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Bicycle Safety

Eyes on the Street: What Do You Think of the New SFO Bike Lanes?

The new bike lane leading into San Francisco International Airport. Photos by John Murphy

New bike lanes were recently installed around San Francisco International Airport, and the reviews are coming in. Streetsblog San Francisco reader John Murphy, who was the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's 2010 Commuter of the Year, thinks there's lots of room for improvement. He sent us this scolding review, along with the photos:

The new bike lane through here is completely asinine. As they started construction I thought it was decent, but as construction has progressed they keep producing new features which completely suck.

The lane starts just after you pass the United Airlines building heading SB. As you make the left hand bend to head straight south on McDonnell, there was a streetlight pole in the way of where they were building the bike lane. So they widened the road a little bit right where this pole is and send cyclists on a sharp right then left bend around this pole. At speed, this is extremely "annoying." Attempts to bypass this feature by riding left are discouraged by soft-hit poles that start before the chicane.

The next challenge is set up by another set of soft-hit poles that force the cyclist to the right, where the lane abruptly joins a bus stop. Cars are forced left, except for the buses which basically pull right, into the bus stop. I sort of understand this treatment as it prevents the bus from driftng right though cyclists, but if the bus is already at the stop, you are sort of screwed here.

After this, the lane continues on McDonnell along the 101. McDonnell is separated from 101 by a jersey barrier/fence combo. In this spot the bike lane is unacceptably narrow, forcing cyclists to ride in a very tight spot against a barrier from which there is no escape. Previously, with no lane, cyclists would drift far enough to the left to allow some buffer from the wall in the event of something going on in the roadway.

Then things get ridiculous as you veer left a gain to go under the terminal. The unacceptably narrow bike lane continues - and in said "bike lane" are drainage grates which span the entire width of the bike lane. This continues as you enter the underpass of the terminal, and then as you go uphill out of the underpass, a set of soft hit barriers attempt to force the cyclist to the right, into a narrow crappy chute, in practice I just go to the left of the soft hit barriers.

The drainage grates in the bike lanes continue as you approach the left hand bend that takes you to Millbrae Ave. Here, the bike lane is still pinned against cement barriers. At this spot, the majority of cyclists veer into the left hand lane to continue straight onto Bayshore, but the bike lane sticks to the wall, counter-intuitive to where it should be placed, as a straight ahead lane and letting right turning cyclists take the right turn pocket.

We've sent Murphy's comments to SFO for a response, and are waiting to hear back. What do you think? Have you ridden the new bike lanes at SFO?


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