Eyes on the Street: Work on Valencia Protected Bike Lane Pilot Almost Complete
A Valencia Street event to celebrate the new bike lanes was rained out, but Streetsblog took a look anyway
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Politicians were supposed to do a bicycle victory lap Monday morning to celebrate the nearly completed protected bike lane pilot on Valencia between 15th and Market. It was to include a tour and remarks from Mayor London Breed and Supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Hillary Ronen.
That was cancelled due to the rain. But Streetsblog wasn’t going to let some icy water get in the way and did the tour anyway.
As seen in the lead image, green paint and a railing are now applied to the boarding islands (installed last month) for San Francisco Friends School and Millennium School, at Brosnan and Valencia.
Given the weather, and time of day, there weren’t many cyclists flowing through it when Streetsblog was there. But Dylan Harris, a cyclist who’s part of the San Fracisco Bike Ride Crew page on Facebook, complained that the bike lane is “way too narrow,” where it passes by the boarding islands.
Others on that thread pointed out that it makes sense to narrow the lane and therefore slow cyclists going by the boarding islands for a school, since kids have to cross the lane. Matt Brezina, who helped lead the People Protected Bike Lane protests that were a major impetus in getting this project going, pointed out that the islands narrow the motor vehicle lanes too. “It’s a classic road diet,” he told Streetsblog.
SFMTA opted to have the bike lane go around the parklet in front of Four Barrel Coffee, instead of scootching it into the street so it could protect cyclists. “We had considered the placement of the parklet and the potential conflicts between people biking and people walking to/from the parklet if it had been moved. Furthermore, parklets need to be ADA accessible,” said Ben Jose, a spokesperson for the agency. Jose was under the impression there were still safe hit posts protecting the bike lane from traffic at this point, but there weren’t any this morning, as seen above.
Meanwhile, when SFMTA did a pilot of protected bike lanes on the southern end of Valencia, between Cesar Chavez and Mission, they had a problem at first with confused motorists continuing to park against the curb. They seem to have found a better initial solution this time, making it clear right away that motorists can’t park on the curb here (see below).
It seemed to work too (probably because of the clear threat of cars getting towed). For the most part, Streetsblog didn’t see cars parked on or driving in the newly protected bike lane, which seems almost miraculous considering how things went at first with the earlier pilot or the protected bike lane on Telegraph in Oakland, where scofflaws parking on the bike lane is still an issue.
Unfortunately, there were still exceptions. As seen below, this motorcyclist was a bit confused:
SFMTA has to remove the motorcycle parking sign, as seen above, bag it, or move it to the replacement motorbike parking that was painted to the left of the bike lane (seen two pictures up on the left of the image).
Streetsblog also saw this scofflaw (see image below) driving a van down the protected bike lane. That’s kind of hard to blame on the clearly marked bike lane.
Just up the street, a crew from SFMTA was busy grinding pavement to continue the protected bike lane from under the Central freeway to Market. One of the workers on the crew asked Streetsblog if we saw any cars on the bike lane and we mentioned the white van. The worker said police would be stepping up enforcement.
The SFMTA crew explained that the rains work to their advantage, because they can grind the old markings off the asphalt without kicking up any dust. Unfortunately, the rain also prevents them from finishing the work. They said they’ll come back tomorrow, when the sun should be out, to put down new white and green thermoplastic markings.
“The last block to get protected bikeways is Market to McCoppin and that should be finished this week. Green paint between 14th and 15th is also set to be completed this week,” said Jose, noting that it will all depend on the weather.
As Breznia pointed out, however, intersections remain dicey, with cyclists still being put in a challenging position at each “mixing zone.” Protected bike lanes, as Streetsblog has pointed out several times in the past, really need protected intersections to be truly safe for all users.
That said, given all the volunteer hours by the People Protected Bike Lane crew, the Bicycle Coalition, and others, Streetsblog can only hope the next ‘pilot’ won’t just be a few more blocks, but instead will connect from 15th to Cesar Chavez, finally giving Valencia a protected bike lane all the way from Market to Mission.
What do you think of the new bike lane pilot? Is it too narrow by the schools? Are the intersections still too precarious? Leave your comments below.