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SF Tries a Fix for Angry Cyclists, But Protests Continue

Joshua Hart, left, is surrounded by San Francisco police officers after blocking the entrance to the Arco gas station on the corner of Divisadero and Fell streets
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Joshua Hart, left, is surrounded by San Francisco police officers after blocking the entrance to the Arco gas station on the corner of Divisadero and Fell streets
 
Gas station draws ire over oil spill, blocked bike lanes

It was the start of a holiday weekend for most people, but protests against a San Francisco gas station did not take a vacation.

For the fourth consecutive Friday evening rush hour, protesters blocked the Fell Street entrances to the Arco gas station at the corner of Divisadero.

Arco is a subsidiary of BP. Holding signs with that said, “Today the Gulf, Tomorrow the Bay,” a group of as many as twenty people prevented cars from entering the station on one side. But it wasn’t just BP’s endless gulf oil spill that had them angry – they also wanted to draw attention to a danger to cyclists at that intersection.

The station has some of the least expensive gasoline in the city, and cars regularly back up onto Fell Street to wait for their turn at the pump. But this has blocked one of the most popular bike lanes in the city, forcing cyclists into busy car traffic.

Two hot button issues, one location.

Joshua Hart, left at center, scuffles with San Francisco police officers Fraize, left, and Reyes, at the Arco gas station on the corner of Divisadero and Fell, after he and other protestors blocked the entrance to the gas station
Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen
https://citizen-media.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/images/2010/7/gasstationprotest1/original/gasstationprotest01_web.jpg?Signature=7CfckCgpszjXkxUJC2Lu7twJCTQ%3D&Expires=1359072798&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAICY2ZBGLHCXTSKJA
Joshua Hart, left at center, scuffles with San Francisco police officers Fraize, left, and Reyes, at the Arco gas station on the corner of Divisadero and Fell, after he and other protestors blocked the entrance to the gas station
Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen

The city appears to be listening, at least as far as the traffic is concerned. Protesters arrived to find new street signs – less than 48 hours old – that restrict cars from stopping in the troubled stretch from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The bike lane was narrowed too, by about 18 inches. It all appears to be an effort to create a space that allows cars to cue up on the far left, while keeping the bike line clear for cyclists.

It wasn’t enough to quell the demonstrators.

“They’ve done some cosmetic changes,” said Joshua Hart, 34, of Santa Cruz, one of the protest’s organizers. “The city is playing around with paint instead of making fundamental changes.”

The gas station manager, Larry Armstrong, called the police. It was all pretty calm for a while, but at about 7 p.m., an hour after the blockade started, patience had worn thin. When Hart refused to let a car enter the gas station, SFPD officers physically removed him and then cited him for blocking the entrance.

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