Eyes on the Street: Easier Bike Navigation at Market and Buchanan

A man uses a new waiting zone set up for bike commuters where the Duboce bikeway ends, at Market and Buchanan Streets. Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr

Doing the Wiggle should be a little easier, thanks to new green-backed sharrows and plastic posts installed by the SFMTA last week. These help bike commuters navigate the entrance to the Duboce bikeway, at Market and Buchanan Streets.

The sharrows are intended to establish a clearer path for bike traffic heading both to and from the bikeway, navigating around pedestrians in Market’s northern crosswalk across Buchanan. The paths mostly follow patterns long followed by bike commuters, but also set aside a new zone for eastbound riders to wait in without getting in the way of westbound riders.

Previously, the junction lacked any markings to direct bicyclists, who had little to go by other than the crosswalks. Riders heading in opposite directions often waited for the light on the same small spot of corner curb space. An added benefit of the sharrows is that they direct people to cross streetcar tracks at a safe, perpendicular angle.

The three plastic posts installed appear to help solve that problem in two ways: One post separates the two directions of bike traffic, while the other two mark the separation between waiting bike riders and car traffic on Buchanan.

New green-backed sharrows and plastic posts provide a clearer path for bicyclists at Market and Buchanan Streets. Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr
Bike commuters using the new waiting zone. Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr

A bulb-out on Market was also shaved down, since it used to create a pinch point where drivers and bicyclists were squeezed together between the curb and a streetcar boarding island. While bulb-outs usually offer benefits like shortened crossing distances and slower turns, this seems to be a case where the trade-off was worthwhile.

According to the SFMTA, the improvements were installed with the help of the developer constructing a condo building on the site of a former gas station at the adjacent corner. The concept for the markings was sketched out in the SFMTA’s ThinkBike workshops with Dutch transportation planners in September 2011, but the agency lacked the funds to install them until the developer fees kicked in.

Entering and exiting the Duboce bikeway. Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr
This man follows the eastbound bike path to navigate around a woman in the eastern crosswalk crossing Market. Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr
  • Caleb

    Hooray, this is a great improvement! I have felt much safer ever since the pinch point going westbound was removed, and I think the waiting zone will help reduce confusion for everyone.

    I also tried out the new waiting zone to connect from Market to Post this morning and the sweet new bikeway. So far, I’m a fan of this treatment for turns.

  • shamelessly

    I’ve been confused for years about the legal way of transitioning from the Duboce bikeway to Market St. heading east. Really glad there’s a marked zone in the street now as an alternative to sitting on the corner and hoping not to get hit, or going onto the sidewalk for protection.

  • Gezellig

    I’ll have to check this out next time I’m in the area—before this where the Duboce bikeway ended it left people totally bewildered about what they were supposed to do next if going northeastbound on Market.

    So, did they basically do this?

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2011/09/6172936290_f408cdcfa5_b.jpg

    From the ThinkBike Workshops (http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/09/22/think-bike-workshops-offer-a-dutch-touch-on-three-key-corridors/)

  • Gezellig

    Yeah, it was one of the most confusing intersections in the city–I never really figured out what I was “supposed” to do–I’d basically just cross with the pedestrians at the light at Buchanan/Duboce.

  • twinpeaks_sf

    Pretty close, but you cross Buchanan first, wait in the box at the other corner, and then separately cross Market next to the crosswalk. Sort of a reverse Copenhagen turn.

  • Gezellig

    Ah, interesting–will definitely have to check it out!

  • Bruce Halperin

    Simple things like this can make such a big difference. We need to fill these kinds of gaps all over the city. Another one I can think of is the turn from northbound Embarcadero to westbound North Point.

  • Easy

    Streetsblog needs a drone to get an overhead photo. 🙂

  • twinpeaks_sf

    My question is whether a bike signal is planned headed EB. Would seem to make sense, though I could see the MTA rationalizing against it b/c some people might not think they have to yield to those walking in the crosswalk. I personally don’t think it would be an issue, and the intersection won’t ever feel fully dignified as long as cyclists are following a pedestrian signal. The new bike signals at Market & Polk (flashing yellow) really legitimize bike traffic. I’d think the entrance to the Wiggle – “San Francisco’s most beloved bike route” (APT) – should enjoy the same.

  • Bruce Halperin

    You have a point, although the Market & Polk ones were necessary because there was no indication of when to cross – even the pedestrian crossing signals are not visible from the new bike box on the far side of Market & 9th. At Buchanan that is not the case.

  • The green paint squares of the Holy Sharrow Monkey help novices here but there is really no good reason why the developer of the market-rate housing should not have volunteered to fund at least the lion’s share of an all-green-for-bikes at this intersection or at least a Wiggle-to-eastbound Market one-step left turn signal – for peds, too – that works with the existing ability for bikes to enter the Wiggle with the westbound green on Market — in either case bikes and cars should not move at the same time. Please ask the Dutch experts what they think of this solution.

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