Dividing Lines: Cyclist Deaths Require Changes That Won't Come Soon Enough

Two weeks ago, 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac died when she collided with a big rig in SOMA. She isn't the first cyclist to be killed in that neighborhood this year: Dylan Mitchell, 21, was struck and killed by a garbage truck as he pedaled along 16th Street and Van Ness Avenue in May; and Diana Sullivan, 44, died after a cement truck hit her as she biked along Third and King streets in February.

The biking tragedies underscore a scary reality: Not even streets with designated bike lanes are safe for cyclists.

Recently the San Francisco civil grand jury recommended that Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors "support SFPD efforts to successfully enforce roadway laws by adopting a San Francisco Bicycle Enforcement Safety Agreement that would pursue the goals of zero bicycle fatalities and a 50 percent annual reduction in bicycle collisions."

That's certainly a fantastic goal, but is it possible? The first step to preventing future deaths might be separating big vehicles and bicycles.

The San Francisco Bike Coalition has launched a campaign called Safe SOMA Streets Now, urging the city to do something to improve Folsom Street and the rest of the neighborhood for cyclists. The updated Folsom Street plan will definitely improve safety conditions for cyclists on the road; it won't, however, include segregated bike lanes.

That seems like a missed opportunity to improve safety and make a route more comfortable for cyclists; the SFMTA reported that most cyclists felt unsafe on almost all roads, except those with segregated bike lanes.

As many neighborhoods like SOMA transition from a recent industrial past to the current milieu of commuter, residential, and commercial traffic, our streets will have to change. For many who have to ride down busy, high-speed roads like Folsom, the change can't come soon enough.

 
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