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Commentary: Remove the Valencia Center-Running Bike Lane Before More People are Hurt

SFMTA needs to rip this dangerous facility out and put in the approved Dutch-style, side-running bike lanes immediately

3:24 PM PDT on June 21, 2023

An injured cyclist on Valencia. Photo: Dylan Yep

At least one cyclist has already gone to the hospital and another has been injured because of SFMTA's center-running bike lane fiasco on Valencia. It's all over Twitter: not only is the new bike lane already a disaster as far as preventing injuries, motorists are using it for parking as much as they did the old lanes. This is exactly why Streetsblog (and everyone else with any knowledge of international best practices for safe streets) pleaded with SFMTA not to install this known failure of a design.

More details from Twitter:

Mission Local also did a great piece breaking down this brain fart of a bike lane.

SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin deceitfully rammed this pet project through at an April 4 SFMTA Board meeting; the board was asked to "vote" on a center-running bike lane, when that was the only option they were given. The hearing was like watching something out of the old Soviet Union.

Motorists continue to make illegal left turns on Valencia, despite the signs. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

During the meeting, when board members asked why previously approved and successfully piloted designs for standard, Dutch-style protected bike lanes were removed from the options, Tumlin told them that the fire department requires 26 feet of unencumbered space in the center of the street. "I would generally agree with that [having a backup plan], but as we've expressed, the design constraints we faced demonstrated that the alternatives that we had available to us were fatally flawed. We have to face the 26-foot requirement from the Fire Department […]".

That's nonsense. Of course, there's room for the Dutch-style lanes [the "backup plan"]. For one, the fire department requirement is for 20 feet, as this screen capture of the fire code indicates:

And if Tumlin's SFMTA can't find enough room for a truly safe bikeway, then they're valuing on-street parking over people's lives. Remove some God damn parking. It's not worth building some janky center-running nonsense and slamming people into the pavement regularly to preserve so much space for drivers. 

Before SFMTA tries to blame the recent injuries on the ongoing construction, the section where the recent bike crashes occurred is, for all intents and purposes, finished. We don't need to continue this immoral and failed experiment that will cost people their lives and limbs. As Copenhagenize's Mikael Colville-Andersen told Mission Local, the Valencia center-running design is an "abomination."

SFMTA needs to rip this crap out and put in Dutch-style, side-running bike lanes immediately.

Jeffrey Tumlin, Jamie Parks and the SFMTA management may as well have pushed those cyclists off their bikes and into the pavement with their own hands. They need to stop this disaster now before anyone else is hurt. And the SFMTA Board needs to take a stand and overrule staff if they refuse.

And if Tumlin and his team continue to make up reasons why they can't, then they need to be fired.

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