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Advocates Hammer City College Trustees’ Climate Hypocrisy on Frida Kahlo Way

City College talks a good game about supporting bike lanes and better transit, until it comes to losing a few parking spaces

Frida Kahlo Way at Ocean. Note the turn-around for the 8 and the 49 to the left. The main campus is to the right. The K Ingleside, the 43 and 29 and BART also serve the college. Image: Google Street View

Neighbors for Slow Hearst has written an open letter to the City College of San Francisco's board of trustees demanding that they reverse a resolution opposing a protected bike lane, bus-boarding islands, and other street upgrades on Frida Kahlo Way.

First, some background on the Frida Kahlo Way Quick-Build Project from SFMTA's project page:

The project will add a two-way protected bikeway on the east side of Frida Kahlo Way / south side of Judson Avenue, update pedestrian crossings, make changes to improve transit access and reliability, and modify curb management to improve access to schools in the area. The project supports implementing goals and priorities identified in the recently completed District 7 Ocean Avenue Mobility Action Plan, previous planning efforts in the area, and SFMTA’s Vision Zero Program. 

Frida Kahlo Way runs north-south through the campus. At its regular meeting on February 22, the college's Board of Trustees passed a resolution asking for a "postponement" of the bike lanes and transit upgrades.

Neighbors for Slow Hearst (just north of the college) wrote the following letter Thursday in response, which Streetsblog is publishing in full:

We are disappointed that the leadership of City College has decided to oppose a common sense safety improvement for people who walk and bike in our neighborhood. The Frida Kahlo Way Quick Build project would improve safety for all road users, and provide a critical safe connection for people biking to the campus and through our neighborhood.

A map of the street. Note the position of the Balboa Park BART station, lower right. Map from SFMTA

What’s more, the project aligns with City College’s own policies to shift trips to active transportation and out of cars, as well as their recently passed Green New Deal, a bold sustainability plan which promises to bring their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2035. To meet its climate goals, City College will need to invest heavily in shifting more commuter trips to non-car modes. When streets are safe, more people choose to bike and walk, and less parking is required to serve commuters.

The Frida Kahlo quick build project has been hearing public feedback since July 2023, and many adjustments have been made to add parking back to the route and accommodate City College’s concerns. In total, the current project replaces approximately 30 parking spaces with safety improvements like bus stops and a protected bike lane, out of the just over 3,000 available to the City College community. This is less than 1% of the total parking available for City College.

City College’s opposition to this project undermines the safety and well-being of our community. We urge them to work together with neighbors to find a compromise that preserves the protected bike lane and safety improvements the project will bring to our neighborhood. We call upon city officials to heed the voices of the community and quickly move forward with the implementation of the Frida Kahlo Quick Build. Together we can build a safer, greener, and more accessible future for all residents of our vibrant neighborhood.

At the college board meeting, board member Susan Solomon said the resolution to postpone the project was written, in part, because SFMTA is obliged to first improve transit before it takes away parking spaces. Public speakers also complained that the "working class" has to drive to the campus.

The college is a six-minute walk from the Balboa Park BART, Muni M Ocean View and Muni J Church train station (see map below). It is also served directly by the Muni K Ingleside and multiple bus lines. It is, without argument, one of the most transit-accessible campuses in North America. The idea that it can't sacrifice 30 parking spaces out of 3,000 to install a bike lane and some bus-boarding islands reaches a jaw-dropping level of car brain.

A look at all the transit that serves City College

In Streetsblog's view, SFMTA and the city should take the college board's resolution and file it in the nearest receptacle. The design is already too watered down to preserve parking—instead, SFMTA should take another lane and have one-way cycle tracks on both sides of Frida Kahlo.

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