As Streetsblog readers have no doubt seen in Hoodline, the SF Examiner, Curbed, Bernalwood, or on various social media, the newly opened stretch of protected bike lane on Valencia Street, from Cesar Chavez to Mission, got off to a bad start, with confused motorists parking all over it. Fortunately, the protected bike lane was open for business today, thanks to better signs and some cones, as seen in the above photo.
Streetsblog had been observing the construction of this section of lane for some time, and was struck by the same thing that seems to have confused the drivers--why did SFMTA put the meters on the curb, instead of between the bike lane and the parking lane? There's been some speculation that it was a cost issue, but it clearly wasn't that, since--going by photos taken by Streetsblog when the lane was in late construction--all the meters are new.
So why didn't they put the meters on the left of the bike lane, to help keep scofflaw or easily confused parkers off?
"The buffer area serves as a path of travel for people in wheelchairs entering/exiting cars. We can’t block it with parking meters or safe-hit posts per our accessibility guidelines," said Ben Jose, a spokesman for SFMTA. "Otherwise wheelchair users would need to travel in the bike lane to access the nearest ramp up to the sidewalk.
Obviously, they kind of have to do that anyway, since the "buffer zone" is just a swath of paint.
Either way, maybe it's time to review those guidelines. Surely, cyclists can manage to co-exist with the occasional wheel chair or mobility scooter for one block, as they do in places with mature bike infrastructure. Regardless, it's disappointing that there's still nothing physically stopping cars from parking on the lane.
So why relapse to a mixing-zone treatment at Valencia and Cesar Chavez? Apparently, that came down to a lack of coordination between the protected bike lane and an earlier streetscape project. And the "SFMTA project budget did not include funding for a redesign of this bulbout or a redesign of the signalized intersection," said Jose.