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.

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

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