Envisioning the Wiggle as a People-Centered Greenway

Scott Street between Oak and Page Streets. Image: SFBC

The SF Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) has posted new visuals on its website depicting how streets on the Wiggle could be transformed into greener, traffic-calmed streets oriented toward safe walking and bicycling.

The Wiggle, the flattest route connecting the east and west parts of the city, is already a magnet for bike traffic. However, as the SFBC notes, new riders can get confused by the twists and turns of the route, and high-speed motor vehicle traffic makes cycling feel too dangerous for many people to consider riding.

The renderings of Waller Street and Scott Street draw on concepts that emerged from last year’s ThinkBike Workshops, in which planners from the SFMTA and the Netherlands sketched out redesigns to enhance the experience of pedestrians and cyclists on major bicycling corridors. The SFBC envisions wider sidewalks, more public seating, higher-visibility bike markings, and streets engineered for automobile speeds that don’t threaten people traveling on foot or by bike.

The SFMTA is taking some steps toward the ThinkBike vision by rolling out ladder crosswalks and green-backed sharrows emphasizing pedestrian and bicycle priority along the route.

The SFBC’s renderings are part of its Connecting the City campaign to make SF streets accessible for all-ages cycling. The top priority for the campaign is a seamless “Bay to Beach” bicycle route, including the Wiggle, that feels safe enough for anyone from 8 to 80 years old to ride.

The SFBC also has a survey for the public to share their thoughts on the renderings.

Waller Street between Steiner and Pierce Streets. Image: SFBC
  • Don’t go halfway. Add mid-block pedestrian crosswalks with blinking lights. That’s when you *really* emphasize “this place is for pedestrians”. Best example I have seen is the main “drag” in Breckenridge.

  • The Greasybear

    Narrowing the roadway as shown in the first rendering would make it much harder for bicycle traffic to safely get around all of the many double-parked automobiles that will likely continue to clog our streets.

  • jdbig

    where are the speed bumps a la octavia?

  • Tortoise

    By that argument, we shouldn’t have a segregated bike lane on Fell since that will inevitably increase double-parking, which is already a problem there.

    The law of unintended consequnces is a bitch.

  • Alefdeux

    Beautiful. Really beautiful. But I can hear the howls of protest already from residents with cars to park. And I’m torn. I live on the wiggle. I’m an avid cyclist and also a daily driver with two kids. Hard enough to load my son and daughter in and out now with parking nearby. But I’d love for them to have the relative safety of a calmer street. As long as my fellow cyclists remember that pedestrians have the right of way no matter how wrong they are. All that and still hopeful for a friendlier bikeway. We shall see. Good luck.

  • “As long as my fellow cyclists remember that pedestrians have the right of way no matter how wrong they are”

    The DMV is just down the street from you where you can get a handy copy of the drivers manual. Suffice to say if your statement were true, DA Gascon would have a much easier job and every driver or cyclist who ever killed a pedestrian would be headed to the pokey for a year of reflection on his or her recent vehicular manslaughter charge. Unfortunately Gascon has trouble deciding to prosecute drivers and cyclists even when the pedestrian does have the right of way.

  • voltairesmistress

    This rendering, though beautiful, makes me wonder if San Franciscans aren’t trying a little bit too hard.  The Wiggle works the way it is — as the flattest way to get from Upper Market to the Panhandle and beyond.  Pedestrians use it too, of course.  But when I walk, I usually take the shortest route, even if that involves a block or two uphill.  So why turn the Wiggle into a pedestrian mall?  That will make biking through there much more difficult.

  • Maybe just to make it a more pleasant place to “be”, not just a place that works to “get through”

  • I especially like the rotary and the yield sign instead of a stop sign. That is what traffic calming is all about!

  • I like the greenery.  I like the additional seating.  I like the view of a roundabout (I think) in the distance with a yield rather than a stop sign to control traffic. I really like that there are no cars portrayed actually traveling in the street.  All that’s missing is a mock up of a policeman writing tickets to bicyclists who fail to yield to pedestrians. (Note, I said “yield” not “stop.”)

    What would really improve this neighborhood is if there were only neighborhood car traffic (and Muni buses), not cars using the neighborhood to avoid arterial streets, especially Scott used to avoid Divisadero. (I know, because I used to do this routinely. Taking Scott is significantly faster to get from Noe Valley to Pac Heights than Divisadero.) Designing the majority of streets in this city to be unbroken thoroughfares that stretch for miles has turned streets that should be low speed car-lite neighborhoods into unsafe/unpleasant car-heavy de facto arterials. Bollards that allowed pedestrian and bicycle passage but impeded cars would do the trick–say on Scott at Haight going north (preventing right hand turns from Haight onto Scott and preventing cars going north), on Scott at Fell going south (preventing cars from turning left off Fell, cars going south on Scott, and would also allow continual left turns for bicyclists onto Fell as long as they yielded to pedestrians).

    If I lived in this neighborhood, I would also want Pierce at Haight blocked off in both directions, and Steiner going north from Duboce blocked to cars. It might make negotiating the neighborhood slightly more serpentine for locals, but it would push non-neighborhood traffic to Fillmore, Webster and Divisadero, even Buchanan and Laguna for people just wanting to get from Market Street to Fell/Oak. This would result in the rest of the lower Haight being calmer, safer and pleasanter, a real place for the community to gather.

  • Tortoise, I guess I don’t understand your comment. The beauty of a protected bike lane, as proposed on Fell, is that cars, trucks, taxis, delivery vans *can’t * double-park in it, unlike the double-park-in-me lanes on Valencia, 17th, Folsom, etc. which at times are more blocked by double-parkers than open to bicycles.

  • Tortoise

    Karen, taxi’s and delivery vehicles have to stop somewhere. Wherever they stop, it obstructs traffic. It doesn’t really matter that much whether they obstruct a bike lane or a car lane since, if the cars are obstructed, they will veer into the bike lane or whatever lateral space is available..

    And a bike lane can never be “protected” because vehicles have to enter a bike lane to make turns, enter and leave driveways, in emergencies, and so on. The idea of us all sharing the road is that we, er, share it. If you want to, instead, ban cars, then why not just come out and say that?

  • Anonymous

    Like San Francisco has sooo much in common with a ski resort that has a population of under 5000…

  • Anonymous

    @31ee890c390b89d7d88b15d05a23c54b:disqus I’m still confused as well. It’s *really* hard to block a cycle track (protected bike lane), especially if there are soft-hit posts, planters, or parked cars separating the cycle track from car traffic. I mean, sure, somebody could really go out of their way to drive through the planters or parked cars, but that definitely happens *much* less with a cycle track than a standard bike lane.

    @2dc6b4c4038a9e3128028f0d88f6cde2:disqus Definitely a valid point, but what we should do about that is increase enforcement of double-parked cars. One of the things that I’m noticing severely lacking in the MTA’s 20% by 2020 goal is changing city policy with regards to bicycling. They are working hard on infrastructure, and that is just important as anything else. But they are completely neglecting policy. And you can’t get 20% without changes in *both* policy and infrastructure. You can make the safest cycle tracks on the planet, but if you don’t enforce motorists from doing dangerous things, they will do them and it will prevent most people from bicycling.

    So I think the solution is to narrow the roads while also enforcing double-parking. And to be honest, worst case, having bicyclists dodge double-parked cars on a traffic-calmed but narrow street is still better for everyone than having them do so on a non-traffic-calmed but wider street.

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree. Rotaries just make the whole debate about cyclists stopping at stop signs moot. They are fantastic idea in low car traffic areas like the Wiggle.

    And at intersections where you can’t use a rotary, I agree that one direction (the one on the Wiggle) should have a yield sign and the other a stop sign. However, this only works at intersections where the Wiggle path goes straight, which is only at Scott and Page (Scott and Oak obviously is not a candidate for a stop/yield sign).

  • Tortoise,  I think you might be unfamiliar with physically-separated bicycle lanes.  They can be found all over the world and work quite well.  This is a good video explaining how they work:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/physically-separated-bike-lanes/

    Physically separated bike lanes are unnecessary where car volume and car speeds are low.  Making the Wiggle car-lite and low speed would mean local cars and bikes could share the road safely.

    As to Fell and Oak, no one is suggesting cars should be banned on these streets!  Of course that wouldn’t be feasible. But for these high volume, high speed, heavy duty arterials, creating physically-separated bike lanes would make bike travel safe for ages 8 – 80.  If double-parking is necessary, yes, it is better to block a lane of car travel than to force bicyclists into fast-moving, heavy traffic.  (Even better, create loading zones for delivery vehicles and taxis.)  If there is a row of parked cars between traffic and the bike lane (or a curb, or soft hit posts, or some type of physical barrier), then cars/trucks/taxis etc physically cannot get to the bike lane to park in it.  Entering and leaving driveways, yes, cars may have to cross the bike lane but this lasts just a moment and the car must wait for a gap in bike traffic before crossing the lane.

  • Seriously

    Do you see the women crossing the street with the red bag in the first picture?  Well, she is about to be hit by a bicycle blazing through a stop sign at 35 mph and die.  Welcome to SF cyclists.

  • mikesonn

    Which one? The older gentleman or the parent w/ child?

    Welcome to SF trolls.

  • Potomac

    Notice that these markups have no dogs in them despite being near Duboce Park, one of the largest off leash dog parks in the city.

    Why no dogs?  They have all been run over by bicycles blowing through intersections with no regard for animal or human pedestrians.

  • Anonymous

    Trolly out there tonight …. be careful folks.

  • @ebe6fc6eccb37449d78547d609315c7a:disqus  / @def84ae77a81ebabca11e00071678b50:disqus  / “Angry Mob” / “Mobjustice” / @Tattoosinner:disqus 

    Please use a consistent name.

  • mikesonn

    On Upper Grant, PCO was cruising down street. Driver directly IN FRONT of PCO decides to double park. PCO just drives around the double parked driver.

    PCOs = worthless

  • mikesonn

    San Francisco is the most different place in the history of man kind. You should know that Murph, see: Noe Valley Parklet.

  • Teug121

    while additional pedestrian and bike-focused improvements are no doubt a great addition to the wiggle streets, so many other streets in this city could benefit from some attention. particularly in the western neighborhoods where our 40-50feet wide and rather flat streets offer lots of real estate for cars to travel fast and furiously.

  • VCS

    Unfortunately, no. 

    SFBC seems to have already forgotten about their disastrous “mini-roundabout” wiggle experiment from a few years ago. Cars just figured out they could weave around the roundabouts at 20 MPH, making it deadly for everyone else – bikers and pedestrians and other autos. I’m fine with the roundabouts, but please keep the stop signs.

  • mikesonn

    Those rotaries were too small. Hopefully lesson learned. Rotaries with stop signs aren’t worth the work the put them in.

  • VCS

    BTW, the official US traffic engineering term for a modern traffic circle is “roundabout”. They work really well in places where there’s enough room (e.g. not the Wiggle), and MTA should be studying where to put them in.

    “Rotary” somewhat implies those high-speed highway intersections in Massachusetts. 

  • shmoozilla

    Paratransit vans will be able to block cycle tracks for curbside boarding when providing door to door service.

  • mikesonn

    If para-transit vehicles were the only ones blocking cycle tracks, then there wouldn’t be an issue. But it’s not only para-transit vehicles that block cycle tracks.

  • I don’t remember the experiment with roundabouts in the city. I do know there are a number of existing roundabouts here and there in San Francisco that work fine, but tend to have stop signs rather than yield signs to control traffic on entering. For whatever experiment there may have been, the roundabouts must have been put in extremely badly, because roundabouts exist all over Seattle neighborhoods, even in very tight intersections (ones much smaller than the Wiggle), and work very well. Just size the center circle to whatever diameter it needs to be to create appropriate lane size.  Add speed bumps to slow traffic even further, if necessary.

  • J282sf

    The big green sharrows really help folks navigate through the wiggle. These function as wayfinding devices. If there were more treatments along the side of the road, the route would be all the more obvious and everyone would follow it. That is wayfinding at its best; intuitive navigation for peds and cyclists.

  • Alefdeux

    Maybe so, Murph. But if the choice is between being right or bring happy, I will choose happy. When one of us cyclists hits a ped, we all lose. So yield and smile. Just yield and smile.

  • Alefdeux – I came within inches of running someone over this AM at 20 MPH. He ran into the roadway from between 2 parked cars, mid-block the one closest to me being his delivery truck blocking my view as to his presence. I screamed and grabbed as much brake as I could without locking up the wheels.

    Don’t know about you but I don’t think he had the right of way.

  • mikesonn

    Rode the wiggle this weekend out to GGP, I really like the new painted sharrows, helped me way-find.

    And also, why is no one mentioning the HUGE signs posted on Fell about proposed changes, there is zero excuse that someone “missed” the message.

  • Sprague

    Very good suggestions, Karen.  Discouraging through automotive traffic away from local residential streets is needed to make the Wiggle work better for local residents, bicyclists and pedestrians.  Berkeley’s approach (or that of European cities) to force motorists to use main arteries for the quickest passage through or between neighborhoods is needed here.  Your specific suggestions regarding bollards are spot on, too.  I used to live in this neighborhood and I know that it would be a much more pleasant place for its residents if cars were restricted to the main arteries, except for local traffic.  Then it would become a more walkable and livable place with a slightly decreased dominance of cars on each and every block.

  • Jamison Wieser

    I think you nailed it. While sharrows are a great navigation tool, but alone are not a complete wayfinding system. Even though they get the idea across, sharrows look awkward painted at angles leading around corners. Their function is to bikes share the space, but intersections are always shared spaces, so its kind of a hack, but even more importantly is the sharrow can’t show junctions or splits.

    Heading southeast through the Wiggle on Steiner, there is a split at Duboce/Sanchez, but you’d really have to look for the white-without-green (marking a lower level of bike lane) sharrows on Sanchez.

  • Anonymous

    Seems like the plan could accommodate some angled parking. I’m all for making it a greenway and bike path but if you’re reducing the total width of the road AND some of the parallel parking, you could include a few angled spaces periodically and maintain more parking for residents.

  • mikesonn

    You are using “I’m all for making…” but I don’t think you really know what it means.

  • Anonymous

    Please, enlighten me

  • mikesonn

    You’re all for it except you want to maintain parking which means you’re really all for maintaining parking, not making a greenway.

  • Bob Gunderson

    I’m all for greening but they can ditch this whole plan and F themselves.

  • Anonymous

    I’m saying good design makes it possible to have both

  • mikesonn

    Oh, the great compromise that doesn’t really exist. You’ll just keep complaining that not enough parking is being saved in an area that doesn’t even have RPP. But no, you’re trying to be reasonable. I understand.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, so much anger. Why don’t you try making your case? Which you haven’t even made clear. Of course we’re talking about a hypothetical plan. You’re commenting on a story about a hypothetical plan. We’re discussing the merits of the plan vs other hypothetical plans. It’s pretty clearly appropriate to suggest changes. The space can accommodate angled parking if you reduce the width of the road, It’s something I can physically see in person every time I walk down there for my morning coffee. I don’t need to be an engineer to tell that. And something that you really haven’t effectively disproven. It’s done up on Noe, just a few blocks away, and if you’re removing a lane of traffic, it’s pretty clearly possible. I don’t even own a car. If you want to argue a specific point, go for it. The kind of immature garbage you’re throwing my way is completely irrelevant to whether it would be physically possibly to plant more trees, add benches, and accommodate some angled parking. It is.

  • Anonymous

    who are “they”?

  • Anonymous

    Angled parking on a narrow busy street with heavy bicycle usage is not good. It’s not enough that the car can fit when parked, but when being backed out.

  • Anonymous

    true, it’s a good point