Well, this is some serious bullshit.

SFMTA Officially Allows Taxis to Block Bike Lanes

A memo from Deputy Director of Taxi Services Christiane Hayashi and Accessible Services Manager Annette Williams says the agency is issuing bumper stickers to taxi drivers telling Parking Control Officers not to cite them.

Taxis stopped in bike lanes are already a routine danger for bicyclists in San Francisco, and legitimizing the practice could encourage more of it. When blocked, bicycle riders are typically forced into passing motor traffic or between parked cars, where drivers or taxi passengers may open doors in their path.

Condoning such a dangerous practice seems incongruous with the SFMTA's policy goals of improving the safety of bicycling in the city.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the organization "has real concerns about the agency's confusing policy regarding taxi pick-ups and drop-offs in bicycle lanes, which seems to invite conflict and unsafe conditions."

Previously, previously.

Tags: , , ,

30 Responses:

  1. james says:

    The text of the memo says loading/unloading *disabled* passengers.

    Small hope that they cite the rest of the taxis stopped in cycle lanes, or doing any number of other stupid/illegal things.

    • Matt says:

      No chance in hell, the taxis just got handed a free ride. Having said that, this seems like possible lawsuit material for the first cyclist injured - assuming a sharp lawyer would be willing to push it. I'm not in SF, and some cities are easier to sue than others...

    • jwz says:

      Read it again, it's everybody.

      They are *also* allowed to cross the barriers into *divided* bike lanes, which basically exist only on Market St., for the handicapped.

  2. steve says:

    I officially authorize bicycle operators to put their U-locks through the windows and mirrors of cabs that do this. Take that, Ms Deputy-Director-of-Taxi-Services.

    • Ingmar says:

      Putting locks through windows seem a bit harsh, but I'd applaud any cyclist riding over the cab, Dan MacAskill style. Please do this and provide footage.

    • pavel_lishin says:

      I was going to go snarky with this, but erased it. That'll just piss everyone off, and convince them that bicyclists are immature jerks who don't deserve even bike lanes.

      • N says:

        No, that's not how it works. SF bike lanes were stalled for a long time in the early 90s, with remarkably sudden progress after Critical Mass got ugly enough to topple a paddy wagon. Physical power trumps politeness, and bicyclists who are angry enough to risk arrest get a lot more attention than bicyclists who are whiny but afraid of pissing anyone off. Sad but true.

  3. joe says:

    If ever there was a morally-justified reason to key a car, this is it.

    Just don't get run down by the driver when he flips out.

  4. Ian Young says:

    You could always move to Portland and open a strip club.
    ...Though... I wouldn't go to a strip club named "DNA Lounge".

  5. 205guy says:

    I thought the city was all about making more revenue-generating ticketable offenses, not less. After this, the city should go after delivery trucks that park in the right-most lane (either bicycle or regular) to make deliveries. After all, there are yellow delivery spots everywhere, never more than a half-block away. UPS is basically abusing the public space to deliver its packages--the feds should give the package monoply back to the USPS.

    • In general, yes. In this specific case, it's a safe assumption that the taxi drivers union has compromising photos of pretty much everyone in city government. No decision this city has ever made regarding taxis makes sense under any other scenario.

  6. Dean Clark says:

    I agree with most statements in this blog. Please note that the taxi drivers have no real union in San Francisco. Passengers of taxi's and drivers in unison came together to make this movement happen with the SFMTA. I think bicyclists should fight back, maybe form some protests or write letters or call Chris Hyashi at the SFMTA and voice there concerns. The MTA board meets every Tuesday ay City Hall, come speak up about this change through a democratic process. The SFMTA has been asked for years to provide pick up and drop off spaces throughout the city, however parking meters are much too important to them. I think we should have safety first and revenues second for the SFMTA.

  7. Niczar says:

    It would be safer to get rid of bike lanes entirely. I don't know how they are in SF, but here in Paris they're mostly death traps, especially those with dividers. It's safer to ride right in the middle of the street — at least you're visible, and less likely to hug a car's door.

  8. Mark Ballew says:

    I voted to support this measure. The issue is that the SFMTA was about to get their pants sued off by the ADA, which nearly always wins. Accessible Services did what they could in this case with out reach to taxi drivers about how to handle bike lanes and disabled passengers. Before this, taxi drivers would get bike lane tickets that would exceed their daily wage. Every taxi driver is a small business owner and lives hand to mouth.

    Not everyone who his disabled may appear to be so, and you can't legally ask someone what their disability is. Many disabled passengers can barely travel 20 feet with assistance, and so they need curb access. Some disabled people are even former cyclists that have been injured! I sat and listed to all these paratransit users for hours, and this solution is the best way.

    • jwz says:

      This is bullshit in so many ways I don't even know where to start.

      I'll leave it as an exercise for the peanut gallery.

  9. gryazi says:

    Wow, you CA hippies get dedicated delivery-truck parking zones and such?

    I will tempt fate by wondering... what happens if you move the bike lane to the center of the street (preferably protected by ... something protective that doesn't obstruct visibility - so this is a fantasy, right?). While high-speed traffic is scary and dangerous, it seems like all the complaining from your side of the planet is re: door prizes and being forced out of the dedicated lane by relatives of the door prize.

    If you put the cyclists in the middle and use those headstart streetlights some places have, doesn't that actually make the to/fro smoother subject to finding a crosswalk when you actually reach your destination?

    • jwz says:

      Crossing N lanes of traffic to get to the bike lane does not sound like an improvement to me.

      • gryazi says:

        I'm imagining the crosswalks would work as on/off ramps to the bike system and inadvertent-pedestrian-staging-area in the median under that layout, so it would be a matter of crossing the same lanes pedestrians have to at the designated crossings, with the annoyance of having to walk it +/- a block to the ultimate destination. Of course dividing medians make things even more inconvenient for motorists unless left turns are impractical anyway, and this idea can't really apply to one-way streets.

        My chunk of The Sprawl is fond of having 3 lane per direction thoroughfares with classy undecorated chunks of curb/island dividing them (the rationale being that hanging a motor-vehicle left through 3 lanes of traffic outside a controlled intersection would be suicidal and the curb encouraging the moneyed class to buy Suburbans so they can try), and these naturally see some use as central sidewalks, so the thought occurred to me. On the other hand, I had the joy of my only motor vehicle accident at just such an intersection, where I was distracted checking for pedestrians on all sides and the other driver was distracted by her cellphone and one of the above misread the light or location of the stop line.

        (Having a barricaded bike street in the middle would improve on that if it would discourage pedestrians from choosing to cross through/around stopped traffic instead of in front of them, because else a driver is stuck making sure no one's angling across or meandering through behind them - goes for mid-crossing pedestrians or cyclists trying to get to a visible position at the front of the intersection both - and at risk for popping up to get clipped by a mirror, or about to step out into the area the 'bike box' would be in if there were a central bike box. And if the bike box were painted an annoying slippery blue or green, it would create more contrast to actually detect people, and encourage people to empty that space before vehicular traffic gets the go-ahead to swing a controlled left through a corner of it... that would happen to be the same place pedestrians trying to make it through the crosswalk against traffic emit from.)

    • Art Delano says:

      In downtown Vancouver a couple of the one-way streets have the leftmost or rightmost lane replaced by a bike path that is barricaded from motor traffic with curbs and massive concrete flower boxes. The bike path even has its own yellow line, traffic lights and signage.

      It's a more functional solution than lane splits and mixed traffic designs that force cyclists to decide whether to aim for the parked car, pedestrians, or oncoming traffic.

      General acceptance of this requires thinking of bikes as real vehicles and not toys, though.

      • gryazi says:

        That's awesome when you can pull it off - rather than making a P.S. to my post above, I imagine the advantages are diluted in a city where the one-ways are massive and both sides are lined with buildings with parking (so the divided lane would have to be cut every 10 feet and you'd still have motorists who don't know how to signal constantly swinging across in front of you / motorists launching from subterranean ramps with poor visibility shooting to a stop across the lane).

        Brutalist architecture, and its retarded cousin the 100% space-maximized office block, turns out to pretty much suck for everyone. The redeeming quality of my neck of the woods is that there's no reason for the density except property values (dirt is not limited, just expensive), so between every 5 generic office not-quite-towers giving you mostly blank wall or dark parking garages to look at you get a preexisting storefront business that remains profitable enough to have not been demolished for something worse. Or a vacant lot that nobody has felt like paying for yet.

  10. Julian says:

    Disclaimer: bicyclist here, in Canadian cities less used to bike traffic than SF.

    When lanes are as nice as in the picture, allowing cabs to stop there is obvious bullshit. But when lanes are as unsafe as in [previously], it doesn't matter because I wouldn't ride in such a lane anyway (engineering standards should make such lanes illegal, seriously). Actually I think it's better for the taxi to block the bike lane than stopping just outside, because a naive rider could be tempted to stay in the bike lane, pass on the right, and risk being hit by the passenger opening the door without looking. It's safer for the rider to look for traffic and pass on the left. BUT delivery trucks that are larger and (can) (un)load from the rear should not be allowed there. More important to fine those for me.

    Anyway, cabs can already use and stop in bus lanes in almost every city in the world that has bus lanes, so don't expect miracles for bike lanes.

    And anyway, I do not think segregating bike / car traffic is always that good when the bike lane is between parked cars and moving cars. There is the right turn issue, cyclists don't get used to traffic, and car drivers don't get used to cyclists. When there are bus lanes, allow cyclists where buses have room to pass over (and buses can move out of their lane if there are no fixed obstacles).

    Elsewhere, actually enforce a minimum distance for a car to pass a cyclist at speed (where speed means faster than walking). In France there is a legal requirement of 1m (3') in towns, 1.5m (5') in the country, and IMO it should be made greater than that (add 2') so the police can enforce clear violations on sight.

  11. Hex says:

    Try moving to London! Here they build "cycle superhighways" (read: lanes with blue paint on) and in many places you can park your car in them.

    Now that's thinking out of the [bike] box.

    *sob*