Polk Street Redesign Delayed a Year, Interim Measures Coming in Spring

The already watered-down redesign of Polk Street, with a protected bike lane only on one segment, will begin construction in Spring 2016 — a full year behind the original schedule. The SFMTA announced that final approval of the project is approaching with a preliminary hearing next Friday, January 30, followed by a vote at the SFMTA Board of Directors in February or March.

Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr

The SFMTA did say in an email blast, however, that Polk will get some interim improvements starting this spring:

These improvements will include a southbound bike lane between Union Street and Post Street, leading pedestrian intervals which allow pedestrians a few seconds of a “WALK” signal before vehicles receive a green light at certain intersections, and red curb “daylighting” to increase pedestrian visibility at certain intersection approaches.

Additionally, painted bulb outs at certain locations of future concrete bulb outs, bicycle safety measures at key intersection approaches, and new loading zones to reduce the amount and frequency of double parking on some blocks will all be installed.

The delay only adds insult to injury after original plans for protected bike lanes along the vital north-south corridor were largely scuttled due to vociferous opposition from parking-obsessed merchants. And the SFMTA is reportedly not planning to move forward with the full-length bike lane pilot option requested by the SFMTA Board in November 2013.

Chema Hernández Gil, community organizer for the SF Bicycle Coalition, said that despite the “positive elements” planned in the project, “this half-hearted approach calls into question the city’s commitment to achieving Vision Zero.”

“It is dismaying to see the SFMTA ignore the community’s desires for a safety-first approach by neglecting to include a safe design for people biking between Pine and Union Streets — half of the project area — even though it ranks as one of the most dangerous bike routes according to the SF Department of Health’s Cyclist High Injury Corridor network,” said Hernández Gil in a statement. “For the sake of a vibrant, thriving and safe Polk Street, we urge the SFMTA to put forth an improved design that includes continuous protected bikeways from McAllister to Union Streets. We also urge them to advance the implementation to prevent injuries and provide safe, comfortable access on one of the city’s most important north-south bike routes.”

  • *Whew* For a while there I actually thought city government was actually serious about Vision Zero!

  • voltairesmistress

    A disgrace. I only hope that our new District 3 supervisor, Julie Christensen, will show more backbone than that sorry excuse David Chiu did. Christensen showed vision and good sense in North Beach changes to pedestrian and bicycle environment. I am hoping she can be convinced to give support to what Polk Street should become. The old merchants (and yes, most of them are hidebound 60+ year olds) are completely stuck on an auto centric shopping model and pay lip service to safety. In fact, lots of condos are being built near the Polk corridor, making future shopping by foot, bike, or bus even more dominant than it is now.

  • GetHubNub

    They don’t care about safety, only money. That’s always what government’s about and eventually they’ll be allowing us to be killed off by Communist invaders in the future.

  • hunterrible

    What doesn’t make sense is that several studies showed the people who spend $ on Polk street mostly arrive on bike, foot and transit. Send your supervisor, Supervisor Christensen, the MTA board, and Mayor Lee a note telling them you plan to boycott the area’s businesses until they truly improve safety along Polk, as I just did. If enough voices are heard, they will change their approach. MTABoard@sfmta.com, Julie.Christensen@sfgov.org, MayorEdwinLee@sfgov.org

  • shanand

    Aside from obvious disappointment to see another liveable streets project postponed, I guess the question is: why? Is it budget?

  • njudah

    because what we always need is MORE TALKING and MORE BS

  • Gezellig

    Just emailed them all as well as sustainable.streets@sfmta.com.

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