The Valencia Bikeway may have become a smidgen safer Thursday afternoon after SFMTA installed 27 flex posts between 15th and 19th Streets, creating a semi-protected bike lane. The white bike lane markers were also repainted with a double-stripe earlier this week.
Most of the new posts were installed in groups of three next to sidewalk curb extensions that jut into the street for a few feet. One group of 12 posts was installed next to a parklet.
An SFMTA worker who installed the posts (in the rain) said it didn’t take more than an hour for a car to hit the group of 12 posts. “Never fails,” he said. And, sure enough, they appeared to be scuffed when I examined them not long after.
But SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose said the flex posts are designed to stand up to abuse. “What if an emergency vehicle needs to roll over it?” he said, as an example. The posts are designed to flip right back up.
Jose said the posts are part of the SFMTA’s Valencia Bikeway Improvement Project.
An increasing number of commercial deliveries along Valencia Street — and Uber and Lyft drivers pulling in and out of traffic — has raised safety concerns for the 2,000 bicyclists who use the bike lane each day, Jose said.
Forty-eight percent of reported bike crashes along Valencia Street between 2012 and 2016 involved some type of loading or unloading activity, according to SFMTA.
“We’re always making bike safety upgrades across the city. These improvements are the near-term item we wanted to get in the ground as quickly as possible,” he said. “We want to make it very clear this is not an area to double-park or meander, or just stop.”
The groups of three flex posts might not do the trick. The very first time I spotted one, a BMW was parked in the bike lane, immediately next to the posts.
Jose acknowledges the flex posts “are not an end-all for the challenges on Valencia, but a first step in the overall project.” Later this spring, SFMTA will be releasing more recommendations for a safer Valencia Street at a series of community workshops.