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Mayor promises spike in tickets for blocking bike lanes

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London Breed also pledged to double the city’s protected bike lane goals

A lone cyclist in the middle of a green protected bike lane on Market Street. Shutterstock

Mayor London Breed said that she will push the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to hand out more tickets to drivers who block bike lanes, promising a 10 percent spike in citations over the next six months in an effort to make cycling safer.

Breed also pledged to create 20 miles of protected bike lanes by 2021, twice the city’s previous stated goal.

“As our city continues to grow, we know we need more protected bike lanes, not only to keep people safe, but also to encourage more people to bike in the City and reduce congestion,” said Breed in emailed statement on SF Bike to Work Day.

The mayor also noted, “Since 2006, bicycling in San Francisco has almost tripled.”

According to the city’s most recent SF Mobility Trends Report, issued in February, cycling gains are, in fact, a bit more modest; SFMTA estimates that San Franciscans took approximately 53,000 bike trips each week in 2006. That figure jumped to 95,000 in 2017, but still down from a peak of 126,000 in 2015.

In 2006, the estimated figures for daily car traffic entering the city was 430,000; in 2017, SFMTA pegged that statistic at 456,000.

That’s moderate considering the city’s population growth during that decade; however, that figure is up more compared to the decade-long low point of roughly 360,000 in 2009 and 2010, shortly after the recession knocked the wind out of the regional economy.

According to the city’s most recent Safe Streets Evaluation report, SF added approximately 10 miles of new bike lanes in 2018, 5.5 miles of which were protected bike lanes—i.e., lanes with a physical barrier or obstacle of some kind between bike and car traffic.

In 2018, three cyclists died on San Francisco city streets (note that this statistic does not include state-owned roads like highways and freeways), compared to 15 pedestrians and five motorists.

That’s up from two cyclists deaths in 2017; according to data from the city’s Vision Zero program (a plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths on city-owned streets by 2024), the overall number of traffic deaths in the city is down significantly since the decade’s high of 34 in 2013, but the number of cyclist deaths, though a small percentage of the total overall, is mostly static since 2010, averaging 2.88 per year.

Of the ten recorded driver-related deaths so far in 2019, one was a cyclist.

The fine for blocking a bike lane is $132 in the current fiscal year. According to SFPD’s monthly citywide violations report, the city handed out 3,342 tickets for traffic crimes in February 2019, but the department does not break down the number of bike lane offenses.