SFMTA Unveils Fell and Oak Bikeway Designs, Pushes Timeline to Spring 2013

Fell Street looking west from Divisadero. Images: SFMTA

The SFMTA revealed the design [PDF] for protected bike lanes on three blocks of Fell and Oak Streets at an open house on Saturday. The plan would create a safer connection from the Panhandle to the Wiggle by installing a one-way buffered bike lane on each street, partially separated from motor traffic by planters. The proposal would also paint green markings where bike traffic merges with turning motor traffic, re-calibrate the traffic signals for 20 MPH movement, construct pedestrian bulb-outs and zebra-striped crosswalks, and add angled car parking spaces (mostly on Baker Street) to replace over half of those removed to make way for the bikeways.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, said the organization is “encouraged to see the city officially proposing wider, physically separated bikeways on Fell and Oak Streets” and “grateful to see that the design includes many new corner, sidewalk bulbouts that will make it easier and safer for people to walk across these intimidating streets.”

“We believe the designs shared at the community workshop should move forward and be implemented to make it safer for the thousands of people who bike this corridor every day,” she said.

Although in January the SFMTA set the implementation timeline for next winter, staff said it has again been pushed back until spring, almost a year later than the city originally predicted. The SFMTA asserts that the project is on schedule according to the new timeline.

The plan uses green pavement treatments to emphasize a number of bike markings, including bike boxes, “super” sharrows where bikes and cars mix, and bike lane “entrances” at the beginning of each block. The approach at the intersection of Fell and Divisadero Streets, where green markings have already been added to reduce conflicts with drivers queuing up for the Arco gas station, would remain mostly as it is, though a bike box would be added.

The hot spot in front of the Fell and Divisadero Arco gas station would look mostly like it does today.

At Oak and Broderick Streets, drivers would be prohibited from turning right across the bike lane onto southbound Broderick using a physical barrier. That would also prevent through-traffic on Broderick from crossing Oak in the southbound direction.

Oak and Broderick Streets, where a physical barrier would prevent cars from crossing the bike lane in the southbound direction.

Turnout at Saturday’s open house wasn’t as robust as at December’s meeting, but comments from attendees seemed overwhelmingly supportive of the project. Still, a few critics seemed to keep staff and other supporters busy fielding complaints about the perceived trade-off of losing car parking — the main reason the agency ditched the original idea of implementing the bikeways as a trial this June.

Under the proposed plan, 57 of the 103 parking spaces displaced by the bike lanes would be replaced, mostly by converting existing parallel parking spots to back-in angled parking and perpendicular parking, mostly along the west side of Baker Street between Fell and Haight Streets. The real estate for those spots would come from excess road space on Baker. In a post on the Panhandle Park Stewards blog yesterday, Dale Danley argued that the added parking “would make the entrance to the Panhandle less attractive, from the vantage point of anyone traveling along Baker St or approaching from the east.”

Fourteen more parking spaces would be created on Hayes Street by removing bus stops at Broderick Street and Central Avenue, which could also speed up travel times on the 21-Hayes line.

SFMTA staff also provided a form for residents to petition for the creation of a residential parking permit (RPP) zone on their block, which would give residential car owners priority for curbside parking by imposing restrictions on non-permit holders. A block can only be added to an RPP zone with signatures from 51 percent of the residents. Roughly 120 paid parking spots were also opened for overnight parking at the Department of Motor Vehicles last year.

To implement the project, staff said the SF Planning Department must complete environmental review, which would then need approval from the Planning Commission. He also said an SFMTA public hearing on the project will likely be held in May, although no decision would be made then. The project would then need to be finally approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors.

“Given how many people are biking and walking on these stretches of street — despite how intimidating they are without proper facilities for biking and walking,” said Shahum, “we hope the city will conduct the environmental review with all due haste and get these important safety improvements on the ground by this fall.”

Stay tuned for more details on the implementation process.

An overview of the project. See more in the ##http://www.sfmta.com/cms/bproj/documents/OakandFellPublicMeeting3-31-12.pdf##PDF document##.
A map of where car parking would be added and removed.
"Mixing zones" would merge the bike lane with vehicular turn lanes at some intersections.
As illustrated here, the project area is currently a hole of unrestricted parking surrounded by several RPP zones.
A handy set of topography graphs illustrating why neighboring streets like Page and Hayes don't serve bicycle traffic very well compared to Fell and Oak. See more info in the ##http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2012/04/OakandFellPublicMeeting3-31-12.pdf##PDF document##.


  • TL

    Those turning zones are death traps and kill the 8-80 cred. Just ban left turns -/ this is SF, not Tulsa. Still, 100 times better than the current situation.

  • Severin

    Disappointing that there appears to be little consideration for turning cyclists.  That said, bring the bikeway designers to LA and tell our engineers that cycle tracks are possible and that they do encourage cycling and that they are safe.

  • “Fact:  More than half the cars parked in this neighborhood are not registered to cars in this zip code (94117).”

    So bicyclists are risking their lives for an additional year and the MTA is performing back flips to create new parking spaces, all so that people who do not even live in this neighborhood can continue to park their cars for free in one of the densest transportation corridors of the city. Exactly how does this make sense?

    I suspect that if a residential parking permit program were instituted in this neighborhood, half of all the parked cars would “magically” disappear and bicycle lanes could be created without disturbing neighborhood residents one whit.  In fact, the parking situation would probably improve for them.

  • mikesonn

    RPP and the “parking problem” goes away, who would of thought??

    Also, looks to me like total parking lost is around 50 space, not the 90 being touted by some nay-sayers. This project should be completed by now, not a year from now. Shame SFMTA, shame.

  • ubringliten

    This city is pretty upsetting at times.  Why does it have to take a year?

  • GS

     The stat is that only 22 percent of the cars parked in our hood are registered to the 941117 zip code!  As a resident, I am very much in support of Residential Permit Parking.

  • mikesonn

    I see the cycletrack is 7’3″ wide, will there be proper enforcement of parking in the lane? What will the fine be? If it’s anything like the protected lanes on Market, they will regularly be abused.

  •  GS,

    Only 22% of cars belong to the neighborhood?  Wow.  I’m glad the MTA did a count. Due this area being a non-RPP neighborhood surrounded by a sea of RPP neighborhoods, it’s not surprising people from other neighborhoods would use your streets for parking. But 3/4ths of all cars from outside the neighborhood is truly an amazing number. I hope residents will figure out they will benefit enormously by not being the parking lot of choice for half the city.

  • I am not a biker so maybe this is a stupid question with a simple answer. But why don’t they move the bike lanes on to Page and Hayes. And get the bikes away from crazy fast drivers on Oak and Fell?

  • Sprague

    Fully agree that this is the weakest aspect of what otherwise looks like a good design.  Since a de facto automobile left turn lane is being created on Fell at Broderick and Baker streets, this project is also a widening of the automobile lanes.  Certainly in Europe but also in NYC, I believe, cycle tracks are not shared with car traffic.  The whole idea is to separate car and bike traffic, minimizing car-bicycle conflicts/collisions as much as possible.  The Masonic proposal got it right.  Please SFMTA get it right to make this project as successful as possible.

  • Sprague

    Up until a year ago I was a resident of this neighborhood and I know that it does serve as a parking lot for the hospitals on Geary to the north.  In fact, it was a park and ride lot since some hospital shuttle buses would stop at the corner of Scott and Hayes streets to collect employees en route to work.

  • Page and Hayes involve inclines that are difficult for some cyclists. Fell and Oak are relatively flat in comparison and connect directly with the Panhandle, which has a decent multi-use path for five blocks of car-free riding.

  • Aaron Bialick

    @Sprague Mixing zones are used in New York and Denmark, at least. The case for them, as I understand it, is that they eliminate “right hooks” and bicyclists are very easy for drivers to see. Also, I believe they are wide to allow enough room for bicyclists to pass turning cars. Try them out on the JFK bikeway – I quite like them.

  • I think these left turn zones will work well. It makes it clear to drivers that they will be interacting with the bike lane and need to look out. It makes it clear to cyclists that they need to pay attention to traffic and be cautious of turning cars. 

    We all have to use this road as drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians and I welcome the cross-modal awareness these facilities promote.

  • Aaron Bialick

    See the bottom image provided.

  • Gneiss


    Check out the topography/distance graphs in the article.  Page and Hayes add significant distance and hills that Fell and Oak do not.  Forcing cyclists onto those streets will discourage people from using this route and make cycling much less tenable from the western neighborhoods.

  • mikesonn

    The graphs at the bottom of the article show the elevation differences between those routes. Fell/Oak are the flattest.

  • A year? The city’s “transit-first” policy is a farce.

  • Anonymous

    Wait! But where are the Ted & Al’s tow trucks gonna park now that planters are going to divide the bike lane from auto traffic?!  Surely no one is asking them to give up their prime idling spot right on top of the bike lane.

  • Sprague

    Aaron and Nicasio, I appreciate the feedback and I’ll keep an open mind that this might work well.  I certainly want this project to happen as soon as possible.

  • mikesonn

    But the parking!!

  • Washington, DC’s 15th Street cycletrack is a two-way track on a one-way street.  Rather than no left turns, or left turn lanes, there is a left turn signal for cars.  Bikes get a red light when the left turn arrow is green, and cars can’t turn left while cyclists are allowed to cross the intersection.

    It took a while for people to get used to, but now it works pretty well.

  • so that people who do not even live in this neighborhood can continue
    to park their cars for free in one of the densest transportation
    corridors of the city. 

    Translation: Drive from Marin, park here, hop the 16x.

  • mikesonn

    @twitter-14678929:disqus I wonder how much traffic on Masonic is due to these Marinites doing just that? RPP might have further reaching positives than just solving the parking issues in NoPa.

  • ubringliten

    If I were a resident there, I would want to get bike lanes because this would calm traffic and reduce both air and noise pollutions.

  • hUcKiECA

    Actually, was pointed out earlier in the thread, the mixing zone has been used effectively in NYC.  I actually saw a presentation on this design at a conference by the NYC assistant commission on traffic management, and the NYC experience with this design has been positive.

  • @mikesonn:disqus crap, you’re right, I always forget. Cars > *.

  • The Greasybear

    What will happen to bicyclists on Fell and Oak when these cycle tracks magically disappear under the wheels of parked cars and trucks? Will the situation become even more dangerous than it is now as cyclists are forced outside the “protection” of the planters and out into the torrent of speed-crazed motorists?

    As we regularly see on Market, Valencia, the Embarcadero, etc., all the safety and health benefits intended by 8-80 bike infrastructure are entirely wiped out whenever bike lanes are randomly closed to bike traffic by motorists, shuttle drivers, delivery people, and so on. Will SFMTA and the SFPD allow this bikeway to become a dangerous waste of years (and years, and yet more years) of planning and empty promises?

  • mikesonn

    EMB bike lane is a sad/cruel joke.

  • Anonymous

    To the comments below, I would add:

    The reason bicyclists want to take it is the same reason they built a major car thorough-fare there: it’s the flattest way to get east-west through this area. And for bicyclists, hills (or lack thereof) are even more important than they are to motorists.

  • Anonymous

    I get the feeling that the cost of studying this buffered bike lane will cost more than installing it.
    Why can’t they just put it in, and then study the results: real information, not theoretical; and it will cost less, even if they find it does not work – which they won’t.

    By the way, I’m from NYC, and the turns from the buffered bike lanes are working just fine.  Certainly better than the prior giant slalom around double parked cars plus the “maybe” turning cars on open avenues.  Now we have a fixed mixing area with only turning cars entering it, so cyclists know what they are dealing with.

  • Wasszup2009

    FACT, did the MTA consider this scenario: I live in the 94117 area and I use and park my company car everyday along the 94117 area . The car is not registered in this zip code, so I am to be punished by some myopic agency report and bicycle coalition?

  • Wasszup2009

    Is this not one of the reasons why cyclist bike, improve their health, save the planet, improve their health. Ride a little more on Hayes st. and stop whining.

  • Gneiss

    Wazzup – none of the reasons you cite are why many cyclists ride.  They certainly are not *my* reasons.  Many don’t want to ride on Muni or pay for gas and parking.  Others may simply find it to be the most efficient way to get around our compact 7 by 7 mile city.  Making bicycle riders to take an inefficient route reduces option people have to get around – making the choice to drive then to cycle more compelling.  This program is about leveling the field so cycling has a fighting chance of getting more transport mode share than it currently has.

  • Gneiss

    Wasszup – You can always pay for parking in a garage at market rate.  If your company can provide you with a car, why not parking too?  Where is it written that the city owes you a free parking space?

  • Anonymous

    @8baadb1bd714a98c59278daabd001c78:disqus One of the reasons many people cycle is indeed for exercise … in the US. However, in countries were significant numbers (1/2 or more) of trips are done by bicycle, i.e., the Netherlands or Denmark, that isn’t the main reason. Your attitude exactly epitomizes most Americans attitude towards cycling: that it is a recreational thing that requires special gear. But this isn’t what we are striving for (especially since it hasn’t gotten even 1% of trips to be bicycle). Instead, we are striving to make cycling primarily about a convenient, cheap, and easy way to get around, that is, simply a utilitarian form of transport. Yeah, and sure you get some exercise, but no more than walking.

    If we can’t even get people out of their cars at all when it’s flat, we definitely won’t do it if they are going to have to climb steep hills. Americans are already so lazy that they drive to the gym, will circle a parking lot to get the nearest stop so they don’t have to walk (god forbid!) a couple hundred extra feet, etc, etc, so certainly the average American has no business telling a cyclist not to be lazy.

  • Anonymous

    @8baadb1bd714a98c59278daabd001c78:disqus : In addition to seconding @002ec2dcc5273303fbfd34e45385ab64:disqus ‘s point, I would think that your situation is not normal, right? You really mean to say that you honest think that most of those cars that are not registered in the 94117 area code are really doing something like you are doing? Or do you think maybe the vast majority are simply people from out of the neighborhood taking advantage of free parking?

  •  Wasszup,

    You really don’t need to worry. For the very small numbers of your neighbors (including you) who drive company cars, the residential parking program allows *residents* to register company cars. From the MTA website:

    Company or Leased Vehicles

    Residents in a permit area who drive a vehicle
    registered to or leased by their employer may purchase a residential
    permit for the vehicle, if the vehicle is for his or her exclusive use. In addition to the application requirements described on our Residential Permit page, please provide the following:
    –Current California vehicle registration in the employer company or vehicle leasing company name. If a leased vehicle is not in a company name, it must be registered in the resident’s name and address.

    –Proof of employment of the resident by the company. Acceptable
    verification shall be a letter from the company verifying the resident’s

    Again, with a residential parking program, your ability to park your company car in your neighborhood is going to vastly, vastly improve.

  • @8baadb1bd714a98c59278daabd001c78:disqus even if someone is lazy by taking Oak/Fell over Hayes/Page, they’re still choosing a much healthier option for everyone. Fewer cars on the road means better air quality and less noise pollution. That benefits everyone. Even people who are certain they’ll never ride a bicycle have lots of reasons to encourage others to.

  • mikesonn

    I think @KarenLynnAllen:disqus is taking the right approach. You need to address @8baadb1bd714a98c59278daabd001c78:disqus ‘s concerns, i.e. their ability to park near their residence. This isn’t about more cyclists making their commute easier, or improving the air, or improving their health or our health or their kids health – that’s all “speculative”. Car owners want convenience and they want it now. This project and RPP needs to be conveyed as such – this also touches on why the SFMTA is losing the parking meter debate (but that’s another can of worms).

    “Yes, your neighborhood is losing 50 parking spaces and I know parking is difficult now, but this change will spark RPP which your area desperately needs. Once RPP is implemented, parking will actually be easier for yourself and your neighbors.”

  • TL

    Not that I have time for it today, but I’m going to go ride over to JFK and try out these mixing turn zones right now. Aaron, I’ll let you know what I think.

  • ubringliten

     I think the city should start giving out tickets to vehicles blocking bike lanes.

  • mikesonn

    Instead the city gave taxis little stickers that allow them to sit in bike lanes with impunity.

  • Mhamsfca

    Another year to implement? This city moves at glacial speed. In the meantime, bikers and pedestrians will continue to literally risk their lives to move about this area. Why does a city with a “transit first” policy allow cars to rule the day? Why does the city continue to offer free warehousing of cars (those that park along the Panhandle and surrounding neighborhoods w/o paying a dime). incredible.  

  • Anonymous

    District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague and SFBC are working to get the project started this fall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6dnICiD71g

  • Someone who is over it.

    Here’s a thought. Maybe, just maybe if you worked with the residents in neighborhoods such as NOPA that will immediately be impacted with these changes- perhaps this would yield better results. So much anger on this site about people who drive/park cars feeling upset about the change. Um. Duh? If suddenly, you had to pay 150 for parking a month and had no real warning, this too might upset you. Unless you have major cheddar and if that was the case, you probably don’t live on Fell street. Just saying. Even if intellectually you as a resident understood the inherent danger of folks riding bikes on your street encounter and wanted that to be fixed, it would still be a startling and upsetting change if you didn’t even know it was about to happen or could plan financially for it (I fall into this group). A little warning (maybe some might consider selling their car and buying a bike) a little education (hey residents, you don’t have RPP) a little friendly awareness raising (this will improve your neighborhood by X) would go a longggggg way. Instead, practically no one knew and felt blindsided by a group of people who need to commute through their neighborhood and want a flat road. So, yes, a year. By the way, I swear, had ANY of those things effectively happened, I would have been on board from the get go. No it’s not your job, but it might help your cause. Consider it friendly advice for someone who, through self education, is beginning to come around that this is a good idea for Fell street residents. That’s right. I am now on board, but it took a lot of sifting through the angry assumptions and insults. Alright, shoot me down!

  • I’m confused as tho who someone didn’t know some sort of changes were afoot. Was there no curiousity who those crazy people were blocking the Fell/Divis ARCO station every Friday for months on end? What is up with this green paint? etc…

    How do random people living in Potrero Hill know every twist and turn of this story for the last several years and the people living on Fell feel blindsided? I just don’t get it.

    “then I could plan for this change”. really feels like  “I don’t like this change and I will fight it with any FUD I can”. As someone who has said “this will improve your neighborhood by X” in a public forum in front of 200+ people and had a third of them give me the raspberry…

    Good to hear you are on board.

  • Someone who is over it.

    Dude, Murphstahoe, your comment is exactly what I am referring to. Hostile, assumptive, and rude. I changed my mind because I like to try to be open to different ideas and have tried to educate myself. Ugh. So smug this site.

  • Put yourself in the shoes of someone who does 1000s of hours of outreach, design work, prep, and shows up to a meeting and a hostile crowd gets up on the podium and says “We were not notified!” After that happens 100s of times, it just gets really old. And when it’s always the same faces saying “We were not notified” then it gets a little hard to believe.

    I consider that to be the epitome of rude. Your mileage may vary.

  • Not to mention, huge orange signs were placed on Fell streets months ago, announcing that changes were coming along with means to get more info. 


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