SFBC: Tell the Mayor to Finish the Bikeway on Lower Market Street

This bike lane on Market Street between 8th and 9th still hasn't been protected or painted green. Photo: Bryan Goebel.
This bike lane on Market Street between 8th and 9th still hasn't been protected or painted green. Photo: Bryan Goebel.

Without prodding from the Mayor’s Office, our sources tell us, it’s very possible the SFMTA wouldn’t have acted as quick to give bicyclists green, protected bike lanes on Market Street. It is the Mayor, after all, who has the ultimate authority over the SFMTA, appointing its board members, overseeing the agency’s budget behind the scenes and influencing major decisions.

Despite the “we’ll be ready to go!” rhetoric that we heard so often from the Mayor and city officials before the bike injunction was lifted, the SFMTA has been slow to finish the job on Lower Market Street, as we pointed out in a post last week. Now, the SFBC has launched a campaign urging bicyclists to write the Mayor and tell him to act now:

Please send an email to Mayor Newsom today asking him to complete the separated, green bikeway on Market Street — now. Thanks to letters from over sixty businesses in support of the idea, sent to Mayor Newsom last May before Bike to Work Day, the Mayor signed our petition calling for a fully separated, green bikeway for the length of Lower Market Street. City staff has implemented one intermittent section of the bikeway, between 8th and Valencia Street, but the bikeway is missing pieces in that section, and is almost completely missing east of 8th St.

For its part, the SFMTA claims it is suffering from a lack of resources and a shortage of thermoplastic, which are slowing its progress.

You can email the Mayor and give him your thoughts at gavin.newsom@sfgov.org (and the SFBC asks that you please cc neal@sfbike.org) or call his office at 554-6141.

  • TIMTOWTDI

    Good to hear that the SFBC is encouraging public pressure for more Market Street change.

    But as we are building out infrastructure, could we please maintain some focus on assuring that it works?

    http://changeyourliferideabike.blogspot.com/2010/10/market-street-bike-lanes-attractive.html

  • I agree with TIMTOWTDI. I don’t ride Market often, but the lack of bike lane enforcement along with that jog just after Van Ness (11th maybe) is a joke.

    Also, there is nothing for west bound bike traffic. “We can get you to work, but good luck getting home.”

    And that link to changeyourliferideabike is a great view from a regular rider.

  • Don’tBikePowellSt

    It’s not cars lining up at a gas station that is the problem for bike riders on Powell St. in the morning:

  • These rush-direction tourbus blockades at the Hotel Whitcomb are getting worse and worse. It’s now more common than not for the “protected green bike lane” to be entirely blockaded by buses during morning rush hour, and in recent weeks the buses have also started blocking the adjacent lane–forcing cyclists onto the trolley tracks. I personally crashed on the tracks this week. These blockades are a clear and present danger to bicyclists heading into the Financial District, and nobody in a position to stop the blockades is doing anything.

    That means it’s up to us–we need to reopen the bike lanes to bikes ourselves. We should organize a protest in front of the Hotel Whitcomb one of these mornings–maybe block the tourbuses the way they block bike traffic?–and force the Hotel, the tourbus operators and the SFPD to address this increasingly hazardous pattern of illegal bike lane closures. I’m bruised up and my iPhone is damaged from the spill I took on trolley tracks out in the center of a road that supposedly has a physically separated bike lane along the curb. What gives?

  • greasybear –

    Great idea! I am for organizing some protests, or at least some gatherings to keep buses from parking there. Seriously guys, who’s in?

  • I’ve had to dodge those buses (and mini-buses) for four years, and have seen an injury or two as other people have been forced to do the same. So as long as there are no plans to interfere with the passengers (it’s not their fault), I’d happily take part in a protest. I’ll be watching this thread for details.

    Lack of enforcement is a real problem. Once, a few years ago, I was encouraged by what I thought was cop writing tickets for the buses. But when I stopped to thank the officer (Adams was his name), he told me he was there on other business. When I asked him to ticket the buses, he refused, arguing that we wouldn’t want to live in a society where every law was ruthlessly enforced. I agree with him, but given that I’d seen cyclists injured while trying to get around the buses, and the fact that this happened only a couple of weeks after a stop sign blitz in the the Wiggle, I was pretty pissed off about the bias. And apparently this kind of SFPD bias against cyclists hasn’t improved: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/12/04/a-troubling-story-of-sfpd-bias-against-bicycle-riders/

    @TIMTOWTDI: Thanks for the link to the vid.

  • I don’t work on Monday so I can do something then. Otherwise, I roll on out of the city prior to 7am so I won’t be much help. But I love the idea. The city isn’t doing anything so time we take action.

  • Charlie

    The lanes are causing problems for seniors and disabled people who are no longer able to get into a taxi or paratransit van at the curb. Just sayin’….

  • TIMTOWTDI

    @Charlie – That may be an issue for the MTA to consider.

    In the meantime, the consistent, egregious violations of the bike lane have been tour buses and shuttles.

    As for protests, in San Francisco cyclists have historically made that the purview of the SFBC.

    Witness the efforts at Market and Octavia – http://www.sfbike.org/?octavia

    However, tread carefully if you are an enthusiastic bike activist involved in an action not organized by the SFBC. It seems a very real possibility that vigorous activism may (paradoxically) not put you in the good graces of our local bike advocacy group. Streetsblog contributor and Valencia Green Wave creator Janel Sterbentz (http://sf.streetsblog.org/author/janel/) learned this at Fix Fell.

    See On The Level for the details:
    http://onthelevelblog.com/2010/06/15/a-sad-chapter-in-bay-area-bicycle-advocacy-history/

  • turtles

    @Charlie: Really? What do those operators and riders do when there are cars parked along the curb?

    Seems like that would be a bit more of a problem than a few soft hit posts and green paint, doesn’t it…?

  • Nick

    This is ridiculous. What is the SFBC expecting the Mayor to do “east of 8th Street”? Paint the sharrows green?

    Surely the SFBC is aware there is a public process for completeing a physically separated bikeway the full length of lower Market. That’s supposed to be the goal for 2013 when Market is repaved.

    Am I missing something here?

    (Forgive my temporary annoyance with the SFBC- I just read the above article about Janel.)

  • RCoffin

    It seems to me that the Hotel Whitcombe problem could be solved a bit by moving the buses around the corner onto 8th? Just remove some parking spaces and spread the loading around the corner.

    -R

  • TIMTOWTDI

    @Rich- Very possibly. There is a Muni stop around the corner. But I recall previous problems with Google/Genentech/Apple buses making use of Muni stops. There is also an alley along the side perpindicular to Market that appears large enough to fit a bus. Though at least one tour bus driver expressed reluctance to try and back his bus into that area.

    No doubt there is a solution. If only we could get a little recognition that there is a problem we’d likely be well on our way to restoring a dignified and safe space for cycling along Market.

  • @Nick I believe the strategy is to get as much of the street with separated bike lanes now as possible using cheap, temporary treatments like paint and soft hit posts, so that in 2013 that will be the new status quo to be set in concrete during the repaving. If the city can’t be compelled to spend a few hours painting the lanes now, it doesn’t bode well for getting them to invest in quality infrastructure in 2013.

  • Abe

    i love greasybear’s idea. Does anybody know what time those busses show up?

  • Dave

    The Hotel Whitcomb problem could be solved by moving the buses around to 8th Street. The Muni/Golden Gate Transit buses that currently stop there could instead stop north of Market Street, at a newly created stop in a to-be-created plaza made possible by the permanent closure of Grove Street in front of the library.

    The issue of loading paratransit passengers is a real one and the posts that prevent buses from pulling to the curb do prevent passengers from boarding. It’s a problem that must be fixed when the permanent solution is fixed.

    Is the SFBC really talking about east of 8th Street? Why? Like Nick said, there’s a whole process in place to address that by 2013 when the street is repaved. it could easily take that long to figure out how to do it. It could — and probably should — also take tens of millions of dollars to do it right. The bike lanes need to be very wide and permit easy entry exit for left turners. The transit lane in the middle needs to be preserved and the boarding islands enlarged. Four lane transit operation needs to be preserved, or, some lines need to move to Mission Street (that’s not an easy change). Perhaps the expensive beautiful sidewalk and street furniture and trees need to be reconfigured.

    Which brings me to a big question about the SFBC’s strategy: where’s the money? It will take millions to do Market Street right, tens of millions to do the rest of the crosstown bike network they’re talking about, and more tens of millions of dollars to build the rest of the city’s bike network (like Mission Creek and dozens of other little links here and there) yet the SFBC has never pushed a funding measure to pay for these things. I’m in Austin Texas at the moment where voters will soon approve a $90 million bond to contribute about $45 million to bicycling improvements in the city. We need at least $100 million and we need it in the next five to eight years and we need somebody to lead a campaign to get us that money.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in politics, it’s that attention and power follows the money. Throwing millions of dollars at a problem really does fix it!

  • julia

    Even if SFPD and others think tour bus convenience trumps cyclist safety, I never understand why these buses don’t get ticketed for parking (engines off, drivers AWOL) in front of the fire hydrant there. Preventing people from blocking fire hydrants seems like a no-brainer, and nobody has to worry about being a pansy-ass bicycle sympathizer.

  • UnrepresentedRider

    Meanwhile on the south side of the the city…. I get to dodge cars going somewhere between 55 and 70, well above the posted 45 on San Jose northbound at Rousseau every evening because of a lack of soft hits or any other deterrents. Allowing all afternoon traffic to take the bike lane forcing me out into angry speeding traffic on my way home. Even more enjoyable is how the lane has never been finished at San Jose & Brook, so again I get to fight with angry speeding drivers to use the bike lane as they slowly acknowledge a lane shift has taken place. When will this lane be finished let alone greened and soft post protected?

    Masonic is also due for massive improvements, but meanwhile has no lines or any visible signifier of a bike lane whatsoever and yet again is a road where drivers speed along no where near the posted 25mph. Where is the push for interim measures there?

    Market is the safest it has ever been, minus the bike eating pot holes and general disrepair. Sure it takes some attentiveness still to navigate with buses, and massive potholes, but outside of Valencia and the Panhandle parkway don’t all bike lanes require a bit of traffic navigation. At least the speeds on Market have come down significantly allowing all a bit of a reaction time buffer.

    The SFBC is focusing on Market because it is an easy win and something they can splash around as a victory. I am beginning to think I would be better served as a cyclist donating my annual SFBC fee to the City/County for a bike lane fund since I find myself on a bike at Lower Market once a week. The other 6 days I am out in the wilds of our city where all traffic is less friendly to bikes and speed limits, and is also ignored by any visible SFBC/SFMTA bike planning.