Eyes on the Street: SFMTA Crews Begin Striping 17th Street Bike Lanes

Photo: Aaron Bialick

Bicyclists have begun taking advantage of the new bike lanes being installed this week along the western section of the 17th Street corridor, with many riders saying they began feeling a greater sense of safety just as soon as the first stripes were laid down by Wednesday from Valencia to Church Streets.

In interviews with Streetsblog, several people on bikes roundly cheered the improvements, described as simply “fantastic” by one rider. “It’s really nice because we always bike on 17th Street and the [car] traffic is not that high,” said another traveler trying out the new lanes with a partner.

“Improvements on 17th Street will help the fast-growing number of people bicycling between the Castro, Mission and Potrero neighborhoods,” said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition executive director Leah Shahum. “There are so many families with children riding bicycles in these areas already, and this new bike lane will help welcome even more people of all ages onto their bicycles.”

SFMTA counts show a 75 percent increase in bike traffic on 17th Street at Valencia from 2006-2010, according to Shahum. The long-awaited project comes as part of the San Francisco Bike Plan, which is currently being put into action after a four-year bike injunction delay.

While SFMTA crews have begun work along the roughly two-mile stretch from Corbett Avenue to Kansas Street, bike lanes between Church and Sanchez are temporarily on hold as planners try to figure out a solution that addresses safety concerns about the streetcar tracks, according to the SFMTA Sustainable Streets Division’s Mike Sallaberry.

Proposed lanes included in the Bike Plan. Image: SFMTA

The lanes approved in the Bike Plan would have directed riders through the 17th and Church Street intersection at an angle intended to avoid catching bicycle tires in the streetcar tracks, but the westbound bike lane ends at Church Street in the latest layout presented on the SFMTA’s website [pdf].

If bike lanes were to be striped on that section of 17th Street, they would be placed between the tracks and parked vehicles, squeezing bicyclists into a narrow space. A safer solution would be to replace the curbside parking, but, for now, Sallaberry said the SFMTA is considering installing sharrows in the center of each set of tracks.

A victim of parked cars and rail tracks at 17th and Church Streets. Photo: Michael Rhodes

“It is important that the city upgrades 17th Street to be safe and inviting along the entire route,” said Shahum. “We want to be able to welcome anyone from ages eight to eighty onto their bikes on this important east-west route, so it should be a continuous, dedicated bike space.”

Replacing parking with safer curbside bike lanes is already part of the 17th Street project on the eastern section from Valencia to Kansas Streets, where upwards of 200 vehicle spaces will be re-purposed. While parking demand factors could be at play in the differing treatment, the relative impact of replacing the roughly forty spots between Church and Sanchez does seem smaller for a block that likely also holds greater demand for safe cycling travel.

SFMTA crews also striped a new dashed left-turn bike lane on 16th Street this week, making room between existing travel lanes from Sanchez to Market Streets as laid out in the Bike Plan, although the design appears to be a tweak from the original [pdf].

16th Street from Sanchez to Market. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Sharrows can be found on blocks of Hoff and 16th Streets directing riders from the bike routes of 17th and Valencia Streets to the 16th and Mission BART station as part of the project. Photo: Aaron Bialick.
Riders take advantage of the newly separating stripe. I personally prefer the aesthetic of this leftover sharrow marking to the standard bike lane stencil. Photo: Aaron Bialick
While remaining hazards from cars were apparent, many riders were happy just to have a newly dedicated travel lane. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Another happy traveler. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • Thank you SFMTA and SFBC or making this striping happen! All those community meetings and advocacy continue to pay off.

  • jd

    I agree with michaelSF: thanks SFMTA and SFBC! Keep up the good work. Just don’t forget that we need to also start implementing separated/protected bike lanes as well.

  • jekka

    Yay SFBC, this is life-changing for me. I bike 17th every day, from the Mission to UCSF Mission Bay. How is the stretch between Harrison and Kansas is going to be handled, given the RVs/vans that permanently occupy the blocks near Franklin Square? That, and all the Muni employees who park there – are those spaces really going to go?

    Good job with the new line on Kansas b/t 16th and 17th too, although it’s always going to be a death trap with all the double-parking for Starbucks.

  • Michael Smith

    We can assume that the reason there is no westbound bike lane between Church & Sanches is because the MTA Sustainable Streets people and the MTA Board have already figured out that the best solution is to created a separated bikeway for this block. Right!!!?!?! By moving the parking in a few feet we could have a safe bikeway with losing one or two parking spaces, and bicyclists would be able to cross the tracks at a safer angle. The whole block has only a single driveway so it is an ideal location for a bikeway.

    So that is the plan, right????

  • Morton

    Generally speaking, the further west you go, the more parking is scarce. So while removing even those 200 parking places on the east side of Valencia might not be missed, taking out the more modest number of 40 spots west of Valencia is a bigger problem for the residents.

    And given that 17th Street gets very steep in the Castro, I’d assume most bike journeys avoid 17th Street west of about Sanchez anyway.

  • Mike

    An issue west of Church is the space between the edge of the F-line cars (the dynamic envelope), which extends beyond the track itself, and the parking lane. There’s no room for a bike lane where a train doesn’t extend into it. There’s also not room for a sharrow outside the door zone without painting the sharrow on top of a track. To add a separated bikeway, one could move the parking away from the curb toward the edge of the dynamic envelope, which would yield a bikeway about 3′ wide at best. Way too narrow.

    So, parking separated bikeways are out of the question. Parking could be removed, but that has its own issues to work out and is not a short term solution.

    In any case, a solution is being sought for this area. To not delay changes to the rest of the street, sections of 17th St and Potrero (also part of this project) were moved ahead while this one is being dealth with.

  • This is great. I’ll be taking 17th from here on out… no more 16th or 18th for me.

    I sure would like to see Church street re-worked from 18th to duboce. Give muni an exclusive ROW, remove some of the parking and add some bike lanes… Seems such a joke that street’s four lanes wide.

  • Michael Smith

    Damn those pesky “dynamic envelopes”. Looked at the satellite images and sure enough there is only a few feet of space between where a car door opens and the side of the streetcar. When I ride along there it always feels like there is lots of space because the road is reasonably wide and I’ve never actually encountered a streetcar going by on that block. After all, that track is only used when F-cars start their assignments, which is pretty infrequent.

    But we can dream, can’t we?

  • Morton

    Mike Fogel

    The reason that Church needs to be 4 lanes wide is precisely because of the Streetcar. If traffic couldn’t pass the streetcar, then effectively all traffic would get congested behind each run.

    And worse, if a streetcar breaks down, as they do, then what?

    I cannot think of anywhere in the City where a streetcar street has less than 4 lanes, for that obvious reason.

  • Michael Smith

    Actually, the block of 17th we are talking about is only two lanes. It can feel like 4 because the lanes are wide, but a car can’t pass a streetcar without going into oncoming traffic. Another example is Carl St where the N-Judah goes.

  • Morton

    Michael Smith

    Ah yes, but that block of 17th is just the turnaround block for the F, right? So doesn’t represent such as obstacle as would Church Street if it were only 2 lanes, and of course for the J not the F.

    I actually don’t ride the streetcars in the further-out regions of the City beyond the tunnels and so, yes, my “4 lane rule” maybe doesn’t apply in less congested areas. But it applies to the inner city i.e. 3rd, King, Market, Church, Embarcadero and Duboce

  • “And given that 17th Street gets very steep in the Castro, I’d assume most bike journeys avoid 17th Street west of about Sanchez anyway.”

    That’s why they went ahead and put in the “Pavement to Skateboard ramp” project on 17th at Castro, the 25% gradient.

  • “The reason that Church needs to be 4 lanes wide is precisely because of the Streetcar. If traffic couldn’t pass the streetcar, then effectively all traffic would get congested behind each run.”

    This is why 24th Street is 4 lanes wide. If traffic can’t pass the double parked cars, all traffice would get congested behind each Martha’s patron.

  • @Morton,

    3rd, King, Embarcadero are all separated ROW.

  • Michael

    No room for a separated bike lane, so how about a trial bike boulevard from Church to Castro?

    The three blocks of 17th between Church and Castro would be a great candidate for traffic diverters. Since 17th no longer goes through Market/Castro (because of the plaza), there’s limited through-traffic anyway. Cars might as well divert to 16th a few blocks earlier. The streetcars can continue to go through, of course (this might require some clever diverter design).

    That way, with our without bike lanes, 17th will be calm and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

  • Morton

    Mikesonn,

    “3rd, King, Embarcadero are all separated ROW.”

    Good point. But separated ROW still requires a street wide enough to accomodate both the streetcar tracks and at least one lane of traffic. That was why I was telling Mike Fogel that his idea for Church can’t work. Vehicular traffic has to be able to go faster than the streetcar rather than wait behind it.

    Whether the vehicular traffic can also use the same lane as the streetcar is a different issue. As is whether those streets need 4 lanes of traffic or not.

    Ideally the streetcars wouldn’t mix with cars at all – they work so much better in the tunnels and where there is a dedicated ROW.

  • OK, so 17th has light motorized traffic, but (as evidenced by/admitted in photo above) this is an official “Semi-Door Zone Bike Lane”? Or a Part of Doors and Bike Lane? Really. This is crazy, is it not? “While remaining hazards were apparent…”????

  • taomom

    Well, these new bike lanes create a dilemma for me. I take 18th street often, from Hartford to Folsom and sometimes further. I far prefer 18th to 17th, even though 17th is admittedly wider and has lighter traffic. (Why does anyone drive their car on 18th between Dolores and Valencia? Those two blocks are a constant parking lot.)

    18th is the lowest lying, flattest street in the area. Going east, 17th requires me to climb a small hill just to get to it, and going west it is gradually up hill the whole way. But the bigger issue for me is that 18th is just a sunnier, happier street with more interesting stores and restaurants and cafes and people and flowers around. And it has Dolores Park which is always nice to bike by.

    But I like bike lanes. I really do. (I would like physically-separated bike lanes with streetlights timed for bike speeds even better.) So I am torn–take 17th, fight the muni tracks and do an additional climb on a cold, unfriendly street but be in bike lanes, or take 18th, squeeze past cars and breathe their fumes but enjoy better people watching, bike camaraderie, and the flattest route. I just don’t know.

    If I could wave a magic livable streets redesign wand and make the city of my dreams, I would remove a lane of parking from 18th and create physically-separated bike lanes on the flattest, most pedestrian-oriented, heavily shopped east-west street in the neighborhood.

    I can only hope that the new bike lanes will transform 17th into a happier street that I will be glad to take. I suppose if there are lots of bicyclists taking it, it will help my comfort level at night when I really do find the presence of other bicyclists reassuring.

    The very best block of 17th is between Noe and Hartford. The Castro plaza is a gift from heaven for bicyclists.

  • Sprague

    Glad to see another step forward in making the streets of San Francisco safer for cyclists. Thank you to everyone who worked for this.

  • Nick

    This may be the first Bike Plan project that hits the trifecta of well-traveled, practical, and necessary. There’s so much more the MTA could do with the right vision (Oak and Fell and…).

  • taomom – I rode home on 17th today from Caltrain. I will be going back to using 18th to Valencia to 22nd. I really don’t see the appeal of 17th, even with the bike lane.

  • not the real Rob Anderson

    Look what you’ve done!! I’m melting, melting.

    Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world.

    Who would have thought that some little bike plan like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness.

  • Alex

    Morton: Ulloa, 15th Ave, and 46th Ave for the L are all two lane roads. All of West Portal too, I think. It’s less than ideal in some ways, but it is *IMO* safer because you don’t have traffic competing for space with people on/offboarding a streetcar.

  • taomom

    Road the new lanes today a little before noon. I can’t quite call them bike lanes–a more appropriate moniker would be “Double Park In Me” lanes. There were two cars or trucks double-parked in them EACH BLOCK. It was ridiculous.

  • the greasybear

    SF bike lane = motorist double-parking lane

  • Morton

    GreasyBear/Tao

    To be fair, people double park regardless of whether there is a bike lane there or not. They don’t double park more when a new bike lane is striped. They double-park when there appears to be no reasonable alternative.

    Double-parking is equally illegal whether it’s on a bike lane or a car lane. One of the arguments for keeping fast streets like Bush and Pine as 3 one-way lanes is that often the central lane is the only one you can reliably navigate at the limit. The left and right lanes are invariably double-parked at one or more points.

    Our city was designed at a high density, and we don’t have the driveways and parking lots to conveniently hold the volume of vehicles. It’s a dilemma for the SFBC because, in a case like this, where 200 street parking places vanish, nobody ever thinks about the real implication of that – it causes far more double-parking and congestion.

    I’d like to see an integrated, city-wide transportation strategy, and not these piecemeal changes here and there with no seeming overall strategy or thought to consequences.

  • While everything SF is doing for bicycles is great, those lanes on the wrong side of parked cars really aren’t recommended. 35 years of best practice in Denmark and the Netherlands would have told you to put them along the curb.
    Even in Jan Gehl’s new book Cities for People these outside lanes get spanked. “Great for protecting parked cars”, says Gehl. When consulting other cities about infrastructure, us bicycle planners avoid these like the plague.

  • Michael

    @Mikael: thoughts, though, on whether inside lanes are safer with a ton of driveway curb cuts posing potential hazards?

  • Mikael –

    While I totally agree, I think the reasoning the SFMTA would probably offer is that there isn’t enough room on this street for a parking-protected curbside lane without creating the same dooring hazard (albeit from the passenger side doors, which open less frequently) while limiting the room to maneuver away from them. I would think such lanes would need a buffer zone of at least another meter to avoid dooring and provide sightlines for drivers crossing the bike lane into driveways, which, as Michael mentioned, riddle SF’s streets due to 50 years of off-street parking requirements.

    In my mind, and I’m sure many others’, the safest bike lanes, such as the Danish ones, would require removing the street parking altogether, as it creates too many hazards. In Denmark, I’ve seldom seen cycle tracks with curbside parking, and those that do have it seem much wider than the typical SF bike lanes provided such as this one on 17th Street. Isn’t street parking in Denmark, or at least Copenhagen, mostly allowed only on slow streets where bikes and cars travel together? I’m all for that, but give us some time, as our city is still early in its “Copenhagenizing”…

  • Every cyclist who complains about space limitations on streets needs to get rid of their private car and join a carshare scheme. Get 10 friends to join — perhaps this can reduce car storage needs by 25% which should be enough to get rid of one side of parked cars on faster streets or streets with buses and street cars. With that extra space separated lanes are possible, but not hard separation. Instead some kind of minor rumble strip so cyclists can always U-turn, join the motorised part of the street and so on. Hard separation is defnitely safer but more limiting — I would like to see this idea tried at least. It would need a lot of education and enforcement.

    It is important to remember that separation is an indication of a failure to limit or ban fast heavy/motorised vehicles, or of course to let them in the first place. Main roads in e.g. the Netherlands have major congestion of automobiles while the bikes sail by on the outside. This is a success of cycling but a failure of automotive mobility and you can decide the average score by yourself. Obviously the emissions from the clogged cars get enhaled by everyone.

    I say shoot for a 20mph speed limit for all of San Francisco with some exemptions.

  • Morton

    Mikael,

    It’s not clear that the solutions of small medievil towns in flat, Benelux nations is appropriate in cities of millions with fierce hills.

    Likewise, those Benelux nations have fabulous public transit networks that make the need for a private vehicle optional – something not realistic here.

    Todd makes a good point in that we need to solve this problem in a top down way. From my perspective that means this sequence:

    1) Completely overhaul and integrate Muni and inter-County transit networks so that owning a car is not necessary for most people.

    2) Then, and only then, start reducing the amount of on-street and off-street parking based on the perceived decline in demand

    3) Reclaim that space for bikes, pedestrians and verdant landscapes.

    As Aaron notes, we have a legacy of on-street and off-street parking rights that aren’t an issue in these other nations. On a 50 to 100 year view, we can maybe get there from here. But we can’t do it just by painting new lines on the street and hoping that solves everything. It doesn’t.

  • the greasybear

    Naughty motorists who won’t ‘see a reasonable alternative’ to illegally obstructing 100% of a road’s bicycle infrastructure should leave their cars at home, or drive them out to where everything is designed exclusively for private motoring. San Francisco is not such a place. Long gone are the days when any motorist has any compelling claim for seizing and closing down a San Francisco bicycle lane.

  • Morton

    Greasy

    I tend to avoid moralistic statements about what people should and should not do. Cars are a fact of life and will be for another 50 to 100 years, maybe forever.

    And they are sometimes going to go where you don’t like, just like cyclists sometimes use sidewalks or go the wrong way down one way streets, and pedestrians sometimes jaywalk.

    We need an integrated transit policy that recognizes all forms of road user. Seeing everything as some kind of war between different classes of road user is about as useless as every other type of class warfare.

  • I’ve seen in some places tough rubber in track channels–sturdy enough to keep bike tires from falling into the channel, but when the several ton, metal wheeled streetcar goes over it the rubber slips down as if it weren’t there (then bounces back up). I can’t remember where I’ve seen this, but does MUNI use it at all, or have anyone discussed it’s potential use in SF?

  • “It’s not clear that the solutions of small medievil towns in flat, Benelux nations is appropriate in cities of millions with fierce hills.”

    Another Mick classic. Thank you for making my Monday. “This here is ‘merica!”

    San Francisco is only 800k and the hills aren’t all that fierce.

    “We need an integrated transit policy that recognizes all forms of road user. Seeing everything as some kind of war between different classes of road user is about as useless as every other type of class warfare.”

    Yeah, the haves want the have-nots to just shut up and deal with it. Also, allowing double-parking just because isn’t an “integrated transit policy”. Enforcing current laws would be a nice step towards quickening transit and allowing safer passage on our ROW for all road users.

  • @Morton posits this…

    One of the arguments for keeping fast streets like Bush and Pine as 3 one-way lanes is that often the central lane is the only one you can reliably navigate at the limit. The left and right lanes are invariably double-parked at one or more points.

    No – that’s an argument for posting DPT out there and ticketing them to the hilt until they stop.

  • @mikesonn – I think we have a compromise. We won’t put any bike lanes on 21st Street between Church and Noe due to the fierceness of the hill.

    If Mick thinks Flanders is flat maybe he should follow Cancellara’s wheel at De Ronde.

  • Morton

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxemburg and Copenhagen (OK, techncially the last one isn’t Benelux but Scandinavia) and they’re as flat as pancakes.

    San Francisco is probably the hilliest major city on the planet (maybe Rio and Lhasa is steeper).

    And is 150 years old rather than 1,500 years old.

    And the population of the greater Bay Area (where our traffic comes from) is around 5 million.

    Other than that Mick/John were 100% correct.

    Anyway, my point was that you can’t expect to remove 200 street parking spaces overnight and not see a little confusion and congestion arising.

  • the greasybear

    The city must find a way to reliably and regularly reopen the bike lanes to bike traffic, the use for which they are intended. Absent such an effort, all bicycle infrastructure–and all benefits intended for vulnerable road users via that infrastructure–shall remain subject to sudden erasure at the illegal whim of our naughty, naughty motorists.

  • ZA

    @Morton –

    “The reason that Church needs to be 4 lanes wide is precisely because of the Streetcar. If traffic couldn’t pass the streetcar, then effectively all traffic would get congested behind each run.

    And worse, if a streetcar breaks down, as they do, then what?”

    “But separated ROW still requires a street wide enough to accomodate both the streetcar tracks and at least one lane of traffic. That was why I was telling Mike Fogel that his idea for Church can’t work. Vehicular traffic has to be able to go faster than the streetcar rather than wait behind it.”

    ===

    I’d be more sympathetic to the “problem” of cars having to wait behind a Church streetcar if it weren’t for the fact that they have: Castro, Noe, Sanchez, Dolores, Guerrero, Mission, Valencia, South Van Ness, Capp, Shotwell, Folsom, Harrison, Alabam, Florida, Bryant, York, Hampshire, Potrero and almost every interconnecting street to complete their journey without the “nuisance” of a streetcar in front of them.

  • You know, it seems like enforcement is an issue that everyone might actually be able to come together on. The fact is that all forms of traffic and parking enforcement are close to nonexistent in the city, with the exception of the city’s two moneymakers: parking meters and street sweeping, and every group of street users sees all the others as scofflaws.

    Maybe the people going 3MPH on Muni because people drive in transit lanes and block intersections could get together with the bikers who can’t use any of the non-physically-separated lanes in the city because they’re constantly filled with double-parkers, the motorists who are frustrated at the lack of enforcement for cyclists who behave in ways that legitimately endanger people, and the pedestrians who are tired of almost getting run over every time they step off the curb and we could get some real change!

    What I think is needed are more systematic efforts by the SFPD and SFMTA. Since Muni is already paying them an arm and a leg in work orders, instead of a vague promise that cops will ride a bus for a few stops once or twice on their shift, we should get a dedicated team of plainclothes officers dedicated to riding transit vehicles all day, and a response time metric when a bus driver radios for police. Pedestrian stings should be routinely scheduled events at whichever intersections are seeing the most problems, not special events to happen a few times a year. Parking enforcement should have officers dedicated to riding transit and bike routes that have chronic double parking and intersection blocking, and the SFPD should back them up at first if they are worried about violent motorists. And more motorcycle officers patrolling the streets to cite reckless behavior.

  • ZA

    @Morton –

    “Ideally the streetcars wouldn’t mix with cars at all – they work so much better in the tunnels and where there is a dedicated ROW.”

    You’ve struck some unintended wisdom here. Since it appears that most drivers on surface streets and highways are not interested in anything between points A and B (if the volume of honking behind a double-parker is any indication), they and their automobiles should really be in tunnels. I’d be all for burying the cars, and freeing the surface for streetcars, buses, bikes, and people.

  • Morton

    ZA

    Actually that approach was tried in Boston – the so-called “Big Dig”. It was wildly over budget and behind schedule but was eventually completed. They had the odd mishap with tiles falling off the roof and killed motorists.

    But it was very expensive, and controversial. And most cities find it easier to put the trains underground, e.g. the Central Subway in SF. I read somewhere that Toronto has made that a guiding principle. The new planned HSR in England will have fully one third of it’s entire length underground, while the new’ish Channel Tunnel rail system is underground through it’s entire cross-navigation of London.

    In engineering terms, it’s a lot easier to put transit underground.

    SteveS,

    Yes, I think if the DPT or SFPD are going to have any kind of purge on traffic offenses then it will have to be seen as being equitable on all classes of miscreant. I don’t think it would fly with the voters if it simply represented a hijacking by one class of road user over another.

    There are already 400 people working in DPT and I think they’re fairly busy. We’d probably need another 400 to even start thinking about this level of program.

  • Can we get back on topic? I’d hate to see another thread high-jacked by Morton.

    The issue is the placement of the bike lane on the street and if the street really warrants a bike lane in the first place. As people who actually use and bike this route, taomom and John Murhpy, we can see that 17th isn’t an ideal route for an bike lane. Then add in the fact that this is just another door-zone bike lane that only those already biking will use, and I’m not seeing much positive.

    I guess at this point, anything is better then nothing, but in effect we’ve only created another place for cars to double park. Maybe SFPark can help address this though what we really need is expanded parking meter placement and hours (and cost/hr). If short stops are needed, then place a green zone somewhere on that block. Also, the MTA has laid off many DPT officers so they are being asked to work harder, with much ado about nothing which makes their job even more difficult.

    And this isn’t just an issue for bike lanes, transit lanes and blocking the box are routinely seen as a major contributor to an ever-slowing Muni.

  • Morton

    Mikesonn,

    If this bike lane is another “door zone bike lane” then where exactly were those alleged 200 parking places that have been removed?

    As I said before, this bike lane has not “created another place to double park”. That happens regardless of whether there is a bike lane or not, and not least because of all these parking spaces that get removed. Double-parking is an even bigger menace to drivers as it is to bikes. Which is why I argued earlier for a more effective and wholistic solution.

    But your idea of meter hours does give me another idea. Since cyclists mainly ride at day, and the biggest parking need in residential areas is at night, then why not have a “lane” that is zoned for bikes during the day and for parking at night? It would be similar to how parking is banned on the curb lane during rush hours on streets like Bush and Pine.

    Hey, I keep trying here.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Mikesonn –

    “We can see that 17th isn’t an ideal route for a bike lane. Then add in the fact that this is just another door-zone bike lane that only those already biking will use, and I’m not seeing much positive.”

    Maybe it’s not an ideal route for a parking lane (or two parking lanes, or two car-accessible lanes). If bike lanes serving the same general route seem redundant, then why aren’t a minimum of two car-accessible lanes on nearly every street redundant?

    Every street that gets bike improvements benefits from traffic calming and facilitating bike trips for anyone who can find it useful as part of their route, potentially replacing car trips, even if the bike lanes could be better. We can still make parallel streets (like 18th Street) more bike-friendly too, and the residents of those streets (and ultimately the city) stand to gain from doing so.

    If I lived on 17th Street, I would fight tooth and nail to keep this bike lane if only for the fact that when I walk outside my door, cars might be traveling a bit slower and I might see a few more faces passing by on bikes.

    Thinking of bike improvements as amenities that are only warranted with the most ideal conditions, that serve only the most vital routes, will get us just that. On the other hand, thinking of them as something that improves the livability of a street and helps shift more people out of cars and overcrowded Muni buses onto bicycles will get us that. The former way of thinking will never get us the latter result.

  • Morton,

    A bike lane does in fact promote double parking. Yes, it happens with it, but the rate increases drastically because drivers don’t feel as guilty because they aren’t blocking a car lane.

    And convincing me or anyone else here of your efforts for world peace doesn’t accomplish much. It’s all well and good you are thinking of alternatives but if the main body of advocates here doesn’t fight for the most possible for walking, transit, and cycling then no one else will. We can’t be like Obama and come to the table after already giving up the public option.

  • @Aaron,

    You are completely correct. I was coming at this from a negative stand point and should be addressing it as it being an overall improvement, regardless if it isn’t “ideal”.

    Thank you.

  • jd

    mikesonn wrote: “A bike lane does in fact promote double parking. Yes, it happens with it, but the rate increases drastically because drivers don’t feel as guilty because they aren’t blocking a car lane.”

    I think it depends, but in most of the cases in SF I think it actually doesn’t change the number of people double-parking. In most of these streets where they have added bike lanes, they didn’t take away any car parking (or anything else) and hence didn’t make the road wider. That means that space was already there, i.e., each car direction had 1.5 lanes for travel already. So already people double-park because they know the lane is extra-wide and they won’t really block traffic. So on these streets, I don’t think adding the bike lane makes people double-park anymore.

    In fact, SF has a lot of streets that are too wide and are hence perfect candidates for bike lanes. I just wish MTA would put them on the other side of parked cars ….

    However, I do agree that sometimes you are correct, that drivers see blocking a bike lane as less bad than blocking a car lane. That always pisses me off, because I feel like the cars should keep their problems to themselves. If you’re going to block traffic, block your own type of vehicles, not those who are more vulnerable. I also agree that DPT needs to really start enforcing double-parking in bike lanes. When they start handing out tickets, people will quickly stop doing it.

    Finally, my two cents on the 17th St bike lanes is: they definitely are lacking, but it still beats sharrows. The more roads we get that identify space for bikes, the better. We just need to keep pressing forward to get real dooring-free bike lanes. But in the meantime, we have to admit that some sort of bike lane is usually better than nothing.

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Four Protected Bike Signals Coming to Polk Street By May

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Today the SFMTA announced details about the first package of safety upgrades coming to Polk Street in the next few months. They include signals at four intersections that will give southbound bike traffic a separate phase from drivers turning right, making Polk the second street in SF to get the configuration. By May, the SFMTA said it would install the bike signals at […]