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Guerrilla Groups Instituting Bicycle Safety Measures On Dangerous San Francisco Streets


Every cyclist who has ever ridden around San Francisco’s Mission District knows that its streets are some of the most treacherous in the city.

In particular, Valencia is known for being a hotbed of dangerous conditions for cyclists. Every day, as cyclists attempt to make their way down the road’s bike lanes, countless numbers of cars, buses, and commercial vehicles randomly and dangerously pull over into Valencia’s bike lanes for use as de facto parking spots.

Of course, this causes cyclists to then have to swerve into traffic to avoid crashing into illegally parked cars — or worse, stop short or veer at sharp angles at the last minute to avoid being pushed into the line of parked cars by vehicles suddenly pulling into their lanes.  

Several bike advocacy organizations have attempted to bring awareness to the dangers posed to cyclists on this street, through petitions and proposed policy changes and data tracking, in order to make it safer for the street’s most vulnerable vehicles.

However, nothing has changed.

And that is why SFMTrA, a guerrila-safety group that operates to make San Francisco’s streets safer for cyclists, decided to take a slightly bolder approach.

SF Streetsblog reports:

“On Monday, Streetsblog joined the SFMTrA, a guerrilla-safety group that glues down safe-hit posts in trouble spots throughout the city, for a pre-dawn installion on Valencia between 17th and 14th.

Thanks to the SFMTrA, delivery trucks–at least when Streetsblog was there observing on Monday morning–had started making deliveries from the center median lane. When the posts were in place, Streetsblog saw cars and trucks slowing and making safer right turns, because they had to avoid the safe-hit posts.”

If you aren’t sure what a “safe-hit” post is, they are the white posts that stand about 3 feet tall, that sometimes line San Francisco streets and corners. Their purpose is to keep cars, trucks, and buses moving safely in their designated space on the road and not encroaching on the space saved for cyclists and pedestrians. Here is a photo of one:

Guerrilla Groups Instituting Bicycle Safety Measures On Dangerous San Francisco Streets

They are called safe-hit posts because they are designed to be safe for cars to hit, so that they are reminded to stay in their lane without actually damaging their vehicle.

And despite SFMTrA’s newly installed safe-hit posts actually doing the job of keeping cars out of the bike lanes on one of San Francisco’s most dangerous cycling streets, by the end of the day on Monday, the SFMTA had already removed them all.

Streetsblog SF says:

“[Monday] afternoon, the posts were gone–and everything was back to its dangerous and dysfunctional normal. Now that there are no longer posts at the corner, cars and trucks were sweeping quickly across the intersection of 15th and Valencia.”

The SFMTA spoke out about why they removed the fake-but-effective safe-hit posts. “Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA, said it’s because safe-hit posts can get knocked into the travel lane if there isn’t a buffer space,” reports Streetsblog.

However, Streetsblog argues:

“SFMTrA members–and Streetsblog–don’t find that a credible justification to preemptively remove them, given that they are called “safe-hit posts” because they are safe to hit! Ask cyclists if they’d rather thread around an occasional bent safe-hit post or a constant stream of parked cars and delivery trucks blocking or driving in the bike lane. Furthermore, SFMTA’s spokesman is talking about a theoretical problem–but people being hurt and killed by cars violating bike lanes and making unsafe turns is far from theoretical.”

While fighting for bicycle safety measures to be introduced to protect cyclists on San Francisco’s most dangerous streets can sometimes feel like shouting into the dark, the city’s responses to initiatives like this one means that they are aware of the demand for improvements. So what will it take for them to actually take action?

If you want to learn how to take action to protect cyclists, contact one of your local bicycle coalitions. You can see which ones we support here, to get an idea of where to get started.

And if you have been injured while riding down Valencia Street — or any other Bay Area street where you should have been better protected and able to ride your bike safely — contact Bay Area Bicycle Law today. We are here to help.

You can get a free, no obligation consultation with an experienced lawyer who specializes in bicycle law and bicycle crash cases just by calling 415-466-8717. Find out how you can get help and get back on your bike.