Streetsblog erroneously reported last month that four Polk Street intersections would get signals to separate bike traffic from turning drivers by May. The signals are not in fact part of the first round of improvements on Polk.
I misinterpreted an announcement from the SFMTA that the initial upgrades would include “dedicated and separate space for southbound cyclists and right-turning vehicles.” I assumed this was a reference to intersection configurations in the final plan for Polk, which include separate bike signals. I apologize for the error.
Signals to separate curbside bike traffic and right-turning drivers are still part of the Polk plan, but the timetable calls for them to be installed during the construction phase beginning next year and wrapping up in 2017. The interim upgrades, which are being installed now, do not include the signals.
The short-term changes will stripe a bike lane between the through-traffic lane and a right-turn lane (like on 8th Street in SoMa). That will provide right-turning drivers a pocket to wait in instead of blocking the bike lane after merging across it. The striping is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
“The separated space on southbound Polk for right turning vehicles and through bicyclists is a measure the SFMTA was able to implement quickly to increase safety now,” said SFMTA Livable Streets spokesperson Ben Jose. “The improvement addresses the definitive and repeated right-hook crash patterns we see at southbound Polk and Turk, Eddy, Ellis and Geary.”
Installing the bike signals will “require complex technical work,” he said, which will be done in conjunction with sewer replacement. In total, pavement work on Polk is expected to take about a year.
“The final design will flip the vehicle right turn lane with the bike lane,” said Jose, “with a continuous bike lane running curbside at intersection approaches, where there will be a right turn signal phase for cars and a separated through phase for people biking.”