Eyes on the Street: SFMTA Stripes the McCoppin Hub Bikeway

The bikeway runs alongside the end of the Central Freeway. Photos: Aaron Bialick

New markings are on the ground delineating the short two-way bikeway linking the Market and Octavia intersection to Valencia Street and the future site of the McCoppin Hub plaza.

SFMTA crews made the improvements two weeks ago, according to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The pedestrian and bicycle shortcut has existed for years, but the new center line, bike markings, and signage should help increase its visibility and discourage blockage by parked vehicles.

The bi-directional bikeway is by my count the third to be marked in the city, after the Panhandle and Duboce Street.

The improvements also mark a step towards shaping the McCoppin Hub plaza, which is currently being designed. The project’s latest concept renderings show the bikeway slightly wider than it was in the first draft, and it now includes a public bike pump and an ample row of bike racks.

Construction on the plaza is expected to begin next summer. More pics after the break.

One of the latest concept renderings for the plaza. Image: Boor Bridges Architecture via ##http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.289836167704781.73956.220059964682402&type=1##Facebook##
Where the bikeway will run through the McCoppin Hub plaza. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • I wonder why the city is prohibiting electric bicycles on this bikeway?  Electric bicycles (as opposed to electric scooters or mopeds) have a maximum speed of 20 mph. (Regular bikes, as we know, can go quite a bit faster.) I personally wouldn’t take the curve on this bikeway faster than 7 or 8 mph, but I’m cautious. I can’t see why a bicycle with an electric assist motor is inherently more unsafe or undesirable on this stretch than any other bike.

    I ride my electric bike probably only 10% of my bike journeys, but when wearing clothes I’d really rather not sweat at all in, an electric assist is very handy for the long hill on the way home. And this connection from Valencia to Octavia is also very handy when going to the symphony or the opera.

    I look forward to a more pleasant McCoppin Hub Plaza.

  • Anonymous

    Really great to see McCoppin getting updated and turned green. But palm trees!? Let’s get some natives in there that don’t require all this extra pruning and which attract native birds and insects.

  • They need to sweep up the broken glass…

    I’d suggest a bi-directional bikeway along Marina Green, with separation from peds. What is there now is basically a wide sidewalk.

  • If the SFMTA  encouraged electric bicycles, many hill dwelling people in SF could take up bicycling.  Rather than banning electric assist bicycles, a speed limit would accomplish the same safety effect.

  • I go through McCoppin every day. The biggest challenge is the tight turn and what happens if you have another bike on the opposite direction. even 7 or 8mph is too fast when you’re in the wrong configuration and the other guy decided he would cut the curve. You have to be ready to stop and put your foot on the sidewalk at the last split second.

    About electric bikes, sorry to disagree with you, but they are usually a pain to other cyclists. The main culprit is bike rentals. If you think out-of-towners who ride Blazing Saddles or other regular bicycle outfits are often oblivious of the general rules of cycling (written or unwritten), everything goes with the crowd that rides electric assisted rental bikes. They’re more often than not newcomers to bike riding, are often in a crowd and behaving like one with the general behavior set to the lowest common denominator. They’ll stop anywhere (because they can restart easily) without any consideration with the rest of the cyclists.

    Last week-end I was crossing the GGB on the western bikeway, a group of 5 lazies (20 somethings on a electric bikes) was hogging the whole path right after the first pillar bypass on the Marin side. I tried to be nice and tell them to move aside but got only blank stares. I get the same reaction from electric riders over and over in challenging areas (like the fort Mason hill, the climb from the Warming Hut, etc…).

    Also, riding a bicycle safely means you have to look out for everything. You use 80% of your attention for unexpected stuff an 20% for expected events. With electric bikes, suddenly you have a group that’s increasing the “unexpected” that cars, other cyclists and motorcycles provide, plus they share your space!

    Say you’re passing a group of 3-5 cyclists and you’re in a hill. I always look left and back before I pass and I know how long it will take me. Because electric bikes can climb much faster, they will often double-pass me, then be in my way when the road goes back to flat. That’s one more thing to worry about and seriously cyclists have enough on their plate.

  • JasonD

    The community solidly supports the date palm option and their flowers are honeybee magnets. The palms require triennial pruning. California-native tree options like coast live oak would require as much or more maintenance in pruning and leaf raking. Caltrans will allow planting in the bed next to the freeway, where true woody trees can be used to better effect, a perfect spot for coast live oak, buckeye, or another California native species.

  • Dale Danley

    Good question. I see the sign you’re referring to & wonder if Motorized Bicycles is possibly a motorcycle in the California Vehicle Code? Well, that seems like a stretch.  Electric bikes have really been taking off, especially these past two years, and I think it’s a great time to do some research so we know more about how they are being used and if people are getting hurt. 

  • Ubringliten

    I agree with no palm trees.  It doesn’t go well with SF’s climate and besides, palm trees are ugly.

  • Anonymous

    @yahoo-SJ4QHTVJU6IZH2XDELMESY2ENI:disqus I think I agree with you. I feel like electric bikes are really just scooters but with a battery. And though I could be convinced otherwise if shown evidence, my intuition is that they don’t get people out of their cars but rather just take people off regular bicycles. And that is bad since they are no longer getting the exercise which we so lack in our lazy society.

    Further, what makes a bicycle a bicycle is that you have completely control over and very good feel of the power involved. It’s very hard to accelerate quickly and therefore you are more in control. An electric bike, like a car, lets you do dangerous things because you can’t comprehend the power involved since you aren’t controlling it.

    The only exception to this issue is electric cargo bikes. I think that, in this case, you can in fact get people out of their cars, and even though it’s not as good as powering the bike with your own power, it’s much better than taking a car, so it’s progress. A lot of otherwise avid bicyclists have to resort to the car for moving large loads, but the electric cargo bike I think could change that.

    So in the end, I’m torn with electric bicycles. I would prefer to see their usage minimized to cargo bikes, but if somebody can convince me they will get people out of their cars, then I would reconsider. Of course, as gmorfy said, I worry about their interaction with cyclists since I think they are more akin to a scooter than a bicycle.

  • Anonymous

    @8406ad2a532dc694d2eea8aabc4d893d:disqus There are plenty of native flower that are honeybee magnets; that’s not a reason to support palm trees (and honeybees aren’t even native anyway!). And I think raking leaves is a lot easier than having to prune palm trees, even if you have to do it more often. In the end, I think it’s a net disadvantage to planet anything but natives. In the long term, the more healthy of a native environment we maintain, the less resources we will spend on it and the more native insects, birds, and animals we will attract.

  • Anonymous

    I would also add that I think the palm tree thing is a relic of an age when everybody wanted to recreate the Southern California feel. I think we should be proud of our own native environment. Plus, palm trees never look good (always brown and wilted) here as clearly this isn’t the right climate for them.

  • JasonD

    Which native plant species do you want to plant at the McCoppin Hub, given the goals of the design?

  • icarus12

    I think electric bikes are the next frontier in hilly cities like San Francisco.  Regular bike riders will hit a certain % limit, and then electric bikes will get the next 30% or so people riding. Right now, a lot of those same people are riding over-amped scooters.  In any case,  anything that gets us out of our cars for most trips is a very good thing.

  • Anonymous

    @8406ad2a532dc694d2eea8aabc4d893d:disqus I’m not an expert on planting native trees, but there are plenty out there who are (and I would hope the city would be hiring such people for these types of jobs). However, here is a great list of native plants (note that this list includes not just trees but shrubs and flowers):
    http://www.californianativeplants.com/index.php/plants/plant-profiles/doc_download/186-tree-of-life-nursery-plant-catalog

    Obviously not all native trees are appropriate for the urban environment, but that’s why the city should be working with people like Nature in the City http://natureinthecity.org

    to make sure appropriate native plants are used throughout the city. The point is: there are many options other than non-native palm trees, eucalyptus trees, etc.

  • JasonD

    Thanks for the Tree of Life catalogue ref. It helps blur the contrast in our positions. Note that they, rightly, include two palm species on their list: Brahea edulis & Brahea armata, both native to Baja, the former inhabiting the south end of California Floristic Province (Isla Guadalupe), where it lives amidst Monterey pine, ceanothus, sword fern, and other ur-California natives, and the latter inhabiting areas within 10 miles of the political border with California on the desert slope of the Peninsular Ranges.
    The palm family is anchored in the tropics, indeed, being most diverse in lowland tropical rainforest. However, several palm species (of 2500 in the family) prefer mediterranean climates or consistently cool, humid temperate climates, and many species perform better in SF than in other places in North America. Brahea edulis is one of these.
    Few acts are better for sustaining native fauna than cultivating native plants, but many animals opportunistically use exotic species. For example, exotic fennel and London plane trees host exceptional populations of swallowtail butterflies, and orioles use Mexican fan palms to construct their nests.
    We should make every effort to include native plant species in our urban street- and gardenscapes without compromising the function and beauty of those places. The Mint Plaza is an excellent example.
    Beyond using natives in formal landscapes, it makes lots of sense to re-create or recall our city’s pre-European dunescape, coastal scrub, and grasslands where possible (Funston, Presidio, GG Park oak woodlands), but in an urban plaza (this is not a park) sometimes the best choice is a tree that can be planted full size, requires minimal water, pruning or cleaning, and provides a dappled canopy.

  • Anonymous

    Also, palm trees visually link McCoppin Plaza with the palm trees planted nearby on Market Street and Dolores Street.  Palm trees actually have a long history in Northern California.  Canary Island palms were exotic and expensive.  During the 19th Century they were very popular and widely planted. Mature specimens are frequently seen planted near Victorian farmhouses in the Central Valley.  Also, Southern Pacific planted Canary Island palms near its train stations.  If you see a palm tree by a train track, chances are there was a station nearby.

  • AmberH

    I love this plan! I ride through this vacant cement lot all the time, and am so happy to see such an ambitious plan. It is also encouraging to hear from the nature / plant lovers. I too would love to see more natives in the right locations, our native buckeyes are gas stations with early summer bloom for swallowtails, painted ladies, echo blues and many others no longer flying here. Oaks too remain evergreen and provide stealthy nesting cover for everything from townsends warblers to scrub jays. As to those tall narrow palms, it is hard to replace that form, hmmm. If there is a good amount of groundwater, our native alders might do the trick. Out for now…

  • Lisa Lee

    As being an urban location a mix of natives and tried and true appropriate urban exotic species is ideal. There are benefits aesthetically and historically of linking with the canary palms as well as linking green spaces and creating hedgerows with native nectar rich species for our ever so important pollinators to reside, refuel and find refuge in. The education opportunity of right plant, right place is significant in this highly used location. There is great benefit of lush evergreen, brilliant flowering and delicious smelling plant species which add significant value and pleasure to our at times dirty drab urban environment. This potentially will inform many more civic projects. We need successful examples in the city with well planned thoughtful and artful spaces which provide a host of ecosystem services as well as beauty and respite for our urban citizens. 

  • So can somebody explain to me what the proper way to get to this path from McCoppin is? When you get to the end of McCoppin there are two lanes, labeled with left and right turn arrows.  Should I sit at the left side of the right turn lane and go straight as soon as the signal turns green? That’s what I do but it always feels kinda sketchy to go straight in a right turn lane!

  • So can somebody explain to me what the proper way to get to this path from McCoppin is? When you get to the end of McCoppin there are two lanes, labeled with left and right turn arrows.  Should I sit at the left side of the right turn lane and go straight as soon as the signal turns green? That’s what I do but it always feels kinda sketchy to go straight in a right turn lane!

  • Aaron Bialick

    That’s how I do it. The SFMTA’s supposed to paint a westbound bike lane that will guide you to do that same movement once the McCoppin redesign goes in (last I heard, it was supposed to begin this fall, but nothing’s started yet).