The plan for protected bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets could be completed by the end of this year — at least partially.
The project is scheduled to go up for final approval by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors on October 16, and if it passes, all but the concrete work — which includes sidewalk bulb-outs and planted concrete barriers — could be completed before January, according to agency spokesperson Paul Rose.
That may not necessarily mean the route will be rideable, however. “It remains to be determined whether or not [the bike lanes] can be used while the work on the concrete barrier is being done,” said Rose. The concrete work may not be finished until next summer.
Bike advocates and city officials, including D5 Supervisor Christina Olague, have urged the SFMTA to expedite the project, which would bring pedestrian safety upgrades and protected bike lanes to the three blocks of one-way Fell and Oak Streets, between Baker and Scott Streets, which serve as the flattest, most direct connection between the Panhandle and the Wiggle. A public hearing in May saw an overwhelmingly supportive turnout for the project.
By January, according to Rose, car parking lanes would be removed to make room for the bike lanes; the bike lanes would be striped; “continental” (a.k.a. “ladder“) crosswalk upgrades would be striped; and traffic signals would be re-timed to 20 MPH. New car parking spaces would also be created on nearby streets, accounting for about half of the spots removed.
The removal of car parking alone would significantly improve the level of comfort for bicyclists. Currently, people using the Fell Street bike lane, which is just a few feet wide, are wedged between parked cars on one side and heavy motor traffic passing inches away on the other. Oak Street lacks a bike lane at all, forcing riders to mix with motor traffic.
As Rose noted, it’s unclear exactly how bicyclists would be accommodated during concrete construction. However, the SFMTA’s Safe Paths of Travel (SPOT) program is responsible for enforcing regulations requiring the maintenance of safe and convenient passage for all street users at construction sites. For bicyclists, crews are typically required to either designate a temporary bike lane or provide signage and crew members reminding drivers to slow down and share traffic lanes.