An SFMTA panel approved a safer bike lane plan for the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Evans Streets for recommendation to the agency’s Board of Directors today, marking a key milestone for short-term improvements on the street’s eastern section. The plan, which was chosen over an alternative that would have forced bicyclists to merge with trucks, is expected to receive final approval in the coming weeks with implementation to follow in late March.
“Without having [this] critical link through the intersection, where there’s all this traffic and heavy vehicles, we’re really not doing justice to bicyclists who are trying to traverse the corridor,” SFMTA Engineer James Shahamiri told officers at the hearing.
All but one of the speakers spoke in favor of the plan. Opposition was expected from some industrial business owners who use Cesar Chavez as a trucking route, but it never materialized.
“No professional truck driver wants to be involved in a crash with a bicyclist, or anything else, of course,” said Peggy da Silva of The Veritable Vegetable, which ships produce on Cesar Chavez. “Anything that will decrease the number of private vehicles on the road as we get more bicyclists there in bike lanes really helps our bottom line because our trucks can move, not at excessive speeds, but expeditiously.”
Bayview community activist Karen Pierce opposed the plan because she felt it was not properly vetted by the neighboring communities, which she said could suffer negative impacts to their air quality if trucks are delayed or diverted into those neighborhoods. But Shahamiri said any delays to motor traffic would be miniscule.
“There would be a very small amount of delay [on Evans] only during the p.m. peak,” said Shahamiri. “During the rest of the day, the intersection would actually operate more or less as it does today, and… most heavy vehicles actually operate when traffic volumes are substantially lower than the p.m. peak.”
CC Puede members Fran Taylor and Dan Sherman applauded the plan, saying it will help invite less confident bike riders to use the route.
“Cyclists will know where they’re supposed to be,” said Sherman. “There needs to be clarity at these intersections.”