The bike lane we spotted at Fort Mason last week, which replaced a lane of car parking on the northern end of Van Ness Avenue, could be removed any day now, according to city staffers. The bike lane was installed temporarily as part of the People Plan, intended to encourage visitors to bicycle during the America’s Cup yacht races — but only on a trial basis.
As a number of Streetsblog commenters noted, it was a refreshing surprise to see such a sensible project apparently go in without the fierce, drawn-out political battles that typically accompany parking removal. But it looks like this space will revert to car storage, and sharrows will be painted in the roadway instead.
The bike lane was originally scheduled to be removed on November 1, said Adam Van de Water, project manager for the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. It’s unclear why the lane has lasted this long (best guess — it’s on the backlog for street painting crews). The lane “was designed as a pilot to provide safety, comfort and direction to cyclists transiting between [America’s Cup] venues with the long term legacy value of providing empirical data on its effectiveness given competing uses at the site and the desire to create a contiguous SF Bay Trail,” said Van de Water.
Through “visual surveys and mode counts on site,” the SFMTA and the National Park Service, which holds jurisdiction over the land, came to the conclusion that the post-separated bikeway linking the bicycle/pedestrian paths along Fort Mason and Fisherman’s Wharf isn’t worth keeping, according to Van de Water:
I believe the consensus only a portion of cyclists used the cycle track with many opting for a quicker transit along the center of the roadway where the pavement is in better condition and where they are used to riding. As a result, SFMTA is adding new painted sharrows in the roadway when the temporary cycle track is removed.
But Kristin Smith, communications director for the SF Bicycle Coalition, said the organization “heard from many people that they rode the Fort Mason bikeway during the America’s Cup, and that it created a safer, easier connection between the Embarcadero and the Marina.”
“While the America’s Cup races brought more people to the waterfront, even on an average weekday this is a popular bike route for locals and tourists alike,” said Smith. “We encourage the city to look at long-term solutions that allow people of ages to pedal safely along the waterfront.”
Any final decision rests with the NPS, said Van de Water. Barring a sudden intervention, the removal of the bike lane is impending. If you’d like to see it stay, the people to contact are Lynn Cullivan, community outreach manager for NPS, at firstname.lastname@example.org; and the SFMTA Sustainable Streets Division at email@example.com.