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Posts from the Bike Lanes Category

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Salt Lake City Cuts Car Parking, Adds Bike Lanes, Sees Retail Boost

The new 300 South, a.k.a. Broadway. Photos: Salt Lake City.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Protected bike lanes require space on the street, and removing curbside auto parking is one of several ways to find it. But whenever cities propose parking removal, retailers understandably worry.

A growing body of evidence suggests that if bike lanes and parking removal contribute to a street with calmer traffic and a better pedestrian environment, everybody can win.

In an in-house study of its new protected bike lane, Salt Lake City found that when parking removal was done as part of a wide-ranging investment in the streetscape — including street planters, better crosswalks, public art, and colored pavement — converting parking spaces to high-quality bike lanes coincided with a jump in retail sales.

On 300 South, a street that’s also known as Broadway, SLC converted six blocks of diagonal parking to parallel parking and also shifted parallel parking away from the curb on three blocks to create nine blocks of protected bike lanes on its historic downtown business corridor.

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Protected Bike Lanes Even More Useful in Snowy Cities Than in Warm Ones

7th Street, Calgary, Alberta. Photo: City of Calgary Bicycle Program

pfb logo 100x22Annie van Cleve is a guest writer for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Here’s the best argument not enough people are making for protected bike lanes: Winter.

Hear me out. If you have ridden your bike through snow or ice, you know your speed goes down as you negotiate crusty and uneven roads, often in the dark. In these conditions, not every driver takes care when passing or understands when they are stuck behind a bicyclist on a snow-narrowed street. On streets with lots of high-speed motorized vehicles, it can be especially dangerous to mix cars with vulnerable road users like bicyclists. Protected bike lanes and off-street trails and paths are needed to make bicycling safe enough to be an accessible mode of transportation for people of all ages and abilities in all seasons.

Unfortunately, this picture of winter bicycling appears grim to some people and winter has too often been used as an argument against investing in bicycle infrastructure and proper maintenance in Northern cities. Why invest in infrastructure that will go unused for half the year? Who wants to risk life and limb to pedal a bicycle through the dark and frozen winter landscape? No one, it is assumed.

Those of us organizing the Winter Cycling Congress 2016 — to be held 2-4 February in Minneapolis-Saint Paul — disagree. That’s not just because we’ve observed more and more bicyclists on the streets of the Twin Cities — the coldest large metropolitan area in the United States — over the past couple of years. Even with less than ideal on-street conditions, 20 percent of bicyclists keep riding all winter in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

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SF’s First Parking-Protected Bike Lane Outside a Park Opens on 13th Street

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SF’s first parking-protected bike lane outside of Golden Gate Park is open for business on 13th Street. The lane runs westbound on 13th, connecting existing bike lanes between Bryant Street and Folsom Street, underneath the Central Freeway.

The new bike lane runs along the curb with a buffer zone separation from parked cars, which provide protection from motor traffic.

SFMTA crews are still adding finishing touches, like green-backed sharrows in the “mixing zones” where turning drivers merge into the bike lane, left-turn bike boxes, and more visible crosswalks.

SF’s first parking-protected bike lane was installed in 2012 on John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park. Now that people are getting more familiar with this type of safer street design, hopefully the SFMTA will make it the norm on dangerous streets like the wide thoroughfares of SoMa.

Photo: Jessica Kuo

Photo: Jessica Kuo


Aaron Peskin Consulted With Polk Street Bike Lane Opponents on Lawsuit

District 3 supervisor candidate Aaron Peskin provided consultation for Polk Street bike lane opponents earlier this year on filing a lawsuit over the street’s redesign.

Aaron Peskin at a taxi workers forum. Screenshot via Taxi Town SF/Youtube

Despite his recently-declared support for full bike lanes along Polk, Peskin confirmed his one-time involvement with Save Polk Street, a group of merchants which has fiercely opposed protected bike lanes to preserve car parking.

Peskin said that he had let Save Polk leaders know “what their rights and options are” when they’d considered filing a lawsuit against the city in anticipation of the plan’s approval in March, even after it was heavily watered down.

Streetsblog asked Peskin to clear the record on the rumors last week at a campaign event hosted by the furniture store Flipp. Flipp’s owner, Dan Kowalski, has been the primary press spokesperson for Save Polk since the group formed over two years ago. Peskin said he’d only met Kowalski for the first time that evening.

Peskin said he didn’t encourage Save Polk to sue, but that he’d provided advice about legal rights:

I always let everybody know what their rights and options are, the same way that I let tenants know that they can disappear into the middle of the night, but they also have options. If you’re asking whether I encouraged anybody to file a lawsuit, no, but people will say, Do I have rights of appeal? Yes, you’ve got rights of appeal. These are the things that you can do. I’m always clear with people what their rights are. It’s important that people know what their rights are. That’s part of the way you bring people together — you let them know, these are the powers you have, these are the powers these people have.

Peskin defended his record on improving bicycling, walking, and transit as a former supervisor, and said his position on the Polk bike lanes has not changed recently.

As Streetsblog highlighted last week, Peskin wrote “yes” on an SF Bicycle Coalition questionnaire which asked D3 supervisor candidates if they will “commit to supporting continuous, protected bike lanes on the High-Injury Corridor segments of Polk Street when the Polk Streetscape Project is next reviewed.” He added that he “was disappointed by how contentious the Polk Street process became.”

Efforts from public representatives to “bring folks together and build some consensus” were “unfortunately lacking,” Peskin told Streetsblog. But “in the months and years to come, we’ll see what we’ve seen all over the city, that [street redesigns like Polk’s] actually work, that business will continue to not only survive, but thrive.”

Supervisor Julie Christensen, Peskin’s opponent, did not respond to the SFBC’s question about committing to expanding Polk’s bike lanes. She wrote that she’d “worked to sustain a compromise that does not preclude future adjustments, but will allow the significant bike safety portions of the current project to move ahead.”

When Christensen was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to the office in January, “The plan was in jeopardy,” she wrote.

Peskin served two terms as D3 supervisor from 2000 to 2008, and acted as board president from 2004 to 2008. In 2011, he was nominated for appointment as interim mayor by the Board of Supervisors when Gavin Newsom vacated the office. The board instead appointed Lee as mayor, who was then elected to remain in office. Lee faces re-election in November along with the D3 candidates.

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SFMTA Approves 2nd Street Protected Bike Lane Redesign, Ponders Car Bans

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Second Street will get raised, protected bike lanes, sidewalk extensions, and Muni boarding islands with a redesign approved yesterday. But SFMTA Board members wonder if car restrictions are needed, too. Image: DPW

The SFMTA Board of Directors yesterday unanimously approved a redesign of Second Street which will remove traffic lanes and add safety upgrades like raised, protected bike lanes and sidewalk extensions. After years of delay, SFMTA Board members and some attendees at the meeting said it may not go far enough, and that the agency should consider car restrictions to prevent private autos from clogging the street.

The redesign [PDF] will remove two of Second Street’s four car traffic lanes and bring one of the city’s first routes with raised bike lanes protected from motor traffic by curbs and parked cars. Muni boarding islands will also be installed to allow buses to make stops in the traffic lanes and passengers to alight without conflicting with bike traffic.

The approval is “a resounding victory for safer SoMa streets,” wrote SF Bicycle Coalition Business and Community Program Manager Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, in a blog post. The SFBC submitted support letters from nearly 100 residents and a dozen businesses on the street, Cosulich-Schwartz told the SFMTA Board, noting that it’s the only north-south bike route in that area of SoMa.

Walk SF’s new policy and program manager, Cathy DeLuca, also lauded the plan. In addition to safer crossings (including removal of dangerous double-turn lanes at Harrison Street), and more room for pedestrians, she noted that the protected bike lanes will “make it easier for pedestrians and motorists to navigate” Second, which is “in the heart of such a fast-growing part of our community.”

The redesign “will give the residents, employees, local business, and visitors who use Second Street the great street they deserve,” Davi Lang, an aide for D6 Supervisor Jane Kim, told the SFMTA Board.

DeLuca noted that the plan for Second is the first street redesign to come out as part of the citywide Green Connections plan.

Second’s redesign has been delayed for years. Most recently, completion was pushed back a year from its previous schedule, to fall of 2017, apparently due to delays in completing the environmental review. Before that, the year-long construction was scheduled to be finished by the end of this year.

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Record-Breaking Bike Traffic on Market Street Neared 100,000 in July

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Record-breaking bicycle traffic on Market Street nearly broke the 100,000 threshold in July, according to the bike counter on SF’s most heavily-pedaled thoroughfare. Last month, 99,461 people were counted in the bike lane on eastbound Market at Ninth Street, topping the previous record of 97,302 in March.

"So, so awesome to be in the company of this many bikes commuting in a US city," writes Jess Zdeb on Twitter.

“So, so awesome to be in the company of this many bikes commuting in a US city,” writes Jess Zdeb on Twitter.

The record for daily bike counts was also set in April at 4,475 (monthly total: 91,685). July’s daily counts didn’t approach that record, generally ranging between 3,400 and 4,000 bikes. But July had enough consistent days of high bike counts to add up to a new record.

It seems safe to say that joining the waves of rush hour bike commuters on Market is the closest thing to experiencing a bicycling mecca like Copenhagen or Amsterdam this side of the North Atlantic.

And the momentum is only poised to grow after private auto drivers were banned on Tuesday from turning on to Market between Third and Eighth streets. With more car restrictions, the downtown section of Market east of Eighth, which lacks bike lanes, will only become friendlier to biking, walking, and transit. And just wait for the Better Market Street redesign (whenever that happens).

Now, it is possible that bicycling records on Market have been broken in recent years. After a design tweak to the bike lane in January, the counter captured bike trips more accurately. On the other hand, some bicycle riders still don’t ride over the sensor in the bike lane, so we may have already hit that six-digit milestone.

Hat tip to Joe Chojnacki for keeping an eye on the bike counter data.


Mayor Lee on Bike Demo: “I Won’t Bend to Interests Who Disregard Safety”

Contrasting with Supervisor London Breed’s sensible position on the demonstration planned in response to the SFPD’s impending bike crackdown, we bring you a dispatch from the hidebound side of City Hall — Room 200.

Mayor Ed Lee weighed in today on the plan from bike commuters on the Wiggle to fully comply with the stop sign law en masse this evening, to highlight its absurdity.

Mayor Lee on Bike to Work Day. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Lee told reporters that he’s “not going to be bending to interests that simply want to disregard public safety”:

We’re a great city for first amendment voices. I’m willing to listen to them. But I’m going to always say everybody’s safety has to be the number one priority. I’m not going to be bending to interests that simply want to disregard public safety. That’s not what our city should be doing.

We’re investing a lot of money in bike lanes. A lot of money in dedicated lanes. A lot of money in making sure that people can get to work without driving more cars. We have environmental goals for that to happen. But you’re talking to a mayor, and I think a very strong Board of Supervisors, who will not compromise safety for the sake of other interests.

Mayor Lee is, of course, missing the point of the demonstration entirely: SFPD’s Park Station captain is disregarding safety data and wasting precious enforcement resources on compliance with an impractical stop sign law, which won’t make anyone safer. Meanwhile, the driver violations that hurt the most people go under-enforced.

The “interests” Lee referred to — bike commuters rallied by the Wigg Party — say they “intend to show” that the unrealistic prospect of not practicing rolling stops on bikes (which Idaho legalized 32 years ago) would “have disastrous effects to traffic patterns” by disrupting the existing expectation of efficient turn-taking.

“That may be their point of view,” Lee said to a reporter. “Is it shared by everybody else?”

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SFMTA Wants to Remove King Street Bike Lanes, Won’t Improve Alternative

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The ghost bike at King and Third is for Diana Sullivan, who was killed on the stretch where the bike lane disappears. Photo: Google Maps

The SFMTA wants to remove bike lanes and sharrows on King Street in SoMa’s South Beach area to discourage bicycling on the truck-heavy street, Hoodline reports.

The agency wants to divert bike commuters to the parallel stretch of Townsend Street, but has no plans to improve the bike lanes there, which are unprotected and routinely blocked by drivers near the Caltrain Station.

The SFMTA originally proposed extending King’s striped bike lanes (one of its 24 Vision Zero projects). But the agency instead decided to remove all bike infrastructure on the street until concrete changes can be made.

The existing bike lanes are narrow and disappear suddenly, which “is not comfortable for people biking,” said SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose. “By directing people to bike on Townsend or the Embarcadero Promenade, we can improve safety for people biking and reduce confusion in the area.”

“In the long-term,” said Jose, the agency “will be examining how biking can be improved in the area through the larger-scale Embarcadero Enhancement Project,” which could bring protected bike lanes along the waterfront years down the road. In the meantime, the agency’s “goal is to encourage people biking in the area to use Townsend when appropriate.”

The SF Bicycle Coalition isn’t fighting the removal of King’s painted bike lanes. But Communications Director Chris Cassidy said it “highlights the importance of protected bike lanes on Townsend.”

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Protected Bike Lanes Finally Coming to Folsom Street Near Transbay Center

Image: Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure

Image: Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure

The city will hold a public meeting on Thursday evening to present updates on a plan to install protected bike lanes on Folsom Street near the Transbay Transit Center, east of Second Street.

Construction on the project was previously expected to start this year, according to a city staff presentation from last June [PDF]. At the time, an interim version of the streetscape redesign would have included only a protected bike lane in the eastbound direction, with three lanes for cars, converted for two-way traffic.

The plans are now set to be constructed in 2016, and they’ve been upgraded “because of Vision Zero,” according to Paul Chasan of the Planning Department.

“The new design calls for a two-lane street and a cycle track, which is going to make it a much safer pedestrian environment,” Chasan told a supervisors committee at a recent meeting. (“Cycle track” is the city’s term for protected bike lanes.) “It’s going to make it a high-quality space.”

As part of the project, a protected bike signal phase would be installed at the harrowing Essex Street intersection, which has two right-turn lanes for drivers headed to a Bay Bridge onramp.

For some reason, no information on the time and location of Thursday’s meeting has been posted online by the Department of Public Works or the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, which are leading the project. The SF Bicycle Coalition posted info on its website about the meeting yesterday.

The meeting will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 701 Mission Street.


Safer San Jose Avenue Advocates Fend Off Attacks From Angry Motorists

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Photo: SFMTA

Photo: SFMTA

The redesign of San Jose Avenue took a step forward a month ago when Caltrans removed a traffic lane on a Highway 280 off-ramp leading on to San Jose, a.k.a. the Bernal Cut. The plan is the result of decades of neighborhood advocacy for safer streets, but it is running into opposition from motorists who won’t stand for the road diet.

Supporters and opponents of the project are duking it out with online petitions, both launched a month ago. The opposition’s petition currently has a lead on the supporters’ petition. The SFMTA hasn’t released the results from its survey from last fall.

“There is a contingency of drivers that is working against this plan and are very active on NextDoor and talking to their supervisors,” said neighbor Collin Martin. They “seem to accept no alternatives to making this avenue safer and more sane for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Under the two-phase pilot project, Caltrans and the SFMTA are measuring how a road diet and better bike lane protection can help tame driving speeds and attract more people to bike on San Jose north of Highway 280.

A year after the first phase, in which San Jose’s third northbound lane was replaced by a wider, buffered bike lane, the SFMTA reported a 62 percent jump in bike traffic during morning peak hours.

The removal of San Jose’s third lane didn’t achieve the SFMTA’s goal of bringing the 85th percentile speed down to 35 mph. There was “a fairly minor drop” in speeds from 49 mph to 46 mph, the SFMTA reported, and morning peak hour traffic on San Jose dropped by 21 percent.

That result triggered the project’s second phase to meet the speed reduction target, and Caltrans removed the second 280 off-ramp lane, which was added as a supposedly temporary measure in 1992. Planners are now measuring the effect on traffic speeds.

Collins said Caltrans could have done a better job implementing the ramp lane removal, “as it is causing sudden stops” that may contribute to “part of the backlash.”

“The exit should just be one lane and not two merging into one on a curve in short distance,” he said. “This is almost certainly what caused the surge in support to the petition against the road diet.”

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