Mayor, MTA and Bike Activists Celebrate First New Bike Lane in Three Years

bicyclists_in_bike_box.jpgSFBC's Leah Shahum, the MTA's Oliver Gajda and SFBC Board Member Dan Nguyen-Tan in the freshly painted green bike box on Scott Street at Oak. Photo by Bryan Goebel.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, three members of the Board of Supervisors, MTA officials, SFBC staff and bicyclists -- standing in the glaring fall sun amidst the roar of cars on Oak Street -- celebrated the city's first new bike lane in three years today, and then grabbed the paint rolls and applied buckets of shiny green paint to the Scott Street bike box.

"The good news is we didn't wait until today to get started. The injunction was [partially] lifted last week and already the folks you see behind us have been hard at work," said Newsom. "They've been out there putting in some new bike lanes and we're going to be putting in bike racks every single day."

Newsom said that San Francisco is going to try a series of innovate treatments, such as the green bike box, taking cues from European cities that have become world-class bicycling cities. And like Valencia Street, he said, the MTA will begin changing the signal timing on some streets to better accommodate bicyclists.

"We're going to be trying some things that candidly we wished we were doing for the last three years that are things that are being done around the world, particularly in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, that are being proffered and exampled in places like Portland and other municipalities," Newsom said, adding that the plan is to add six new miles of bike lanes in six months and increase the city's existing 23 miles of sharrows by 326 percent.

Mayor_painting.jpgMTA Chief Nat Ford and Mayor Gavin Newsom paint the bike box green. Photo by Matthew Roth.
The Mayor was joined at the press conference by Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Bevan Dufty and Sophie Maxwell, who said the partial lifting of the injunction and the eventual full lifting would finally put San Francisco in a position to "take its place among world cities that recognize that cars are not the only mode of transportation."

"We're going to make it exciting, we're going to make it fun and we're going to make it funky," said Maxwell.

Mirkarimi, whose District 5 encompasses the new green bike box, thanked city officials and the SF Bike Coalition "for making this day possible."

"We are all unified in the mission statement of making San Francisco bike friendly," said Mirkarimi, who announced a plan to install on-street bicycle parking in front of Mojo Bike Cafe on Divisadero "that will help commemorate this end to the injunction and to help signify what a major artery like Divisadero means."

Dufty, whose District 8 includes a portion of The Wiggle, said "we still have a long way to go" but that it was exciting to see so many things going up this week as a result of the partial injunction lifting.

The event coincided with new figures released by the SF Bike Coalition from a David Binder poll showing that more than half of San Franciscans "say that would ride if streets had bike lanes and were more inviting for bicycling."

The survey of 400 San Francisco voters asked six questions, including: What would make it more likely for you to ride a bike in San Francisco? The results:

  • Feeling less threatened by cars while biking: 57 percent
  • More bike lanes along my route: 51 percent
  • Smoother surface on the roads and few potholes: 50 percent
  • More secure bike parking at my destinations: 49 percent
  • Knowing how to avoid hills: 45 percent

Seventy seven percent said they think the number of bicyclists helps ease traffic congestion in the city.

Today's event came on the same day MTA crews installed the city's first physically separated bike lane and were out striping new bike lanes on Beale and Kansas Streets, painting sharrows on 5th Street and racing to complete the remaining projects approved by a judge last week. Tuesday they installed the city's first bike lane in three years -- a left-turn bike lane on Scott Street between Fell and Oak.