Eyes on the Street: Crew Narrows Howard Bike Lane

City reduces already unsafe bike lane two blocks from where Tess Rothstein was killed

March 25--a paving crew narrowing the bike lane, two blocks from where Tess Rothstein was killed. Photo: Dale Munroe via twitter
March 25--a paving crew narrowing the bike lane, two blocks from where Tess Rothstein was killed. Photo: Dale Munroe via twitter

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Last week, before the SFMTA Board meeting, Chair Cheryl Brinkman told Streetsblog that the death of Tess Rothstein could be a turning point for the city when it comes to safety.

Somebody forgot to tell the crew that repaved part of Howard yesterday, as seen in the photos above and below.

Howard Street, a few blocks east from where Rothstein was killed. Photo: Dale Munroe's twitter
Howard Street, a few blocks east from where Rothstein was killed. Photo: Dale Munroe’s twitter

The photos, provided by advocates Dale Munroe and Brad Williford, show a crew working two blocks from where Rothstein was killed. During the work, as Munroe pointed out in his tweet, they provided no safety provisions for cyclists. “Their lane closure also lacked any bike lane signage, likely in violation of their Special Traffic Permit,” he tweeted.

Moreover, when they were done, they left the street with a bike lane that was significantly narrowed, as seen in Williford’s tweet from last night:

Streetsblog visited the area late this morning and confirmed that the lane has been narrowed. However, the crew added plastic posts to help delineate the bike/gutter space.

IMG_20190326_115437
The crew added some posts today to help delineate where bikes are supposed to go. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

The only cyclist (plus one skateboarder) Streetsblog saw go through here didn’t use the bike lane, perhaps because the signs and stripes were so confusing. Or perhaps they decided it wasn’t safe to ride in such a narrow gutter-pan lane in the first place.

Meanwhile, SFMTA is still planning to extend the parking and/or post-protected bike lane along Howard, at least up to Third. And according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose, “The bike lane is not being narrowed. What you see in the photo is temporary tape installed after the paving was completed, but does not reflect final striping.”

It’s still unclear why, even as a temporary measure, the city would want to narrow a bike lane on a street configuration that has already proved itself so lethal. Rose said he would be back with more details and Streetsblog will update accordingly.

Last week, Howard’s protected bike lane was extended along the block where Rothstein was killed, from 5th to 6th. However, the crew that executed that improvement–in record time–did not continue extending it east of 5th.

  • MFixer

    Those are not SFMTA workers, they are from the construction company for the Moscone Center.

  • • Minimum state highway design standard is 4ft total, but in a case of a side gutter like this, at leas 3ft more than the gutter.

  • thielges

    Given Mfixer’s and Jym’s comments, betcha this was an “executive decision” made in the field by the contractor. “Says here a bike lane only needs to be 4′ wide”. Which is unfortunate because people riding in the center of the 4′ lane are right on top of the seam between the concrete gutter pan and the asphalt: right where dangerous cracks can develop.

  • SDGreg

    There’s no way I’d use that bike lane for anything. It’s not even remotely safe. If you’re going to make a dangerous situation even more dangerous, why bother?

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