As SFMTA Adds Finishing Touches, JFK Bike Lanes Remain Awesome

Photos: Aaron Bialick

Three months after San Francisco’s first parking-protected bike lanes were striped on John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, the street continues to thrive as a calmer, safer place all users. The flocks of people using the lanes this summer appear to include more families than ever, and by and large, drivers and pedestrians seem to have adapted well to the new configuration.

The SFMTA finally completed some finishing touches last week to improve the connections between the new lanes and the Panhandle, which had been delayed. An SFMTA staffer said there had been mix-ups in the street painting schedule.

The initial confusion and complaints among drivers using the new arrangement, which places parked cars to the left of the bike lane, seem to have dissipated. In May, the SFMTA stenciled “No Parking” markings in the buffer zones to deter drivers from parking where the road narrows and there is no room for parked cars. The measure appears to have been highly effective, and the remaining illegal parking seems mostly limited to the area around weekly evening events at the de Young Museum and Academy of Sciences.

This family appears relaxed riding rental bikes on JFK.
"No parking" zones where curbs are striped red now remain mostly open.

Complaints about the perceived difficulty for faster bicyclists to pass slower ones also seem to have quieted. Although some say the bike lanes could be wider, people can regularly be seen passing one another smoothly. Overall, the new lanes allow people of all ages to ride separated from motor vehicles and without fear of being doored — the type of street design that a growing number of American cities are using to increase bicycling rates after decades of documented success in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. By moving the lanes to the curb, the design also provides people on bikes a view of the park.

“The new JFK Drive bikeway is evolving into an improvement that is serving a more diverse community than your standard painted by lanes because the JFK design particularly helps new riders and families feel more comfortable and confident bicycling, which is particularly important in a park,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “We look forward to hearing more feedback from the community about additional improvements as this new design continues to evolve.”

In the finishing touches connecting JFK to the Panhandle, the SFMTA striped an eastbound buffered bike lane striped along the center median on part of Kezar Drive, which had already been used unofficially for years.

The new eastbound buffered bike lane on Kezar connecting JFK to the Panhandle legitimizes the connection unofficially used by bicyclists for years.

The “Shrader Valve,” a bicycle traffic signal and short bike lane jaunt on the end of Fell Street, which connects westbound riders from the Panhandle at Shrader Street to JFK, was also enhanced with a new buffer zone on the bike lane and surface markings on the Panhandle path directing riders to use it (with poor visibility, many bicyclists previously skipped the turn and ended up traversing the crosswalks at Stanyan — it’s unclear if the markings are working yet). The SFMTA also added a bicycle traffic signal at Page and Stanyan Streets in a separate project in May, improving the connection between JFK and Page.

Green pavement markings may still be added to parts of the JFK bike lanes, though if and when are still unclear. Although the idea was initially dropped due to complaints that the color would detract from the appearance of the street, Recreation and Parks Manager Phil Ginsburg has since become a proponent of it as a way to clarify the bicycling right of way to visitors, if it’s still necessary. These days, instances of the lanes being blocked by oblivious drivers and pedestrians seem few and far between.

The SFMTA says it’s still taking ridership counts and soliciting feedback on the project. Other tweaks could help improve JFK’s design. One of my own ideas is to add left-turn boxes at the intersections along the bikeway. And many would prefer more permanent changes, like raised bike lanes or a ban on cars in the park altogether.

Got any other ideas? Let us know in the comments.

These new markings on the Panhandle include a right-turn arrow directing riders to use the "Shrader Valve."
On the other end of the "valve," the bike lane now has an added buffer.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Fell Street Bike Lane Still Popular Among Bike Commuters, Parked Trucks

|
The more than 1,800 people who use the buffered, curbside bike lane on Fell Street every weekday continue to be faced with a familiar hazard: parked trucks. As we’ve reported, drivers, including SFPD officers, routinely park in the Fell bike lane with impunity. The vast majority of violators appear to be accessing three businesses on Fell between Divisadero […]

SF’s First Parking-Protected Bike Lane Outside a Park Opens on 13th Street

|
SF’s first parking-protected bike lane outside of Golden Gate Park is open for business on 13th Street. The lane runs westbound on 13th, connecting existing bike lanes between Bryant Street and Folsom Street, underneath the Central Freeway. The new bike lane runs along the curb with a buffer zone separation from parked cars, which provide protection from motor traffic. SFMTA […]
IMG_20180417_112940

Eyes on the Streets: Upper Market and Turk Finally Get their Protected Bike Lanes

|
Note: Metropolitan Shuttle, a leader in bus shuttle rentals, regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog Los Angeles. Unless noted in the story, Metropolitan Shuttle is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content. The paint was literally still drying on the inbound side of the new protected bike lane on Upper Market this morning. An SFMTA […]

JFK Protected Bike Lanes Get Seal of Approval From the Bike-Savvy Dutch

|
This year’s celebration of the Dutch Queen’s Day in San Francisco was a bit special. When the event’s 100-or-so celebrants traversed the city by bike in the second annual “Market-to-Mill” ride (Market Street to the Dutch windmill in Golden Gate Park, a.k.a the Bay to Beach route), the orange-clad caravan traveled through San Francisco’s first bicycle […]