Eyes on the Street: Oak Street Protected Bike Lane Ready to Ride

Photo: ##https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151706493101833&set=a.87035811832.99215.24379801832&type=1&theater##SFBC via Facebook##

The Oak Street protected bike lane was opened to bicycle traffic today — the SFMTA finished striping and bike traffic signals just in time to welcome commuters on Bike to Work Day tomorrow, according to the agency’s Livable Streets Facebook page. Crews got the job done at an impressive pace once it became a top priority, completing nearly all of the work since the first signs of construction appeared last Thursday.

At long last, west siders (including myself) have a safer path between the Panhandle and the Wiggle in both directions.

“Every year, biking to work and to school is becoming more commonplace in San Francisco, and we need to meet the rising demand for bikeways fit for anyone from an 8-year old student to their 80-year old neighbor,” said SFMTA Board Chair Tom Nolan in a statement.

While we’re still waiting for protective concrete planters to be installed in the buffer zone later this year, maybe some “interested but concerned” San Franciscans who give biking a try tomorrow will stick with it thanks to this upgrade.

Photo: Bryan Goebel
  • mikesonn

    We often rag on the city for not moving fast enough but I’d like to extend major kudos for finishing this before BTWD.

  • Interesting to see that SF is doing “protection” without any physical protection… Similar to what we see here in Portland. Or am I missing something? Are they using any type of plastic wands/bollards and so on?

  • @twitter-8073492:disqus The SFMTA is planning to install concrete planters in the buffer zone later this year. I added a note in to clarify that.

  • Finally. Riding with traffic on the section of Oak was always harrowing

  • SteveS

    Well, that’s the positive way to look at it.

    The other view would be that the city could have done the work in any other five day period over the six months if only there were an impending politician photo-op day that would warrant it being prioritized.

  • Why is the paint already dirty? Yes, I am being picky. I do love it still.

  • Just took a test ride on the new lane. While not perfect, it’s about a gazillion times better. I didn’t have to take the lane, which meant I didn’t have to pedal like a maniac to minimize the annoyance of the cars behind me. Between Divisadero and Scott I could ride at a comfortable pace and then slow down gradually (instead of precipitously) to avoid the huge slick manhole in the middle of the turn onto Scott. Much calmer and more civilized. Planters will make it even nicer.

    Interestingly, there is now a green bike signal at Broderick which gives bikes a one second head start before the cars get their green. It’s a little hard to see from the bike lane due to angled louvers. (Louvers are probably there so cars can’t see it, and yet . . .)

    Cars turning right onto Divisadero were problematic because they didn’t get over far enough, so their left tire was in the bike area, creating a squeeze between them and moving traffic on the left.

    Now that they are not The Three Blocks of Terror, these blocks will need to be renamed. Maybe, The Three Blocks of Intense but Doable Traffic?

    (The Gas Station From Hell is still the Gas Station From Hell, now joined by the Towing Company From Hell. Although no tow trucks blocking Fell today!)

  • mikesonn

    Tomorrow David Chiu will lead a caravan of cyclists down Polk but still hasn’t taken a position – I’ll take what I can get these days.

  • What is with that manhole cover? It’s the smoothest roadway surface I’ve come across in SF in basically the worst place possible!

  • It’s a mystery.

  • gneiss

    I know a number of families who live in the Sunset and the inner Richmond that don’t bicycle commute with their children (and I mean 10-14 year olds) because of these three blocks. Adding the separated lanes will now mean they can have an easy downhill into the wiggle instead of the crazy Hayes St. or Page St. detours. Kudos to the city for finally getting this much needed treatment on the road.

  • Elliot Schwartz

    If only the used proper Dutch-style intersections:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA
    instead of mixing zones (whose name gives away how safe & pleasant they are).

  • The planters will help on the straight sections BUT the problem is the intersections. From the top to the bottom, NACTO to the bike orgs., and Bikes Belong to the not-8-nor-80 bloggers, everyone wants us to think that “Mixing Zones” are the United Colors of Benetton in Road Safety!

    And some of these people DO (finally) go to places like the Netherlands and then they come back and… and… Mr Bialick says “safe” instead of “safer”….

    SABPEFTN*: Complementing what Elliot Schwartz has suggested, and perhaps not appropriate for Oak or Fell and Divis., but certainly adaptable to a lot of other places in town. Notice the attention to deal! It’s right here, in front of our eyes. No problem to copy it, no IP issues: http://youtu.be/XhqTc_wx5EU + http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/a-modern-amsterdam-roundabout/

    *Sorry, another best practice example from the Netherlands

  • Gilla

    At lest there’s no tow truck company on these three blocks! bTW I saw two two truck parked in the Fell bike lane Tuesday and when I called to complain to DPT they said the tow trucks are allowed to queue in the bike lane! Seems to me this defeats the purpose of a bike lane….

  • Keep in mind it was supposed to be finished before BTWD last year, too.

  • mikesonn

    See comment below. I totally think the city sucked on this, but with the way things are going lately, have to count our blessings.

  • I agree that mixing zones are not 8 to 80 friendly. Nor, frankly, is the left turn off Baker onto Oak. The protected lanes and the left onto Oak are much better than what was there and make me much more comfortable, but I would not send a child alone down Oak or Fell– especially in and around Divisadero where so much bad car behavior happens. (Cars blocking bike lanes in front of the Arco, tow trucks blocking bike lanes, cars on Divisadero not clearing the intersection and forcing bikes into traffic when Fell traffic has the green, etc.)

    This is street design 2.0. The Netherlands is at design iteration 5.0, and it does seem silly not to learn from their experience and skip whatever slow, costly evolutionary stages we can. And yet, wow, 2.0 is a lot better than 1.0.

  • Anonymous

    Just out of curiosity, have you really had problems with Ted’s Towing? In my experience (westbound Wiggle 5 days/week), they’ve done a great job accommodating the new lane. I encounter a tow truck in the lane maybe once a week (at most), but the lane is plenty wide enough to squeeze by in the buffer without moving into the car traffic. Given the previous arrangement, I’ve been impressed by their adjustment.

    The ARCO situation has improved greatly as well, IMO.

  • I go through that area 1-2 times a week. Though occurrences are certainly less frequent than they used to be, I encounter a tow truck maybe 1 out of 4 times. To squeeze past it, my right elbow ends up a few inches from traffic and its attendant noise and stress. I find it unpleasant, but worse, such circumstances discourage hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans from being willing to ride bikes in city traffic at all.

    I encounter at least one car (often two or three) queuing for Arco idling far enough over in the bike lane that I have to look over my shoulder and merge into car traffic 2 out of 3 times.

    Why call it a bike lane if it’s really a tow truck parking lane that bicyclists may only truly ride in when the tow truck company has no use for it? Why can’t the tow truck company purchase space from the gas station next door to store their trucks rather than utilize free public space? Why can’t Arco do what Whole Food does in Noe Valley and pay someone to manage parking so as to prevent queuing in the street? Why does Arco get free use of public space as part of their business operations so they are able to sell cheap gas?

    By using free public space for car storage, these two car-related businesses keep their costs down. The result of this subsidy (paid for by all of us, but especially by bicyclists) keeps the cost of driving artificially lower than it truly is.

  • Would people accept this drunken leapfrogging if it concerned their iPhone or cancer treatment?

  • Adrienne Johnson

    That tow company parking in the lane makes me CRAZY! When I ride through there with my kids, a fairly common occurrence, they are afraid of that spot because EVERY TIME we pass there we get shoved into 40MPH traffic that does not want to slow down because it is not their fault that there are 3 trucks parked in the bike lane! I honestly think they park there just because they can as I have seen drivers laugh as people get stuck trying to get around them.

  • Travis Gilson

    If more bike lines opened in many cities, more cyclists would be riding their bikes.