Advocates Upset By Prospect of Further Bike Lane Delays

Bike_Lane_need_sign.jpgAdvocates are not ready to compromise a single bike lane in the big 56. Photo: Matthew Roth

SFBC Program Manager Andy Thornley had the sinking feeling, following an MTA Traffic Engineering meeting last Friday, that the agency was not serious about its commitment to moving as many of the priority 56 bicycle projects forward as it should. According to Thornley, at least three projects were moved off the green light list pending further review by traffic engineers, for little more than minor and tired complaints about losing curbside parking spaces.

"We’ve had a series of community meetings where MTA staff has met community members and merchants and there weren’t angry mobs, but we’ve had one or two skeptical members of the public voice dissatisfaction about parking, grumbling from the merchants that always grumble, and that was enough for the MTA to not bring the project forward," said Thornley.

"We’re seeing capitulation from the MTA," he added.  "It doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 or 10,000 advocates and a city charter that requires a transit first policy, if one grumpy merchant gives you the skunk eye, the whole thing gets set aside."

The SFBC even sent out an item in its weekly email alert urging readers to demand the MTA fulfill its promise.  At issue were the bike lanes on a portion of Upper Market Street, 2nd Street, and the Glen Park project.

Thornley also pointed to the 1300 block of Potrero Avenue between 25th and Cesar Chavez as problematic.  He said a member of the public, Chris Dove, had written the SFBC with a proposal to ameliorate the loss of parking from the new bike lane by making the other side of the street a residential parking permit (RPP) zone. The SFBC forwarded the concern to the MTA before the hearing on the 15th, but staff seemed to be unaware of the issue.

When Dove spoke at the hearing and repeated his proposal, the hearing officer suggested tabling the issue until it could be reviewed further.  When contacted by phone, Dove said he is a regular cyclist who rides his bicycle to work at 16th and Kansas, so he wasn’t upset with a new bike lane. "I understand the need for additional bike lanes and I understand how important it is to have a bike lane there.  It’s a hairy stretch of road."

He explained, however, that the block face in question is one of the few in the area that doesn’t have RPP designation, so people going to the hospital, school, or several other destinations by car will park for much of the day in the area. "Who wants to pay for parking at SF General when they could park for free and walk a couple of blocks?" he asked.

MTA spokesperson Judson True said the actions at the last hearing by the hearing officer are not an indication the MTA is putting anything on hold, but only that it is doing due diligence.

"On hold is too strong a way to put it," he said. "We’re working to address
whatever issues are coming up at public hearings, but we’re ready to paint
as soon as we can. We’re confident that we have dozens of public projects going forward that will transform San Francisco into a world-class bicycling city and these small issues that have been brought up in public hearings do not indicate serious delay on any of these projects."

To underscore his point, in an email shortly after, True indicated that the 2nd Street, Upper Market, and Glen Park lanes were put on the agenda for the next Traffic Engineering hearing on May 29th. 

"Also, I have confirmed that Potrero did pass the public hearing but with a condition regarding RPP," said True. "We will be working with staff to determine how this condition is handled."

  • Leah

    Thanks to Streetsblog for its ever-vigilant attention to keeping the wheels of progress turning for sustainable transportation. On behalf of the SF Bicycle Coalition, I want to thank the staff of the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) for keeping these Bike Network improvement projects on track. Our concerns about critical proposals being pulled apart have been addressed and we’re happy to hear that they’re moving forward for official consideration of approval.
    I want to thank the MTA staff who have been putting a huge amount of work into this effort. We know it’s no small feat and they deserve credit for staying focused on meeting the MTA’s & the City’s goal of completing the Citywide Bike Network as soon as possible.
    Most importantly now, we look forward to the MTA Board of Director’s consideration of the whole package of more than 50 Bike Network improvements — more than doubling the number of bike lanes. We urge them, too, to keep their eyes on the prize of a safer, more bike-friendly San Francisco by approving the entire Network package. Remember, the Bike Network is only as strong as its weakest link. Let’s fill those gaps!

  • CBrinkman

    Yay MTA – keep focused!

    And then let’s move a bunch of those bike lanes between the parked cars and the curbs and widen them so two cyclists can ride side by side chatting and another cyclist can still safely pass the two chatting cyclists – Folsom, Howard, Oak and Fell would be good places to start. No more speeding cars within ten inches of your handlebars! I will not be satisfied with bike lanes that are just paint on asphalt – I want safe and dedicated space.

  • CBrinkman,
    Safe and dedicated space–I completely agree we should be satisfied with nothing less! For me, the stretches of Fell and Oak between Scott and Baker connecting the Panhandle to the Wiggle are The Three Blocks of Terror. (And the Arco station on Fell at Divisadero is The Gas Station from Hell.)

  • Josh

    Lets not forget to thank City staff at the Planning Department, and also dozens of consultants, in pursuit of this EIR.

    How many jobs did the SF taxpayer/MTA float, because of a guy looking for a soapbox for his (abysmal) run for Supervisor?

  • marcos

    @Josh, for a few years back there, we could have done better had we flipped a coin to determine which path to take on moving the bike plan.

    Had the City dealt with the LOS issue instead of pretending it did not exist in the years leading up to this legal morass, we’d not be in this position today.

    In many cultures, this record of getting it wrong time and again would shame individuals into resignation.


  • What do bike lanes have to do with “transit first”? Nothing. In fact a number of projects studied in the DEIR will, in the words of the report, have “significant unavoidable impacts” on Muni lines.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    I wouldn’t expect an ignorant carpetbagger like Rob Anderson to know it, but the Transit First Policy specifically mentions bicycles eight times, including “Decisions regarding the use of limited public street and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit, and shall strive to reduce traffic and improve public health and safety.”

  • Still, a number of the proposed projects will negatively impact Muni, as the DEIR itself tells us.

  • the greasy bear

    Private motorists negatively impact every single bus line in every part of the entire city of San Francisco. Only a hypocrite would tolerate those massive negative impacts while demanding zero accomodation for cyclists on our shared public roadways.

    Rob Anderson, are you that hypocrite?

  • anonymouse

    Indeed, the impact of private motorists are the ONLY real impacts here. The “impacts” of the bicycle facility improvements really just mean that there will be less space for cars, and they will get in the way of Muni more.

  • marcos

    Even if LOS for autos were replaced with another metric, delay for Muni is a statutory impact under CEQA and must be disclosed as part of an EIR or mitigated in a mitigated neg dec.

    I think its a legitimate debate as to whether it is more important to prevent delays to Muni or to remove auto lanes for bike lanes that end up delaying Muni.

    Muni must remain an attractive option if we are to reduce the number of autos on the streets and make cycling safer citywide, not just on the bike lanes.



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