Eyes on the Street: Portola Drive Bike Lanes Get Striped

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/twinpeaks_sf/6467010041/sizes/l/in/set-72157628307895657//##Mark Dreger/Flickr##

SFMTA crews were out striping bike lanes on Portola Drive today from O’Shaughnessy Boulevard to St. Francis Circle. The new lanes complement those striped on the rest of the street in recent months.

Streetsblog reader and Portola resident Mark Dreger reported spotting the crews this morning, noting that the project will provide a bicycling connection “on a street with no good parallel alternative for bicycling.”

Portola, which runs alongside Twin Peaks, is a road fraught with harrowing high-speed car traffic. It’s also the only direct road connecting the west end of Market Street to the intersection of Sloat Boulevard and West Portal Avenue, also known as St. Francis Circle, in the Parkside neighborhood.

The new bike lanes should provide some room for a more comfortable ride. The reduced width of the other traffic lanes, noted Dreger, “should also serve to traffic calm the street a bit.”

The project is part [PDF] of the San Francisco Bike Plan currently being rolled out by the SFMTA. The lanes connect with a buffered bikeway striped on Laguna Honda Boulevard in February, which connects to the Inner Sunset and areas north.

More photos after the break.

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/twinpeaks_sf/6467008241/sizes/l/in/set-72157628307895657/##Mark Dreger/Flickr##
Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/twinpeaks_sf/6467011865/sizes/l/in/set-72157628307895657/##Mark Dreger/Flickr##
Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/twinpeaks_sf/6467007779/sizes/l/in/set-72157628307895657/##Mark Dreger/Flickr##
  • Richard Mlynarik

    “Harrowing traffic”?  What are you people smoking?

    I ride that road all the time.  Downhill the bike/car speed differential is small and there’s plenty of space to be passed.  Uphill slowly I’ve likewise never had an inkling of difficulty, unlike scores of real objective danger locations around the city.

    Portola got a LOT worse because of the insane Magic Bumper Post Protected Separated bike lane nonsense.  The crazy useless ones on Portola west of Diamond Heights are a nightmare.  I encounter MUNI BUSES DRIVING IN THEM because the stupid Magic Protected Separated Bike Lane doesn’t allow buses to get in and out of stops readily.  So instead of easily passing or being passed by the bus, I get to block it or breath its fumes.

    The “cycle track” loon brigage that has seized control at the SFBC isn’t making my (never once driving, always cycling) life any better any longer.

  • See

    Actually, the cycle track portion is really nice. I’m glad to see they’ve done something with the remaining stretch, though those are some seriously narrow bike lanes considering that traffic really does whiz by there. (Not sure how anyone but a dyed-in-the-wool-1970s-vehicular-cyclist-nut could deny that.)

  • Kevin

    Last weekend I had to get to Diamond Heights from Parkside in a pinch. I didn’t have any other option besides Portola, and I winced at the thought. In the past I’ve been passed within an inch of my life with cars speeding up the hill. In theory, there was enough clearance for me and another car, but drivers would still wiz right by me with inches to spare.

    I was PLEASANTLY surprised when I saw nearly my entire journey on this new bike lane on Portola. Thank you! If only I could wake up to a new bike lane every day, that would be heaven.

  • TwinPeaks_SF

    The important thing to remember is that these new facilities – cycle tracks in particular – are primarily not to make you or other confident people more comfortable riding. They help to get people who would like to bike, but do not feel comfortable mixing with auto traffic, out on their bicycles. Not to say these new lanes on Portola are 8-80 friendly, but the cycle tracks on Laguna Honda and Portola are getting close..

  • TwinPeaks_SF

    Portola Drive really has a lot of history. Once the only road up and over Twin Peaks (complete with a toll house), the street has carried many names – San Miguel Road, Mission Pass Road, Mission and Ocean Beach Macadamized Road, Corbett-Portola, and Market-Portola. The roadway naturally wiggles around hills, making it an obvious route, including for bicycles. It was widened to accommodate the housing explosion that took place after the 1906 earthquake.

    An early photo:

    Before widening:

    After homes were demolished for widening:

    [Courtesy of outsidelands.org, Richard Brandi, Greg Gaar]

  • You are wack. Riding up on Portola sucked. I would get buzzed into the parked cars all the time.

    Riding downhill I will ignore the lanes in order to take the left lane to pass slower moving cars.

  • So I just rode up to Portola to check out the stretch of bike lanes from Burnett to O’Shaughnessy. I had admired them from my car and felt they did calm the street down a bit, but that is different from actually riding them.

    Going west: the lanes are nice, wide enough but the pavement is terrible. I do not advise doing this stretch with a dozen eggs in your panniers or at night unless your bike has amazing lights.  As it as, my teeth were rattling.  In general cars still treat this stretch as a mini-freeway.

    The intersection of Portola O’Shaughnessy is still very problematic.  (i.e. terrible)  I had someone behind me honk at me as I approached the intersection which was ridiculous because there was nowhere for me to go except onto the sidewalk. There is no real place to “be” as a bicyclist in that intersection and the sheer number of cars and car lanes can be overwhelming.  So is it 8 to 80 friendly?  Well, it is not particularly 50-year-old-woman-with-flowers-on-her-bike-basket friendly, so I would say no. My husband, when he does his 30 mile rides kitted out in lycra, doesn’t mind it.

    Going east: I had no problem with buses. I was in front of a bus that very nicely didn’t run me over and that managed to merge into the proper lane before the bike lane. However, since the bike lane *is* quite wide (which is nice)  it might be a good idea to paint the lane green so that brain-dead people don’t inadvertently drive down it. The pavement on this side of the road wasn’t as bad.

    As I approached the turn off to Clipper, since I was going to go right I hugged the right hand side of the right-most lane.  Since I was going uphill, I wasn’t going at too fast a clip (8 – 10 mph?), but the car behind me drove at my pace about twenty feet back, even though he/she had plenty of room to pass me on the left (could have used the bike lane space.) This went on for at least a minute. Maybe the person was trying to be nice–at least they didn’t honk–but really, again, he/she could have easily passed me and there was nowhere else for me to go unless I jumped the curbed into the little walkway alongside the road. One of the reasons I wish more people would try out biking is then as drivers they’d have a better understanding of how/when to pass bikes safely. Unless it’s necessary for my safety, I actually don’t like holding people up. But geez, do I hate people honking at me!!!! Makes me want to stop and have a little discussion with them then and there about the dangers of honking at bicyclists.

  • See

    Very interesting, thank you!


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