City Prepares to Remove Paul Avenue Bike Lane

In 'Rob Ford' Tradition, San Francisco May Uproot Recently Installed Safety Improvements to Restore Parking

Paul Avenue. This bike lane was installed only a few months ago, but because local residents complained about the loss of parking to Supervisor Malia Cohen, SFMTA is entertaining calls to remove it. Photo: David Froehlich
Paul Avenue. This bike lane was installed only a few months ago, but because local residents complained about the loss of parking to Supervisor Malia Cohen, SFMTA is entertaining calls to remove it. Photo: David Froehlich

Streetsblog tipster Chris Waddling brought this to our attention: apparently a new bike lane in the Bayview District may soon get removed. “Supervisor Cohen is seriously considering bowing to people demanding that new bike lanes on Paul Ave be removed a mere months after they went in,” wrote Waddling, in an email to Streetsblog.

“There used to be no parking on the entire south side with parking along the north side. MTA removed parking on the north side to add bike lanes. Some neighbors and the church at the end of the street have complained about the parking removal,” emailed David Froehlich, who commutes daily on that bike lane. “I also recently heard that Paul Ave was the route the YMCA takes for their bike to school program to go east and west from Bayview to Portola.” The bike lane also connects to Muni’s T-Third Light Rail line.

Public hearings on the matter were held earlier this month, but it’s not too late for Streetsblog readers to comment. The SFMTA board meeting to decide on the fate of the bike lane is Nov. 7.

Details, including how to comment if you can’t make the meeting, are in the email below from Malia Cohen’s office:

Opinions on these proposed changes may be filed in writing prior to the hearing by emailing to with the subject line “Public Hearing.” Written opinions may also be transmitted to the Sustainable Streets Division via fax at 415.701.4737 or by mail: Engineering Public Hearing, Sustainable Streets Division, One South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103-5417. Submitted opinions will become part of the official public record and will be brought to the attention of the person(s) conducting the hearing.  Information on the proposed changes may be obtained from SFMTA Transportation Engineering at the above-referenced addresses or by telephone at 415.701.4810. The SFMTA Board of Directors Meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 1:00pm at City Hall, room 400. The Board will vote at this meeting and make a decision on the proposed changes. Take a look at the agenda, which will be posted on the webpage prior to the meeting. If you would like to share your opinions to the MTA Board about the proposed changes but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact them at:

Office of the SFMTA Board of Directors
Phone: 415.701.4505
Fax: 415.701.4502

The irony, of course, is that the city is trying to establish a bike-share station nearby. The further irony, as mentioned in Froehlich’s email, is one of the reasons this bike lane is in danger is apparently because the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, on the corner of Third and Paul, complained that it took away parking (they have a parking lot, but it overflows). When Streetsblog visited the area a few Sundays ago, parishioners were parked all over the sidewalk–note that there is Light Rail and a bus station right across the street.

These last few weeks, we’ve seen three pedestrians deaths in San Francisco: Winifred Leshane, David Grinberg, and Gus Vardakastanis. And on Wednesday Elia Lewin-Tankel, a police officer, was hit and severely injured while riding his bicycle in the Tenderloin. San Francisco is not on course for achieving the goal of Vision Zero. If politicians cow to constituents who value convenient parking more than human safety, that goal will remain forever out of reach.

Streetsblog has emailed and called Malia Cohen’s office for comment and will update this post accordingly.

In the meantime, she had this to say in 2014, when she was running for re-election, in a Q&A with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:

Question: Do you support the creation of continuous crosstown bikeways —Connecting the City — even acknowledging that there will be some public pushback to inevitable changes?

Answer: Yes

Overflow parking from the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church one Sunday, right across from the T-third and multiple bus lines. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Overflow parking from the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church one Sunday (left), across from a light rail and bus stop. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick


  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Maybe if people want to park they should use the wall of garages right there…

  • MattyCiii

    Do churches profit off of funerals? Asking for a friend…

  • Rogue Cyclist

    Even if the bike lane stays, this is going to become defacto church parking on Sundays. Installing a row of soft-hit posts might help.

  • gio33

    I have an idea: have the folks get to church on bikes, using the bike lane! (or public transportation),

  • Ryan K

    Far be it from the city to listen to the people who have vested interests in the neighborhood. If people don’t bike lanes in their neighborhood, it’s not for others to foist it upon them. Vision Zero is an unobtainable goal that we have been throwing money at ad nauseum. In fact, we have been installing bulb-outs which actually move peds closer to the traffic lane, making them less safe. So not only are we inefficiently using these dollars for safety, we are actually moving backwards from the goal. Let’s put these dollars and hours towards MUNI, the real replacement for cars, not bikes.

  • GregKamin

    Interesting that the photo of that locations hows zero cars.

    Do we need a bike lane where there are no cars?

  • 1976boy

    2 questions.

    How many deaths do you think are acceptable?

    How do the parishioners of one particular church represent all of the neighborhood?

  • Invest in Muni by all means, but the bike lane in that photo look mighty cheap so I don’t really see the tradeoff. (Of course, even the best bike infrastructure is cheap compared to what gets invested in car infrastructure & free parking, so your whole bike-bus cost tradeoff seems a red herring – am I missing something?).

    “People who have vested interests in the neighborhood” means nobody passing through has an “interest” in the street? Should residents on every street have veto over any use of “their” street?

  • John Murphy

    If I don’t want a road in my neighborhood can I get it removed, despite the fact that the roadway connects the 2 neighborhoods on either side?

  • Bernard Finucane

    I agree, there’s no reason to get too fancy with bike infrastructure in a low traffic area.

    It’s really a sad place. Maybe a two way bike lane on the South side and a few trees planted in the parking lane on the North side would be better.

    Cleaning the streets and sidewalks on a regular basis might help as well. Property owners should be required to keep up their lots a bit better.

  • Michel S

    This isn’t a new or even unique phenomenon. Philadelphia has two primary downtown bike lanes on Spruce St. and Pine St. They are the most heavily traveled bike lanes in the area, since they go through the heart of the CBD. It was a fight just to get them painted in the first place, and the big concession that helped make the lanes a reality was a special exemption on Sundays for church attendees to park in the bike lane. That exemption is the primary reason why now upgrading these lanes to be fully protected is a non-starter.

    Special exemptions for temporary un/loading and church parking always compromise the main goal of a bike lane, which is to carve out a small strip of asphalt where cyclists aren’t forced into conflict with vehicles 20x their weight. In the end, safety is overruled by convenience; it’s the American way.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Why isn’t the City employing best practices as beautifully *proven* in other countries street designs? ‘BicycleDutch’ on youtube has all the designs and their rationale – which SFMTA could simply copy:

    The crappy painted lines are violated daily and hourly as shown by newscaster Stanley Roberts (and he hates bikes).

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Epic and worth watching ‘Cycling in San Francisco from a Dutch perspective’:

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Please begin calling them “bike RENTAL stations”. Ford Motor Company is not giving anyone free time on their bikes. Has anyone heard of Hertz-Share-a-Car? Uh, no.

    “The irony, of course, is that the city is trying to establish a bike-share station nearby.”

  • Alex TS

    When it comes street planning in SF or anywhere else here in this country we should put bikes and people first and than cars second but as always the parking-obsessed residents and business people including the SFFD keep getting in the way.

  • Alex TS

    Amsterdam is like #1 for biking and to be honest I do not think that we will be like that.

  • Alex TS

    I think the reason the city hasn’t done it is because we still have parking-obsessed residents and business people including the SFFD that keep getting in the way.

  • Alex TS

    Great idea!!

  • Alex TS

    Half of SFMTA’s bicycling plan or safety improvements is flawed. Here is how we should we really plan for bicycling and walking so I redid some of their proposals.

  • Bob Dobbs

    Time to call in SFMTA to get these cars off our sidewalks. The Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church should be more aware of it’s community and not block access to the sidewalks for the people who need them.


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