Eyes on the Street: Hallelujah Valencia!

It took untold lobbying hours, and too many crashes, but protected bike lanes on Valencia are finally under construction

A boarding island on Valencia @ Brosnan. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick
A boarding island on Valencia @ Brosnan. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

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It took multiple people-protected bike lane protests, intense pressure on politicians, some serious bike crashes, and continued pressure from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. On Dec. 4, the SFMTA board voted to build protected bike lanes on Valencia after receiving 500 letters and emails in support and hearing from over forty speakers.

And, finally, at long last, the lanes are under construction.

As seen in the lead image and below, San Francisco Public Works was busy pouring concrete over the winter break for a “…new school boarding islands (with protective railing) at San Francisco Friends School and Millennium School,” wrote Ben Jose, SFMTA spokesman, in an email to Streetsblog. “The islands will provide students and parents with safe, designated areas for pick-up and drop-off.” The new bike lane will run between the islands and the sidewalk.

Another view of the work
Another view of the work

More from the SFMTA website:

In partnership with Mayor Breed and her directive, the SFMTA will pilot and implement parking-protected bike lanes on Valencia Street from Market to 15th streets. After implementation, the project team will evaluate the design to help inform the long-term, corridor-wide project. Additional outreach and community conversations will be held in spring and summer 2019 to determine a preferred bikeway design alternative(s) for the entire corridor.

As Streetsblog readers know, Valencia’s current striped bike lane, along the parked cars, is continually blocked by Ubers, Lyfts, and other vehicles. A short protected bike lane project was installed in 2017 for one block on the southern end, between Cesar Chavez and Duncan. That seems to be working, albeit on such a short length of the street it hardly matters. But the hope of advocates is that with an anchor on the southern end, and a significant project on the northern end, pressure will hold to add protected bike lanes for the entire length of the corridor.

And that can’t come soon enough. There were “268 reported collisions between Market and Mission streets from 2012 to 2016, [and] 30 percent of the collisions occurred between Market and 15th streets,” according to the SFMTA. These collisions, reports the agency, resulted in at least 65 injuries and one fatality.

“Our vision for Valencia Street is a corridor-wide transformation with a street design that keeps Uber and Lyft drivers out of the bike lane,” wrote SFBC’s Kristen Leckie in a blog post.

Some advocates want to dream even bigger and would like all or a significant portion of Valencia turned into a bike and pedestrian corridor, with through automobile traffic banned.

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Collecting Data to Push for Safer Biking on Valencia

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During yesterday evening’s rush hour, safe streets advocates, organized by Catherine Orland, District 9 representative to the Bicycle Advisory Committee and longtime member and volunteer with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, started collecting hard data about how often the bike lanes on Valencia Street are blocked by motorists. Take a wild guess what they found: […]