Yes, We Can Fit Protected Bike Lanes and Two Transit Lanes on Potrero

Streetsblog commenter Josh Handel drew up this plan for Potrero that city planners didn't present.

After listening to city planners say there’s no practical way to redesign Potrero Avenue with protected bike lanes and two transit lanes, Josh Handel didn’t buy it.

Handel shared a plan in the Streetsblog comments that includes protected bike lanes and two transit lanes wide enough to fit buses comfortably (unlike those in the city proposal). He even managed to include the center median for pedestrian refuges and left-turn lanes, plus a lane for car parking.

The geometry appears to work. It does cut a couple of feet off the city’s proposal for a 14-foot-wide sidewalk, but the planted median along the bike lane would provided more separation between that sidewalk and motor traffic. And, of course, it has two through-lanes for private car traffic instead of the four lanes in the SFMTA’s latest proposal.

The city has yet to put forward a proposal that would prioritize transit and bicycling to this extent. The closest option shown at public meetings included three traffic lanes, two 10.5 foot-wide transit lanes (narrow for buses) and unprotected bike lanes. And even that option was dropped because, they said, we just can’t do without all four existing traffic lanes for private automobiles.

The largest “trade-off” here, as planners call it, is that creating quality space for walking, transit, and biking means re-allocating some of the space devoted to cars — the vast majority of space on Potrero today.

As Elliot Schwartz, another Potrero resident, pointed out at this week’s community meeting, real-world experience shows that drivers will adjust behavior when streets are redesigned so that moving cars is no longer the top priority. “The problem with the traffic flow projections is they’re all kind of bogus,” he said. “If we have three traffic lanes, we have 1,500 cars, if we have four traffic lanes, we have 2,000 cars. So if we take away a traffic lane, yes, your traffic’s going to go down.”

“It’s up to us decide,” he added. “Do we want a local road that can be used by local people, or do we want a road where we’re devoting two-thirds of the space to [101] overflow traffic and turning it into a second freeway?”

Chris Pangilinan, a planner with the SFMTA, did leave a comment on our article saying that “we’ll be hard at work on the design alternatives in light of the feedback we have received.” So the question remains: Will those alternatives still put cars first and everything else second?

You can share your thoughts on the project in a survey put out by the city.

  • Anonymous

    If the city wants to become “transit first” it needs to address nfrqstructure and parkng management. What Chow talks about is ore enlightened than the SFMTA drones that waste resources on useless studies and pitiful design teams. Hw many millions have been devoted to these means, in lieu of efficient buses, bike lane improvements, or traffic undergrounding?

    Underground 6 lanes of traffic under Potrero Ave & 3rd St, then tear down the 101 & 280 freeways.

  • Anonymous

    Why do supposed bike advocates keep supporting these awful proposals to trap bicycles between parked cars and a sidewalk, without safe access to the roadway? Everytime you ride one of these corridors, the bocycle speed is reduced considerably because of the dangers this design imposes.

  • Anonymous

    yeah,kind of surprising to come fromMuni – the same agency that is trying to destroy Geary and Van Ness by de-greening their medians.

  • Anonymous

    It does to me. Any street wider than 3 lanes of traffic should be turned into a greenspace or residential development, with the traffic lanes going underground.

  • Anonymous

    Left turns should be banned in SF between the hours of 7am -9pm, 7 days a week.

  • Anonymous

    Problem with roundabouts is that they require more real estate than traditional intersections. If we are going to spend all that moeny to acquire real estate and redesign streets, might as well do it right and remove all automobile traffic from grade-level.

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