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Posts from the "Bike Boxes" Category

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New Bill Could Free CA Planners to Use More Innovative Bikeway Designs

Physically protected bikeways have been implemented with great success in cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC. But in California, where such facilities are still considered “experimental” by Caltrans, outdated state standards make it difficult for transportation planners to implement them.

New York City's Eighth Avenue protected bike lane. Photo: BicyclesOnly/Flickr

That could change under a state bill called AB 819, which would give California cities more flexibility to implement bikeway designs that are fast becoming the best practices in leading American cities.

“The goal of AB 819 is to free up communities to implement the kind of innovative facilities we’re seeing in use in other parts of the country and in Europe,” said Jim Brown, communications director for the California Bicycle Coalition.

Under current state law, facilities like protected bike lanes and bike boxes – which are not established within Caltrans guidelines — must go through an expensive and time-consuming approval process. Although some have been built in cities like San Francisco and Long Beach, they haven’t come easily.

“Cities can get permission to experiment through Caltrans, but it’s a really long decision process,” said Brown. Using “experimental” designs also leaves planners subject to greater legal liability. “It means that cities are less willing to install facilities that might actually increase bicycle ridership.”

AB 819 would allow planners to use guidelines that have already been developed outside the state, like the Urban Bikeway Design Guidereleased last spring by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and approved by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, to help them plan and fund those projects.

But the bill’s reach could be limited by an amendment proposed by the California Association of Bicycle Organizations (CABO), a smaller coalition which argues that using outside guidelines for bikeways could be problematic. Their alternative proposal, which will be considered at a State Assembly Transportation Committee hearing on Monday, would only allow new types of bike facilities to be established under an experimentation process within Caltrans.

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New Designs to Be Presented for Eastern Cesar Chavez Street

The pedestrian environment on eastern Cesar Chavez Street is in desperate need of improvement. Photo: SF Planning Department

New designs have been drawn up for eastern Cesar Chavez Street and will be presented to the community next week, nearly two months after a contentious meeting in which attendees were told, just days before the striping of new bike lanes, that plans for a road diet were being scrapped by the Mayor’s Office and Port of San Francisco because of concerns from industrial businesses about reducing road capacity for trucks hauling goods.

The new designs will not be made public until the August 24 meeting, where options for short-term and long-term plans will be presented. Sources who have seen the designs say the short-term plan does not remove a travel lane like the original plan. Instead, it would remove parking to add one-way protected bike lanes on both the north and south sides. The short-term plan is part of an air quality grant to improve biking and would not change the sidewalks.

“The plan that was going to go out in July was going to put a bike lane between a parking lane and a bunch of trucks,” said Peter Albert, the manager of urban planning initiatives at the SFMTA. “It seems like the low hanging fruit in that whole thing was the on-street parking, so why was on-street parking for basically two dozen spaces so sacrosanct that it was forcing bicyclists to pit themselves against trucks and buses?”

Under the new designs, he said, “the bike experience is much better because you’ve got no parked cars or dooring to the right, you’ve got complete clarity on your path and the trucks don’t have to intersect with you in any way.”

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In Ideal Weather, SFMTA Crews Install Bike Boxes on Market and Van Ness

Photos: Bryan Goebel

Working in 80 degree weather, smiling SFMTA crews installed two green bike boxes in both directions of Market Street at Van Ness Avenue today, the latest pieces of innovative infrastructure to grace the city’s main thoroughfare, which continues to become a much friendlier street for people who bike, walk and take transit.

In addition to providing bicyclists an opportunity to queue up in front of waiting autos, the bike boxes are designed to prevent bike riders from entering the crosswalks on Market Street. Recent surveys have shown that in addition to growing numbers of bicyclists, pedestrian volumes have also risen on Market Street, thanks to a number of improvements the SFMTA began implementing in 2009.

It took SFMTA crews nearly 5 hours to install the two bike boxes on eastbound and westbound Market at Van Ness Avenue today. The preformed themoplastic is designed so that “both skid resistance and retroreflectivity are maximized,” according to the manufacturer,” Flint Trading Inc of Thomasville, North Carolina.

In addition to the green bike boxes, the SFMTA is expected to fill in the gaps on Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and 8th Street before Bike to Work Day May 12. Crews will color in the remaining standard bike lanes with green paint, and add soft-hit posts on some sections. In addition, the sharrows across Market at Van Ness will be enhanced. A combination of green pavement and white sharrows will guide bike riders through the intersection.

A fifth green bike box will be installed sometime this week or next on westbound Market Street at Gough, but it will likely be done in the early morning hours because daytime work would affect somel Muni lines. See more photos after the break and on my Flickr page.

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SFMTA Crews Install Market Street’s First Green Bike Boxes

Westbound Market at Ninth Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Crews were out on Market Street today laying down the first bike boxes on both sides of the Ninth Street intersection. They come as the first of five promised by the SFMTA earlier this month.

The boxes allow bike riders to get up front at a stop light, increasing visibility to motorists and allowing them to cross safely. The ones going in on Market Street are the first in San Francisco to be made of a rough, grip-sensitive material that should help bike riders keep traction even in the rain.

The bike boxes come as welcome news to bicycle advocates who have been pushing the city to complete a continuous Market Street separated bikeway.

Crew members said they’ll be installing the next boxes at Van Ness Avenue tomorrow. See more photos after the jump.

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SFMTA: Bike Boxes Coming to Market Street “Within the Next Month”

A bike box will soon grace this intersection on Market Street at Van Ness Avenue. Photo: Bryan Goebel

Last November, we brought you news that the SFMTA is planning to install five green bike boxes on Market Street where the numbers of bicyclists have dramatically increased since the SFMTA mandated right-turns at 10th and 6th streets. During peak hours, there are so many bicyclists on Market Street it looks a little like Amsterdam or Copenhagen. So, where are the bike boxes?

“Weather permitting we are expected to implement the bike boxes within the next month,” said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

The green bike boxes will be installed on westbound Market Street at Hyde, Van Ness Avenue and Haight/Gough, and on eastbound Market Street at South Van Ness and 9th Street.

While the green protected bike lanes on Market Street have made bicycling much more pleasant and safe, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has urged the SFMTA to fill in the gaps between Octavia and 8th Streets by Bike to Work Day on May 12th.

The SFBC is pushing for a continuous protected bikeway from Octavia to the Embarcadero, as part of their Connecting the City Bay to Beach route.

Where else would you like to see a bike box?

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San Francisco to Get Five Green Bike Boxes on Market Street

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/4249106734/in/photostream/##sfbike##

The green bike box on Scott Street. Photo: sfbike

As part of its “Calm the Safety Zone” project, the SFMTA plans to install five green bike boxes on Market Street at intersections that currently have bike lanes, bringing to seven the total number of bike boxes in San Francisco. Bike advocates urged the SFMTA to install them quickly and focus on a continuous ribbon of green, separated bikeways from 8th Street to the Embarcadero to further boost the trials of innovative projects on Market Street that have made life a little easier for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

The colored bike boxes will be placed on westbound Market at Hyde, Van Ness Avenue and Haight/Gough, and on eastbound Market Street at South Van Ness and 9th Street. The SFMTA hopes to have the reftro-reflective green paint on the ground “in early 2011.” Adding more green bike lanes on Market Street apparently won’t happen with the installation of the bike boxes but the agency is in the midst of developing a colored bike lanes policy.

Bridget Smith of the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets division said the agency is also crafting a bike box policy that will focus on putting in bike boxes at intersections where there are existing bike lanes. She said the policy would conform with national guidelines being developed by the Cities for Cycling program of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

“It’s part of our ongoing effort to try innovative measures and see if they do help clarify the roles and correct place for everyone on the street. So we’re sharing this confined street space and we want to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians and transit whenever we can,” said Smith. “The bike box gives bicyclists an opportunity to be ahead of the automobiles and get a head start on traffic once the light turns green.”

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Eyes on the Street: San Francisco’s First Green Bike Box Gets Bike Stencil

IMG_1369_1.jpgDPT crews reveal a brand new bike stencil. Photos: Michael Rhodes
San Francisco's first green bike box can no longer be mistaken for just a car-sized strip of green paint: this morning, DPT crews stenciled in a bicycle symbol to indicate to cars that the green box on Scott Street at Oak is for bikes only. In marked contrast to the pre-stencil bike box, the new stencil seemed to help most drivers understand that they're required to wait behind the box during red lights. Only a few scofflaws ignored the bike box, often stopping behind it initially and then rolling into it - often with cell phones pressed against their ears.

The new stencil is the latest development in the ongoing saga of the Scott Street bike box, which started as a traffic stop line and bike stencil without green paint, and was then painted over in green last month when a partial lifting of the bicycle injunction allowed some experimental treatments. At that point, the MTA did not paint in the stencil over the green paint, citing the need to collect before and after data on the traffic device since it's still experimental in California. Judson True, a spokesperson for the MTA, said the agency did four one-hour p.m. peak counts last month, and found that half of stopped vehicles were encroaching into the bike box. Fifty-five percent of stopped cyclists were waiting in the bike box, and 30 percent were waiting in the crosswalk.

"We did go ahead and collect some data, and we felt like we had enough 'before' data to go ahead and install the symbol," said True. "We had planned to install it later in the month, but when we looked at the data we were getting and decided that was sufficiently informative, we went ahead and moved forward."

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Eyes on the Street: San Francisco’s First Green Bike Box Remains Unfinished

bike_box_1.jpgA truck driver encroaches on a bicyclist in the green bike box. Photos by Bryan Goebel.
San Francisco's first green bike box, painted by a smiling group of electeds and bike activists earlier this month, was heralded as an important first step toward finally advancing some "innovative design treatments" in the city's long-stalled Bicycle Plan. But nearly three weeks later, the MTA has yet to paint any kind of bike symbol in the box, and many San Francisco drivers, and even some bicyclists unfamiliar with the concept of bike boxes, are still not getting the message that it's for bikes only.

"I think it's a very good idea to display this bike box here, but most of the public is not familiar with what the purpose of it is," said Wakeem Shehadeh, the owner of Oak Fair Market, which is just several feet away from the new bike box on Scott Street at Oak. Shehedah said he's spent a great deal of time observing driver and bicyclist behavior since the bike box was installed December 3rd, and has witnessed a few confrontations.

"I still see some cars stop on the green spot, and some pull back, and go into the bike lane," he said. "I would suggest we paint a bike picture on top of the green box so it can tell the driver and the bicyclist, this is for you, and this is for you."

Indeed, some bicyclists are still not familiar with it. As I interviewed people on bikes along The Wiggle today I encountered a few riders who had no idea. "Oh, that's what that's for," said one guy, who told me he lived around the corner. "I haven't been using it."

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Eyes on the Street: Work on Clipper Street Bike Lane Starts

clipper1.jpgPhotos by Streetsblog tipster Nick

DPT crews have begun striping a new bike lane on Clipper Street between Douglass Street and Portola Drive. Streetsblog tipster Nick sent us these photos of the work, which is expected to take a week to complete, according to Damon Curtis of the MTA's bike program. Nick points out that many residents on Clipper Street support the bike lane, part of a traffic calming project in the Bike Plan.

See more photos and get an update on other projects below the break.

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Mayor, MTA and Bike Activists Celebrate First New Bike Lane in Three Years

bicyclists_in_bike_box.jpgSFBC's Leah Shahum, the MTA's Oliver Gajda and SFBC Board Member Dan Nguyen-Tan in the freshly painted green bike box on Scott Street at Oak. Photo by Bryan Goebel.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, three members of the Board of Supervisors, MTA officials, SFBC staff and bicyclists -- standing in the glaring fall sun amidst the roar of cars on Oak Street -- celebrated the city's first new bike lane in three years today, and then grabbed the paint rolls and applied buckets of shiny green paint to the Scott Street bike box.

"The good news is we didn't wait until today to get started. The injunction was [partially] lifted last week and already the folks you see behind us have been hard at work," said Newsom. "They've been out there putting in some new bike lanes and we're going to be putting in bike racks every single day."

Newsom said that San Francisco is going to try a series of innovate treatments, such as the green bike box, taking cues from European cities that have become world-class bicycling cities. And like Valencia Street, he said, the MTA will begin changing the signal timing on some streets to better accommodate bicyclists.

"We're going to be trying some things that candidly we wished we were doing for the last three years that are things that are being done around the world, particularly in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, that are being proffered and exampled in places like Portland and other municipalities," Newsom said, adding that the plan is to add six new miles of bike lanes in six months and increase the city's existing 23 miles of sharrows by 326 percent.

Mayor_painting.jpgMTA Chief Nat Ford and Mayor Gavin Newsom paint the bike box green. Photo by Matthew Roth.
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