17th Street Flourishes With Bicycle Traffic as SFMTA Extends Bike Lanes

17th Street west, between Valencia and Treat. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Seventeenth Street seems like it is quickly on its way to becoming one of the city’s busiest bicycle routes, and with SFMTA crews extending the bike lanes east of Valencia this week, it’ll be even more cycle-friendly.

New lanes were partially striped from Valencia to Treat Streets yesterday, and the section from Potrero to Kansas is planned this week as well, the SFMTA Bicycle Program said on its Facebook page. The overall project includes bike lanes along the entire stretch of 17th Street from Corbett to Kansas as part of the Bike Plan.

The remaining section from Treat to Potrero “will come at a later date, assuming approval of a number of parking changes to make room for bike lanes in this narrow stretch,” the SFMTA said.

The project [pdf] calls for replacing 199 parking spaces between Valencia and Kansas Streets with safer curbside bike lanes. However, the configuration that’s being put on the ground from Valencia to Treat Street was a compromise from the original plan to retain on-street parking on that section, said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. Those lanes were striped between parked and moving motor traffic instead, but between Potrero and Kansas Streets, a parking lane was replaced with a bike lane as planned.

Nonetheless, at least a dozen riders per minute could be seen around 7:00 pm yesterday on 17th Street heading westbound at Folsom. It’s a noticeable increase since last month when the first section of bike lanes were striped from Church to Valencia. Considering the importance of this vital east-west connection between the Mission and the Castro, the jump isn’t a huge surprise.

The SFMTA’s latest bicycle counts in 2010 [pdf] show 771 bikes passing though 17th Street at Valencia between 5:00 – 6:30 pm, a 27 percent increase over the previous year. Since 2006, traffic has jumped 75 percent, all without any added infrastructure.

Bike lane additions have consistently caused a jump in bike traffic as high as 300 percent.

17th Street, east between Valencia and Treat. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The same section of street as laid out in the plan. Instead of replacing the parking lane with a bike lane, the SFMTA squeezed it into the door zone. Image: SFMTA