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Update on Arguello: State to Provide $1.2 Million for Protected Bike Lanes

Money's now available for yet another safety project on Arguello--will SFMTA finally install protected bike lanes?

2019 photo of cyclists going around a parked car (behind the photographer) blocking the then new but unprotected lane on Arguello. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has secured $1.2 million to install protected bike lanes on Arguello connecting Golden Gate Park and The Presidio. Wednesday's announcement of the new funding comes in response to a reckless motorist killing cyclist Ethan Boyes last April.

“Ethan’s passing is such a loss. I’m answering our community’s calls for better bike lanes and improved safety for cyclists in the Richmond. We honor him by making sure vehicles and cyclists can co-exist and safely travel on Arguello Boulevard, so that another tragedy doesn’t happen again. This funding brings the project across the finish line,” said Ting in a statement.

"Arguello Boulevard is a critical corridor for families and other people who use active transportation to get around our city; we need protected bike lanes and protected intersections installed there immediately," said Luke Bornheimer, organizer and advocate for the Protected Arguello campaign, and the same advocate who successfully jumpstarted a long-stagnant campaign to ban right-on-red in San Francisco.

As with right-on-red, and any other issue with street design in San Francisco, the onus ultimately falls on the SFMTA to follow through. According to Ting's statement, SFMTA is finalizing design plans for protected bike lanes, which could include having parked cars, safe-hit posts or other barriers, to separate cyclists from moving traffic. Construction should begin this winter.

Streetsblog will wait for the designs, but advocates need to be ready to respond if the agency issues another round of watered down sops masquerading as a safety project.

In 2019, SFMTA completed repaving and a "safety" project on Arguello that included nothing more than door-zone lanes of the same type that have already failed to prevent fatal crashes throughout the Bay Area. It's unclear why SFMTA couldn't have provided protected bike lanes in 2019 as part of that project. At the time, Paul Stanis, Transportation Engineer for SFMTA's Livable Streets Division, told Streetsblog that it was because "Arguello Boulevard includes a high number of driveways."

Of course, it still has the same number of driveways. And that excuse never made sense: the block along the Rossi Playground doesn't have any driveways, but still didn't get a protected bike lane. Moreover, driveways don't actually preclude using protected bike lanes--they do, however, require the removal of more on-street-private-car-storage (aka street parking) to improve sight-lines around those driveways. It also means the bike lane can't double as a break down lane for disabled cars.

That's all something to keep in mind when SFMTA says it doesn't have the resources or staff time for safety projects.

Meanwhile, the Presidio, which is responsible for the section of Arguello where the reckless motorist slayed Boyes, has already built a watered down "safety project" that again failed to provide any solid, concrete protection for people outside of cars. It uses paint, signs, and plastic posts--nothing which would have stopped or even deterred the driver who killed Boyes.

“Ethan was an incredible person who had a profound impact on the world and the people around him. His death was preventable with protected bike infrastructure, and our city needs to be taking immediate action to use the funding secured by Assemblymember Ting to build protected bike lanes and protected intersections on Arguello to make it safe for people to bike in San Francisco,” said Boyes’ close friend, James Grady, in a statement. "Ethan’s death has left a huge hole in the community, and we need protected bike lanes on Arguello now."

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