Ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, have become increasingly popular in recent years, providing a convenient and affordable transportation option for millions of people worldwide. However, I believe, in San Francisco, the rise in ride-sharing services has also led to an increase in San Francisco bicycle accidents. Ride-share drivers, often rushing to pick up or drop off passengers, and often distracted by the apps that they must use for both Uber and Lyft, put bicyclists increasingly at risk when these ride share drivers negligently fail to notice bicycle riders on the road. The more functions a driver has to perform at the same time, the greater the risk of injury to other users of the roadway. And Uber and Lyft drivers have to perform more tasks as they drive professionally in San Francisco.
Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to accidents with ride-share drivers due to the lack of protection provided on a bicycle. In an Uber or Lyft accident with a car or truck, the driver and passengers are protected by the vehicle’s frame, seats, seat belts, and airbags (the cage). Bicyclists have no such protection and often suffer serious injuries or even fatal personal injuries when they are struck by an Uber or a Lyft.
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2018. This represents a 6.3% increase from 2017. While not all of these accidents can be attributed to ride-sharing services, the rise in ride-sharing has contributed to the increase in bicycle accidents.
I believe that one of the main reasons for the increase in accidents involving bicycles and ride-share drivers is the lack of adequate safety training for ride-share drivers. Unlike traditional taxi drivers, or professional truck drivers who are required to undergo extensive safety training, ride-share drivers often have minimal or no training or experience behind the wheel. This lack of training can lead to careless driving, such as speeding, failing to yield the right of way, or ignoring traffic signals, which can put bicyclists at risk of serious personal injuries or death. Also, many drivers who are unfamiliar with the rules of the road in California may not reasonably share the road with bicycle riders.
I believe that many ride share drivers are coming into San Francisco and other urban areas from outlying suburbs or even rural areas with vastly different roadway characteristics. San Francisco provides many challenges to drivers who know the City well, so, for a ride share driver who is unfamiliar the City or with the features of some of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and traffic, the extra challenges to the Uber or Lyft drivers often add extra risk of injury to bicycle riders and pedestrians. Also, the influx of ride share drivers into San Francisco each and every day is a factor which contributes to roadway congestion and further distraction, which also increases the risk of injury to bicycle riders.
Another factor contributing to accidents involving bicycles and Uber and Lyft drivers is the pressure to quickly pick up or drop off passengers. Ride-share drivers often work long hours and may feel pressured to rush to their destinations, leading to careless driving and a failure to maintain a proper lookout for bicyclists on the road.
In addition to the incentive to hurry for is the important factor of distracted driving. When a ride share driver spends a substantial portion of their time looking at and responding to their ride share app, or at the navigation on their cell phone, that time is not spent with the driver’s full attention on the road. Distracted driving is a substantial factor in causing many bicycle collisions.
To address these concerns, ride-sharing companies have taken some steps to promote safety for bicyclists. Uber, for example, has implemented safety features such as a “Bike Lane Alert” feature in its app that alerts drivers when they are approaching a bike lane. The company has also partnered with organizations such as People For Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists to promote bicycle safety awareness.
Additionally, ride-sharing companies have implemented some safety training for their drivers, educating them on how to share the road with bicyclists and other vulnerable road users. Lyft, for example, has partnered with the National Association of City Transportation Officials to provide some safety training for its drivers.
While these steps are commendable, more needs to be done to ensure the safety of bicyclists on the roads in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ride-sharing companies should continue to invest in safety features and training for their drivers, and governments should implement regulations and safety standards for ride-sharing services to protect all road users, especially bicyclists and pedestrians. Public entities need to consistently improve their infrastructures to help to reduce bicycle accidents with Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as with all motorists.
In conclusion, ride-sharing services have become a popular transportation option for millions of people worldwide, and they provide a valuable service to our community. However, the rise in ride-sharing has also led to an increase in bicycle accidents with Uber and Lyft drivers. To ensure the safety of bicyclists on the road, ride-sharing companies should continue to invest in safety features and training for their drivers, and governments should continue to improve their infrastructures and continue to implement regulations and safety standards for ride-sharing services. By working together, we can make our roads safer for everyone and reduce San Francisco Bay Area bicycle accidents.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious personal injuries through a bicycle accident with a ride-share driver, please do not hesitate to contact our partners at Choulos, Choulos & Wyle. Schedule your free consultation with an experienced San Francisco bicycle accident attorney today.