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.

  • mx

    I just biked through there, and on the northbound side, the current state of affairs is that the island is just in the middle of the bike lane, with the protected lane not yet implemented and no signage or cones or other mechanisms to route traffic. I know the construction is still in progress, and I’m not judging until it’s all done, but ensuring we don’t have interim states where a bike lane abruptly has an island in the middle of it seems like a worthwhile goal.

  • @mx – Sigh. Also like a treatment some blocks south where motorists immediately parked on the new lane.

  • David

    Hopefully SF will do a good job about this. When the protected bike lanes were put in on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, it took months for the city to paint lines on the pavement and even longer than that to install some knock-down poles.

  • Garrett Mace

    I went through southbound yesterday between Duboce and 16th, where the work seems finished already. It’s currently a worse experience, as the bike lane is now 100% full of cars and you have to get out into door zone or traffic to proceed. When cars finally start parking in the correct area, expect more bike-pedestrian accidents and impact with passenger car doors as they park on the zebra buffer zone instead of next to it. There are more lane switches now between bike lane and car lane, as seen in many areas of SF. You can’t slap a sharrow on those and call it good.

  • Even after the SFMTA added bike lane markings, I caught six motorists parked in the bike lane on that block: three on each side of that mid-block island.

    It was only when SFMTA installed posts to physically block motorists from entering that motorists stopped using the bike lane for parking.

  • Mike

    Work is no where near finished. It only recently started on the block between Duboce and 14th and won’t be completely finished for some time with the rain. Work on Market to Duboce and 14th and 15th has yet to begin.