Folsom Street Road Diet Includes Bike Lanes, Bus Bulbs in the Mission

Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernalkc/476508427/sizes/z/in/photostream/##BernalKC##

A redesign of Folsom Street in the Mission District aimed at calming motor traffic and improving conditions for walking and bicycling is one step closer to becoming a reality. A proposal to add bike lanes and bus bulbs is now on its way to the SFMTA Board of Directors.

The street “was identified through the Eastern Neighborhoods process as a green axis, linking major parks and open spaces with a grand boulevard,” according to the Mission Streetscape Plan that is guiding the road diet proposal.

The project would take advantage of a re-paving opportunity to implement short-term lane striping changes from 13th to 24th Streets, laying the groundwork for the long-term construction of green medians developed in the plan from community meetings, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. Car-accessible travel lanes would be reduced from four to two wider lanes for buses while accommodating bike lanes, left-turn pockets, and sidewalk extensions at six bus stop corners, also known as bus bulbs.

Although the plan didn’t originally include bike lanes and would reduce planted median space, they were introduced based on feedback from six community workshops. Residents expressed “a lot of interest in calming Folsom Street and returning it to a family-friendly street that people can feel more comfortable walking and biking on,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “It can be done relatively quickly and cheaply, and that’s great.”

The Folsom Street bike lanes would also be welcome as the first continuous connection from the Mission to the existing bike lanes in SoMa, said Shahum. “The Harrison Street bike lane, which is just a couple of blocks over, is already really packed in the morning. It’s going to be great for the growing numbers of people riding to have a welcoming, safe route,” she said.

Ilaria Salvidori, an urban designer at the SF Planning Department’s City Design Group who is working on the Mission Streetscape Plan, emphasized the profound effect the proposed striping changes would have. “The road diet is the biggest step forward in the direction of changing the street,” she said.

The plan’s bus bulbs, which would also include new transit shelters, were particularly favored by WalkSF executive director Elizabeth Stampe at the proposal’s hearing. “I think [the proposal] really has the potential to transform Folsom. In some ways, it’s already a beautiful street – it’s got some of the best tree cover in the city,” said Stampe.

“But it’s very unwelcoming because it’s big and wide and cars travel fast on it, so it’s not much fun to walk on now, and I think this could be a change for the better,” she said.
Click to enlarge. Image: SF Planning Department
  • Morton

    Harrison isn’t “a couple of blocks over” from Folsom. It’s the very next (major) block, going east. The sequence is Valencia (bike lane), Mission, South Van Ness, Folsom, Harrison (bike lane).

    So logically, South Van Ness would be a more balanced choice for a bike lane. But SVN is a faster route for vehicular traffic and isn’t a bus route, so maybe this makes more sense. Folsom has too many stop signs and suits slower traffic.

  • Mark D.

    While planted medians are nice and I’m all for adding more green space to this very grey city, road space is at a premium here and I’m excited to reallocate more road space to bikes and transit. It’s getting easier and easier to bike and walk! Get out there and enjoy it.

  • Folsom goes into SoMa. South Van Ness goes into a gigantic hairball.

  • Alan from Berkeley

    This would be a great opportunity to move the bike lanes to curbside, making the street safer for all. Why require parkers and de-parkers to cross the bike lane to or from the vehicle travel lane? Traditional group parking meters would still work. Since driver-only vehicles still predominate, the incidence of (now right side) door prizes would go way down.

  • Ben

    I hope as the plan shapes up, the City considers including bus bulb-outs that do not interfere with the bike lanes, like in the proposed Masonic Avenue plans:

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/10/01/gateway-or-boulevard-sfmta-narrows-options-for-fixing-masonic-avenue/

    It is a really unpleasant experience having to compete for street space with a bus on a bicylce and it unnecessarily slows down the buses as well.

  • Morton

    JohnMurphy,

    Yes, Folsom does go into SOMA but so do Harrison and Bryant. The problem is that those same streets that are two-way in the Mission become one-way in SOMA, so the elegant symmetry and continuity gets messed up anyway.

    However, there is a bike lane on 14th linking SVM to Harrison, so the problem of getting to SOMA is easily solved either way.

    Anyway, if you noticed, I concluded that Folsom is a better bet for a bike lane than SVM, even though SVM is more equidistant between the existing bike lanes. Folsom is already slow to drive on but SVN is not.

  • ZA

    As a cyclist who uses this area frequently, I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this proposal.

    Bicycles enjoy Valencia, Harrison, Hampshire, 14th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 24th, and (unofficially) Precita to get around the Mission. Improving those areas first might deal with bicycle congestion and continued growth better. With respect to connecting cyclists to the Folsom lanes in SOMA better, more attention to 15th Street from Harrison (instead of the splits taken all along from 11th to 18th Streets) and the 17th, 18th, and 24th Street connections seem to make more sense.

    Buses would then still have Mission, Folsom, and Bryant (and could use dedicated bus lanes), and cars would still have Dolores, Guerrero, South Van Ness, and perhaps Harrison.

    Something for everyone.

  • SCUM

    As more people take to the streets on bikes we have more people that do not know/follow the laws. Some of these riders barely have the skills to ride in and around cars or people. Riding a bike with no brakes, with your feet in cages is just plain stupid.

  • James Figone

    Why do people like medians so much? By not adding a median, you could expand the bike lanes to 7′ in each direction. Put the bike lanes adjacent to the curb to protect it from traffic. Then you have only two 11′ traffic lanes to cross assuming that you bulb out the intersection to tne edge of the parked cars. The crossing distance would be 22′ instead of 36.5′ as shown in the diagram.

    The result would be a street where the edges felt quite wide, with only 22′ of traffic lane width, a protected bike lane and vastly reduced crossing distances.

  • Medians look nice in diagrams and mock-ups, so they seem to be very popular at the MTA and at community workshops, but once they’re actually built residents realize that all the greenery is in the middle of traffic where no one can enjoy it, traffic calming is hampered, and valuable public space is lost to a use that doesn’t really benefit any road user or resident.

    And despite adding virtually no value, medians are very expensive. Why not just take a fraction of the money that was to be spent on building and planting a median and offer it as grants to street residents who install sidewalk landscaping (which people can actually walk next to and enjoy!)

  • Both medians and wider traffic lanes have the effect of making drivers feel more comfortable when speeding. With space on our streets at such a premium, surely we can find a better use for it that also calms traffic.

  • I agree regarding medians. That’s my one misgiving about the Masonic “Boulevard” plan — the green strip in the middle may translate into faster cars, and like SteveS says, you can’t really enjoy the greenery.

    Not to mention, there’s often too little room for uncompacted soil, so the roots suffer and the trees die prematurely. I’m still waiting for trees in the middle of Diviz to start perking up, but I have a feeling it’s never going to happen.

    I’m also surprised that the MTA isn’t using this as an opportunity to re-stripe the lanes so that the bikes are buffered on the other side of the parked cars.

  • Kenny G

    I’d like to see more trees, more bikes, less buses. Oh, can Potrero Ave have this too?

  • Morton

    James/Steve/Josh/Matty

    Medians serve a number of puposes:

    1) They provide a refuge for pedestrians crossing. The wider and busier the road, the more important that is. Think Van Ness or 19th Avenue.

    2) They keep opposing vehicular traffic apart, leading to a lower accident rate

    3) They add greenery where it cannot be disturbed by people, predators or other urban constituents.

    4) They add a sense of breadth and beauty to an otherwise traffic-strewn highway

  • Manish

    Morton:

    1)this isn’t 19th Ave. which is 6 lanes. Folsom is going to be 2 lanes so the need for a refuge isn’t that large.

    2)studies show that medians cause cars to speed because they don’t worry about head on collisions.

    3)they add greenery that can only be seen and enjoyed by people driving in the middle lane.

  • jd

    Morton wrote: “Medians serve a number of puposes:

    1) They provide a refuge for pedestrians crossing. The wider and busier the road, the more important that is. Think Van Ness or 19th Avenue.”

    But you’re trying to fight the symptom, not the problem. If the road wasn’t so wide and cars weren’t moving so fast, pedestrians wouldn’t need to have a “refuge” in the first place. You’re setting the bar quite low if you think that giving pedestrians a “refuge” in an automobile wasteland is the best we can do. Just think about it for a second: the idea that you even have to a have a refuge by definition means it’s not safe to non-car users. That’s the real problem that needs to be addressed. Medians are a suburban design where cars are placed first and foremost; they have no business in a place that is trying to de-emphasize and discourage car usage, especially in a very residential neighborhood with lots of pedestrians and cyclists.

    If you look at the Mission, with the exception of Valencia, from Dolores to Harrison, literally every block is an enormous 4-lane highway. That is way excessive; we don’t need that many north-south thoroughfares, especially if we want to get people out of their cars. By (partially) making some of these streets 2 lanes and adding other traffic-calming measures, we start to return some these streets back to pedestrians and cyclists. Right now, cars utterly dominate our cities. Just think about it: you can’t even find ONE block that prohibits cars. That is nuts. Cars don’t need to travel on every single block. So I think it’s high time we start taking some of these streets back from cars and returning them to people. And since I don’t see us banning cars on certain blocks (though I would LOVE to see that), making the roads more narrow with slower speed limits which in turn give pedestrians and cyclists as much, if not more, right of way so they don’t need a “refuge”, that’s what I call progress.

    Morton wrote: “2) They keep opposing vehicular traffic apart, leading to a lower accident rate”

    Yes, which makes people drive faster and more carelessly because they (rightfully so) feel safer since they don’t have to worry about head-on collisions, and so this in turn endangers the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

    Morton wrote: “3) They add greenery where it cannot be disturbed by people, predators or other urban constituents.”

    The greenery is not there to be not disturbed — it is there to be enjoyed and experienced, not seen in the distance through the haze of cars and their pollution and noise.

    Morton wrote: “4) They add a sense of breadth and beauty to an otherwise traffic-strewn highway”

    Moot point. That same amount of greenery would work just as much to this cause (which I agree with) if, instead being lumped together in the middle of the road, it was split in half and placed on both sides of the road. And by splitting it, people get to experience it and it can be used as a buffer for a cycletrack.

  • i agree with Josh and jd.

    i think the MTA, by building medians on every single street they can, is trying to kill me. really. but not because i’ll be hit by a drunk driver or enraged motorist — i’m going to have a heart attack next time they try to destroy a street with a raised median.

    the medians are not ‘just’ a harmless use of space, as jd points out — there are myriad problems with them, including making it more difficult/impossible for bikers to turn around when we want/need to, ditto for drivers — which leads to more driving, they end up being ugly and expensive to maintain, they block sightlines — making the street more dangerous for crossing pedestrians, etc.

    there must be someone at MTA who gets a bonus for every meter of raised median installed. or a kickback from GM or something.

  • Em

    A median has no business on this street! MTA traffic engineers are not trained in pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly engineering design.

  • Em

    Putting in a median creates a nightmare for emergency vehicles that can no longer get around stopped traffic.

  • Thanks Em — I’m gonna write a couple of letters opposing the raised median on Cesar Chavez for this exact reason you cite. And the 15 other reasons raised medians suck.

  • The praise from the Bike Coalition reminds me of the strange concept for Valencia.

  • James Figone

    OK. We have consensus that the proposed design is a bad one. Problems with the median:

    1. expensive to build
    2. block emergency vehicles
    3. create maintenance issues
    4. impose greater crossing distances
    5. speeds traffic
    6. takes space from better uses such as the bike lane

    This is not Cesar Chavez. In this case, there are no sewer pipe issues, no years of advocacy that might be jeopardized, absolutely no excuse for implementing such a poor plan.

    To Leah and Andy: How does this plan get your endorsement within the context of the Connecting the City plan? This does not seem like it meets the CTC standard.

  • Morton

    Wow, I had no idea people felt so strongly and negatively about medians.

    Personally, I think Dolores Street is probably the most scenic major street in the city, and mostly because of the broad grassy median. But I guess most others – at least here – don’t see it that way.

    But I’d agree they only make sense on streets wide enough to make it worthwhile.

  • Mike

    OK, median-haters, step back from the ledge, and let’s think about this.

    To paraphase comments:
    – Medians make it harder for bikes and cars to turn around.
    Yes, and in most cases, that’s better, esp for cars.

    – Studies have shown medians increase speed.
    Can I see that study? We’ve taken out centerlines, narrowed opposing lanes to 18′ and less, measured the speeds, and you know what? One mph drop in speed, at best.

    – They affect sightlines.
    Yes, and people naturally drive slower when it’s not wide open…like a freeway.

    – Medians are expensive.
    Compared to…? Sidewalk widening is easly over 10X the cost. There are almost always zero drainage issues associated with medians, and far fewer utility issues, which are bank.

    – They are destroying your life.
    Time to find bigger battles worth destroying your life.

  • Mike

    I forgot to add….these are painted medians. They are basically a test before anything is built. Chill-ax.

  • Mike

    Read more comments…criticizing the SFBC for supporting this plan is absurd. This was not a bike route until the city saw an opportunity, there was early collaboration between Planning, MTA, and DPW to make this project basically a free traffic calming and bicycle project. and it’s going to be so much better for so many people, including pedestrians and people using bicycles – something the SFBC recognized and supported. And so many of you are complaining oh-so-righteously bitterly? wow.

  • Yet another USA-originated article about “better streets” which does not mention speed limits and their lowering!!! A street with buses and a speed limit over 20mph needs physically-separated lanes if you want children and elders to use it. There is little margin for error with 5′ lanes (the door zone issue is unclear — I would imagine that the real reason for the protests in Cairo is because traffic-engineers in the USA keep on designing streets with this nonsense.)

    Another idea related to the huge amount of vehicle storage here: Carshare!! Enough to clear one side of the street of car storage. Side streets would still have parking as now — the total amount of “lost” car parking space would be around 25%.

    In relation to dogs, one problem with implemention of bike lanes on existing streets with historical tree cover is that it can be difficult to put walking and separated lanes on opposite sides of the trees. On my street it is not this way and to avoid danger while walking my dogs I walk contraflow to bike traffic so I can see if cyclists are coming as I cross their path so my dogs can do their thing.

    Still curious to hear bout the strange Valencia concept. No response to my query about it three weeks ago on the Connecting the City Facebook page.

  • jd

    Mike wrote: “- Studies have shown medians increase speed.
    Can I see that study? We’ve taken out centerlines, narrowed opposing lanes to 18′ and less, measured the speeds, and you know what? One mph drop in speed, at best.”

    First, just think about an extreme example: freeways. Would you drive as fast on a freeway if you were only separated from opposing traffic by a few feet? I’m pretty sure most people would not. But again, that’s only anecdotal …

    … so here is one study:
    etc.hil.unb.ca/ojs/index.php/CJT/article/download/671/3294

    From the study: “Our results are consistent with those found in Sweden where the traffic speed increased after the installation of a rope barrier (Bergh & Carlsson, 1999). It can be inferred from these results that drivers perceived the median barriers more as a protective device than as a hazard and therefore adapt to their presence by increasing their speed to compensate for the perceived reduction in risks. This inference is also supported by anecdotal evidence from drivers who reported feeling safer driving along roads with median barriers.”

    From the conclusion of the study: “Through a speed study at several sites, the observed speeds in most sites were found to be higher than the expected speed predicted by HCM. Compared to the no barrier configurations, F-shape concrete median barriers were found to increase the comfortable speed of drivers in both 70km/h and 80km/h sites included in the study. Thrie beam barriers were found to have little effect on driver speed in the 80km/h site while the W-beam barrier was found to increase the speed of drivers. In contrast, F-shape concrete barriers on which a chain link fence was installed were found to reduce driver speed.”

    Admittedly, this is for highways, but it seems to lend evidence to the idea that medians increase people’s comfort/safety levels and in turn go faster.

    However, it is true that these medians proposed for Folsom are painted medians and only 4-6′ wide. I’m not nearly as concerned about this one as I am the one proposed for Cesar Chavez.

    Finally, offering constructive criticism (which is I think what most of this has been) does not mean one doesn’t support these plans. Speaking for myself, I definitely support this over the status quo. But I’m just trying to make sure we truly are designing our streets the best we can, and that means not ignoring things we already know, e.g., that bike lanes squeezed between moving cars and parked cars isn’t safe for cyclists compared to putting them on the other side of the parked cars. This is especially important when you consider that only bike lanes on the other side of parked cars will really get people cycling in the kinds of numbers that is SFMTA’s own stated goal.

  • Yes, and in most cases, that’s better, esp for cars.

    preventing bikes from turning around is good? ok, at least we know where you’re coming from.

    Can I see that study?

    in addition to the Cannuck study, the DOT FHA says this:

    Continuous medians are not the most appropriate treatment in every situation. In some cases, separating opposing traffic flow and eliminating left-turn friction can increase traffic speeds by decreasing the perceived friction of the roadway. They may also take up space that can be better used for wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, landscaping buffer strips, or on-street parking and may cause problems for emergency vehicles.

    the site goes on to say:

    Raised medians are most useful on high-volume, high-speed roads, and they should be designed to provide tactile cues for pedestrians with visual impairments to indicate the border between the pedestrian refuge area and the motorized vehicle roadway.

    This can be restated in English:

    To create a high-car-volume, high-speed road, install a raised median.

    To your next objection, on sightlines:

    Yes, and people naturally drive slower when it’s not wide open…like a freeway.

    You’re missing the point. There are no pedestrians on freeways, and when there are, they often end up dead, because even with perfect sightlines, cars are moving too fast to do avoid humans in the roadway. It would be bad enough if cars were speeding where there were lots of humans present — especially kids — but it should be considered a criminal act to then limit sightlines for drivers on top of artificially jacking up their speeds. A non-raised median would be bad enough — planting all sorts of distracting/blocking garbage in it is even worse.

    On cost:

    Compared to…? Sidewalk widening is easly over 10X the cost. There are almost always zero drainage issues associated with medians, and far fewer utility issues, which are bank.

    Nobody is asking for widened sidewalks — we want to be able to bike safely and comfortably on this street. If there’s enough room to create a buffer between cars, then there’s enough room to create a buffer between cars and bikers, and if not, then we’ll just have to give up the car-on-car buffer — walkers and bikers need to be prioritized.

    As for as drainage and cost,
    The state of Virginia says this:

    Raised Median Island – An elevated area in the middle of a roadway. Drawbacks: Drainage problems, increased maintenance cost. Cost: $5,000-$15,000

    If we start approaching the redesign of these streets from a walk/bike-centric point of view, then all of this stuff falls out naturally and simply — it’s when we continue to prioritize cars above all other modes that we run into all these wacky street designs. Why not just do it right?

  • Aaron Bialick

    I haven’t checked out enough empirical research on medians, but my take is this:

    – There’s a difference between planted medians and featureless, concrete ones. In my experience, adding planting on a street is a traffic calmer, even if it is separating two-way vehicle traffic. On the other hand, strips of concrete like the one on Lincoln Way in my neighborhood primarily serve the purpose of speeding motor traffic with no overall benefits for other street users. I’d be interested to see studies on speeds between planted and non-planted dividers.

    – Medians are much, much more beneficial when placed to separated motor traffic from vulnerable street users, not from itself. Center medians hurt the roadway’s flexibility for passing, such as for emergency vehicles as Em mentioned, and if anyone double parks on this street, other drivers will be screwed (I expect to see more sidewalk parking instead).

    I would love to see this street designed instead with two smaller planted medians separating the parking lane from the curbside bike lane on its right, leaving the roadway flexible in the middle and providing a real sense of safety for people biking and walking while allowing them to better enjoy the greenery.

    As for curb cuts, the median could be broken where needed to allow entrance (privatizing street space to the detriment of public use sure is silly, isn’t it?).

  • Mike

    I think constructive criticism is a healthy thing, but too many comments are based more on misinformation and emotion rather than facts.

    Median-less example of a freeway: think of the Golden Gate Bridge or Doyle Drive. Drivers are not exactly crawling along there. And those lanes are about 10′ wide. As I said in my comment above, narrow lanes with no median or centerlines simply do not work as well as we expect. I was surprised myself. We may have to re-think our assumptions on that.

    Inability to turn around on bike: How many U-turns do you need to make on your bike?

    Safety for cyclists: Separated bikeways – cycletracks – are not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are a number of factors to consider – number of driveways, number of turning movements, intersection design, cost, etc. They certainly have their value – I’ve used and enjoyed them myself and believe they are a key component of a complete toolbox and something SF should continue moving toward, but to put them on every street is unrealistic. And in some situations, they may not be the best/safest bikeway design.

  • Median-less example of a freeway: think of the Golden Gate Bridge or Doyle Drive. Drivers are not exactly crawling along there.

    um, that’s our point — think about how much faster they would move if they had the median/barrier.

    Inability to turn around on bike: How many U-turns do you need to make on your bike?

    constantly. and it’s not just u-turns — it’s just being able to visit stores/etc. on opposite sides of the street, being able to drop into the other side of the street and then continue later either in the same direction or in the reverse direction, it’s being able to pull over right quick and exchange a pleasantry with a friend, and about a thousand other reasons.

    Safety for cyclists: Separated bikeways – cycletracks – are not a one-size-fits-all solution. … And in some situations, they may not be the best/safest bikeway design.

    it’s obvious that us bikers and would-be bikers want, require, and deserve safe, dignified, comfortable, direct places to ride — we don’t care if we get cycletracks, if we just ban cars from the road, or something in between — we just want the ability to ride under those conditions — so just get it done — make it happen — your dissembling about ‘one-size-fits-all solutions’ is just a straw man — we don’t all like to drink the same beer, either — and that means nothing — we want the minimally-required bicycle infrastructure, nothing less.

  • For what it’s worth, 1:12 mentions Clarence Eckerson’s opinion on green medians. I personally disagree and think that medians provide drivers with a false sense of security and that in turn leads to increased speeds.

    Sharrows are also mention, which I know was a point of contention in early threads when discussing bike facilities.

  • Morton

    Re Medians, perhaps it’s all just a matter of getting the width right. The most successful grassy median in the city is probably the Panhandle!

  • Focusing on the active drawbacks of medians (traffic un-calming, emergency vehicle access, etc) is also only part of the problem: the more important side of the equation is that they produce negligable benefits for any road user, but cost us lots of wasted street space and money.

    If this is just going to be a painted median buffer then it’s not wasting that much money, but it is still wasting valuable street space. If that’s the case, then for exactly the same cost and with no decrease in space available to cars you could change the configuration from:
    8′ Parking | 5′ Bike | 11′ Autos | 4’6″ Median | 11′ Autos | 5′ Bike | 8′ Parking
    to:
    8′ Parking | 3′ Door Zone Buffer | 4’3″ Bike | 11′ Autos | 11′ Autos | 4’3″ Bike | 3′ Door Zone Buffer | 8′ Parking

  • I think SteveS is onto something. It’s not just the negative drawbacks we should focus on but that it is an utter waste of valuable ROW space. Drivers throw a fit (or are portrayed as such on the news) when bike lanes “steal” their ROW space, but we’re really losing much more to a chunk of green in the middle of a busy road that no one will be able to enjoy.

    And the concept of a pedestrian refuge is insulting to pedestrians. Getting stuck in the middle for a whole light cycle is a “refuge”? No no, it is a crime and it is degrading. Take away parking near the intersections and provide bulb outs so that the overall crossing distance is shorter, you could even put some bike parking on those bulb outs as well. Much better use of space then some green space no one can access and trees that won’t grow well due to compacted soil (someone mentioned I believe as well).

  • It’s not just the negative drawbacks we should focus on but that it is an utter waste of valuable ROW space.

    definitely. my general philosophy is, every street needs to be made walkable, and if possible bikable, and after those two are accomplished as fully/completely as possible, then we can talk about possibly allowing for other, non-human-powered modes of transport.

    it’s just that the idea of inserting any median at all, much less a raised median, specifically for the benefit of drivers exclusively to the detriment of bikers, is such an overt attack on biking that it makes you wonder who is in charge, and what is their actual motivation. are they pulling paychecks from GM? like, really.

    And the concept of a pedestrian refuge is insulting to pedestrians. Getting stuck in the middle for a whole light cycle is a “refuge”? No no, it is a crime and it is degrading.

    i don’t know who you are, but i have a serious man-crush on you right now! that’s bleeping awesome. i swear if we don’t get past the point of treating pedestrians like refugees, we’re gonna overthrow this government.

    Take away parking near the intersections and provide bulb outs so that the overall crossing distance is shorter, you could even put some bike parking on those bulb outs as well.

    can’t say i’m the biggest fan of bulb-outs, as they can/do prevent the creation of cycletracks, but anything we can do to prioritize walking and biking (over all motorized forms of transport), ideally _not_ at the expense of each other, is a good thing.

  • Bulbs would hurt cycle-tracks, if those were even on the table. Maybe for now we should be talking about daylighting our intersections. Hell, every intersection should have the parking space closest to the cross street removed and while we’re at it, put in some bike parking.

  • For what it’s worth, 1:12 mentions Clarence Eckerson’s opinion on green medians.

    Clarence also likes BRT.

    that said, the median looks nice. calms traffic? doubt it. think of how many people could bike there if the bike lane was separated from moving cars. instead, they got a median. nice.

  • Aaron Bialick

    I’ll say again that bulb-outs don’t need to hurt cycle tracks. They’re getting it right on Masonic. The cycleway can go through a curb extension, either at road or curb level, while maintaining the reduced crossing benefits for pedestrians.

    Check out this cool pdf on various cycle tracks from the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

  • Morton

    Peter,

    I suspect if the proposal was to remove car parking and use the space for a grassy median, you’d be all for it.

    It all comes down to whether you think road space should be purely functional. Or whether visual aesthetics count for anything. Most people I talk to think Dolores Street looks great, and mostly on account of it’s long, thin, grassy knoll.

  • Separated bike lanes between the sidewalk and parked cars will have the same no u-turn issues as would be created by a central median, or even worse (cyclists could, after all, hop over the median with various degrees of smoothness, depending of course on on-coming traffic.

    One way to solve this would be to have bi-directional bike lanes on both sides, so people could choose a side at every block.

    But why not make this a 20mph street without separated lanes and without a median, as suggested in comment no. 35, with two car-length bulb outs with low greenery and bike parking (and more bike parking all along the street for residential users) and side-walk level crossings of all side-streets… make it the great street of trees that it is.

    What top speeds does the bus get up to? Will a 20mph limit (actually marginally faster than the 18mph(30kph) standard in parts of Europe) slow it down significantly?

    Bus stops? Hmmm… either the bus goes into the bike lane and even cuts across it and cyclists have to go around the bus or stop, OR the bus stops in the middle of the street across from a bulb out the covering the rear door and passengers walk both ways across the 4’3″ space between the bulb and the bus and any cyclists caught behind can give them kisses.

    In most places in Europe there would not be a bike lane if this was a 30kph street, but it might be nice to demarcate space in this context, with the bus and all (and cyclists can use any part of the street if they want to go up to 20mph, which is faster than most go on level ground).

    While we’re at it, bury all the electric and communication lines underground in the middle of street if possible (roots will be a problem on the sides, possibly sewers in the middle).

    So do all this just in these few blocks and you end up raising the price of the real estate here! Lots of people will not like that, so one way to mitigate this is do it on many streets simultaneously all over the city, including in areas with more environmental racism issues. This would hopefully decrease the exclusivity of the Folsom Tree Route.

  • Aaron, I like those links. And I think if cycle tracks are to be done (and they should) then those methods would be some of the best. I also feel bulb outs should be done. They pinch the intersection and force cars to slow. I’d even go so far (expanding on Todd’s idea) that the crosswalks that cross Folsom should be raised (if only slightly). This might also help drivers learn to stop behind the stop line and not into the crosswalk which is a very serious problem in this city, and not just downtown.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Todd –

    A median separating a cycle way doesn’t have to be impermeable to cyclists who want to cross the street or turn around. It can have gaps and ramped areas (which would surely be necessary to put one on Folsom anyway if the city wants to maintain the residential curb cuts).

    The beauty is we can design our streets in whatever way we want and provide whatever kind of access we want. The standards and rules we follow are what we decide as a society (or city, state, whatever). Unfortunately we’re left with cities built and transformed using extremely simplistic, unexamined, cookie-cutter methods. A curb extension doesn’t have to exclude a cycleway, and a median doesn’t have to be unbroken, just as we don’t even have to have “sidewalks” at all to fence ourselves out of the way of cars. While we need to be creative in reimagining our streets, we don’t even necessarily have to come up with new experimental designs, as we have so many at our disposal already tested in other cities around the world. 😀

  • Peter, I suspect if the proposal was to remove car parking and use the space for a grassy median, you’d be all for it.

    why would i want that?

    It all comes down to whether you think road space should be purely functional. Or whether visual aesthetics count for anything. Most people I talk to think Dolores Street looks great, and mostly on account of it’s long, thin, grassy knoll.

    aesthetics are excellent, but we should not be concerned about making a dysfunctional street beautiful at the expense of making it…functional.

    Separated bike lanes between the sidewalk and parked cars will have the same no u-turn issues as would be created by a central median, or even worse

    right — which is why we have to get rid of cars. but in the short term, we need to protect people, so we need cycle tracks, grade and/or physical separation, etc. we need something to protect us from cars. medians don’t protect us from cars — they force us to ride next to moving cars — big difference. cycletracks and various other cycling facilities and bike-friendly streets allow people to bike — that’s why they’re required.

    What top speeds does the bus get up to? Will a 20mph limit (actually marginally faster than the 18mph(30kph) standard in parts of Europe) slow it down significantly?

    people don’t want to be anywhere near a moving bus. it doesn’t matter if they are moving at 2 mph. cars are not bike-friendly. anything larger than a car that is not on rails is particularly anti-bike, and should not be tolerated.

    30 kph is actually 18.6 mph, so that’s closer to 19 mph. the ’20 is plenty’ campaign works well enough, but it continues to run into ‘design speed’ laws.

    speaking of real estate values, i never thought of it this way, but installing medians on a road effectively turns it into a highway, bringing with it all the attendant niceties of a highway, like noise, danger, speeding, pollution, etc. — if we studied highways and other roadways with raised medians/barriers, we could compare the value of the real estate along them to the values of those properties on non-median roads — i know which will be more valuable, but i’d like to find out exactly how much a center median brings down a property’s value.

  • p.s. speaking of bulb-outs not having to destroy the possibility of cycletracks — when i see one in SF, i’ll believe it.

    on Masonic — i keep reading here that Masonic will have cycletracks, but the image on the Masonic post shows no cycletrack, so where is the image showing cycletracks?

  • Slightly raised crossings would probably not slow things much and would be both noiser from motor vehicles and would just annoy cyclists and inline skaters (or worse than annoy). The best thing would be to place the stopping point very far back from the crossing.

    Cyclists would gain on Folsom if the lights are timed for a decent cycling speed, about 12,5 mph, throughout the whole length of Folsom in the Mission (and beyond). This might not slow the buses if, um, transponders add some green to the current cycle without changing it. Does this make sense? I am not sure where the ideal location is for bus bulbs, before or after the intersections (probably after). What is it like to cycle down Harrison? What are cyclists average speed and can they avoid stopping?

    Raised crossings flush with the sidewalk on side streets do indeed slow cyclists using them but of course we priortize pedestrians here and this makes cars turn corners slowly.

  • oh i see it — a raised but not protected cycletrack, so it’s not completely useless, just mostly useless. it’s a good idea to keep the permanent curb cut along the length of it — makes it easier for cars and trucks and buses to gain access to it.

  • Oh ja I forgot about all those curb cuts. Sorry and thanks. If separation from motorized traffic is based on prioritizing speed for motor vehicles and buses, then it should just be a standard: 30mph+ street and/or buses: separation. 20mph no separation.

    Now about this Folsom bus? How popular is it? What is the grade differential on Folsom? How about if the buses drive onto robot boats travelling on a canal? Ahhh… trees… and water. The canals could have a separated lane for skinny private boats. Bulb outs can be piers. There would be fireboats. And still bike lanes.

    Really this parking at least on one side needs to be eliminated.

  • Morton

    Todd,

    “Now about this Folsom bus? How popular is it?”

    Let me put it to you this way. For several years, I lived on Folson and I almost never took it. It was far faster and more reliable to walk to a Mission St. BART stop.

    The Bryant Street route is a little better, but I wonder whether any thought is given to combining the Folsom and Bryant routes? Maybe running them on Harrison?