By Rachel Kaufman.
Driving in San Francisco is not easy. The streets are narrow and hilly, lost tourists stumble out into the street, and there are plenty of cyclists (including bike-share users, who may be newer to cycling and thus less familiar with the rules of the road). Now picture driving a truck in San Francisco.
Trucks and other large vehicles are involved in only 4 percent of collisions in the city, according to John Knox White, a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency planner, but 17 percent of fatalities. In 2013, there was “a whole spate of people getting hit; we had a park truck that ran oversomebody.”
As part of San Francisco’s Vision Zero program, which aims to completely eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, the city is rolling out a training program specifically for drivers of trucks that enter San Francisco. The program, developed in partnership with numerous stakeholders like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the California Trucking Association, consists of a video (that SFMTA will be filming soon) helping truck drivers learn what to be aware of when a cyclist nears, and educating them on some of the city’s new bike lanes.
“There’s a lot of confusion on city streets,” Knox White says, “especially as we are reengineering them and redesigning them in new ways. We’re stepping away from, ‘There’s a bike lane or not a bike lane.’” Instead, the city has green-painted bike lanes, “regular” lanes, sharrows and more. “There’s a lot of confusion out there … . People could use some understanding of what to expect from bicyclists or pedestrians. Sometimes they do things, even if they’re not supposed to, that are surprising.”