City College Property Could Make Room for Buffered Bike Lane on Ocean Ave

Ocean Avenue could be widened in front of the City College campus, and a freeway ramp re-aligned, to make bicycling from Balboa Park Station much safer. Image: Planning Department

A proposed solution has surfaced for one of the most frightening gaps in the Ocean Avenue bike lane at Balboa Park Station, where the existing bike lane disappears and throws uphill bike commuters in front of a high-speed freeway off-ramp. City College of SF has proposed opening up the edge of its main campus property, currently occupied by a retaining wall and undeveloped land, to make room for the bike lane extension, sidewalk extensions, and landscaped medians.

With plans also in the works to remove the curved highway 280 off-ramp and replace it with a perpendicular, signalized ramp, that stretch of Ocean could become dramatically safer.

The fix was presented this week at the final open house meeting for planned streetscape improvements along Ocean and around Balboa Park Station. Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich, a member of the BART Board of Directors, said the plans for bike and pedestrian improvements are “so far, so good,” and have been anticipated since the city began developing plans for the area in the late 90’s.

“The community has been remarkably patient, and the devil will be in the details,” he said. Still, the currently poor conditions for walking and biking to the station set “a low bar.”

City planners had originally included no substantial improvements to make bicycling safer on Ocean between the Balboa Park BART/Muni Station and CCSF, insisting on retaining both westbound traffic lanes, which Muni buses use. City agencies are now “working with City College to design a terraced landscape to eliminate the blank retaining wall currently in place and create a more inviting entrance,” according to Planning Department presentation materials [PDF].

Today, people using the westbound bike lane on Ocean are thrown into a traffic lane in front of a freeway off-ramp. Image: Google Maps

Widening Ocean east of Phelan Avenue will also make room to move the Muni rail boarding islands from their existing location near Phelan over to Howth Street, which planners say is a more central place to board the K-Ingleside, and allows for boarding island designs that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

City planners also recommended removing car parking on two blocks of Geneva Avenue to create curbside bike lanes between the highway 280 overpass and Howth, where bike commuters could connect to the CCSF campus entrance via a lightly-trafficked block of Howth on a contra-flow bike lane. However, bike lanes in both directions of Geneva would not extend across the overpass to Balboa Park Station.

Similarly, Ocean’s eastbound, downhill bike lane would disappear before its highway overpass, and riders would be squeezed into a single lane with drivers at a pinch point alongside a bus bulb-out. A car parking lane on the overpass would remain.

The plan for Geneva includes bike lanes, but they would disappear at the freeway overpass. Image: SF Planning Department

Geneva’s southbound bike lane would also extend all the way back to the Ocean and Geneva intersection. One of Geneva’s two southbound traffic lanes would be converted into a buffered bike lane (next to a parking lane) on the initial uphill climb for half a block, then become a curbside bike lane on the downhill stretch where the two traffic lanes will be retained.

The new Geneva configuration is a departure from a previous option proposed to downsize the massive Ocean and Geneva intersection. Under that proposal, the beginning of Geneva’s two southbound lanes, which are currently angled for drivers to shoot quickly through the intersection, would have been re-aligned at a 90-degree angle so drivers would have to stop before turning right. Land currently devoted to traffic lanes and a parking lot would be converted into a “plaza” with a “local access lane” running through it.

West of Phelan and CCSF, Ocean would get spruced up with planted bulb-outs and seating, but otherwise no roadway space on that stretch is set to be reallocated for biking, walking, or transit.

The new plan for the Ocean and Geneva intersection, which includes a partial road diet and bike lane on southbound Geneva.
  • Justin

    Aaron from what I remembered from that meeting talking to one of the project coordinators, and I could be wrong, was that the buffered bike lanes proposed on Ocean Ave heading west passing in front of CCSF could have soft hit posts or something that would protect people that would bike on that buffered bike lane, if it is to be built, from any motor vehicles that could enter it, possibly making that stretch a protected bikeway.

  • Sprague

    What a shame that the bike lanes will disappear before they reach the BART station. As someone who is not too familiar with this area, it seems odd to preserve parking spots on a freeway overpass. Is this to preserve parking for people who drive to the BART station (or for employees of the nearby Muni Metro yard or students/staff of Lick Wilmerding High School or CCSF)?

  • Jim

    Do people really ride up Geneva in either direction? It just seems better to have a protected two-way bike lane on Ocean from San Jose to Lee, as it does not have as steep of a grade. Additionally, this would make riding a bike westbound from Balboa Park station much easier.

    I’m undecided as to whether removing the pedestrian bridge is a good idea. It’s well utilized bridge, although it could much better to look at. Having attended CCSF, I find the bridge to be an added convenience.

  • davistrain

    Regarding the off-ramp from the 280 southbound to Ocean Ave. Making it a signalized intersection rather than a curving ramp may get the point across to drivers that they are leaving the freeway and entering a more controlled environment.

  • 94103er

    Confused by your question. It seems like what’s planned here is *both,* that is, bike infrastructure on Geneva as well as Ocean east of the intersection.

    Geneva is a massively underutilized, important arterial that could connect many people from the Bayshore Caltrain, say, to the south-central neighborhoods, City College, etc. They ought to be infrastructuring the heck out of it.

    If you play around with the interactive transit map Streetsblog and other sources have been discussing recently, you’ll see just how crappy is the access to the southeastern reaches of the city. And unsurprisingly, if you consult other sources, you’ll see how low bike mode share is in said neighborhoods. Perhaps we’re finally starting to turn a corner here.

  • Dark Soul

    freeway ramp re-aligned, to make bicycling from Balboa Park Station .

    What about people safety on sidewalks.

    and the

    Bridge should be removed at anyway(probaly not going happen anyways), but can be upgraded

  • Sam Bowman

    Hooray! That’s one of the scarier routes I ride regularly, and it isn’t especially easy to avoid. Removing parking seems especially forgivable here, since there are many, many alternate ways to reach both schools.

  • Jim

    I suppose my question was primarily asking whether people actually ride their bikes on Geneva between Ocean and San Jose? Geneva just seems to be a really steep, whereas Ocean offers a much gentler grade overall.

  • Sprague

    Transit signal priority could take care of a stoplight’s negative impact on Muni service.

  • SFnative74

    It decreases the negative impact but doesn’t usually remove it. Reason being that you still need to give pedestrians time to finish crossing – you can’t instantly stop a pedestrian phase to give transit a green light.

  • Sprague

    From my understanding of the intersection in question (where the southbound 280 off-ramp meets Ocean Avenue), there will be no crosswalk across Ocean Avenue (as seen in the rendering above – the first image of this article). In light of this, transit signal priority should be a real benefit to Muni if there’s a stoplight installed there.

  • Filamino

    I don’t think a bike lane going downhill on such a steep slope on Ocean and Geneva would be a good idea. The sidewalk juts out at the Ocean railyard entrance too, so bicyclists might hit it if they are going too fast. Better to just let them merge with traffic in this case.

  • Dark Soul

    Get run over by bikes

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