What can we do to prevent bicycle accidents in SoMa neighborhood?

Cartwright - August 22, 2013 - Bicycle Accidents, Blog

This year, there have already been three fatal bicycle accidents in San Francisco — all in or near the city’s South of Market neighborhood, and all involving large commercial trucks. In each case, according to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the driver faced neither criminal charges nor traffic citations.

In response — and in anticipation of more trucks on the streets due to planned new development — the coalition is calling for change in SoMa. In an open email to the mayor, the group’s executive director this called for immediate, effective safety measures to be put in place.

“SoMa is changing dramatically, becoming a neighborhood where people live, work and visit,” she added. “It deserves to have streets that are more than just freeway on-ramps.”

Just last week, a 24-year old woman was struck by a commercial truck as she rode was riding her bike on Folsom Street. She was in the bike lane but the driver, who was not cited, hit and killed her as he made a right turn.

Action needs to be taken both immediately and in the long term, the coalition contends, if we hope to reduce bicycle accidents. As a quick fix, bike lanes needed to be painted bright green, at least on the most hazardous stretches of Folsom, in order to increase awareness of the growing number of cycling commuters, and to make those bike lanes more obvious to drivers.

To bring greater visibility on the issue to commercial drivers, the coalition calls on the mayor to appoint a staff member to work directly with commercial fleet operators to get the word out on the bicycle safety issues particular to San Francisco — the already-tight space, the growing number of cyclists, and the city’s plans for additional development in the city, especially in SoMa. The city could, for example, ask fleets to install convex mirrors on large trucks to increase drivers’ ability to see bicyclists and make bike safety courses mandatory for truckers — just as they are for taxi drivers.

For its part, the mayor’s office says it believes more needs to be done to prevent bike accidents, and it generally agrees with the proposals recommended by the coalition.

San Francisco is a uniquely bike- and pedestrian friendly city, as long as they don’t mind hills. We can’t move forward with healthier, more environmentally-friendly ways to commute, however, unless we are willing to keep them safe.

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