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.

  • mx

    It’s so much better, but the intersections are quite frightening because so many drivers blow through the no right turn arrows. The lanes on Folsom have the same problem. As long as drivers see a green light somewhere in front of them, they’ll start to go, and then we’re relying on dumb luck to hope they see a cyclist or the red arrow in time before they right hook someone. This is not a novel concept, so I’m not sure why we’re still building lanes that put cyclists in danger like this.

    There’s also the question of why the city spent years and millions of dollars on raised lanes when non-raised lanes with plastic posts would achieve the exact same purpose in a fraction of the time and cost.

  • Daniel Michael Filipkowski

    I ride this twice a day for my commute. The roll out of the northern section hit posts was a bit frustrating. They had the whole thing paved and ready for several weeks before putting the hit posts in. It was so long that I just assumed that this is how it was supposed to be. It seemed that they only put them in after a public outcry. Were they even intending to put them in? Were they on back-order? Why did it take over a month to put them in? These are questions I would like to have answers for. It was very frustrating and dangerous to ride in the bike land with car after car after truck parked or pulled over. And it took them almost no time at all to install them, albeit not uniformly. I noticed they did not install them on the white lines, but on the bike lane proper, except for a tiny stretch on the northbound side. I feel like because they rushed to complete it they did not take the care needed. I am also confused about the northern most stretch on the southbound side from Market to Stevenson. It makes little sense at all to not have that bit protected. Aside from these issues it works very well and I’m very happy to have it now as before it was dangerous and annoying. I look forward to the rest of it being completed. Hopefully those posts are not on back-order again ;]

  • Greg Rozmarynowycz

    I commute down 2nd daily, and its working well aside from 2 significant shortfalls:

    1. For some unfathomable reason, there are no soft hit posts immediately south of the bus boarding island by Linked in. It is frequently blocked by cars dropping off passengers, even though LinkedIn has its own dedicated loading zone on Howard. I was swiped by a taxi after being forced out of the bike lane by another car, who then also proceeded to park in the lane, *after* hitting me.

    2. Other issue is left turns in and out of the alleys; these are extremely dangerous. I witnessed a driver, trying to turn left out of Tehema, floor it across 2nd, nearly colliding with a Scoot moped. The Scoot was riding far left in the lane because it was partially blocked by a car half in the bike lane, forcing cyclists into traffic. Spooked after the near-collision, the moped dodged into the bike lane, side-swiped a man on a scooter (knocking him onto the sidewalk), and proceeded in the bike lane up to Folsom. Left turns onto Clementia Street also block traffic, frustrating other drivers and enciting dangerous manouvers. SFMTA should install median soft hit posts across the alleys to prevent dangerous left turns into/out of them.

  • Roger R.

    Stephen Braitsch pointed out on our Facebook page that this tool lets one track bike lane violations all over the city. Nifty tool. https://safelanes.org/reports?fbclid=IwAR0U4pGn5uVyVudtCnEJ7KDDYU9GT1jmI7gJZp9gw5CY0gaoCjdDECzHuEo

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Daily rider on 2nd (on a bike share bike). I think it’s really dangerous. People who want to turn left from 2nd to Clementina can’t see bikes behind the taxi stand of the hotel. People who want to turn off Tehama to 2nd lurch out into the bike lane and stop cold, because they can’t see around the parked cars in either direction. Nobody has a legitimate reason to drive down either of these alleys; it’s mostly confused and enraged Uber drivers.

  • Hunter

    Agree with both of these. There’s no reason to allow left turns into those alleys (a few median posts would do the trick) and if you think they forgot some posts to protect the lane by linked it, you can take a photo and report through the 311 app!

  • jimmy

    Completely agree, the cars using the sidestreets seem to be exclusively drivers using shortcuts at rush hour. Cars turning right onto Stevenson and Clementina often do so blind. It doesn’t help that there is zero visibility into the bike lane (on Clementina and Tehama) . The other major issue is cars coming out of Tehama necessarily have to block the bike lane to see around the line of parked cars in between the bike lane and traffic.

  • Snapperhead

    When I go from 2nd to 3rd between Mission and Elm, drivers from Exit 32 on 95 turn left and then right and then left again, crossing the lines in the right lane past the posts, and then I realize I don’t even live in California.

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