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

The new Valencia protected bike lane pilot where it passes San Francisco Friends School and Millennium School (across from each other at Brosnan). Image: Streetsblog/Rudick
The new Valencia protected bike lane pilot where it passes San Francisco Friends School and Millennium School (across from each other at Brosnan). Image: Streetsblog/Rudick

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

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.

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It was also nice to see this Ford GoBike Station moved out to protect cyclists

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.

Unfortunately, the parklet in front of Four Barrel coffee wasn't move out to protect the bike lane, so cyclists have to veer back towards auto traffic as they pass the coffee shop
Unfortunately, the parklet in front of Four Barrel Coffee wasn’t moved out to protect the bike lane, so cyclists have to veer back towards auto traffic as they pass the coffee shop

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).

SFMTA seems to have done a better job of keeping people from parking on the bike lane by covering the meters with these bags
SFMTA seems to have done a better job of keeping people from parking on the bike lane by covering the meters with these hard-to-miss bags

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.

Cars actually were parked where they were supposed to be, probably because of the bags over the parking meters
Cars actually were parked where they were supposed to be, probably because of the bright red and bags over the parking meters with a picture of a car getting towed

Unfortunately, there were still exceptions. As seen below, this motorcyclist was a bit confused:

This motorcyclist blocked the bike lane, but it's perhaps understanding as shown in the next picture
This motorcyclist blocked the bike lane, but it’s perhaps understandable, as shown in the next picture
SFMTA forgot to bag this sign, which likely lead to the confusion of the motorcyclist who left his bike blocking the lane
SFMTA bagged the parking meters, but didn’t bag this sign, which likely lead to the confusion of the motorcyclist who left his bike blocking the lane

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.

The driver of this white van drove down the newly protected bike lane heading southbound on Valencia
The driver of this white van drove down the newly protected bike lane heading southbound on Valencia

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.

This crew was getting ready to grind pavement to finish the segment where Valencia meets Market
This crew was getting ready to grind pavement to finish the segment where Valencia meets Market

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.

One of the SFMTA crew members showing how the yellow stripe will be moved over to make room for the protected bike lane
One of the SFMTA crew members showing how the yellow stripe will be moved over to make room for the protected bike lane

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.

A mixing zone at 14th and Valencia
A mixing zone at 14th and Valencia

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.

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The guerrilla safety group, SFMTrA, did this rendering of how they would improve Valencia. SFMTA now has $145,000 to come up with a better design. Photo: Streetsblog

Funding Approved for Valencia Protected Bike Lane Study

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Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content. Today the San Francisco County Transportation Authority approved $145,000 for the ‘Valencia Street Bikeway Implementation Plan,’ a study into putting protected bike lanes on […]