SFMTA Stripes Bike Lanes on Folsom Street Connecting SoMa and the Mission

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/74121979@N05/6971570982/in/set-72157629544805704/##Mark Dreger/Flickr##

The SFMTA striped new bike lanes on Folsom Street between 13th and 19th Streets last week, creating a safer and more direct connection for bike commuters between SoMa and the Mission.

The bike lanes, which came along with a road diet and street re-paving, were called for in the Mission Streetscape Plan. They provide a continuous connection for SoMa-bound bicycle riders, who previously had to make a one-block jaunt east to Harrison Street and back via 11th to stay in a bike lane. The new design, which reallocated space from two traffic lanes to bike lanes and a center turning lane (where a planted median is planned), should also calm motor traffic on the street.

“We’re already hearing from members that these new lanes are making their daily commutes easier and safer,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “Folsom Street is a core biking corridor that links Mission District residential and commercial districts to SOMA and downtown.”

Folsom only allows eastbound traffic east of 11th Street, but Shahum noted that the SFMTA has discussed plans to two-way it and add protected bike lanes. “We urge the city now to continue with these much-needed improvements,” she said.

See more photos on the San Franciscoize Flickr account.

  • Anonymous

    Make Folsom Street two-way east of 11th? Wow. It seems like they’d have to do the same to Howard as well. Those would be massive adjustments.

    I’m wary of changes that significantly increase overall congestion. Slow and stopped traffic causes the worst pollution and of course increased driver frustration. Steady flowing vehicles at reasonable speeds — motored and motorized — should be a goal of any traffic planning project.

  • SteveS

     Changing a street from one way to two way without changing the number of lanes doesn’t reduce capacity at all; it causes people to drive slower which increases the number of vehicles per hour the road can carry.

  • Streets through parks get protected lanes (where there should be a 20mph speed limit, and perhaps no separation) and streets with higher limits get only paint and half a door-zone. “Members”-schmembers, how ’bout the people who have not cycled at all? For this cacophony of traffic planning the SFMTA gets an award? 

  • Howard and Folsom have only been one-way since 1972, and the change actually reduced their total traffic carrying capacity (19,283 and 12,314 vehicles per day on Howard and Folsom, respectively, before, 15,594 and 15,232 after).  What can be done can be undone.

  • Interesting.

    This is in a spot I’ve been wanting to take some video of. People returning from Caltrain to the Mission come down Townsend (bike lanes), rotary, Division (bike lanes including soft hit post separated lanes) and then have to “get south” somehow.

    The legal method would be to merge right across three lanes to the left hand lane and take a left onto Harrison across three lanes of oncoming traffic, the view of which is obscured by the freeway support structures.

    In practice, a lot of people “turn left” at Bryant – meaning that with a red light at Bryant then go across the crosswalk the “wrong” direction then somehow navigate (with questionable legality) across Bryant to get onto Division/Treat to Alameda to Harrison. Others do the same thing at 15th, frequently crossing the wrong way, then riding down the sidewalk past El Tonayense’s truck and then “exiting” the Best Buy parking lot with a left onto Harrison.

    The most legal behavior is the least safe for the cyclist, the least legal behavior is the safest but endangers pedestrians.

    I’ve never considered going all the way to Folsom and left there. The left would require the same three lane merge and there are no bike lanes on 13th there.

    This sort of situation is what breeds the mindset of trying to “find something that works” without regard to the rules because the rules come up short.

  • Oh, interesting – I’ve always navigated that area much differently. Townsend, rotary, Division, but then I take a right onto 9th. The traffic’s never bad there, so I can get all the way over to the left (since 9th is one-way) and take it up to Harrison, then turn left. I usually cut over to Folsom on 11th to get home, because I’m pretty good about catching the lights on Folsom and the stop signs on Harrison just take me too long. 

    And in total honesty, I have no idea why I do any of that. Habit, most likely. Figured that route out when I first moved to the city (20th/Valencia at the time) and was working in Mountain View, but I’ve just taken that route ever since.

  • It’s easier to take Townsend to 7th, turn left and then make a quick right on to King. One block on King, left on Rhode Island then right onto Alameda. You can take Alameda all the way over to Bryant and avoid all the crazy traffic under the elevated freeway (and ride legally the whole way).

  • Then why are we investing in all these demarcated bike lanes on Division that don’t form a complete pathway?

  • I have no idea why Division is being improved, it is terrifying and I don’t see any good solution to the left turn issue. 

  • well, I suspect I see a lot more cyclists on Divison (and always did) than you see on your route – just like Fell, the “shortest/flattest route”. And most users don’t consider it that terrifying – solely because we shortcut the turn.

    Certainly on the way to Caltrain it’s the obvious and fine route – modulo the illegal left turn from Division onto Bryant. So people just return the way we went out.

    Perhaps Division needs a bike box at Harrison and a left turn arrow…

  • The bike box at Division and Harrison would be a great idea. 

  • Abe

    You could also just do a box turn at Harrison or (now) Folsom. It’s safer for people on bikes AND people on foot.

  • James Figone

    Great.  Now how about taking one of the 4 traffic lanes on Folson north of 11 and turning it into a buffered bike lane.  No need for a parking protected lane for now, just take one of the traffic lanes away and make the existing bike lane much wider.  Doing so would take the pressure off of Market St and add a safe, continuous corridor all the way to Embarcadero.

    While we are at, let’s extend the Howard bike lane south, around the freeway entrance (contraflow bike lane?) and then on to a traffic-calmed South Van Ness, connecting up to the 17th St bike lanes.  Having the Howard/Folsom couplet to/from the Mission would take pressure off the Market St route where there are conflicts with buses, tracks, taxis and pedestrians.

  • Sprague

    Thanks Streetsblog and Aaron for covering this step forward.  My two cents on SOMA’s one-way streets: if specific streets or blocks can’t be converted to two-way, then parking protected contraflow bike lanes should be installed.  SOMA’s blocks are long and its current street design works best for motorized traffic and imperils and inconveniences other street users.  Bike lanes should be crisscrossing this area.  Parking protected bike lanes would also result in a somewhat minor road diet, which would further help tame and civilize automobile traffic.

  • +1 on the box turn at Harrison. It’s Copenhagen approved!

  • I agree.  I would *love* to see a contraflow bike lane on the one-way part of Folsom in SOMA, especially since the Howard bike lane doesn’t go past 12th (or is it 11th?)  and you have to track over to Folsom to get to the Mission anyway. Harrison, which I often end up taking between 8th and Division, is not very bike-friendly with no bike lane, two right turning lanes on 9th, and traffic coming off the freeway that wants to zoom really fast.

  • I wish that someone would consider legal action against SFMTA so that they stop building bike lanes and paths on major streets without dedicated turn signals for bikes.

  • David D.

    Let’s hope not. That’ll end any new bike lanes from being built or striped for years. Remember the last time somebody sued?

  • Well, David D., I hope you see my point.

  • netik

    I applaud this work. More of this and less of, “Oh, let’s just drop a bike lane symbol in the middle of a busy street and call it a bike lane”.

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