Round-Up: SMART Bike Path, Transit-Lanes for the Excelsior, and Water Bikes

Marin County Bicycle Coalition wants help getting the bike path along the SMART train finished. Photo: MCBC
Marin County Bicycle Coalition wants help getting the bike path along the SMART train finished. Photo: MCBC

A few short notes before the Cesar Chavez, three-day weekend.

Marin County Cyclists Want SMART Train Bike Path Finished:

The SMART train officially launched operations almost two years ago. Part of the deal that got the SMART train approved was that there’s supposed to be a $90 million bike path along the line.

And, as is so often the case, cyclists are getting slightly hosed. From a release from the Marin County Bicycle Coalition:

Since 2011, SMART has built just four segments in Marin totaling less than two miles of pathway, roughly one-fifth of what was promised. At the current rate of completion, it would be another three decades before Marin’s portion of the pathway is complete.

Bike paths along rail lines make sense. Usually, the extra ROW is there and can double as a path for maintenance vehicles and first responders. It’s also a way to solve the first-and-last mile problem for people who want to use the train and are going to or coming from a location near the tracks, but too far to walk to the next station.

Please add your name to the MRBC’s petition, applying pressure to get the bike path on track (well, not literally “on track,” but alongside the track… you know what we mean).

SFMTA May Drop Transit Only Lanes from Excelsior Project:

SFMTA painting the bus 'Red Carpet' lanes on Mission in the Mission a couple of years back. Photo: SFMTA.
SFMTA painting the bus ‘Red Carpet’ lanes on Mission in the Mission a couple of years back. Photo: SFMTA.

If San Francisco is ever going to fulfill its “Transit First” mandate from the voters, it has to give buses with 50 or 60 people at least some priority over private cars. That means on designated transit corridors, giving buses their own “red carpet” lanes.

SFMTA is supposed to extend bus lanes on Mission through the Excelsior as part of its Excelsior Safety Project. But advocates with the Transit Riders noticed that part of the projecth as quietly disappeared.

From the S.F. Transit Riders’s release:

SFMTA is working on the Excelsior Safety Project, which includes some important pedestrian safety improvements. However, early suggestions of transit-only lanes have been left off the table. With over 70,000 people using Mission Street buses every day, we think riders deserve their own lane. Let’s make sure SFMTA staff hear from people who want faster, more reliable service.

The SFTR has three asks for people who want to make sure the 14 Mission bus continues to have its own lanes through the Excelsior:

  1. Come out to Sunday Streets this Sunday in the Excelsior. Stop by our table to say hi and learn more. Then stroll on over to the SFMTA table, and ask where the transit priority is in their Excelsior project.
  2. Come to our Rapid Rider Network workshop in the Excelsior:
    Sat, April 6, 2019
    1:30 – 3:00PM

    Crocker Amazon Clubhouse
    Moscow St & Italy Street, S.F.
  3. SFMTA is holding open houses on April 10 and 13. Feel free to drop by and ask where the transit priority is in the project.

Water Bikes as Last Mile Solution?

A demo of a Schiller electric-assist water bike. Photo: Schiller
A demo of a Schiller electric-assist water bike in the Oakland estuary. Photo: Schiller

Until there’s a bridge (or gondola), maybe this could be the best way to bike across the estuary from Jack London to Western Alameda? Mill Valley-based Schiller Bikes demoed their pontoon, electric assist-water bike Thursday to OakDOT officials, Bike East Bay, and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, among others, on a ride across the Oakland estuary. The idea is to provide a way for people who don’t want to drive or wait for the bus (or suffer the hellscape that is the Posey Tube) to take the short hop across the estuary.

Others see its potential as a practical transportation option all around, adding to the “micro mobility” trend of scooters, share bikes, etc. “The idea of being able to walk or ride right up and take a one-way trip for a couple bucks, as opposed to waiting for a ferry/etc. is a strong feature. Definitely need the cargo bike version of this too, totally doable,” wrote Bike Walk Alameda’s Brian McGuire on social media.

The idea, according to the company’s founder, Jessica Schiller, would be to integrate the bike into existing micro-mobility services, such as Ford GoBike, so users could ride a conventional bike up to the estuary, switch to a water bike, and then switch back to scooter or whatever on the other side, or just walk from there. In addition, “We can carry any other form of micro mobility–another bike, a scooter, we can even carry passengers,” she said.

Either way, it’s gotta beat trying to bike or scooter through the tubes. “The tubes are ‘not ideal,'” said Schiller.

But how do I get around when I get to the other side? Here's one solution. Photo: Schiller
But how do I get around when I get to the other side? Here’s one solution. Photo: Schiller

Schiller said a form of geo-fencing would force riders to stay away from the ports and potentially dangerous conflicts with boats.

Reminder: Streetsblog will be off Monday for Cesar Chavez Birthday, returning Tuesday April 2

  • LazyReader

    How about water bike rickshaws, two pedalers, 5-7 passengers.

  • sebra leaves

    Why don’t you just row across? These things look top heavy. How will they handle a surge or wake or rough waves? How easy will it be to maneuver them around a ship or a sailboat?

  • George Joseph Lane

    You have clearly never been on a small boat before! If you are worried about it tipping, assume that the centre of gravity is at the persons knees and think how far it has to tip before it would actually go over.

  • sebra leaves

    I have done quite a bit of sailing on the bay, and once tipped a blazer over twice in one day. Fortunately it was a warm day. If you think there is anything predictable about being on the water, you are sadly mistaken.

  • George Joseph Lane

    I won a bronze medal at a world sailing championships, I have coached three national champions, I have probably done about 10,000 hours in small boats. But sure, *I* am mistaken. Might pay to look at someone’s profile picture before responding, next time.

    Given that the blazer has a great big piece of cloth designed to catch the wind and a much smaller contact area, a competent sailor/boatie would know that the blazer would be far less stable. Sure, you aren’t going to cross the whole bay at 4pm on an outgoing tide, but that isn’t what is proposed.

  • murphstahoe

    “Bike paths along rail lines make sense. Usually, the extra ROW is there and can double as a path for maintenance vehicles and first responders.”

    This is a bit simplistic – and in the case of SMART it’s pretty far off in most instances.

    Leaving aside that there are several bridges that are only single track to begin with – including the Haystack bridge which is a bridge that lowers and raises in order to allow maritime traffice, and the Healdsburg Railroad bridge which is a $100M+ rebuild – there are places like the Novato Narrows where the tracks are basically on a berm in a Marsh.

    I’ve seen the engineering plans for the path (and own a copy in fact) so they’ve laid out the path, but it’s not simply “here’s some extra land near the tracks, put in a path”. It seems obvious but the devil is in the details. The vague concept was really used to sell the idea to voters, that you could have some uninterrupted 70 mile rollout from Larkspur to Cloverdale, but the design includes several places where there isn’t a path, the aforementioned area in Healdsburg the “path” uses Old Redwood Highway and there is no alternative that wouldn’t cost 8 or even 9 figures.

    This does not excuse SMART from not being more aggressive in building the meaningful segments.

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