Eyes on the Street: Octavia Car Queue Squeezes Out Bikes on Page Street

A typical queue of cars on Page Street at Octavia Boulevard. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Page Street is a pretty great bicycle route to get downtown from the western neighborhoods — until you reach the two blocks that are typically backed up with cars waiting to turn on to Octavia Boulevard and the Central Freeway. Bike commuters are forced to squeeze by stopped cars, either to the left (in the mostly empty oncoming traffic lane) or the right (the door zone tunnel).

This situation isn’t new, and some sustainable transportation advocates in Hayes Valley have long called for solutions to provide a safe path for people on bikes.

Muni riders recently got an effective fix for the same problem on Haight Street, one block over, where a bus-only lane was created by narrowing traffic lanes, running to the left of the right-turning car queue. Since Page isn’t as wide as Haight, there isn’t room to provide a similar treatment for bikes without subtracting car storage or the westbound traffic lane, making those two blocks one-way (for cars, at least).

This problem is enough to deter some people from biking on Page, even though the rest of the street is a pretty low-stress route (and mostly downhill, eastbound). For the less risk-averse among us, rolling by the left of the car queue while holding the brakes is tolerable, but I’ve heard from many people (including my wife) that these blocks can really be a deal-breaker for the whole route. Alternative streets — Oak, Fell, and Haight — are not as safe, direct, or intuitive.

From a driving standpoint, it’s also perplexing that so many drivers get into this queue since there’s a pretty direct way to bypass it and take on-ramps for highways 101 and 80 along Division and Bryant Streets. Perhaps some wayfinding measures can help point out under-utilized routes and reduce the queue.

As Hoodline reported, the SFMTA could develop plans to fix the Page blockage in the second phase of street safety improvements the agency is working on for Hayes Valley.

The second block of the car queue on Page, looking from Buchanan Street to Laguna. Photo: Aaron Bialick

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