SFMTA needs to educate the public about merging right turn lanes with bike lanes

Posted by concerned cyclist :

SFMTA needs to spend some of their PR funds on educating the public on the proper ways to merge right turning traffic with bike lanes at intersections. They also need to re-stripe the bike lanes and post signs so that motorists and cyclists know that right turning cars and cycles are supposed to merge as they approach an intersection. Cyclists should either queue up behind right-turning cars, or pass them on the left, (NEVER ON THE RIGHT) when it is safe to do so. There are plenty of signs indicating bus and right turn only lanes, but no signs indicating the same for bike lanes. Most people are probably unaware of Vehicle code section 21717.

Vehicle code section 21717 obligates cars to merge into bike lanes when making right turns in the presence of a bike lane. Unfortunately, most drivers do not know this, and try to avoid the bike lanes entirely, which results in them crossing the bike lanes to makes their turns at the last possible moment. Often their right turn signal is either missed or ignored by the cyclists who is passing on the right on their car without regard to their intention to turn right into the intersection, crossing the bike lane.

Drivers violate VC 21717 by right-hooking the bike lane instead of mixing and merging. They mistakenly believe they are forbidden to merge into the bike lane (despite the dashed lane marking near intersections). Uninformed cyclists exacerbate the problem by squeezing between the car and the curb even when the car is doing the right thing. Some cyclists verbally abuse drivers in the bike lane near intersections when drivers are merging as required by law.

The Bicycle Coalition, in its taxi-driver training class, tells the cabbies that “If a cyclist can fit between your cab and the curb, you’re not close enough.” Everyone needs to get this message.

Studies on bicycle path designs and risks analysis

Posted by concerned citizens : 

Since 2000 Polk Street has had sharrows from Post Street north to Union Street and designated bike lanes from Post Street south to McAllister.  According to the SFMTA, over the last 5 years or so there have been twice the number of bike accidents on lower Polk where there are designated bike lanes than on upper Polk where there are sharrows:

Geary to McAllister (6 blocks)  37 bike accidents
Clay to Geary (7 blocks) 18 bike accidents
Union to Clay (7 blocks) 14 bike accidents

Most bicycle accidents in San Francisco, including Polk Street, occur at intersections.  Will the addition of a designated bike lane from California Street north to Union Street and a raised cycle track from California Street south to McAllister Street decrease or increase the number of accidents on Polk Street?  Where is the research to show the SFMTA’s new plans will improve bike safety on Polk Street?

Wikipedia:  Segregated Cycle Facilities

Cycle path collision risks:

Studies showing greater benefits:

A large study undertaken by S.U. Jensen et al.[35][36] into the safety of Copenhagen cycle tracks before and after they were constructed concludes “The construction of cycle tracks in Copenhagen has resulted in an increase in cycle traffic of 18–20% and a decline in car traffic of 9–10%. The cycle tracks constructed have resulted in increases in accidents and injuries of 9–10% on the reconstructed roads. The increase of accidents and injuries increased at intersections while decreased mid-block.”

Studies showing greater risks:

A Danish study by Agerholm et al. in 2008[50] concluded that “Through the years many studies have shown that bicycle paths in built-up areas impair traffic safety. A new Danish study presented in this article confirms these results… the main results are that bicycle paths impair traffic safety and this is mainly due to more accidents at intersections, and that there has been no improvement in the design of new bicycle paths compared to the older ones.” . . .

A statistically significant increase in the total number of injury accidents by 10% was found. It is mainly caused by a significant increase of 18% in the number of injury accidents in intersections.

Why would the SFMTA want to implement a design that has been shown to increase intersection bicycle accidents?  If bicycle accidents increase, will the SFMTA have an excuse to build more bicycle infrastructure?  See, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3802069.ece  

Should the MTA install cycle tracks that give unskilled bicyclists a greater perception of safety but which are known to increase the risk of intersection accidents?

Should the City and County of San Francisco be held liable for intersection accidents arising from this design defect?