Protected Bike Lanes Selected as Preferred Option for 2nd Street Project

A conceptual plan for protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands on Second Street. Image: SF DPW

Following a public process that revealed a strong preference for protected bike lanes, the SF Department of Public Works yesterday announced the selection of the preferred option for the Second Street Improvement Project. And yes, the design includes one-way protected bike lanes on each side of the street. The redesign will extend from Market Street to King Street, connecting downtown San Francisco to the SOMA district.

The bike lanes will be separated from auto traffic by a four-foot, planted buffer, creating a safe and comfortable space for cyclists to travel through this important corridor.

From SF DPW:

The preferred One-Way Cycletracks option envisions protected bicycle lanes in both directions,
increased opportunities for landscaping and retiming traffic signals to separate bicycles from turning
vehicles. It also would entail removing parking on one side of the street between Market and Harrison
streets; removing all parking between Harrison and Bryant streets, and retaining parking on both sides
of the street south of Bryant Street. Left-hand turns may need to be restricted at some intersections
during certain hours of the day.

We’ll have more information as it becomes available, but for now you can read up on the Second Street Improvement Project and take a look at conceptual renderings of the bike lanes on SF DPW’s project website.

  • J

    It seems like you could easily extend most of those raised buffers into the crosswalks to create pedestrian refuge islands. That is what is done in NYC for most protected bike lanes, and they make it much easier to cross the street on foot. In fact the ped refuges are the only areas of protected bike lanes where concrete is used. It’s funny that in SF, where ped refuges could be located is the only place where concrete isn’t used.

  • So excited to ditch the biking hellhole of 5th st for this once it’s built.

  • I have no idea what your comment means, @Uptowner13:disqus . seriously. can you show an example of what you’re talking about – maybe a google maps link?

  • Peter – if the bike separator goes into the crosswalk completely, a pedestrian can cross the bike lane and stand on the bike separator island. Of course, it’s not clear when that is useful for crossing on foot, given that if the light is green you shouldn’t need it and if the light is red you shouldn’t use it.

  • I still don’t get it.

    If the bike separator extends into the crosswalk, then how will strollers and wheelchair people get across, etc.? 

    Unless you’re talking about having a gap in the raised separator, like this:

    That what you mean?

    Maybe I’m just missing something…

  •  @shmooth:disqus  J is talking about this

    It means cars cant turn across the crosswalk, rather they have to go around it. It provides extra safety and comfort….and helps keep people from waiting inside the bike lane

  • ok, yeah – i got it now. what do they call those things anyways?

    i guess i could see pedestrian ‘refuge,’ but not ‘island’ because to me an island is raised (as in out of the ‘water’, away from where the sharks live), and in these refuges, the refugees are standing at grade/ground level.

    and when standing in the partially-unmarked refugee area, pedestrians/refugees are already effectively protected from bikes, if not provided compete/total protection — but that’s not a biggie, because nothing ever will ever protect us all completely.

    the big plus to these refuges is that they prevent cars/trucks/buses from making fast turns movements, so they slow the turns, slow traffic on the main street — in this case, 2nd — and in doing so keep pedestrians safer. But it’s not the refugees in the refuges who are kept safer most — it’s the insects… errr…. vermin…. errrr…. pedestrians who are attempting to cross Folsom — they are the ones most at risk from the fast-turning car/truck/buses.

    I’d call it a bike lane separator neckdown or something nicer. reminds of this:

    one downside of that ice cream cone top/bike-lane-separator-neckdown thing is it intrudes well into the crosswalk — so it may slow the turning of motor vehicles (and bikes), but it also makes crossing 2nd more difficult. maybe that’s a trade-off worth making.

    getting the names of these devices right can help us understand why they’re not deisgned-in in the first place — in this case, it would inhibit reckless driver behavior.

    for all of the non-traffic engineers who like to chime in on street design, there’s a remarkable lack of quality material online to help us talk intelligently about this stuff. streetfilms has helped a lot, but there’s a lot more to be done.

  • ah, and i notice that NYC refuge example is raised a bit, and has those horrific bumper pads on them. maybe it just feels good to hassle people in wheelchairs, and babies in strollers, the people pushing the strollers, etc. got me.

    maybe all traffic engineers are like the guards from the Stanford Prison Experiment. that would certainly explain a lot.

  • I love cycle tracks, and I most of this design but the intersection is a bit of a fail– no facilitation of 2-stage left and missed opportunity for pedestrian (and bike) refuge. Still eagerly awaiting to see Danish/Dutch-like cycle track design in US…

    This is still a big victory for SF and will help 20% goal be achieved

  • i hope 2-stage left never gets implemented here, but i’ll choose my battles 🙂

  • But how to make left turn from 2nd onto Folsom? Seems it’d be tricky for 8-80 crowd to cross lane and make it as a motor vehicle. **As someone interested in bicycle infrastructure design, I’m merely looking for constructive conversation, not nasty responses**

  • cyclists would turn left in the most obvious and convenient/expedient manner — merge left, take/hold the lane if necessary, make the left when it’s clear/safe to do so. exactly as a cyclist would want, exactly as everyone would expect, etc.

    some cyclists may opt to do their own 2-phase left turn, which is how everything currently works. and that kind of sucks, but it’s fine-ish — an official 2-phase left would still require cyclists to stop and wait. 

    if we’re going to tolerate deathmonsters, then we’ll always be forced to deal with the inherent danger they create, and the inherent limitations on physical infrastructure we use to control them — most infra designed to protect us from cars also inhibits walkers/bikers in various ways, thus that infra has to be limited/balanced to allow us to actually live our lives.

    a mandatory 2-phase left turn is, imo, clearly pro-car/anti-bike, and as such should not be implemented ever, unless there is some extraordinary set of reasons for doing so. i don’t believe that burden of proof has ever been met, anywhere in the world. similar to mandatory bicycle helmet laws.

    i’d be fine with an optional 2-stage left turn, which, as i said, is what we currently have, just as we already have the improved version of the Idaho Stop (for cars _and_ bikes, except i’d prefer if cars had to stop at red lights, first), it’s just not been written down as law yet.

    not sure what the ‘nasty responses’ stuff is about.

  • Dabeemerguy

    If Peter Smith can call my car a “deathmonster” then I guess I can call bicycles “hipster law breakers”.

    Fair enuf?

  • yes, and for the record, my car is a deathmonster, too.

  • Dabeemerguy

    No Peter, they are not.Stop using the tired but typical hipster bikespeak and talk with some intelligence. If you do , then I will too.

    Cars and bikes and BOTH co-exist on our streets.

  • Peter, sometimes questions about opinions bring out quips and people get defensive; I wasn’t expecting that from you, but in case someone else chimed in I left that disclaimer. 

    I’m fine with giving people choices but I feel like when we have the regular left and  2-stage left, both as an informal choice for cyclists– I think it breeds confusion among motorists and cyclists alike. Increasingly I feel this choice is the result of am imperfect system in which there isn’t a turning method that’s good enough for everyone. 

    I think the reasoning in favor of 2-stage left is primarily that of safety (physical and subjective)– it reduces the potential for conflict/collision. I can understand the reasoning behind the idea “2-stage left is pro-car”, but I don’t see it in actuality– the cities with the highest bicycle mode-share in the world seem to formally facilitate (if force) 2-stage lefts. One would think that forcing such a movement, if it weren’t safe or convenient, on cyclists would result in fewer cyclists– right?

    Through clever timing, a two-stage left may not necessarily mean it takes longer for cyclists to get through an intersection. I once saw one of Mark Wagenbuur’s videos about the two-stage/ circular movement of cyclists at intersections and he noted that to traverse the huge intersection it only took him 1min15sec. I compared that with a common intersection in LA (York Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard) and much to my surprise– it took 1min19sec to make a conventional left turn. If the timing prioritizes cyclists, I don’t see how the two-stage movement is pro-car, as it means 1) The cyclist is safer and 2) It takes them just as long, if not less time, to traverse an intersection.

  • Just say NO to second hand exhaust fumes.

    I say the first thing we do, is kill all the cars 😉

  • J

    The crossing area is actually perfectly flat, but it has a bumped section at both entrances to the refuge area so that blind people know they’ve entered/exited an active roadway. I think that is what looks raised in the photo, but I assure you that it’s flat.

    You make a good point that Folsom is the more dangerous street to cross, but narrowing that roadway is a completely different project. In the mean time, I think that we should reduce pedestrian crossing distances wherever the space allows. Building out concrete costs a lot of money, so why not get the most bang for your buck by reducing crossing distances, slowing the speed of turning vehicles, and allowing for more plantings.

    Also, I certainly agree that names of these things could be better. I guess I haven’t heard a term for these that I thought was very obvious, so I went with what I know.

  • At least you’ve progressed from “THE ROADS ARE FOR CARS – ZOMG”

  • i think some ‘confusion’ is a good thing — slows everyone down a bit — a la Hans Monderman style.

    but outside of that, i don’t recall there being many accidents or deaths with regard to cyclists making left turns. the exceptions are:
    1) sometimes it really does seem that a cyclist will turn into the direct path of a car or truck, and the car or truck is not paying attention and kills them, and
    2) presence of streetcar tracks causes cyclists to eat it _hard_.

    i usually think first in terms of, “Where are we trying to get to (infrastructure-wise)?” — and so much of what we do is to just deal with cars.a two-phase left turn, to me, is similar in nature to a “cyclists must stop at all stop signs and red lights just because.”

    i remember reading about the various efficiencies two-face left turns could provide in actual places, but i’m very skeptical still. common sense tells me that it cannot ever be as convenient as free-flowing bike traffic. and, my guess is that many of the stories we get from overseas are bunk — like the “cyclists in Amsterdam stop at stop signs” stories — complete bunk, apparently.

  • also, the guy who runs Copenhagenize blog/consulting/etc., he _loves_ the two-stage left turn. i suspect he and i are ‘radical pro-bike’ on just about everything, but def seem to disagree on at least that — which is interesting to me.

  •  The bumps are required by federal law to inform the blind that they are leaving the sidewalk and entering the roadway.

  • ah, thanks @Jamesboat:disqus and @Uptowner13:disqus — didn’t know that about those bumps!

    i always thought they were to keep people from slipping down the slopes. rock on.

  • Next up: 4th street!

  • mikesonn

    4th, oh 4th. I ride it daily and am at peace with the fact my life will probably end on that road.


Protected Bike Lanes, Ped Safety Upgrades Proposed for Second Street

Second Street could get protected bike lanes, sidewalk extensions, lane reductions, greening and more under options presented to residents last night by the SF Department of Public Works and the Municipal Transportation Agency. Of the four options presented, one would include one-way protected bike lanes (or “cycle tracks”), and another would include a two-way protected […]