SFMTA Installs Bike Lanes, Back-In Angled Parking on John Muir Drive

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John Muir Drive, which runs along the south side of Lake Merced, was upgraded last month with bike lanes separated by posts and buffer zones on some stretches. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency also converted angled parking spots on the road to the safer back-in angled configuration, which lets drivers see their path better when they pull out.

Photo: Google Maps

The one-mile John Muir Drive connects Skyline Boulevard to Lake Merced Boulevard, which has bike lanes that lead to Daly City. A shared bike and pedestrian path circling Lake Merced already exists, but the new bike lanes provide a new on-street option for bicycle riders who prefer it.

The project is one of the later projects to be rolled out from the SF Bike Plan, which is now over 75 percent complete, according to the SFMTA. The post-separated, buffered sections of bike lane and back-in angled parking don’t appear in the original plan [PDF], and it appears planners revised the project to add those features.

Back-in angled parking was included in the agency’s “Innovative Bicycle Treatment Toolbox” as a safer way to design bike lanes alongside car parking. SFMTA staff said a curbside, parking-protected bike lane would require more funding and planning to implement, since it would require measures like new curb ramps and raised buffers to prevent drivers from backing into the bike lane.

The speed limit on John Muir is 30 MPH on the western portion, near Skyline Boulevard, and 40 MPH on the eastern portion, according to an SFMTA report [PDF]. SFMTA staff said the buffer treatments were only used on the southbound bike lane on the road’s southern stretch, so not all of the high-speed stretches of the road will have this level of protection.

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  • Anonymous

    Glad to see this, that area in front of the apartments with angle parking always was risky, not knowing when a car would back out. John Muir Dr. needs to be repaved badly, hopefully that’ll be next.

  • Lou

    Even if bikes were never considered, this is just plain SAFER for drivers in general.  Who wouldn’t want the clearest, least obstructed view of the street as well as any cars that can hit you?  I’ve been parking “nose out” since I was 17 and wondered why more people won’t do it.

    But I can already hear the lazy and uninitiated: “This is stupid.”  “Parking like that is hard.”  Idiots.

  • Excellent to see. I asked Fresno to consider backed in parking and was told they cant because “it doesnt exist in California”.  There goes that argument.

  • Anonymous

    A big thank you to SFMTA for this. I ride that stretch semi-regularly, and having an alternative to that shared path that is frequently too narrow or crowded to safely ride is much appreciated. Having some separation from cars that often treat that Southern stretch John Muir Dr. like a speedway is even more appreciated.

  • Mylyons

    Let’s not be completely blind here….while exiting appears safer, although not sure there is data to support this claim, the backing in procedure requires much more attentiveness and skill than normal pull in spaces.

  • Sea Breeze

    I’ve lived on John Muir Drive for over thirty years, and I can tell you from experience that drivers do not obey the speed limit. It has always been a dangerous roadway for pedestrians, bikers, and the local wildlife–especially at night. Now, they have painted lines all over the place, and it is not immediately obvious what the lines are for. While driving at night, we have had cars behind us try to pass us on the right side because they think those new lines represent another lane. 

  • I agree, this is safer even without considering bikers. 
    And in response to @da9df1fc1ff1149307eccdd30e0a4066:disqus: the process is slightly harder pulling in, and WAY easier pulling out when compared to nose-to-curb (90 degree) parking. Compared to parallel parking, angled back-in blows it out of the water in terms of ease.

  • mike

    Jass, this is at least the 4th location in SF that has back-in angled parking. It is also on Townsend St, Illinois St, and Williams Ave. It works well!


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