Eyes on the Street: Folsom Protected Bike Lanes Start Construction

Folsom's protected bike lane quietly started construction this weekend, seen here at Folsom near 6th. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless otherwise indicated.
Folsom's protected bike lane quietly started construction this weekend, seen here at Folsom near 6th. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless otherwise indicated.

Streetsblog tipsters riding on Folsom through SoMa had some good news to report: the parking protected bike lanes, part of the short term improvements planned for this street, are now under construction.

An SFMTA posting near 6th on Folsom announced the start or construction.
An SFMTA posting near 6th on Folsom announced the start or construction.

Readers will recall that this is the latest in  a series of projects to improve bike and pedestrian safety infrastructure in SoMa. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s SoMa committee, under the leadership of community organizer Charles Deffarges, has been pushing hard for short term and long term improvements here. And under Mayor Ed Lee’s Executive on Safety, SFMTA managed to install parking-protected bike lanes on 7th, 8th and 13th by a May deadline. Part of this was accomplished by installing quicker-to-construct concrete bus-boarding islands in a first pass–these sit on top of the current asphalt layer and therefore don’t require tearing up the streets. This was the first portion of the bike lane installed on 7th and 8th and, indeed, is the first thing going in on Folsom, as seen below:

A quick-install bus-boarding island on Folsom near 6th.
A quick-install bus-boarding island on Folsom near 6th.

So far, Streetsblog is aware of bus boarding islands going in on Folsom at 6th and 7th, as seen in the photos. Eventually, the protected bike lane on Folsom will stretch .7 miles from 11th to Falmouth.

A cyclist enjoying NOT having to jostle for position with a bus at the installed boarding island on Folsom near 6th.
A cyclist enjoying NOT having to jostle for position with a bus at the installed boarding island on Folsom near 6th.

According to the SFMTA’s website, construction on these near-term Improvements for Folsom Street should be finished by the end of the year, depending on the weather. “Construction will be done with paint for improvements to the bike lanes, loading zones and daylighting,” writes the SFMTA on its website. “But the new transit boarding islands require pouring concrete,” which is why that’s done in the first pass.

Safe hit posts help guide cars around the curves more slowly--and help prevent motorist from accidentally turning into the bus boarding island.
Safe hit posts help guide cars around the curves more slowly–and help prevent motorist from accidentally turning into the bus boarding island.

To make the turns and crosswalks safer, and to prevent cars from driving into the bus boarding islands, SFMTA is employing, as seen in the photo above, safe hit posts. What’s difficult to understand, however, is why SFMTA doesn’t seem willing to use these same posts–or planters or some other sort of physical obstacle–to cut down on scofflaw motorists parking on the bike lane, against the curb. After all, it only takes a few illegally parked cars to defeat the whole effort and this has been a problem since the first protected bike lane was installed in SoMa.

A scofflaw parker defeating the bike lane on 7th, near the intersection with Folsom. Streetsblog hopes SFMTA will consider adding physical barriers on Folsom and elsewhere to prevent this kind of thing from rendering the bike lanes useless.
A scofflaw parker defeating the bike lane on 7th, near the intersection with Folsom, this afternoon. Streetsblog hopes SFMTA will consider adding physical barriers on Folsom and elsewhere to prevent this kind of thing from rendering the bike lanes useless.

Meanwhile, the long term plans, which involve transforming the entire streetscape with wider sidewalks, trees, bulbouts and other improvements, won’t be completed until 2022.

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

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Thor Denmark and the SFBC's Charles Deffarges at SFMTA's Folsom-Howard Open House. Photo: Streetsblog

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