Protected Bike Lanes, Ped Safety Upgrades Proposed for Second Street

An option for one-way protected bike lanes on Second Street. Images: SFDPW

Second Street could get protected bike lanes, sidewalk extensions, lane reductions, greening and more under options presented to residents last night by the SF Department of Public Works and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Of the four options presented, one would include one-way protected bike lanes (or “cycle tracks”), and another would include a two-way protected bikeway on the street’s west side. Bikeways in both of those options would be separated by planted medians and could include bicycle traffic signals at each intersection, planners said. The other two options included painted, unprotected bike lanes, either with parking on both sides or with a center turning lane (removing parking on one side) like the one on Valencia Street.

The alternatives, which would redesign Second between Market and King Streets, were based on visions proposed by groups of residents at a workshop in May.

These improvements would be made under any option.

With any of the alternatives, the street would get a road diet, with four traffic lanes reduced to two. Planners said the street would get also pedestrian safety upgrades along the corridor, like corner bulb-outs, curb ramps and raised crosswalks at alleyways. The dangerous dual right turn lane at Second and Harrison Streets would be removed, converted into pedestrian space and possibly opened to development. (Architect David Baker, who writes the blog Great Second Street, would have rather turned it into a “BARKlet”.)

Both of the protected bike lane options would include bus boarding islands to the left of the bike lanes, meaning Muni buses would stop in the traffic lane. To help speed up the 10-Townsend and 12-Folsom Muni lines, which run on Second, the SFMTA is already proposing prohibited left turns along the street from 4 to 7 p.m., said DPW Project Manager Cristina Olea. That change, which would help get left-turning drivers out of the way of buses, is expected to go to a public engineering hearing on October 5.

The option for a two-way bikeway on the west side of Second.

Between Harrison and Townsend Streets, the west sidewalk on Second could be widened from 10 to 15 feet, but Olea said the east side would be too expensive to widen within the project’s budget due to the high cost of “undergrounding” utility poles. “If those utilities get undergrounded, we could widen the east side at that time,” she said.

Baker, whose architecture firm is located on Second, said it was “really sad” the east sidewalk would remain narrow. “They will never widen it within my lifetime,” he said.

The planning process for Second re-started after the project was apparently forgotten after a communication breakdown between the SFMTA and DPW, forcing the County Transportation Authority to redistribute its funds to other projects. Whereas the original plan had only proposed painted bike lanes in the door zone, the quality of the improvements proposed exceed the old plans by leaps and bounds, said Baker.

“The controversy [with the old plan] was whether the bike lanes would be 5-foot or 3-foot, and now we’re talking about whether we want two-way or one-way cycle tracks — yeah!” Baker exclaimed with a thumbs-up. Although it was Baker who recently drew up a vision for one-way bikeways on Second, he said he didn’t favor one option strongly over the other.

The project would cost $6-8 million, and planners expect to present a “preferred alternative” at the next community meeting in November. Construction, which would take a year, is currently scheduled to begin in July 2014.

The option for unprotected bike lanes with a center turn lane.

The option for bike lanes without a center turn lane.