Eyes On the Street: SF Gets Its First New Bike Lane in Three Years

4151496516_7ab9fd2ac1.jpgThe SFBC’s Andy Thornley was the first to ride in the new Scott Street bike lane. Flickr photo: sfbike

San Francisco bicycle riders this morning let out a loud cheer, popped open a bottle of champagne and toasted the city’s first bike lane in three years: a freshly painted sliver of Scott Street on the Wiggle between Oak and Fell that now serves as a left-turn lane for the thousands of daily commuters traveling by bicycle onto Fell Street.

"It feels really great to have some fresh bicycle paint down on the streets," said Andy Thornley, SFBC Program Director, who lit a cigar in celebration. "We have waited a long time and I think I speak for all bicyclists present and all those yet to bicycle in the city that this is an historic day."

The MTA paint crews found themselves caught up in the excitement of the moment on Scott Street, posing for pictures with bicycle activists and smiling and nodding at the thumbs up from passing cyclists in what Thornley described as "a little street party."

"You guys deserve this," said a member of the MTA paint crew who didn’t want to be identified. "You’ve been waiting too long." He added that he was also a bicyclist but had been grounded by a recent injury.

Thornley said the left-turn bike lane on Scott will greatly improve safety for the daily throngs who ride the Wiggle. Indeed, within minutes after the fresh paint had dried, dozens of northbound bicycle riders began using the lane as if it had already been there.

"It’s definitely the way that I move around that part of town so I’m looking forward to being more comfortable and dignified and having a more delightful ride through the Wiggle," said Thornley.

4150836203_4610688735_1.jpgThe crew stripes the bike lane. Flickr photo: dustinj
left_turn_arrow.jpgCrews prepare to install a left-turn arrow in the new Scott Street bike lane. Photo by Bryan Goebel.

The MTA paint crews moved with precision and speed, completing the bike lane installation in just under three hours, and stenciling in sharrows in under five minutes in up to twenty different locations along the Wiggle and the Lower Haight. It was proof that bike infrastructure is as easy as throwing down a little paint. Tomorrow, crews will finish painting more sharrows on the Wiggle and then move to 5th Street.

Crews also installed three bike racks at the following locations: Yoga Garden at 286 Divisadero, in front of Phuket Thai at 248 Divisadero and at Pacific Primary School at Baker and Grove. An additional nine bike racks will be installed tomorrow on Duboce, Waller and Haight Streets.

bike_corral.jpgA temporary bike corral in front of Bean There Cafe. Photo by Bryan Goebel.

A temporary bike corral that can accommodate up to sixteen bicycles also went up in front of Bean There Cafe at Steiner and Waller and will stay in place for 72 hours, according to the MTA’s Heath Maddox, who works in the bicycle program.

The MTA’s Bridget Smith, director of the agency’s Livable Streets Program, said crews would paint new bike lanes tomorrow on Howard Street, Mississippi and Claremont Boulevard.

The Scott Street bike lane, sharrows and bike racks were among 10 Bike Plan projects approved by a San Francisco judge last week in a partial lifting of the bike injunction. While those projects will only amount to a meager 3.7 miles of new bike lanes in the city, the MTA will be allowed to go forward with its plans to install hundreds of bike racks and sharrows.

Thirty seven additional Bike Plan projects will remain on hold pending the outcome of a hearing in June to determine whether the EIR fully complies with CEQA.

On Thursday, a green bike box will be installed where the current bike box is located on Scott Street and Oak following a press conference by the MTA and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

While the improvements are paltry compared to what’s happened in cities like New York, where they’ve added approximately 200 miles of bike lanes over the past two years, the scent of fresh paint in the air made many infrastructure-starved bicycle riders giddy.

"It’s about time," said Brian, a bicycle commuter and recent
transplant from Pittsburg, who was stopped at a red light on Scott and

See more photos from sfbike and Dustin Jensen

4150845931_53d0318869.jpgBicycle activists pose with the MTA paint crew. Photo by dustinj

  • zsolt

    I thought bike lanes will be painted some solid color?

  • Thanks so much for the awesome coverage! Very uplifting.

  • Happy Days are here again! That one DOT worker looks like he is playing a guitar.

  • patrick

    I think the solid color was just for the bike box on Scott and Oak.

    It’s certainly great news that something is finally getting done.

  • thank you SF, glad to see the bike program back up and running. good cycling days ahead.

  • Jordan

    Hooray! Hooray for SFBC! Hooray for Andy Thornley! Hooray for biking in SF! What a great day!

  • Alex

    I got to be one of the first folks through the new lane this afternoon! It looks great and makes that last part of the Wiggle bearable, and I’ll be looking forward to the rest of Scott getting painted etc. But as soon as I turned left, I had to dodge around the annoying typical blockage on Fell from the Arco station. Let’s hope that gets fixed soon too!

  • Nick

    Look really nice. Were sharrows added to the Wiggle to increase their intent?

    Any word on how quickly the MTA will stripe the 75 miles of sharrows along other bike routes? A few streets need them sooner rather than later, particularly Holloway as it approaches SFSU.

  • I know this result reflects very little for all the work that has been done to get what we have been asking for. I’m as frustrated as a lot of the posters to the blog about the initial, partial lifting of the ban. However, it’s time to pause, take a breath, and celebrate what we have achieved. Andy said it best about this stretch of Scott St. which I regularly ride myself and have found most frustrating: “…I’m looking forward to being more comfortable and dignified and having a more delightful ride through the Wiggle.”

    Thank you Andy, Leah and all the folks at SFBC. Thank you to all the people who think that this isn’t enough and have said so. It takes that kind of spirit to keep things moving. I know it’s not a lot but it’s also important to remember this is part of a process and that requires steps and this marks the result of a lot of steps.

    Ride On!

  • Gotta also give props to the on-street bike parking demonstration… *gasp*, taking away space from cars instead of pedestrians?? Who’da thought.

  • Great photo of SFBC staff and public works guys. San Francisco should take the concept of “shovel ready” for economic stimulus and say “striping ready!” Put those guys to work for the next year.


  • We have a bike lane, we have a bike lane!!!! I’ll take it. I hope that “reversible” paint is on super thick!

  • Jeff

    feels good, i can’t believe it’s been three years without a bikelane or bike rack

  • Gary

    Great news! and let the project take on momentum.

  • Mike

    Congrats to San Francisco from NYC!

  • CBrinkman

    Happy new bike lane! Rode it after dark with the post Duboce Park Cafe ride, can’t wait to ride it during rush hour. Is the bike corral at Bean There being considered for permanent placement?

  • patrick

    I rode the lane yesterday, quite nice!

    Can’t wait to see the painted bike box today, and looking forward to more lanes coming up.

  • And two of the new racks on Rob’s beloved Divisadero…

  • Yangmusa

    woohoo! I took a little detour on the way home to ride the new lane, and the SFBC was out in force to cheer people on. Happy days!

    Just a small comment to the article – the rack at Bean There only holds 8 bikes, not 16.

  • This lane is a really nice addition to the wiggle. It’s benefit to drivers on that stretch is likely as great as it is for cyclists–my sense riding this in the past was that they were always a little confused at the pesky cyclists staying to the left as they biked north on Scott here… Nice pics from Dustin Jensen!

  • noah

    and yet, this morning, many, many bikes were still making the left turn from scott onto fell from the left lane instead of from the new bike lane.

    I totally support the addition of this (and most) bike lane, but EVERYBODY needs to use it EVERY TIME.

  • @noah – jerks. They probably turn right onto 101 from Market at Octavia too…

  • noah

    @johnmurphy. I certainly hope the bikes aren’t going on 101 at all! I never really liked that bikes did this at scott and fell, but I understood it before because it was probably safer. Now, there’s no excuse.

    I want to be clear that I’m pro-bike. I don’t bike around the city much anymore, but I used to do it a lot, and I’ve supported almost every pro-bike initiative since I’ve lived in SF. And I don’t get upset when a bike rolls through a stop sign, or doesn’t follow traffic laws, as long as it’s done safely.

    But if cyclists want to increase support from other groups, they need to take advantage of things like the wiggle left turn lane. If cyclists flaunt the traffic laws where the city has provided safe, legal alternatives, there will never be widespread support for these initiatives. The attitude that people should just accept bikes and the way they use the road, even if “right,” is totally non-productive.

  • Thanks for the good news! Here’s more: 2 new bikeway construction projects approved for North Monterey County http://marilynch.com/blog/?p=3101

    Also, saw some bike flags outside Monterey Post Office this week that were as bright as the clothing of that MTA paint crew–really can’t be missed: http://marilynch.com/blog/?p=3244

  • chris

    First I will clarify what I am about to write and say that I am an avid cyclist. When I use the term “cyclists” I am refereeing to the sport of road distance riding and have been a rider for more years than I care to count. I also have my city bike. I also have a Burley Tail Wagon for my dog. I am also a pedestrian and a motorist. I share the road. I play by the rules. When I am on my bike I do not pass other bikes on the right, I do not run stop signs, I signal, when I pass another bike I let ‘em know. When I am a pedestrian, I wait for my turn to cross the intersection. When I am driving I do the same and give room to bikes.

    I invite all of you to get to know our Lower Haight Beat Cops as us property and business owners have done, they are actually good guys and are trying to help us clean up the hood.

    It is unfortunate that so many city riders are using their bikes as weapons while complaining that car drivers are doing the same. This hostility has got to stop. It’s dangerous. The solution is simple, enjoy the bike and play by the rules. You are traffic start acting like it.

    I was hit as a pedestrian and severely hurt because some yahoo ran the stop light at Haight and Steiner. I was hit again and taken down while on my bike, and again hurt, by another yahoo who tried to make an illegal turn and lost control. I have a friend who was hit in the crosswalk in the wiggle and got his ribs broken by a rider who did not stop. A dog was killed in the wiggle by a bike that did not stop.

    I walk through he wiggle several times a day to take my dog to the park and I am not exaggerating when I say I feel like I take my life in my hands trying to cross the street. Not only do very few bike stop, they don’t even slow down and yell at us in the crosswalk. When I say stop I don’t mean “feet on the ground”, I mean a bike stop… slow down and wait your turn. If you don’t, you deserve a ticket. I am all for ticketing bikes who don’t ride responsibly.

    There is a saying, it takes less energy to be nice than not. Try it and you will have a better experience out there.

  • T.O. Bikes

    S.F.: you make Toronto a very jealous city! 🙂


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