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Thursday, October 6, 2022

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News + PoliticsUber drivers block the bike lanes

Uber drivers block the bike lanes

Ride shares make it almost impossible to ride safely along Valencia corridor on weekend nights -- and there's no law enforcement in sight

It’s getting hard to ride a bicycle along Valencia Street on a Friday night. There’s the usual traffic, of course, but now there are Uber and Lyft vehicles everywhere, swarming around looking to pick up and drop off passengers at the fancy restaurants, breaking traffic laws, making illegal U-turns in the middle of the street – and constantly, constantly, blocking the bike lane.

I see this almost every Friday, so I’ve started counting.

Blocking the bike lane, fully stopped, waiting for a passenger
Blocking the bike lane, fully stopped, waiting for a passenger

On January 22, as I was riding home at about 7 pm, I counted eight different ride-share cars parked in the bike lane. I stopped behind each one and asked the passengers getting in or out if it was an Uber or Lyft. Seven were Ubers; one was a Lyft.

Blocking the lane to discharge young, mobile passengers
Blocking the lane to discharge young, mobile passengers

A couple of times I told the drivers that parking in a bike lane was illegal; certain cabs, with the proper permits, are allowed to do that to pick up or discharge seniors and passengers with disabilities. These were all young, fully mobile customers.

And Ubers don’t have the legal right to stop in the bike lane anyway. The drivers either ignored me or, in one case, gave me the finger.

Speeding away from me after blocking bike lane to let off passengers
Hauling away from me after blocking bike lane to let off passengers

There always seem to be Parking Control Officers on Valencia during the day, ticketing people with expired parking meters. I have never seen a single one on a Friday night on Valencia. It’s as if the Ubers can just block the bike lane with impunity.

This isn’t just an annoyance; it’s a safety issue. If bike riders are constantly having to pull out of the lane and into (bad) traffic, there are going to be accidents, and people are going to get hurt. There’s a reason we have bike lanes, and a reason cars aren’t allowed to stop in those lanes and wait until a prospective ride-share passenger finishes their dinner and pays the check.

Of course, the minute I got my phone out to take pictures, some of these drivers hauled ass away, flying into traffic without even signaling or driving an entire block down the bike lane to get away from me. It’s not as if they don’t know they’re breaking the law.

But Uber made its fortune by breaking the law, so I shouldn’t be surprised that corporate culture seeps down.

For years, the city let the Google buses park illegally in bus stops while the PCOs drove right by and did nothing. It would be nice to see a little law-enforcement now.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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