A project that would create separated bikeways connecting the vital Wiggle route to the eastern and western parts of the city will take at least a year to plan and implement, SFMTA staff told the agency’s Board of Directors Policy and Governance Committee today.
At the urging of directors, SFMTA Sustainable Streets Division Planner Mike Sallaberry said the project could be fast-tracked as a trial similar to the bikeways implemented on Market Street. That would shave a few months off the originally proposed schedule, bringing the earliest timeline for installation down to about a year from now.
“We still want to do the outreach to the community, to do it correctly and diligently,” said Sallaberry. “But once we have a preferred alternative, we can potentially implement it as a trial and have the environmental review happen concurrently. So we’re not skipping any steps, but having a little bit of overlap of the various steps.”
As for which “preferred alternative” to choose for the design, which faces questions similar to those currently being mulled over in the John F. Kennedy Drive project, an extensive planning process lies ahead. “Nothing is rising to the top,” he said.
Prop K funds for the project’s planning are expected to be approved by the SF County Transportation Authority by early July, said Sustainable Streets Director Bond Yee.
Although the SFMTA has yet to conduct neighborhood outreach on the project, Sallaberry said neighborhood surveys done by the SF Bicycle Coalition have shown generally positive feedback.
“It sounds like people are open to it,” he said. “It’s not clear whether they prefer removing a parking lane versus removing a travel lane. But I was pleasantly surprised by how there’s not a ‘no way, this is crazy, don’t do it’ feeling out there.”
“It shows that there’s a proactive feel to this project, and we’re not shoving it down anybody’s throat,” he added.
The final design option seems to be swaying in favor of replacing car parking lanes. A significant number of new parking spots recently became available to the public at a Department of Motor Vehicles lot lying between the two streets, making it an easier option politically.
In light of recent questions, Director Cheryl Brinkman made it a point to reiterate just why Fell and Oak are being singled out for bikeways. Once implemented, they would serve as a “release valve” allowing many more San Franciscans to use what’s already one of the city’s busiest bicycle routes.
“If you’re a cyclist, you know exactly why,” said Brinkman. “The Wiggle leads right up to it, and it’s the same reason the cars are on it. It is the flattest, most direct connection.”