San Francisco’s Police Department has found that nearly two-thirds of the traffic citations issued to drivers downtown went to Uber and Lyft drivers, local media report.
Illegal U-turns, blocking traffic, blocking bike lanes — you name it, and ride-hailing drivers for Lyft or Uber, either on or off duty, were ticketed for allegedly doing it, according to a police commander’s testimony before the city’s Land Use and Transportation Committee on Monday. The police department’s findings were reported by Curbed San Francisco and the San Francisco Examiner.
During a targeted observation period from April 1 to June 30, San Francisco police issued 2,656 traffic violations in the city’s downtown areas, and of those, 1,723 — or nearly 65 percent — went to Lyft and Uber drivers, according to the reported testimony from Robert O’Sullivan, commander of municipal transportation for the police.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle also reported that Uber and Lyft also are responsible for a lot of downtown congestion. The Chronicle says Uber and Lyft drivers account for about 170,000 trips on a typical workday, or 15 percent of all vehicular traffic in the city. That data was presented to the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the Chronicle reports. It says the influx of ride-hailing vehicles may help explain why traffic on city thoroughfares is now only about 12 mph at peak times.
“We are supportive of holistic efforts to address congestion and have been in conversations with city officials for months to engage collaboratively on a pilot program to do just that,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Harrison said in an email. She didn’t address the San Francisco Police Department’s report on citations.
“Supervisors discussed concerns we at Uber share, namely how best to address traffic congestion and improve public safety on San Francisco streets,” Alex Randolph, Uber public policy manager, said in a written statement. “Uber is committed to being an active partner in working to make improvements in these areas. Every day in San Francisco, thousands of people use Uber in ways that complement–rather than compete with–public transit, bicycling and walking. Our aim is to continue contributing to a robust, multi-modal transportation network that works well for everyone.”
The news comes as Uber’s latest round of troubles included a decision last week by London transportation authorities not to renew its operating license there, a decision the ride-hailing pioneer has been appealing. In Canada, meanwhile, Uber announced Tuesday that it will cease operations there if the government doesn’t back off rules that would require Uber drivers to undergo the same number of training hours as taxi drivers, the Associated Press reports.
Harry Campbell, who drives for Lyft and Uber and runs the Rideshare Guy blog, said he sees Lyft’s and Uber’s woes as part of the normal process of adjustment for a mode of transportation that’s still relatively new. Cities are still trying to balance the good that ride-hailing has done by disrupting traditional taxi service and giving consumers what they want vs. the on-the-street consequences from having bent the rules and torn up previous business practices, he said. And cities are still trying to catch up.
“It doesn’t take a genius to realize that every time you look in a big city like L.A. or London or San Francisco, that you have these unmarked Uber and Lyft cars that are double-parking, and causing traffic and congestion and getting ticketed,” Campbell said in an interview Tuesday. “And so while there is a definitely a lot of societal good they do — such as reducing drunken driving — there’s definitely a trade-off and some costs. … And I think that’s what these cities need to think about in a smarter way.”
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