Panhandle Path Closed Yesterday?

The crossing to the Panhandle bike path was closed yesterday, photo tweeted by Snider
The crossing to the Panhandle bike path was closed yesterday, photo tweeted by Snider

A quick note about a twitter kerfuffle from last night over a closure to the Panhandle bike path. This involved San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member Elisabeth Snider, who lives in the Sunset and uses the path regularly. Upon seeing the closure of this essential transportation link for cyclists, Snider tweeted 311 with the above photo for more information:

The city’s response, via SFPD, via 311:

As Snider and others immediately pointed out, that’s just not true–besides, why is there a bike signal there if bikes can’t use it? There was a little bit more back and forth, and then:


The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which brought the exchange to Streetsblog’s attention, had this to say:

“It’s long been clear that some staff at the SFPD and 311 don’t know the traffic laws that people rely on them enforcing. In addition to failing to address this, city agencies would rather avoid responsibility for problems like double parking in bike lanes than take steps to address valid, persistent citizen complaints,” said Chris Cassidy of the SFBC.

Latest reports are that the crossing is no longer blocked.

  • gneiss

    As one of the people who engaged on Twitter with SF311, I was more than a little disappointed with they way this city department responded to the observation than Ms. Snider made yesterday afternoon. Granted, SF311 has a lot of responsibilities, from logging complaints about tents on sidewalks to logging calls about downed powerlines. It’s not always easy for them to provide the right information quickly.

    However, when you compare the savvy approach that BART and CalTrain have been using in their social media outreach to the way this particular SF department handled this call, it is a rather stark reminder that not all public agencies understand how powerful positive outreach on social media can be towards building support for public initiatives among their citizens.

  • Roger R.

    Thanks Gneiss. Well put.

  • Ringo

    I see it differently. Parks are recreational areas. Bikes may be allowed, for recreational use, but if resources are limited then it make sense that those who visit the park to recreate will have priority over commuters.

    So the term “essential transportation link” is wide of the mark. And in any event, there are bike lanes on Fell and Oak, which are much more suited to high-speed commuters than seniors, people walking dogs, and families enjoying the open air.

  • Bruce Osterweil

    Get your facts right. The Northern panhandle bike bath is designated as multi-use; the Southern path is pedestrian only. There are bike lanes on Fell and Oak only between Scott and Baker. There should be – but there are not — bike lanes on Fell and Oak between Baker and Stanyan, because the panhandle path serves that function. Cyclists do not need to dismount except on sidewalks.

  • Matt Laroche

    Check out Strava’s cycling heatmap, centered on the Panhandle: The Panhandle path is a huge transportation link for cyclists.

    There are bike lanes on Fell and Oak, but they stop at the panhandle.

    (Disclosure: I work for Strava. But I don’t know of a better cycling heatmap out there.)

  • twinpeaks_sf

    Just to be absolutely clear – the southern crosswalk at the intersection of Fell and Masonic is legal to bicycle through:


    (a) A “bicycle path crossing” is either of the following:
    (1) That portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of a bike path at intersections where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles.
    (2) Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for bicycle crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.
    (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), there shall not be a bicycle path crossing where local authorities have placed signs indicating no crossing.

  • Michael Smith

    I’m impressed that Ringo made up more stuff in a single comment than the Bowling Green Massacre!

  • John French

    While common sense leads me to assume that bicycling on crosswalks should be treated the same as on sidewalks (i.e. not permitted in SF unless you’re <13 years old), I'm not convinced that this is the case.

    CVC defines "sidewalk" as "that portion of a highway, other than the roadway, set apart by curbs, barriers, markings or other delineation for pedestrian travel." This clearly does not include crosswalks, which are defined separately. CVC does not prohibit bicycling on sidewalks but allows that local jurisdictions may prohibit it.

    The SF Transportation Code does not define "sidewalks" or "crosswalks", so I assume it follows the CVC's definitions (maybe I'm wrong to assume that?). It prohibits "Bicycling riding on any sidewalk", but makes no mention of bicycle riding on crosswalks, which would seem to imply that it's legal, for instance, to use crosswalks to make a two-stage left turn (i.e. you come to a red light, turn left and ride in the crosswalk to the corner, then turn right and ride across the cross street in the crosswalk, exiting it to the left to complete the turn). I see bicyclists do this fairly often and have done it myself, but assumed it was illegal.

    In this case the crosswalk is additionally a bicycle crossing and so there should be no confusion.

  • Gilla

    Don’t you think Ringo was the 311 Tweeter? He’s clearly just as uninformed!

  • Ringo

    And yet in all that you could not refute me!

  • Ringo

    That’s exactly my point. It may be a “huge transportation link” but it should not be. The original idea was to allow cyclists to have some use of the park and, the next thing we know, it’s a bike commute expressway. Problem.

  • Ringo

    That’s only 3-4 blocks. I see no reason to allow bikes in a park when there are roads very close by. If needed, get a bike lane on Fell and Oak, or take the quieter roads Hayes and Page. Plenty of options.

  • Matt Laroche

    There is a proposal to convert a car lane of Fell and Oak between Baker and Stanyan to a parking protected bike lane.

  • StrixNoctis .

    The westbound bike lane on Fell leads into the Panhandle multi-use path, and the bike lane from JFK blvd does also. There are also bike traffic signal lights for riding to/from the multi-use path at the Panhandle!

  • Ringo

    None of which means that you could not make the short one-block ride north to Hayes, enabling the Panhandle to be fully returned to people who want a gentle stroll in the park without worrying about hairbrained cyclists ignoring the huge SLOW signs and going flat out.

  • Ringo

    That’s a much better idea, good.

  • sebra leaves

    This was a hoax as we suggested. No doubt brought on by the same folks who posted fake stanchions a while ago. Anything they can do to disrupt people’s lives.

  • StrixNoctis .

    Pedestrians can easily take the nearby South path through the panhandle to avoid cyclists… Also, the North path has a line dividing traffic into two directions AND some motor vehicles also use that path (SFPD, park ranger vehicles and Parks & Rec vehicles, for example), so it’s designed to be more of a path for vehicles than pedestrians.

  • Ringo

    As a pedestrian in the Panhandle I expect to be able to walk anywhere. It’s a park.

    I do see the odd maintenance or LE vehicle but the vast majority of traffic in there is bikes. Those bikes have to share the space, ride slow, play nice and always yield to other park users. They often do none of those thing, and it’s a problem.

  • StrixNoctis .

    … and, as a pedestrian, you can walk anywhere in the Panhandle. As a pedestrian, you have more path options than cyclists do yet you still want to eliminate all options for cyclists in the Panhandle. That’s extremely greedy.

  • Ringo

    What am I saying is that cyclists need to show more deference to park users, and slow down. A lot. There are huge “SLOW” signs. Obey them.

  • Corvus Corax

    He actually is the dreaded troll, RichLL, who has been posting as Ringo, as Todd, as bobfuss, and perhaps other names once he got laughed off the list by the clever posts of RichLL Commentary Track.

  • Dave Snyder

    The Panhandle path is an essential transportation link. It is also an essential path for enjoyment of the park on foot. These are somewhat in conflict. If you feel son strongly that recreational use on foot takes precedence, then PLEASE support the MTA’s proposal to build protected bike lanes on Fell and Masonic along the length of the Panhandle. If those are built, then the path can be prioritized for people on foot, with people on bikes allowed but expected to travel slowly. Unless those separate protected bike lanes are built, we’ll have to live with fast bicyclists on the panhandle bike path.


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