SFMTA Finalizing Fell and Oak Bikeway Design. Will It Be Ready By Summer?

The proposed bikeway would replace a parking lane as seen here on Fell at Divisadero Street. Alternative designs could include a separate signal phase for bikes and turning vehicles. Image: SFMTA

Planners are narrowing down the final designs for the Fell and Oak bikeway project, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) is calling on supporters to ask the mayor and SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin to ensure the project gets on the ground by summer as expected.

“The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition urges the SFMTA to implement separated bikeways on Oak and Fell Street between Scott and Baker Street as soon as possible,” said SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum. “We know city officials have heard from hundreds of people that these blocks are some of the most frightening for everyday bike commuters, and countless more just won’t bike because it feels so unsafe. Our goal is to connect the city with safe, comfortable bikeways that are welcoming for people of all ages, especially the growing number of families riding in this area.”

SFMTA planners are currently selecting a final design proposal after fielding community input last month. Among the decisions they have to make: whether to install a two-way bikeway on Fell that then splits into separate east- and west-bound routes at Divisadero, or go with completely separate one-way bikeways; which design treatments to use at intersections; and whether to include an overnight car parking lane [PDF].

A two-way bikeway option would split eastbound bicyclists off Fell Street right onto Divisadero to connect to Oak Street. Click to enlarge. Image: SFMTA

SFMTA staff announced at the meeting that they eliminated the contentious option of removing a travel lane due to the car congestion that might result. Instead, the bikeways will replace car parking — a choice that has met with resistance but could show the SFMTA is willing to stand behind its Transit First Policy as it builds out bikeways identified in the SFBC’s Connecting the City campaign.

Shahum said the SFBC is “eager to help the city look for replacement parking to offset those that might be lost on those six blocks of Fell and Oak in order to make conditions safer for all road users. We’ll also continue to work with neighborhood groups to improve safety from the Panhandle to Market Street both for those living in the area and those traveling through, whether bicycling, walking, or driving.”

The project may include some novel intersection treatments to help minimize conflicts between bicycle traffic and turning drivers, including separate signal phases, similar to the signals at Fell and Masonic. Another design adapted from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, known as a “mixing zone,” would merge the bikeway with a turning lane for vehicles, using green paint and bicycle sharrows to highlight space that cyclists and drivers share.

The SFMTA plans to present its final designs at a community meeting by April, and bike advocates are hoping the agency can implement the project by Bike to Work Day on May 10.

Click to enlarge. Image: SFMTA

Click to enlarge. Image: SFMTA

The overnight parking option with a one-way bikeway. Click to enlarge. Image: SFMTA