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Protected Bike Lanes in San Francisco

Bike LaneThe San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has worked to promote a transformative change throughout the city to include dedicated and protected bike lanes. These proponents of a wide-sweeping change want a fully protected bike lane infrastructure to be implemented as quickly as possible. Requests for bike lanes in San Francisco have taken a front seat with biking advocates, and there are many that both support and oppose these measures. There is wide agreement that we need to continue building our network of bicycle lanes.  What is not so well settled is whether or not those lanes all need to be protected lanes—physically segregated from other traffic.  

Why Advocate for Bike Lanes? 

Bicycles are common throughout the streets of San Francisco, and with the increased traffic over time as well as the congestion, accidents can result in catastrophic injuries or death to bicyclists. With increasing bike riding in the city, though, there have also been increased accidents and deaths. As recently as March 8, 2020, Tess Rothstein was hit and killed while biking on Howard Street. Proponents of these new measures claim that a dedicated and protected bike lane will ensure that these types of accidents happen with less frequency, ultimately saving lives. 

If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam you have had a chance to see the benefits of segregated bike lanes.  The Amsterdam model is built on wide sidewalks, which had room to spare to carve out a bike lane. Maybe it’s the perception of safety in these lanes that explains why you see so few bike riders in Amsterdam wearing helmets. These bike lanes still afford curb parking.  Another benefit of this model is that the risk of a biker hitting a suddenly opened care door are eliminated.  Our approach to segregation is limited by our sidewalk space, and using a row of parked cars as the bulwark is awkward and less elegant than the Amsterdam mode. 

Opponents of Protected Bike Lanes Bicycle Riders Sign

With all the apparent safety and protection that dedicated bike lanes would bring to San Francisco, the question is why would anyone ever oppose these measures? In most cases, protected bike lanes wipe out any curb parking, as the two are mutually exclusive. Without a parking lane, many businesses lose traffic and business, as their customers would have no place to park in front of their business. Even the bike shop owner of Valencia Cyclery is opposed to the extensive establishment of protected bike lanes throughout San Francisco due to the impact it would have on local businesses. He points out that many customers bringing bikes in for repair do so in cars, and that new bike purchases often are made by customers who bring cars to take them home.  Clearly, having carved out bike lanes throughout the city would result in less parking and potentially less revenue for businesses, even businesses that directly relate to the bicycle industry.

Specific Demands 

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and other supporters have given three demands to the city and send these demands to Mayor London Breed, the SFMTA Board of Directors, and the Board of Supervisors. The three demands include the following: 

  • Protected bike lanes for the full length on Howard and Folsom streets
  • Fast-tracked progress on our bicycling high-injury corridors citywide in the next year
  • A streamlined approvals process for protected bike lanes

Accidents Involving Bicyclists 

Any accident involving a bicyclist and a motor vehicle will likely end up with the bike rider suffering substantial injuries or even death. Some of the common types of accidents between bicycles and cars include the following: 

  • Inattention or distraction of the driver of the motor vehicle
  • Failure to yield by the motorist to the bicyclist
  • Dangerous or hazardous road conditions
  • Dooring accidents (bicyclist runs into a motorist’s open car door)
  • Side swiping accidents (motorist does not recognize the proximity of a bicyclist and collides with the bicycle while changing lanes)
  • Rear-end accidents
  • Motorist crosses and drives directly in front of a bicycle
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • Drowsy driving
  • Speeding 
  • Reckless or negligent driving

Types of Injuries 

As those who have been involved in a bicycle accident know, the result is typically catastrophic injuries or even death of the bicyclist. Some of the common types of injuries that cyclists receive when involved in an accident with a motor vehicle include traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, fractured bones, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, aortic dissection, concussions, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, bruising, cuts and lacerations, sprains, skin damage, or even death.

To Be Determined 

At this point, the way that all the new dedicated bike lanes throughout San Francisco will play out is still up in the air, and proponents of these measures are advocating for the safety of bicyclists through the establishment of protected bike lanes. Whether or not most or all of our bike lanes will end up being segregated remains to be seen.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident on a bicycle due to someone else’s negligence, you may have the legal right to receive compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, and lost wages. To obtain the largest settlement possible, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys who handle a wide variety of personal injury matters. Call our compassionate legal team today at 415-541-0300 to schedule a free personal consultation in our San Francisco office.  Or, if you prefer, send us a confidential message and you will receive a prompt response.  

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