As part of its “Calm the Safety Zone” project, the SFMTA plans to install five green bike boxes on Market Street at intersections that currently have bike lanes, bringing to seven the total number of bike boxes in San Francisco. Bike advocates urged the SFMTA to install them quickly and focus on a continuous ribbon of green, separated bikeways from 8th Street to the Embarcadero  to further boost the trials of innovative projects on Market Street that have made life a little easier for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.
The colored bike boxes will be placed on westbound Market at Hyde, Van Ness Avenue and Haight/Gough, and on eastbound Market Street at South Van Ness and 9th Street. The SFMTA hopes to have the reftro-reflective green paint on the ground “in early 2011.” Adding more green bike lanes on Market Street apparently won’t happen with the installation of the bike boxes but the agency is in the midst of developing a colored bike lanes policy.
Bridget Smith of the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets division said the agency is also crafting a bike box policy that will focus on putting in bike boxes at intersections where there are existing bike lanes. She said the policy would conform with national guidelines being developed by the Cities for Cycling  program of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
“It’s part of our ongoing effort to try innovative measures and see if they do help clarify the roles and correct place for everyone on the street. So we’re sharing this confined street space and we want to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians and transit whenever we can,” said Smith. “The bike box gives bicyclists an opportunity to be ahead of the automobiles and get a head start on traffic once the light turns green.”
Bike boxes have been seen in Europe and parts of Asia since the 1980s. In the U.S., they are now more prolific in Portland and New York City. San Francisco installed its first bike box in 2004 on 14th Street at Folsom to help facilitate left-hand turns. Another one was striped in 2006 on Scott Street at Oak, and was painted green  late last year after a partial lifting of the bike injunction . It helps bicyclists move into a left-turn bike lane for the turn at Fell Street on The Wiggle.
“I would say it’s a great start. We would actually like to see those bike boxes going in right now and let’s see how they work and we’re going to want them at a lot more intersections,” said Renee Rivera, the acting executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition. “We think it’s something that’s really going to help reduce conflicts on Market Street, help make it clearer to everyone who is using Market Street, what’s bike space, what’s car space.”
Smith said the agency has not figured out the other locations for bike boxes, but Rivera said that will be very easy to figure out.
“I can think off the top of my head other intersections that would benefit by having a bike box. They should go in now [on Market] so we can evaluate and figure out the next set of intersections to deploy them,” she said.
Where would you like to see a bike box?