The City’s “Fix-It Team” replied to his viral tweet and said “this is a fix-it zone we are working in, we will follow up on post installation to protect the bike lane.”

One street down, hundreds to go.

joe@sfexaminer.com

This story has been updated to include comment from SFMTA.

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