SF Gets First Protected Bike Lane! Drivers Already Violating It

protected_bike_lane.jpgA bicyclist rides in SF’s first protected bike lane. Photos by Bryan Goebel.

DPT crews installed San Francisco’s first physically separated bike lane this morning on a westbound stretch of an existing bike lane on Market Street between 9th and 10th, and before workers had even finished putting in the final safe-hit post, some drivers began disrespecting it, rolling into the lane, causing bicyclists to merge into auto traffic.

"This isn’t going to last long!," one of the DPT workers shouted, as he scrambled to the scene to prevent the driver of an animal control vehicle parked on the sidewalk from breaking through the safe-hit posts (see the photos below the break).

The 35 three-foot tall reflective posts were tacked onto Market Street with AP epoxy, which takes up to 24 hours to dry. While they’re designed to flip back up if a driver rolls over them, they’re vulnerable until they dry.

Some passersby suggested the MTA needs to install more signage for drivers, or do something more bold like paint the lane green so drivers get the message they need to stay out. 

Although the protected bike lane is considered a trial, Streetsblog has learned the MTA has plans to turn existing bike lanes into protected lanes on Market from 8th to 12th.

van_in_bike_lane.jpgPlease don’t run over the posts!
car_in_bike_lane.jpgA bicyclist is forced out of the protected bike lane, which is 8 feet wide, giving drivers enough room to disrespect the lane.
dpt_crew_with_ap_epoxy.jpgDPT crew puts the AP epoxy on the the base of the post.

  • optomist

    @ john murphy. your candor & poor attempt at sarcasm is surely in left field. so before you try to take my comments out of context & get all pissy about it. my point is that you are responsible for whatever you do & accept accountability, be it cycling, driving, walking, living. there is a consequence for every action. this is something i believe is missing in todays society. i do believe everyone should be treated fairly & equally. so if you want to be treated with respect you need to give it. this is not going to happen overnight.

    i am not pro bike, pro car or pro ped. i am pro accountablity & responsibility. sorry if my tone offends.

  • jerry sena

    I don’t follow the traffic laws with my bicycle, as a rule, since too many of them force me to ride in unsafe situations near speeding automobiles. As a *coaster*, or one who rides in a relatively leisurely fashion almost anytime I’m on my bike, I stick to the sidewalks when feasible and make sure I don’t go so fast as to present a danger to pedestrians when I do. There’s no way I’m going out into the traffic lanes with a bicycle given all the animosity I see drivers directing toward 2-wheelers and 2-leggers every day. Curse me all you want, as long as I know you can’t reach me with your vehicle I really couldn’t care less. It’s all about survival out there and words, as they say, will never hurt me — at least never as much as some ticked off cubicle monkey with a chip on his shoulder and control of a 2,000 pound vehicle at his fingertips.

  • Shawn Allen

    Jerry, riding your bike on the sidewalk is illegal, and unsafe at any speed. In fact, riding at slower speeds reduces your lateral stability, making it even more dangerous to ride in close proximity to pedestrians. Cycling on mosts streets isn’t as unsafe as you perceive it to be, and if you can’t handle it then you shouldn’t be on a bike to begin with. Or better yet, start advocating for more physically separated facilities! The safer we make the streets for cyclists the more bikes there will be on the street, and the more cyclists on the street the safer we’ll all be.

    As you can see from the influx of SFGate commenters, there are some people out there who dismiss bikes and their users entirely based on the poor behavior of a small number of cyclists. Please do your part as an incidental cycling advocate by obeying the law and respecting drivers and pedestrians.

  • ZA

    Wow, that’s a whole lot of uninformed opinion posted here!

    My tuppence:

    1. These improvements are partial, equal to the *partial* injunctive relief.
    2. These improvements will help cyclists AND motorists AND buses AND trains AND pedestrians.
    3. The facilities will need to include education by all road users so that they are used appropriately and safely for everyone. The City appears to be devoting the necessary enforcement resources to do part of that job.
    4. Paint will not be slippery when wet, and is a good deal safer than the metal grates.
    5. By getting buses, trucks, and motors off those new bike lanes, the asphalt should stand up a lot longer. Yes taxpaying motorists, even if you think cyclists aren’t paying their fair share (when they are), the cyclist is preserving that investment better than you.

  • ZA

    The entrance to these physically-separated lanes may be too wide, but the lane itself is not.

    This new lane allows for slow and fast cyclists to share the space safely. The faster cyclists can now have some assurance they won’t be clipped by a car if they ride closer to the left edge.

  • @optimist – all of us have a certain amount of breath to spare. You have chosen in your statement to use your breath to stop the dreaded cyclists. Statistics show you would have a better ROI for society by using it on pretty much anything else.

    Again, I will paste your grammatically incorrect rant.

    “how many bicyclist have actually picked up the dmv manual to read it & understand the rules of the road before biking?”

    The vast majority of cyclists over the age of 18 have a drivers license or have had one at some point in their lives. I would venture to say the percentage is 99.99% or higher. Does that answer your question?

    I take that back. There are undocumented immigrants who ride bikes who are not allowed to get a drivers license. This is a completely different topic and your venom on this blog post will not accomplish anything to alleviate that, no matter what your opinion on the subject. You imply by stating that cyclists are not licensed that you think they should be. That would not solve this particular issue – illegals would not be allowed a bike license either.

  • Congrats on the coming of protected lanes, SF. Yeah, we’ve been fighting the political battles in NYC — cars and bikes will adjust (the pedestrians – that’s a tougher battle).

    Regarding the width, it’s been said in a couple of previous comments – you need the width to accommodate Sanitation vehicles (sweepers) and preserve emergency vehicle access. In European cities, sometimes narrow-gauge sweepers are used, but generally, people don’t litter like we Americans do, expecting someone else will pick it up for us.

    And Danish urban planner Jan Gehl famously said, regarding the US’s first urban protected lane, the very-wide Ninth Ave. lane in NYC, “It’s not a civilized bike lane if two ladies cannot ride side by side, discussing the day’s events.” 🙂

    There are pros and cons to such a wide lane and there will always be disagreements, but trust me, it’s that way for a reason. (I think the bicycle symbol on the lane should be accompanied by a big “ONLY”, personally.)

  • optomist

    @ john murphy “The vast majority of cyclists over the age of 18 have a drivers license or have had one at some point in their lives. I would venture to say the percentage is 99.99% or higher. Does that answer your question?”

    so by your own admission does this mean that cyclist flagrantly disobey the laws as they know the rules, and as such have no regard for the safety of others? again, i disagree with you points & you are missing mine. it is basic accountability for ones actions not selfishness for oneself that will change opinions. if you feel that my post of being accountable is venom then you are as much of the problem & not part of the solution. if anyone want to be treated with more respect it starts now, as the bucks has to stop somewhere & with someone. if the system continues as it is there will never be compromise or change.

  • I’ve been off the web the past couple days, it’s pretty funny to find this item’s comments infested with collicky SF Gate tourists as if their Laughlin-bound bus had pulled over at Zeitgeist for a potty stop — enjoy your visit, be sure to wash your hands (and really, SF Gate tourists, it’s time for a nice bike ride in SF already, I’m confident it’ll clear things up) . . .

  • sjbrown

    The fallacy many (including the article’s authour) are falling victim to is that there are two opposing groups, “drivers” and “cyclists”.

    It’s like saying that everyone falls into one of the two groups “hat wearers” and “bald people”.

    Let’s stop cheering for (and against) our 2 imaginary sports teams here and instead try to improve our civic life through courteous behaviour and intelligent civil policy, and correct policy implementation.

  • viper

    Thank you MTA! Thank you bike plan. Thank you SFBC. Good infrastructre definitely makes biking more “normal” and safer for all modes of transportation cruisin down the road. Separate color striping in this lane might help give a stronger cue to tourists, etc. to avoid accidently getting caught in this bike lane.

  • What a bunch of nutters. All of this vitriol about changing streets to represent the demographic that uses them. I wonder if these people would throw the same silly speech around if we were talking about changing streets around schools to prevent children from being hit by cars? Of course we will. It is way more important to move that Chevy than it is to protect life.

    Separate all of Market street. Enforce the mandatory right turns at 8th and 6th every hour of the day. Fill in the potholes cyclists have to dodge to keep from getting thrown. Then we can talk about how much better it is to have separated cycle ways and calmed traffic.

  • Matt W.

    They made the lane too wide. It should be half that width. Then cars wouldn’t fit. As it is, a driver is going to think ‘car lane with posts next to it’.

  • Now that I think everyone has got their chance to make the same simplistic observation, a couple things:

    -The lane was already that wide. They just put posts on it.

    -Bike users shouldn’t have to sacrifice space just so drivers won’t mistakenly use it. That’s absurd. We need wide bike lanes. Proper markings or other features should do the trick.

  • At the moment, bicycling is still considered either a political statement, a fancy sport or a children’s activity. It’s easy to hate groups you don’t identify with, as these vociferous vehicularists demonstrate.

    The sooner more “regular” people ride bikes, the sooner the frustration illustrated by the many angry posters here will dissipate, as they learn how nice, efficient, and affordable it is to ride a bike.

    But in order to get more regular people to ride, we’re just going to have to work through the hatred of the opposition, and get more and safer infrastructure like this lane demarcation in place. It will get bikes away from cars, making everything move in a faster and safer fashion.

    Upon reading those nasty comments, however, I’m reminded that it’s a good thing cycling reduces stress, clears the mind, and tones the body: This change to a cycling-friendly society seems like it’s going to take plenty of stamina, patience, and astute politicking.

  • Spokker

    I actually have a copy of the DMV handbook by my bedside. It’s an older version, but haha.

  • Eduardo

    I like the idea. As a rider who rides everyday all over the city, some drivers lack a lot of respect for bike riders.
    At the same time there are a lot of asshole bike riders out there who have this thing like everyone else is an asshole so I get to be a prick about it.

    I can easily say I run into at least 1 asshole rider everyday that not only doesn’t care about pedestrians or cars but could give 2 s***s about other riders as well.

    I don’t expect car drivers to give riders respect until riders make the first move. You can’t demand respect while being a dick….sorry guys

  • Eduardo- cars and bicycles are operated by people. One form of transportation does not have some magic force that turns people into considerate, thoughtful,careful individuals. So you will see examples of good and bad behavior from people regardless of how they are moving.

    When you speak of “respect” I am sorry, but the level of disrespect I see from people in cars is astounding. Something about driving brings out the worst in people. I have had drivers go out of their way to scream horrid obscenities at me as I ride. A man pulled up to me once and screamed at me “Get off the road you stupid cunt!” This with my 4 year old on the back of my bike, not running a light, not breaking a law, just riding with my children. Today, a man stopped in front of me in an intersection on Monterey Blvd. and yelled at me that he wanted to make sure I stopped (even though I had no stop sign and the right of way). I have had a driver in a parked car deliberately open a car door into me just to see what I would do.

    So please, when we talk about respect,please realize that what we are really talking about is respecting life and safety. You will get much farther in the conversation if you keep that in mind. Respect that a Yugo can kill me. Respect that a motorcycle can kill my kids. Respect that all roads need to be designed for the protection of the most vulnerable,not the most horsepower.

  • Sam

    Please remember that an automobile weighs in at over one ton and in may cases more. This wight makes the car not as easy to stop as a bicycle. I do not understand why bicyclists do not comprehend this fact. It is near impossible to stop a car dead when traveling the legal speed limit when a bicycle darts in front. The vehicle driver has to live with the dread of crashing into another person and causing quite possible life threatening injuries just because they are asserting their rights. You can assert your rights all you want, however the problem is still that a car cannot come to a dead stop and will skid. Critical Mass is not the kind of organization bicyclists should be looking to for advise and guidance in this manner. No one wants to have an accident (that is why they call them accidents), so if everyone did not act like they owned the entire lane of traffic and the road we would all be a lot safer. BTW, yes I do have a car. Also, I used to bike ride, but find it too dangerous to do so here in SF.

  • peternatural

    These kind of online discussions always make it sound like there are a ton of enraged, kamikaze bicyclists and/or drivers around doing insanely dangerous, rude and illegal maneuvers ALL THE TIME. That’s weird because Where I live (San Francisco, planet earth), I’ve driven around quite a bit and mainly get around by bike, and I almost never see that kind of behavior. The worst I see is distracted drivers running red lights or pulling into driveways and nearly running over people they didn’t notice (nothing personal). I think that if you drive/bike carefully, and put safety and courtesy ahead of getting there as fast as possible, you tend to avoid these problems in the first place.

    It makes sense that the people who come across as the most angry/rude in online comments probably have a lot more problems on the road, because they drive like they write.


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