Who's to Blame
In a letter in the Oct/Nov 2001 Tube Times, an SFBC member writes: "I think the vast majority of bike accidents could be prevented by the bicyclist... I challenge the SFBC to lead the way in training and monitoring the behavior of city bicyclists with a goal of a 50% reduction in accidents."
The bandwagon of people who'd like to blame the bicyclist is getting pretty crowded. Personally, I would modify the above quote to say:
I think the vast majority of bike-car collisions could be prevented by the motorist. I challenge the San Francisco Police Department to lead the way in training and monitoring the behavior of city motorists with a goal of a 100% reduction in bike-car collisions. I suggest a policy for motorists that might do it: Hit a bike, go to jail.
Don Harvey Executive Director, Orange County Bicycle Coalition
Against the Flow
The idea of a "contra flow bike lane" on Polk Street between Grove and Market Streets is a hazardous and unnecessary proposition that will make an already difficult intersection a nightmare. Larkin Street is a safer, easier approach to the Civic Center, takes only a minute or two longer, does not endanger others who must anticipate merging traffic from Fell Street, or driveways, as well as jaywalkers, and red light runners.
Encouraging cycling against traffic sends the wrong message. If city hall legislates away the concept of "right of way," how will you negotiate through scores of oncoming cyclists and scooters who will often use both sides of the road, sometimes in darkness, in rain, and without headlamps? How will the faulty party be determined when accidents need to be resolved? Do we need this chaos?
I believe encouraging cycling anarchy in the vicinity of city hall will have a ripple effect and riding habits throughout San Francisco will further decline.
Let's not compromise safety over convenience. Let's all ride safe and encourage others to do so.
Clearly we need a better connection between the major bike routes of Market and Polk Streets. Unfortunately the current situation on these two blocks of Polk encourages unsafe behavior, as many people ride on the sidewalk, endangering pedestrians, or ride against traffic, endangering themselves. Contra-flow lanes have been used in many other cities successfully to improve safety and without encouraging "cycling anarchy." We intend to research these examples to find the best approach for Polk St. -Ed.
Bread and Mirrors
I'd like to share two aspects of SF cycling that have added to my biking enjoyment recently. The first is a fabulous addition to the Inner Sunset, Arizmendi Bakery, on 9th Avenue between Irving and Judah. It's a cooperative that welcomes bikes inside and offers all customers who cycle or take public transportation there a 10% discount on their wonderful breads, pastries, and pizzas. Next time you're carbo-loading in the area, stop in—you won't have to worry about locking up your bike!
Second, using a rear-view mirror is a habit I took up on summer bike tours with my husband that has become as second nature to me as strapping on my helmet. Riding Ocean Avenue to work has been a real squeeze with all the road work that's happening there, and using my back mirror (which attaches to my ear piece on my glasses) helps me anticipate from behind as well as ahead. I can't imagine riding without it—the $12 investment has already helped me negotiate a few sticky situations and some vehicles that haven't gotten the message about giving cyclists the lane when necessary. I firmly believe that this mirror is at least as important to a cyclist as it is to a motorist.
Send your Letters to the Editor to Tube Times, SFBC, 1095 Market Street, Suite 215, San Francisco, CA 94103, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.