Protection under the law for TNC (Uber, Lyft, etc.) drivers in San Francisco

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TNC (Transportation Network Services)  means ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft


Here's the thing:

in 2011 San Francisco City/County authorized special (red) lanes, turns, access, pickup points, and ability to use bike lanes - (principally for the disabled/limited mobility persons but in practice for all) to drive, pickup, deliver passengers, but only for Taxis, not the “new Taxis”, the TNC drivers (Uber, Lyft) who’ve been on the job since 2010


The same city gave parking officers and bus drivers little cameras to snap pictures that send ticket for $132 - $250 dollars (or several hundred dollars) for dropping you off on the curb in a red area (where that’s the only safe option) or bike lane (when that's the safest option).  

TNC drivers have been getting ticketed for safe driving where Taxi drivers conversely are protected for the very same behavior. The city know this, profits from it,  and has allowed this to continue for almost 8 years so far.


This petition is to ask that SF City/County Supervisors, Mayor, SFTMA extend the same protections under the law that Taxi drivers have, in spirit, in letter and in the level of enforcement focused on safety first.

It’s not either, it’s not “complicated”, that would take contrivance which I’m sure wouldn’t happen. It’s just a matter, respectfully, of getting off the fence and respecting the contribution that Uber and Lyft, etc. drivers make, and from that respect offering equal protection under the law to what Taxis have and have had since 2011.


If you’re not willing to extend reasonable protections under the law for doing the job in a parking challenged city?  -then why not ban all the TNC and see how that sits with the public, how it affects the city’s thriving?

Many would miss SF but would rather work where our contribution is appreciated, where we can be treated with respect and not knowingly punished for safe driving and fleeced while, respectfully, a collective virtual hand is held up saying “we know, we’ll get to you” almost 8 years into TNC’s contribution to SF transportaion began to grow.

Respectfully? Thats not even a remotely respectful or ethical relationship.


Actually, it's an abusive"taking", fear-based relationship that creates an unnecessarily hostile, demeaning work environment that makes you wrong and robs you for doing the best possible work in the safest ways possible in a seriously challenged environment.


The late Mayor Lee and various Supervisors (including Hillary Ronen - District 9) have thoughtfully looked at plans for pickup areas, side streets, etc. That's appreciated though with that said?


Side-streets instead of equal protection under the law put TNC driverrs and passengers at a practical disadvantage, ask passengers to travel further, which even without inclement weather creates a needless burden on the disabled or otherwise mobility challenged.


Is that really an acceptable cost to you?


You already determined (since 2011) that using the bike lane safely (even if - while safety for all is king? -there are bike nazis) was the right solution for taxis.

Even if special pickup areas (slow to implement) are part of a solution that allows bike lane pickups (you could issue the stickers and rights to TNC tomorrow have painters add "TNC" to red lanes and city sign-makers add "TNC" to Taxi and bus only signs within the week at nominal cost.

If safety, fairness, and efficiency are important? Additional designated pickup areas should be middle of the block in busy areas like Valencia - no need to hobble the TNC services* and make them a needless burden for the disabled. It's what is and has been - minus punishing the Uber and Lyft drivers for helping people get around.


(* There are a lot of passengers who rely on TNC for mobility for groceries, appointments (for themselves and their pets), school, work, visiting friends, going out to eat, socializing and no end to the number of people who rely on TNC instead of pickup up their keys to go to a bar or drive back from one when they shouldn't. Some genuinely don't want to own a car or drive in the city, some can't )


There may be some looking past human ridesharing to renting curb space to autonomous vehicle rideshare in the near future?

As though the service didn’t add value as it is, with human drivers? As though self-driving cars were going to improve on what human TNC drivers do? (if you know about the vulnerabilities of LIDAR, not just calibration but sunlight, ice, rain, fog, reflective surfaces, windows, mirrors, etc) then you should already know that whole thing’s not going to be viable, well not safely viable for 5-10 years. Then? awesome. Any time before that? Irresponsibly dangerous.


And in SF? coming over the top of a very steep hill will require other sensors (photogrammetry on 2D cams?) below the car that the makers to date aren’t looking at. ). In fact those intersections should have either very large mirrors to either side of the intersections so all drivers can see what's under the front of their car as they crest a hill, or else cameras, floodlights, and very large screen TV mounted on both sides of intersections approaching an intersection from coming up a steep hill (a good use of city funds). There could be a child, a pet, an elderly or disabled person moving very slowly or whose wheelchair lost power at a bad time, a homeless person, someone trying to commit suicide, someone who stopped to tie their shoe or pick up something they dropped. Without mirrors or big screen tv's with cameras and infrared spotlights? Eventually someone is going to be hurt or killed at the top of those hills. Not sure if this has already happened but recommend the above steps for safety.


Infrared noise levels and combined exposure levels from self-driving cars (when they are all around - again starting in 5-10 years) are other concerns perhaps yet to be considered.


Fact: there is no legal way to drop off or pick up passengers, for example, in the Mission District (unless you happen to find an empty parking spot , in the Mission District during peak hours? you know what a pipe dream that is)   Not being ticketed at every given moment is a lucky coincidence for the unsuspecting driver who may be doing the maximum possible to do the work safely despite the second class status.


With packed parking spaces not a viable option during peak hours, the safest available option to pickup say between 16th and 17th on Valencia during the evening when all spaces are taken? are the bike lanes and the one lane in each direction.  Again the bike lanes are safer (given that you've checked in both directions to as safely as possible use them) because stopping in the middle of the street - in traffic (the one other alternative) the street, passengers could fling open a door in the opposite lane of traffic as well as in a bike lane, not to mention the safety of their person, not to mention that it's safer for those with disabilities.


Again, the people running SF already decided (accurately) that using the bike lane (safely) is a safer, more practical option than stopping in the middle of the street (where one door could open into a bike lane, the other into traffic in the opposite direction) - which would create a greater challenge for disabled riders, blocking traffic and generally unsafe.


That's exactly why the taxis are given access to stop, pickup and drop-off there (with stickers to that effect on the rear of their vehicles.)


It’s demoralizing, and of questionable ethics that responsible Uber, Lyft, etc drivers are knowingly ticketed for being relegated to the second-class status the city has to date seen fit to assign them to, while safely as possible doing their job to help get people around in SF. Respectfully, It's unethical to have laws that target people doing the right thing for punishment, for profit, and to have let that continue for so long. Asking you to please do the right thing.


One city/county supervisor has expressed outrage that these rideshare drivers have incurred so may citations (money for the city on the backs of the working poor). Giving him the benefit of the doubt for maybe not being aware of the easily preventable injustice involved.


Taxi drivers, who make up the largest part of citations in that study, are a smaller pool and aren't even accurately reflected in the same statistics as they can't be cited for pickup/dropoff accessed through red areas, nor bike lanes where applicable.


Again, please keep in mind as nice as ideas about side-street pick up areas are? This creates an extra burden for the disabled (hopefully this will factor into where you ultimately place the rideshare pickup area?) And even more so, for all, in inclement weather. For these reasons mid-block, dedicated rideshare pickup/dropoff areas on Valencia make more sense, would help ease congestion, provide safe access for the full spectrum of SF passengers.

For all reasons? Extending the same respect and equal protection under the law (to that given to taxis) for TNC drivers is the right solution.
1. In the areas of the city where streets are painted red with "Buses and Taxis only": add the words "Rideshare” or “TNC”, same for "Buses and Taxis only" turns and street access.


2. Extend the same protections for Rideshare drivers that are given to Taxis to safely pick up passengers by their "This vehicle can legally stop in bicycle lanes" stickers and the instructions that come with. Legal access to bicycle lanes would offer protection for doing so safely and respectfully.

3. In busy areas with little/no chance of picking up legally by other means (you know the places on Valencia Street) : remove three parking meters minimum per busy block (preferably mid-block), add clear signage and curb/street painted a distinctive cover (pink? purple?) "Rideshare pickup and drop-off only - 2 minute limit”.


4. Retroactively exonerate all citations to rideshare drivers for pulling accessing these lanes (if this was done safely, where the violation was only because of not having the same access a Taxi cab driver would have been protected by), refunding related fines taken from TNC workers in SF. Advise parking officers to respect rideshare drivers equally under the law


We genuinely care about getting you to your destinations as peacefully and safely as possible every day. We ask you the city to fast-track the establishment of (at least) equal protection under the law for TNC drivers(Uber, Lyft, etc). 


Thanks for your support

Keywords: Bike lobby, Taxi Lobby, Public Safety, Insufficent Parking, Overcrowding, Premature Automated Car Rideshare hopes, profit motive, Disparaging professional drivers who provide TNC services, Fair and equal protection under the law, Being able to to your job without being treated like a second class citizen - ticketed - fined -censured - disparaged wrongly - unethically - just because it’s “not a priority” yet or by whatever rationale - 8 years of no respect?- Please ban TNC or treat them with respect under the law - ask SFMTA and the Board of Supervisors to please stop taking from the hardworking poor (TNC drivers within the hostile and demeaning work environment that makes them wrong)

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