Fell Street Arco Bike Lane Might See Improvements Soon

fell_st_changes_small.gifClick to enlarge. Proposed changes to Fell St. bike lane, soft-hit posts in red.

The MTA might have a solution for the dangerous conditions at the Fell Street Arco gas station, where motorists queueing up to buy gas routinely block the bike lane and force cyclists to navigate between bumpers or try their hand a lane over in speeding traffic. 

The proposal would move the bicycle lane toward the curb by two feet just before the driveway to the Arco station and would install four soft-hit posts, similar to those on the bike lane on Market Street, which would prevent motorists from occupying the bicycle lane while they wait to get gas. The proposal wouldn't remove any parking, which is not allowed under the bicycle injunction.

The MTA's bicycle program presented a mockup of the proposed changes to a working group it has established with community members in the area. According to Bike NOPA, the changes as presented would not need to go before Judge Busch for permission because they don't violate any prescriptions of the injunction.

Michael Helquist, author of Bike NOPA and a member of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, hailed the changes as an important step and said the MTA was being responsive to the community's concerns. "I'm encouraged to see the MTA move forward on experimenting with different options without more delay in implementation," said Helquist. "I don't want to be reporting on a bicyclist, pedestrian, or motorist crash, injury or fatality at this location for lack of making improvements."

The proposal received mixed reviews from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "I think this is a really good first step for fixing this major conflict point," said SFBC Program Manager Marc Caswell. "The city is finally ready to improve this area for cyclists and the four safe-hit posts are a great start to prevent queueing."

Caswell said the design failed to address the conflict at the driveways, however, and he was concerned that more needed to be done. According to Caswell, one option would be cross-hatching the driveway that leads to the gas station. Another would be extending the bicycle lane to the intersection of Divisadero and painting it green. Caswell also noted that the city could be more bold and remove at least two parking spaces before the gas station.

"There is the possibility to do something bigger and better," Caswell said. "With the creation of the Scott Street center bike lane, there were two additional parking spaces added, so if you removed spaces at Fell, there would be no net loss of parking."