SFMTA May Test Two-Way Bikeways on the Embarcadero

SPUR's vision for an "EmBIKEadero." Image: Carrie Nielson

A two-way protected bikeway along the Embarcadero could get a trial in the coming months. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency is considering implementing a temporary two-way bikeway along the waterfront during the next America’s Cup events in October, according to an agency report. The agency is also developing plans for a more permanent bikeway along the Embaracdero near Pier 39, from Kearny to Powell Streets.

During the next America’s Cup yacht races, which are scheduled from October 2 to 7, the SFMTA “is investigating the feasibility of a trial two-way cycle track on the east side of the Embarcadero,” according to an agency report to the Bicycle Advisory Committee [PDF]. “A lane of northbound traffic could potentially be converted to a temporary two way cycle [track]. Staff is working with the Port and local merchants to develop the concept further.” No details on the length of the bikeway are currently available.

A two-way bikeway on the Embarcadero, or an “EmBIKEadero,” was recommended in a report [PDF] from the SF Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) and in the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Connecting the City campaign. “Creation of a separated two-way bike path alongside the Embarcadero would enhance the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike,” SPUR wrote on Streetsblog last year. “Promoting multi-modal connectivity along the Embarcadero will help ensure that the public can access and enjoy its waterfront for the duration of the America’s Cup and beyond.”

The Embarcadero as it exists today. Photo: Eli the Bearded/Flickr

Approaching Pier 39, many bicycle riders use the brick lane with trolley tracks reserved for the F-Line streetcar or the crevice of road space beside it. Photo: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

Currently, much of the Embarcadero has painted bike lanes, but they’re frequently blocked by drivers, and the conditions are hardly welcoming for people who aren’t comfortable riding next to motor vehicles. Bike riding is also allowed on the Embacadero’s wide north side pedestrian area, but people on bikes sometimes come into conflict with pedestrians. As the SPUR report noted, “Loading vehicles, excessive street furniture, and constant conflict with other cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers creates an obstacle course for cyclists. Bike lanes and the shared-use promenade do not meet the needs of cyclists and pedestrians.”

Meanwhile, the SFMTA report provides a glimpse of what might be in store for the area near Pier 39:

The SFMTA is working with the Planning Department and Pier 39 to develop a solution to provide dedicated space for bicycles along the Embarcadero, from Kearny to Powell streets. The current plan is to remove one of the two westbound vehicle travel lanes from Kearny to Powell, and install a two-way physically separated cycletrack in its place. This would require circulation changes in the area, particularly affecting the Pier 39 garage. The City is working with the Pier 39 garage to determine whether these changes are feasible.

The report doesn’t indicate how soon that project could be completed.