Eyes on the Street: Second Street a Fail for Cyclists

After years and years of delays, this safety project is already showing major flaws--but it can still be fixed if city shows the will to do it

Green paint, raised curb, no protection = no safety for cyclists. The scene this morning on 2nd. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated
Green paint, raised curb, no protection = no safety for cyclists. The scene this morning on 2nd. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated

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Advocate and Streetsblog tipster Dale Munroe put this back on our radar: the $20 million Second Street Project, after nearly seven years of outreach, design, development and construction, is already failing cyclists in a big way.

As part of the project, the city has installed raised bike lanes between Market and Howard–with a few gaps. However, there’s no protection and the little curb between the street and the bike lane is easily mountable by motorists. As a result, it has become yet another de facto delivery-and-drop-off lane; it’s continually blocked by scofflaw motorists.

From Munroe’s email to Streetsblog, sent today:

The part that’s really frustrating is that SFMTA promised improvements 6 months ago but nothing has been done, leaving cyclists that once had a bike lane to ride in the street. On October 1, 2018, Jamie Parks from SFMTA said “Green paint, lane markings, parking stall markings, signs and posts will be installed Dec – Jan from Market to Folsom once paving is done. (Enforcement will start then also)” (https://twitter.com/transpocrat/status/1046822397242793987?s=19) but it’s now 6 months later and nothing has changed.

Streetsblog did a tour this Wednesday morning to confirm Munroe’s observations. As shown in the lead pic, it’s bad out there. And if you like to look at lots of cars and trucks blocking bike lanes, there’s now a dedicated twitter feed for 2nd Street’s lane:

Still not convinced the 2nd Street lane is rendered useless to cyclists? You can also “…check out the map of blocked bike lane reports at safelanes.org — there have been 42 blocked bike lane reports in the last seven days for the two blocks between Market and Howard! Yet somehow SFMTA has left this project unfinished for months, ignoring the safety concerns of people who bike here daily,” wrote Munroe in his email.

A screen shot of a day's *reported* bike lane violations on 2nd street. Photo: SafeLanes
A screen shot of a day’s *reported* bike lane violations on 2nd street. Photo: SafeLanes

None of this should really come as a surprise considering the history of bike-lane violations on Valencia, Masonic, Market, or anywhere else with heavy traffic–an unprotected bike lane, raised or not, is pretty much a waste of paint and/or asphalt and concrete. Unless we start impounding cars and revoking the licenses of offenders, the only way to keep cars off a bike lane is with a physical barrier.

And yet, some politicos want to install more unprotected bike lanes, even as more and more cyclists die trying to navigate them.

“Just as on Masonic Avenue and Polk Street, we’re seeing some of the consequences of an outdated process for delivering safety improvements on Second Street. It’s taken years of outreach, planning and construction to get to the present moment, and in that time aspects of the design have become outdated. That’s why the SF Bicycle Coalition will continue to push for quick action and near-term improvements, especially on streets where big capital projects are planned,” wrote the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Brian Wiedenmeier, in an email to Streetsblog. “That way we can learn from those treatments in order to inform the design of the longer-term project.”

The temporary bike lane on Clay Street between 12th and 11th. That's a physical barrier--cheap, easy to install
The temporary bike lane on Clay Street in Oakland between 12th and 11th. That’s a physical barrier–cheap, easy to install

In the meantime, Streetsblog hopes the city can do more than add safe hit posts to 2nd (when and if it ever really gets around to doing it). How about true barriers, such as those shown in the above photo in Oakland? Or something more attractive–as long as it physically stops cars from incurring into the bike space. Streetsblog has an email out to the SFMTA, Public Works, and Supervisor Matt Haney’s office, and will update this post accordingly.

For the record, the truck in the lead photo eventually got ticketed.

A reminder for people who cycle or walk in SoMa, tonight SFMTA is holding an open house on the Fifth Street safety project at the Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission Street, Wed. April 3, 5-7 p.m. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is urging people to turn out and demand protected bike lanes–and/or email your views via the SFBC’s form.