Left-Turn Bicycle Lane and Signal Coming to Market and Valencia Next Month

A bicycle left-turn queue will be created in part of the sidewalk on westbound Market Street to the right of the bike lane (where the curb cut is), along with a left-turn bicycle traffic signal. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Construction will begin in October on a fix for the dangerous turn for bicyclists from Market onto Valencia Streets, according to city planners.

As Streetsblog reported last June, a plan [PDF] to install a left-turn bicycle queue lane and traffic signal at the intersection was approved in the SF Bike Plan, but it was unknown when it could be implemented. Ben Stupka, a planner at the SF County Transportation Authority, told the agency’s board of directors yesterday that the SF Municipal Transportation Agency and Department of Public Works are expected to install it next month.

The SFMTA's plan for Market and Valencia. The turn pocket is at the top center of this illustration. "Bicycle signal heads" would be installed at points "C" and "E".

The intersection of Market and Valencia Streets, two of the most heavily-used bicycling streets in the city, saw the second-highest number of car-bike crashes from 2009 to 2011, with a total of 13, according to the SFMTA’s most recent collision report [PDF]. At the top of the list was Market and Octavia Boulevard, one short block to the west, with 21 crashes.

Currently, there are few safe and convenient ways for bicycle commuters to turn from westbound Market onto southbound Valencia. Many bolder riders merge into the vehicular left-turn lane across two traffic lanes, one of which has trolley tracks on it. Otherwise, the only other practical way to cross Market is to walk or ride in the crosswalk.

To provide a smoother link, the project would create a pocket in a piece of the sidewalk (currently an unused curb cut) to the right of Market’s westbound bicycle lane, for left-turners to queue up. Then, on a dedicated left-turn signal phase, bicyclists would cross through an opening that will be created in the existing median island. Similar solutions have been used for decades in cycling cities in countries including Denmark and the Netherlands.