San Francisco to Get Five Green Bike Boxes on Market Street

Photo: ##
The green bike box on Scott Street. Photo: ##

As part of its “Calm the Safety Zone” project, the SFMTA plans to install five green bike boxes on Market Street at intersections that currently have bike lanes, bringing to seven the total number of bike boxes in San Francisco. Bike advocates urged the SFMTA to install them quickly and focus on a continuous ribbon of green, separated bikeways from 8th Street to the Embarcadero to further boost the trials of innovative projects on Market Street that have made life a little easier for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

The colored bike boxes will be placed on westbound Market at Hyde, Van Ness Avenue and Haight/Gough, and on eastbound Market Street at South Van Ness and 9th Street. The SFMTA hopes to have the reftro-reflective green paint on the ground “in early 2011.” Adding more green bike lanes on Market Street apparently won’t happen with the installation of the bike boxes but the agency is in the midst of developing a colored bike lanes policy.

Bridget Smith of the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets division said the agency is also crafting a bike box policy that will focus on putting in bike boxes at intersections where there are existing bike lanes. She said the policy would conform with national guidelines being developed by the Cities for Cycling program of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

“It’s part of our ongoing effort to try innovative measures and see if they do help clarify the roles and correct place for everyone on the street. So we’re sharing this confined street space and we want to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians and transit whenever we can,” said Smith. “The bike box gives bicyclists an opportunity to be ahead of the automobiles and get a head start on traffic once the light turns green.”

A green bike box and bike lane in Portland. Photo: ##
A green bike box and bike lane in Portland. Photo: ##

Bike boxes have been seen in Europe and parts of Asia since the 1980s. In the U.S., they are now more prolific in Portland and New York City. San Francisco installed its first bike box in 2004 on 14th Street at Folsom to help facilitate left-hand turns. Another one was striped in 2006 on Scott Street at Oak, and was painted green late last year after a partial lifting of the bike injunction. It helps bicyclists move into a left-turn bike lane for the turn at Fell Street on The Wiggle.

“I would say it’s a great start. We would actually like to see those bike boxes going in right now and let’s see how they work and we’re going to want them at a lot more intersections,” said Renee Rivera, the acting executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition. “We think it’s something that’s really going to help reduce conflicts on Market Street, help make it clearer to everyone who is using Market Street, what’s bike space, what’s car space.”

Smith said the agency has not figured out the other locations for bike boxes, but Rivera said that will be very easy to figure out.

“I can think off the top of my head other intersections that would benefit by having a bike box. They should go in now [on Market] so we can evaluate and figure out the next set of intersections to deploy them,” she said.

Where would you like to see a bike box?

  • Nick

    20th Avenue and Lincoln. This is the main gateway into Golden Gate Park for countless SFSU students, residents, and families. The intersection is practically begging for a bike box.

  • I’d like to see the SFMTA install a temporary bike box on northbound Polk Street at Golden Gate where construction of the new PUC building has lead to the temporary elimination of a stretch of bike lane there. There’s some temporary signage there but it’s not good enough. That construction is supposed to last for a year and a half.

    I also think that a bike box should be installed on Howard Street at 10th so cyclists can position to get in the left-turn lane, but it’s a little tricky since the left-turn lane is two lanes over from the bike lane. Something, I’m not sure what, needs to be done to help cyclists safely get into that left-turn lane when traffic is flowing. Ideas anyone?

  • Chris

    I would love to see one on 16th Street heading east at the intersection of 16th/7th/Mississippi (just before crossing the railroad tracks).

    There are bike lanes east and west of the tracks, however to cross the tracks the bike lane and right travel lane merge. I don’t think cars and cyclists necessarily realize that this merge is happening. There is a single sharrow painted in the lane, but I think that is the only signage and it’s a little hard to see.

    There’s a lot going on at that intersection with the merge, the right turn shoot coming off Mississippi, the tracks, and the freeway structure. I think it would be great to get the cyclists out in front of the cars just so they can get across the tracks and back into the bike lane. It is a pretty short distance in which the cyclists have to take the lane so I don’t think there would be much of an impact on drivers.

  • Jd

    Does this mean that pedestrians won’t have to walk into traffic to get around all the bicycles stopped in the crosswalks on Market? If yes, I’m all for it.

    Now if only they’d stop on Embarcadero to let pedestrians cross.

  • Jd

    The article says the bike boxes are to facilitate left hand turns. But then the picture depicts the box in the far right lane. How is that used to facilitate left turns when there are still two lanes of traffic to cross.

  • Jd,

    “It helps bicyclists move into a left-turn bike lane for the turn at Fell Street on The Wiggle.”

    The example for left hand turns was talking about Fell. The image is in Portland. Not all bike boxes are for facilitating left hand turns.

  • that is great news!
    +somewhere on polk street would be great. kthx 😀

  • wheelchairgirl

    I’d rather see some hatched no-go areas between the pedestrian crosswalks and the traffic, honestly. Bikes in the streets are better than on the sidewalks, but there’s a lack of respect among any bicyclists for pedestrian right-of-way.

  • Edw

    Van Ness Avenue and Haight/Gough don’t form an intersection.
    There is no South Van Ness and 9th Street intersection either.
    Is this a joke or just badly written?
    SFBC just cut and pasted the locations into their newsletter.
    Is it just me or are these intersections mis-identified?

  • @Edw: I’m sorry if the writing left you confused. I should have said eastbound Market Street at South Van Ness and again at 9th Street. I’ve clarified it in the piece.

  • Edw

    Great. Thanks, Bryan? 🙂


How Would You Redesign Market Street at Van Ness?

With the SFMTA poised to install green bike boxes in both directions of Market Street at Van Ness Avenue, it got me thinking about how the agency could better design that intersection for the huge numbers of bicyclists who pass through it on a daily basis, particularly on eastbound Market where drivers and people on […]