Safer Bike Lanes at Cesar Chavez and Evans Approved at SFMTA Hearing

The "4-lane" option for dedicated bike lanes through the Evans Street intersection on Eastern Cesar Chavez was approved for recommendation. Image: SFMTA

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.”

  • jd_x

    Wow, great news. As somebody who rides this corridor almost daily, this is a really huge improvement. And I especially liked the comment from Peggy de Silva of The Veritable Vegetable: “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.” It’s amazing to finally see businesses taking a bigger-picture look at how getting more people to bicycle helps *everyone*. Makes me want to support this company ….

    Anybody know if they are going to use soft-hit posts in the buffer zone?

  • TL

    Yay! Wondering if anyone’s seen the exact plan, though, for the whole bike project. What about east of 280, where the bike lanes are all but faded to nothing? What about the connection under 101? In other words, will a person be able to ride to, say, Illinois St from 101 without experiencing a big drop off in safety?

  • jjsmack

    “Bayview community activist Karen Pierce opposed the plan… 
    which she said could suffer negative impacts to their air quality if trucks are delayed or diverted”… given the Shaharimi’s response (that trucks generally don’t travel during the pm peak)…
    In this case the “community activist” had no data to back up her assertions, and made no effort to collect any data to evaluate whether her concerns were reasonable. Unfortunately, this also seems to happen to a lot of other safety improvements (Fell/Oak bike lanes, anyone?) where people with no real knowledge of how traffic patterns work weigh in as though they knew what they were talking about.

    So far, I have not seen any proof that bike infrastructure has caused measurable traffic delays in SF.

  • @d2422f1b9beb8650ff31e63b23372f71:disqus Not only does there seem to be a lack of measured auto delays, but we need to stop using automobile speed as the only measurement of traffic quality.

  • Fran Taylor

    Karen Pierce is the real thing, so hold your ironic quotes. She’s worked with the community for years to get trucks off residential streets, guided a knockout program for young women and girls in the Bayview to survey pedestrian hazards, and shown support for better bicycling in the city. She had a lot of valid points of criticism about poor outreach to Bayview/Hunters Point and concerns that truckers would return to residential streets. How much data did you collect to back up your claims?

  • Anonymous

    Also, while they are in the area, I would love to see a bike lane added up Pennsylvania from Cesar Chavez to 22nd St. There are basically two lanes in each direction between Cesar Chavez and 23rd, and they really aren’t needed (traffic is light), so there is plenty of room. I’m especially concerned about the northbound stretch between Cesar Chavez and 25th where cars and trucks are merging on the freeway and bicyclists are going slow because of the hill. There really is no need for 3 lanes here (2 straight-ahead, and one for traffic merging onto the freeway). And then for the stretch between 25th and 22nd St, it would be nice to put the bike lane behind all the parked cars since nothing freaks me out more when traveling along this stretch than a car suddenly pulling/backing out without looking for a cyclist.

  • Nada east of I-280 – keep reporting these worn lanes; I’ve been doing it monthly to no avail. Maybe if enough of us bug them…

    Nada under the 101 – should be included in the corridor’s long-range plans (see the Planning Department’s vision: http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2626).

  • Easy

    I’d prefer if they had a separate signal phase, rather than having bikes merge across right-turning traffic. There’s something similar WB 16th St at 7th St, and its scary. Oh well, hopefully they can make that change in the future.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Yes, they will use soft-hit posts.

  •  I knew we were OK when Peggy got up and to my surprise backed the lane. But I do think her motivation isn’t entirely altruistic – the original plan put a bike lane in by removing a lane of EB traffic from 101 to Evans. This plan removes a lane of parking. Veritable Vegetable does not benefit from the parking that is currently there, and has a real or perceived benefit from 2 lanes.

    With a lane missing, there is no dedicated right turn pocket onto Evans from Chavez. That right turn pocket allows drivers – including VV’s trucks – to come flying off of 101 at speed and zip down Chavez to the right turn onto Evans which is primarily signaled by a green right turn arrow.

    I’m fine with it as long as her drivers behave. They will now be crossing a bike lane to get into that right turn pocket facing a green arrow that might be turning red. If they are not yielding… I have their 1-800-AMISAFE number on voice dial….

  • Fran Taylor

    Peggy and Veritable Vegetable have been big supporters of the Cesar Chavez plan all along, and Murph’s remarks are rather wide of the mark. Folks, do your homework before you insult people in the comments.

  • But Peggy da Silva, the educating and training manager at Veritable Vegetable, which is located on Cesar Chavez and uses a fleet of trucks to haul organic produce, said trucks face tighter air control regulations than private automobiles.
    “There’s a lack of understanding in the community about trucks. People think, because they’re big, that they pollute more and they don’t necessarily. Professional drivers are also probably less of a risk to people than, you know, your average person driving down the street,” da Silva said.
    Da Silva said the city should prioritize the movement of goods on Cesar Chavez by reducing private vehicle traffic on the street, which would reduce air pollution and the risk of injury and “support the health of our re-emerging industrial sector in Southeast San Francisco.”
    “We don’t want the trucks idling. I think that’s an agreement for all of us. Therefore, we need to make sure that the essential vehicles on this street can move,” said da Silva.

    This from Streetsblog article on the meetings where the first plan with traffic calming was nixed. Re-reading that it isn’t clear on what side Peggy was testifying for the original plan. My recollection from first reading painted her as the villan when you see “essential vehicles on this street can move” which reads to the person who just say his bike lane pushed back as “so trucks can move”. But the preceeding statements don’t necessarily imply she believes trucks moving means that we needed to keep 2 lanes of traffic and thus delay the project.

  • Anonymous

    @8273895862f4828764c2a8d05a9b4e2d:disqus I don’t know anything about Karen Pierce and can’t comment on her work, but I can comment on the general idea you present saying that she’s worried about truckers on residential streets. I agree that that is a problem. However, the solution is not to have bicyclists and pedestrians pay the price by continuing to allow Cesar Chavez to be a nightmare for them. Instead, the city needs to crack down on the trucks that use residential streets. You can’t say that we can’t improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure because motorists/truckers will just be jerks. If that is the case, then we need to go after the motorists/truckers. They can’t just plow through side streets because they don’t want to wait an extra minute or whatever going down the main streets (assuming that there even is an added delay from this recent plan). That is the real problem, and protecting cyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t be held hostage to their bad behavior.

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