Paint-Happy MTA Crews Prepare for Physically Separated Market St Lane

thermoplastic_glob_.jpgA freshly installed Mississippi Street bike lane, made of thermoplastic, which dries in 30 seconds. The installation was a little tricky because of the rough street terrain but the kick ass DPT crew got it perfectly straight. Photos by Bryan Goebel.
Though it might sound incredible to San Franciscans who have followed bicycle issues for the past three years, not only are more bicycle infrastructure improvements coming, they might be better than anyone imagined. Streetsblog has learned that in addition to the lanes striped today on Mississippi and Howard and seven more bike lanes expected in the next few weeks, the MTA will install a separated bike lane on Market Street.

At a press conference tomorrow, Mayor Gavin Newsom and MTA officials will announce a number of "innovate design treatments" allowed under a judge's order issued last week, including plans to install safe-hit posts on an existing bike lane creating a physically separated lane on Market between 9th and 10th Streets. The posts are similar to the ones now in place in the bike lane at Market and Octavia. It was still unclear, however, if the project would include both east and westbound bike lanes, or just one.

"San Francisco's first attempt at a physically separated bike lane is a really great step forward. Separated bike lanes are a great way to get novice cyclists who are uncomfortable riding in traffic more used to riding on the street," said Marc Caswell, the SFBC's program manager. He said the SF bike lane will be similar to early physically separated bike lanes in New York City, which were improved under Janette Sadik-Kahn, Commissioner of the NYCDOT.

The protected bike lane will help eliminate conflicts between drivers and bicycle riders on that portion of Market Street where drivers often fail to respect the bike lanes. "A physically separated bike lane is a great way to make sure the bike lane is a clear and safe way to travel without any obstructions," Caswell said.

Tomorrow's press event, expected to be attended by several other electeds and the SF Bike Coalition, will culminate with the painting of a green bike box on Scott Street at Oak, which is believed to be the first green bike box in California, according to the MTA. In addition, tomorrow DPT crews will install bike lanes on Beale and Kansas Streets, paint sharrows on Hayes Street and begin three days of sharrow painting on 5th Street from Market Street to the freeway, according to the MTA's Bridget Smith, head of the agency's Livable Streets implementation program.

Earlier today, crews installed a bike lane next to the right-turn lane on Howard Street at 9th, which has been a trouble spot for bicyclists. They also installed two blocks of bike lanes on Mississippi Street between 16th and Mariposa near the Guardian building. Crews did not have time today to paint bike symbols in the lanes, but that work will be completed tomorrow, according to Smith.

The DPT crew on Mississippi Street was jovial and excited to be installing the city's first major bike improvements in awhile. It took them a few hours to complete the work, using a tension rope to first mark the stripes, and then rolling over the mark with a striping machine that releases warm thermoplastic that dries in thirty seconds. A DPT worker then follows, sprinkling glass beads over the thermoplastic and wham, there's your bike lane! 

The latest work followed Tuesday's installation of the city's first bike lane in three years, a left-turn bike lane on Scott Street between Oak and Fell on The Wiggle.

More photos in our Flickr pool.

Tomorrow's press conference will take place at Oak and Scott Streets at 1 p.m. We'll be staffing and tweeting. Follow our Twitter feed here.

dpt_crew.jpgThe DPT crew marks a stripe on Mississippi Street. 
4154466122_070c3b4f33.jpgNew Howard Street bike lane at 9th St. Photo by sfbike.