SFMTA Super Speedy at Removing Safety Measures on Valencia

On Monday, SFMTrA installed safe hit posts on this corner to keep vehicles from sweeping across the corner, endangering cyclists. By the end of the week they were gone. Photo: Streetsblog
On Monday, SFMTrA installed safe-hit posts here to keep motorists from sweeping the corner and endangering cyclists. By the end of the week they were gone. Photo: Streetsblog

On Monday, Streetsblog joined the SFMTrA, a guerrilla-safety group that glues down safe-hit posts in trouble spots throughout the city, for a pre-dawn installion on Valencia between 17th and 14th. This afternoon, the posts were gone–and everything was back to its dangerous and dysfunctional normal.

Monday morning, trucks and cars were forced to slow and turn carefully to avoid hitting this post...which was promptly removed by SFMTA. Photo: Streetsblog.
Monday morning, trucks and cars were forced to slow and turn carefully to avoid hitting this post…which was promptly removed by SFMTA. Photo: Streetsblog.

Thanks to the SFMTrA, delivery trucks–at least when Streetsblog was there observing on Monday morning–had started making deliveries from the center median lane. Now that the posts are gone, things are back to “normal,” and a UPS truck was parked in the bike lane.

Also, now that there are no longer posts at the corner, cars and trucks were sweeping quickly across the intersection of 15th and Valencia. When the posts were in place, Streetsblog saw cars and trucks slowing and making safer right turns, because they had to avoid the safe-hit posts.

Delivery trucks were right back to their usual. Photo: Streetsblog
Delivery trucks were right back to their usual. Photo: Streetsblog

Most Streetsblog readers are probably already aware via social media or Hoodline that SFMTA has also removed guerrilla safety installations from Division and Folsom. All of this is consistent with SFMTA’s threat to remove posts installed on a “single line.” SFMTrA’s installation in Golden Gate Park, which was placed within a painted buffer, is still there–word just came down that SFMTA actually replaced the posts with “official” safe-hit posts, whatever that means.

Streetsblog readers have probably seen this shot of an SFMTA truck blocking the bike lane on Folsom while it removes SFMTrA's unofficial posts. Photo: SFMTrA
Streetsblog readers may have seen this shot of an SFMTA truck blocking the bike lane on Folsom while workers remove SFMTrA’s unofficial posts. Photo: SFMTrA

Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA, said it’s because safe-hit posts can get knocked into the travel lane if there isn’t a buffer space. SFMTrA members–and Streetsblog–don’t find that a credible justification to preemptively remove them, given that they are called “safe-hit posts” because they are safe to hit! Ask cyclists if they’d rather thread around an occasional bent safe-hit post or a constant stream of parked cars and delivery trucks blocking or driving in the bike lane. Furthermore, SFMTA’s spokesman is talking about a theoretical problem–but people being hurt and killed by cars violating bike lanes and making unsafe turns is far from theoretical.

Furthermore, this:

This old, worn out and damaged post was on the opposite side of 15th from SFMTrA's installation. SFMTA has time to remove new posts that aren't authorized, but no time to fix their own busted post. Photo: Streetsblog
This old, worn out and damaged post was on the opposite side of 15th from SFMTrA’s installation. SFMTA has time to remove new posts that aren’t authorized, but no time to fix their own busted post. Photo: Streetsblog

Above is a photo of an old, grimy, and broken “official” SFMTA safe-hit post at the corner of 15th and Valencia–just across from where the guerrillas did their work. SFMTA came through sometime during the week, drove right past this broken post, removed the unofficial installation, and then didn’t bother to replace their own damaged post.

The SFMTrA has put together an email list for readers to reach out to elected officials to demand different priorities from SFMTA. The correct approach, in Streetsblog’s view, is for SFMTA to form official ninja safety teams that can plug in cheap infrastructure everywhere and anywhere it’s needed. But first our elected officials need to force agency brass to get with the spirit of the Mayor’s Executive Directive on safety and stop wasting time on what comes across as a thinly veiled pissing match with the safety vigilantes.

Now for one bit of good news for the weekend. Catherine Orland, who captained a count of illegally parked vehicles on the Valencia bike lanes, posted the photo below of cops “ticketing Uber for a bike lane violation!!! West side of Valencia btwn 18th-19th. I thanked the officers and then got bitched out by the three people waiting for their Uber ride, whose night was ‘ruined,'” she wrote.

SFPD ticketing an Uber for blocking the bike lane on Valencia? Wait--that can really happen? Photo: Orland
SFPD ticketing an Uber for blocking the bike lane on Valencia? Wait–that can really happen? Photo: Orland


  • RichLL

    The difference is that drivers do not deliberately set out to make life difficult for cyclists. Critical Mass has the specific intention of delaying and obstructing others

  • RichLL

    Again you attribute to me all kinds of things I never said. I don’t know whether you, me or farazs are correct because we all have different data and sources.

    But even in your most favorable case, about 94% of people don’t use a bike daily in SF, and nationwide that rises to 99% or so.

    I never said it can’t change. But to change you need to work with those 94% and convince them. Not criticize them for being “wrong”

  • RichLL

    Sure it’s growing nationally, but from a tiny base. Your grandchildren will never see the day when more people commute by bike than by car.

    In fact there are now more cars on the road than ever before, not to mention the millions of new cars each year in China, India etc.

  • @jd_x – Years ago, before the SFMTA existed, a spokesperson for the DPT expressed concern that deploying PCOs to enforce violations of double-parking, sidewalk- and crosswalk-parking, etc. would change motorist behavior and then the PCOs wouldn’t have anything to ticket them for. Brilliant thinking, that!

  • @bike_engineer – This is a sweeping assumption. There are in fact SFMTrA installations at sites slated for improvements by the city, done quite professionally.

    Also, the hidebound MUTCD is not the gold standard for safety, it’s more the gold standard for inaction (and vehicular cyclist dogma). We are, thankfully, no longer bound by this manual. NACTO lets us move forward, to where Europe managed to get to in the 20th Century.

  • @frazas – You forgot to admit defeat. 😉 It’s always Groundhog Day here, not only will he refuse to address them, all will be forgotten so as to not burden the next volley of 100 comments.

  • @Stuart – I’m a daily bike commuter, but not according to the Census. Census data presents only the part of an intermodal journey that covers the most miles. One would typically use a bike for the first mile/last mile connections on BART or Caltrain, but the Census would mark this down as a rail commute. Even when most of the miles traveled within city limits would be on bike!

    Both these systems carry thousands of San Francisco bike commuters and have had to expand to accommodate the demand. But we’re not included in the Census data.

  • @mx – Dismissing data because of sampling is a move recently championed by a Presidential candidate who is in second place in opinion polls. Willful ignorance is clearly a popular substitute for accuracy and intellect.

  • @Stuart – This has been done. The effort was called the Valencia Insurrection Against Bike Lane Encroachment (V.I.A.B.L.E.), paired with a Helpful Upper Market Bike Lane Enforcement (H.U.M.B.L.E.) effort.

    It would be great if our activist community would launch such efforts again, but what we really need is infrastructure rather than enforcement.

  • @mx – Critical Mass has far less impact on pedestrians than everyday motoring does, it’s just different. I know of exactly one emergency room visit in 24 years (there are perhaps more), compared to 6 a day from normal car-dominant traffic.

    When rides were routinely in the thousands, some of us took to shepherding pedestrians across the street, which was actually a fun experience.

  • @SF Guest – A solid 2/3rds majority put pedestrian, bicycle, and transit priority into the city charter. Two billionaire-financed attempts to reverse this went down by 2/3rds majorities since then. It would be great if we were to actually follow through on what we’ve democratically voted for 3 times already.

  • @farazs – We are not limited by MUTCD’s hidebound process. This is the group that rubber-stamped the useless “Share the Road” signs but dragged their feet for a decade over “Bicycles May Use Full Lane.”

    NACTO has sprinted ahead with proven designs for protected bike lanes, and we can use those.

  • jd_x

    Intent has nothing to do with it. And what makes you so sure you know the intent of Critical Mass bicyclists? Or the intent of motorists double-parking in the bike lane?

  • jd_x

    “Until that is resolved, the 2010 is the only definitive number”

    I hope whatever you do in your day job (if you have time for a day job given how much you post just on this website) that you aren’t in charge of any policy. This statement is absurd. So nobody can do anything with any data except census data? So government should only make changes every 10 years? Are you really being that obtuse?

    And silly, silly Rich: you don’t get to decide what the definitive number is.

  • jd_x

    It’s growing in SF. We’re talking about SF; stop trying to talk nationally.

    Everything new starts from a small base. Here’s a thought you can try to hold in your head: cars once numbering less than bikes! Woah! Isn’t that weird? And now there are millions upon millions. Could that ever change again? Hmmmmm …

  • RichLL

    No, intent is crucial in any criminal case. It’s the difference between murder and manslaughter, for instance. We forgive accidents much more readily than the intentional infliction of harm

  • RichLL

    Three of us have different numbers so clearly none of them are definitive. But the last full census is 2010.

    Doesn’t matter to my point anyway, whether non-cyclists are 95% or 97%.

  • RichLL

    OK, if your ambitions are nothing more than one small part of the Bay Area then I wills top worrying.

    Could it ever change again? Maybe? But in 100 years time, we’ll still have 90% of Americans driving around in cars. They might be electric and self-driving, but this country is too big for bikes and buses to ever be anything other than marginal.


A photo of the guerrilla safety improvements put in over the weekend by SFMTrA where a senior citizen was killed. The safety posts were promptly removed by the city. Photo: Matt Brezina

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