Protected Bike Lanes Finally Coming to Folsom Street Near Transbay Center

Image: Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure
Image: Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure

The city will hold a public meeting on Thursday evening to present updates on a plan to install protected bike lanes on Folsom Street near the Transbay Transit Center, east of Second Street.

Construction on the project was previously expected to start this year, according to a city staff presentation from last June [PDF]. At the time, an interim version of the streetscape redesign would have included only a protected bike lane in the eastbound direction, with three lanes for cars, converted for two-way traffic.

The plans are now set to be constructed in 2016, and they’ve been upgraded “because of Vision Zero,” according to Paul Chasan of the Planning Department.

“The new design calls for a two-lane street and a cycle track, which is going to make it a much safer pedestrian environment,” Chasan told a supervisors committee at a recent meeting. (“Cycle track” is the city’s term for protected bike lanes.) “It’s going to make it a high-quality space.”

As part of the project, a protected bike signal phase would be installed at the harrowing Essex Street intersection, which has two right-turn lanes for drivers headed to a Bay Bridge onramp.

For some reason, no information on the time and location of Thursday’s meeting has been posted online by the Department of Public Works or the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, which are leading the project. The SF Bicycle Coalition posted info on its website about the meeting yesterday.

The meeting will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 701 Mission Street.

  • twinpeaks_sf

    Here I fixed it.

    If we’re going to have dedicated bicycle signals – and perhaps even if we aren’t – why aren’t we pushing out the pedestrian realm to create a mini island, as they do in New York City and the Netherlands? This allows people walking to cross the bikeway freely without a signal and reduces their exposure to the open street. A shorter pedestrian crossing interval could even provide more flexible and efficient signal cycles for people driving.

    I’m sure we’ve all seen this:

  • Ziggy Tomcich

    We’re never going to have serious protected bike lanes if the city keeps calling them “cycletracks”. Cycletracks sounds like a bike racing course that most ordinary people will never relate to. If you ask 100 people on the street who knew nothing about biking and asked them if they think the city should remove parking spaces to build a “cycletrack”, most would probably say no. It’s not a cycletrack, it’s a protected bicycle lane! Get your terminology right SFMTA! BTW none of us care what other car-centric government agencies or highway building guidelines want to call it. When you physically protect a bike lane it’s called a protected bike lane!

  • BBnet3000

    Cycletrack is a term used in The Netherlands, where 1/3 of all trips are made by bicycle. I agree that “protected bike lane” is a term more clearly understood in the United States.

  • c2check

    There might be some accessibility issues (fitting the ramps, which can actually take up a good deal of space). You would have to either raise the bike lane to sidewalk level at the ped crossing, or install a ramp on the building side, then a street-level crosswalk channel in the island (which could work alright).

    In either case, they might be able to at least tighten up the corner radius some since there are no right turns (this might help fit a channel, too, at least)

    I can’t decide if either design is better or not. I get the sense that the original proposal would work fine for a small street like Folsom (the NYC examples with ped islands are on much larger avenues)

  • c2check

    Though, at intersections where there are turns across the bike lane, a configuration with islands like yours would work best where there’s enough space that a driver would turn in a way that they end up crossing the bike lane at 90º, which might require a somewhat wider island to fit a car in such a manner (c.f. video at 3:15)

    Pulling the bike lane towards the travel lane instead of channelizing it might help keep people on bikes more visible to drivers in a condition where there’s not enough space as described above.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Thanks for reminding me to send my annual email to the SF planning dept regarding the illegal gate across Ecker alley between Folsom and Clementina. With the redesign of Folsom upon us, it’s time to open that back up to the public.

  • SFnative74

    Cycletrack is a pretty common term used in some of the world’s most bike friendly cities and countries.

  • LVLHeaded

    Take this to the public meeting!!! PLEASE! That’s why they have them.

  • Gezellig


    Especially now that Davis (amongst other North American cities) is building true actual protected intersections, SF can no longer use the excuse that “no one has done this” or, my favorite, “…’the culture’ isn’t ready for it.”

  • Martijn

    In the picture it looks like the protection is coming from paint, paint has never stopped double parkers. Lest make the bike path at half sidewalk hight. And like Twinpeaks_sf suggests the intersections need protection.

  • David D.

    This is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The amount of bus traffic through the intersection of Folsom & Fremont is so high that there is no physical way buses will be able to get through this intersection with a shared left/through lane in the eastbound direction. This is going to back up traffic throughout the area, causing motorists to evade congestion by going into bike lanes and blocking pedestrian crosswalks. Imagine Folsom & 3rd times ten!

  • Matt

    This area is already a catastrophe, not sure if you have driven through there around commute hours but traffic is pretty much not moving anyways, not really sure if this is going to change anything. Also Folsomeand 3rd times 10 would literally look like a car junkyard as you would have to pile the cars on top of each other to reach those levels.

  • David D.

    Haha, true on the exaggeration. I’ve been down there during rush hour. It’s a mess. But I don’t see why we should add significant delays to buses by getting rid of the second eastbound lane. Why not restrict car parking or something else instead?

  • “Cyclepath” also has the advantage of sounding like that hallowed American cultural tradition, the psychopath.

  • SFnative74

    It’s a parking separated bikeway, so double parkers will end up blocking the travel lane, not the bikeway.

  • SFnative74

    Maybe you should send it to DPW.

  • Justin

    Nice Parking PROTECTED bike lane designs, it’s about time, hopefully it won’t take long and that it will be completed next year as hope, though I do have my doubts. It’s too bad though that they proposed it along with switching part of Folsom St to two way. It would have been fine and even better if they just kept it at the currently existing one way alignment. By doing that they could have not only build a Parking PROTECTED bikeway but also a red painted BUS ONLY lane for the 12-Folsom along with the traffic calming and the bulb outs. Doing it that way would replicate similarities of the 1st and 2nd Ave corridor in New York City, where all of this works out really well for all mode users and any businesses on those streets. This seems like a little bit of a misopportunity to me once again


Only a few months remain to fulfill a specific requirement of Mayor Lee's order on safety. Photo: Streetsblog

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