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New report urges cyclists, motorists to get along

May 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thursday is Bike to Work Day. Wednesday, a timely report was released by the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury urging bicyclists and motorists to get along through more education about the rules of the road and more enforcement by police.

The Grand Jury's report is called "Sharing the Roadway: From Confrontation to Conversation." The jury found that motorists see cyclists as "arrogant, dangerous, despised and erratic."

"Many of our membership may drive a car one day to pick something up after work and ride a bike on another day; we don't see it as that kind of dichotomy," Renee Rivera of the SF Bicycle Coalition said.

At least 120,000 people ride their bikes in San Francisco two or more days a week, according to a 2008 city report. It is not always a peaceful co-existence between cyclists and drivers.

"It depends on where you are in the city; it can be a little scary at times you know," cyclist Peter Bartlett.

One sore point for motorists is Critical Mass, which brings thousands of cyclists onto the streets on the final Friday of each month during the evening commute.

"I think things are beginning to ease, but I recognize still Critical Mass does a tremendous amount of tension and we all have a responsibility to be respectful of one another," Newsom said.

Cyclists found motorists to be "an impediment, selfish, materialistic" and "causing world havoc."

Clearly, the two groups are not playing well together. While each side blames the other for accidents, juror Jim Neidel tells ABC7 that the jurors' research found at fault claims from bike versus motorist accidents in San Francisco to be nearly evenly split.

"Understanding that all of us own our roads and all have equal access, especially under California vehicle code," Neidel said.

Foreperson Leslie Koelsch says cyclists want more enforcement because it's an issue of safety for them. Cyclists were most often found to be at fault because of unsafe speed, failure to stop at red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road. When motorists are in the wrong, it's because they open the car door when it's unsafe, fail to yield when turning left or turn without signaling.

The city has recently made improvements for cyclists including more bike lanes and racks, but more permanent improvements are on hold because of a lawsuit over the city's bike plan.

The man who filed that suit is Rob Anderson. He told ABC7 he is not anti-bike, but does not believe the city should be allowed to take away traffic lanes and street parking on behalf of a minority who exhibit "self righteous behavior" on the streets.


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