Hearing Could Delay Upper Market Bike Lanes Again

Will Politics Once Again Threaten Upper Market Safety infrastructure?

Upper Market. Image: Google maps
Upper Market. Image: Google maps

A source has informed the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) that at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting this afternoon, mayoral appointee Jeff Sheehy may vote for the planned parking-protected bike lanes on Upper Market to be delayed over an environmental challenge to the project. That’s led the SFBC to question Sheehy’s commitment to safe bike infrastructure in his district.

From the SFBC web page and release:

Those of us who have biked San Francisco long enough know too well how bureaucratic processes can be abused to delay safety improvements. Now, it’s happening again on Upper Market Street, and the threat is coming from a community leader who previously supported protected bike lanes there.

Behind the scenes, we’ve learned that Supervisor Jeff Sheehy is waffling on whether to further delay already-approved bike lanes on Upper Market Street.

Streetsblog readers will recall that way back in February, Sheehy committed to protected bike lanes on this stretch, which goes through his district (recall he was appointed by Mayor Lee to replace Scott Wiener, who was elected to the State Senate). That’s why the SFBC is so infuriated by this apparent waffling.

But Bill Barnes, Legislative Aide to Sheehy, in a phone call with Streetsblog, took exception to this characterization. “The Supervisor’s position since February has not changed,” said Barnes. He said the Supervisor is merely responding to an environmental appeal from a citizen, and that there’s a good chance he and the other supervisors will decide not to do a continuance — which means the parking-protected bike lanes will be striped without further delay. For details on the appeal and what the supervisors will be deciding upon, look at page 20, item 52 of the agenda, scheduled to be heard at 3 p.m.

Either way, the SFBC is asking people to:

    Email Sup. Sheehy to make it clear that safety can’t wait on Upper Market Street. He can be reached at jeff.sheehy@sfgov.org (copying janice@sfbike.org).
    Once you’ve emailed, please call Sup. Sheehy’s office at (415) 554-6968. When you call, don’t hesitate to let Sup. Sheehy’s staff know how you feel about the Supervisor considering further delays to protected bike lanes on Upper Market Street.

Streetsblog’s perspective is simple: environmental laws were not written to delay environmentally friendly projects such as bike lane safety improvements–but that happens, as we know all too well. Delays get people hurt and sometimes killed. Market Street needs protected bike lanes from the Embarcadero to the Castro and beyond–too many people have already lost life and limb on Market Street for present conditions to continue.

“The plan for protected bike lanes on Upper Market was the product of a painstaking process that brought together neighbors, merchants and bicycle activists,” wrote Rafael Mandelman, an urban development attorney who is running against Sheehy for the District 8 seat, in an email to Streetsblog. “To even consider scrapping the work of the various stakeholders and now go back for more study is absurd … Build the damn bike lanes. Now.”


SFBC's Janelle Wong at the front of a line of advocates who urged the Board of Supervisors to reject any more delays to protected bike lanes on Upper Market. Photo: SFBC

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