Eyes on the Street: 2nd Street Bike Lane with No Cars or Trucks Parked on it?

Is this Armageddon?

Wait... the second street project is working?!?! All photos Streetsblog/Rudick
Wait... the second street project is working?!?! All photos Streetsblog/Rudick

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We’re almost afraid to say it out loud: during a morning tour of the 2nd Street bike lane between Market and Folsom, the bike lane was free of parked cars and trucks.

Back in April, Streetsblog declared that the 2nd Street project was a fail for cyclists because, without physical barriers to protect the raised bike lanes, motorists were doing what they have always done–using it as a de facto parking lane.

Back in April, the 2nd Street Bike lane continued to be used as a loading zone
Back in April, the 2nd Street Bike lane continued to be used as a loading zone

At the time, advocates were complaining on social media that the $20 million project screwed cyclists because the most important element–physical protection–wasn’t in place. Streetsblog agreed, but was taken to task by an SFMTA official who often comments on Streetsblog:

Okay Mike, maybe you had a point
Okay Mike, maybe you had a point

We started a follow-up post a few weeks later and, in response to the criticism, decided to give it a while longer. So here we are, near the end of June.

We really want to hear from cyclists (please comment below) who commute on 2nd, but from our observations it seems as if maybe, just maybe, the additional safe-hit posts that went in are finally doing the trick of keeping cars out of the lanes.

“The addition of posts to Second Street has helped keep the bike lanes clear of parked vehicles,” wrote Charles Deffarges, community organizer for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, in an email to Streetsblog. “We appreciate the SFMTA’s responsiveness and know other streetscape projects will continue to evolve as a result.”

A weirdly unblocked bike lane on 2nd
A weirdly unblocked bike lane on 2nd. But the paint sure isn’t working well… it’s hard to believe this is new paint.

At least between Stevenson (that first little street south of Market) and Folsom, the lanes were clear and motorists were respecting them yesterday morning. The loading zones seemed to be working too. Streetsblog watched as a “Pure Luxury” shuttle bus parked in one of those, as intended. But then the driver got out and stepped into the bike lane without looking and was nearly clipped by someone riding a GoBike. “There’s a learning curve,” said a woman who saw the incident as she was helping load people into the shuttle. “Look out for bikes.”

Meanwhile, back in April advocates on social media brought up a few critiques that remain valid.

Safe-hit posts

For example, the placement of the safe-hit posts:

“This is pretty ironic considering that SFMTA ripped out SFMTrA’s rogue post installations in the past (that were on the white line, not even in the lane!), citing cyclist safety as the reason for doing so,” wrote safe-streets advocate Dale Munroe in an email to Streetsblog.

For that matter, one would think that on a $20 million, years-long project, the city could find something more substantial than overgrown plastic straws to protect cyclists (safe-hit posts are supposed to be a fast, inexpensive quick fix, not a long-term solution, so there’s that).

Intersections

The intersections, which have separate bike and motor vehicle phases for cars making turns, have gotten better with the installation of bright, illuminated signs to remind motorists not to turn right on red. But many elements are still problematic. For example, at Second and Howard, going South:

Why are the stop lines for bikes behind the stop line for motorists?
Why are the stop lines for bikes behind the stop line for motorists?

As seen above, the stop line has bicycles waiting behind motorists, presumably so they’re out of the way when cars have a right-turn arrow. But most cyclists (and scooterists and skateboardists) that Streetsblog observed ignored this stop line and waited much farther up where they’re more visible, as is the usual, safer thing to do. This illegal act tends to force cars to make wider, slower right turns. But it seems it could also make a collision more likely if (or when) motorists make illegal rights on red.

Again, it remains a mystery as to why SFMTA refuses to put in Dutch-style protected intersections, which Dutch engineers prefer on busy streets, since they force motorists to take turns very slowly while maximizing visibility. The excuse is usually that there isn’t enough space or money–but that’s clearly not the case on 2nd Street.

The project could also use better “daylighting” at small streets, such as Tehama, Clementina, and Minna, to give cyclists more time to react to errant motorists like this one (note the one-way sign):

In addition to several turning violations, this motorist made a sudden left on 2nd and shot the wrong way down __.
2nd and Tehama

What happened between Market and Stevenson?

And then there’s the short stretch of unprotected bike lane from Market to Stevenson. Why does this have a conventional lane? Streetsblog asked that question of SFMTA and Public Works and will update this post accordingly.

Why is this segment still unprotected?
Why is this segment still unprotected?

And, of course, south of Folsom, where construction continues, there’s no protection for the bike lane and all bets are off there–it’s a mystery why safe-hit posts have to be the last things to go in when they’re supposed to be in the “quick-fix” tool box. South of Harrison, it’s back to San Francisco’s full-on street bedlam. That segment won’t be finished, according to the Public Works timeline, for another year.

“We look forward to continued improvements to the rest of Second Street as well as breaking ground on new, fully protected designs on projects like Folsom and Howard,” wrote Deffarges.

South of Folsom. Safe hit posts or another temporary protection has to go in first, not last
South of Folsom. Safe-hit posts or another temporary protection has to go in first, not last, or you get the situation pictured above
Construction crews once again giving no thought to bicycle safety
Construction crews once again giving no thought to bicycles–even when they’re working on a bike lane

Do you ride 2nd regularly? Have any thoughts on intersections and other design elements? Please post below.

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