A bicyclist waits in what remains of the bike box at Scott/Oak. Photos by Bryan Goebel.
If you've pedaled through The Wiggle in the last few weeks -- as thousands of bicyclists do on a daily basis -- you've probably noticed the disappearance of what was a rare San Francisco bike box on Scott Street at Oak. The only other bike box is on 14th Street and Folsom. On Scott, the street recently underwent a repaving but crews haven't re-striped the bike box, which gives bicyclists a head start in front of a line of cars, and is designed to reduce bicycle-car conflicts, especially in areas heavily traveled by bicyclists.
Andy Thornley of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition points out they're not full bike boxes. In the case of Scott, it's really a quarter bike box, and a half bike box on 14th:
A full bike box would look like those in Portland, with coloredpavement in the box (as well as color in the bike lane feeding in, and,if appropriate, color in the "receiving" bike lane on the far side ofthe intersection), "STOP HERE" marked on the pavement before theadvance stop line, and a public education program to let everyone knowwhat they are and how they're meant to be used.
Thornley explained the two bike boxes in San Francisco are an experiment, but it's unclear whether the MTA has any plans to turn them into full, colored bike boxes, or add more, once the injunction is lifted:
In MTA's earlier request to experiment with color in bike right-of-way,bike boxes had been one of the senses to test, but I see that the finallist of application senses approved by the Federal HighwayAdministration no longer includes bike boxes. That is, even after goingthrough the years-long and hyper-mannered dance of officialexperimentation (which had led the sanctioned use of color off into avery limited scope already) the MTA still won't have made anyproductive codification of color for bike boxes, let alone "ordinary"continuous bike lanes, as experienced in much of the rest of thecivilized world.
We've got a request into MTA spokesperson Judson True for more information. We'll post an update as soon as we hear back.
Update: MTA spokesperson Judson True says the bike box will be repainted next week. "That was the plan all along."
As for colored bike boxes, the MTA does plan to experiment with those "in the next couple of years."
A car takes over what was a bike box.
About 6,000 bicyclists, according to the SFBC, pedal through The Wiggle on a daily basis.
Bryan Goebel is a reporter at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. A veteran journalist and writer, he helped launch Streetsblog SF in 2009 and served as editor for three years. He lives car-free in the Castro District.