The SFMTA is building a protected, curbside bike lane on Valencia Street between Duncan and Cesar Chavez streets that will be separated from car traffic by parked vehicles. This is San Francisco’s first bikeway to be both elevated and parking-protected.
The new lane, scheduled for completion in November, will be six feet wide with a 5-foot buffer next to the parking lane and will run adjacent to the sidewalk. Riders are encouraged to utilize the path in the interim but are advised it may be closed intermittently for work.
The project is part of ongoing experimental efforts to make San Francisco more bike-friendly. Approximately 4.4 percent of San Franciscans bike to work – the national average is 0.6 percent – and the transit agency hopes to raise that number by implementing safe infrastructure. The agency commissioned an independent research study in 2015 which found safety concerns to be a major deterrent to potential bikers.
Independent organizations have long advocated for more bike safeguards on Valencia street, even with the installation of corridor-wide green bicycle lanes, where drivers regularly stop or park. On Monday, street safety advocacy group “SFMTrA” (San Francisco Municipal Transformation Agency) installed soft-hit posts along the bike lanes from 14th to 17th streets.
Ben Jose, a spokesperson from the transit authority, said that while the agency is always looking for low-cost methods to improve bike safety, they will have no choice but to remove the cones and posts. Implementation of this type requires formal processes and public hearings, he said, and plans must be made available to the public in advance.
“That being said, we certainly understand that people are passionate about safety, and certainly we are too,” Jose said. He added that 27 miles of protected bike lanes have been built since 2010.
Chris Cassidy, San Francisco Bike Coalition’s Communications Director, expressed approval for the project and added that he was pleased to see so much passion regarding bike safety.
The Valencia Street path marks the city’s second raised bike lane after the SFMTA and San Francisco Public Works constructed a two-block path on Market Street between 12th and Gough streets earlier this year.
That lane’s two-inch elevation off the main road was intended as a visual cue to drivers, but the slight difference (which is also less than the elevation of the sidewalk), coupled with the gradual slope that separates the path from the main road (it’s not a steep vertical drop) has not deterred drivers from obstructing the lane.