City College’s Phelan Avenue Gets a Road Diet with New Bike Lanes

Photo: Aaron Bialick

The SFMTA striped new bike lanes on Phelan Avenue last week, providing a safer route for commuters, residents, and students at City College of San Francisco and Riordan High School in the Sunnyside neighborhood.

“It’s always been one of those streets where there’s a lot of confusion and chaos for all people,” said Hitesh Soneji, professor of Sustainability Science at City College. “The best option to go to campus [by bike] was always through either a back way or by riding on the sidewalk, basically creating some other ‘chaos’. So I think this is a big plus.”

The lanes were approved as part the SF Bicycle Plan, which the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition noted in its newsletter this week is now halfway complete. The reconfiguration replaced two travel lanes and has appeared to calm motor traffic on the street. Another proposed design option [pdf] would have replaced car parking instead.

SFBC Director Leah Shahum said it’s “a welcome improvement for the growing numbers of people biking to City College and to the neighborhoods in the southern part of the city.”

The road diet reduces crossing distances for pedestrians. Photo: Aaron Bialick

“This is a step toward a more complete north-south bicycling route that is literally Connecting the City to become more safe and accessible,” said Shahum.

Lauren Fondahl, who uses Phelan on her bike commute from Ingleside to SoMa where she works for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the street is now “a lot safer.”

“I thought that was one of the more dangerous streets,” said Fondahl. “There were two lanes going each way and bicyclists would have to stay over to the side of one lane, so the car would have to swerve over into the left lane to make room for the bicyclist.”

Adjacent to City College, Soneji pointed out that a “gigantic” parking lot sits on “super valuable real estate” that could otherwise be used for green space or more buildings. Encouraging cycling and other alternatives to driving, he noted, could reduce the demand for that parking.

“I think that’s a product of the pressure from people who think they have no other viable option to get to City College, whether it’s the faculty or the students asserting that there has to be more parking,” said Soneji. “If we can encourage other ways to get to campus, whether it’s by Muni, BART, or bicycle, I think we can help to alleviate that.”

But a shift towards sustainable transportation seems to be gaining momentum at a large institution where change typically happens slowly, he said.

“If you start to see those lanes go in, even if you’re not going to do it yourself, you start to see it as a more viable option for everybody to get there.”

Photo: Aaron Bialick
Photo: Aaron Bialick
The turn from Judson Avenue shortly after the bike lanes begin. Photo: Aaron Bialick
The southbound lane turns into sharrows approaching Ocean Avenue. Photo: Aaron Bialick
This new City College building, developed partially in the "reservoir" parking lot, includes plenty of bike parking. (Occupancy is low during the summer.) Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • A long-overdue solution for calming a very high pedestrian area. Just rode the Phelan stretch today in fact. It’s lovely!

  • Nick

    Sagamore also got new bike lanes last week. I wish Streetsblog would have got pictures of that too.

    It includes a physically-protected Brotherhood Way (MTA style…only 30 feet at a time). And it also has a very unique design for Sagamore. They striped a double solid line on the RIGHT hand side of the bike lane; I guess as a door zone buffer.

  • Nick

    Sagamore also got new bike lanes last week. I wish Streetsblog would have got pictures of that too.

    It includes a physically-protected Brotherhood Way (MTA style…only 30 feet at a time). And it also has a very unique design for Sagamore. They striped a double solid line on the RIGHT hand side of the bike lane; I guess as a door zone buffer.

  • Nick

    Sagamore also got new bike lanes last week. I wish Streetsblog would have got pictures of that too.

    It includes a physically-protected Brotherhood Way (MTA style…only 30 feet at a time). And it also has a very unique design for Sagamore. They striped a double solid line on the RIGHT hand side of the bike lane; I guess as a door zone buffer.

  • Nick

    Sagamore also got new bike lanes last week. I wish Streetsblog would have got pictures of that too.

    It includes a physically-protected Brotherhood Way (MTA style…only 30 feet at a time). And it also has a very unique design for Sagamore. They striped a double solid line on the RIGHT hand side of the bike lane; I guess as a door zone buffer.

  • Nick

    Sagamore also got new bike lanes last week. I wish Streetsblog would have got pictures of that too.

    It includes a physically-protected Brotherhood Way (MTA style…only 30 feet at a time). And it also has a very unique design for Sagamore. They striped a double solid line on the RIGHT hand side of the bike lane; I guess as a door zone buffer.

  • I like the bike lane. And although I’m an avid cyclist, City College is too much of a commute by bicycle (about 1h vs 20min).

    Removing the lane of traffic reduces the available car lanes by half. This will certainly exacerbate the traffic problem of congestion and stoppage that begins from the parking lot, extends down the 280 offramp for Ocean/Geneva, and continues about a half-mile down the right lane of the 280, where it causes dangerous freeway conditions.

    The traffic congestion needs to be reduced.

    This traffic problem is caused by bottleneck congestion to get to the parking lots. To reduce the traffic congestion and to help offset the increased congestion from removing a lane of traffic, I propose the construction of a new parking lot entrance off Ocean Avenue, adjacent to or connecting to the bus terminal.

  • Jon

    Whoever voted and approved this stupid plan has obviously never walked, driven, or biked down Phelan during a school day.  This change happened during the Summer session and traffic is already backing up Phelan, Ocean, Geneva, and 280!  Imagine how bad the traffic will be come when all the students come back.  Reducing traffic lanes will not reduce congestion, it only increases it.  Traffic was bad with two lanes of traffic and now that its only one lane in each direction is just selfish.  A plan that would have removed parking for bicyclists would have been a win/win for each side: two lanes for cars and a bike lane with no car doors opening in front of them.  Who’s the genius that approved this plan?

  • Totally agree. It is mess now. It will be 10-15 min to get through it in the Fall for people. One car lane each way, multiple street lights w/ people randomly crossing outside the crosswalks more than even the constant crosswalk traffic and a few rogue bicyclists ignoring traffic laws entirey is going to amount to a huge mess.

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