As San Francisco’s Vision Zero campaign struggles to reduce traffic deaths, a sobering video posted last week of a bicycle crash along Valencia Street provides yet another reminder of the City’s significant safety challenges. On Tuesday, March 29th at about 5:40 PM, a female bicyclist traveling on Valencia between 18th and 19th Streets was hit by a car. Luckily, the victim appeared to only suffer minor injuries.
The video reinforces the fact that even San Francisco’s “safe” streets aren’t safe enough. Valencia is one of San Francisco’s backbone bicycle corridors, and it has served as one of the City’s success stories for road diets and streetscape improvements. Yet, Valencia’s unprotected bike lanes remain unsafe: on average, a bicyclist is injured by a vehicle about 22 times a year – nearly every other week. The vast majority of these injury crashes are preventable if people bicycling were physically protected from cars, as opposed to a line of paint.
While San Francisco has moved toward installing more protected bicycle lanes on streets like Second Street, it also continues to build unprotected lanes on critical corridors such as Polk Street. Safety is frequently compromised for on-street parking, extra lanes of traffic, or larger design vehicles like the oversized SFFD truck shown in the video. Sadly, crashes like these have been accepted by City leaders as a normal occurrence when they are entirely preventable with better design and enforcement.