Riding a bicycle down Market Street may not be a completely hassle-free experience just yet, but new safe-hit posts installed on the bike lane today between Gough Street and 8th Street are a big hit with bicycle riders.
Crews from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's (SFMTA) traffic sign shop were out early this morning installing the posts (or "delineators") along portions of the Market Street bike lanes that already have a wide paint buffer. Along with the traffic diversions at 10th and 6th Streets, it's the latest step in the SFMTA's efforts to make Market Street safer and more appealing for those on bikes.
"The city installed the white safe-hit posts between 8th and 9th on the north side many months ago," said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's (SFBC) Neal Patel, who helped coordinate with the SFMTA in building the new posts. "There was a really overwhelmingly positive response to that: SFBC put out a survey in February and 90 percent of those who responded said it made them feel safer. 80 percent said they would bike on Market more if a separated bike lane were there for a longer stretch."
The city was excited by the results, said Patel, and decided to expand the posts to the new stretch between 8th and Octavia where there's already a wide paint buffer along the bike lane.
Some of the first bicyclists to ride along the eastbound bike lane after the posts were installed between Gough and 10th Streets today said they were thrilled with the new configuration.
"I love 'em, actually," said Mike Rawlee, as he waited for the light at 12th Street. "Lots of times cars crowd you and push you to the side, almost to the sidewalk." With the new posts, he said, "it's gotten a lot easier to get through."
Another rider, Megan, was similarly enthused about the safety improvement. "I like them. I was hit in San Francisco before at 8th Street. We should definitely have more of them."
Josefine Gylleback, a manager at Caffe Trieste , said she's very excited to have the new posts on the bike lane right in front of her business. "I think it's going to be very helpful. 90 percent of the staff here, including myself, we ride our bikes to work," she said. "This is going to be a lot better for us and a lot safer for us."
"We're very happy and we can tell that a lot of our customers have a positive response to it too," added Gylleback.
Across the street at The Green Arcade  bookstore, owner Patrick Marks hadn't noticed the posts yet. After stepping outside and looking across Market he returned with praise for the new setup. "I think it's just fabulous. I just think they look great," said Marks. "They say to me: bicycles. Meaning, I think they also increase awareness which we totally need around this corner."
Marks, who rides a bike to work himself when he doesn't walk, said many of his customers get to the shop by bike, "because we're right on Market Street."
He also wishes his side of the street would get more traffic calming measures. "Because I'm so near the freeway, anything that would slow traffic would be a good idea," he said.
Patel said the SFBC is pushing the city to eventually build a fully-separated bikeway on Market from Octavia to the Embarcadero, with the soft-hit posts serving as an important first step.
"We're very excited to see this expanded, and very excited to see what cyclists think of this," said Patel.
One of the biggest safety concerns for bicyclists on Market has been double-parked cars and motorists who squeeze cyclists out when making turns. Patel said he hopes the new posts will help address that problem. The SFMTA also did extensive outreach to merchants to make sure the new configuration wouldn't interfere with loading.
In total, about 90 new posts are being installed today, according to an SFMTA sign shop crewmember. It takes a little extra effort to install them after a rainy day, including the use of a propane torch to dry the asphalt before gluing the posts on with an epoxy mixture.
While a fully separated bikeway may still be a distant vision, things are changing fast on Market. "Man, this area's changing every day," said a man lingering on Market Street to a passerby. "They put a bicycle rack over there and they just put this in this morning," he said contemplatively, gesturing to the new posts.
You can give the city feedback on the new soft-hit posts by emailing marketstreet (at) sfgov.org. SFBC's Neal Patel can be reached by email with comments and concerns at neal (at) sfbike.org.