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Safety Vigilantes Hit Turk Street

SF Transformation has installed about 200 feet of bollard protected bike lane on Turk near Market. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Word came down late Sunday that the vigilante safety group, SF Transformation (SFMTrA), has struck again--this time on Turk Street near Market Street.

From the group's Twitter feed:

The installation is composed of some durable white tape and the same safe hit posts they've put in before. The lane goes west from the intersection with Market Street for 200 feet. So why did they put this installation in? "Just to add to the pressure on SFMTA to go back to the plan for protected bike lanes on that street," said Cone Guy, one of the group's members. They use aliases since what they're doing is, technically, illegal.

Streetsblog readers will recall that the Turk Street project has become incredibly contentious. Originally slated to get a parking protected bike lane, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) backed off the project thanks to opposition from the Fire Department, which claims the overhead wires for Muni trolley buses, combined with a parking protected bike lane, would interfere with their ladder trucks (yet somehow the existing lane of parked and double-parked cars isn't a problem). In response, SFMTA proposed to install a standard, old-school, paint-only bike lane between moving traffic and parked cars. This outraged safety advocates, since nearby Golden Gate Avenue already has that style of bike lane, and it's continually blocked by motorists.

"Unprotected bike lanes were attempted on Golden Gate Avenue just one block from Turk. Seeing those lanes filled with auto traffic and double parking led the SFMTA to propose physically protected bike lanes for Turk, but then they got cold feet," said Chris Cassidy, spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. "Our members are adamantly opposed to the City delivering deficient designs on high-injury corridors."

SFMTrA, meanwhile, has grown more bold with its advocacy efforts, installing guerrilla posts where they feel the city has let safety projects languish. SFMTA will often rip out the posts within a few days, ostensibly for liability reasons. But, as Streetsblog reported, that strains credibility, since those same crews ignore badly damaged "official" SFMTA posts and other road hazards while they race out to remove the guerrilla installations.

"Consistent with the vast majority of cases where we’ve seen these posts installed, we are obligated to remove them. We know that has been upsetting to some people. We have no choice but to remove them to comply with transportation laws and avoid hazards for various types of traffic," said Ben Jose, a spokesman for SFMTA. "We will continue to study whether protected bikeways can be installed on both Turk and Golden Gate as part of a long-term street safety project in the Tenderloin."

Cone Guy hopes SFMTA will look the other way and leave their unofficial installation alone, at least until the city can install something better. But he's not hopeful. "Fingers crossed it's still there. You know how the SFMTA can get about these things."

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