SFMTA Delays Fell and Oak Bikeways to Spring 2013 to Create More Parking

Bike commuters will continue to face dangerous conditions on Fell Street for at least another year. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Separated bikeways on Fell and Oak Streets won’t come until spring 2013 at the earliest, nearly a year later than originally proposed, the SFMTA told Streetsblog today.

SFMTA planner Dustin White said the delay largely comes from opposition from some car owners to the removal of curbside parking, which is leading staff to create more parking spaces on nearby streets as it plans the bikeways.

“We have started to receive feedback opposing the parking removal, and I anticipate that developing parking mitigations will be one of the most difficult aspects of building community support for the project,” said White. Before presenting a proposed design this spring, staff will be “working on refining intersection design options and seeking mitigations to the proposed parking loss” and fielding input from bicycle, pedestrian, and disability advisory committees, he said.

Although SFMTA Sustainable Streets Division Planner Mike Sallaberry said last June that the project could be fast-tracked as a trial and be on the ground as early as this June, White claimed the project was actually ahead of an original target of fall 2013 officially set in a funding grant document approved by the SF County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) [PDF]. “We don’t think the environmental review process will take as long” as originally envisioned in the SFCTA document, he said.

On top of environmental review, staff must complete detailed design, legislation, and acquire funding for construction before implementation, said White.

The bikeways, which would vastly improve a vital bicycling link on three blocks between the Wiggle route and the Panhandle, would replace up to 80 parking spaces depending on which design alternative is chosen. However, about 120 paid parking spaces were opened to the public last year at the adjacent lot at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the city has a nearly forty-year-old Transit First Policy which generally says safe bicycle access should take precedence over car storage.

Mayor Ed Lee ##http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/02/23/streetscast-an-interview-with-san-francisco-mayor-ed-lee/##told Streetsblog##'s Bryan Goebel last February, "I want to get to that experiment on Fell Street quickly." San Franciscans will have waited at least two years since that statement for the city to make good on it. Photo: Christine Falvey

While Mayor Ed Lee‘s administration continues to let complaints from car owners impede safety improvements to city streets, San Francisco is falling farther behind cities like New York and Chicago when it comes to 21st Century bike infrastructure. New York has implemented about twenty miles of on-street protected bikeways in recent years; in no instance has the city delayed a project to make up for the loss of on-street parking. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel installed the Kinzie Street protected bikeway just days after entering office and plans to add 100 miles of protected bike lanes within four years.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is urging supporters to call on Lee and SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin to take a stand behind the long-overdue project and implement it with haste in pursuit of the city’s official goal of reaching 20 percent of trips by bike by 2020.

“A safe separated bikeway on this key biking corridor can’t wait,” said SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum. “We are urging the city to move this project forward more quickly, and ensure the safety of the thousands of San Franciscans who use this crosstown route daily.”

  • peternatural

    Parking all along the panhandle isn’t that hard to find. If you wait until just after street cleaning, you can stash your car for nearly a whole week! Just move the darn thing for street cleaning once a week. (Never mind that there might be a 3-day limit for leaving your car in one space — I don’t think it’s enforced much).

    I used to do that, and felt pretty good about saving $300/month (the going rate for a spot in my building).

    Eventually I wised up and got $5000 cash in a day by selling the car…

  • Anonymous

    “Cyclists need to be smart in choosing routes – there’s a reason you’re not allowed to ride on interstates.”

    …Right, because the traffic speed differential is insane (10-25mph bikes vs 65-90mph cars). Luckily that’s not the case on Fell or Oak, which both have speed limits of 30mph, and with regular stoplights and intersections average car speeds are much lower than that.

    Page and Hayes don’t disappear once buffered bike lanes are striped on Fell. The sharrows on those routes will remain, and you and other cyclists who can handle the hills will still be welcome to ride them. The reality is that this plan isn’t about people like you and me, though, who are already out there and fit/confident enough to ride wherever we want. This plan is about accommodating the thousands of residents who want to ride but don’t, citing issues of safety, ability, confidence, and infrastructure. Whether these issues are real or just perceived they are still worth addressing if that’s what it takes to get those people on bikes. 

  • Filamino

    Stop exaggerating the speeding bullshit. I regularly use Fell/Oak. Drivers don’t and cannot go 40 mph because there’s too much traffic and the signal lights are timed for 25 mph. I am sick and tired of this speeding bullshit.

    It is explained why removing a traffic lane won’t work. It will cause too much congestion and drivers will simply divert onto the parallel residential and transit preferential streets. Why is that so hard to comprehend? Why would you want to slow down MUNI? Oh wait, I know why. Because you want the west-siders to suffer. Talk about blatant NIMBYism. Use Turk? Only if you are going to the Richmond District. If you’re going to the Sunset (which has a lot more people), that would be a ridiculous detour. 

    Fell/Oak traffic don’t go down much after rush hour. In fact, they are about the same during the daytime all 7 days of the week. The only time the traffic goes down is after 9pm-6am. 

    I think removing parking is the best compromise. 

  • mikesonn

    @5c6e74f9c4be18e3e0b82b7e5f4c701f:disqus *slow clap*

  • Anonymous

    @5c6e74f9c4be18e3e0b82b7e5f4c701f:disqus wrote: “It will cause too much congestion and drivers will simply divert onto
    the parallel residential and transit preferential streets.”

    Do you know of any similar example where a traffic lane was removed and traffic diverted to the side streets? I guess I ask because I have a hard time visualizing how it would be any faster going down Hayes or Page, for example, with stop signs or stop lights (not timed) at almost every block and lots more crossing pedestrian traffic. I think a few people would divert to the side streets but then quickly realize it’s no faster.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of bollards to stop through traffic on non-thoroughfares. It doesn’t make sense that motorists can trash more residential streets with their noise, pollution, and danger just because they refuse to find and support alternative ways of moving through the city. I say, if people want to keep driving given all we know about how inefficient, wasteful, dangerous, and polluting it is, they should be stuck with their other fellow motorists wallowing in the stink and pollution of traffic. And that’s only because people quickly realize how much it sucks and stop doing it, whether it’s because they move closer to work, user public transit/cycle/walk, or simply stop going to places that require them to drive. Long-term, I think traffic will adjust to one less lane (though I think short-term traffic will be worse) and traffic will move no more slowly than now. The only difference will be that it will be safer for everyone, especially cyclists.

  • O Residents of Fell and Oak, implementing residential parking permits in your neighborhood and installing a two-way protected bike lane on Fell or Oak would benefit you, not harm you! Let me count the ways: 

    1) Alice A (x 10 others) who doesn’t live in your neighborhood will no longer drive to your neighborhood, park her car where parking is free, and then take Muni to work.
    2)  Bobby B (x 10) who lives in an adjoining neighborhood (not yours) where they do have residential parking permits, will no longer routinely park his car (that he doesn’t use often) in your neighborhood to save himself $96 a year.
    3) Colleen C (x 10) who lives quite a distance from you in a neighborhood with residential parking permits will no longer park her car in your neighborhood when she goes on vacation.
    4)  David D from out of town will no longer figure your neighborhood is the best place to park his RV for weeks at a time.
    5)  Your neighbor Elizabeth E (x 5) will decide to remove the junk from her garage and park her car in it.
    6)  Your neighbor Frank F (x 3) will decide to remove the junk from his garage and rent it out.
    7)  Your neighbor Gracie G (x 10) will wonder why does she have a car when she doesn’t drive it all that much anyway and can use City Carshare or Zipcar? She will get rid of her car altogether.
    8)  Your neighbor Howard H (x 5) will decide to get rid of his second car that he parks on the street and very rarely drives. (The first one he keeps in his garage.)
    9)  With the protected bike lanes, your neighbor Irene I (x 30) will become brave enough to try biking in San Francisco. After six months, realizing she is using her car very little, she will also trade in her car for a membership in City Carshare or Zip Car.
    10) With the protected bike lanes stretching west and east all across the city, Joe J (x 10,000) from other parts of the city will replace one more car trip with a bike trip each day.
    11) With reduced pollution from car exhaust, 10 years-old Kimmy K (x 100) will have one less asthma-induced emergency room visit.
    12) With so many more bicyclists providing eyes and ears on the road, crime rates (during biking hours, at least) will go down and your neighbor Leo L (x 30) will have his car broken into one less time this year. (People in cars see little, hear less, doing little in the way of crime prevention.)
    13) With the protected bike lanes Mary M (x 30) will try biking with her kids to school. Her children will be healthier and have better test scores as a result.
    14) With reduced pollution from car exhaust, your neighbor Nate N (x 2) will not be diagnosed with cancer this year.
    15) Finding her stress reduced and her happiness levels increased when she begins bicycling, your neighbor Ophelia O (x 5) will be able to go off her anti-depression meds.
    16) Finding pollution and noise levels lower, your neighbor Peter P (x 50) will spend more time outside conversing with his neighbors.
    17) Finding pollution and noise levels lower and less stressful, your neighbor Queenie Q (x 40) will walk to local businesses more rather than drive across town or to Colma.
    18) Walking and biking more, your neighbor Roger R (x 25) will be able to manage his diabetes without medication.
    19) With the traffic-calming benefits of bike lanes, your neighbor Susan S will not be hit by a car this year as she crosses the street.
    20) By taking the plunge and getting rid of his car, your neighbor Tom T (x 50) will have $8000 more dollars to spend in the local San Francisco economy.
    21) Umberta U (x 5000), who doesn’t live in your neighborhood but now feels safe biking through it, will also be able to go car-free, saving her $8000 a year as well.
    22) Victor V (x 1000) will switch from taking Muni to bicycling.
    23) This will allow Winona W (x 1000) to stop driving and take Muni because the bus was too crowded for her before. 
    24)Your neighbor Xavier X (x 15) will be so enraged at the bike lanes that he will move to Marin.
    25) This will allow Yolanda Y (x 15) who wants to live car-free in a vibrant, livable neighborhood a short bike ride from downtown to move in.
    26) With reduced pollution, noise, and less of his taxes going to health care and road repair costs, your neighbor Zach Z (x 30% of your entire neighborhood), who doesn’t own a car already right now, will find his quality of life substantially improved. (Half of all health care costs in the US are paid for by taxpayers, as are half of all road maintenance and repair costs.)

    Who would have thought bike lanes and residential parking permits would make such a difference?

  • peternatural

    All well and good, but maybe missing the point?

    Street parking in the area is currently FREE, while the permits cost 30 CENTS PER DAY, for crying out loud!!  jk

  • Peternatural, for people outside the neighborhood who can currently park effectively for a week at a time (or longer if they don’t mind the streetcleaning ticket) parking over 2 hrs will be eliminated. For people in the neighborhood who use their car rarely, the hassle of paying the $96 for a permit could very well put them over the edge in the keep-versus-get-rid-of-car decision. For people whose garage is full of junk, $96 per year might induce them to finally clean it out. (Of course, maybe not.) In my neighborhood, I have seen the number of vacant parking spaces substantially increase once the residential parking permit system was put in a few years ago. (And, yes, I agree the permit is wildly under-priced. Why is it that politicians in Sacramento get to decide this?)

  • peternatural

    I was just kidding (hence “jk”). I agree the plan would be a net win for residents (and others). I live a block from Oak and I’m for it!

  • Sprague

    Up until last April, I lived a block and a half away from this bike lane on Fell Street. As you know, parking is tough in the neighborhood. Anyone coming home after 6 in the evening is lucky to find street parking within a couple of blocks of their apartment. That’s one reason why many residents opt not to own a car and rely instead on two wheels, Muni and car sharing. Cities change. Street usage changes. A two lane Fell Street, in this stretch, would be preferable to a three lane Fell Street. But there has to be a reasonable compromise. Ideally, the compromise should be the smallest possible burden to the smallest number of people. The loss of maybe fifty to sixty parking spaces (or whatever the actual amount is) in these 3 blocks of Fell seems like a reasonable compromise. As to the numbers of westbound cyclists in the am, one reason for a dearth of cyclists on all streets is the poor cycle infrastructure. If there were protected bike lanes in crucial locations (like here on Fell) you’d definitely see more riders using them. As a Fell Street resident, you’d likely then find a small reduction in automobile traffic passing your home (once these bike lanes are improved). There would be less noise and slightly healthier air to enjoy. For those who have a problem with parking removal and other attempts to make streets safer for all users, it might be time to ditch the car or be willing to pay the price to park it in a city crowded with cars.

  • Sprague

    Up until last April, I lived a block and a half away from this bike lane on Fell Street. As you know, parking is tough in the neighborhood. Anyone coming home after 6 in the evening is lucky to find street parking within a couple of blocks of their apartment. That’s one reason why many residents opt not to own a car and rely instead on two wheels, Muni and car sharing. Cities change. Street usage changes. A two lane Fell Street, in this stretch, would be preferable to a three lane Fell Street. But there has to be a reasonable compromise. Ideally, the compromise should be the smallest possible burden to the smallest number of people. The loss of maybe fifty to sixty parking spaces (or whatever the actual amount is) in these 3 blocks of Fell seems like a reasonable compromise. As to the numbers of westbound cyclists in the am, one reason for a dearth of cyclists on all streets is the poor cycle infrastructure. If there were protected bike lanes in crucial locations (like here on Fell) you’d definitely see more riders using them. As a Fell Street resident, you’d likely then find a small reduction in automobile traffic passing your home (once these bike lanes are improved). There would be less noise and slightly healthier air to enjoy. For those who have a problem with parking removal and other attempts to make streets safer for all users, it might be time to ditch the car or be willing to pay the price to park it in a city crowded with cars.

  • Sprague

    Up until last April, I lived a block and a half away from this bike lane on Fell Street. As you know, parking is tough in the neighborhood. Anyone coming home after 6 in the evening is lucky to find street parking within a couple of blocks of their apartment. That’s one reason why many residents opt not to own a car and rely instead on two wheels, Muni and car sharing. Cities change. Street usage changes. A two lane Fell Street, in this stretch, would be preferable to a three lane Fell Street. But there has to be a reasonable compromise. Ideally, the compromise should be the smallest possible burden to the smallest number of people. The loss of maybe fifty to sixty parking spaces (or whatever the actual amount is) in these 3 blocks of Fell seems like a reasonable compromise. As to the numbers of westbound cyclists in the am, one reason for a dearth of cyclists on all streets is the poor cycle infrastructure. If there were protected bike lanes in crucial locations (like here on Fell) you’d definitely see more riders using them. As a Fell Street resident, you’d likely then find a small reduction in automobile traffic passing your home (once these bike lanes are improved). There would be less noise and slightly healthier air to enjoy. For those who have a problem with parking removal and other attempts to make streets safer for all users, it might be time to ditch the car or be willing to pay the price to park it in a city crowded with cars.

  • Ah, missed the jk.  (No doubt need stronger reading glasses.)

  • Anonymous

    We already do this one out of five rush hour mornings. It’s Street Cleaning 8-10am every Thursday on that side of Fell. I invite you to come meet and Discuss proposals.

  • Street cleaning. Also known as that time of the week when SFMTA overlooks the blockading of sidewalks with cars more than it already does.

  • Sebra leaves

    Why not put the bikeways on the smaller side streets where there is less traffic? What is the point in having bikes on one of the fastest most dangerous cross-city streets in San Francisco?

  • The Greasybear

    Why not calm the car traffic and provide cyclists the physical infrastructure needed to make those flattest and most convenient cross-town routes safer and more equitable?

  • mikesonn

    Fireside chat at Google with Ed Lee and Ed Reiskin. Fell/Oak at the 11min mark.

    Reiskin says that “it wasn’t delayed.”

  • Kaku Ando

    Community starts with compromise. Why shouldn’t the complaints of motorists be taken into account when major changes to the roadways are planned?

    Because bicyclists in San Francisco think they are entitled to a separate public infrastructure, no matter what the cost or what impediments it creates for others lifestyles?  Entitlement buttressed by self-righteousness based on the belief that riding their bicycles will save the Earth.
    Why don’t bicyclists first learn how to use the streets legally?  Then, once we have determined they know how to obey the law we can spend more money on building dedicated infrastructure for them.

  • Kaku Ando

    These are all strawman arguments.  Red herrings.

    First, this is Fell Street on the Panhandle.  Do you really see people with their junk out on the street?  I think not.  I use these streets almost daily and I have never observed your Elizabeth E or Frank F.

    Second, long term parking is not possible without significant risk.  The City tickets and tows cars in those areas if they are parked for more than 2 days.  The City has been increasing enforcement of this law throughout the City over the past six months, so much so that Supervisors are receiving complaints from violators.

    Third, even if there are areas where there may no requirements for residential parking permits, many areas along Fell and Oak do require permits.  There is also at least weekly and in some places twice a week street cleaning.  So, the numbers of Alice As and Bobby Bs is not that high in these areas.

    You may love your bicycle.  You may think that everyone should ride a bicycle. But, you do not have right to make it difficult for car owners.  There position is can be expressed with as much passion and with as many valid points as yours.  Community starts with compromise, not exaggerations. 

  • Sprague

    Just like the vast majority of motorists drive safely, so do the vast majority of cyclists.  I am sorry if you feel that your “lifestyle” is being impeded by bicycles.  I, too, would like to overlook the imposition that automobile exhaust has on the lives of all the kids who grow up in this city.  I try to ignore the roars of loud motorcycle engines that impede the slumber of many.  And I don’t like to think about the imposition our military has had on the people of the oil rich nation of Iraq, in part so that we can carry on with our gas-guzzling “lifestyle”.

  • peternatural

    Yes, bicyclists are entitled to separate public infrastructure. We pay for the roads like everyone else, after all. By your argument, motorists don’t deserve any infrastructure themselves, since just about every single motorist in this city breaks multiple traffic laws on every single outing. (Did that slip your mind when forming your “principle”?)