SFMTA Approves New On-Street Bicycle Parking

buggaloos_small1.jpgFuture site of on-street bicycle parking in front of Boogaloos on Valencia. Photo: Matthew Roth

When the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which runs Muni, instituted the sweeping December 5th service changes and eliminated several bus routes, including the 26-Valencia, bicycle advocates immediately raised the question of what would be done with the now abandoned bus stop spaces. Would they be turned over to cars as free parking, would the SFMTA add new meters, or would the agency perhaps consider the space as a testing ground for innovative on-street bicycle parking, what Portlanders know and love as "Bike Corrals"?

At an SFMTA engineering hearing today, the agency approved converting some of those former bus stops to be on-street bicycle parking on Valencia Street, the city’s most vibrant bicycle-friendly commercial strip. The five locations where on-street bicycle parking spaces were approved are in front of various businesses that appeal to a variety of customers, from a popular bicycle bar, to an upscale Indian Restaurant, to one of the most popular brunch spots in The Mission.

Each on-street bicycle parking space will have between three and six racks, which will allow between six and twelve bicycles to be parked comfortably. The racks will be placed at 45 degree angles in the direction of traffic and will be screwed into the concrete from the former bus zones, which helps with security. The on-street spaces will be flanked on either side with two-foot red zones and soft-hit posts, like those on the newly protected Market Street bike lanes, will be placed 7 feet from the curb, between the bike lanes and the racks, and at either end in the red zones.

"With so many people shopping by bike in San Francisco, especially on
Valencia Street, this use of pavement is a smart investment," said Marc Caswell of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "By
keeping the bikes on the street, we help to preserve the pedestrian
space for people on foot and in wheelchairs."

Because the new bike parking is in old bus zones, no car parking will be removed and the initiative will not violate the long-standing anti-bike injunction. The city will add 23 racks on Valencia, which will result in 46 new bicycle parking spaces, and will add another on-street bicycle parking facility in front of Rainbow Grocery on Folsom Street. In most cases, the city will also be adding commercial delivery zones near the on-street bicycle parking spaces.

"A lot of these will increase extra loading for commercial
businesses," said Caswell, which is "important for local businesses.
They will be able to accommodate all the bike customers and they will
have more loading area to bring in the extra merchandise that will be flying off the shelves for those bike customers."

On Valencia Street, the on-street bicycle parking locations will be the following:

  • Zeitgeist – near Duboce, 3 racks
  • Freewheel/Retrofit – near 20th Street, 6 racks
  • Dosa/Valencia Whole Foods – near 21st Street, 4 racks
  • Boogaloos – near 22nd Street, 6 racks
  • Valencia Farmer’s Market – near 24th Street, 4 racks

The SFBC isn’t fond of the name "Bike Corrals" that have stuck in Portland, but hasn’t yet figured out a better replacement. Please put give your suggestions in the comments.

McAllister Personal Vehicle Prohibition and Fell St. Arco

McAllister_St_two_way.jpgMcAllister Street between Hyde and Market will be converted from one-way to two-way and will prohibit private vehicles. Image: Google Earth.

At the same hearing, SFMTA engineers recommended approving converting McAllister Street between Hyde and Market from one-way to two-way, but only for transit, deliveries and bicycles. Personal vehicles will not be allowed on those two-and-a-half blocks.

"It’s a positive for bikes to be able to get to Market quicker and it will speed up the 5," said Caswell.

Finally, a temporary solution has been devised for the Fell Street Arco gas station, where SFMTA engineers hope to resolve the vehicle queuing problem that leads to conflicts with the bike lane there. As we’ve reported, the city will eventually paint the bike lane green at this location, but not before testing engineering options to deal with the queuing.

Traffic engineers decided to convert the two parking spaces closest to the station from residential parking to a 24-hour tow-away zone. The next four spaces to the east will be 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. tow away, reverting to residential parking at overnight. The SFMTA will observe the changes and collect data before making further determinations about the contentious location.

"It’s a healthy compromise that addresses the concerns of the neighbors while maintaining safety for bikes," said Caswell. "If it doesn’t address the concerns fully, then we will continue our advocacy to make this corridor safe for all road users."

Fell_ARCO_Green_lane.jpgImage: SFMTA.
  • Great strides!

  • wow.

  • the greasybear

    Sorely-need bike parking on Valencia sounds great, and in any other city we could celebrate the announcement–but here, there’s always the specter of bad motorists ruining everything.

    Will the red paint and soft-hit posts be sufficient to keep San Francisco’s scofflaw motorists from obstructing and/or smashing up the bike corrals the way they currently block and plow through the ‘protected bike lanes’ on Market Street?

  • Your mom

    Does this mean the #26 bus is never coming back? 🙂
    Bike Corral sounds fine to me, but I suppose there’s also bike lot. Or, if you prefer to stick with animal enclosure-like names: bike paddock, bike pen, or bike coop.

  • Carlos

    Some name options: Smart Park. Two-tired Stand. Wheel Solutions. Spokeasies. Lock ‘n’ Ride. Curb Enthusiasm. Spin Spots. Municycle.

  • Nick

    They should call them “Bike Commons” or “Bike Greens” with the caveat that they distinguish them by painting the pavement green and adding a planterbox with flowers at the edges. An on-street bike map (under plexiglass) would also be nice at some of the locations.

    And concerning Fell/ARCO- those parking spaces are illegal if the building that fronts them has more than 2 dwelling units. The MTA red-zoned a bunch on Irving recently (16-17th Aves) and on 14th Street (Market to Dolores). I’m not saying they should be taken away; it’s just one more issue to consider.


    The owner or lessee of property shall be permitted to Park the owner’s or lessee’s vehicle across the private driveway of said property, provided that such vehicle displays a valid license plate registered to the address of that property with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and provided that such driveway serves no more than two family dwelling units. This Section does not permit the Parking of vehicles across sidewalks or in red zones.


  • Mary

    How about Bike Parks?

  • Nick, thanks for pointing out the law about parking across driveways. It is an interesting conflict with state law — the state law (CVC 22507.2) only allows this if “the vehicle displays a permit issued pursuant to the ordinance authorizing such parking,” and it doesn’t sound like this city law includes a provision to issue permits, just a blanket allowance for properties that meet the criteria.

  • Evan

    What happens to cars traveling north on 7th Street, after they cross Market? Can they continue on to Leavenworth? The few times I drive, I use that crossing a lot. I bike it often, so I’d like it to be safe bikes as well though.

  • I think just calling it on-street bike parking would be best to try to normalize the notion of it. Hopefully, eventually we could just call it bike parking.

  • JohnB


    The prohibition against parking in front of your driveway is not enforced. If it were, there would be literally thousands of extra cars circling forever at 6pm.

    I thinmk it is another one of those rules that a eye is turned to out of expediency, like with illegal in-law apartments.

    And as a practical matter, it requires the DPT officer to check the registration of a vehicle AND determinbe the number of housing units in the building, neither of which he otherwise has to do.

    There’s be a riot in my neighborhood if that was ever enforced. although of course if you park in front of someone else’s driveway, you will be towed in short order.

  • I find it incredibly offensive that any compromises are being made between cyclist safety and making parking convenient. Exactly what is the role of government if not to protect the health and safety of citizens?

  • icarus12

    Why take up valuable street parking space or space for mini-parklets, seating for cafes or whatever else with bike parking? I find no absence of parking meters or street signs to which I can lash my bike anywhere in the city. Valencia is bike-heavy, but I’ve never had any trouble locking my bike up in front of or quite near the store I’m about to enter. The only place where specialized bike parking is needed is around transit hubs like a train station. Street parking for bikes on Valencia is a good example of creating a solution to a non-existent problem. Just MHO.

  • icarus12

    Re; McAllister Street closure: It never ceases to amaze me that a functioning, high volume traffic street in San Francisco gets “re-designed” to stop functioning. Where will all the car traffic going from SOMA 7th St across Market to Leavenworth go? It can’t turn east down Market, as that’s not allowed, at least for more than a block to 6th. If it turns west on Market, there’s only one legal lane to accomodate cars before they presumably turn onto Larkin to continue north. Geez, I have been enjoying riding my bike west on Market for some morning coffee. Now, is that stretch going to become a backlogged corridor w/ frustrated drivers trying use the bike lane? Just asking.

  • JohnB


    Yes, there is a self-defeating component to the bike activists’ insatiable appetite to ride on streets that are more suitable for vehicular traffic.

    The most obvious and gratuitous example, as discussed here before, is the bike lane on the 3-lane freeway that is Fell Street.

    Do cyclcists here have a death wish? Surely it is far better to leave the 6 lane high-speed, high volume throughways like Fell/Oak, Franklin/Gough and Bush/Pine to traffic, while bikes have a priority on the gentler, slower streets between them.

    Re McAllister, I think that the problem is simply that the folks in charge don’t think these thigns through, probably because they don’t drive or ride these streets themselves.

    And yes, of course, bikes can “park” anyway. I thought that was half the point of them!!

  • icarus12

    John B,

    As a biker of 42 years, a former bike messenger in SF, a helmetless European commuter, I agree. There’s little common sense when Americans embrace a cause, in this case the valid and necessary restructuring of streets to accommodate all users.

    Lacking traditions and true community, we Americans jump on causes whole hog instead of accommodating what has been there for a long time and functioning for others. No, it’s all about our perfect vision for the future based on an awestruck and rosy view of the otherwise neglected past. We are all about revolution. It frustrates me.

  • Here is the link to the hearing notice, if anybody wants a few more details: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/ceng/EngineeringPublicHearingNoticeApril302010.htm

    It sounds like the no-cars restriction is only on eastbound McAllister, so cars coming from 7th Street would still be able to use it westbound.

  • Shawn Allen

    JohnB and Icarus,

    Where, then, should cyclists ride to get from the Wiggle to the Panhandle? Fell is the fastest and most convenient route for everyone. Why should cyclists have to truck it up the hill to Hayes (or worse, Page!) and then take a less efficient route?

    Thousands of cyclists (perhaps tens of thousands?) take this route every day, all but a tiny fraction (I’d love to see the numbers, of course) without incident, ever. To suggest that all of these people have a “death wish” when very few of them have ever even been injured on Fell is to stretch the meaning of the phrase hyperbolically. Either these people are all just incredibly lucky never to have been hit by a car, or cycling isn’t nearly as unsafe as you imagine it to be. The latter seems a lot more plausible to me.

    But if you really care about safety you should be advocating for speed limit enforcement and traffic calming on Fell so that it’s a safer place for all road users. Shunting cyclists off to a side street under the pretense of “safety” because drivers treat it as a freeway just reinforces their selfish behavior and makes the street less safe for everyone—drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

  • icarus12

    To Shawn Allen,

    As to the Fell Street issue: responsible drivers do not use Fell Street as a freeway, but we do use it as a 30mph, timed light arterial through the city. Anyone driving above that speed or otherwise recklessly or simply rudely should be pulled over, warned, and ticketed. There’s no excuse for that behavior, even if most of us at one stupid moment or another has done such a thing in their lives. BTW I’ll never forget an old man purposefully trying to run me, a biker, off the road on Fell back in 1987 — just really crazy. Too bad there weren’t cell phones back then or he might have been apprehended.

    Anyway, as an every day of the week bicyclist and 2x/week driver, I believe there need to be a few such streets like Fell to help move people who are behind a steering wheel. Slowing down every single street to the same speed, making every street a residential oasis addresses half the needs of people — to live and work in their communities in peace. But the other half of the same people’s needs is to get where they need to go, to be mobile. Sometimes that’s in cars. Let’s deal with that fact instead of trying to change everybody into a 100% of the time cyclist or public transit user. Getting more people out walking and riding and taking the bus part of the time is probably the greatest way to instill them with a sense of how to drive better.

    As a cyclist I don’t feel shunted too many places in this city, and I don’t mind going one block out of my way for a peaceful, safer ride.
    For those who want to take a somewhat riskier, faster and more direct route, more power to them. But don’t demand all changes in roadway use from the drivers’ side of the equation. Lastly, I love most of the changes in biking here that have occurred due to bike activists, but Fell Street is not a battle I can enlist for.

  • Mamer

    Finally some progress!

    One request, if we’re going to try re-create the wheel by branding our on-street bike parking (“Bike Corral” is good enough for Portland, why isn’t it good enough for us?) please refrain from using “Green” or “Smart”.


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