Eyes on the Street: Embarcadero Bike Lane Gets Greater Priority at Battery

Photo: SFMTA Livable Streets

The southbound Embarcadero bike lane was re-aligned and painted green this week to smooth out a tricky junction where people on bikes have to merge with right-turning drivers between Sansome and Battery Streets.

Previously, the bike lane disappeared on that block, and people biking were left to battle it out with fast-moving drivers. SFMTA Livable Streets staff wrote in a Facebook post that they “repurposed the third travel lane and shifted the location of the bike lane near the intersections of Sansome and Battery (southbound Embarcadero) so there is a continuous path of travel for people riding bikes.”

Before this project, there was a significant gap in the bike lane which created a merge that wasn’t very comfortable. Now, we’ve eliminated that gap so that vehicles, not people biking, must merge,” SFMTA staff wrote.

While the bike lane still won’t attract as many risk-averse riders as the proposed two-way protected bikeway, regular Embarcadero bike commuter Bruce Halperin said he had long pushed the SFMTA to at least make this fix. He launched an online petition on Change.org, which gained 58 signatures, and raised the issue to SFMTA planners at public meetings as well as through emails and phone calls.

Photo: Bruce Halperin

“The bike lane on the Embarcadero southbound ends abruptly at Sansome Street, with no warning,” Halperin wrote in the petition (now marked with “victory” status). “Bike riders are forced into fast-moving traffic, dodging cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles, in order to continue straight. These conditions are incredibly unsafe!”

Check out this video made by Halperin showing the hairy conditions under the former configuration:

  • Easy

    Still don’t like riding in a skinny lane between two sets of moving cars. We need to keep these lanes curb-side, and have separate cycles for right turning cars and straight going bikes.

  • Bruce

    Agreed, that would be ideal.

  • gneiss

    It’s good to see that the city is willing to take the low hanging fruit and do these projects where it’s only paint on the ground. However, while the cycling environment gets better for existing riders, these changes will in no way encourage the “willing but concerned” group to use bicycles for transportation. If the city is serious about getting mode share for trips by bicycle up to 20% within the next decade, SFMTA and DPW will need to stop dithering about planning and actually build more protected infrastructure along the corridors that connect public transport like Caltrain with other parts of the city.

    Proposition L went down in flames in the last election, so our political leadership should know that there is broad support for making these modifications, particularly among residents of SOMA, the Mission, and much of the central part of the city. Stop messing about with studies and start putting in protected bikeways.

  • Thank you Bruce Halperin!

  • J

    This. If we think this is even remotely good design, then we’re never going to get very far. What parent would let a 12 year old ride a bicycle there? I certainly wouldn’t. Hell, what person would want anyone they care about to bike there?

    I’m not one to make the perfect the enemy of the good, but this is a case the new design is nowhere near “good”, it’s merely slightly less terrifying than before. Hardly something to brag about.

  • Bruce

    I’ve noticed this too. The SFMTA and SFBC are aware of it – plans are in the works to add some safe-hit posts à la 6th Street to block through traffic in the new parking lane at Sansome.

  • Bruce

    They finally removed the Tow-Away signs along the sidewalk today and cars are starting to park in the curbside parking lane now. I still think a couple of safe-hit posts at the end of the parking lane are warranted though.

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