San Francisco May Get Its First Green Bike Lane on Fell Street

Picture_10.pngImage: SFMTA

San Francisco would get its first green bike lane under a new MTA proposal (PDF) to fix the troubled intersection of Divisadero and Fell streets near the entrance to the Arco station, where drivers queuing up to get gas obstruct the bike lane and block the sidewalk, creating hazardous conditions for people who ride bikes and walk.

As BIKE NOPA first reported, the MTA has scrapped a previous plan to fix the problem. The new plan would remove several parking spaces on the south side of Fell, according to the MTA’s James Shahamiri, who notified advocates of the proposal Thursday:

This space would be used for vehicles to queue to enter the gas
station. Importantly these vehicles would be to the left of the bicycle
lane. We are also proposing to color the bicycle lane green. This would
be the City’s first green bicycle lane.

The proposal includes hashmarks leading up to the intersection and dashed green pavement across it.

The news that San Francisco could get its first green bike lane was cheered by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, whose efforts have been stymied for three years by the bike injunction. The MTA, however, has recently been moving forward with a series of promising new treatments, after a partial lifting of the injunction, including a reconfiguration of the protected bike lane on Market and 10th streets, and the city’s first green bike box.

"After the successes in New York City, in South San Francisco, in Portland, in Long Beach, everywhere, they understand that painting bike lanes green is an important aspect for both safety, and for bike rights, and making sure drivers understand that cyclists do have a right to the road," said Marc Caswell, the SFBC program manager.

Caswell said he also hoped the configuration would help drivers recognize the importance of not blocking the sidewalk "and allow pedestrians safe and free access." 

The MTA proposal was presented for the first time last night to NOPNA, the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, to rounds of applause and unanimous support. It must still be approved by the MTA Board, probably sometime in early April.

The intersection has long been a trouble spot for people who ride bikes, but fortunately, there have been no serious injuries, according to Caswell.

Picture_11.pngWhat shade of green will the MTA use for SF’s first green bike lane? How about a Portland green? Photo: Su An Ng
4256939097_7f114bbdb1.jpgOr a New York green? Photo: Smotron

  • Mike Bike

    John, do us all a favor and get on a bike and ride all these streets you seem to think are so easy to ride on. Do it 5 days a week, to and fro….and tell us what your preferences are.

    I ride Page begining to end…..on my way downtown….you want to know why? cause its all downhill, safe and a marked route. Riding up Page, West bound is not so smart. I suggest you try. And I bet you’ll be walking your bike quarter of the way up the first of 3 monster hills you need to climb. San Francisco seems pretty flat sitting behind a 4 cylinder engine.

  • Mike Bike

    I never said it was hard…I said try it!

  • JohnB


    Frankly, I’d be terrified to bike anywhere in the City except within Golden Gate Park.

    I have 2 kids and they need a father.

    And I see enough insanity from other car drivers to not be willing to take that risk.

    Feel free to call me chicken.

    But I was limiting my comments here to the prudence of moving into a bike lane to make a turn, mainly for the safety of cyclist (irony).

    And as an aside to express my astonishment that anyone thought it was a smart move to put a bike lane on Fell (and yes I know it’s less hilly).

  • Why is it crazy to have a bike lane on Fell and not a 3-lane highway thru a residential area?

    Try this on:

    And as an aside to express my astonishment that anyone thought it was a smart move to put a freeway on Fell (and yes I know it’s less hilly).

  • JohnB


    Ah, well whether you think Fell/Oak, Pine/Bush and Gough/Franklin should be high-speed, high-volume vehicle 6-lane thruways with phased lights to expedite traffic flows is a valid but totally different question.

    But as long as they are, the narrower question is how well bikes fit safely in with them?

  • cyclotronic

    my favorite was the lady with her bling trying to cut in line to the arco in a black escalade, taking up part of two lanes during friday rush hour.

  • cyclotronic

    curbed bike lane, with street parking to the right of bike lane

  • JohnB –

    “And I see enough insanity from other car drivers to not be willing to take that risk.”

    And you’re willing to get into a car and get on the same road with crazy people?

  • Mike Bike

    I just started my first day of video recording my entire bike commutte – to and fro. I pass the arco station everyday. Once I figure how to compress AVI and post it to the net I will have a blog and show the videos at x6 speed. Maybe even slow it down a bit passing the ARCO station.

  • JohnB


    That arrangement for bike lanes is common in Europe.

    I fear San Francisco doesn’t have the street or sidewalk width for it though. At least not on the busy streets.

  • Mike Bike

    Streets in EU are 10 times smaller then here in the US. How you justify San Francisco havingsmaller streets then EU is beyond me. But you seeem to have an answer for everything. carry on

  • cyclotronic

    Fell St. is really just a two lane road, most people don’t realize it yet.

  • JohnB


    I wasn’t referring to bike lanes in European cities so much as along major trunk roads between the towns and cities. Population centers are much closer together there making bike transit realistic for longer commutes.

    In cities, from what I saw, they close far more streets to vehicular traffic than has been historically possible here.

  • Mike Bike

    Like I said: answer for everything

    Reason we cant close streets is because people like you refuse to get out of their car and take a bus, bike or walk.

  • JohnB


    I’d happily get out of my car if you can tell me how I can transport my kids to another County for school, then to a third County for my job, then pick up my dry cleaning and a week’s groceries, go to the gym and get home before 11pm?

    We’re talking 100 miles a day.

  • Nick

    So the MTA didn’t approve this at the hearing on Friday citing too much neighborhood opposition?

    Consider this, if they eliminate the entrance to the gas station on Fell, the city can cement in the curb-cuts and create MORE parking spaces for residents. Seems like a win-win.

  • JohnB


    I suspect the problem would then be massive congestion with vehicles blocking the bike lane waiting to turn left onto Divis and then left again into ARCO.

    Why don’t all the cyclists in SF put together a cash offer that the guys that own that ARCO cannot refuse?

    And then turn it into some type of groovy, green enterprise?

    Anyone crunched the numbers on buying ARCO out? There are 2 other gas stations real close.

  • Mike Bike

    I am not your parent, Im sure you made a concious decision to live in the most expensive city in the country, school your kids in some other county and take a job 100miles away. Seems like thats your problem John….not the city of San Francisco.
    Ive got some cars to dodge on Fell….see you out there! Peaz out!

  • cyclotronic

    good idea nick! i was just out on my bike thinking the same thing.

    all them cars out there were pretty chill. sometimes in these discussions we forget to mention that. sf has some of the most considerate-to-cyclist drivers in the country.

    usually its the out-of-town commuters, mercedes drivers, cabbies, or the contractor pick-ups that are the worst. in the neighborhoods, the locals are cool, but get close to a freeway or downtown and you see the rest.

  • cyclotronic

    johnb – clearly you do not know the Arco being discussed. if you block off the turn in, you can’t turn on divis and wait in line. you could turn on baker come around the block, congest divis and sit there looking at the pumps at the Shell while you waited.

    or you could live where you work, school where you live, and leave a more habitable planet to your childern and theirs.

  • Nick

    Googe Map “1176 Fell Street” and count the number of cars blocking the bike lane!

    The very last car is blocking the traffic lane as well as the bike lane. When other cars coming roaring down the hill they screech to a halt and honk their horns. Did any of the residents bring up “noise complaints” at the meeting Friday?

    For kicks, go around the corner and check out the old Scott Street bike box.

  • JohnB


    I’m talking about the ARCO at Fell and Divis which has an exit off Fell and another off Divis.

    Without the Fell exit, it’s chaos.

  • Mike Bike,+San+Francisco,+California+94117&gl=us&ei=pJe6S8TEO4_itgOPjqn4BA&ved=0CAcQ8gEwAA&ll=37.774111,-122.437265&spn=0.000718,0.001195&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=37.774128,-122.437134&panoid=l8MKPihEoLpqSUpwR-Zl-w&cbp=12,118.41,,0,3.48

    I count 4 in the bike lane…with 1 still in the car lane. NICE!

    I rode up Fell today and although there was only 1 car in the bike lane, I dodged a car coming out of the DMV. Ive got it on video…please stay tuned for my blog……..

  • cyclotronic, about your comment above regarding curbed bike lanes (eg, switching the current position of the bike lane and the parked cars) I think in this case that would make this way more dangerous for cyclists, though I would love to see more of that kind of arrangement generally. The thing is that cars would still need to take a left into the lot there, but they’d have even less ability to see cyclists than they do now, and they’d be going in at a steep angle, so they wouldn’t be able to swerve out of the way if they needed to.

    I think even if the Fell entrance were to be removed this would be the case, since many motorists turn left on Fell and the vast majority of cyclists go straight ahead.

  • cyclotronic

    whir – there is also the problem of the garages. i agree it wouldn’t work there.

    speaking with johnb earlier i realized one issue here is getting cars to realize the need to yield to cyclists in the bike lane. a sharp turn forces one to slow down, whereas a soft merge tends to hurry the vehicle. often cars will do anything to jump in front of you, even at the last minute, even if they are forced to stop and block you.

    conversely, to slow down and follow the bike, even at a safe distance, often feels like “stalking.” this is what i do when driving a car, but often i sense the cyclist feels rushed by having an auto behind them.

    the nice thing about curbed bike lanes is that the intersections with vehicle traffic are physically demarcated and usually governed by lights or signs to establish right of way.


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