Eyes on the Street: San Jose Ave Gets Concrete Barrier

San Jose Avenue in the Bernal Cut with concrete barrier (seen on the left). All photos Streetsblog/Rudick
San Jose Avenue in the Bernal Cut with concrete barrier (seen on the left). All photos Streetsblog/Rudick

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced the opening of a concrete-barrier-protected bike lane on the ‘Bernal Cut’ section of San Jose Ave. on Friday. As seen in the lead image, the bike lane, which was previously ‘protected’ only by paint and plastic bollards, now has a barrier assuring that cyclists can’t be hit by cars. As the SFMTA puts it in the release: “The idea behind measures like these is to make bikeways more comfortable for anyone to use, whether you’re eight years old or 80.”

Certainly, the ride through the section of the cut that has the concrete barriers feels much more secure. On a stretch of freeway-like roadway, with cars whizzing by in close proximity, this is really the only appropriate treatment.

Cyclist and motorists have had to navigate through construction in this area for some time now. Streetsblog tipster Dan Crosby brought some of the problems with the construction to SBSF’s attention and is now pleased, for the most part, with how things shook out. “They also actually implemented my ‘compromise’ proposal at the San Jose & Dolores intersection, striping over one of the parking spots to improve visibility into the bike lane for drivers turning south. Feels much better,” he wrote in an email to Streetsblog.

However, it’s odd to, once again, see that intersections–where most crashes occur–are left completely unprotected. The idea of “eight or 80,” as SFMTA referenced in its release, is meant to be taken literally–the roads are supposed to be safe enough that a parent would feel comfortable allowing a child to ride on them. Likewise, the road is supposed to be calm enough that even a senior citizen would feel comfortable riding a bike.

There’s no way anybody could say that and be taken seriously about San Jose Ave., even with these improvements, because the intersections remain way too dangerous.

The high-speed turnof/mergef from San Jose to St. Marys Avenue is one of several intersections where all protection for cyclists suddenly ceases.
The high-speed turn-off/merge from San Jose to St. Marys Avenue is one of several intersections where all protection for cyclists suddenly ceases.

That said, it’s great that the city is finally moving in the “protected” direction for bike lanes, and hopefully protected intersection treatments will follow. It’s also exciting to read that two San Francisco supervisors are calling for protected bike lanes on nearby Valencia, after several successful “human protected bike lane” protests brought some political focus to the problem.

Have you ridden the Bernal Cut section of San Jose Ave. since the changes? What do you think of the new pavement, markings, and other improvements?

First, a few more pics and observations.

At the intersection with Randall, there's no bike lane linking the Bernal Cut bike lane with the conventional door-lane on the opposite side.
At the intersection with Randall, there’s no bike lane linking the Bernal Cut bike lane with the conventional door-lane on the opposite side.
At the southern end of the protected section, the off ramp for Glen Park remains pretty hairy for cyclists.
At the southern end of the cut, the-off ramp for Glen Park is one of several sections that remain way too hairy to qualify as safe for ages “eight or 80.”

Comment below.

  • I remember that harrowing ride before the bollards. (And even worse when it was … just 3 traffic lanes?)

  • Steep Ravine

    Yay! More steps in the right direction. Thanks to one and all.

  • ZA_SF

    My daughter and I greatly appreciate the new concrete barriers on the south side of San Jose Ave in the Bernal Cut, and we use it weekly. I’ll admit to using the sidewalk in illegal counterflow for the same safety reasons – there are far fewer potential points of conflict than the Chenery or Mission alternatives.

    On a related note, the (Highland St/Bridge) overpass fencing to keep the homeless out has demonstrated more effectiveness than the temporary fencing added to the Richland Street/Bridge overpass footings. Though displaced individuals now live along the edges and in the stairwells.

  • Dave Baker

    I did that once when it was the 3 lane scenario… getting passed by trucks and buses going over 50mph inches away while riding in the crack between asphalt and concrete was too much for me. I always took Chenery until they went to 2 lanes and the soft hit posts.

  • Dave Baker

    Definitely an improvement. I ride this route several times a week. Generally, the concrete barriers are not in the most dangerous or most frequently blocked areas. However I have been blocked a few times in those sections in the past, so hopefully it will be blocked less often. The new pavement is nice, especially between 30th and 29th… that block was turning into a gravel road!

    Definitely the intersections could use some work. I think Northbound San Jose at Rousseau is the most dangerous intersection. It’s the closest to the freeway so speeds are higher and it seems to get more traffic volume than St. Mary’s. They both stink though because they require cars and bikes to merge at freeway like speeds. It’s the same right turn / bike lane merge problem as everywhere else in SF without protected intersection design, but the speed differentials are higher than say Valencia Street.

  • Bruce

    I also took Chenery until the soft-hit posts went in.

  • Camper

    This is getting better, but this summer my 7-year old and I would bike to 24th St BART, and take it to Glen Park rather than bike this stretch, and I don’t think it’s better enough that we’d bike it.

  • disqdude

    If enough press releases trumpet the “8 to 80” design but fail to make intersections safe, does “8 to 80” cease to be meaningful?

  • Haighter

    It seems like adding soft-hit posts to the Glen Park off ramp should be pretty easy. Hopefully it’s next on the list.

  • stevenj

    The concrete barrier has already been smashed into head on by a car where it begins southbound just past Randall and San Jose!

    Due to family issues I have to drive through the Bernal Cut to and from Noe Valley/mid Peninsula at least once a week. I’m glad they’ve finally finished the work and have put in solid protection through most of it for those who bike. I can’t tell you how many times I saw speeding cars in the northbound bike lane (before the barrier went in) sometimes from as far back as the Miguel St bridge trying to avoid the backed up traffic.


A cyclist trying to thread his way through the intersection of San Jose and Dolores. Photo: Dan Crosby

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