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Tuesday: Support Needed for a Car-Free Bike/Ped Path on the Marina

Photo: SFDPW

One year after community planning meetings began, plans finally appear to be moving forward for removing the 51 parking spaces in the middle of a walking and biking path along the Marina -- the only stretch of the 500-mile Bay Trail with cars on it. But Marina boat owners aren't giving up, and car-free path supporters need to turn out to a community meeting next Tuesday to ensure progress on this no-brainer plan.

Some of the boat owners arguing to keep the often-empty parking spaces have apparently used their connections to delay the project for several months -- the city's final proposal for the path was originally due in March. If the plan is approved this fall, the parking spaces would be removed next spring, according to a September 30 presentation [PDF].

In a letter to SF Recreation and Parks [PDF], the SF Bicycle Coalition's Janice Li pointed out that a permit issued to the city by the Bay Conservation Development Commission requires that the plan pursue “a design of a Bay Trail segment that provides a high quality bicycle, pedestrian, and general visitor experience.”

"The only way to properly meet the Bay Trail standards and provide that experience is by creating a car-free path," wrote Li.

According to the SFBC, other supporters of a car-free path include the Fort Mason Center, Marina Community Association, and SF Road Runners Club.

Data reported in city surveys shows just how unnecessary the car access is, even while it undermines any sense of safety and comfort for people walking and biking. Only 2 percent of people using the path are parking cars, and only 40 to 68 percent of the parking spaces are typically occupied. Yet these few drivers can fill half the path: one-fourth of the path is devoted to auto storage, while another fourth is deemed a “shared” driving lane.

Even though only 91 of the 350-some-odd total slips in the Marina basin are adjacent to the parking spaces in question, those boat slip renters are having none of it. As one man put it at a community meeting last year, "There are plenty of marinas on the east coast, where I also live, that have adequate parking."

Tuesday's meeting will start at 6 p.m. at Moscone Recreation Center at 1800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco.

Comments can also be sent to Mary Hobson and Sarah Ballard of Rec and Parks. The SFBC has posted a template for letters of support on its website.

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