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Posts from the Rincon Hill Category


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.


Planners Refine Ped Upgrades, Protected Bike Lane Designs for Second Street

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One of three options for the height of the bikeway would raise it to a "half-step" between the curb and the roadway. Images: DPW

The developing plan to overhaul Second Street with protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety upgrades took another step forward yesterday when staff from the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, the Department of Public Works, and the Planning Department presented more refined design options to the public.

Under the proposal, the entire one-mile length of Second Street would be rebuilt with 6-foot-wide bike lanes next to the sidewalks, separated from motor traffic and car parking by a 4-foot raised buffer, which would be planted in some areas and widen to an 8-foot boarding island at bus stops. It would be the first street to feature bicycle traffic signals at each intersection, creating separate signal phases to reduce conflicts between bicyclists and right-turning drivers. Planners presented three options for the height of the bike lanes: they could be level with the sidewalks, level with the road, or raised about halfway between (which is the norm in Copenhagen).

“It’s exciting to see hundreds of Second Street residents and workers developing the plans for the one-way separated bikeway and pedestrian improvements being proposed for Second Street,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “It’s especially encouraging that DPW’s survey results show clear preference for this proposal from people who live and work hereThis project is sorely needed for Second Street and we hope the city works hard to prioritize getting this project in the ground.

It will be some time — three years — before the safety overhaul is completed. Construction, originally scheduled to begin in July 2014, was pushed back to January 2015, and is expected to take a year. The estimated project cost, which includes the total reconstruction of the street, has also increased to $13.2 million from the original $6-8 million.

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Envisioning Protected Bike Lanes and Pedestrian Islands for Second Street

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"Protected cycle tracks green and calm Second Street while respecting human powered transport," writes architect David Baker. Image: David Baker + Partners Architects

Advocates for a safer Second Street have released a new rendering showing how the street could function better for pedestrians and cyclists if a protected bike lane is included in the coming redesign.

Baker's sketch shows how Second Street could fit bike lanes protected by parking lanes and pedestrian islands.

Architect and bike commuter David Baker, whose firm is located on Second, posted the rendering on the blog Great Second Street.

“Protected bicycle lanes are great to ride on, and give pedestrians, cyclists, and cars their own space,” Baker writes. “They also provide space for larger trees than are possible with narrow sidewalks alone.”

At a public workshop in May, protected bike lanes were a popular feature in conceptual proposals presented by local residents.

The new green bike channel at Duboce and Church, which runs between the sidewalk and N-Judah boarding island, is an example of a bike lane protected by a concrete island, similar to the one in Baker’s vision. This treatment is “an economical alternative to sidewalk widening since they require less infrastructure,” writes Baker. “Whenever curbs are moved, storm-water drains need to be relocated, which is very costly.”

The SFMTA and Department of Public Works could make Second a much more livable street by incorporating this kind of safer infrastructure, which more and more residents are clamoring for. The next workshop on the plan is expected to be held in August.


Eyes on the Street: Dangerous Rincon Hill Intersection Gets New Crosswalks

The new "ladder design" crosswalks on Main Street at Harrison were installed yesterday. Photos: Bryan Goebel.

SFMTA crews have installed new continental crosswalks at the intersection of Harrison and Main streets, seven years after pedestrian advocates in Rincon Hill began lobbying the agency for changes following the death of retired SF State journalism professor Beverly Kees. In addition, the pedestrian countdown signals have been timed to give pedestrians a four-second head start.

“I’m so happy to see the continental crosswalk stripes at Main and Harrison,” said Jamie Whitaker, whose relentless advocacy helped get the SFMTA to move. “I hope it will give drivers a visual indication to be aware of pedestrians walking home, walking from BART to AT&T Park, or walking to their cars parked on Port seawalls and nearby piers.”

As we wrote last month, Harrison and Main is the kind of place that’s so dangerous by design, it’s easy to see how drivers can lose their sense of humanity.  Harrison serves as a four-lane westbound arterial (there is a fifth eastbound lane) that carries 12,600 drivers daily, most headed to the Bay Bridge. Drivers routinely speed and block the crosswalk. Since 2003, three people have died there, including Kees, and many more have been injured.

According to Whitaker’s Rincon Hill blog, the improvements cost about $15,000, a “a relatively cheap solution while we await buildings to go up in the neighborhood and provide funding for capital improvements, including corner bulbouts, to our streetscapes in Rincon Hill.”

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Dangerous Rincon Hill Intersection Finally Getting the City’s Attention

Drivers ignore the signs and routinely block the crosswalk and speed at the intersection of Harrison and Main streets. Photos by Bryan Goebel.

On December 10, 2004, Katy Liddell had just stepped off the N-Judah with a sack of cleaning supplies and was walking to her Portside apartment at Harrison and Main in Rincon Hill, when she noticed a cadre of emergency vehicles surrounding the intersection. As Liddell drew closer, she saw something that horrified her.

“I saw a tarp covering a body in the middle of the street,” Liddell recalled. “I found out that one of my neighbors had been hit and killed.”

The violent force of a big rig truck had thrown 63-year-old Beverly Kees out of the crosswalk, killing her. Kees, a popular SF State journalism professor who had recently retired, lived across the street from Liddell in the BayCrest Towers. The dog she had been walking was also hit and injured.

“Beverly saved his life. She saw the truck coming and she picked him up,” said Debi Gould, Kees’ friend and neighbor and owner of the dog who was with her when she died, a rat terrier mix named Harp. As Gould tells it, Kees, who lived two doors down, had been told by her doctor that she needed to walk more. She asked Gould if she could walk Harp one day, and the two formed a close bond.

“She started walking him to the point where he loved being with her, and instead of a couple of times a week, it ended up being every day that I went to work,” said Gould, a retired flight attendant who also walks a lot and feels like pedestrians in San Francisco “are considered an inconvenience.”

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