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SFMTA: Work on Oak Street Protected Bike Lane to Begin This Month

Oak and Divisadero Streets. The Kelly-Moore paint store is currently undergoing construction work that the SFMTA says could delay the installation of the bike lane on Oak. Image: Google Maps

Since the striping work on the Fell Street protected bike lane was finished last November, little progress has been seen on the Fell and Oak safety upgrades. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency, which has promised completion of the project by this spring or summer, says it will begin work on the Oak bike lane this month, though there could be delays due to ongoing construction work on a paint store.

"Weather permitting, bike and pedestrian improvements to Oak Street between Baker and Scott Streets and Baker Street between Fell and Oak Streets will begin in February and continue through April or May," said Ben Jose, public relations officer for SFMTA's Livable Streets subdivision, in an email. "Final completion of the Oak Street bike lane implementation is contingent on the Kelly-Moore Paint Store’s construction efforts on the corner of Oak and Divisadero Streets." Cones to set aside space for workers at the scaffolding-covered paint store have been occupying part of Oak's south-side parking lane, where the bike lane is set to be striped.

Jose said the remaining work on Oak and Baker Streets, which includes striping the Oak bike lane and converting parallel parking spaces on Baker to back-in angled parking spaces, will be "more labor intensive and requires more coordination between SFMTA shops than the improvements seen on Fell Street in late 2012."

"SFMTA crews will need to install new signs, remove parking meters, remove and replace all traffic striping on these street segments, and modify the traffic signals before the separated bikeway can be installed on Oak Street," he said. "This work will be phased to ensure the safety of bike and motor vehicle traffic during construction."

Bike lane projects in Chicago and New York City, by comparison, seem to be constructed at a much faster pace. Chicago's 1.2-mile Dearborn parking-protected bikeway through downtown was completed just four months after it was announced. NYC's Department of Transportation built a combined 50 blocks of protected bikeways -- including pedestrian islands and bike corrals -- on 8th and 9th Avenues in Midtown Manhattan during the 2012 construction season.

The Fell and Oak project, which is comprised of three blocks on two streets, had its first community planning meeting in July 2011 and is scheduled to take seven months to construct (granted, winter weather can delay construction).

Concrete work, including pedestrian bulb-outs and new planters separating the Fell and Oak bike lanes from motor traffic, is also anticipated as part of the project. The traffic signal speeds will also be re-timed from 25 MPH to 20 MPH to calm traffic. Although some bike riders have complained about the bumpy concrete surface on the Fell lane, the SFMTA has no plans to re-surface it.

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