SFMTA approves protected bike lanes on Howard Street following death of cyclist

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Eleven days after the death of cyclist Tess Rothstein, over 100 people stood at the steps of San Francisco City Hall to demand SFMTA improve the city's cycling infrastructure.

SFMTA's board of directors motioned to expedite protected bike lanes on Howard Street between Third and Sixth streets.

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The transportation agency's spokesperson, Paul Rose, said they are also considering protected bike lanes on the Waterfront. "On Howard between 3rd and 6 street, we'll be implementing parking protected bike lanes. We plan to have a permanent project placed by April. Right now we have temporary protected lanes on 4th and 5th," said Rose.

In the time that ABC7 News was reporting this story outside of City Hall, we've seen several cars double parking and using the bike lanes to get ahead.

The cyclists we spoke to want changes.

Many of these cyclists say they experience this fear on a daily basis. "Scariest close calls I've had is people throwing their car doors open and I've had to brake and I bumped a car door," said San Francisco resident Jeremy Pollock.

Supervisor Matt Haney led the rally on the steps of City Hall, urging SFMTA to make changes before fatalities happen. Two weeks ago, cyclist Tess Rothstein was struck by a truck on 6th Street at Howard as she swerved to avoid a car door that was opening.

"I saw Tess run out of our house to catch the bus to San Francisco. Moments before I caught the bus after her. It's surreal to think that such a small moment made all the difference. Such a random event. It means that I will never get to see her again," said Rothstein's roommate and friend Sasan Saadat.

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"It's not going to hurt things or change things that much to take away one lane of traffic or one parking lane and be able to ensure that people are safe while they bike down that street," said Matt Haney, Supervisor District 6.

Hours after Rothstein's death, SFMTA removed parking and installed a protected bike lane where the collision took place. Now, SF Bike Coalition wants to add protections along the entirety of Folsom and Howard streets.

"Proactive change that we should not have to wait until someone dies to get one additional block," said Janice Li, advocacy director of SF Bike Coalition. "We need to do everything in our power to make sure we can stop the lives lost in our streets."

San Francisco's bike network has 448 miles of bikeways. On Tuesday, in a packed room with cyclists, SFMTA acknowledged the need to expand its protected network.

"On Howard between 3rd and 6th street, we'll be implementing parking-protected bike lanes," said SFMTA's Paul Rose. We plan to have a permanent project placed by April. Right now we have temporary protected lanes on 4th and 5th."

The final changes on Howard Street are expected to be finalized by April 18.
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