Bicycle Coalition Readies Valencia Protected Bike Lane Push

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Advocates for better bike infrastructure on Valencia got a pleasant surprise last week–SFMTA installed some safe-hit posts in front of parklets, on a few short stretches between 15th and 19th. As reported (and very well put) by Mission Local, the street is now a “smidgen safer.”

This was the first concrete step (okay, plastic) of a funded Valencia project–in November, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority approved $145,000 for the ‘Valencia Street Bikeway Implementation Plan’ to fix the bike lanes. This was in response to protests, publicity, data-gathering efforts, and a whole lot of people reaching out to elected officials and speaking at board meetings at SF City Hall.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is seizing the moment and mounting a major advocacy effort to influence the designs and make sure they result in a safe, bike-and-ped-friendly street.

Kristen Leckie, a community organizer hired in February by the SFBC (welcome Kristen!) led a meeting Thursday evening, attended by some 35 volunteers and coalition members, to develop an advocacy strategy for the project. This falls into the SFBC’s model of organizing around particularly troublesome streets or neighborhoods and keeping the pressure up on city bureaucrats and elected officials; this is how they got protected bike lanes in SoMa.

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SFMTA lined the bike lane with safe hit posts in front of parklets and bike corrals.

As with past efforts, the SFBC asked its volunteers to brainstorm a long-term vision for Valencia and decide  who to reach out to, such as business owners, politicians, and other advocates. “Who do we need to connect with to get a really great project that serves everyone?” asked Leckie of the group.

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Leckie lead a brainstorming session of SFBC volunteers about advocacy efforts for Valencia

Dani, a volunteer in the group, said she’d like to see something similar to what’s planned for Market Street, with sidewalk level, protected bike lanes. Jeremy Pollock, another SFBC member (and Streetsblog contributor), wants to take things further, and envisions a completely car-free Valencia. Mia, another volunteer at the meeting, rides Valencia daily as part of her commute. Her boyfriend, she said, was riding a bike on Valencia when he was hit by a car making an illegal u-turn (fortunately, he was okay). “I’d just like to see bigger bike lanes, like they have in Portland.”

A breakdown of collisions on Valencia, by type. Image: SFMTA
A breakdown of collisions on Valencia, by type. Image: SFMTA

But the most obvious solution may be to extend the existing parking-protected bike lane (on Valencia south of Cesar Chavez) up the entire length of the street.

For now, cars still have to cross the bike lane to reach the curb to park on most of Valencia, so there’s no way to physically protect the bike lanes until that fundamentally flawed design gets fixed. But next to the parkletts it’s a different matter, since cars can’t park there anyway, which is why SFMTA decided to take this early step and put in plastic posts at these handful of locations.

With project funding now in place, things are moving quickly. SFMTA will hold community design workshops this summer and expects to have plans drawn up, ready for implementation, by Fall.

What’s your vision for Valencia? Do you want to see a street where cars are banned and only paratransit and delivery trucks can enter? Or are protected bike lanes satisfactory? Post your pictures and observations.

A few more pics below:

It's mysterious why SFMTA didn't put extra bollards at the bike share station.
It’s mysterious as to why SFMTA didn’t protect the bike lane at the bike share station. Cars have no reason to cross the bike lane here either.
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Another view of the new safe hit posts in front of Mission Bicycle Company, along a bulb out with a bike corral.
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SFMTA also put in a solid, double stripe–which got as much consideration as the single stripe from this tow truck driver who parked here to get a pizza.
  • Mario Tanev

    Protected lanes can easily be implemented between Cesar Chavez and 19th and between 15th and Market, by removing the median buffer.

    Between 15th and 19th is where it gets trickier due to the widened sidewalks. Several options are:
    1. Make a two-way bike lane, remove parking on one side, and make the other side diagonal.
    2. Remove parking on one side (and thus protection without constructing a barrier).
    3. A bike lane in the median the way SFBC envisioned in their “connecting the city” vision. That’s probably not workable and provides no real protection.

    An interesting challenge here would be protected intersections. I know SFMTA won’t do them, but they should. If they were to do them (with separate signal phases for bicyclists to avoid left/right turning traffic), it’s unclear if the green wave can be maintained, or has to go.

  • City Resident

    While I’d love to see select blocks of Valencia (and Upper Haight and other streets) closed to non-local (and non-Muni/non-delivery) automobile traffic, for at least part of the day, parking protected bike lanes should be implemented along the length of Valencia without any further delay. Another option, that would provide adequate space for generously wide parking protected bike lanes while maintaining parking spaces on both sides of the street, would be the possibility of only allowing one-way automobile traffic along certain blocks of Valencia. Having sections of Valencia one-way would discourage the use of Valencia as a crosstown route for motorists (and thereby enhance Valencia’s safety for all users by discouraging the all-too-familiar and unsafe practice of some motorists repeatedly speeding up to the next intersection, and its red light, to only repeat this in subsequent blocks). By way of example, at the police station on Valencia the street could be one-way (for automobiles) in a northbound direction from 17th to 16th Street and one-way (for automobiles) in a southbound direction from 17th to 18th Street. Valencia’s currently very wide design encourages motorists to use the street for (too often) fast travel speeds and double parking and it’s high time that this change.

  • Add physical separation and it’s no longer a bike lane.
    The only bikeway that can be called a “bike lane” is a Class II.

  • jsruby22

    Car-free Valencia!

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