SFMTA Implements Changes at Fell Street ARCO, But Is It Better?

Fell_1.jpgA cyclist is forced to squeeze between two cars waiting to get into the ARCO station. An all-too-frequent occurrence that is still happening despite the SFMTA’s new configuration. Photos by Bryan Goebel.

At the corner of Fell Street at Divisadero it’s frightening to witness the minute-by-minute close calls between drivers and cyclists on a one-way arterial that resembles the freeway it was once proposed to be. Some drivers, on a speeding high from their descent down the hill to the problematic stretch that precedes the intersection, jostle for space, lean on their horns, yell expletives and generally have no regard for the right of way of bicyclists, let alone each other, as they queue up to turn left onto Divisadero or get gas at the ARCO BP station, which has now become the scene of weekly protests.

Other drivers, especially those tourists or out-of-towners unfamiliar with the troubled location, are often confused or checked out (i.e. talking on a cell phone). Suddenly they become faced with split second decisions: How do I turn left? What’s with these bicyclists? I need gas, how do I get in? They are decisions, sometimes injurious and even fatal, that are largely guided by how the street has been designed for its users.

For years, bicycle advocates, neighbors and the SFMTA have been trying to devise an engineering solution that would eliminate the frequent lines of cars obstructing the 10-year-old bike lane (Bike Route 30) on the south side of Fell Street. The route is used by hordes of daily bicyclists because it is the flattest way to pedal to Golden Gate Park, the Richmond District, and other westward neighborhoods.

Now, the SFMTA has begun to implement what the agency thinks will be a solution. The new configuration has been designed to allow cars to queue sooner, and to the left, so that the bike lane remains clear. The engineering changes include a tow-away zone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on a portion of Fell so that drivers wanting to turn left can queue up in the curbside lane. A 24-hour parking restriction has been implemented along the curbside closest to Divisadero.

Fell_Divisadero_Proposal_Rev2.jpgGraphic: SFMTA

In addition, three left-turn arrows have been painted in the curbside lane, and crews have actually shaved some of the bike lane back so cars queue earlier and narrowed it so they have more room curbside. A "Do Not Block Sidewalk" sign has been installed alongside the ARCO entrance in an effort to clear a path for pedestrians. Also, there is now a bicycle symbol in the portion of the bike lane closest to the intersection. None of this, however, eliminates the need for left-turn drivers to cross over the bike lane.

"These changes are all to clarify who we want where. So, if cars are making a left turn or going into ARCO we want them to be queuing in the curb lane, not blocking the bike lane. Cyclists continue to have their bike lane and continue on to the intersection, and then drivers that are going straight should be outside of the bike lane," explained Bridget Smith of the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets Division.

In a month, the SFMTA hopes to paint the bike lane green and add a dashed green lane across the section where drivers are supposed to enter the turn lane. Until that time, we likely won’t get to see the full results of the configuration.

Fell_2.jpgA rare moment of quiet reveals the new configuration.

"This is going to be an ongoing process of intervention, evaluation, adjustment and more evaluation," said Andy Thornley, the program director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. He said the configuration is bound to be confusing for drivers and they will need more guidance.

“We would like to see MTA and/or the police out there explaining it to people, and whether it’s the MTA parking control officers or police officers, it’s not enough just to rearrange the stripes and stand back and expect people to understand how it works. This is going to require a little bit of explanation and education, and I would say we don’t expect the cops to write citations for motorists instantly. I think it’s enough for them to explain it.” 

The early reaction from bicyclists Streetsblog spoke to on their commute home this week indicate a mixed feeling about the changes. Cars are still lining up and obstructing the bike lane.

"The drivers are going to be confused going into the gas station, as you can see," said David Bach, who bike commutes to his job at the LGBT Center from his home near the zoo. "I think this is a good beginning, but more testing needs to be done. I really think on the far end of the gas station driveway there needs to be something in the road, some words that tell the drivers what’s going on because otherwise they have to figure it out for themselves."

"It’s pretty sketchy. Anything they’ve done is an improvement," said Bert Sawicki, who lives in the Upper Haight. He normally takes Page Street to get home but on this day was tired, and chose the flat route. "I think they should have more no parking all the way down to allow a longer queue of people." 


For Josh Hart, a former SFBC staffer and activist who has been leading the weekly protests at the ARCO station, the ultimate solution, short of closing the station down, would be for the MTA to install a separated bike path and not allow drivers to turn left. He believes the new configuration has actually made the situation worse.

"It’s just madness. Absolute madness. And day after day you have the police department ignoring the enforcement of a law that says you are not supposed to block any bike lanes in San Francisco," said Hart. "You have people waiting to get into the ARCO gas station every day and you just sit there and you watch this unfold and it’s like this recurring nightmare."

Hart would like to see both Fell and Oak turned back into two-way streets, like they were before the freeway revolt. "It’s a pretty horrible unpleasant spot that used to be really nice. It was a pleasant two-way street with streetcars and wide sidewalks and shopping and this is what our 1950s traffic engineering did."

Short of turning Fell back into a two-way street, Hart said "they need to remove all the parking on that one side of Fell Street from Scott to Baker and put in a two-way bike path, separated with greenery, or buffers, and close those two entrances to the ARCO station on Fell Street and prohibit left turns onto Divisadero." 

"The absurdity of this is that, if you chose to get out of your car and you wanted to bring your family to Golden Gate Park on a Sunday on a bike, instead of driving your car, you would run into this cluster of danger," said San Francisco State Geography Professor Jason Henderson, who has participated in the Friday protests.

"This curb cut is a public health nuisance. If this was a nightclub that had operated for years and years and then got out of hand, the city would shut it down, or tell it to clean up its act."

Henderson added: "We’re telling people the best way to respond to the gulf disaster is to drive less, but you have to provide alternatives. It’s not convincing. The city needs to be more convincing."

bike_protest_fell_small.jpgA cyclist rides past the weekly protest to close down the Fell Street entrance to the ARCO station. Photo: Matthew Roth.

Fell_4.jpgDrivers still don’t get that they shouldn’t block the sidewalk despite the signage.
  • patrick

    Since Fell is one-way, why not move the bike lane to the opposite side of the street? Problem solved!

  • Riding a bicycle, you would need to cross Fell St. twice to get from Scott to the Panhandle pathway if the bike lane were on the north side of the street. Not safe, or convenient.

    Come out tonight and every Friday 530-730 as we show what a safer Fell St. would look like if we closed the hazardous Arco (BP) entrance at Fell and Divis.

  • gibraltar

    It’s just me but I would prefer the bike lane on the other side.

  • 0101!

    what is the proposed solution that these protests are aiming for?

  • Nick

    These 3 blocks of Fell are begging for a cycletrack. Many people get the feeling that if it doesn’t happen here, it won’t happen anywhere. This is our line in the sand.

    The MTA can’t paint their way out of the situation this time. They actually made conditions worse for cyclists. I think it’s sick they are playing with people’s safety out there (let alone their very lives). Would any city
    official risk their life riding on Fell? I doubt it so why should we?

    Nice to meet you also Bryan.

  • marcos

    There are many, many dangerous conditions on the east side of town that don’t get this kind of attention:

    Polk/Oak/10th/Market, Duboce/13th/Division/Townsend and 12th/Howard/South Van Ness/Division in my neighborhood come to mind.

    Compared to those, Fell really isn’t that dangerous and can be ridden fast if you’re conscientious.

    I wonder why Fell is getting attention and protests while east side danger zones don’t?


  • twompsokill

    Rome wasn’t built in a day

  • marcos

    We’re not building Rome, just expressing our values through our priorities.


  • Hilary

    We could do away with all this trouble if there was a two-way bike lane on Oak Street. Remove parking spaces (not easy, I know) along the south side of Oak between Scott and Baker, put in a raised, protected, two-way bike lane. Done. I’m so tired of this problem. Let them have their cheap gas, signs and paint stripes won’t work.

  • YesonHSR

    A big problem every morning here is a damm Brinks truck that parks in front of BofA and blocks a lane for 10-15min to unload..When they have a parking lot at the bank!!

  • Chris

    @Hilary — Exactly! What is the problem?! Why are we not looking to New York to solve these problems. There are doing exactly what Hilary outlined. Let’s do this thing people! Enough with the signs and sharrows already. We are falling way behind here.

  • MBrandt

    Soft hit posts anyone?

  • I think the reason this is getting so much attention is that this is on one of the major “backbone” routes for cyclists in the City, what was named the “bay to the beach trail” a few years back. It’s a critical and very busy path. Getting the class 2 lane here was a huge effort originally, and though it’s great how the SFMTA folks have gotten much more progressive and creative with partial parking removal and green bike lanes, they still can’t do the obvious, which would be to close those two driveways. The Arco has the queues because it has lower prices, not because it has lots of driveways. It would sell the same amount of gas without the Fell access. I don’t understand the laws about vehicle access to private property over public. For residential uses you have a limited right to driveways, but apparently this gas station has a right to a huge amount of curb cut which you can be arrested for standing in. It’s also odd to see the apparent total lack of enforcement, for many years now, of the laws prohibiting parking in a bike lane, particularly at this spot. It does seem like a double standard, but perhaps I’m missing something?

  • marcos

    Shouldn’t we be able to look to the bicycle plan for guidance?

    No, seriously.


  • Tommy


    It’s also a “backbone” for most east and west bound vehicular traffic in the city, and therein lies the problem.

    Fast 3-lane one-way vehicular highways work well and bike lanes work well. It’s only when you mix them up that the problems start.

    Separate yet Equal, anybody?

  • marcos

    If there were a rapid subway on Geary, then much of the traffic that commutes via Oak and Fell–didn’t a SOMA parking study indicate that most autos parked there were from the Richmond and Sunset districts–would have an incentive to mode switch to public rapid transit.

    Vapid transit that is not an attractive option is why the Oak/Fell “couplet” (can we please banish that word along with “vibrant” from the discourse?) is a virtual freeway.


  • I’m curious, is David right that the MTA could not shut down these curb cuts? Or are they just not willing to fight the fight right now?

    Something has got to give, and we might as well be holding signs that say ‘CycleTrack’ now! rather than just going for ‘close the curb!’ Fell heading west beyond the arco is still bad, and the only thing is a cycletrack. Understand that the SFBC is very interested in this, but at the same time very frustrating to see that lip service is still being paid to these gradual and dangerous ‘improvements.’ Kash Haas is always reminding us not to ask for half of what cyclists need and want to get around on par with other modes, so why are we so committed puttering along at 1/5 the solution here?

    For once I would like to see some real criticisms of half-assing it from our advocacy body that does not wait for someone to get hurt or injured. If you have a real plan for cycletracks and closing this entrance, please talk about it! Bring it up now! Why wait? Is the fear of the injunction really an issue here? That Busch will change his mind or the plaintiffs will gain more fuel for their fire?

  • Nick

    Justin, I agree. It doesn’t make sense to not demand the best solution first. Streetsblog is bucking the trend by providing a forum where we can crititize a supposed improvement. The MTA’s hoping green paint will appease the SFBC.

    Look to the substandard design that existing at Market and Octavia prior to 2007. Cyclists were getting seriously injured. The City was found liable and had to pay out to settle legal claims. This is the reason Jack Fleck recommended removing the bike lane.

    The same should happen with Fell. Remove the bike lane completely and replace it with a cycletrack.

  • nick

    i ride my bike on this bike lane and i buy my gas at that station. that station is really well know and always popular because it’s one of the cheaper stations in the city.

    people turning into the station cause a hazard to cyclists by blocking the bike lane and turning across the bike lane. as a driver, it’s difficult to stay in the lane rather than block the bike lane because there’s so much traffic on that street. 5-10 cars will quickly back up in the lane behind you.

    Fixing this intersection is complex waaay beyond San Francisco’s vision for a bike-friendly city. So while the city tries to paint on a solution, just move slowly through that intersection, passing fewer cars, especially those turning left.

  • James Figone

    There are many solutions to this problem. My favorite is the two-way cycle track on Oak. There would be no contention between the gas station at all and it would be one block less to traverse when traveling westbound to the panhandle. It would require removing parking, of course.

    SFMTA has presented and implemented half baked attempts to solve the problem with such disregard that it borders on malfeasance. This is also seen with the green bike treatment on Market that ends literally at the back of a bus parking lane and forces cyclists to cross a lane of traffic to get the second part of the lane in a very short space. I realize we are under an injunction here but with the unsafe designs coming out of the SFMTA, one wonders if the injunction makes any difference.

  • 9 out of 10 times I’ve biked through there, cars waiting for gas have blocked the bike lane, but helpfully they also blocked part of the traffic lane, making it easy to use the rest of that lane to squeeze by the waiting cars on their right.

    but yesterday i biked through and the bike lane was all clear. maybe the changes are helping? having the lane clear makes it even easier to bike through! 😉

  • David Baker, you are not missing anything. So, just to recap the current situation at our beloved Arco (BP) station:

    Cars routinely block the only level public bike route between downtown and Golden Gate Park, violating the city’s ordinance against blocking a bike lane between 4 and 6pm, putting lives in danger, and discouraging countless others from riding their bikes at all.

    The police response: virtually nothing, despite dozens of requests from citizens, appealing to the SFPD to protect the public safety.

    Citizens block two out of four driveways to a private gas station for two hours on four subsequent Fridays to protest people on bikes getting hurt and the worst environmental disaster in US history, while putting no one’s safety at risk (and actually substantially improving safety).

    The police response: a dozen officers respond, manhandling peaceful demonstrators, threatening arrest and issuing citations.

    If anyone was still under the illusion that the priority of the SFPD is to protect the safety of the public, surely what is unfolding at Divisadero and Fell Streets will make them realize what’s really going on.

    We need a police department that will put public safety ahead of profit and we need a safe, two way bikeway between Scott and Baker on Fell St. NYC has done it on Ninth St. Why can’t San Francisco do it on Fell?

    And more worryingly, why is the SFBC- supposedly our organized voice for bicycling in San Francisco, not calling for a real solution on Fell, rather than cosmetic changes?

  • Nick

    You have got to give Josh credit for taking a stand. Here’s a picture of SFPD’s response to Friday’s protest, courtesy of the Bay Citizen:


    The selective enforcement at this intersectrion borders on discrimination.

    And why isn’t the SFBC demanding a real solution? There’s 2 possibilities. Either they are losing touch with their members (not likely) or they are playing their cards strategically. Let the MTA play with paint and in a month or 2 I bet they starting talking “Cycletrack Now.”

  • ZA

    Since that ARCO is surviving on discount fuel sales, I can only wonder at it’s profit margin-time to put together a kitty & buy them out? I see a bike-thru burger joint & bike shop as an ideal solution…and one less hazardous materials site in the heart of a residential neighborhood.

  • Tommy


    You know the answer to your own question. Yes, vehicles waiting to make a turn into ARCO must cross the bike lane, as they do whereever else they need to make a left turn off Fell.

    But inadvertently and temporarily blocking a lane while in transit is a very different matter, from a law enforcement point of view, from willfully blocking traffic.

    Nobody objects to a peaceful picket line or protest as long as you aren’t obstructing traffic. It’s for your own safety as much as anything else.

    Personally I like ZA’s idea of a buyout. I’m sure they have their price. I’m in if others are.

    Or the other idea of moving the bike lane to the north side of Fell.

  • janel

    The reason it is getting so much attention is because I brought attention to the area and you can do the same by contacting the MTA about any area of the city you feel is dangerous for cyclists. This is the only way anything is going to get done for cyclists.

    You need to speak up! Go to your neighborhood meetings and voice your concerns. You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to know what is working or not working in the street. As you can see, even the engineers don’t know what they are doing.

    Don’t depend on SFBC or anyone else to do these things for you. It is your life in danger here as you bike around this dangerous city. Isn’t that motivation enough to demand safe conditions for cyclists, not to mention how it would help fellow cyclists and the environment.

    As far as: “We would like to see MTA and/or the police out there explaining it to people, and whether it’s the MTA parking control officers or police officers, it’s not enough just to rearrange the stripes and stand back and expect people to understand how it works. This is going to require a little bit of explanation and education, and I would say we don’t expect the cops to write citations for motorists instantly. I think it’s enough for them to explain it.”

    This is not an adequate long-term solution. Streets need to be self explanatory. The entrances to this gas station on Fell St. need to be closed! No more experimentation with our safety and lives, no more inadequate engineering of our streets.

  • Yeah I gotta say- I love Andy Thornley with all my heart, but that quote could easily have come from the MTA. The SFBC and the City seem to be getting just a little too cozy for comfort these days….

  • New video of last Friday’s ARCO/ BP protest posted:


    We need a safe bikeway on Fell and we need it now!

  • ZA

    My $0.02 on the idea of moving the bike lane to the north side of Fell.

    If you’re going to do that, you also need to:

    1. Time pre-emptive red lights as far east as Steiner (to break up the speeding cars into slower cells).
    2. Have a bike traffic light at Scott and Fell.
    3. Move (to become a physical barrier) or remove the parked cars along Fell from Scott to Baker.
    4. Use lights and pavement markings to have a four-way mixing spot for bikes and pedestrians at Baker and Fell, to allow convenient self-organized movement between the arterials, the residential areas, and the Panhandle without the threat of any moving cars.

    To my mind, that’s how you’d do it right, to maximize public safety.

  • AlexR

    Yes to ZA about a bicycles-only signal at Fell & Scott and a separated bike lane on Fell and/or Oak.

    The bigger problem IMO is the bike path through the Panhandle. Simply put, I can’t stand it. There are way too many cyclists competing with joggers, dogs, strollers, tourists, street urchins, and inattentive pedestrians on a very narrow path. It makes no sense to me to put cyclists and pedestrians on the same path like that. And if the north side path is for bicycles only, that’s neither indicated nor respected. Widening the bike path to make from for everyone (as along Crissy Field for example) doesn’t seem feasible either. As someone who uses the WigglePanhandle route frequently, I’ve seen too many close calls from fast cyclists trying to maneuver around slow peds.

    I suppose multi-use paths are a pet peeve of mine. But if Fell & Oak can’t be calmed enough to allow riding with traffic between Baker and Stanyan, why not some kind of separated bike lane?

  • We need DON’T BLOCK SIDEWALK at Noe Valley Whole Foods. In theory, the parking lot is staffed to prevent that. Last night, I watched a car blocking the sidewalk on one entrance shooed off by staff. They backed out into traffic, then went to the next entrance, and promptly blocked the sidewalk there. 🙂

  • Joe

    Soon after the upper-Market bike lanes were put in place, somebody pulled together the Helpful Upper Market Bicycle Lane Enforcers (HUMBLE). Interested and polite citizens (wearing reflective vests and carrying clipboards) gently smiled and reminded drivers of the expected social conduct — “please don’t park in the bike lane, for any reason.” HELPERS often waved hands to keep would-be parkers moving, or haulted traffic in the moving lane to help stopped cars quickly move back out of the lane. Some drivers even chose to double-park in the car traffic lane when they realized that the HUMBLE mission was to keep the bike lane free.

    85% of drivers got the message and complied with the HELPERS suggestion to move along; about 15% ignored the HELPERS. 100% became aware of how upper-market was supposed to function, and that people really cared about the existing rules.

    So, what would this friendly assistance helping promote conformity of existing rules look like on Fell at Davisadero? Would it educate enough drivers and cyclists to smooth traffic for all modes in the current configuration? Would proper road etiquette cause traffic jams and prove that the current configuration isn’t going to work? I’m not familiar enough with the intersection to know that answer. All I know is that the approach is honest.


  • Joe

    A business gets a permit to operate NORMALLY within the confines of it’s property. Businesses must operate in a way that does not causes a nuisance. What would happen if Blockbuster Video started having movie star appearances at it’s store on Columbus every Friday and causing traffic jams? That is not NORMAL business, and the SPECIAL PROMOTIONS (movie stars) are causing a nuisance, causing the city expenses and harm, and could be grounds for revoking the business permit.

    Gas Stations within a few feet of the ARCO do not have this problem. Those stations operate NORMALLY and do not cause a nuisance.

    Can their permit be revoked?


  • Joe

    I’ve always wondered how much money ARCO is losing with their current pricing structure. Their prices are too low, they are creating excess demand, they are degrading their customer experience by creating frustrating lines and wait times.

    ARCO can only pump a fixed number of gallons per hour. I bet they pump fewer gallons due to slow turnover caused by congestion at their station.

    ARCO should raise their prices a few cents per gallon to balance demand with supply (currently limited by delivery capacity). At the macro-economic “right price” ARCO would pump more gallons (faster turnover at peak times), make more money (per gallon profit), and eliminate most of the impacts to the surrounding neighborhood.

    The City’s “good cop” should go to the owner and suggest this method of maximizing revenues. The City’s “bad cop” might tag along holding a letter threatening to revoke ARCO’s business permit for operating in a manner that causes a public nuisance.


  • Tom


    Your helpers were not helping at all. They were attempting to manipulate traffic flows to suit their agenda. Noble perhaps, but also illegal and dangerous. Nor likely to persuade the very drivers whose support you seek.

    It is solely a matter for ARCO how they price their gas. You are welcome to make a cash offer for their business and then run it in a better way if you see fit. But it would appear that they are running their business legally, and that the real problem is that the bike lane has been badly designed to conflict with pre-existing traffic flows. That is not ARCO’s fault. It is the City’s.

    Moving the bike lane to the north side of Fell, or north to Hayes, are preferably solutions here, as various others have noted.

  • Dbarchitect

    I agree that the current bike lane design isn’t optimal, but in my opinion and experience it is better than the previous one and there are planned alterations that will continue to make this situation better. That’s one of the great things about the new SFMTA is that they’ll keep modifying things to make it better. That’s what they did east bound Market between Van Ness and 10th, and that’s working quite well now. Incremental, iterative improvement is how you get to solutions in these complex, fluid situations. Also it takes a bit of time for cyclists and car drivers to figure it out. Given the zeitgeist of cultural and technical constraints they are working hard and creatively to improve these situations. I wish folks could be a little more patient here, and a bit more positive. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

  • Isn’t eastbound Market between Van Ness and 10th where the bike lane and car lane switch spots? That area is a mess and have had a near collision every time I have ridden on it. A dashed-painted lane needs to connect the bike lane next to the sidewalk and the bike lane to the left of the car traffic. I’d also like to see some reflectors and maybe even a speed bump to wake up drivers to the fact that a major traffic crossing is happening.

  • The new striped bike lane design on Fell is without a doubt worse than it was before. The wide left turn lane gives drivers new latitude about where they want to position themselves, so now you not only have cars blocking the bike lane queuing up for cheap BP gas, you also have them blocking the lane after that, as the bike lane effectively disappears all the way up to Divisadero. The design is grossly inadequate to deal with the fact that this location has become a meat grinder for those on two wheels- those trying to live using less oil.

    I do not blame the MTA- the staff there are working hard to find solutions, and many of them have to ride in the same streets as the rest of us. Many of them have brilliant ideas how this could be solved, but they are afraid of losing their jobs if they vocalize them. I blame the political culture that still places the car above any other mode, even within a dense city like SF. This is particularly evident when two major modal routes intersect, like they do along the 3 blocks of Fell between Scott and Baker.

    As bold young male cyclists, many are hardened road warriors and find no problem riding along Fell next to heavy volumes of speeding traffic. But if you try and put yourself in the shoes of a young person, an older person, a less fit person who can’t keep up with traffic, or someone just a bit wobbly on their bike (this includes about 80% of the population) you realize what the Dutch realized many years ago (and no doubt what Leah will report): that on busy arterials, with high speeds it is necessary to provide a SEPARATED bike path to provide both safety as well as the PERCEPTION of safety.

    The Board of Supervisors could solve this problem within a month by declaring the Fell St. entrances to the Arco station a public health hazard- just like they can shut down a business that has rats- remove all the parking between Scott and Baker on the left side and provide a separated green bikeWAY along Fell that will bridge this dangerous, unpleasant gap in our bike network, where turning, queuing cars and opening doors make the ride literally a gamble with your life.

    Is this really the type of bike network we need to wean ourselves off of oil, reduce the risk of future spills, and have even a glimmer of a chance of a future stable climate?

    What is the city’s long term vision here? What is the SFBC’s long term vision here? If we’re not asking for what we want, we surely will not get it.

    What really needs to happen is that the fundamentally flawed connection between CEQA and Level of Service needs to be severed. It is only driving us toward the climate precipice and handcuffing the change we so desperately need. The current guidelines open the door for short term thinkers and politically selfish, naval gazing attention seekers like Rob Anderson.

    It’s time to put a stop to it and move on. Enough is enough.

  • Dbarchitect

    @Josh I certainly agree that the eventual solution is a cycle track from Scott to JFK. That’s probably in the future a bit. I think the current situation needs some tweaking, such as green paint and some clear indication for car drivers that they are supposed to queue. I have ridden quite a bit on cycle tracks in Europe and though I really like them there are often issues. Interestingly in Copenhagen they have gone to a “mixed traffic” design at intersections in similar situations because they think it’s safer than running the seperated cycle track right up to the intersection. Granted they would make that lane colored with a lot more bike symbols and signage. I think the SFMTA folks are on board with that and need the injunction lifted before implementing.

    I’m curious what the cyclist crash statistics are for this spot. Though incredibly annoying to dodge the queued cars on the bike lane that might not translate directly into lots of injuries.

  • @Dbarchitect The guy who runs Madrone bar and lounge across the street says he has seen “a number” of cyclists hit and injured at the Arco station. I believe Janel has researched official SWITRS injury stats at that location, but these are often an under count. We can’t forget about the people who would cycle, but are terrified because of dangerous conditions, so they drive, adding to the danger to society at large.

    I was skeptical about cycle tracks being safe when there are intersections but the NYC DOT seems to have really solved this with signals along Ninth Ave.

  • Perhaps Mr. Hart should take a closer look at himself when he calls car owners “sick people.” He is as big a problem on the other side as the arrogant drivers in the City. What we need are less people like him and more that are willing to have mutual respect and kindness, despite disagreements and lifestyle preferences.

  • Jut picking up on this bit: “Many of them have brilliant ideas how this could be solved, but they are afraid of losing their jobs if they vocalize them”… I wonder if somebody could articulate what these brilliant ideas might be, because frankly I just don’t see them. Even if the Fell Street entrance to the Arco station were closed — maybe we can open up the parklet that Noe Valley can’t handle there — I suspect the same conflict between cyclists and drivers would reemerge at the Divisadero intersection where many cars turn left. In a way the auto queue at the gas station functions as a sort of de facto (and badly broken) traffic calming measure.

    Also, not to be that one guy but I might as well state for the record that there are also a lot of young bold female cyclists who road-warrior it through that intersection.

  • Tom


    I totally agree with you that blatantly one-sided advocacy is not likely to be persuasive to voters or to a neutral decision maker. Anyone who comes to the table saying “ban cars” or “ban bikes” is likely to be viewed with skepticism. We need some balance here; this is neither Copenhagen nor LA.


    Yes, most of these “good ideas” suffer from the bias I just described above. Realistically you have to accommodate cars on the major west-bound car thruway in the City. And equally realistically, bikes have to have a safe way of traversing those few blocks from the Lower Haight to the Panhandle.

    Physical segregation of disparate traffic on Fell is not possible without a severe impact to traffic flow. And ARCO has a right to be there without fear of a municipal “taking”.

    Of the ideas listed below, moving the bike lane to a safer place seems the most apt and reasonable. I notice that east-bound bikes have no equivalent bike lane and use Page instead of Oak. Page is two-way, slow, pleasant and quiet while Fell is none of those.

    So why not put bi-directional bike lanes on Page and direct non-local east/west vehicular traffic onto Haight (slow) or Fell/Oak (fast)?

  • No need to “move” the bike lane to Page St. — Page St. doesn’t need a bike lane. It has sharrows and stop signs at every corner, so it’s already a safe and pleasant bike route. Going west, some people avoid it because the block after Divisadero is a steep up hill.

    The past few times I’ve biked on Fell past the Arco station, the lane has been clear. So maybe the problem there is already largely fixed by the recent changes. Anyway, I think the comments in this thread tend to overstate the danger of riding on Fell. I’d vote for leaving the bike lane right where it is.

  • Bill, I do not call car owners sick people. I call people who are addicted to their cars sick people. There is a world of difference. And, yes if my “lifestyle” was threatening the future of life on this planet, endangering vulnerable road users as well as destroying much of the urban environment, I would hope that you would compassionately ask me to cease and desist.

    I’m not sure whether you are denying the fact that cars have major negative impact on the environment, or just in denial of your own contribution to the disaster that modern motor transport has become.

    Either way, facts are facts. And I am being kind- I’m just not letting you get away with denial any longer. It is 2010 after all. Wakey wakey.

  • patrick

    I think that Joshua Hart has let this issue become personal. When you start sententiously moralizing about “the future of life on this planet” the discussion has gone way beyond traffic flow issues.

    Although Mr. Hart may like to impose his beliefs on other people, what we need is some realpolitik. People can and will use gasoline powered Fell/Oak is the major east-west corridor for automobiles in SF. Unti the 1960’s it was slated for a freeway.

    Let’s give the SFMTA’s changes a chance to work.

  • patrick

    FYI, the patrick who has posted two comments on this issue (the first post, and #46) is the not the same patrick (me) who has been posting here for about the last year or so.

  • pchas

    Thanks for clarifying, Patrick. Since you have been here for awhile, I shall henceforth be “pchas”. Also something got missed from my earlier comment. It should have read:

    Although Mr. Hart may like to impose his beliefs on other people, what we need is some realpolitik. People can and will use gasoline powered vehicles for the foreseeable future. Fell/Oak is the major east-west corridor for automobiles in SF. Unti the 1960’s it was slated for a freeway.

  • Maybe it’s time to register. You can also get your own funky profile pic that will help people recognize when it’s you 😉

  • Patrick- Traffic designs influence modal choice. Modal choice has a huge impact on atmospheric carbon emissions, particularly in California. It seems strange to me to arbitrarily divorce the idea of a livable city with that of a sustainable city. The new MTA design is worse than it was before and their sights are already set far too low.

    We have a major global problem on the horizon, and it has to do with oil supply and soaring atmospheric carbon emissions. All this restriping is just rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. Fine if you want to do it, but I think we need to get the captain’s attention to steer the ship away from the iceberg, smash our way into the wheelhouse, or at least try to find a lifeboat.

    You may feel that I am trying to ‘impose my beliefs’ onto others. But I’m sure that’s exactly what others on the wrong side of history felt when they were being confronted with the results of their immoral and damaging behavior.

    There are good reasons we need to cut driving and flying and consuming by 90%. And they are what are known as ‘facts.’


Yet Another T(weak) to Fell Street Arco Bike Lane

The new arrows to instruct drivers to queue earlier. Photo: Michael Helquist. Michael Helquist at Bike NOPA has another update to the Fell Street Arco bike lane saga. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has striped new arrows in the curbside lane that they hope will compel drivers to move out of the bike […]

A20 Event: Fix Fell “Bike Spill”

"For the 11th straight week, protesters will return to the embattled Arco station- owned by BP- at the corner of Fell and Divisadero Streets in San Francisco.  Their simple demand – that the City of San Francisco place the safety of all road users above free private motor vehicle storage and convenient access to cheap […]

Fix Fell/Oak – Arco/BP Shut Down Party

After wading through the official bureaucratic process for over a year with mediocre results, citizen activists decided to fix a section of Fell Street where motorists have blocked the bike lane for 10 years to enter the ARCO gas station. Come out every Friday 5:30pm at Divisadero and Fell Streets in San Francisco to protect […]

Fell Street Arco Bike Lane Might See Improvements Soon

Click to enlarge. Proposed changes to Fell St. bike lane, soft-hit posts in red. The MTA might have a solution for the dangerous conditions at the Fell Street Arco gas station, where motorists queueing up to buy gas routinely block the bike lane and force cyclists to navigate between bumpers or try their hand a […]