Time to mandate bicycle licenses

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Bicyclists in San Francisco should have to register their bike, obtain a license and carry a minimum amount of liability insurance — the same requirements for driving a car.

We have one set of roads long dominated by automobiles. But as a growing number of bicycle commuters assert political power to get their own lanes, they need to put some skin in the game. If cars and bikes are going to share city roads — which is where the future is headed — the responsibility for safe co-existence should also be shared.

Mandatory registration, license and insurance could ease ongoing resentments between cyclists and motorists. Cyclists will get more protection while motorists will be glad they aren’t alone in being held accountable on the road.

Before protesters on bikes jeer at me for suggesting this idea, they should know I’m pro-bike. I even rode my bike 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles for charity. I share a car with my husband but mostly take public transportation and walk — and we live on the westside, in the “suburban” part of town near Stonestown Mall, where cars and parking spaces are still abundant.

Before my neighbors accuse me of undermining westside entitlement to drive and park, they should know I support putting parking garages with ground floor retail in neighborhood business districts.

And before transit-first urbanists get mad, they should know that I’m an advocate for investing in the subways and transportation infrastructure we regret not building decades ago. But until we get that world-class transportation system, we can’t pretend Muni is the Paris Metro…(more)

Good arguments for sharing responsibility for safety on the streets. Good reason for a balanced transportation plan. Very good idea to phase in the changes. The pace of change is largely responsible for the anger on the streets.

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SFO taxi protest causes gridlock, headaches

By Kale Williams : sfgate – excerpt

A taxi driver protest against ride services such as Uber and Lyft caused gridlock and a lot of headaches at San Francisco International Airport on Monday night, officials said.

The cabbies wouldn’t pick up riders and were blocking lanes starting about 9 p.m., SFO duty manager John Gintry said, and travelers reported long backups coming into and going out of the airport.

Signs were posted on many of the taxis reading, “This vehicle has full-time insurance, ‘TNCs’ (transportation network companies) do not!”

Flyers were distributed among many of the cabbies by the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance with instructions for the protest, telling them to circle the terminals from about 9 to 11 p.m… (more)

SF Green Cab Business On the Edge of Collapse

By : MissionLocal – excerpt

Mission-based Green Cab’s 16 cabs are currently idle because they cannot find an SFMTA-approved insurance company willing to write them a policy and if they don’t find one in the next couple of weeks, the seven-year-old company could cease to exist.

“The more time passes the more difficult it is going to be,” said Mark Gruberg, one of the founders of worker-owned company. “To me it’s a bureaucratic Snafu. The situation is dire.”

Green cab’s insurance provider declined to renew its policy because the company has had two bad accidents in the past three years. Moreover, even if they do find an insurer, the SFMTA’s requirement that cab combines have a high rating may still doom its future.

Other smaller taxi companies could face the same problem in coming months as its policies are also set to expire, Gruberg said… (more)

SF exploring ways to regulate ride services like Uber, Lyft

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

As many as 4,000 rideshare vehicles are on San Francisco streets during peak times, according to Supervisor Eric Mar.

San Francisco city officials are exploring whether they have legal authority to regulate transportation services such as Uber or Lyft as the taxicab industry continues to complain about impacts to revenue, safety and disability services.

Supervisor John Avalos said Thursday that he is working with the City Attorney’s Office to explore a legal case for imposing certain local regulations.

“We’ve gotten to almost a crisis mode,” Avalos said. “We cannot let [the taxicab] industry fail.”

The so-called transportation network companies emerged out of a movement known as the sharing or peer economy, even though nothing is technically shared since the services cost money. Their growing popularity has created controversy, including with the traditional taxicab industry, which is held to stricter regulatory controls… (more)

Drivers for Uber, Lyft stuck in insurance limbo

by Ellen Huet : sfgate – excerpt

…It wasn’t a car accident that caused Adrian Anzaldua to quit driving for Lyft – it was the fear of one.

The 27-year-old started driving full time for the app-based car service in October but quit in December after hearing anecdotes that raised questions about his insurance policy.

“I looked into this whole situation more closely because it seemed too good to be true,” said Anzaldua, who lives in San Francisco’s Mission District. “I read a couple accounts online of people who had gotten into accidents while driving for Lyft. They had their coverage denied, so they were stuck with a totaled car. I said, ‘I’m not driving until I figure out the insurance situation.’ “… (more)

Cab Drivers Gathering License Plate Intel on Uber, Lyft, & SideCar

By Rachel Swan : sfweekly – excerpt

After vehemently contesting a recent media report saying a mass exodus of cab drivers are headed to app-based, car-hire startups, the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association this week decided to make it clear that cabbies are still the victim in this business battle.

Namely, it’s vastly outnumbered. After collecting license plate data from cars bearing the trade dress of a Transportation Network Company (TNC), the association says the ratio of car-hires to cabs is about 3,400 to 1,800 — roughly 2 to 1.

“We’re trying to show these TNCs are a big safety issue in the streets of San Francisco,” SFCDA director Trevor Johnson tells SF Weekly before launching his litany of complaints.

He says companies including Uber and Lyft say they’re creating efficient transportation when in reality, they’re creating traffic snarls. They say they’re being green when they’re really flooding the roads with cars. They say they’re improving safety when they’re really encouraging more people to troll the streets looking at their cell phones… (more)

Uber’s Motion to Dismiss SF Taxi Drivers Suit Defeated

Posted by The Brandi Law Firm Blog – excerpt

On November 20, 2013, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court rejected Uber Technologies attempts to throw out a suit brought by San Francisco taxi drivers seeking compensation for unfair completion from Uber.  The taxi drivers all drive vehicles that comply with the legal requirements of the CA PUC and SFMTA including one million in insurance per vehicle, police background checks for drivers, and vehicle inspection safety checks.  The drivers contend that Uber competes unfairly in that it has not complied with the regulations for carrying passengers for hire.

In his Order, Judge Goldsmith wrote:
“The Court declines to invoke the doctrine of judicial abstention as to the first cause of action for unfair business practices, fourth cause of action for accounting, and fifth cause of action for declaratory relief.  The instant case is distinguished from Alvarado v. Selma Convalescent Hospital (2007) 153 Cai.App.4th 1292, where the court found judicial abstention appropriate where it was called upon to oversee nursing hour requirements and regulate complex health care matters on a class wide basis involving several classes of health care providers.  The gravamen of this instant case is statutory interpretation with no regulatory or administrative implications… (more)