Has Uber/Lyft Created More Traffic Congestion In Your Neighborhood?

Has Uber/Lyft Created More Traffic Congestion In Your Neighborhood?Photo: Shutterstock
Saul Sugarman
Published on December 12, 2016

When it comes to local traffic congestion, SFMTA officials have a bone to pick with Uber and Lyft. In a recent regulatory filing first noted by the Examiner, the agency chided state regulators for failing to properly consider rideshare companies' effect on city traffic and the environment.

“In 2016, San Francisco was rated as having the third worst traffic congestion in the nation," reads the December 6th filing with the state Public Utilities Commission. "Much of the increase San Francisco has experienced in vehicular traffic can be attributed to the huge increase in the number of [rideshare] vehicles operating on city streets."

With an estimated 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers on the road, the rideshare industry has far outpaced the city's taxi drivers, which number around 1,800, the agency said. 

And while around 20,000 rideshare drivers have complied with the city's new registration requirements, which include paying a $91 annual fee, that still leaves roughly 25,000 who have not registered or paid up. (Uber and Lyft representatives did not respond to requests for comment.)

The SFMTA also argues that rideshare cars have had a "significant environmental impact" on the city, contributing to “a reduction in air quality, increased traffic congestion, increase risk to pedestrian safety, and transit delays.”

“These are real and tangible impacts to the physical environment, which, pursuant to state law, requires environmental review,” the SFMTA filing reads.

So what do San Francisco residents think? Here are five local residents' perspectives on the impact of Uber, Lyft and their ilk on traffic and the environment:

Dustin Hart, Castro

“As I bike down Market, I do notice many cars of both rideshare and official taxi persuasions double-parked in bike lanes, causing problems there. But the increase in soft-hit posts on bike lanes seems to be helping. It's definitely not just the rideshares making it dangerous for us on two wheels.”

Travis Michael Curtis, SoMa

“It doesn't seem like an unreasonable hypothesis that the Uber/Lyft phenomenon contributes to increasing congestion. We went from 1,800 cabs to 45,000 cars for hire—one Uber for every 17 residents. Much of the time, they are driving around empty, waiting for a fare.”

Colby Duhon, Western Addition

“To the SFMTA: maybe if Muni and your services worked, people wouldn't turn to Uber and Lyft. It reminds me of the taxis: whining [when] someone does this better than us, and instead of improving our own infrastructure, blaming the market solution.”

Marko Bajzer, Castro

“Not so much when they're driving around, but when they're just hanging out in the middle of the damn street—either picking someone up, dropping someone off, or just looking for a ride—[they are] blocking an entire lane of traffic.”

Zak Wilkins, SoMa

"As someone who mainly gets around SF using my bike, I would say double-parking is the biggest problem that can both add to general congestion and be dangerous for cyclists. Uber/Lyft both contribute to this problem. I don't think ridesharing companies need to be targeted specifically, though—we just need steeper penalties for double parking and more post-protected bike lanes."

Have rideshare companies had a negative impact on traffic congestion or the environment in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments.