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Bicycle Safety

Eyes on the Street: New Bike/Ped Safety Tweaks on Upper Market, Valencia

5:14 PM PST on January 16, 2015

The Market Street bike lane was widened and painted green between Octavia Boulevard and the Wiggle, among other tweaks in the neighborhood. Photos: Aaron Bialick

The SFMTA recently made some upgrades to bike lanes and pedestrian crossings around Valencia Street and Market Street.

Near Octavia Boulevard, the Market bike lanes were widened and painted green, and a buffer zone was added, making it a bit more comfortable for commuters pedaling up the hill from lower to upper Market towards the Wiggle. The traffic lanes, formerly 12 feet wide (which encourages drivers to speed and is unusual in SF) were narrowed to 10 feet to make room for the bike lanes, said SFMTA Livable Streets spokesperson Ben Jose. Continuing east toward downtown, the Market bike lanes got a fresh coat of green paint and some new plastic posts at Tenth Street.

Cheryl Brinkman, a member of the SFMTA Board of Directors, was spotted in a platoon of bike commuters climbing the hill in the newly widened Market bike lane.

"I think it feels more welcoming for cyclists, and it helps drivers realize that that's a different kind of space," said Brinkman. "I think for San Francisco, the green has really come to symbolize that that's a space where there's going to be a bicycle. And extra buffer zone is really nice because you can really ride out of the door zone."

A couple of relatively new treatments (for SF) were also implemented on northern Valencia, at the intersections of Duboce Avenue and McCoppin Streets.

Duboce, which Jose noted sees "the fifth highest number of injury collisions citywide" (fourth highest for bicycle injuries), received a number of safety tweaks. Jose said these are the first of two phases for "Vision Zero improvements" planned for the intersection.

At Valencia and Duboce, a "mixing zone" was created by widening the bike lane approach.
A view of the front of the mixing zone.

In what seems to be a first in SF (outside of Golden Gate Park), the bike lane approach on northbound Valencia at Duboce was widened into a full-width "mixing zone," an area shared by right-turning drivers and cyclists, with sharrows to indicate that people on bikes should continue to use the full lane. Jose said this would "help prevent right hooks to people biking." SF bike lanes are already supposed to function like this at the approach to an intersection, but they're typically too narrow to fit a car, and drivers often fail to merge in to the bike lane before turning. As a result, they may cut off someone passing in the bike lane to their right.

In the redesign, the SFMTA also shifted the northbound left-turn lane at Valencia and Duboce further to the left, and added "advanced stop bars" to keep drivers from pulling close to the crosswalk. Jose said those measures would "improve visibility of opposing traffic." Left turns have also been banned at all times from eastbound Duboce onto Valencia (they were already prohibited during peak hours).

At Valencia and Duboce, the left-turn lane was shifted further to the left to improve visibility for motorists, and an advanced stop bar was added (which, ahem, some drivers may not adhere to).

Under the Central Freeway at McCoppin, the SFMTA also added a new left-turn bike box to guide riders making turns to connect to westbound Market via the bikeway that runs alongside new the McCoppin Hub plaza.

At all of the intersections where improvements were made, crosswalks were also upgraded to the more visible "ladder-style" striping. As these kinds of minor tweaks add up, they contribute to a more welcoming environment for people walking and biking.

A left-turn bike box on Valencia at the McCoppin Hub bikeway.

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