A One-Woman Mission to End Double-Parking in Bike Lanes

This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of our quarterly magazine, the Tube Times.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Member Dara Kosberg arrives at Caltrain by bicycle daily, and has had just about enough of drivers double-parking in the bike lanes on Townsend, which is one of the top 10 locations of double-parking violations in the city. So we caught up with Dara to asking what she’s doing about it…

You’ve been on a one-woman mission to stop shuttle buses from double-parking in the bike lanes near Caltrain. Why?
Every day I was getting more frustrated by the huge shuttle buses and taxis double-parked in the bike lane right near Caltrain on Townsend. It’s scary and dangerous to have to constantly move in and out of busy traffic to pass around these vehicles. Plus, I noticed that the buses often needed to move up only a few feet to avoid blocking the bike lane.

One day, I walked to work instead and saw a Megabus blocking the bike lane that could easily move up a few feet. So I took a deep breath and walked up to the driver with a big smile on my face. I told him how I usually bike and that it’s dangerous when I have to pass his bus in traffic. I asked if he could please just move his bus up a few feet. He smiled back and said, “For you, I will.”

The next bus driver I spoke with wasn’t quite as friendly, but he did eventually move out of the lane. I mentioned having taken a photo of his bus, and that may have helped.

I continued walking up the street and saw a traffic cop parked near the taxis, and knocked on her window. I told her what I’d been seeing and how dangerous it is — especially in the morning. I asked her what they did to enforce double-parking in the bike lane. She said they honked until the driver moved. I had to say something.

“Unless that guy gets a ticket and tells his friends he got one, what’s the incentive for him to change his behavior?” I asked. She seemed to think I had a point. Then, with perfect timing, we both watched as a shuttle bus pulled into the bike lane right behind us and blocked it. The traffic cop got out of her vehicle and walked over to talk to the driver. I didn’t stick around to see how their conversation ended.

What’s changed since you started knocking on bus doors?
I haven’t seen a Megabus blocking the bike lane in front of Caltrain as frequently, although I’m not sure that had anything to do with me. There’s also almost always a traffic cop around in the mornings now, which I hadn’t noticed before. So it’s definitely better. Perfect? No. But better.

What kinds of changes would you like to see on the streets in order for you to feel safer and more comfortable on your bike?
Protected bike lanes would probably make the biggest difference. It would also be great if people (especially Lyft and Uber drivers who seem like the biggest offenders) weren’t constantly pulling over in the bike lanes.

If you want to be like Dara and help fight back against double-parking, here’s what to do:

  • For shuttle bus violations, taxi cab violations and delivery driver concerns, please report them using sf311.org, call 311 or tweet @SF311.
  • To report unsafe parking behaviors by drivers of Uber, Lyft or Sidecar vehicles, please report them directly to the company, making sure to note the license plate and time.
  • You can also support the SF Bicycle Coalition’s advocacy to end double-parking in the bike lanes by becoming a member like Dara.

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