Think Bike Workshops Offer a “Dutch Touch” on Three Key Corridors

The Think Bike rendering for Polk Street envisions curbside green bikeways with bus-bulbs and other improvements for Muni riders.

The delegation of Dutch experts who were in San Francisco this week for a series of Think Bike workshops with city officials, bike advocates, transportation planners and others honed in on three critical corridors: Market Street between 5th and 9th, Polk Street between Broadway and Union streets, and The Wiggle.

What resulted from the day-long workshops, survey rides and discussions was a series of recommendations based on feedback from the Dutch experts and workshop participants. The ideas were presented at the final session Tuesday night, which was hosted by SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin and ended with a speech from Supervisor David Chiu.

On Market Street, the vision was a green carpet of “continuous, safe, attractive” bike lanes that separate cyclists and motor vehicles while reducing the speed and volume of private autos. The recommendations could be incorporated into the Better Market Street planning process, said Kit Hodge, the deputy director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The SFBC has been pushing for a continuous ribbon of bikeways on Market for awhile now. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Chiu’s resolution calling on the SFMTA to implement more immediate pilot projects on Market Street to make it car-free ahead of a 2015 makeover.

The suggestion for Polk Street was curbside protected bike lanes, bus bulbs and other enhancements that “improves the pedestrian experience and enhances transit access.” Polk Street, a major north-south connection for cyclists, is in dire need of improved bike facilities. The ideas could be implemented in 2013 as part of a planned repaving.

Along The Wiggle, on Scott Street, the focus was on converting a few blocks into a “slow shared street,” with a planted traffic circle at the Page Street intersection. This would deter the cut-through traffic on Scott. There would also be sidewalk plantings for more greenery.

“With the Wiggle, I think it’s a very exciting vision that draws on the community conversations that have been happening for awhile in those neighborhoods and has a lot more emphasis on greenery and neighborhood traffic calming,” said Hodge.

The Think Bike workshops are also happening in other cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles. Damien at Streetsblog L.A. notes that one Dutch official was pretty excited about San Francisco’s revolutionary parklets program.

“What’s heartening about these ideas is nothing is crazy new. It’s definitely fresh thinking, and it was wonderful that people from different worlds could collaborate so well together, but I think it’s also a testament that a lot of neighborhood and community groups have been proposing a lot of these ideas for awhile,” said Hodge. “To see them put on paper in an even more elegant way was fun to watch.”

Download the Tuesday night presentations here: Market [pdf], Polk [pdf] and The Wiggle [pdf]. And if you didn’t catch Leah Shahum’s Streetsblog essay reflecting on her sabbatical in the Netherlands, and how a “Dutch Touch” can help San Francisco bicycle to greatness, by all means do. It’s a great piece.


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