Eyes on the Street: When Repaving Becomes a Hazard

IMG_2748.jpgPhotos by Bryan Goebel

If you’ve pedaled along Howard Street in SoMa lately, you’ve no doubt noticed the shoddy paving between 6th and 8th Streets.  A DPW contractor repaved the street as part of a sewer main replacement project but in several areas left a two inch shelf in the middle of the bike lane, which is causing many cyclists to drift into traffic or struggle to keep upright, especially at night.

DPW’s Christine Falvey said the issue was temporary:

Our Resident Engineer directed the contractor to sweep up all loose
material in the bike lane yesterday. Temporary asphalt will be placed in
the bike lane on Tuesday and we will temporarily re-stripe the areas where
we place AC the same day. 

That’s a start, but why was the job completed without assessing its impact on bikes in a Transit First city such as ours?  

A number of cyclists I spoke to along the route were pretty outraged by the state of the bike lane. A woman standing outside the offices of the South of Market Community Action Network (SOCAN) said it’s been that way for about a week. "They just left it like that. It’s a public nuisance," she said. "This is a major route for bicyclists."

Said Andy Thornley of the SFBC:

"In a city that has committed at the highest levels to prioritizing the
bicycle for everyday transportation it’s hard to understand why
roadwork on a key bike route doesn’t give bike traffic the highest
regard — get the repair work done well and quickly, and provide a
reasonable detour to bike traffic in the meantime. There’s no
injunction against smooth safe pavement for bicycles!"

Falvey says folks with concerns about the project should call
the public information officer, Bill Adams, at 415-437-7038. "
welcome information and concerns people have."

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    Despite promises to pave and sweep this lane on Tuesday, it still looks exactly the same as depicted in the above photographs at 6pm Tuesday. There were no work crews to be seen anywhere.


    Same problem on 7th, around the corner:


  • mcas

    … I was just there this hour, and the crews are working on the OTHER side of the street. No fix yet.

  • the greasy bear

    As of 4/21/09, Howard Street’s bike lane is still treacherous–as a direct result of this abominable “repaving.”

    Thousands of feet of lane striping disappeared, so motorists now drive farther into cyclists’ right of way than they did with painted lines.

    The new pavement for motorists is nice, but for cyclists it is dangerously unpredictable–rough, uneven, pockmarked and littered with pebbles and asphalt chunks.

    Even Market Street is a safer and smoother bike route now, and that’s saying something.

  • This is an issue all over the city- San Jose Ave. between Monterey and Randall being the one that I find the most dangerous on a day to day basis. If you are pulling a Burley, you have to ride with the left wheel right on or just outside the line and into traffic. All because they refuse to pave right up to the sidewalk. All over the city you see this, and if you are not careful, that lip will throw you right into traffic.

    If the repaving is going on, there is almost never a space left for bicycles to pass safely. If there is any work of any kind going on, builders are not required to make space for bicycles. On Monterey Blvd, there are two construction zones that force riders into uphill traffic between Baden and Congo. The construction crew working at Valencia and 26th (? just up from the mortuary) parked their equipment so that it intruded into the lane, including sharp diggers that protruded 2 feet into the lane without the flag that would be required on a truck transporting cargo that is longer than the truck bed ( I nearly ran right into it, once).

    I often think that there should be a handout of how building sites and repaving projects should look in terms of their impact on and intrusion into bike lanes (which are transit lanes, after all).


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