Following the death of cyclist Tess Rothstein, 30, who was killed by a driver in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood on the morning of March 8, city lawmakers and agencies have taken the first step to help prevent future deaths.
On Thursday, transportation officials with SFMTA began the process of removing parking on the north side of Howard Street between Fourth and Sixth Streets (the same block where the driver of a commercial truck killed Rothstein) to expand the bike lane and make room for more space between bikes and cars.
The temporary protected lane should be completed by April, according to SFMTA.
Agency spokesperson Paul Rose explained to San Francisco Examiner that additional temporary barriers, located between Third and Fourth streets, will be implemented after construction at Moscone Center and Central Subway is finished.
According to ABC 7, Rothstein was doored after a parked driver opened their car door, which caused her to swerve into traffic, where she was killed by the truck. This is called “dooring.” According to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, dooring is the two of the top causes of injury to people biking.
Prior to the removal of vehicular parking on Howard Street, Mayor London Breed spoke at a town hall at the LGBT Center. Answering a question from a resident asking what the city will do about expediting cyclist and pedestrian safety, Breed named bureaucracy and the competitive bid process as two reasons why the process took too long.
Breed continued, in part:
We have to make the right investments and be more aggressive about improving these particular intersections where we know there are real challenges.
We are not doing enough ground enforcement. I see people on a regular basis driving in ways that are very dangerous. We see the challenge with bicyclists as well. Part of it is trying to make sure we hold everyone accountable to respect rules of the law. But ultimately cars are the most dangerous.
We all have to take some responsibility, along with changes to infrastructure, to improve public safety for all citizens. this situation is heartbreaking ... and it could’ve been avoided.
Rothstein was 60 feet away from a protected bike lane when she was hit. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has asked city officials and SFMTA for protected bike lanes for the full length on Howard and Folsom streets, as well as a streamlined approvals process for protected bike lanes.