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Bicycle Infrastructure

Presidents’ Day Weekend Roundup: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Bike Lanes

Extension of the protected bike lanes on the Embarcadero. Focusing on individual battles drains advocates. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont got some brand new bike lanes this month. And the contrasts in quality couldn't be more stark.

First, the good/great, in San Francisco:

So much blood has been spilled over the years thanks to the unsafe conditions on the Embarcadero. And it seems as if safety improvements to the section in front of the ferry terminal has been in limbo since horses were the main mode of transportation. But finally, at long last, a two-way, "quick-build" protected bike lane is taking shape between Mission and Broadway. From SFMTA 's website:

Implementation of the Central Embarcadero Safety Project, which will extend the two-way protected bikeway and pedestrian safety upgrades from Mission Street to Broadway, is underway. Expect limited traffic delays through February while crews change roadway striping, signs, and traffic signals. Following completion and a settling-in period, staff will begin evaluating the changes.

"The two-way bikeway will become official on February 24 with the switching on of bike signals," wrote SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato in an email to Streetsblog.

A view of the new flex posts, facing north towards Broadway.
A view of the new flex posts, facing north towards Broadway. Paint coming. Photo from Andres Twitter.
A view of the new flex posts, facing north towards Broadway.

A later phase called "1B" will involve concrete curbs, to be completed 2024 (although once again, Streetsblog has to ask: if there have to be two phases, why can't the first phase be done with concrete K-rails or something/anything more substantial than plastic straws? Also SFMTA has a weird definition of the phrase "quick-build.")

As Streetsblog covered, the section from Folsom to Mission was done in concrete in 2020. That "sub-segment" of the southernmost part, from Mission to Townsend, was accelerated to connect the ferries to the Howard and Folsom Street bike lanes through SoMa. There's also a planned segment going north to Fisherman's Wharf, but that one, according to SFMTA's web page "...will not move forward as part of the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, but will undergo additional public outreach and analysis later this year together with the Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 circulation study." Why is that northern segment taking even longer? Might be something to ask Supervisor Aaron Peskin, if District 3 readers are so inclined.

Regardless, it's awesome to finally see protection in front of the ferry terminal.

Second, the bad: Oakland adds protective bollards to the Telegraph "gap," but puts them in the wrong place

Telegraph. Photo: Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz
Telegraph. Photo: Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz
Telegraph all the resources for a protected bike lane but a buffered lane was put in instead. Photo: Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz

Streetsblog covered it in January: Oakland, despite having parking-protected bike lanes on the KONO and Temescal sections of Telegraph, has installed unprotected lanes along the gap between those two segments, from 29th to MacArthur. Now the city has added bollards. Streetsblog is happy to see the road diet that accompanies the project, but the placement of the bollards and bike lanes is just weird. What are these bollards protecting, exactly? Are they there to make sure motorists park in the bike lane instead of against the curb?

On social media, advocates described the new lanes as a "slap in the face."

Screenshot from 2022-02-18 11-57-55

The last time Streetsblog toured the area, the bike lane was already blocked by illegally parked cars. Fortunately, the concrete parts of this overall installation--the bus boarding islands--were done correctly, with a protected bypass for cyclists so they can pass stopped buses safely on the right. At least if the protected bike lanes in KONO and Temescal are ever extended, the bus boarding islands won't need to be jack-hammered out and redone.

And last, the ugly: awful door-death lanes in Fremont

Paseo Padre in Fremont. From Bike Fremont's Facebook page.
Paseo Padre in Fremont. From Bike Fremont's Facebook page.
Paseo Padre in Fremont. From Bike Fremont's Facebook page.

Believe it or not, the city of Fremont had the unmitigated gall to call the above sub-par, four-foot door-zone lanes on Paseo Padre part of a "complete street."

In September, Streetsblog covered the details of how advocates were pleading with the city of Fremont to build protected, or at least buffered, bike lanes on Paseo Padre. But, alas, the city council decided to keep two car lanes in both directions because, apparently, parking and automobile throughput is still more important than the lives and limbs of people riding bikes--often the poorest people in the community, many of whom can't afford a car. It's now freshly paved and painted, as seen in the image above. In Streetsblog's view, what Fremont did on this street is absolutely criminal.

It's ironic because Fremont is also the location of one of the best complete streets suburban retrofits in the Bay Area: the sidewalk level, protected bike lanes and intersections on Walnut.

"Given all the other great work Fremont is doing, the Paseo Padre decision seems like a huge outlier, and it feels like there must be something going on behind the scenes, as staff obviously knows better," wrote Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz in a message to Streetsblog.

Note that Streetsblog will not publish on President's Day, Monday, Feb 21.

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