SFMTA Responds to Demands for Speeding Market Street Bike Improvements

Bicycle advocates don't want to wait six months for more green protected bike lanes on Market Street. Photo: Myleen Hollero/Orange Photography
Bike advocates don't want to wait six months for more green protected bike lanes on Market Street. Photo: Myleen Hollero/Orange Photography

In response to concerns that the SFMTA is taking too long to put in more green protected bike lanes and other innovations on Market Street, the agency’s Sustainable Streets Director, Bond Yee, in a letter to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, has outlined and provided a timeline for his agency’s planned improvements.

Yee confirmed that more colored bike lane trials are planned for Market Street, but the earliest they could happen is March 2011. The reason? According to the email the SFMTA needs two months to “rescope and amend Prop K funding,” two months to “procure materials” and another month to apply the treatments when you factor in delays due to bad weather.

Yee said the agency also plans to put in 5 non-colored bike boxes by “late 2010 and early 2011,” 5 bike corrals by “early 2011,” and hopes to resolve “paratransit issues with the separated bike lanes on Market.”  He called the dates “aggressively realistic.”

In an interview with Streetsblog earlier this week, Yee said the agency is also suffering from a lack of resources, and voids left by some recent retirements.

“We would love to have more.  We’ve done some re-structuring to create more paint crews, and sign crews, and things of that nature, but you’ve got to remember too, we are implementing probably one of the largest, most comprehensive bike network increases in years,” said Yee, who added that a recent nationwide shortage of marking materials is not helping matters.

Renee Rivera, the SFBC’s acting executive director, was concerned the response made no mention of physical separation along Market Street from 8th to Octavia Boulevard.

“We have heard from so many people how important this physical separation is in making their trip down Market Street feel safer and more comfortable. In addition, we feel strongly that 6 months is too long to wait to complete this trial on Market Street,” she said. “With the few blocks of green separated bike space on Market Street in place now, we see this key corridor working better for everyone.”

“More people on Market Street will help our local businesses,” she added, “and what would help them more than having this trial in place before the holiday shopping season?”

Here’s more of the SFMTA’s response:

Colored Pavement

  • We do plan to extend the use of color along Market Street between Octavia & 8th on a trial basis
  • We will conduct further tests of simple paint (durability and slipperiness are concerns)
  • We plan to use non-retroreflective colored asphalt in non-conflict zones as an aesthetic “branding” treatment
  • For conflict zones, we plan to use one (possibly two) retroreflective surface applications of color
  • While expanding the use of color is a priority for us, our Innovation Team currently has limited staff resources and our priorities are:
  1. Cycletracks (JFK, Folsom, Laguna Honda)
  2. Bike Boxes (complete guidelines and install 5 by late 2010 or early 2011 as part of the Calm the Safety Zone project)
  3. Bike Corrals (install 5 by early 2011)
  4. Resolving paratransit issues with the separated bike lanes on Market (this not simply pushback from operators, it originated with customers)
  • Timeline for color: 5 months minimum
  • Earliest we could see expanded color: March 2011
  • ~2 months to rescope and amend Prop K funding agreement with SFCTA
  • ~2 months to procure materials
  • ~ 1 month for application (assuming delay due to wet weather; could take much longer for asphalt since we don’t own specialized equipment and would have to contract or lease)

Bike Boxes

  • Goal of 5 bike boxes on Market by early 2011 as part of Calm the Safety Zone project
  • Only at intersections with curbside bike lanes on approach, allowing cyclists to bypass advanced stop line and enter bike box
  • We want to take the time to get our policy right before expanding their application since bike boxes are not a standard treatment in the CA MUTCD (California Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices) and there has been some controversy with the CTCDC (California Traffic Control Devices Committee).
  • Additional bike boxes may not be colored (at least initially) since the timeline outlined above for expanding colored pavement is slightly longer
  • I will say that it’s wonderful that the SFMTA is so deliberate and thoughtful in moving projects forward. At the end of the day they do a good job, better than many cities. However if you travel much and see the speed at which New York City implements this sort of stuff, not to mention places like Paris, it’s excruciatingly slow here. Like watching paint dry…

    I can’t help thinking that there is a bit of a lack of vim and vigor here. Two months to negotiate funding between the the TA and the SFMTA, both funded by my taxes. I’d call that charging ahead with extra slowness.

  • Since the MTA is so mired in red tape and short on resources, why not just publish their approved designs and let CBDs and advocacy groups hire their own contractors to install them if they want improvements faster?

    Obviously the MTA needs to eventually start pulling it’s weight for the money taxpayers invest in it, but it seems silly for everyone to suffer for months for want of what would be a few thousand dollars and a few weeks work if not for the beiractacy

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