Paul Avenue Safety Features Removed to Restore Free Car Storage

Supervisor Malia Cohen follows through on plan to remove Paul Avenue bike lane

A still from Chris Waddling's morning commute on Paul Avenue in the Bayview, with the bike lane removed, parking restored, and a car passing within three feet. Image: Chris Waddling
A still from Chris Waddling's morning commute on Paul Avenue in the Bayview, with the bike lane removed, parking restored, and a car passing within three feet. Image: Chris Waddling

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Chris Waddling, a cycling advocate and Streetsblog tipster, posted video last week of his stressful and dangerous commute on Paul Avenue in the Bayview district of San Francisco, as seen in the still above and the embedded video below:

In the video, Waddling documented an unsafe pass by a car. Then a Muni bus honked at him and went completely across the double yellow line and into opposing traffic to pass and get to the traffic light a few seconds faster. “I literally have no protection from aggressive drivers like these thanks to SFMTA and our Supervisor,” wrote Waddling in his post about the video. He’s referring to District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen.

Why should a ride on Paul Avenue, which just underwent safety upgrades last year, be so harrowing? SFMTA boasted on its web page not long ago about the installation of safety features–including dedicated, curbside bike lanes–on Paul Avenue, between San Bruno Avenue and Third Street.

But, as seen in Waddling’s video, the agency removed the Westbound lane a few months after it went in.

“Members of the community provided feedback to Supervisor Cohen’s office and the SFMTA about the bike lane after installation. In direct response to public feedback and the community meetings many took part in, the bike lane was removed in March, 2018,” wrote Ben Jose, an SFMTA spokesman, in an email to Streetsblog.

Or put another way: “SFMTA, with the support of Supervisor Malia Cohen, decided car storage was more important than lives and removed the only westbound bike lane between Bayview and major cycling routes into downtown,” wrote Waddling in a post about the safety downgrade. The process to remove the lane started after complaints about loss of parking from the Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, on Third and Paul, as well as some residents on Paul Avenue.

Back in October of last year, when Streetsblog first reported on the developing plan to remove the Paul Avenue bike lane, we put out calls to Cohen’s office that were not returned. But as Streetsblog pointed out in that post, in a 2014  Q&A with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (when she was running for re-election) she was asked, “Do you support the creation of continuous crosstown bikeways —Connecting the City— even acknowledging that there will be some public pushback to inevitable changes?” Her answer was, “Yes.”

Subsequently, Cohen commented on the Paul Avenue bike lane removal in a Facebook post after she was accused by Waddling of “…siding with the few who would take us backward.”

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, meanwhile, is looking to improve its work in District 10. “The removal of bike lanes on Paul Avenue is the result of inadequate community outreach by the City. At the SF Bicycle Coalition, we are strongly committed to communities being invited to help shape their streets. That’s why we created a new Community Organizer position dedicated to working with people in the Bayview and other southeastern neighborhoods and collaborating towards safe streets for everyone,” wrote SFBC spokesman Chris Cassidy, in an email to Streetsblog.

It should be noted that Cohen participated in Bike to Work Day earlier this month. During the ceremony on the steps of City Hall, she said she biked the longest way in, all the way from 3rd Street and Thomas (she rode in a commuter convoy).

From Malia Cohen's Facebook page.
From Malia Cohen’s Facebook page.


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

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