Fifth Street Bike Lane Plans on Hold for Central Subway Construction

Plans for bike lanes on Fifth Street, which would connect Market Street to the Fourth and King Caltrain Station, are on hold at least until the Central Subway is completed in 2019.

Fifth Street near Mission Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Originally, the 2009 SF Bike Plan called for conventional bike lanes on Fifth, painted between parked cars and moving cars. But during subway construction, Muni buses on the 30-Stockton and 45-Union have been detoured on to Fifth, meaning buses would have to jostle in and out of the bike lanes to make stops, a less-than-ideal situation. Instead, the SFMTA plans to revisit the plans “to determine what innovative approaches are feasible on Fifth Street,” said Ben Jose, spokesperson for the agency’s Livable Streets division.

Fifth is badly in need of protected bike lanes. Currently, people biking on the street must mix it up with motor vehicles, with only sharrows painted on the broken asphalt. Fifth is a key connector for commuters headed to and from Caltrain and other destinations in SoMa. Neighboring Fourth and Sixth Streets carry even heavier, faster freeway-bound motor traffic (Fourth is a five-lane, one-way street).

In the SFMTA’s Bicycle Strategy, planners ranked Fifth Street as having the ninth-highest demand for bicycle safety upgrades among streets within the existing official bicycle network. The SFMTA said that ranking was based on bike counts, focus groups, and bicycle crash data.

Years down the line, other streets in this area of SoMa are poised to get protected bike lanes. The Central SoMa plan (formerly the Central Corridor Plan), expected to be adopted later this year, calls for protected bike lanes on Third and upper Fourth Streets, as well as one-way and two-way bikeway options on Folsom, Howard, and Brannan Streets. There’s no timeline set for those projects yet.

  • Peter M

    Does this delay account for the fact that the 30 and 45 are going to be permanently running on 5th between Harrison and Townsend?

  • • It’s just paint.

  • Surely, we could at least do something temporarily.

  • Justin

    Conventional unprotected expository bike lanes is soooooo last century, this street and other downtown streets need modern 21st century protected bike lanes. There’s just no other way to cut it!! As I said, many of the one way streets in SOMA i.e. Folsom, Howard etc that contains at times fast moving traffic that feels like a freeway, some of these streets are the best streets to install PARKING protected bike lanes that would not only make it safer for people to bike on but it also insulates the cyclist and pedestrian from that hostile traffic and would attract anyone and everyone to bike, getting that diversity of riders that were aiming for!!

  • Justin

    Oh I forgot more thing, these protected bike lanes in downtown if they’re ever built???? They MUST be interconnected, very important!!

  • gb52

    As noted with the construction of Central Subway, if a road is taken out of the street grid, the world doesn’t end! If we made 4th street a transit / ped / bike corridor, we could have seen improvements at a fraction of the cost and a lot sooner! We need to realize that not every street needs to have cars! (Just think of Powell by Union Square and how that would feel if there were no cars!)

  • Brad

    If we’d just extended the T-3rd Light Rail up the center of 4th st, repaved and closed 4th to cars, what would the benefits be? Savings of hundreds of millions of dollars, a 2-way completely safe bikeway between mission bay and Market St/BART, and less pressure to reconfigure 2nd and 5th Sts. The downsides? Well, you could still access I-80 W from Harrison, and I-80 East from 5th and Bryant, so basically no downsides.

  • theqin

    Does anyone know if there are any plans to put in protected bike lanes on Townsend? I tried to search through the various plans, but Townsend seems to be the edge of every plan and thus not addressed. There are a lot of pedestrians, bikes, shuttles, cars, corporate shuttles and busses there all intersecting and blocking each other.

  • eze

    gb52, how do you expect delivery trucks to make their deliveries to all the businesses along Powell Street by banning cars?

  • jamiewhitaker

    Would it be so hard to finish off the Folsom Street bike lane east of 4th Street? I mean, aren’t folks commuting to work trying to get just a little further east to corporate jobs?


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