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Posts from the "Bicycle Plan" Category

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SFMTA’s Bicycle Strategy Could Make SF Top in the Nation — If It’s Funded

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The SF Municipal Transportation Agency has mapped out a course that could make San Francisco the most bike-friendly city in the nation. All it needs now, it seems, is the political leadership to step up and fund what SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin has called the “most cost-effective investment we can make in moving people.”

Image: SFMTA

The SFMTA’s Draft Bicycle Strategy [PDF], presented to the agency’s board yesterday, lays out three rough scenarios for improvements to the city’s bicycle infrastructure, based on the amount of funding the city provides. While it doesn’t lay out a specific plan for bike improvements, the strategy serves as a compass to guide implementation of a connected network of protected bike lanes, bike boulevards, bike parking, a robust bike-share system, and campaigns to promote bicycling as a regular means of transportation.

To reach the city’s official goal of 20 percent of trips by bike by 2020, the SFMTA estimates it would have to implement the most ambitious of its three proposed scenarios, called the “System Build-Out.” It calls for the construction of 35 miles of new bicycle facilities, upgrading 200 miles of the existing bike network to “premium bicycle facilities,” bike improvements at 200 intersections, 50,000 new bike parking spaces, and a bike-share program with more than 300 stations.

The cost of investment — an estimated $500 million for infrastructure, plus $14 million annually for other programs — would require a steep increase in bicycle funding compared to the dismal levels under the status quo. According to the SF Bicycle Coalition, the SFMTA currently only allocates 0.46 percent of its capital spending to bicycling, and under the “System Build-Out” scenario, that number would still be less than 8 percent.

“Even those levels are amazingly reasonable,” said SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum. “Funding has not kept pace with the tremendous growth of bicycling in San Francisco. This doesn’t sync up with the city’s ambitious and rightful goals to grow bicycling and make it a better transportation option for more people.”

Image: SFBC

“There has been an historic under-funding of bicycling in this city,” she added. “I think there’s clear political and public interest to increase those levels.”

There is significant backing for an aggressive increase in funding for bicycling improvements. In a press release, the SFBC shared statements of support from sf.citi – the SF Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation, a tech industry group — and SF Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michael Theriault, who said he’s “convinced that the bicycle should become a common everyday way for San Franciscans and visitors to move around the city, as jobs and housing opportunities grow, and I support a comprehensive strategy to create more and better bicycling options.”

Several members of the Board of Supervisors also voiced support for significant increases funding to realize the goals in the Bicycle Strategy. “It is time to step up to commit to becoming a great bicycling city,” said Board President David Chiu. ”San Francisco has already proven that a large and growing number of people want to bike for transportation. Looking ahead, we need to invest appropriately to support these and far more trips by bike because it is a smart investment in a healthier, greener, more accessible city.”

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SFMTA Lays Out Draft Targets to Improve Walking and Biking

This morning the SF Municipal Transportation Agency is presenting its strategic plans to reduce pedestrian injuries and increase bike ridership over the next five years at a staff workshop with the agency’s board of directors.

It’s an important moment for livable streets in San Francisco, and we’ll be bringing you detailed coverage after the workshop. In the meantime, here’s a look at the targets the agency is setting for its walking and biking programs.

The Draft Pedestrian Strategy [PDF] sets out to cut pedestrian injuries in half and increase walking from roughly 19 percent of all trips to 23 percent by 2021. A major strategy is to re-engineer at least five miles of “high priority segments” per year, including 10 bulb-outs per year. To pay for it, the agency will need to secure about $6 to $8 million in additional annual funding for pedestrian safety.

From an SFMTA presentation on the Draft Pedestrian Strategy.

The Draft Bicycle Strategy [PDF] lays out three scenarios that vary based on the amount invested in bicycling. The “Strategic Plan” scenario — the medium choice — is projected to raise bicycling’s share of all trips to 8 to 10 percent by 2018. The more ambitious “System Build-Out” is projected to raise bicycling mode share to 20 percent. In one sense, the funding gap is substantial. Under the status quo, the agency would have $30 million to invest in bicycling between now until 2018, while the “Strategic Plan” scenario calls for $190 million over the same period. Within the context of the agency’s overall budget, however, the ramped-up investment in bicycling is not asking for all that much. The SF Bicycle Coalition pointed out that even under the “System Build-Out” scenario (total cost: $500 million for infrastructure), bicycling would still account for less than 8 percent of the SFMTA’s capital spending.

From the SFMTA's Draft Bicycle Strategy. Click to enlarge.

Stay tuned more details on each plan.

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Great Highway Re-Paving to Come With Minor Bike-Ped Upgrades

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The Great Highway, the motorway that divides Ocean Beach from the Outer Sunset and Richmond, is set to get some bike lane and pedestrian improvements north of Lincoln Way as part of a nine-month re-paving project started this week by the Department of Public Works.

The 6-foot painted bike lanes planned between Lincoln and Cabrillo Street would be an addition to the original SF Bike Plan [PDF], which only called for bike lanes north of Cabrillo and along the length of Point Lobos Avenue. Last Friday, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency gave preliminary approval at a public hearing to extend the lanes south to Lincoln past Golden Gate Park, and the project is expected to receive final approval from the agency’s board of directors at an upcoming meeting.

While much more remains to be done to create a safer, less car-dominated Great Highway (see SPUR’s long-term vision, which includes fewer traffic lanes and a two-way, protected beach-side bikeway), the bike lanes and pedestrian refuge islands will provide some improvements in the meantime.

SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum praised the SFMTA’s adjustments to the Bike Plan, calling it “a great example of city staff working together to layer bicycling, walking, and traffic calming improvements into a repaving project, so that the benefits are tripled.”

“If this project is approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors, we will have a much more ‘complete street’ along this section of the now-intimidating Great Highway, and all road users will benefit,” she said.

The road space for the bike lanes will be created by narrowing the Great Highway’s four traffic lanes. Point Lobos Avenue, which runs by the Cliff House, will go on a road diet under the Bike Plan, with two of its four traffic lanes replaced with median space and a buffered bike lane in the northbound direction. The southbound, downhill traffic lane is only slated to receive sharrows.

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SFMTA Installs Bike Lanes, Back-In Angled Parking on John Muir Drive

John Muir Drive, which runs along the south side of Lake Merced, was upgraded last month with bike lanes separated by posts and buffer zones on some stretches. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency also converted angled parking spots on the road to the safer back-in angled configuration, which lets drivers see their path better when they pull out.

Photo: Google Maps

The one-mile John Muir Drive connects Skyline Boulevard to Lake Merced Boulevard, which has bike lanes that lead to Daly City. A shared bike and pedestrian path circling Lake Merced already exists, but the new bike lanes provide a new on-street option for bicycle riders who prefer it.

The project is one of the later projects to be rolled out from the SF Bike Plan, which is now over 75 percent complete, according to the SFMTA. The post-separated, buffered sections of bike lane and back-in angled parking don’t appear in the original plan [PDF], and it appears planners revised the project to add those features.

Back-in angled parking was included in the agency’s “Innovative Bicycle Treatment Toolbox” as a safer way to design bike lanes alongside car parking. SFMTA staff said a curbside, parking-protected bike lane would require more funding and planning to implement, since it would require measures like new curb ramps and raised buffers to prevent drivers from backing into the bike lane.

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The Left-Turn Bike Signal at Market and Valencia Is Open for Business

It’s officially rideable: The left-turn pocket and traffic signal connecting Market and Valencia Streets is finished as of today, the SFMTA announced on its Livable Streets Facebook page. Finally, the bicycling gates from Market to the Mission have been opened to people who don’t feel comfortable merging across three traffic lanes and a set of streetcar tracks to turn left with car traffic. A simple but incredibly useful upgrade.

The green-backed sharrow (not pictured) in the center of the street seems like a nice touch, but the concrete divider in the bike lane has drawn some skepticism from observers during construction. If you pass by it on your commute today, let us know in the comments how it works for you.

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Eyes on the Street: Progress on Market/Valencia Turn, Green Paint on Fell

Green paint now highlights the Fell Street bike lane from Scott to Divisadero. Photos: Mark Dreger

Improvements on two of San Francisco’s most important bicycling links continue to take shape: Green paint now graces the first block of the Fell Street separated bike lane, and much of the visible construction has been completed on the left-turn bicycle lane and traffic signal going in at Market and Valencia Streets.

Streetsblog reader Mark Dreger sent in photos of the improvements today, noting that the green paint on Fell highlights the beginning of the bike lane west of Scott Street, and there is now a longer segment of dashed green markings extending from the area where bike riders merge with drivers queuing up at the Arco gas station. SFMTA crews laid down the basic stripes of the bike lane last week, including the outline of a bike box and an advanced stop line for cars at the Divisadero intersection.

At Market and Valencia, Department of Public Works crews appear to have mostly completed the concrete work, which involved cutting out a section of the sidewalk (formerly an unused curb cut) and installing an island that sets off the area where left-turning cyclists queue up. Bike traffic continuing straight through the intersection will be routed around the left of the island, according to the project plans, meaning there will be a short stretch with no buffer zone. One of two bicycle traffic signal heads has also been installed. SFMTA crews still have to add markings for the left-turn lane and activate the new traffic signals.

Update: Mike Sallaberry of the SFMTA’s Livable Streets Subdivision said the traffic signals are expected to be activated this week.

See more photos after the break.

The left-turn queuing area at Market and Valencia.

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SFMTA Extends Howard Bike Lane to Embarcadero But Leaves a Gap

Howard looking east between Beale and Main. Sharrows are now in the left-most lane on this block, where the Bike Plan originally called for a continous bike lane. Photo: Google Maps

SoMa’s westbound bike lane on Howard Street was extended east to the Embarcadero last week, creating a link from the waterfront to 11th Street. However, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency apparently left a gap on the block between Main and Beale Streets, where Howard passes the temporary Transbay Terminal. According to tipster Hank Hodes, the SFMTA painted only sharrows there, forcing bike commuters to ride in a lane with motor traffic, even though a continuous bike lane was called for in the SF Bike Plan.

The Howard bike lane serves as half of SoMa’s east-west bike corridor, along with the eastbound bike lane on neighboring Folsom Street, and is “a route preferred by many riders over Market Street for its minimal transit and straight angled intersections,” noted Hodes. But commuters hoping for a continuous bike lane that doesn’t suddenly dump them in motor traffic are apparently out of luck.

Howard at Steuart Street. Photo: Hank Hodes

We have an inquiry in with the SFMTA as to why the change was made, but one possible explanation is that curbside bus parking for the temporary terminal ate up space that would have been allocated to the bike lane, and no alternative plan to allow for the bike lane was created. Under the SFMTA’s Bike Plan design [PDF], the space for the bike lane on that block would have been carved from a 12’6″ traffic lane (and part-time parking lane), but that lane doesn’t appear to exist today. The “existing configuration” shown in the Bike Plan design, it seems, was altered to create room for a wider bus stop lane on the opposite side of the street.

Since most of the real estate for the new bike lane (including the originally planned section between Main and Beale) comes from reallocating the excess width of existing traffic lanes, no car parking was removed. A one-block eastbound traffic lane was removed between Steuart and Spear, however, which should help calm car traffic.

Bicycling on Howard has increased dramatically since the SFMTA implemented the main stretch of the bike lane between 2001 and 2006. During that time, the number of bicyclists at Howard and 5th Streets climbed 300 percent, according to city data provided by the SF Bicycle Coalition. From 2006 to 2011, the number of bicyclists at Howard and 11th Streets increased by an additional 104 percent, according to the SFMTA’s 2011 Bicycle Count Report [PDF].

See more photos after the break.

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SFMTA Adds Markings to Guide Cyclists Across Tracks at 17th and Church

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The SF Municipal Transportation Agency is testing out new street markings to help cyclists safely negotiate hairy intersections where bike routes and rail tracks meet.

Looking eastbound on the north side of 17th, facing Church.

The SFMTA added guidance markings this week to the intersection of 17th and Church Streets, where the 17th Street bike lane meets Muni’s F-Market and J-Church streetcar lines. Car parking spots near the corners were also removed to improve visibility and provide more room for cyclists to maneuver safely.

The dashed lines and sharrows direct cyclists to cross the tracks at nearly a perpendicular angle, which minimizes the risk that bike wheels will get caught in the track crevices — a common bicycling hazard in San Francisco. Similar treatments have been used in Seattle.

“We’ve heard reports of crashes at 17th/Church and are trying this design to determine if it’s effective in improving the angle people take when they ride across the tracks,” said Mike Sallaberry of the SFMTA’s Livable Streets Subdivision. “We’ve taken some observations already and will continue to do that to see if the design could be improved or applied elsewhere.”

Although SFMTA planners have also discussed adding similar markings at the bike and transit junction of Church and Duboce Avenue, Sallaberry didn’t say if those will be implemented.

Similar track-crossing markings were included in the 17th Street Bike Plan project, which originally proposed extending the bike lane west of Church. The plan was revised to cut the bike lane short, to avoid directing bicyclists to ride in the narrow space between parked cars and passing trolley cars. Instead, bicyclists are expected to share the lane with trolleys.

Removing the car parking lanes on that block of 17th, while politically contentious, could provide a much safer space for people cycling on the street, but there are no known plans to do so.

More photos after the break.

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DPW Begins Work on Market/Valencia Left-Turn Bike Signal

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Market and Valencia. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Construction has begun on a left-turn bicycle traffic signal and queuing lane that will help bicycle riders turn on to Valencia Street from westbound Market Street, according to the SF Department of Public Works.

Originally expected to begin last month, work on the project started yesterday, said DPW spokesperson Rachel Gordon, and it should be completed by November 30, depending on weather.

The project, which is being implemented by both DPW and the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, will create a left-turn “pocket” for bicycle commuters to queue up by the curb along Market, where an exclusive bicycle signal will indicate when to cross onto southbound Valencia. To make that possible, DPW crews will also remove a piece of the center median on Market.

When completed, it should bring some major relief for commuters connecting between two of the city’s busiest bicycling routes, who must currently merge over three lanes of traffic, one of which has streetcar tracks on it.

For a visual of what the treatment could look like, check out a similar example used at the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts after the break.

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SFMTA Adds Green Treatments, Posts to Eastern Cesar Chavez Bike Lanes

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency added “safe-hit” posts and dashed green pavement treatments to the bike lanes on eastern Cesar Chavez Street this week between Vermont and Pennsylvania streets.

The new additions should improve the sense of separation, safety and visibility for people using the bike lanes, which were installed this spring. The bike lanes replaced car parking lanes on Cesar Chavez between the 101 and 280 highways, rather than the traffic lane as originally envisioned in the SF Bike Plan.

“As we continue to implement the vision of the Bike Plan, we understand that the work does not stop once the plan is on paper,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin in a statement. “This project is another example of the MTA listening to the community and adjusting designs to meet their needs. This work showcases an inexpensive, effective and attractive transportation option that that makes for a clearer and safer separation between bicycles and cars on this busy road.”

A post on the SFMTA Livable Streets Facebook page said crews were out today installing the green pavement treatments, which highlight areas where bikes and cars merge. The posts were installed last week.