Berry Contraflow Here to Stay

This time, the city's shortest protected bike lane will remain in place, assuming all goes well at next week's hearing

A cyclist using the Berry contraflow bike lane. Crowd sourced data is helping identify hot spots of bike lane abuse. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted
A cyclist using the Berry contraflow bike lane. Crowd sourced data is helping identify hot spots of bike lane abuse. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted

Streetsblog was happy to report, back in 2017, that SFMTA created a contraflow protected bike lane on tiny Berry Street, which runs between 3rd and 4th Street, to give cyclists access to the 4th Street bridge as an alternative to the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, which was closed for repairs.

That meant the city was finally considering the safety of cyclists during road closures, in this case giving them an alternate route for crossing Mission Creek.

The bike lane also proved popular with cyclists heading to the King Street Caltrain Station from the ballpark and the Embarcadero. Streetsblog pointed this out–and urged the city to just leave the bike lane in place once the bridge was repaired.

They ripped it out shortly afterward. Below is a photo of how it looked in 2017, just before it was removed:

The same street in 2017. Notice the posts are a different color. Photo: Leonid Domnitser
The same street in 2017. Notice the posts are a different color. Photo: Leonid Domnitser

Well, here’s some good news, as Streetsblog reader Asumu Takikawa brought to our attention via Twitter. As pictured in the lead image, the lane was put back while more repairs are made to the bridge, but this time the intention is to keep it:

Streetsblog is thrilled the lane is on track to be made permanent. However, Erica Kato, spokesperson for the agency, confirmed there are no plans to upgrade it with concrete or planters. And, as the photos below demonstrate, that’s a problem:

IMG_20200213_115307
The safe-hit posts (aka, silly straws) are already pretty f*cked and need to be replaced

In addition, the daylighted areas need something solid as a barrier to prevent scofflaws from parking on them, which was the norm when Streetsblog took a look today:

An illegally parked car blocking sightlines at a driveway on Berry. SFMTA needs more robust treatments to prevent this kind of dangerous behavior
An illegally parked car blocking sightlines at a driveway on Berry. SFMTA needs more robust treatments to prevent this kind of dangerous behavior

With nothing more than paint to stop scofflaws from parking right next to driveways and blocking sight-lines, it’s a matter of time before there’s a collision.

If only the city had spent the money on upgrading the lane the first time, instead of paying to remove it and then put it back again.

Next time a lawmaker or bureaucrat claims crews are too busy or there isn’t enough money for safe bike infrastructure, bring up the fact that in this case the city spent money installing a parking-protected bike lane, ripped it out, and installed it again. Streetsblog can only hope that under the leadership of SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin and Mayor London Breed, this kind of waste will be a thing of the past.

The Berry contraflow bike lane, looking towards 4th Street , during the late morning
The Berry contraflow bike lane, looking towards 4th Street , during the late morning

The hearing to decide if Berry Street will keep its contraflow bike lane is scheduled for February 21, at 10 a.m. in Room 416 (Hearing Room 4), City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, S.F. The item is 20A on the agenda. It seems like a done deal, but it’s still probably a good idea for readers to hit up Supervisor Matt Haney’s office to lend support for keeping the protected bike lane on Berry (and why not ask for something more robust than plastic safe-hit posts while you’re at it). You can also email SFMTA at Sustainable.Streets@SFMTA.com

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