Bikeway on Mission Street Would Cost More Than One on Market

Constructing raised, protected bike lanes on downtown Mission Street would cost more than building them on Market, according to SF Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin.

A possible vision for Market Street with a raised, protected bikeway.

The Mission bikeway proposal, which recently surfaced as an option to be studied in the repeatedly-delayed Better Market Street project, would entail abandoning long-sought bike safety improvements on Market, which is where bicycle riders naturally tend to travel. The Department of Public Works and the SFMTA have said the Mission option, which would also re-route Muni’s 14-Mission buses on to Market, would be simpler to engineer, allow the 14 to use Market’s wider bus lanes, and could include a “green wave” for bikes on Mission.

The proposal for protected bike lanes on Mission instead of Market. Images: Better Market Street

But even factoring in the cost of reconstructing Market Street’s granite curbs to build raised bike lanes, the Mission option is projected to be more expensive, Reiskin told the SF County Transportation Authority Board (comprised of the Board of Supervisors) at a hearing yesterday. Though the cost estimates for each option aren’t immediately available, Reiskin said that even if protected bikeways weren’t included at all, construction costs on Market Street would only be cut by an estimated 10 percent. The total cost of the project is estimated to be as high as $450 million, up from the $250 million figure provided last year.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who, along with Supervisor John Avalos, called for hearings to scrutinize the Mission bikeway proposal and project delays, noted that “ten percent is not a dramatic increase,” and that debates about whether or not to build a protected bikeway on Market should focus on policy outcomes, not cost.

Reiskin agreed, saying that the main downside to building protected bike lanes on Market is that some of the real estate would come from the sidewalks. He also acknowledged, “Its strongest point is that Market Street, as we can see out there today, is a natural place where cyclists go, so to the extent that we can get a ‘Class 1’ facility on Market Street, that’s a very strong selling point for this option.” (“Class 1” is the CA Highway Design Manual’s term for physically protected bikeways.)

Wiener pointed out that, under the Mission scenario, a parking lane would be removed from Mission, though Reiskin said the SFMTA’s Transit Effectiveness Project may remove the same amount of parking anyway to widen the bus lanes, which are currently too narrow to fit Muni buses.

Recent criticism of the Better Market project has been focused perhaps as much on the Mission proposal as the repeated delays. Construction was originally supposed to begin this year, but has since been pushed back to 2017, with a completion date of 2019.

Supervisor David Chiu, referring to the materials in Reiskin’s presentation, said, “There doesn’t seem to be anything to answer the questions of why this project was repeatedly and chronically delayed.”

Reiskin, who was chief of DPW before being selected to head the SFMTA in July 2011, said he and other department heads “accept responsibility” for setting the unrealistic construction date of 2013. Since then, the two-year construction period has been pushed back to begin in 2015, then to 2017, as of this month. “We did, over the last year, have some fits and starts as we ran into some walls in terms of the planning and development of this project, and this has taken longer than we would’ve liked, but it’s an extremely complicated project,” said Reiskin, who didn’t go into greater detail on what those complications are.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, pointed out that the challenges of coordinating a major, multi-agency project “are not new” and that the difficult aspects of improving Market Street have long been known. Yet, she pointed out, projects like the replacement of Doyle Drive with the Presidio Parkway, the Central Subway — and its first phase, the T-Third line — which faced greater levels of complexity and also required major stakeholder input, saw greater focus from city agencies and made faster progress than the Better Market Street project.

Ron Miguel, the former president of the Planning Commission who was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to chair an advisory group for Better Market Street, agreed. “There is nothing — I’m sorry Mr. Reiskin — unusual about Market Street that hasn’t been done in San Francisco before,” he said. “We’ve known pretty much about all of the problems that are coming up on Market Street. But we haven’t done any planning for it.”

Chiu also pointed out that despite the Board of Supervisors and the SFMTA Board of Directors urging the agency to implement more pilot projects to get cars off Market in the near-term, no progress has been made. Reiskin said the agency “would continue with pilot projects,” but didn’t name any specifically.

More hearings on Better Market Street are expected in the months to come. One is expected to be scheduled at an upcoming meeting of the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee (at Wiener’s request), and Chiu requested project staff to report to the SFCTA Board “at least quarterly.”

  • reality check

    I’m not sure using Doyle Drive and the T-Third as examples is proving anything. The Doyle Drive replacement effort started with Caltrans drawing up plans in the 70s. SF started a task force to choose a conceptual design in 1992, environmental review began in 2000, construction began in 2009, and half the project was opened for use in 2012 – 20 years after the task force in SF chose a design. The T-Third opened for use in 2007, and was being planned/designed in 1994, if not earlier. That was at least 13 years in the making. Market St is complex and expensive, and it will take time to do it right.

  • The strongest selling point for putting the bike facilities on Market is creating a vibrant and iconic corridor.

  • Jamison Wieser

    I don’t see what makes Market Street a “natural” route given? The tracks in the center lanes make left turns unsafe for cyclists, even that wye at 11th can be a little tricky. There’s all the car traffic that comes in at an angle and has to take Market for a block or two before it can turn. 

    Some of those intersections where car traffic is turning right while bikes are mostly heading forward are where under any case – even the dedicated bike lanes – bikes are going to have merge with car traffic at many of the intersections where the subway entrances don’t provide enough room for bike and traffic lanes. 

    If the city goes with the Mission Bikeway option and there’s a cycletrack on Mission and – safer than today – shared traffic lanes, which would some new to the city think is the natural route? 

  • Bruce Halperin

    It’s natural because the simplest thing for eastbound riders coming from Upper Market is to stay on Market east of Van Ness.  Would you have cyclists forced to turn onto 11th to get over to Mission?  How would that work in reverse? Market/11th is currently an uncontrolled intersection – you’d need a left turn signal for westbound cyclists there.

    I, for one, am willing to hear all the details of the Mission proposal before making a final judgment.  It has many advantages, including all right-angle intersections, no buses (if the 14/14L/14X are moved), and fewer pedestrians.  But it also means poor BART connectivity, poor connectivity to the streets north of Market, and a less direct route for most cyclists.

  • Even now cyclists take lefts off of market by making box turns.

  • Jamison Wieser

    @google-c09955594148a48187a25aded8c042a9:disqus you’ve got some great points and for the Mission plan to go forward it should have an answer to all of them.
    How sarcastic were you being about 11th street because I actually do see it as the prefect spot to nudge eastbound bike traffic to Mission. The eastbound F-line tracks on Market turn with a spur down the center of 11th (the setup is called a “wye” and gets used several daily as part of regular service for reversing F-line streetcars) so having bikes turn there would keep them entirely clear of the tracks. 

    For eastbound bike traffic this could be where the cycletrack begins, clinging the left side of 11th to avoid the tracks before moving into the left turn lane where bikes get a jump ahead box and add a phase for bikes to the traffic signal. 11th & Mission is terribly timed for pedestrians so the extra scramble time wouldn’t be a bad thing. More holistically this is also an opportunity for a better pedestrian connection between Market and Western SOMA. The westbound route doesn’t have to be exactly the same – Fell and Oak are a block apart – but where would it be? 9th? 

    You’ve also got a good point about getting bikes back north of Market and there’d need to be solutions every few streets and this is a chance to separate out bike priority streets from car priority streets. 3rd and 4th are traffic sewers as well as Muni corridors, but DPW is considering cycle tracks on second between Market and Harrison. That’s one BART connection. 

    5th street could be the next bike corridor, connecting with Powell Station & Union Square. Cyclists could be a force for activating Mint Plaza.

  • Jamison Wieser

    I haven’t heard anyone mention Caltrain yet. The Mission Street bikeway would go right to the Transbay Terminal.

  • Anonymous

    Why not move all the busses to Mission? Leave Market entirely to bikes, pedestrians, and the F. Give Mission Bus Rapid Transit, no private cars there, either.

  • the greasybear

    For decades, there was no bike infrastructure on streets leading into and out of downtown; cyclists had their pick of equally dangerous routes. It turns out Market Street has been the preferred bike route into and out of downtown for the majority of bicyclists during those decades–and in this one. This is what we mean by ‘natural route.’

  • Jamison – if bikes are routed to Mission, with all the one way streets between Market and Mission I would wager a lot of money we’ll see a bunch of sidewalk and wrong way cycling, both directions, on those one ways.

  • This is the holy grail. We can justify a bikeway on Mission going to the Transbay Terminal because Caltrain. And we can justify a Central Subway going to 4th/King because Caltrain.
    Can’t have it both ways. Yes, the theory is that both stations will exist, but even if that happens, would trains be stopping at both stations? The prevailing theory is that they won’t. If Transbay is primarily for HSR type trains, will they allow bikes? By the time the Transbay is in place will Caltrain allow bikes – the trains are at seated capacity these days, electrification will add more trains but that’s maybe 15% more capacity.
    Regardless, anyone coming from above 14th would be better served going to 4th/King via the current hipster Caltrain route than going to Transbay.

  • i think the process could be made simpler by cyclists just demanding protected bike lanes on every single street in the city, anywhere they can be employed, but mandatory on all major roads, of course, and every other street becomes a woonerf — where car/truck/bus use is restricted or denied altogether. 

    we can’t employ the ‘one block over’ strategy which works about as well as vehicular cycling hasn’t.

    now we know what we have to do — get it done. Mission and Market will become primarily walking/biking streets, with some room for transit on both, and possibly even some private motorized transport, but walking and biking required and primary/ascendant — everything else is optional and can be dropped from the plans as required to properly accomodate walkers and bikers.

  • Anonymous

    Or for that matter the Bay Bridge.  When it opens on Labor Day 2013 (if it opens on Labor Day 2013) it will have been almost a quarter century since the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

  • Wondering

    What about EB wiggle to Market to Elgin Park under the Freeway ramp to Mcoppin to Otis to Mission? That could be direct and sweet.

  • Gneiss

    That has been discussed.  Not direct and not sweet.  Why do people on bikes need to navigate through a maze to get to the BART station at Civic Center?  We should be making our bicycle routes easy and direct.  Not difficult and complicated for people to figure out unless they have special ‘local knowledge’.

    This is like telling people that they should take Page and Hayes Street instead of Oak and Fell on the wiggle since those are “only one block over and easier”.

  • Anonymous

    Actually with the blended system the Transbay design team now says that there is capacity for all Caltrain trains to go to Transbay (with the exception perhaps of special ballpark trains).   Another thing to think about though, is the city’s interest in developing at the location currently occupied by 4th and King and moving that station eventually. 

  • thielges

     Because Market is also the spine of rail transit, both Muni and BART.  With buses using Market, passengers can transfer quickly.  If buses were on Mission then you add walking at least a block for all transfers.

  • Don

    Funny how now on mentions that in order to put the bike tracks on Market Street requires moving all the curbs, all the street lights, water supplies for hydrants, sewer drains, electrical and will triple the construction time. But who cares about that if the Bike Coalition gets their win.

  • 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019. Next it’ll be 2023, then 2046. At this point, let’s just shut Market Street to private cars from Van Ness eastward and fix the potholes wherever they lurk. Bing, bang, boom–we’ve got the best main street for biking in the western hemisphere,  transit speeds up by 20%, and walking becomes markedly more pleasant. Cost? Practically free. And it will have happened in my lifetime, not a few decades after I’m in the grave.

  • second. all in favor?

  • Joel

    That’s a poor analogy. Page and Hayes were avoided because they have steeper grades than Fell and Oak, not because they were closer to or farther from any particular destinations. Mission and Market both provide access to a number of sites downtown. Saying that taking Market is more convenient alienates SoMa, a rapidly growing segment of SF’s population. Mission would be a reasonable alternative, especially as the downtown epicenter begins to shift southeast.

  • Page and Hayes were avoided because they have steeper grades than Fell and Oak, not because they were closer to or farther from any particular destinations.
    i don’t know what the stated reasons were, but my guess as to why cyclists were not given the preferable/direct routes were b/c:
    * drivers would object, and
    * most cycling ‘advocates’ continue — even today — to argue for the “only one block over and easier” strategy. this is aka the “take the easy road” or “take the low-hanging fruit” or “don’t treat biking as a serious transportation mode” or “don’t make drivers angry” or “keep GM’s stock price inflated” or “avoid confrontation” or “I can’t wait to see SF under water” strategy.

  • Peter ??? Cyclists were in fact given the preferable, direct routes – Fell/Oak, instead of Page/Hayes. Page/Hayes are sharrowed, Fell/Oak are getting a zillion dollar makeover to include separated lanes. Fell/Oak are the more direct and flatter route.

  • Bruce Halperin

    @twitter-14678929:disqus You mean that “hipster Caltrain route” where Diana Sullivan died because the bike lane abruptly ends in the middle of King Street with no warning whatsoever?  Just checking.

  • Bruce Halperin

     I wasn’t being sarcastic at all.  I was simply commenting on the awkwardness of having to shift bike traffic over from Market to Mission somewhere east of Van Ness.  I agree that 11th Street would be the best such route, if a bikeway were to be built on Mission.

  • Gneiss

    Perfect.  Buses and street cars on the center lane, bikes on the right.  Repave and we’re done.  No need to move the curb stones.

  • Bruce – hipsters live in the Mission, only a very lost hipster would end up on King (one could argue that anyone headed to Caltrain – as Diana Sullivan was *not* would not end up on King).

    The Hipster Route is Valencia, 14th, through the Best Buy Parking Lot, Divison, illegal left onto Bryant, Division, Rotary, Townsend.

  • Peter Smith

    @murphstahoe you talking about some future world? What did I miss?

  • Anonymous

    Just a question though: do we really need buses on Market when Bart runs underneath and Muni runs both underneath and on top? Seems a little redundant to me …

  • vcs

    Sorry to piss on the parade, but Muni needs both lanes. 

  • vcs

    Even then, it wouldn’t be a fully separated bike lane, due to the BART entrances being about 18 inches from the existing curb… 

    They really weren’t thinking when they rebuilt Market back in the 1970s. 

  • Gneiss

    vcs – why?  There’s no reason why all the buses can’t run down the center lane.  I’ve never understood why some buses run down the center and some don’t – and you need special ‘local knowledge’ to know which is which.

  • If Muni buses really can’t use the center lane, I would take dealing with periodic buses along the stretches where sharing is necessary. Not perfect (and not a design for 8 – 80, probably only 12 – 70), but now bicyclists are dealing with buses *and* a constant stream of cars. It is the cars that make biking on Market miserable. (Well, and the awful pavement.)

    Given the importance of getting people on bikes to improve health and reduce carbon emissions, given that every trip made by bike costs the city nothing while every trip made by transit or private motorized vehicle is highly subsidized by us all, it’s far preferable in my opinion to make biking fifty times better immediately, versus waiting for a design that maybe, someday, just possibly might be a hundred times better a decade from now if we hold our breath and SFMTA doesn’t get distracted by other projects claiming its attention and funds. In some ways, by dangling a carrot of Class 1 bikeways in front bicyclists that recedes forever into the future, we are being distracted by what needs to happen now. (Perhaps this is on purpose?)

    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  • Jamison Wieser

    Not only would Market Street cycle-tracks takes space from other amenities, they would also be intermittent and require cyclists to merge with car and Muni traffic at any corner with a subway entrance.

  • Did I miss something Jamison or aren’t we going to remove cars from Market completely?

  • Not only would Market Street cycle-tracks takes space from other amenities, they would also be intermittent and require cyclists to merge with car and Muni traffic at any corner with a subway entrance.
    if it was true that allowing bikes on Market would “take space from other amenities”, then that would necessarily mean that cars are already “taking much more space from other amenities” on Market.

    the solution then, seems obvious — drop cars from Market. voila — win win win.

    as for cyclists having to merge or otherwise interact with other people — what to say — if you don’t like people, move to Idaho.

  • Bruce Halperin

     @002ec2dcc5273303fbfd34e45385ab64:disqus Eastbound, the buses that terminate at the Ferry Plaza (2, 6, 21, 31) run in the center lane, and the buses that terminate at the Transbay Terminal (5, 38/38L, 71/71L) run in the curb lane.  Westbound, the buses that turn off of Market after Van Ness (6, 71/71L) run in the center lane, and the buses that turn off of Market before Van Ness (2, 5, 21, 31, 38/38L) run in the curb lane.

    Muni added the second lane for buses on Market (in the early 90s, if memory serves) because one lane leads to congestion (i.e., buses have to wait behind other buses in order to let off/on passengers at a stop).  This problem was bad enough with only a curb lane – with only a center lane it would be even worse.

  • reality check

    Even if you take cars completely off Market, transit needs two lanes in each direction (apparently). So where do you get space for a bikeway? From the sidewalk. Unless you want cyclists and transit (which includes taxis) sharing lanes, in which case the street is not much different than today.


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