As the vote on the Polk Street redesign approaches in the coming months, the SFMTA Board of Directors last week requested that planners present the board with a pilot project option for bolder bike safety improvements along the length of the project area. Currently, the SFMTA’s preferred option calls only for sharrows and rush-hour parking bans on the northbound segment of the street where merchant opposition is strongest. The southbound side of that stretch would get a conventional, unprotected bike lane.
Board member Cheryl Brinkman introduced the resolution, which doesn’t specify a bike lane design but calls for “a pilot plan option, similar to what we have on the agenda for Folsom Street today,” referring to the buffered bike lane currently being installed on that street.
“The safety record speaks loudly for the need to make changes to the street,” Brinkman said at the board meeting. “The five-year pedestrian and bike injury numbers are chilling. Polk Street residents and visitors deserve better. They deserve best practice per the NACTO urban bicycle design guidelines.”
At a June meeting, the SFMTA Board’s Policy and Governance Committee “gave staff feedback that we prefer to see the options which have the greatest safety improvements,” said Brinkman. The intent of a reversible pilot, she said, would be to provide “a measurable way to determine what the impacts will be on safety, and on business.”
“It should be of significant time, should stretch the entire length of the project area, and success or failure metrics should be data-driven,” she said.
So far, the parking-obsessed merchants on Polk have been impervious to data, as has Supervisor David Chiu, but perhaps they’ll come around when improvements are actually on the ground and the sky doesn’t fall.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend, everyone. We’ll be back on Monday.