Cesar Chavez Street Redesign Approved by SFMTA Board

Image: SF Planning Department

A long-awaited blueprint to significantly improve safety and livability conditions on Cesar Chavez Street was approved by SFMTA Board today, culminating nearly a decade of community input and planning.

“This is the final step for approval of this really great project,” said Marc Caswell, program director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “This project has been in the works for years, and watching the Department of Public Works, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the SFMTA, and everybody at the Planning Department come together to build this world-class project was really inspiring and a great example for how future projects should come together.”

Caswell and neighborhood advocates cheered the plan’s benefits for pedestrians and bike riders. Redesigning the street will also lead to a reduction in speeding motor traffic.

For five years now, community groups and city agencies have been working together to develop a vision to improve a street that residents described as a “mini-freeway” so dangerous that even some drivers avoided it. The SFMTA’s Mike Sallaberry of the Sustainable Streets Division noted that bicyclists and pedestrians have disproportionately comprised 8 and 15 percent, respectively, of the street’s 150 crashes over the past five years.

“I would gladly add a minute or two to my drive to and from the freeway to ensure safety for bike riders and pedestrians,” said one commuter who uses the motor thoroughfare regularly by bike and car.

Sallaberry described the plan, saying it would cost-efficiently add features such as bike lanes, a landscaped median, and sidewalk bulb-outs in conjunction with sewer pipe and lighting projects already planned by the PUC.

Critics have said the proposed bike lanes, which would be painted between parked vehicles and moving motor traffic, don’t go far enough to improve safety compared to physically separated facilities, such as those being planned for Masonic Avenue.

SFMTA Director Cheryl Brinkman said that according to Sallaberry and PUC staff, a buffered bike lane wouldn’t currently be possible without removing the landscaped median or parking lanes. Without critical funding from the PUC that depends on including the stormwater-mitigating median, the project may not be possible.

As for the option of using the medians to separate bike and auto traffic, she said it would conflict with the location of underground sewer pipes, and removing parking would be a politically difficult option.

The sewer portion of the work is scheduled to start this spring while construction on the streetscape plan should begin in the fall.

  • Only in California can a government official call $6,000,000 for 0.9 miles of painted bike lanes and sidewalk bulbs “cost-efficient.”

    But he is also correct that the MTA can’t really be blamed for the awful design we’re going to end up with; if people want to appropriately direct their anger, they should aim it at America’s broken infrastructure funding system that relies almost entirely on grantmaking for capital projects. The result of this is that city street designs are at the whim of federal and state agencies rather than cities, and rainwater is prioritized over cyclist safety.

  • Yeah, the median sucks but the bigger problem that I’m irritated about is the fact that they did this street in two parts. I know things take time, and I know Fran is amazing and has done so much work on this project, but man, without the East side of Chavez I just don’t see this as a complete street… My gf and I are looking for a new apartment in SF right now and I am really hoping we don’t find somewhere to live south of 24th street because then I will be tempted to use Chavez again to get to 22nd street and its such a fricking death trap. Wouldn’t it be amazing if street redesigns were prioritized by the amount of danger they pose to cyclists? Hell, then we would be talking about separated bi-flow bike lanes on Fell and not in the park where it already feels pretty damn safe comparatively. I understand that you start with the low-hanging fruit, the easier places, but shit, the more difficult sections take so many years to fix…why not start them first and then tackle the easier stuff once you put the roast in the oven?

    J

  • Brian

    The doorage will be brutal.

  • It’s an improvement, but it’s just plain wrong to only do that kind of bike lane. There’s really no excuse for it. It should be buffered. I don’t see why you’d have to remove anything, just reorganize it. And even if you do have to remove something, so be it. Remove one of the six lanes in the picture above dedicated to motor vehicles, which really have no place in almost any part of our city, anyway.

    Having said all that, don’t get me wrong. It’s a major improvement.

  • Nick

    I’ve been hearing about Cesar Chavez for 10 years now. After such a struggle, why is the bike lane only 5 feet wide? Was 6 feet really too much to give us?

  • SF

    So nw that this awful plan has passed, can we start on the plan to rebuild it right?

  • Josh

    Million Dollar Mediocrity. Hardly a victory for street users

  • Mike

    First, the dimensions shown are outdated. There will be a wider space for bicyclists and a reduced chance of doorings. To the naysayers, the end result will speak for itself. The street will be safer and more pleasant for everyone. This is not just a bicycle project, folks.

  • The thing about this project is I can’t figure out who is supposed to benefit, besides the city contractors. Obviously bikes were not a priority; if it was absolutely necessary to prioritize peds and transit I could see that being OK on some streets.

    But the only street users that seem to have gained in any real significant way from the redesign are drivers in the left lane who will have some nice plants to look at when they’re stopped at red lights (the green space is not accessible to pedestrians, who can only look at it from across 33′ of vehicles) and drivers who use on-street parking who will now have a much nicer parking lane.

    Other than that, it seems like basically painted bike lanes and sidewalk bulbs at a cost of over $6M/mile. I would make a comment about how that money could be spent so much better elsewhere if a more ambitious project is not feasible on CC, but of course the money is from earmarked grants so we’re supposed to pretend it doesn’t count and just be glad we won it!

  • Anything less than a protected bike lane on this street is a crime – a wide bike lane or buffered bike lane would not go far enough — the statistical safety is almost irrelevant — we need the subjective safety that can only come from protecting us cyclists from moving cars/trucks/buses with physical barriers. Narrow the median by four-to-six feet, and voila, done and done.

    What do ‘underground sewer pipes’ have to do with the median? Is that what we’re saying — that the raised median, which prevents biking and speeds automobile traffic, has to be 14′-wide because there are ‘underground sewer pipes’ that can only be accommodated with a 14′-wide median?

    Like, 13′ is not wide enough, and 15′ would be too wide?

    Or no median at all is not possible, or a non-raised median is not possible?

    Like, we _have_ to institutionalize this travesty with a raised median to make sure that our kids and our kids’ kids suffer?

  • jd

    The good news: this is progress, and for that we should be thankful. The bad news: we’re going to be stuck with it for a generation, and it’s simply not good enough for bicyclists since we’ve finally learned that bike lanes which aren’t protected are still too dangerous (and won’t let us reach the kinds of numbers of cyclists the city is talking about reaching in the next 5-10 years).

    I’ve been thinking about this (bike lanes in general) a lot recently, and it’s utterly amazing that we ever thought squeezing bike lanes thoughtlessly between moving cars and parked cars was ever a good idea. It just goes to show how the bicycle was utterly neglected from post-WWII urban design. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if they put a sidewalk in the same space we put bike lanes?! People would be rioting. And why? Because pedestrians are way too vulnerable to cars. It’s obvious. So we give them a “barrier”, ie, the curb and some grass, to keep them away from the dangerous cars. Great idea.

    But the thing is: bicycles are *just* as vulnerable in a collision as pedestrians, yet for some reason we’ve decided it’s okay for bicycles to be exposed to this danger?! That’s just nuts, and I’m disappointed that we haven’t progressed passed this inane and anachronistic thinking so that Cesar Chavez is still going to have one of these outdated bike lanes (and for another generation).

    And I really, really, really don’t get this whole landscaped median thing. Why do city planners think this is so great? First, it causes drivers to go faster since they feel safer (and rightfully so, since the risk of head on collisions is significantly reduced). Second, it is greenery that nobody can enjoy since it’s smack in the middle of loud, polluting, and dangerous traffic. Third, it’s wasted space which makes our roads even wider than they already are but without providing any use for the non-car users. What they should have done is pull out that 14′ foot of landscaped median and put half on each side. Then take half of that 7′ for each side and split it again: use 3.5′ as curbed greenery to protect the bike lane (between parked cars and the bike lane) and the other 3.5′ to further increase the pedestrian zone. And plant them with native plants, shrubs, and trees so we don’t have to waste more time, resources, and money on the silly idea of mowing, caring for, and watering a lawn that nobody uses.

    Finally, as someone else asked: what is up with the upgrade to the section of Cesar Chavez between 101 and 280 which is also supposed to have a bike lane? Without that, we’re only half way there …. I would actually argue that that section is even worse since it at least you can travel along 26th St. for the Guerrero to 101 section but you have no choice but to travel on Cesar Chavez when going between 101 and 280 (unless you like climbing enormous hills). Plus, maybe it’s just me, but I get buzzed and right-hooked much more often on the 101-280 section than the Guerrero-101 section.

  • I agree that this plan is already outdated, and it’s discouraging to think if it’s implemented, this is what we’ll be stuck with for the next 20 years. (Yes, it’s better than what’s there now, but what’s there now is truly awful.) Unlike a painted bike lane that’s easy to have trials and experiment with, once the concrete for the medians and bulb outs are poured, change is unlikely. At the very least, the parked cars and the bike lanes should switched, and I agree that the greenery is better on the sides of the streets protecting pedestrians and bicyclists than in the median.

    It’s not just the physical danger that being so close to the cars pose, it’s also the stress from the noise, being in proximity to their fumes, and just the sheer unpleasantness of having large objects speed past within a foot of one’s elbow. It’s a good point that we don’t put the pedestrian right of way between the road and parked cars, so why force the bicycle in that same dangerous space? The Netherlands model of the bike lane entirely separate from car traffic–a model that has produced high safety levels and high bike participation from every segment of their society–is the one we should be following.

    The other option, as mentioned above, is to make 26th street a bicycle boulevard with severely restricted car traffic and slow down/no stop roundabouts, and then figure out a viable, safe way to merge bikes onto Cesar Chavez just before 101. With a protected bike lane east of 101, of course.

    Lately I’ve been experiencing cars racing past me and then right in front of me swerving into an open parking space and screeching on the brakes. A scary business all around. Having cars traverse the bike lane to park creates inevitable conflicts and dangers. Bike lanes directly adjacent to car traffic are more tolerable when there’s no parking at the side of the road at all.

  • Try again

    Certainly an improvement, but I agree this bike lane design is sub-standard. It’s not too late to fix it.

    Simply swap the bike lane with the parking lane

    OR

    Put the bike lanes along the planted median

    Either solution would allow for a physical buffer and remove the dooring conflict

    SFMTA engineers are smart and highly paid, they could figure out a street design that meets the City’s objectives while actually providing a safe bike facility.

    I would not send my 8 year old daughter or my 80 year old grandma on that bike lane!

  • Fran Taylor

    Eastern Cesar Chavez and the freeway mazes are indeed next. The Planning Department is conducting a community design workshop next week:
    Thursday, Feb. 10, 6:30-8:30
    Buena Vista School, 2641 25th Street between Utah and San Bruno (one block east of Potrero)
    Muni #9, #33, #19, #27, #48 / bring bikes inside auditorium
    Agenda:
    6:30-7:30 slide show
    7:30-8:30 discussion

  • thielges

    Peter – Granted their vulnerability is the same but cyclists and pedestrians are different in the way that they interact with street traffic. Cyclists need to be able to merge to the left when preparing for a left turn. Pedestrians on the other hand make left turns by using crosswalks.

  • ZA

    A few comments:

    The image doesn’t show the median turning lanes to improve car traffic flow.

    The median offers a vital pedestrian half-way point.

    The overall design is not bike-optimal, but it’s better than what’s there now. I’m going to join the community meeting later this month to see if there’s any possibility in swapping the parked car and bike lane positions for a little added protection for cyclists.

    http://www.sf-planning.org/ftp/CDG/CDG_mission_cesarchavez.htm

  • andrew

    If this is anytyhing like Octavia, expect massive backups in all directions at rush hour. But it sure looks pretty in the PowerPoints!

  • nik

    “a buffered bike lane wouldn’t currently be possible without removing the landscaped median or parking lanes”

    forget buffered. just swap the lien of parked cars and the bike lane so that the cars ARE the buffer. dealing with bulb outs/bis stops is not a problem either, since this has been solved in the new masonic redesign.

    come on, people, when are we going to finally stop designing bike lanes between doors and moving cars?

  • Morton

    Nik,

    I can think of at least three problems with having bike lanes between the sidewalk and the line of parked vehicles, which is presumably why they are never designed in SF that way, at least not as far as I know anyway.

    1) You’re still likely to get doored, just by the passenger doors rather than the driver side doors. In fact, drivers tend to look out before opening the door a lot more than passengers, who may not drive themselves, or may be children, very old etc.

    2) You’ll be effectively riding in the gutter, and on the roughest part of the street with the steepest camber.

    3) While you’d be protected from vehicular traffic, you’ll have more interaction with pedestrians, skateboarders, strollers, wheelchairs, homeless guys with shopping carts and so on. Sidewalk users will tend to “go wide” and see such a bike lane as an extension of the sidwalk.

  • Mark D.

    @nik You’ll still have to deal with the doors on the right of the car opening, but this is obviously less common – you always need a driver. Nevertheless, swapping the car parking with the bike lane seems to be the best idea to improve this project for cyclists without removing parking, reducing the median, etc.

  • Dan

    I’m not sure swapping the parked cars and bike lanes make sense for Cesar Chavez. Unlike the Panhandle, this will be used primarily by commuter cyclists that often prefer the ability to merge left over any ‘buffer’. Many such cyclists argue that even bike lanes can be limited and prefer to take the lane and thus avoid the door zone. That said, I do think there are improvement opportunities: at some point protected lanes using barriers similar to Market street might be viable as a worthwile upgrade to the current scheme. Personally I think this is a huge step in completing Cesar Chavez: balancing all the users needs.

  • taomom –

    I use 26th Street. I use the Bryant Boulevard in Palo Alto. My thinking was aligned with yours until I heard this at the SFMTA meeting.

    26th Street is already pretty decent. Cesar Chavez sucks. Why spend money, effort, and planning to improve a street that doesn’t need a lot of improving?

  • Jake Wegmann

    I’m actually really encouraged by this discussion. There is a real “critical mass,” so to speak, of people here who are attuned to what real “world-class” bike infrastructure looks like, and who are going to make some noise to push for it in the future. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that this conversation would have unfolded like this, say, five years ago, or maybe even three years ago. Now the Copenhagen/Amsterdam biking/urban livability culture has seeped into our discourse here in the Bay Area to the point where a lot of us just aren’t going to remain content with Bike Infrastructure Version 1.0 anymore. Our expectations have been raised, and there’s just no going back. There simply is no reason for us to accept second-rate solutions anymore.

    Thanks should be due, in no small part, to Streetsblog SF and all the great work they’ve done in raising these issues and providing these forums.

    Keep it up, everyone. We’ll probably lose this battle for Cesar Chavez, at least this portion of it, but I’m encouraged that soon we will begin winning the war, fought in similar battles all over the City and the Bay.

  • JD

    Morton:

    As a counter to your counter arguments against a separated bike lane …

    First, on a general note, have you noticed that all European cities that have high numbers of cyclists (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, etc.) have a LOT of cycltracks where the bicyclists are separated from the moving cars with some sort of buffer? And have you ever ridden in these cities to see just how pleasant it is? What more proof do you need that the urban design and planning they are using which includes separated bike lanes works to encourage more people to cycle? And on the contrary, witness how American cities with thoughtless bike lanes (where there even are bike lanes) slapped between parked and moving cars as an afterthought can get more than a few percent of people on their bikes.

    Now, responding to your specific points …

    “1) You’re still likely to get doored, just by the passenger doors rather than the driver side doors. In fact, drivers tend to look out before opening the door a lot more than passengers, who may not drive themselves, or may be children, very old etc.”

    Not if designed with a *buffer*. You’ll notice that is what everybody is talking about here. You just put a minimum of 3-4 feet of ideally curbed median (or painted lanes) so that passenger doors can open without interfering with the bike lane. To see this in action, check out this great video about cycletracks in Portland:

    Check out 1:26 to see how a separated bike lane with a buffer looks.

    “2) You’ll be effectively riding in the gutter, and on the roughest part of the street with the steepest camber.”

    First, I’ll take riding over debris any day over riding alongside 4000 lb cars and doors being swung open right in front of me. And even if it’s so bad that I wipe out, at least I don’t get sent into oncoming automobile traffic like is currently the case! However, if you use the painted lane version of the buffer, street cleaning will take care of any garbage. If you use a curbed median buffer, you won’t get the garbage from the cars (which is the most dangerous). You’ll still get litter, but again, I’ll take that any day over riding with traffic. Further, if cycle tracks really catch on (as we hope), then eventually the city will probably need to run a few street sweepers designed specifically for bike lanes like they have in Copenhagen. Again, it’s not that there aren’t issues in dealing with debris/litter, but that they are HUGE improvement and MUCH more solvable than putting cyclists next to fast-moving cars.

    “3) While you’d be protected from vehicular traffic, you’ll have more interaction with pedestrians, skateboarders, strollers, wheelchairs, homeless guys with shopping carts and so on. Sidewalk users will tend to “go wide” and see such a bike lane as an extension of the sidwalk.”

    First, not if you then again separate the bike lane with a curbed median/buffer from the sidewalk. You essentially have 3 rights-of-way on each road: cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians, all physically separated from each other. And again, moving our problem from cyclists getting killed or maimed by cars to one of figuring out conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians is *huge* progress for everyone’s safety. Sure, it doesn’t mean there aren’t things to work out, but we should be taking “things to work out” over cyclists getting killed or maimed by cars. The status quo (a bike lane slapped thoughtlessly in the road squeezed between parked and moving cars) is extremely dangerous and hence unacceptable. Just take a look at how northern European cities do it, and you’ll see that these are problems that can be easily solved. Of course, it means we need to start designing our cities around *people* and not cars, something that has been completely lost on urban planners the past 60 years or so. It’s high time we get back to cities being designed around *people*, as they have been for millenia. Never should a dangerous, polluting, loud, and inefficient vehicle dominate our city roads at the expense of everyone’s safety.

  • If we design this street so that it only suits the vehicular-style commuter cyclist, then only vehicular-style commuter cyclists will use it.

    When I turn left on busy streets, I cross one way, wait for the light, and then cross the other. I only take the lane and turn left like a car when there is a four way stop, the traffic is very light or when I don’t seem to have much option (turning left from Scott onto Fell.)

    As JD pointed out above, all the “problems” with physically-protected bikes lanes have long ago been solved in the Netherlands and Denmark. If you really think physically-protected bikes lanes cause more problems than they solve, please, please WATCH THIS VIDEO!!!

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2010/11/reality-vs-myth-dangers-of-dutch-cycle.html

  • Florida St Resident

    There should definitely be reconsideration of the bike lane design/location.

    But let’s hear it for the City! This is a MAJOR step forward for pedestrians, bikes, neighbors, and the environment. A street fitting for Cesar Chavez!

    Cheers to the Liberty Hill douchebags who will now have an extra minute on their commute through our neighborhood. SLOW DOWN!

  • Maureen

    By the looks of this design my son and I still won’t be biking Cesar Chavez from Bernal to his school in Potrero, even though it is the shortest route. I was really, truly hoping for protected bike lanes.

  • SFSquee

    This was a 5 year process with plenty of outreach and opportunity for public input. It’s not a perfect plan, but it is a reasonable compromise between cars, bikes, peds, and people who live there. I’m very excited to see this improvement happen soon.

  • This was a 5 year process with plenty of outreach and opportunity for public input. It’s not a perfect plan, but it is a reasonable compromise between cars, bikes, peds, and people who live there. I’m very excited to see this improvement happen soon.

    Just because you have ‘outreach’ and ‘public input’ does not mean you end up with a logical or decent design. Unfortunately, the majority too often still rules, no matter how many people’s rights are infringed upon. This plan is not only not perfect, it is not fair, and the raised median, in particular, represents an attack on future generations’ ability to determine their own destiny (not to mention the myriad existing and would-be bikers that exist today).

    Is that Feb 10 meeting going to address this part of Cesar Chavez at all?

    I’m gonna get on the phone again w/ the planning folks — I raised my objections to this street design for years now, called and emailed the planning folks, at least emailed Fran and went to a couple of community meetings, all to no avail. If the people of Egypt are getting their brains bashed in, the least I can do is make a few phone calls, etc.

    It may be that we have to make one last-ditch effort to get protected bike lanes on Cesar Chavez.

    The raised median creates pedestrian refugees — we should make the auto part of the roadway narrower, and slow automobile traffic by removing the raised median — this is the correct way to protect pedestrians — not strand them in the middle of a highway where they can be humiliated and suck up fumes in between traffic signal changes — not to mention, invite homeless folks/beggars to stand in the middle of the road and carry signs and ask for change, etc.

    This road has to be made walkable and bikable — whatever else you want to do with the road, fine, have at it, i won’t try to stop you — but it has to be made walkable and bikable first, in that priority order.

    Also, why would it be ‘politically difficult’ to allow cycling on this street? What did Cesar Chavez care about car parking? If our conception of Cesar Chavez is to act as a thoroughfare to more people, then why would we want to clog up the street with car storage? It’s not politically difficult to allow bikes to use this street — it’s politically difficult to try to justify using precious road space on this street for automobile storage. The car storage cannot be justified, so it probably has to go away, but really, i don’t care if it goes away or not — i just want to be able to bike on this street in safety and comfort — if you can accommodate that _and_ still allow car storage, fine by me — but walkers and bikers have to be prioritized.

    I’m still confused about Masonic. Maybe I need to re-read the old posts, but all I remember seeing for Masonic and every other major avenue in SF was big bus lanes and/or raised medians.

    26th Street is 26th Street, not Cesar Chavez — we need bikes to be able to ride safely and comfortably on the main corridors of the City, nothing less. if you want vehicles to have to go out of their way to get where they’re going, then make cars do it — they have engines and require very little effort for drivers to driver further — walkers and bikers deserve the most direct routes between Pt A and Pt B.

  • I left a voicemail for and dropped an email to Andres Power – the lead designer/project mgr for the Cesar Chavez project.

    I don’t remember what the result of our previous conversation(s) were, but if it’s more than a couple of folks who think bikes should be allowed to use Cesar Chavez too, then we might just have to go after it.

    Also, I wonder how many car parking places we’re actually talking about? Is it more important to allow thousands of people to bike on Cesar Chavez, or is it more important to allow 20 people to park on Cesar Chavez?

    OK — see this picture? Cars smashed into houses, causing extensive damage (article). I still lived in the area at the time of this crash — walked by the patched-up holes in the house the next day. People expect us to bike _outside_ of a broken line of parked cars, and _without_ the grade separation that a sidewalk provides — however little protection that grade separation is, it still represents _something_ — but this approved redesign of CC throws us cyclists (and would-be cyclists) to the wolves.

    And how many cars have been sideswiped parked on Cesar Chavez? How many mirrors are missing each morning? That’s why cars and trucks often park up on the sidewalks, and flip their mirrors in. But instead of parked _cars_ protecting us (human) cyclists, it is us humans who will be acting to protect _cars_ — welcome to San Francisco, where we take the protection of cars to a whole new level.

  • James Figone

    Yes, let’s get rid of the car storage and create fully protected, wide comfortable lanes on this important corridor. It is too bad that in 2011 this is the best our planners could come up with. The rendering shows that much of the street is fronted by garages, limiting car parking anyway. Let’s just take it out entirely and give it to bikes.

  • Adam G

    Let’s be honest, this is a great improvement that should be commended. Could it have been better? Absolutely. Coming from San Diego, where any type of bike/ped improvement is shot down before plans can even get underway, San Francisco should be applauded for great street re-designs following repavings. How many other U.S. cities are making a better whole-hearted attempt to make streets for everyone?

  • Morton

    James,

    But the residents with garages can park outside their own garage door even though there is a curb cut. It’s just that others cannot park there, without fear of being towed.

    So in many cases, a private garage does not take away the street parking place. Realtors often advertise such homes with a 1-car garage as having 2-car parking!

  • robo-sfo

    Yes, it is an improvement but no, it’s not a complete street. A complete street should guarantee safe passage for ALL users, and the only way this will happen on Cesar Chavez is a separated, class 1 bike lane. While the 5′ wide lanes will improve safety for your average commuter, maybe, it will do nothing for families with children or less skilled cyclists.
    A class 1 lane on the N side of the street would avoid the Bayshore and 101 on ramps, and would connect withe the bike path through the Cesar Chavez/101 interchange mess.
    Why are we acting satisfied with a few crumbs when there is an opportunity to create a great facility?
    I would like to add that the same applies to Masonic. There are some problems built in to that design.

    Can’t we take out bike/ped/transit first policy from the city charter and make it real?

  • janel

    5′ bike lane in the door zone is a “really great project” according to SF’s professional bicycle advocate? It is time to aim for higher safety standards for greatness yeah?

  • James Figone

    Morton,

    All the more reason to remove the parking. If there is no parking, there will be no parking in front of garages for the SECOND car for those who already have a garage. Having a proper bike lane vs parking for the SECOND car leads to maximum public benefit.

  • Morton

    James,

    If I understand the plan correctly, it provides for BOTH a bike lane AND for street parking.

    It’s not a perfect bike lane, perhaps. But then street car parking isn’t perfect either. Ideally we’d have super-wide bike lanes AND off-street parking for everyone. But space is limited.

    So the plan is a compromise between drivers (who presumably would prefer no bike lane) and cyclists (who would prefer no car parking).

    At least CC isn’t a public transit route so we don’t have to compromise even further.

    I suspect SFMTA takes into account the views of all road users and tries to carve out a middle position that gives everyone something.

    It is often said that the best solution to a problem is the one that leaves everyone partly unhappy! I think that’s what we have here.

  • Fran Taylor

    “At least CC isn’t a public transit route …”

    The #27 runs on Cesar Chavez between Bryant and Valencia, and the #12 runs between Folsom and Valencia. CC Puede is continuing to push for more Muni service, especially an east-west route through the hairball connecting 24th St BART, Caltrain, and the T.

  • JD

    Morton wrote: “So the plan is a compromise between drivers (who presumably would prefer no bike lane) and cyclists (who would prefer no car parking).”

    See, this is the problem: it’s not a compromise at all. What the cyclists prefer doesn’t hurt anybody (and in fact encourages a healthy form of transit with a massively lower environmentally footprint and noise factor) and what the drivers prefer (presumably, for the sake of this argument, though I think many drivers also want to see more people cycling) seriously endangers others (cyclists in particular) only for the sake of their own convenience (better parking). That is nuts. You can’t put parking over people’s (cyclist’s) lives, especially when those people are transiting in a way that is healthier, quieter, and better for the environment. And because of these reasons, no less, it’s the city’s *own* stated goal to increase cycling and decrease car usage.

    Further, as others have pointed out, the vast majority of people moving through the CC corridor do not live there and hence don’t give a damn about on-street parking on CC. What they want is fast, easy access to the freeway. And that is a fine goal (by the way, almost every cyclist also drives, so they get this), but never should it come at the expense of the safety of other road users and the livability of the neighborhood. That is, however, what the city is saying by forcing cyclists into the danger zone that is the space between cars racing to the freeway (down a road that is literally designed like one itself if it weren’t for the stoplights) and parked cars. How can this be a compromise? In the whole “compromising” process and “sharing the road” that is the supposed mantra between cyclists and drivers, cyclists always get the short end of the stick, where their lives are endangered only for the convenience of drivers. Truly sharing the road (and hence compromising) means everyone should be equally safe. Though this plan marginally improves the safety of cyclists on CC, it certainly doesn’t treat them as equals to drivers. And now that we as a city are starting to understand this fact, what’s so frustrating to see the city not realize a corridor that truly values of the safety of all users instead of prioritizing drivers.

    But here’s the thing. The solution is EASY! You don’t have to take away any parking or any traffic lanes from the proposed 4. All you do is remove the 14′ median from the center of the road (where it is wasted since nobody can use it) and add a protected bike lane on the outside of the parking cars. The space for the buffer between the bike lane and the parked cars (7′ on each side) comes from the median, so there is no net change in the width of the road and everybody is happy. That is why this plan is soooo frustrating, because the solution is so damn easy. The median is pointless and reflects an outdated, post-WWII, car-centric-at-the-expense-of-all-other-users suburban design.

  • Aaron Bialick

    JD –

    As mentioned in the article according to Brinkman, unfortunately putting the medians in the space you described, which appears to essentially be where the bike lanes are in the current proposed design, would block access to the sewer pipes underneath. You’ll notice sewer pipes commonly run underneath bike lanes in this city if you look for the “utility cuts” – lines of re-paved asphalt where pipe work has been done. One that always comes to mind for me is the northbound Baker bike lane, where poor re-paving creates a really bumpy surface.

    In one alternative Cesar Chavez design [pdf], they had a curbside slow shared lane for parking access similar to Octavia, but only on the north side with a 10′ separating median. I could see that being reconfigured to both sides by splitting the median up but the median would be reduced to 3 feet on each side. While I agree with other commenters that safety for those on bikes should be prioritized over planted median space, I also think both should be prioritized over space dedicated primarily to automobiles, meaning either the parking lanes or other travel lanes should ideally go first.

    I also have to point out that another downside of center medians is the barrier it presents to emergency vehicles in cases of motor traffic congestion. Having the ability to pass into the oncoming lanes is pretty important.

  • JD

    Aaron wrote: “As mentioned in the article according to Brinkman, unfortunately putting the medians in the space you described, which appears to essentially be where the bike lanes are in the current proposed design, would block access to the sewer pipes underneath”

    I guess I’m confused …. Where is it that the sewers can’t be? Is it that they have to be under paved surface and can’t be under landscaping? If so, why can’t you just put the sewer lines somewhere else? Is it that hard to move them 5-10 feet? Doesn’t make sense that our surface street design is dictated by what’s underneath; it should be the other way around. We can choose to prioritize whatever we want.

  • BSMITH

    Riddle me this…

    1. Who will keep the median free of trash? That is going to collect more litter than my dryer’s lint trap sees after a round with rugs and blankets.
    2. It doubles nicely as a homeless parklet
    3. Traffic and fumes will be brutal. Someone cited Octavia as a win at a meeting I attended… are you kidding me? Have you ‘ever’ walked that stretch of Octavia where cars idle waiting to get on or off the freeway? (correct: NOBODY walks along that end of the corridor – the ONLY pedestrians in sight are at the Hayes Street end (I wonder why…)

    I am an every-day city bike rider AND father of children who need to be driven around. I LOVE the Valencia bike lanes but then again, nobody ever confused Valencia with a high traffic cross town corridor when the lanes were put in! Of which there are precious few thoroughfares in this addled city of ours where it takes 30 minutes to get cross town.

    Whats next – take a few lanes off of Van Ness and Geary and Lombard? How about 19th then? You dont see those people complaining. Its the nature of the beast. I am sorry but if you live on CC you knew what you were getting into when you moved in (90%+ of the residents have lived there for less than 25 years, so dont try and tell us they are getting screwed). Reminds me of the couple who built a house above the Altamont Speedway… and now are arguing that its too loud.

    A great way to appease the minority at the expense of the majority – lets remove a perfectly good parking spot and let bikes park in it! Great PR for us bikers. A real middle finger to normal citizens who like to park and spend their money on local merchants but have one less space because those bikes just cant be parked anywhere else. Oh, and next time you fascist bikers yell at a car think about how stupid you are being. These are bikes and you are a grownup not a child. Its not a fashion accessory, nor a lifestyle. Bikes are an enjoyable transportation for adults; at least until my mood gets soured by zealots and screamers and whiners.

  • I think the real issue is that about 25% of the funding for this project comes from a grant from the PUC for the supposed stormwater benefits of the permeable median.

    The obvious solution to the sewer issue is to just use concrete planter boxes instead of permanent median for the buffer, then if they ever have to do sewer work they can just move the boxes out of the way.

    But presumably the PUC will not give any grant money for this because it isn’t permeable. As I said, another textbook example of how grantmaking obliterates any semblance of reason from local decision making.

  • Dan

    At the end of this very long process, I’m proud that strongest push back focuses on _not_doing _more_ for non-auto access to Cesar Chavez. Next step- East Side. (and maybe a pocket park or two.)

  • SG

    I have only seen one comment that brings up the congestion that will result from this flawed plan. It seems there is nothing that can be done regarding the reduction of lanes from six to four. I think if there was an organized group other than the bike coalition, this plan would have further issues. But alas, there seems to be no more organized group than the bike coalition itself.

    It is slightly refreshing that there are supposed to be left turn lanes at some of the more utilized cross streets. Although if someone could post a url to a full overview of the new plan including those left turn turnouts, that might be helpful.

    Upon reading these comments it seems no one is satisfied with the compromise that is being designed. Off the top of my head I wonder why we don’t lessen the width of the median and make the car parking diagonal on the sides of CC and put the bike lane between the diagonally parked cars and the sidewalk. With the cars on a diagonal dooring will be reduced. Who needs that wide of a median anyway. And do we really need trees? I’ve heard this will lessen traffic noise but I wonder about that.

    If people in the surrounding community were better informed and/or more organized the reduction of lanes and resulting overflow traffic that will decrease our quality of life would be better addressed. A canvass of the surrounding neighborhoods should be undertaken. It would be interesting to see who knows of this plan, if they are a member of the bike coalition, how they feel about the plan and provide them with literature to further enlighten them on this subject.

  • It’s so great that this re-design of Cesar Chavez is funded and soon to be under construction. The only thing certain is change, so there are no perfect solutions ever, but I see a greener (in both meanings) street, with much friendlier pedestrian crossing, much better bike access (a bike lane is so much better than no bike lane) and two less lanes of car traffic, making this a friendlier and healthier and more beautiful street. Congratulation to Fran and all the dedicated activists who have worked so hard to realize this dream!

  • By the way… I just saw an announcement for a community meeting on what to do about the 101 underpass and eastern Cesar Chavez that people who are interested in this would probably also be interested in. 6:30-8:30, Buena Vista Elementary School, February 10, 2011.

  • SG

    They removed two of the six lanes. Cars are a reality in this city. To think they have no place in most of our city, is well…

  • mikesonn

    Cars still have 4 lanes. Your point?

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