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Checking in with SF’s Bicycle Advisory Committee

The BAC from the, uh, front. Photo: Streetsblog

Bike crashes on the tracks at 17th Street, double parking, and turn signals were just a few of the issues discussed at last night's monthly meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) at San Francisco City Hall.

Streetsblog readers may recall the BAC meets on the last Monday of every month, hears reports from various city agencies, and gives recommendations to lawmakers. Shortly prior to the meeting, Streetsblog chatted with the board's chair, Bert Hill, who is also a bicycle safety instructor. He said he hoped to convince the board and a representative from the police to recommend adding turn-signaling as a priority for Vision Zero. "There's virtually no signaling by motorists," he griped.

The meeting started with a presentation by Kevin Edison, a Sergeant at SFPD's traffic collision investigation unit. His commander was in the process of breaking down and classifying statistics on last year's traffic fatalities, which he said numbered 44.

"Signaling saves lives and it should be a big component of Vision Zero, because of the possibility of prevention," said Hill to Edison and the board. "But the last time I checked, there were statistically no citations for failure to signal."

Edison said he hoped the new statistics would help provide such information. Hill also mentioned the problem of bicycle crashes on 17th Street, which SFMTA has started to address. Paul Wells, the committee's representative for District 11, said the problem wasn't the train tracks, but SFPD's lack of enforcement. "It’s double-parked cars," said Wells.

Hill described a now-infamous video, showing a woman crashing her bike on the tracks, with two children on board, after trying to navigate around a double-parked car. "It was a horrible thing; we’re hoping we can do something about people double parking," added Hill.

Edison said that meetings like this one helps SFPD better focus its energies. The sergeant also mentioned an incident over the weekend where a motorist crossed the double yellow line and crashed head-on into a cyclist, who was hurt but is expected to recover. "The motorist was arrested," he added.

Dave Navarrete with the Department of Public Works addressed the problem of potholes, which are much worse because of this year's winter storms. "Potholes are popping up all over," he said, encouraging the committee and the public to call 311 or even email him directly at dave.navarrete [at] SFDPW.org when they find dangerous potholes. "Best if we can get pictures... let us know if it’s past the intersection or before, [and] north, south, east, or west." He also said to do it immediately upon encountering a pothole, to eliminate the likelihood of forgetting where the pothole is located. "It’s so much more productive if I pull over and call [it in right away]."

Melyssa Mendoza, who represents District 6, asked if DPW could be more proactive about cleaning bike paths and lanes. She mentioned that the McLaren Park bike lanes and the bike lanes on Alemany always have debris and broken glass.

Mendoza, Hill, Wells, and Catherine Orland of District 10 also expressed concern about ongoing issues on the Hairball. Wells was especially concerned that the lights aren't being maintained under the freeway. "It’s very dark... people are frustrated calling it in to 311," said Wells.

Lastly, Rick Goldman of BART's Bicycle Advisory Task Force presented efforts to make stations and trains more bike friendly. As Streetsblog readers may have noticed, BART has been attaching bike straps in the bicycle storage area on its trains as an experiment. "And we asked people to comment; ninety percent of the feedback was positive, " he said, "with a slight preference for the buckle over the Velcro strap."

He said BART's police force is focusing on bike theft and gathering data to improve enforcement. With about a year's worth of data, they could see that "most of the bikes stolen [from BART stations] are locked with cables," he said, but that "25 percent were locked with U-locks." He also mentioned that a small percentage were stolen from bike lockers. "We had four arrests in the past couple of months; the overall trend is dropping." The station with the most bike thefts is Dublin/Pleasanton, with 19 bikes stolen over the past year. The worst station in the San Francisco is Civic Center, with 13. BART is also working on design guidelines for bike channels on stairs.

The group talked some more about concerns on the Hairball and about looking for more endorsements for the proposed Panhandle bike lanes, before adjourning around eight.

All in all, it was a productive meeting that seemed effective at keeping the lines of communications open between advocates and the different city agencies. The question is, will the city agencies follow through? Either way, Streetsblog thanks these dedicated volunteers for working hard to foster more livable streets.

Bert Hill and Catherine Orland posed for Streetsblog after the meeting. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Bert Hill and Catherine Orland posed for Streetsblog after the meeting. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
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