D3 Supe Candidates Peskin, Christensen Weigh in on Polk Street Bike Lanes

District 3 supervisor candidates Aaron Peskin and Julie Christensen gave their positions on bringing protected bike lanes to all of Polk Street this week in response to the SF Bicycle Coalition’s election questionnaire. Peskin gave an affirmative “yes,” while Christensen’s response was closer to a “maybe.”

Aaron Peskin and Julie Christensen.
Aaron Peskin and Julie Christensen.

The redesign for Polk, approved by the SFMTA board in March, was watered down from the original vision for protected bike lanes after some merchants complained about the reduction in car parking. David Chiu, who was the D3 supervisor during most of the planning process, did not stand up for a bolder vision.

The candidates were asked if they will “commit to supporting continuous, protected bike lanes on the High-Injury Corridor segments of Polk Street when the Polk Streetscape Project is next reviewed.” The next review is supposed to happen after the current design has been in place for a year, at which time the SFMTA will assess further improvements.

Peskin, who is running for his old job (he served two terms as D3 supervisor preceding Chiu), answered “yes” to the question.

Christensen, the current supervisor who was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee, gave no response to that question but then explained her stance in a follow-up question, “How will you prioritize public safety during this process?”

The plan was in jeopardy when I took office. I worked to sustain a compromise that does not preclude future adjustments, but will allow the significant bike safety portions of the current project to move ahead. Many of the gravest conditions and concerns have been addressed in Phase 1 and I have promised all parties that we will — jointly — evaluate the impacts and shortcomings of this initial installation and develop next steps as needed.

Here’s how Peskin answered the follow-up:

I was disappointed by how contentious the Polk Street process became. It is my hope that when the first bicycle safety improvements — enhanced with pedestrian improvements — are in the ground that residents, merchants, commuters and visitors alike will see the benefits and be supportive of continued improvements. It’s one of the most dangerous corridors in the City, and isn’t helped by the crush of TNC’s double-parked along this corridor.

Read more on Peskin and Christensen’s stances on creating safer streets, data-driven traffic enforcement, and increasing funding for bicycling, walking, and transit.

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